§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland)
I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
This Bill is quite a short Bill and, as I say advisedly, it is a stop-gap Bill. At the same time, it is based on considerations some of which are tolerably intricate, and it has to be considered both by itself and also in relation to the rest of the system of social services of which it forms a part. Consequently, I hope the House will forgive me if I endeavour to deal with it as shortly as I can and as simply as I can, without any of the adornments of speech which might be appropriate to the introduction of a Budget or Bills of another nature. As I say, it is a short Bill in itself, but the history of unemployment insurance, though also short, is complicated, there being a number of enactments year by year during that short history bearing upon one another and amending one another, and it would be perfectly impossible to understand any of these Measures except in the light of those which have preceded it. This afternoon I do not propose, except occasionally by way of very brief reference, to weary the House with any long historical account, but I feel it would be impossible to understand this Bill unless I referred to one or two features in last year's Act passed under the Ministry of my predecessor, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preaton (Mr. T. Shaw).
Under that Act, together with other important provisions, such as the question of the rates of benefit, there are four points that I am quite clear ought to be borne in mind by hon. Members of the House if they wish really to understand both the provisions of this Bill and the reasons for them. The first is the action taken in last year's Act with regard to the waiting period. The waiting period last year was reduced from six days to three. Just in parenthesis may I guard against a misapprehension that has often occurred, and that is the confusion of the 252 waiting period with the 'gap'? The waiting period and the 'gap' are entirely different things, and, therefore, to confuse the two, as is often done, is a mistake that should be avoided. Everyone who is familiar with the system of unemployment insurance knows quite well that the waiting period, whatever its length, is the period at the beginning of a spell of unemployment before the claimant is entitled to draw benefit, whereas the gap, as it was regularly understood, was a fixed period, at a later time during unemployment, during which benefit ceased, and I will ask the House to distinguish quite clearly between these two.
The next point in last year's Act which I would ask the. House to bear in mind is the question of the Minister's discretion. The right hon. Gentleman last year thought that he had instituted extended benefit as a right, and abolished the Ministerial discretion, but I am afraid he was a little like the Prince in Tennyson's poem; he had mistaken the dream for the reality. In fact, he never instituted it as a right apart from any Ministerial discretion at all, and I will deal with that, if I may, a little later. The third point which has to be borne in mind is that among the conditions under which anybody can obtain extended benefit under the Act of last year was the condition of 30 contributions since the beginning of the last two previous insurance years. That was laid down as a statutory condition, though the Minister was given power to waive it, and one of the primary reasons for this Bill—the primary reason—is the fact that his power of waiver under the Act of last year comes automatically to an end on 30th September next.
The last provision in last year's Act to which I would call attention, which is also of importance, as I hope to show in a minute, is the date—which I quite agree was not a voluntary date on the part of the right hon. Gentleman opposite, but was pressed upon him—of 30th June next year. The right hon. Gentleman will realise that I try always to be accurate and always fair, and I hasten to anticipate any possible criticism as to facts by stating at once that that provision was forced upon him. If I wished, I could point out that the provision of 1st October 253 of this year was put, on his own initiative, in the original draft of his own Bill, and I distinguish this from the 30th June which was pressed upon him. On 30th June of next year there will have to be further legislation, because otherwise the whole system of insurance will come to an end. Of course, further legislation was contemplated by everybody who was a party to last year's discussion. That is the reason, which I will develop later, why I call this a stop-gap Bill. If the system has to be extended again as from the 30th June next year, it is obvious that one cannot have a complete Bill now if one wishes to make any inquiry in the subject meanwhile, but, at the same time, while the Bill now cannot be complete, it is a necessary measure for reasons which are known to everybody, namely, that unless it is passed the whole of the 30 contributions condition, which was instituted by the right hon. Gentleman, will come into force on 1st October, and, if it were to come into force, a large number of persons at present in receipt of extended benefit would be automatically cut off.
Now, therefore, this is the present situation: You have this condition of 30 contributions, which can at the present moment be waived, but, unless this Bill is passed, cannot be waived after 1st October. I would ask the House to realise what that means. This condition which we are waiving, and the date of 1st October, was an integral and organic part of last year's Act. It was in it from the beginning, from the first time it was printed, and what is the effect' The effect is this, that from the point of view of the solvency of the fund, for which everybody is anxious, it would have meant that from the 1st October onwards there would have been an addition to the revenues of the fund, or more accurately, an absence of drain on the revenues of the fund, of £10,000,000 or more annually. On the other hand, with the present state of unemployment, the fund is going into insolvency at the rate of £8,000,000 a year.
Therefore, two points are quite clear. The first is that the fund would have been solvent if no Act at all had been passed last year. That is one thing. It is equally clear that the fund would still be solvent if the Act of last year were to be allowed to take its whole 254 course unamended. That is also perfectly clear. In either case the fund would have been solvent, but as things are— and I am sure hon. Members opposite, as well as on this side, will not quarrel with our action—if we are asked to suspend the operation of last year's Act as regards the 1st October, we have under present conditions changed the whole underlying financial basis of last year's Act. If we have to change it so as to prevent the hardship to the people that would be involved, quite obviously we have to safeguard the financial soundness of the system as a whole. What will happen if we leave last year's condition to take effect on 1st October? If it takes effect on 1st October, between 200,000 and 250,000 people who are at present in receipt of extended benefit will be cut off benefit at once, at one stroke. I am pretty certain that there is no Member of this House, whatever his views in regard to benefit, who can conceive that as a contingency which we ought to allow to come to pass. But if you admit that, you have to admit, as I say, that the whole financial structure and foundation of last year's Act has been changed, and, therefore, you have to deal with the finance of last year's Act in addition to this part of it as well.
Let me deal now with the provisions of this year's Bill. I take, first of all, the question of discretion. I have seen it stated in some papers that the re-introduction of the Minister's discretion means that he is going to have and, apparently, from all that I can sec, to exercise a perfectly arbitrary control over those who are going to have benefit and those who are not.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The hon. Member says "Hear, hear." Then all I say is that his historical knowledge of what hag happened during the last three or four years is miserably inadequate to the occasion. He knows that this discretion, except for a very brief interval, was in existence right up to August of last year, and he knows perfectly well that up to August of last year there was no arbitrary treatment of this or that or the other individual claiming benefit any 255 more than there was afterwards or will be in the future. Those who take that line do not seem to recognise that up till Augu6t of last year, with a very brief interval at the end of 1921, there was precisely the same discretion on the part of the Minister with regard to extended benefit, not standard benefit, and they never detected any of its arbitrariness with regard to individuals of which they now profess to be afraid. That is perfectly clear. I see an Amendment down in the names of certain hon. Members of the party below the Gangway. The effect on the rates is infinitesimal, although the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. T. Thomson) shakes his head. I am sure he would be very agreeably surprised if he were to go into the calculations. These are two provisions the effect of which on the rates is quite infinitesimal. They either take effect with regard to persons who would not come on the rates in any case or who, in the case of the waiting period, have been in employment and, ex hypothesi, are not likely to come on the rates during the first week's un-employment.
Let me take the question of principle on which my predecessor used to lay stress. I know that he set great store by the fact, in his own perfectly sincere belief, that he gave extended benefit as a right and not subject to a ministerial discretion. I do not know whether now he would say, but at any rate other people say, that it is to be made a question of discretion. If hon. Members will really consider the facts, they will find that neither of those assumptions are justified, and I hope I can make it quite clear. In the first place, the discretion of the Minister never was, in fact, abolished by the right hon. Gentleman's Act. It was there afterwards as it was before. It took on a different shape, but there it was. It was, so to speak, swept out at one door, but it came in at the other door. Let me show how. Before, the grant of extended benefit was quite openly and candidly subject to ministerial discretion. What happened afterwards? In order to try and make it a right, what did the right hon. Gentleman do? He laid down the conditions under which it was supposed to be given, and he said, practically, from now you have got it as a right, but you have got it subject to 256 certain conditions, one of which is the 30 contributions. That is a condition on which, again, I have got to exercise my discretion by means of a waiver. You may call it a discretion or you may call it a power of waiver in the Minister, but it is precisely the same thing in the long run, because, just as the Minister could stop it by discretion in the one case if he wanted to be arbitrary, so it could be stopped in the other, and in no case have we really got away from the ministerial discretion.
I hope to show that in the very essence of the case you cannot do it when you try. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman hoped to do it, and believed that he had done it. I remember him making a speech in which there was a sentence which I did not understand at the time—I do not wish simply to quote sentences against any hon. Member—that if he ever wanted to fight politically he wanted to fight with facts. It was a rather cryptic statement on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, bat I think I understand it now. What he was doing was to try to make the extended benefit a right as apart from any discretion. He was really fighting facts, and he was trying to overcome them. No doubt he wrestled with the facts just as Jacob wrestled with the angel. The only difference was that, because we did not obstruct his Bill, he did not have to wrestle until break of day. At the same time, the result was the same. He could not prevail. He was put out of joint, so to speak, and in came the ministerial discretion as before. That is the actual fact with regard to the existence of the discretion at this moment. We may call it a discretion or a power of waiver, but it is really inherent in the nature of the system. I do not think that it can be properly got away from, and I think, if Members will really examine the system on its merits, they will see that it is due to certain palpable reasons. When you have a statutory of standard benefit, then a person has a definite and clear right. He has the same right to that insurance benefit as a person who has an accident policy on his motor car has a right, provided that certain conditions are fulfilled. If he does not search for work, of course he docs not get his insurance benefit. If he does not fulfil 257 the conditions of his motor car policy, he does not get his insurance benefit in that case. But, subject to those conditions, he has a definite and clear right with which nothing interferes.
When you come to the extended benefit the whole of the circumstances are really different. The type of illustration by which I think I can best convey the difference is this: A man goes into a shop to buy goods. He takes the money in his hand, and he has a right to have the goods —I am not now talking about a legal right—handed to him over the counter in return for the money which he brings. That is parallel to the standard benefit. That is, where the person has paid in his insurance contributions, he gets his standard benefit because he has paid enough; he is drawing, as a right, insurance benefit in respect of those contributions. But the moment a person goes beyond that he is really then much more in the position of a man who goes into shop and asks to be supplied with goods on credit. He says to the shopkeeper, "I am a solvent person; I am a person of substance and of character, but I cannot pay you the money at once. I need the goods, and I will pay for them afterwards." That is, I think, an exact comparison with the person who needs extended benefit. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If Members will analyse it, I think they will see that I am arguing quite fairly. Therefore, they are getting insurance on credit.
The whole basis of the Insurance Act, from the first moment that extended benefit was started, was that it was given in anticipation of future contributions by that same individual. It was said so in so many words by the late President of the Board of Trade. It was admitted by him and by others on the other side of the House as well as on this, and consequently extended benefit is a form of credit just the same as in the illustration which I have given. In that case, you still have the insurance principle, but you do also take into account other considerations entering into the matter before the credit is supplied. The body or the person who supplies it has to look to the substance and to the character of the person and also the means that he has got. In both cases, the insurance principle is there but with additional 258 risks when it is given on credit. That is quite clearly the case, and therefore, I say, when you get that type of extended benefit it is impossible to have the elasticity that is necessary unless there is a discretion of some sort. It does not mean that it is given of charity. It is nothing of the kind; it is given on credit; it is given on certain, principles, and it has not involved arbitrariness before and will not involve arbitrariness in the future.
I have dealt with the first Clause of the Bill with regard to discretion, and there is no need to dilate upon the second Clause with regard to the waiver. I have already said that between 200,000 and 250,000 men and women, recipients of benefit, would otherwise be cut off from benefit on 1st October unless this extension is given. Now let me go on to the question of the waiting period. We propose to increase the waiting period from three days to six.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
A week for these purposes is six working days. I would only point out one or two considerations in support of the measure which we have taken. As I say, some economies are essential if you knock away the foundation of the whole of the preceding Act with regard to the extension of the waiver under existing industrial conditions. I would only further point out that this particular question of the waiting period was not one on which even my predecessor laid so vital stress at that time as apparently he may do on this occasion, because the proposal to reduce it was not in the original draft of his own Bill. It may have been inserted afterwards, after a chequered period in. Committee upstairs, when he voted against it; but, whatever may have happened during that period, it was not even among his own original proposals. Whether he had other dates forced upon him or not, this at least was not a question of force majeure. The waiting period, again, was six weekdays, or the whole week of working days during the whole history of unemployment insurance, with 259 one brief interval, right up to August of last year. Again, just let me clear the way of some misapprehension. The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton), I know, has from time to time expressed his own opinion very strongly indeed with regard to the desirability of a short waiting period, especially as it affects unskilled labour.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I would only point out to him that, even from that point of view, it is probable that the effect of it all will not be quite so severe as he himself anticipates, because of the ordinary operation of the continuity rule. That is to say, from the point of view of the waiting period any three days out of any consecutive six days can be grouped together, and if you get two groups 'of three days within a period of six weeks, they are linked together to count as one, in order to form the waiting period of six days. I hope hon. Members on no side of the House will think I am trying either to overstate or understate anything. I have endeavoured to put the thing perfectly clearly as I see it myself, and I think, from the point of view of ca6ual labour, it is quite clear the effect would not be so severe as some people, who do not know the operation of the continuity rule, would be otherwise inclined to think.
This I would say also, with regard to the scheme as a whole, in the first place it has always been considered that if anyone has to make a choice, then this limitation of benefit in the way of an extension of the waiting period is the least burdensome form of limitation that there can be. It is less burdensome, I think, than any limitation of benefit which would take effect at a later period in the stage of unemployment. I think it is quite clear that when a person has been ex hypothesi in employment for a given period, that it is at the end of that period, when he has been in employment, that a limitation of this kind is Jess burdensome than any limitation would be at a later period when he is out of employment, and I think that this is so is borne out by the regular trade union practice. I do not wish to give any inaccurate idea of what the trade 260 union practice may be, but you get, for example, in certain of the quite considerable trade unions, when people are temporarily suspended from work, a waiting period of the whole six days without any payment on account of it. I quite admit that other unions who have got a waiting period of six days repay it later in whole or in part, but I would only point out that, in a case like that, if you take trade unions you have two points to consider. In the first place, those who have a waiting period of six days, as a number do, realise that that first interval is not an excessive one, and when it comes to paying back afterwards, then, as I say, the difference between the trade union benefit and benefit under the State scheme with the gap abolished, is very material. A trade union in the end comes to the limit of its weeks of payment, whereas if a man fulfils the other conditions in this case, he goes on receiving benefit. From the point of view of finance of trade unions, it really comes to the same whether you pay up for the preceding waiting period when it has come to an end, or whether you use the money thereby saved in order to prolong the weeks of payment further than otherwise would be the case. The fact remains that some substantial unions—I think in the dyeing and bleaching trade, for example—do have a waiting period of six days. I would say, therefore,' quite confidently, that it is in accordance with trade union conditions, and it is the least burdensome form of limitation, and I think the operation of it, even with regard to unskilled labour, is one which is not so severe as some people have been led to apprehend.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I would like a further explanation as to whether this continuity period for three days in one week and the following three days within six weeks would create the necessary qualifying period?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The answer is quite distinctly yes. Supposing a person be unemployed Tuesday, and Thursday, and Monday of next week, that is three days: supposing that he waited for five weeks and was then unemployed on a Wednesday, Friday and Tuesday, those two groups of three days would be added together and would form a proper waiting period, and satisfy the 261 Regulation. [An HON. MEMBER: "Even although spread over six weeks?"] Within a period of six weeks.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I have never for a moment, as everyone will admit, attempted to conceal it, and, in fact, I have put it perfectly straightforwardly. Those are the general conditions, with one addition, and that is in Clause 5 we deal with a smaller point, and yet an important point from some points of view, which is the payment by trade unions acting as agents for the State. There is a provision, I think it was in the Schedule of last year's Act, under which a relaxation up till the 1st October is given. That relaxation comes to an end on the 1st October, and, unless we renew it, it would mean that where trade unions have paid benefit, so to speak, as our agents, they would in many cases not be able to do so after 1st October, whereas, by Clause 5, I propose to continue that relaxation so that they can go on doing so as before.
Those are the contents of the Bill so far as unemployment insurance taken by itself is concerned, and I have dealt with it by itself, because, as I say, this Bill has got to be considered both by itself and also in relation to the other social services. But I have kept this latter consideration to the end, so as not to confuse the two principles. I come now to the question of its relation to the other social services. Those who have been present throughout the Debates in this House are now well acquainted with the finance of widows' pensions. It is impossible to keep the whole of the social provisions in this country in watertight compartments. They all act and react upon one another, both in effect and in the matter of contribution. It has always been the expectation, perfectly clearly stated, that ultimately the contributions to unemployment insurance should be reduced to 6d. all round, that is, 6d. from employers, 6d. from men, and 6d. from the Exchequer. That has always been the expectation as soon as the finance and 262 the circumstances warranted. Under the scheme of widows' pensions, an additional burden has been laid upon employers, and an additional burden has been laid upon men. I have been enough in this House in the Debates on widows' pensions, even although I have been mostly occupied with work outside, to realise the emphasis that has been laid upon the extra burden on industry on the one hand and upon men and women on the other. Therefore, treating, as I say, all these systems of social insurance as part of one whole, and as acting and reacting on one another, it is perfectly right, legitimate and proper, where possible, to give some easement to both. Therefore, it is proposed to reduce the contributions, both of masters and of men, by 2d. each per week from the present very high level of 10d. on the part of masters to 8d., and of 9d. on the part of men to 7d., with corresponding reductions in the case of women and children. That has been rendered possible by the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is prepared to contribute, during the period of deficiency, so long as the debt remains as high as at the end of this year, a sum of £3,900,000. That is the contribution on the part of the Exchequer in order to enable reductions of 2d. to masters and 2d. to men, bringing their respective contributions down to 8d. and 7d. respectively.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Yes, £3,900,000 per annum. It is quite clearly stated in the White Paper. Therefore, the finance of the Bill is as follows, putting it quite briefly: There is a sum gained of £6,500,000 on the part of the Insurance Fund.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The Exchequer contributes a sum of £3,900,000, making between them a total of £10,400,000. The relief in the way of 2d. to masters and 2d. to men is £6,800,000, leaving a credit on that account of £3,600,000, and the debt in that case, on the basis of 1,300,000 on the unemployed registers, would increase at the rate of £4,400,000. The rate of increase will of course be less if the register falls.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
This is neither clever, nor heartless nor jugglery. I am putting forward a perfectly straightforward statement, but I say quite clearly that this is a stop-gap Bill, and I will now give my reasons for stating it. The whole system under the Act of last year is to come to an end on the 30th June, unless some further Measure be passed before then. But if we are to make a fresh start on the 30th June, it is quite clear there are other duties which have to be done before that. I have heard complaints from the other side of the House, and in papers I have read, as to the administration of the Act. [Interruption.] I am perfectly prepared to deal with the administration—
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
That is what the hon. Member may think, but I am perfectly prepared for anyone to judge of the administration: for those who are competent to deal with the facts to get hold of them. There are complaints on both sides. There are the complaints that many people are getting benefit who ought not to get benefit. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw), my predecessor, was one of those who stated that he was the first to wish that no one should get benefit who ought not to have it.
§ Mr. SHAW indicated assent.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I have the right hon. Gentleman with me in that ease. [HON. MEMBERS: "We all agree to that."] Then we are all agreed that there are some people, as has been stated, who have been too easily getting benefit, while other people who should have had benefit, as has been said, are not getting it. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is true!"] It is quite clear, then, that I was accurate in stating that there were at least some persons in those categories. What I propose to do is to try to see, when there is this difference of opinion, that we have a really careful inquiry made and that we have the result of that inquiry long before 30th June. I desire that the truth should come out. I have tried to make it clear that I make no allegations of one kind or another. I 264 have administered this Act as fairly as I possibly could. I am not in the least deterred by misrepresentations either one way or the other. I am anxious to get at the truth. I want to know what the best administration ought to be. If, in an immense machine of this kind, there are faults, then we want to have the faults out. We want to know the truth and to find a remedy.
Consequently I propose to set up this autumn a Committee that would go into the principles, the administration and the finance of the whole system. That Committee is to be composed of representatives from all the three parties who are most affected, the employer, the man and the public. In the light of that Committee's report I trust we shall see exactly where we are in the matter of all these various complaints. I should like to say that on investigation into some of these complaints I have never found more than the shadow of foundation for them, speaking generally. I have heard this kind of complaint from both sides. Of course, there is a mistake here and there—as there is bound to be. To administration can be literally inspired in every single sentence or thing that has been done or uttered, but the mistakes so far, wherever I have tested them, have been surprisingly small.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I, for one, should be exceedingly glad to have the whole thing tested, and I trust, if we can get the inquiry through, we may be able to deal with the matter comprehensively before 30th June of next year. I trust so. If not—
§ Mr. MACLEAN
If this Committee is set up and pursues its inquiries, will a Report be submitted to this House for discussion? Will it be a public inquiry?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The Inquiry will be one of the ordinary kind by a Committee. I have no wish to burke the discussion on a single point before this House, and never have done. This I can say, that, while for this reason it-is perfectly necessary to have an inquiry, the Bill cannot be a complete one under the circumstances. In recommending this Bill to the House, I do so because I consider it is animated by those principles, at any rate, which have animated 265 all the greatest men of the Unionist party from the days of Disraeli to him who died so lately, Lord Milner. I am quite certain that there are two principles which they had in their minds in these matters. The first was a perfectly genuine sympathy with the conditions of those who were not so happily placed as themselves, and a wish to make those conditions better, and at the same time a determination that, if you really wish to improve conditions, you have got to base your action on sound administration at the same time, other wise your effort will, in the long run, only fail in its object.
§ Mr. T. SHAW
I beg to move to leave out from the word "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the wordsthis House declines, especially at a time when unemployment is showing an alarming increase, to assent to the Second Reading of a Bill which, in order to reduce the number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit, reinvests the Minister of Labour with wide power to withhold payment of the benefit on the ground, that it is not a right but a form of charity; which, by lengthening the waiting period, further curtails the opportunity for obtaining unemployment benefit; and which, by compelling an ever-increasing number of unemployed persons and their dependants to seek assistance from the Poor Law, will throw an added burden upon local authorities already heavily in debt.In rising to move the Amendment which stands in my name, and that of several of my hon. Friends, I want to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour on producing the first concrete proposal to deal with this matter. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rabbits!"] I will deal with the rabbits in a moment. After nine months of travail, this Government, with all the powers, all the virtues and all the abilities and apostrolic fervour of the Prime Minister; the great ability of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, and the spangled imagination of the Home Secretary, have produced this abortion. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman must have been ashamed of his task when he brought this Bill before the House. I want to call attention to the very astonishing fact that is set out in his statement, which, I am sure, my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will subsequently deal with. We have in connection with this Bill one of 266 the most extraordinary actuarial reports I think the House has ever seen. We are told that £6,500,000 is to be saved from benefits, and this without a word of explanation either from the actuary or from the Minister as to how this money is to be taken. I think never in the history of Parliament has such an actuarial statement been made, or have ever such a Bill been introduced to Parliament!
This £6,500,000 is to be taken from benefits for unemployed people without a word of explanation. The House, I think, is entitled to know exactly where this money will come from. How is it calculated? We are entitled to an explanation as to what the unemployed have done to be mulcted of £6,500,000. There is another part of the actuarial statement that I cannot understand. The Government actuary makes on his own account three hypotheses. I want to ask the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary, on what ground did the actuary make these hypotheses? Were the figures supplied to him by the Department? Are they out of his own head? How did they come into being? The House ought to know, because in dealing with a matter of this importance the greater the clarity we can have the better, of course, for our judgment.
We are opposing this Bill because, in our opinion, it tends to take £6,500,000 from people who ought to be receiving more and more. The Government are escaping a liability in a question with which they cannot deal, and in which they show themselves hopelessly incapable. They are robbing men who ought to be paid in order to cover their own iniquity and their own incapacity. That is the way I look upon the Bill the Minister has presented. Let me quote just a few figures, the last figures I have been able to obtain as to the state of the unemployment register. These show an increase on last year, during a. similar period, of 285,900. The Prime Minister a few days ago called attention to the fact that 70,000 were to be taken from these figures by virtue of the fact that they were added by me to the Register. I think the Prime Minister knew the facts as well as anyone why the 70,000 were put on. Now it pleases the Government to tell the truth. It did not please them to tell the truth when they sent out their statements during last 267 election. If you take the 70,000 you find there an increase in unemployment of 25 per cent. over this time last year, and the Government sits helpless and hopeless like a litter of puppies waiting to be drowned, without a positive suggestion— with one exception—which is to take £6,500,000 from the unemployed to cover up their own shortcomings. That is the position. It is worse than robbing a blind man. When we discuss this question the Prime Minister blandly turns round and says: "It is really up to you to suggest remedies, it is not up to us, you were responsible for defeating us when we wanted to help unemployment, now you must make suggestions." All I can say is this: that the party opposite said they had a remedy, and the country refused it. Then they said: "Give us power and we will swallow our principles." They have swallowed their principles in order to have power, and they turn round to us with the bland way of the Prime Minister and say: "Really, it is up to the Opposition to supply remedies, and we with our majority will sit here, and do what we are doing to-day."
We have to deal in this Bill not merely with the proposition that the Minister has put down, but to deal with the mass of prejudice that has been raised in the country, and the change of opinion made in a matter where prejudice ought not to exist. The truth has not been sought with quite the diligence with which the truth ought to have been sought. Any stick was good enough to beat the Labour Government. A lot of the prejudice against the Unemployment Insurance Act is due, not to irresponsible men, but to men sometimes of Cabinet rank. During the time of the late Government, I remember the Home Secretary himself writing an article which showed his keen imagination. He made statements that had not a basis of fact. In fact, were I not to credit him with imagination, I should have had to describe his article by two short English words that would be unparliamentary. [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on!" and "Have a try!"] These things have prejudiced the case in the minds of the public. I know of no people on earth who have been so sorely libelled as the unemployed. Why, the Chancellor of the Exchequer only a few days ago let 268 out a suggestion which was equivalent to saying that workmen considered how to qualify for unemployment benefit instead of getting work. A more miserable libel—
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
May I, on behalf of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, quite deliberately deny that?
§ Mr. SHAW
I say quite as deliberately that I heard the statement. I say that it is a base libel on the working people of this country to say that they deliberately try to get unemployment benefit instead of getting work. The official figures, as given in reply to questions, prove conclusively that there is no truth in the allegation generally made that there is a great deal of fraud under the Unemployment Insurance Act, and if in the spirit of the same kind of class struggle, class war if you like, we were to try to libel people belonging to other classes we could quite easily say that, because there are a certain number of divorce cases among the aristocracy, the aristocracy is frankly and rankly immoral. We should have just the same justification. [Interruption.] I am calling attention to the fact that grave libels have been made, and drawing an illustration of the grave danger of uttering these libels, because we might get the same type of libel from the other side, and with much move justification.
We take our stand on principles quite different from those of the right hon. Gentleman. He has based his principles largely on the solvency of the Fund and on questions of finance. We base our principles quite as frankly on the right of the unemployed to live, and we say that the money can be found to allow the unemployed to live, and we have far more respect for them than we have for the question of borrowing another £2,000,000, or £3,000,000, or £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 from the Treasury. We start out with that object, and we criticise this Bill from that point of view—that the unemployed have a right to live. After all, why have we this phenomenal unemployment? Is it or is it not a direct result of the War? Were the workers, or were they not, promised that they should not suffer as a result of the War? Are promises made to them to be of no avail? Are the only people—I have repeated this in the House over and over again—to whom our 269 promises are to be kept the people who lent money during the War? Are we going to tell these men, when the time of difficulty and danger is over, as Lord Derby did, that things are different now from what they were when the time of danger and difficulty existed? That is the fundamental point on which we base all our arguments.
The right hon. Gentleman has carefully refrained from saying what his "discretion" means. He has skated over thin ice very beautifully by using the argument of "you are another," but not a single word has been said of what his discretion is intended to mean. The actuary says—the right hon. Gentleman must have said something to the actuary, although he has said nothing to the House —the actuary says "£6,500,000." Where from? I will give the House one or two examples of where the money came from before. Certain people were refused benefits on the ground that they were un-covenanted, other people were paid, but the people who were refused had to pay contributions when they worked in order to pay off the deficit caused by the ordinary payments they were refused. Is that what the right hon. Gentleman intends to do or is it not? We had better know where we are. We had better know whether people who pay the same contributions under the same conditions are to have the same benefits or not, or whether the idea of the Minister is to give benefits to some people, to refuse them to others, and to insist that all people pay under the same conditions. Let us know exactly where we are. Single people have the same rights in respect of their contributions as any other people. They agree, everybody agrees—I do not think there is a dissentient voice—with the payment of extra benefits to men with wives and families. But, surely, in addition to single people paying towards these extra benefits, the Minister does not wish to deny to them benefits which are paid to others who are paying contributions under exactly similar circumstances. If he does we had better know where we are, and if he does not, where does his £6,500,000 come from? These are things we are fairly entitled to ask.
Then we are told that there is no charity in this matter. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman has read a report presented to his Department by a 270 number of very highly-skilled permanent officials—and no word of praise could be too great for them—who dealt with the whole of this subject, in which I think ho will find a phrase admitting that the method of paying uncovenanted benefits up to then had had a Poor Law tendency? Obviously if the Minister asks, and it is what he is asking, that ho should have the sole power to determine who shall or who shall not have extended benefits, then what does it mean? If three are refused and one is granted benefit, does it mean a charitable payment or does it not? Men have got to apply to the Minister and to take his answer, and he, and not the law of the land, becomes the determining factor in the lot of hundreds of thousands of the unemployed. In the 1924 Act I tried, as far as a man could try, to lay down the principle that benefits should be paid as a right. Under the circumstances it was impossible to fill up every hole and make the scheme absolutely watertight, but does the Minister suggest that if I had been sitting in his place now I should have brought forward a Bill like this. The Minister knows perfectly well that a one-clause Bill would have given him another 12 months waiver, and when that 12 months waiver was put in it was put in with the intention that it could be extended. In every year since the beginning of this insurance scheme special measures have had to he taken to extend the special provisions because of the extraordinary condition of affairs. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for the Minister to have dealt with the matter, but that would not have met his book. What the Minister wants is a sum of money back from the unemployed. That is the real reason for this Bill and the only reason. He could have got what he wanted the other way with a one-Clause Measure.
This has no personal reference for the light hon. Gentleman, but we do not trust the Minister's intentions. We have seen them in operation. As soon as he conveniently could he began, under the powers he had, to take people off the register, so we on our part are scarcely likely to vote for giving him the powers he seeks when his intentions are already open and declared. It may be that per son-ally the right hon. Gentleman—of course, I do not need to pursue the subject, because everybody knows that the 271 right hon. Gentleman is full of the best intentions, but so is the pavement to Hades, and the right hon. Gentleman's Government has laid a fair share of that pavement during the last few months. We object to his putting another flag into the pavement. We do not want this Bill, and for that reason we are objecting to it.
The Bill will inevitably throw a burden on the local authorities. It is of no use for the right hon. Gentleman to minimise it. We know it is so. The information in his own Department will tell him, as plainly as figures can tell anybody, what the extension of these benefits meant to various municipalities. The meanness of this Bill is that it is to take away certain moneys for the State, and it is throwing the responsibility on precisely those authorities that are already most heavily burdened. That is the meanness of the proposal. Instead of saying, "We have failed miserably in our task of dealing with unemployment, we have increased the number of unemployed by nearly 300,000 instead of decreasing it, and we will see that the unemployed are better provided for," the Government come along and intend to make the position of the unemployed worse. That is the broad position of affairs. I am surprised that the right hon. Gentleman is in the position he is.
Let us consider the question of the unemployed. Not only the right hon. Gentleman but other people are saying that we are passing the bounds of safety and of prudence. What is the position now? A man with a wife and three children gets 29s. a week—assuming he gets paid without any difficulty and without any possibility of being struck off the register. Can a man in London get a house and pay rates for less than 12s., putting it at the very lowest? Is it possible to make less than 6d. per head per week do for clothes and boots, and less than 3s. 6d. do for fuel and light? Taking those figures, which are much below what they ought to be, we have the five people left with a total of 11s. a week, 3½d. per head per day for food. No amusements, no insurance, no possibility of putting by for a rainy day. Threepence halfpenny per head per day —and a pint of milk for a child costs 3d.! Those are the conditions that the 272 Minister asks power to deal with, "if it is in the national interest so to do." It ought not to be in the national interest or in the Minister's interest to touch a penny of the payments that are now being made to genuine unemployed working men, although they have not 30 stamps, and we shall oppose him to the best of our ability in his attempt to get the power he seeks.
I think we should get much nearer to a realisation of what unemployment is if all the critics of these benefits, all those who want to take them away, were put on 3½d. a day. I would willingly be a party to putting every man or woman who talks about our overstepping the bounds of prudence, and about people wanting money for nothing, preferring the benefit to work, I would willingly put them on 3½d. a day, and give them six months of it. Afterwards they would come back and help us to make a better Insurance Act than we now have. It would teach them sympathy with the unemployed, it would teach them what unemployment means, it would give them an idea of what they were talking about, instead of their living in the clouds, talking of theories and talking about things that they either do not understand or appreciate in the slightest degree. We suggested to the Government, before the Prime Minister's appeal, a better way of dealing with the unemployed than taking their money away. We suggested, for instance, that the right hon. Gentleman should be the head of a committee to provide employment. We suggested giving him funds with which to do it. and all we got from him was, "£10,000,000 a year you ask for, for four years. That is £40.000,000. What you want to do is to give it to the Russians." It is unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman, it is unworthy of the House, it is unworthy of the problem he is dealing with. It is below him to use that kind of argument, and I hope he will not use it again. To sum up we stand for the right of the unemployed to live without anything in the nature of charity. We object to the Minister's discretion in this matter which makes the thing a charitable concession. We hold that the Government is responsible for the condition of the country, and they ought to shoulder the burden instead of attempting to throw it upon other people. 273 We hold that the length of the suffering of the unemployed should lead to more generosity on the part of the Government and not to more cheese-paring. We shall endeavour in Committee not to give the right hon. Gentleman power to fleece £0,500,000 from the unemployed, but we shall try to give him increased power to give them further sums of money. We hold that the Government ought to be ashamed of themselves to try to deal with unemployment by reducing the figures at the expense of those who are unemployed. The men who are unemployed need broad and not speeches, and you cannot feed them on the very picturesque and big declarations of the Prime Minister. You cannot feed them with Actuary's reports, because beef-steaks are what they require. The best policy is to feed them first and argue with them afterwards. We demand that we should have a plain straight deal with the unemployed, and we shall resist every tendency to make matters worse. We shall fight this Bill so far as we can, line by line, and passage by passage, and we shall try to demonstrate to the Government that what is required is more generous treatment, and we shall try to show that this Bill is a miserable apology for neglected opportunities.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
The Minister of Labour in his opening remarks referred to the Amendment standing on the Order Paper in the name of my right hon. Friends and myself dealing with this Bill, and he suggested that we were wrong in thinking that it would throw any considerable burden upon the rates. I was not convinced by his argument, I would rather take the figures of the Actuary's report, which show that there is going to be a saving of £6,500,000. The question I ask is, from where is this £6,500,000 coming? It is undoubtedly going to be taken from those who would otherwise receive it as unemployment benefit. However much the Minister of Labour may be prepared to see this reduction made, I am sure the local authorities are not willing that the burden should fall upon the unemployed individuals themselves. The unemployed will undoubtedly go to the local guardians for succour to the extent to which they are denied by the Unemployed Insurance Fund.
274 The evidence of the White Paper is conclusive that if you are to save £6,500,000, it must come out of the pockets of the unemployed who must be maintained, and those unemployed will undoubtedly go to the guardians for additional relief. Therefore, the Government are not merely doing an injustice to the unemployed, but they are perpetrating an added injustice to the local authorities and particularly to industry.
The suggestion was made that, in reviewing the question of pensions and unemployment insurance, we ought to balance one against the other. It seems to me that the balance is heavily weighted against local authorities and against industry. We protest against this burden being added at the time when industry is so depressed. We have already been told that industry is being throttled by heavy rates and charges, and yet the Government are seeking to relieve their own responsibilities by placing upon the local authorities a burden which they are quite unable to bear. I have been told, when pressing the Government on behalf of the necessitous areas, that what was done under the Insurance Act of last year brought relief to the local authorities, but now the Minister of Labour is seeking to undo a large part of what was done last year in the way of relief. On the broad principle, I would like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what there is in the condition of unemployment to-day which warrants the big cut he is making in unemployment benefit? Surely he knows that things were bad a year ago when it was necessary to pass the Act of 1924. The conditions to-day are infinitely worse. The resources of the local authorities and individuals have long ago been dissipated, and the actual position facing them is infinitely worse than it was before.
At that time, I believe all parties made a great deal of the necessity of bringing security into the life of the worker, and the Act of 1924 did a great deal in that direction. Now that security is going to be undermined at the arbitrary whim of the Minister of Labour. The right hon. Gentleman has not told us upon what lines he is going to use his discretion. Certain conditions were set forth in the Bill of last year which guaranteed that there should be no abuse as long as the Act was faithfully administered in 275 accordance with the conditions laid down. Four conditions were laid down, and it is much better that this House should lay down the conditions under which unemployment benefit is to be given than to leave it to the discretion of the Minister, because Ministers of Labour may come and go, and their standards may vary. But, after all, this question should be settled by Parliament and it should not be left to the idiosyncrasies of any individuals.
Parliament in 1924 laid down conditions to protect us against abuses, and provided that a man could not get benefit unless he was normally employed in an insured trade. In the second place, he had to show that for the two preceding years he had been employed to a reasonable extent, and he also had to show that he was making every reasonable effort to obtain employment. What reason is there for changing those conditions? Were not those conditions satisfactory? There was also the further test as to whether a man was genuinely seeking work, and anxious to take it. What reason is there now to bring in this Bill, which is entirely opposed to the statutory provision laid down in the last Act? Has that Act worked badly? We have had no information from the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister of Labour to show that last year's Act has been a failure. What I have heard is, that the local authorities have not acted too sympathetically towards many claimants who have come before them, and, therefore, there is no ground for removing the statutory right which Parliament has given.
Then there is the proposal for increasing the waiting period from three days to six days. The Minister of Labour said that it would be better to have the waiting period at the beginning rather than at the end. But why have a waiting period at all? Under normal conditions, if a man has been in regular work for years, he may have laid up his resources and means whereby he can tide over three or six days or a week before he comes on to the Insurance Fund, but when a man for four or five years has been on and off the Insurance Fund, and has had no regular work, and has no resources to fall back upon, when he falls out of work, he is absolutely on the rocks and on his beam 276 ends. Therefore, I say it is cruel after five years of almost uninterrupted unemployment to make this additional hardship, and compel men to wait for six days before they can draw what is necessary to keep the wolf from the door.
Is this done because they have not satisfied these conditions? Is it a fact that only the men who are deserving can get this benefit? I submit that it is indeed an insult to the unemployed workers at this particular time, after suffering so much, to add to the terrors which unemployment brings upon them in this way. For the reason that you have destroyed the security to which the worker is entitled, making his hazardous life one of greater insecurity and hardship; for the reason that the Government proposals are throwing a burden upon the local authorities to the extent of the amount which they are seeking to save, I say it is unworthy of the Government to shelve their responsibilities in this way. Why do they not increase the deficiency fund? The intention was that this fund should be increased because, when trade recovers, there would be no difficulty in paying off the big deficit. Therefore it was considered a sound policy to allow the fund to increase instead of adding further burdens upon industry or upon the individuals. Why could not the Government use for this purpose some of the millions raised by the last Budget which are being spent in other directions?
§ Mr. KIDD
The right hon. Gentleman who moved this Amendment does not seem to be so much concerned about the sufficiency or insufficiency of the dole, but what he is concerned about is why the dole is necessary at all. He referred to the question of the industrial workers. The anxiety on the part of the worker becomes all the keener when he discovers that the equivalent of the dole in Germany is rapidly disappearing, and when he also knows, as he does to-day, that the dole in America is non-existent. Only yesterday the President of the Board of Trade, in a particularly able review of our trade, dealt with the comparative conditions of industry in Germany on the one hand, and in America on the other, and I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment would, in answer to his own question, have told the House why in Germany the dole is disappearing.
§ Mr. COMPTON
On a point of Order. Is the word "dole" an expression that ought to be used for unemployment benefit by a Member of this House? Is it a proper expression to apply to benefit for which the recipient has already paid?
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. James Hope)
That is a matter of merit, and not of order. It may be argued that it is an improper expression, but it is not unparliamentary.
§ Mr. KIDD
I quite agree that the word "dole" is a terminological inexactitude; it is a mistake on the part of one more distinguished than I am. I had hoped that the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment would have inquired into the conditions in Germany which have led to their unemployment insurance rapidly disappearing, and also into the conditions in America which render either unemployment insurance or the dole, one or other or both, unnecessary there. Since the right hon. Gentleman has not offered an explanation, I think I might —in perfectly good taste, I hope, certainly in no acrimonious spirit, and certainly not with any lack of sympathy for those who are the victims of the industrial conditions here—offer some suggestion as to why the conditions are so different in Germany and in America from what they are here. We may object as we like to the military spirit in Germany, but I presume that, if we had not enjoyed the security of an insular position here, we might have developed a military spirit also; but, whatever may be said for or against the military spirit, it brings in its train a sense of discipline which is particularly valuable in a time of industrial distress. The German worker to-day, in obedience to that sense of discipline, instinctively follows the recognised leaders of industry. He does not take his views on industrial difficulties from those who give no proof of their qualifications to put forward such views; he instinctively follows the leaders of industry who have proved their ability to be leaders of industry, and, through his following that lead, there is constantly going on in Germany to-day an absorption of unemployed people, with the result that unemployment insurance in Germany is fast disappearing. But the illustration afforded by America—
§ Mr. KIDD
The illustration afforded by America is infinitely more valuable. No one can talk about America restricting the liberties of her people; there is no German Kaiser there. Why are the conditions in America such that neither unemployment insurance nor dole is necessary? There, of course, the trade unions are not only entirely divorced from politics, but are becoming in a most emphatic way a great auxiliary to industry. You have the trade unions acting as the investment society of the workers, and you have the worker following in the wake of his particular union in the matter of individual investment, with, as the final result, the establishment of the Labour banks. Lest, peradventure, the large financial institutions, dealing with hundreds of millions, might have no temptation to cater for the investment of the individual workers' money, and lest, again, the worker might object to dealing with such large institutions, you have the Labour banks established in America, where the worker who, it may be, wants to buy 1,000 dollars' worth of stock and has only 200 dollars available in his pocket, borrows the balance from the bank and takes an investment. What is the result of all this? It means that the economic sense is spread in America-over a very largo area, and with that spread of the economic sense comes an appreciation by the worker of the difficulties attending industry. He does not worry there as to whether this or that particular wage is satisfactory to the minds of certain political trade union leaders; the test is—
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Debate on Second Reading is a very wide one, but it appears to me that the hon. Member is going away from the subject of unemployment altogether, and addressing himself to labour conditions generally.
§ Mr. KIDD
I shall observe your ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I admit that I was trying to take advantage of the scope allowed on Second Reading. The point I wish to make is this: The answer to the question asked by the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment, "Why this unemployment?" is, I submit, that our conditions in industry here are too rigid. There is a lack of elasticity in industry, due to artificial interference 279 with industry owing to the fact that our trade unions are so immersed in politics. In America, on the other hand, where the trade union is divorced from politics and pursues the line of investment, you have a perfectly elastic industrial system; you have industry thoroughly adaptable so that the test always is, what can an industry afford in the matter of wages? Therefore, you have no dole, but you have this position, that there is such individual and national wealth in America that, when it comes to widows and orphans, they can exhibit towards the widow and orphan a generosity which we can never emulate. I had hoped that, the question having been put, not from these benches but from the Labour benches, "Why this unemployment," the answer also would have come from the Labour benches, and, if that answer had been faithful to facts, it could not have avoided reference to Germany on the one hand and America on the other. If the answer had reflected the condition in America which relieve America of doles and unemployment insurance, then you would have the explanation of the individual and national prosperity of America, which is in strange contrast with the situation here. The only complete explanation is that there the trade union is pursuing, on behalf of the workers, the line of investment, and is avoiding politics and Labour parties.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I do not desire to be drawn from the main point of the discussion by the most extraordinary speech to which we have just listened. According to that speech, it seems that we are suffering from unemployment because we are not Imperialistic enough, because the trade unions of this country indulge too much in political questions; and that, if they would leave political life and the making of the laws that control them to their masters, and let the masters fix the conditions both by law and in fact industrially, there would be plenty of work for them if they did not bother their heads beyond the word "work." I can only imagine that there was running through that extraordinary speech one little strain which I cannot help believing is bothering a large number of Conservatives in this country to-day—the lack of a supply of recruits driven by necessity into the Imperialist Forces. If that is to be one of the underlying principles that prompt 280 the tightening up of the administration of unemployment benefit, then I think it is time this country as a whole cleared out the Conservative Government, and expressed in a proper manner the will for no more war, if your armies can only be recruited out of poverty and suffering from amongst the people.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I am sorry if I fell into the same error. I wish now to return to some of the remarks made in introducing the Bill by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. He tried to assure us that this was just a stop-gap Bill, that it was not a Bill which had anything to do with the gap question as we understood it. So far as I am able to understand it, however, it reimposes a gap system which is unregularised and controlled solely by the whim of the Minister himself, expressed through regulations issued by him from time to time. The old gap system gave fixed periods when benefit would not be available; this Bill gives to the Minister the right to give intermittent periods without benefit, at any time or for any period as he may from time to time determine. That is a most pernicious and unsatisfactory re-imposition of the denial of benefit through the introduction of a gap. The Minister also said that the primary reason for introducing this Bill was to extend the waiver right, and thereby help those who would be automatically thrown out at the end of September this year, but that he had also in mind the question of the solvency of the fund. I want to suggest that, as I hope to be able to develop in a moment or two, this Bill is not solely in the interest of extending the waiver right of the Minister to the 200,000, but it is to extend his power over a number of, approximately, 500,000. I shall be able, perhaps, to develop that a little later.
So far as the solvency of the Fund is concerned, it is very strange that 'this question should crop up at this moment. Have we already forgotten the powers that Ministers of Labour took in connection with the solvency of the Fund? We must remember that there was a time when there was a deficiency of approximately £15,500,000. That deficiency is much less now; the Fund is more solvent 281 now that it has been. I think its highest peak of deficiency was £15,500,000. Is it forgotten that successive Ministers of Labour came to this House, firstly for power to get advances from the Treasury up to £10,000,000, and then to increase that amount to £20,000,000, and that their present powers, obtained in April, 1922, enable them to draw on the Treasury up to £30,000,000? The significance of these figures is that the Governments of the day realised that unemployment, and the distress consequent thereupon, would be with us for a, long time in such volume that current contributions would not enable the Fund to meet its current obligations. They still have about £20,000,000 odd upon which they might draw from the Treasury, so that the question of the solvency of the Fund is hastened now as an excuse, I suggest, for cutting down that very unhealthy number that is registered on the live registers of the Employment Exchanges.
The right hon. Gentleman said that in many respects an unemployed person on extended benefit was very much like a person who goes to a small trader and asks for certain goods on credit. That comparison is not worthy of a Governmental Department. The person who to-day is unemployed has surely some service standing to his credit in the State. Surely there are some accumulations towards which he has contributed that stand to his credit and that ought to be available for him in accordance with the distressed circumstances in which he finds himself placed. In that respect he is different. He did not come to the nation to beg of the nation. He came to the nation and, when he was able to work and work was available, he was employed. He received certain wages that did not represent the full equivalent of the service he gave, and consequently he calls now for some part of that reserve to be paid to him to help him to tide over the very difficult period he is passing through.
The Minister, of course, says, as if the extra three days of qualifying period was nothing, that after all it is best to have that stopped at the commencement, and that will prevent the individual from going to the Poor Law guardians or anyone else. But will it? Tell me of any industrialist threatened hourly with discharge because of bad trade who has a sufficient reserve to his credit in money 282 wealth, Post Office Bank or elsewhere, which will enable him to live a week. There are not any. What can your engineer's labourer, on 36s. 6d. a week, save to provide for a week of waiting? I saw a cartoon which I think very aptly reflects the present position. It was a cartoon of the Prime Minister looking at a drowning couple and saying, "Swim about for six days and I will throw you a life-line." It seems to me that after the long period of distress that many of these unemployed citizens have passed through, to say, "Now you must starve for six days, you must not go to the guardians, you must not go anywhere, the Minister says you will not do it," is only fooling with a very serious situation.
So far as the Government themselves are concerned, I cannot help but think that they will go down to posterity as the Government that produced a Budget for the rich order and an early funeral for the struggling, distressed, unemployed people. I am not going to accuse hon. Members opposite of being wilfully more brutal than any other humans, but in many instances their very surroundings bring an atmosphere of semi-callousness in their train. They cannot appreciate to the same extent that many of us do the very serious indications that, after four years of harassing trouble and travail, with increased sickness brought upon them by reason of loss of vitality, with their bad housing conditions, it is no idle threat to say there is a train of discontent and rumbling which compels men and citizens to commit acts that no sane, healthy person would ever think about. I do not know whether many of you have followed some of these individuals who for years have been on and off unemployed. I do not know whether, in meeting them, you watch the brooding, almost give-up-life kind of atmosphere that surrounds them. You select this as the very moment to save money from this in order to satisfy the glamour of your political supporters and in order that you might make good money that otherwise ought to be provided in the direction of your other branch of social service in the form of your widows' and orphans' pension fund. Does it not seem a little bit out of order with ordinary things that Ministers, and the principal speakers of the Conservative party, are 283 urging the workers to encourage Empire production by purchasing Empire imported goods? You put them right outside their reach, not that they are desirous of the cheap block ornament material, such as is exhibited in many of the poorer quarters, but you tell them in a very cynical way, "Build up your Empire by encouraging Empire produce," and at the same time you withhold from them the very purchasing power that they are anxious to use in order to promote this increase of industry and production from the Empire. The Prime Minister recently went to Dundee to receive the Freedom of the City. He inspected some of the conditions under which the workers live. He expressed something approaching disgust at the slum conditions that he saw and the Dundee Corporation, anxious to do something, undertook, if they could get some grant from the Secretary for Scotland towards the capital cost of works, to manufacture concrete blocks in order to build houses for these people. The Government Department, who want to find employment, or say they do, refused the financial help which would have absorbed many of these unemployed workers.
If we turn to the White Paper that has been issued, there are one or two very enlightening points. It first of all talks of the saving of that £6,500,000 under two heads. One question has already been put. I put it again. What are the separate savings? One is a saving as the result of extending the waiting period from three to six days, and the other the saving anticipated by the abolition of what up to now has been the right to benefit and putting them under the power of the Minister of Labour. I am rather of the opinion that that figure of £6,500,000 saving is intended to represent the immediate cutting off from unemployment of not less than 150,000 persons, and that the remainder is anticipated savings as the result of extending the three days to six. But if you go further you will find that there are three kinds of forms upon which the estimate has been based—one, £1,300,000; another, £1,200,000; arid another, £1,100,000. I think you get at the truth of the Minister's intentions if you take the first example in conjunction with the third, bearing in mind the desire to place this 284 fund in a state of solvency, and if you do that you find that the aim is to take 200,000 off once. It may not be a serious thing to some Members, but it is a very serious thing to the 300,000, when we remember that there are about 500,000 of the 1,300,000 at present on the live register who are drawing extended benefit, so that it is quite clear that if you wipe, out, as a right, those incidents that the 1924 Act created outside the 30 stamps within the two years previous to the last financial year, you will find 500,000, I believe, on extended benefit.
That 500,000, not alone but with their dependants, if this Bill passes in its present form, will immediately come under the control of the Minister through his Department. In a word, this House is being asked to give the Ministry the power and the right, by regulation issued from time to time if it deems it essential in the public interest, to deal with 500,000 present time recipients of unemployment benefit together with the whole of those who may be dependent upon them. Are you going to face that with cool equanimity? Are you going to look upon that as though it means nothing at all? Is this House going to deal with it in its cold-blooded financial aspect, allowing their little bitternesses to run away with them to such an extent that after four years of hard suffering and providing for a possible deficiency of £30,000,000—and you have only reached £8,500,000 by this time—you should cut away from benefit that large number of very deserving citizens? No one can say a word against them. You may say here and there someone dodges through. My goodness, come up to the other end and find the number that dodge through and get away with the goods, with reams of newspaper praise for their success in being able to get away with it. You look after the small pilferer and allow the big plunderer to get clear away with the goods. I would rather administer this Act to a few hundred undeserving cases, from your point of view, than I would miss one deserving case and thereby inflict unjust suffering upon him.
It certainly is a huge problem when you remember that, according to the last census, there were 17,500,000 persons in the United Kingdom engaged in various occupations and 12,500,000 of these, roundly speaking, come under the Unem- 285 ployment Insurance Act. I should like the Minister either to upset an estimate that I have done my best to make as accurate as possible, or to confirm it, or to tell us, if he can, the exact position. Out of the 12,500,000 coming under insurance, I suggest that 5,000,000 have been unemployed at one time or another since 1020. The amount of distress cannot be measured by the live register figures. For the past five years this suffering has been there, in consequence of trade depression, and there have been 5,000,000 persons insurable under the Unemployment Insurance Act who have been unemployed for some period or another, short or long. When we get to the 1,300,000, it is the residue. Three quarters of a million may be classified as having been unemployed for a period of anything from six months up to two and a half years. These people have long outrun their established stamp rights. They are drawing extended benefits, and the weaker they are the more powerful is the blow that is to be delivered at them
Take the position of the boards of guardians, West Ham, Poplar and any of the East End boroughs. Take the hard hit districts of Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow and Nottingham, where they have already run up very heavy financial responsibilities as a result of trade depression, and where they have large bodies of unemployed. By striking people off the unemployment benefit, you are not throwing them into the lap of some body that has wealth to give out to ease their sores, salve to dispense in the form of food to assuage the hunger of the body, the nerves and tissues of which are getting towards the breaking point. You are going to throw them back where the poverty is the keenest. You will throw them on to those who will be the least able to help them. Even if their hearts were as big as their bodies, they would have to say to these poor people, "We have already emptied our pockets. Take all that we have, but that cannot be much." These authorities come to the Ministry of Health and ask for powers to incur greater financial responsibilities, through State help and assistance, and they are turned away. They are told, "We cannot do anything unless you bring your scale down somewhat; unless you go in for economy and allow us to 286 use an instrument still further to beat down those who are suffering." That is unworthy of the traditions of the British race.
The Government will be judged rightly if they are judged as I am forced to judge them. They are in the position of a big, beefy bully. You have a large majority in this House. You can force your will. You can get a body of the best of our citizens in a weakened state and you can get them down in the gutter. You kick them while they are down, and the weaker they become, the more violent is the spleen that is vented upon them, and the harder are the kicks. It is no mere figure of speech to say that. Hon Members opposite should go into some of the hovels where these people live. Do not forget that a large number of these men served this country during the War, and they were promised homes fit for heroes. Many of us know of cases where five people are in the one-room tenement, and cannot get out. These men, who were good enough to fight for the nation and to create multi-millionaires by the score while they were fighting, will not in their plight readily forget the fighting instinct that was put into them, if they are driven to a state of desperation beyond human control, owing to their weakened physical frame and their black outlook, brought about by bad trade conditions; and in some mad moment they may make it more difficult for this country to get to a state of peace and prosperity. Help them, and do not tempt them with such pieces of legislation as that introduced to-day.
§ Sir MERVYN MANNINGHAM-BULLER
After listening to the speeches which we have heard from the party opposite, one would hardly think that the Bill which has been introduced to-day is one which will prevent something like a quarter of a million of men on the 1st October ceasing to receive unemployment benefit. Unless this Bill passes into law, and if the wishes of the party opposite to destroy the Bill are successful, the result will be, in spite of the sympathy we hear expressed from the opposite benches, that something like a quarter of a million of men will no longer be able to receive benefit as unemployed people.
287 When I listened to the speech of the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) I could not help admiring his energy and vigour, but, at the same time, I realise that a great deal of that speech was directed against something quite apart from the proposals in this Bill. I was irresistibly reminded of a certain Spanish gentleman, who was famous in history as being a man who tilted at windmills, but there was this difference, that the windmills at which he tilted did exist, whereas the one at which the right hon. Member for Preston was tilting was a windmill which had no existence, because he was attempting to confound a statement which was never made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Surely the arguments against the Bill cannot be so very strong when he thought it necessary to spend a considerable portion of his speech in an effort of that sort, instead of trying to show the real weaknesses, if any, which exist in the Bill. If I may quote again the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, he said it was his intention, line by line and word by word to oppose the passage of this Bill. May I again call the attention of the House and of the country to what will be the result if the right hon. Gentleman and his friends succeed. He is obviously determined, and the party to which he belongs are determined, at all costs to stop this Bill becoming law, and to insist that something like a quarter of a million working people in this country shall become disqualified from drawing unemployment benefit on the 1st October. When that fact is realised in the country I have perfect confidence to leave it to the people of the country to choose on which side of the House is the real sympathy for the unemployed.
The right hon. Gentleman devoted another portion of his speech to an attack on the Government for the number of unemployed at the present time. The number of unemployed is a matter of deep regret and concern to all parties in this House, and I protest against the whole blame for the number of unemployed being attributed to those who sit on this side. I would remind hon. Members opposite that you do not sow and reap the harvest at the same time and that to a considerable extent we are now reaping a harvest the seeds of which 288 were sown by the party opposite when they were in office last year. I do not say that those seeds account to a very large extent but they do to a considerable extent for the present amount of unemployment. As an example, I would call to mind the act that, in some measure, the unemployment might have been less in this country if last year hon. Members opposite had not opposed Imperial Preference. Further, if they had not opposed or turned down what are known as the McKenna Duties last year, there might have been some improvement in the unemployment figures. Hon. Members who jeer and disbelieve the results of the McKenna Duties, are blind to facts. Only a week or two ago many of them must have seen going up the river, barge after barge laden with foreign-made motor-cars. They will not see so many going up now.
§ Sir M. MANNINGHAM-BULLER
I am sorry. In passing this Bill, as I have no doubt we shall pass it, it is obvious that we shall very largely increase the expenditure. If by passing the Bill we allow something like 200,000 or 250,000 men to continue drawing unemployment relief, from which they would be disqualified were this Bill not passed, we are increasing the financial burdens of the country. Whilst we are doing that, and assisting the unemployed very largely in that way, is it not a sound thing to see whether we can save a certain amount of money in a direction which I think is a wise one. Surely it is a wise course to allow these people to continue drawing unemployment benefit instead of, as hon. Members opposite would do, causing them to cease to draw benefit, rather than extending the waiting period from three days to six days. We are increasing the amount spent on unemployment benefit in this Bill, and it is a sound measure to see whether along other lines we can economise without doing serious injury to those who are interested in getting unemployment benefit. We shall succeed in doing that by passing this Bill. For these reasons, and realising that it is to the interests of the bulk of the unemployed that this Bill should go through, I shall support it to the best of my ability.
§ Mr. TINKER
I object to the hon. and gallant Member saying that we are opposed to the whole of this Bill. If the Bill were confined to Clause 2 we should be agreed upon it, but we are opposed to Clauses 1 and 3. The Bill has to be taken as a whole.
§ Mr. R. S. HUDSON
That is not what the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) said. He said he was going to oppose every word and every line.
§ Sir M. MANNINGHAM-BULLER
The words of the right hon. Gentleman were, "Word for word and line by line we will oppose the Bill."
§ Mr. MACLEAN
Did he not say that had the Government brought in a one-Clause Bill extending the period, it would have received the support of hon. Members on this side? Try to remember what you hear.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. TINKER
I think hon. Members opposite have misunderstood the right hon. Member for Preston. We would have supported a one-Clause Bill. I would like to draw attention to what the Minister of Labour said when he spoke on 15th May. Ho then pointed out that he intended to bring in a Measure to carry out what is proposed in Clause 2, and we understood that that was all that was to be dealt with. He said that the further points would be dealt with by a Committee, who would go into the whole circumstances, and later, if necessary, he would introduce another Measure. Therefore we never expected on this occasion that he would propose Clause 1. I sit at present on the Unemployment Committee for St. Helens. We have been informed by the Ministry that the work which we do at our meetings, dealing with what is called the extended benefit, meets with his approval, and I was rather surprised when I found that he is going to alter that. In June last a pamphlet was issued to every member of the, committee. It was not confidential, and I would not read it if it were. It states in paragraph 3:as will be seen from what is said below certain specific conditions must be fulfilled before extended benefit and dependants 290 benefit can be paid. It is of the utmost importance that every care should be taken to see that these conditions are satisfied by claimants. The object of referring cases to the local Committees is to use the local knowledge which the members of these Committees possess and to insure the advantage of a personal interview with the claimants. The assistance rendered by the Committee in the past has been of the greatest value and the Minister is happy to place on record his appreciation of their services and trusts that he may continue to receive the benefits of their services.It then follows by saying that it is not absolutely certain that what the Committee recommends will he passed, but there have been so few cases in which objection was taken that he is satisfied with the work which is being done. If those local committees are doing their work so well, what is the reason for an amendment which goes far to rule out many of the claimants who go before them; Can the real object be that he wants to save money? If he rules out some of these claims he will inflict a hardship in many of the most deserving cases. When we review those cases we are as strict as ever we can be to see that nobody gets through the net. Of course we have every sympathy with these people, and many times I wonder who is the more embarrassed, the claimant or myself, when I have had to put certain questions as to whether he has been searching for work, which suggest doubts as to the claim. When that condition arises the man who examines feels more embarrassed than the claimant.
Everyone can say what is the right way to deal with the matter, yet the Minister of Labour says that he is going to review these claimants and the awards, and I can only take it that he will rule out many cases because he says here that he is going to save £6,500,000. Some of it will he on the three days, but more of it will be by ruling out many of the cases passed by local Committees. How can he expect men like myself, and others on these benches, who give their services to local Committees, to be satisfied when they decide that the claimants deserve benefit, to have the claims ruled out? It will not happen very often in my case. If I am ruled out more than twice I shall tell the Minister of Labour to get somebody else to do his work. The result will be that all this voluntary labour given at present will be left entirely to the Department of the Minister of Labour to 291 do. Whether he wants that or not I do not know.
I hope that the Minister of Labour will review that particular point. It is putting undue hardship on many people who cannot stand it at present. The unemployed are at the bottom, and this extra burden upon them will have to be borne in many cases by the local authority. These people cannot starve, and in many places they will have to seek relief from the board of guardians. If that is the intention it is not fair to the community to be told that there is a saving of finance in that direction, for the purpose of bolstering up what is called the widows and orphans fund. It is entirely unfair to attempt it in that fashion.
Now as to the three days per week. By the agitation of the miners, before the last Bill was passed we managed to get the three days put in instead of six because the miners have suffered more by the covering period of six days than any other section of the community. The miners have to work according to the demand for coal. They are not like men engaged in other kinds of work, who can work a week and knock off a week. They have to work strictly according to the demand, with the result that they have not been able to qualify for the six days' period. We managed to get the period made three days, and now we are told it is to be changed back to six. It is unfair to save money at the expense of the people, who are so much in need. We are opposed to Clauses 1 and 3 of the. Bill. We shall oppose every line of those Clauses, and try to get the whole Bill defeated so that a one-Clause Measure can be brought in covering Clause 2. If that can be clone the whole of our support will be given to Clause 2.
§ Mr. HARNEY
I propose to support the Amendment. I am not at all deterred by the threat made by an hon. Member opposite, that by defeating the Bill we should deprive some 250,000 people of benefit. There is, I hope, ample machinery by which, if we did succeed in defeating the Bill, we could have another Bill brought in that would be more honest for the purpose which prompts these Bills. My recollection is that last year we were told that a new Bill would be necessary because the unemployment was so likely to continue that it was 292 unthinkable that the waiving of the condition as to contributions should come to an end in the period then fixed. The principle that justified that waiving is as much present to-day as it is when that waiving was introduced, and it is only common justice that Clause 2 should form part of the Bill. That was the sole purpose which prompted this legislation in the first instance. Why should we have tacked on to it anything that defeats the good of the Bill, and then have threats that if you do not put up with the bad part of the Bill hon. Members opposite will say to the country that you are working against the people?
There is another point which makes me think the action of the Government is not very worthy. When the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Bill was brought forward there was, so far as the Government was concerned, no suggestion of anything but this: "We are going to do this generous act, and use it, of course, as propaganda throughout the country." On this side of the House, some of us said, "It is a very big burden to place at this time both upon the poor worker and also upon industry. "No notice was taken of that, but when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir It. Home), in a rather minatory tone, said, "Industry cannot stand this now contribution," I suppose that there was some wire pulling going on, and then the Minister said. "We have been considering this, and I can assure the House that we will bring in proposals that will have the effect of allowing these benefits to go without breaking the back of industry." Now the mountain has been in labour, and this is what is brought forth.
I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will follow me in the figures which I worked out when he was making his opening statement. If I am right the Government are now guilty of the exceedingly mean act of pretending to the country that they are generously coming to the help of industry from the Exchequer, when what they are doing is a camouflage of an Exchequer grant. They are taking from one class of unemployed that which is necessary to pay some of the new pensions. I take it that these figures are right and they are very significant. The Unemployment Fund, we are told, is to be increased from two sources, one by £2,200,000 representing 293 the pennyfarthing and the threefarthings additional contributions from me Exchequer. It is also to be increased from the end of the year by a further Exchequer sum of a penny and a halfpenny, by what the Bill says will be given in case the deficiency fund has not been reduced by that time, which, of course, it will not be. These two sums, together, mean that the Exchequer pours into the Unemployment Fund £3,900,000. On the other hand the Unemployment Fund is depleted by the twopence that the employer is relieved from paying and the twopence that the worker is relieved from paying and these, together, come to the sum of £6,800,000, so that £3,900,000 flows in and £6,800,000 flows out, leaving the Fund at this point poorer by £2,900,000.
Now what happens? Having regard to the less amount that the industry pays in and the lower contributions, there is still a. hole to be filled, amounting to this £2,900,000. They are going to fill it in this way. They are going to say that these is to be a further restriction placed upon extended benefits. Under the old Act once you are able to show that you had a reasonable amount of employment during the period, and did your best to find work, you were entitled to this extended benefit. Now we are told it is to be left to the discretion of the Minister, and by some arithmetical gymnastics, which I certainly cannot understand, the actuary has succeeded in saying that a thing, the amount of which depends on how the Minister is to exercise his discretion, can be estimated and reduced to figures. The result of all this, the result of extending the gap period from three days to six days, undoing the work that was done last year, is that there would be a saving to this Fund of £6,500,000. The result of the extra contributions paid in by the Exchequer, as against the lack of contributions paid in by industry, leaves a deficit in the fund of £2,900,000, and the Government say, "We will withdraw the benefits now being given to the poor person to the tune of £6,800,000 in order to pay this deficit, but so far from making any contribution by our generous act, we are making a gain in fact of £3,600,000." That squares with the figures.
It does not stop even there. This Bill was originally to be introduced solely for the purpose of continuing the benefit 294 to the unemployed, in the next instance it was to be introduced in order that the Government could do a generous act. This has been taken to do the things I have said, and the Government are then to say that at the end of the deficiency period, instead of the Government continuing their contribution, which was originally agreed upon, of half the aggregate amount of employer and employé, they are in future to contribute only 3/7ths. I cannot help agreeing with the observations that were made by the last speaker. He said quite truly that the effect of this Bill is simply, in the first instance, to take out of the pockets of the unemployed the money which the Government is pretending generously to give; and, secondly, to make the rates supply the deficiency that is created in the pockets of the unemployed. Therefore, it all comes down to this, that the generous act of the Government, for which they are claiming credit throughout the country, is simply to relieve industry, not at the expense of the taxpayer but at the expense of the rates, notwithstanding that we are told that the ratepayer is far more important than the taxpayer, when we are really thinking of industry. I have been puzzled as to why we should have this jumble of figures and this complication. I have been a lawyer for many-years, and there is one Clause of the Bill that I do not understand now. The whole thing is a tangle of verbiage, and I cannot help thinking that it is so because the Government do not desire to be perfectly straightforward and open as to the course that is being taken.
I put this to the House as a suggestion of my own. When you established your unemployment scheme, it was based on a principle of insurance. When the unemployment became abnormal that principle was threatened with breakdown. Someone had to come to the rescue by pouring money into the unemployment fund until it was able to work on its original scientific lines. The proper thing to have done then was to have said, "What has brought about this breakdown of the unemployment machine? Is it the fault of a particular industry, or a particular locality?" Is it the fault of my constituency, which happens to be an industrial one, in which the unemployed are very many? No. it was the fault of 295 the whole community; we are all responsible. The proper thing to have done was to have said that if it was necessary to keep the unemployment insurance scientifically going by making grants, they should come from the Exchequer and not from the particular industries that are affected. That was not done. But a deficiency fund was created into which the Government poured the necessary money, which was to be wiped out by an extra contribution from those engaged in industry. That is how it stands.
Surely the simple and straightforward remedy is this: If industry cannot stand the contribution that is necessary to give these new benefits—it cannot—and if we would save industry, and at the same time give the benefits which I for one want to do, the right course is to let the Government here and now make a grant to wipe out altogether this £8,000,000 deficiency fund. Let the Government now do what they should have done in the first instance, and say "In future, as that, deficiency fund grows, if it does grow, let the burden be upon the taxpayer." In that way you would bring this about —that all of us then would be shouldering the responsibility of keeping our unemployment insurance machine working, and the Government could give the new benefits to the widows and the old men, and the orphans and children, without exacting a penny more from the people. I submit that that is the straightforward way to act. I do not believe that the Government can gain any credit with the country by endeavouring to tinker with the difficulty in the way that they are doing now, especially when the country is made aware—it will be. made aware, as far as I am concerned—that, while pretending to give something for the relief of industry, the Government are really robbing Peter to pay Paul.
As regards £6,000,000 a year, they are almost directly going to the poor men who are now standing round the Employment Exchanges, and who otherwise would get benefits, and are saying to those men, "Go away and do without your benefit, in order that in time we may thus get money to give to the widow and the orphans and take the credit for being generous ourselves;." For these reasons, I shall vote against the Bill, though if, as has been said, everything is 296 omitted from the Bill except Clause 2, I shall vote for the Bill. If we are lucky enough to defeat the Bill, I would be with those who brought in a single Clause Bill.
Lieut. - Colonel HENDERSON
The opposition to this Bill, I gather, is based on two Clauses which relate to the extension of the waiting period from three days to six, and the question of restoring the Minister's discretion in regard to cases of extended benefit. The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) said he could not understand why, if the local committees were working well, and the Minister was pleased with the way they were working, the Minister should require to take this discretion to himself. Surely the hon. Member is under a misapprehension as to what the Minister is attempting to do. The Minister, in the first place, is not, by the restoration of his discretion, attempting to interfere or deal with individual cases at all. That was not the position before the Act of last year was passed. The position then was that certain classes of cases which might otherwise have been entitled to extended benefit, were, by the decision of the Minister, ruled out of the benefit. All that the Minister is proposing to do is to take upon himself again that discretion, so that if he thinks fit in the interests of the scheme or in the interests of the country, he may rule out certain classes—not individuals—so far as extended benefit only is concerned. There is no discretion so far as standard benefit is concerned, because it does not come within the scope of his discretion. Before the Act of last year was passed, what classes were ruled out by this discretion of the then Minister? Let us look and see where the great hardship, which hon. Members opposite anticipate, will arise.
§ Mr. HARNEY
Did I understand the hon. and gallant Member to say that the meaning of the Clause was that the Minister had not a complete discretion?
I did not use the words "complete discretion." I say the discretion did not refer to individual cases. In other words, the Minister-would not send down to a committee and say, "Mr. Jones or Mr. Smith is not to receive an extended benefit." The point I was making was that this discretion, when exercised, was exercised so far as 297 specific classes of people were concerned, and only in that way. The local committee's discretion has never been interfered with. My point arose because of something which the hon. Member for Leigh said. Under that discretion the classes that were excluded from extended benefit were, in the first place, single persons, juveniles, who were residing with their parents, and who, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, could reasonably look to their parents for support. Hon. Members opposite may argue that there were cases where juveniles were denied benefit when their parents were not in a position to support them. Those arguments could possibly be supported in certain cases on inquiry, although possibly they could not be supported in every case. But if the provisions in these words are carried out, there is no reason to say that hardship will necessarily arise.
Take another class of people who were excluded—married women living with their husbands who were in employment and whose earnings were sufficient to justify the withholding of uncovenanted benefit. There is no reason to say that any hardship will arise, provided that that section is administered as it is suggested it should be. Again, there were certain classes of aliens excluded from uncovenanted benefit. Others were allowed to receive benefit. Lastly, there were certain people excluded who were working short time, and whose earnings were of such an amount that it was considered justifiable to withhold uncovenanted benefit from them. Some Members of the House may remember the case of the Bradford dyers, which went before the umpire and details of which wore published in the Press. In that case it was shown that the men were working three days a week and 12 hours a day, or a total of 36 hours. For that they were receiving 57s., and they claimed unemployment benefit for the rest of the week. The umpire decided that cases of that kind should be judged on the eight hours a day standard. He, therefore, said they were working 36 hours—working four days a week—and he gave them unemployment benefit for two days. That is to say, they were receiving unemployment benefit for two days plus 57s. a. week for the period which they worked, and yet to- 298 wards that benefit there were contributing men in employment such as, for instance, labourers in the iron and steel trade, who were only earning 39s. a week for a full week's work. That is only an illustration of the fact that the Minister should have discretion in eases of that kind to decide whether extended benefit ought to be given. Nobody could say in a case of that kind that those men would necessarily undergo hardship if deprived of the extended benefit.
A great many people are apt to forget, when discussing this question, that, apart from the man out of employment, there is another man to be considered, and that is the man who is in employment and who is contributing all the time towards the scheme. He is entitled to a fair deal, and to have the fund properly administered, and to have the assurance that only those people get on to the fund who ought to get on, just as much as the man who is out of employment is entitled to receive benefit. Because of that, I think it only reasonable that the Minister should have discretion in regard to extended benefit. I can understand some people arguing that, whether parents are in a position to support their children or not, if those children are out of employment, they should receive assistance from the State, but that is pure Socialism. It is encouraging people to get rid of their parental responsibilities as soon as they possibly can, and I do not believe that the right way to prosperity in this or any other country is to encourage the idea that, however many children people may have, they never need be responsible for the upkeep, maintenance, upkeep or upbringing of those children. I believe it is necessary, particularly at the present time, to assist people—as we do to a greater extent than any other nation in the world—in the education and upbringing of their children, but I do not believe it is right to encourage people to think that they have no parental responsibility. It is only fair to make people realise that, if they bring children into the world, they are primarily responsible for those children.
The real argument behind the opposition to this Bill is that the party opposite, to a very 299 large extent, do not believe in the principle of contributory insurance. In the first place, contributory insurance, if eventually established on an all-round basis, as we hope to establish it by the Widows' and Orphans' Contributory Pensions Bill, will be in itself one of the greatest bulwarks against the achievement of Socialism in this country. Therefore, hon. Members opposite are anxious to undermine and weaken the contributory principle in any way they can.
I can understand that hon. Members opposite are opposed to this Bill and I can understand the statement made last week by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) that if they had the opportunity, they would make the Widows' and Orphans' Pensions Scheme a non-contributory scheme. Incidentally, the right hon. Gentleman did not remark that it would cost in a full working year £60,000,000, nor did he state where that money was coming from. When one utters pure Socialism of that kind, it is not necessary to follow it up with any explanation as to how it is to be carried out. I can. however, understand from that attitude that hon. Members opposite will oppose this Bill and do their best to misrepresent it over the country, but from my knowledge of the electorate I do not think those efforts are likely to have the big effect expected by hon. Members. So long as we can maintain the contributory principle we have always the point of view of the man who is in employment and contributing, as well as the point of view of the man who is out of employment, and if this Bill is properly explained to the electors, as I hope it will be, we have no reason to believe that it will do any serious harm in the country or weaken the position of those on this side of the House. I congratulate the hon. and learned Member who last spoke on maintaining that Socialistic attitude which has distinguished the Liberal party for the last two years and has largely led to their extinction. I feel sure that if he maintains that attitude during the lifetime of 300 this Parliament, there is a very strong likelihood that he will not appear in the next one.
That certainly was not for the same reason as the reason which will lead to the defeat of the hon. and learned Member.
I hope, for the reasons I have stated, that the House will give the Bill a Second Reading. I certainly am prepared to support the Bill and all its provisions through all its stages.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I must claim the indulgence of the House, because I am suffering from severe throat trouble, and I speak under that disability. I would not have risen at all were it not for the fact that this is a Measure of great importance, particularly to the men whom I represent, and I would not be doing my duty to them if I did not intervene. The Minister of Labour, in his opening statement, made a very peculiar remark. He described this Bill as a stopgap. It appears to me it is all gap from beginning to end, and that there are in it unbridgeable gulfs so far as benefits are concerned. During the past 20 years we have had no fewer than 15 Acts of Parliament dealing with this question. None of them have attempted to solve it; all have suggested dope, dope, dope in order to lull the unfortunate out-of-work into political unconsciousness. There have been some good points in some of the pass Bills, but so far as this one is concerned it is rotten to the core. This is not an Unemployment Insurance Bill at all. It should be called a Bill to ensure the Chancellor of the Exchequer against the risks of his callous Budget, and in order to shift the burden off his shoulders on to someone else's shoulders. I was rather pleased to hear the statement which the Minister made in answer to my interjection, but I tell the right hon. Gentleman quite 301 frankly that I came here to bury Caesar, not to praise him, and I am not so sure yet that Caesar does not deserve to be buried very, very deep. The right hon. Gentleman, however, certainly disarmed me by the definition of the continuous unemployment for six days which is necessary to qualify in six weeks, but may I point out that it is apparently not in keeping with the Bill. How does he reconcile his statement with the wording of the Memorandum attached to the Bill?The waiting period which must elapse before unemployment benefit is payable is increased from three days to a week.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I think I can make it clear to the hon. Member. The continuity rule, as it is called, applies to the waiting period, and the effect of the continuity rule is this. To start with, any three days of unemployment in a continuous period of six days are grouped together so as to form a whole. You may get a second of these periods of three days, and it may be a full five weeks or close on six weeks after the first. There again the period of six weeks is allowed. That is the case now. Therefore, by a second application of the continuity rule, these two periods can be grouped together, and, therefore, those six days do form a valid waiting period. I have tried to make it as clear as I can.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his explanation, and it certainly does ease the situation a little. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am only speaking of the class with which I have been associated all my life. I worked with them in my early years and I know the conditions under which they work and suffer. Measures of this kind were never intended originally to cover the condition of the casual labourer. The genesis of the difficulty is to be found in the No. 2 National Health Insurance Act, which only legislated for men in constant employment. It was never anticipated that it could apply to anybody who was not engaged in constant employment. It was on the basis of constant employment with the same employer, but the casual dock labourer has no employer, or rather he has one employer to-day and another to-morrow, and is in a situation altogether different from that of the men for whom this legislation was originally intended. I 302 may describe him as the modern Autolycus, "a picker-up of unconsidered trifles," who does a day's work here and a day's work there, wherever he gets the chance. Therefore, when it is sought to bring him into legislation of this kind, difficulties crop up. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for helping me to meet the particular difficulty to which I referred, but this Bill as it stands nearly lands us back into the same Slough of Despond as we were in before.
Let me give the right hon. Gentleman a case. Suppose a man goes to work on Monday, and that is the only day's work he gets in the week. Our week, I should explain, is not a six day week, but only a five and a half day week, and therefore it will be seen how ill fitted these schemes are to apply to men who do not come within the proper meaning of their provisions. His contract only lasts for half a day, and he is subject to dismissal at dinner time. We had some difficulty in getting the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor to recognise even the Saturday half-day, but at last we did get it, with a lot of trouble, and I am afraid that under this Bill that would entirely disappear.
Let me ask the right hon. Gentleman about three points that I want cleared up. The abolition of the three days and the extension to six days is going seriously to handicap the man who is engaged in what we call short sea traffic, the coasting traffic, the week-end traffic. He may not get anything but for the Saturday afternoon. He may not get anything the next week, and the difficulty in that man's case is how he is going to qualify at all under this extension of the six days. The next point is that this man may only get one day in the week, and out of that he has to pay 1s. 4d. out of a day's wages for National Health Insurance, for unemployment benefit, which he will never get, and for old age and widows' pensions. A great point is made of the fact that the contributions for unemployment insurance have been reduced by 2d., but the man has still to pay 2d. out of a full day's wages. He has got to pay the lot, I believe, for if he does not pay directly he pays it indirectly, in the shape of Imperial and local taxes. The best illustration of this juggling and shifting of the burden is the amusing cartoon which appeared in the "Daily News" the other day, called "The other 303 end of the world." He has got to pay either directly or indirectly.
Could not some special arrangement be made to meet the case of these men who only work for one day or half a day—and there are many of them? If the right hon. Gentleman could give us any promise that the special case of the casual labourer would be met, there might be something to be said for this particular attempt of his to do it. So far as I can see, the provisions of this Bill are going to make it impossible for 30 per cent. of our men to qualify at all. During a very troublesome period the staff of the right hon. Gentleman has assisted us very materially, but that docs not alter the fact that, if this Bill goes through as it stands now, all that work will be love's labour lost, and they will go back again to where they were previously. Another point I want to emphasise—and I suppose it will be styled King Charles' head again—is that in addition to the burdens that our men have to bear, they have to sign on twice a day where other men have only to sign on twice a week, in exactly the same kind of occupation. I know that is a matter of administration and, perhaps, rules, but I bring it to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman in the hope that he will do something in regard to it.
There is another great burden, and that is the question of "genuinely seeking employment." I understand now that that rule is to be most rigorously enforced. I have a letter in my hand from a man who has been a victim only lately of this question of "genuinely seeking employment." This man worked in a firm in my own constituency of St. Helens for 35 years. He started a small business, which failed in six months, and he went to look for a job, and could not get it being physically unfit and, therefore, severely handicapped, because to-day, as always, it is the survival of the fittest that applies in every case. He could not find work, and he signed on at the Employment Exchange, and received benefit from the beginning of this year till eight weeks ago, when, without any explanation, he was struck off the list, although day and night that man has been seeking employment. The powers possessed by the right hon. Gentleman may or may not be rigorously enforced, but here is a case in point, that while the local Employment 304 Exchange gave favourable consideration to his case, when he visited them again the reply was that the Minister's orders must be rigorously and strictly carried out.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I will endeavour to avoid any transgression of your ruling, Mr. Speaker. I am dealing with the question of casual labour. The greatest part of my life was spent in casual labour, and I had very painful physical experiences in connection with it which I do not intend to deal with now. I want to point out that the bulk of these men from whom you are taking this £6,500,000 are ex-service men, men who fought and were promised a country fit for heroes to live in, but they returned only to find that it is only a hero that can exist in this country to-day. I believe this House will give me credit for Favouring constitutional action, but there are moments at the present time when the limits of human endurance are almost reached. This House and Government after Government have thrown sops to the working classes, but every Act of Parliament intended for the benefit of the working classes has been minimised by some penalty which deprived, a man of that which he ought legally to get. The Employer's Liability Acts, the Workmen's Compensation Acts, and even the Factory Acts and these Acts have done that. Whatever good was in the last Act is wiped out under conditions imposed in this particular Bill. Under the existing system we pay these people enough wages to keep them alive while they are producing wealth for this country. The stores and warehouses are full, and the walls are bulging with the products of their labour, and then, when there is no demand for their labour, they can sit down and starve. I am not surprised at the unrest in the country, and I suggest to the Government that if they have any respect for their political existence and for the safety of this country, there is a feeling going abroad to-day—and I am sorry to say so—that is gradually eating into the heart of constitutional action, and Bills of this kind make it more difficult for 305 those of us who wish to carry on by constitutional action. Let me again say that every condition we put before the workers is accompanied by some other condition. "Too old at forty" used to be the cry, and even to-day the older man is pushed aside to make a job for the younger man, because he is more valuable to the employers. I hope that when we shall have a chance in Committee of moving Amendments to better the Bill, the right hon. Gentleman will give them his most careful and, I hope, humane consideration.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
I do not desire to make a speech on this Bill at all. I only want, now that we have an opportunity when we are considering fresh legislation in connection with unemployment insurance, to ask the Minister of Labour to direct his attention very carefully to the conditions which are obtaining at the present time in the fishing industry. I am perfectly satisfied that the law as it stands at present is being properly and fair y administered, but I think that in this connection a certain Amendment might well be introduced by the Minister, because I am satisfied that, especially as regards the casual workers in the fishing industry, such as those engaged in coopering, and the women workers particularly, who are employed during the herring-fishing season, they are at the present moment not in a position, however hard they try, to qualify for the uncovenanted benefit. It is simply a question of the movement of the herring and the herring season, but it is their only form of livelihood at the present time, and I ask the Minister of Labour most earnestly to consider whether he cannot: introduce into this Bill some Clause which will give him power to apply to those casual workers, who are solely dependent on the herring fishing for their means of livelihood, uncovenanted benefit, if it can be proved to his satisfaction that it is quite impossible owing to the method by which this industry is carried on, for them to qualify for uncovenanted benefit, even if they make every effort to do so.
§ 7.0 P.M
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I wish to support the Amendment which has been moved by the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw), and I want to do so because I think this Bill is one of the most mean and pettifogging Measures that has ever 306 been introduced into this House. The Minister of Labour stated that we had to understand that this was a stopgap Measure, and that the complaints that had been made with regard to unemployment administration, and also the position that was being taken up in regard to the general development of social insurance, made it impossible to bring forward a permanent Measure at this time. Yet he has taken advantage of the. fact that there is the necessity for introducing a stop-gap Measure to introduce into that stop-gap Measure something that is going to militate in the most terrible way against the conditions of the unemployed. There was no reason why he should not have produced a one-Clause Bill. Members of his own party on the back benches who have taken part in the discussion have been most apologetic with regard to the Measure. The Member for Bootle (Lieut.-Colonel V. Henderson) did try to introduce some little justification, but the Member on the back benches who preceded him simply stated the fact that there was the necessity for the Minister being given an extended time in which he could waive the conditions, and tried to defend the whole Rill on the necessity of the 200,000 people who might be out of benefit. From these benches there is not the slightest opposition to that section of the Bill, but we do certainly oppose those other two Clauses which have been introduced and which are going to mean additional suffering for the unemployed.
I cannot but think that the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Health are in a very unfortunate position in their dealings with the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Widows' Pensions Rill was a necessity in the politics of the party opposite. There had to be some social justification for their existence, as a party, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it seems to me, has put intolerable burdens upon his two colleagues, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour. The Minister of Labour has got to make provision for keeping those 200,000 people on the live register, and to do so money has got to be found. The Minister of Labour is put into the extraordinary position of finding that money from the unemployed people. In the actuarial statement, there is a paragraph which states 307 that the actuary estimates that the relief to the fund derived from the new restrictions upon the grant of extended benefit and the extension of the waiting period is equivalent to £6,500,000 a year, with a live register of 1,300,000. I want to put it to the Minister that that means that this Measure is certainly making the unemployed pay for this extension of waiver that he is taking under the other Clause. I cannot see that there is any way of escape.
There has been the extension of the waiting period. If the Minister knew a little bit more of working-class life; if he himself had passed through the experiences of these people who are unemployed; if he had passed through the experience in a working-class home, he would never for one minute have consented to make this alteration with regard to the waiting period. A matter of three days a week is a tremendous amount in a working-class home, and, when that comes again and again say in the case of an individual who has possibly a year's unemployment, either that individual has to get relief from the parish council or from the board of guardians, or else, he has to go without a certain amount of money. The absence of the amount of money for three days in a working-class home accounts for a tremendous lot of suffering. It will put that family into difficulties with regard to finding the rent: it will put them back with regard to finding the money they have to pay if they are going to keep a shelter over their heads at all. As one who has had a great deal of worry in connection with evictions in the City of Glasgow, I protest against this Measure as adding to our already existing difficulties with regard to housing in Glasgow.
Then, again, I do not think it is fair, and I do not think it is going to please the business critics of the Government, that this is going to mean a big increase in the rates which will have to be levied under the Poor Law. I do not think that this Government will get off with it, because it has been made plain again and again in this House that this burden upon industry in the form of rates is considered by the business men to be just as great a burden as that which they have to contribute through national taxation, if not a greater burden. The 308 £6,500,000 has to be found somewhere. It has either to be found by the Poor Law authority, and, if so, it is going to be a burden on industry, which the Minister has been trying to avoid, or it is going to be found by the unemployed people themselves. I submit that that also is going to produce just as great an agitation and as great difficulties as would be produced if it is going to increase the rates and the burden upon industry.
I would like to bring to the recollection of the House what the unemployed person has got to do in order to get benefit. The Minster is taking to himself a discretion, and I want to put it to the House that there was no need. Conditions are already sufficiently onerous, because, in addition to the ordinary covenanted benefit, he has got to prove:(a) he is normally employed in such employment as would make him an employed person within the meaning of the principal Act (in this Act referred to as 'insurable employment')and WILL normally seek to obtain his livelihood by means of insurable employment;(b) that in normal times incurable employment suitable to his capacity would be likely to be available for him:(c) that he has during the two years immediately preceding the date of the application to benefit, been employed in an insurable employment to such an extent as was reasonable, having regard to all the circumstances of the case and in particular to the opportunities for obtaining insurable-employment during that period;(d) that be is making every reasonable effort to obtain employment suited to his capacities and is willing to accept such employment.A man who has go to prove all that has surely satisfied sufficiently onerous conditions, and I say that it is extremely shameful of the Minister to have brought forward such a Measure, and to take discretionary power to rule out, not individuals, but classes of people who have been able to satisfy those onerous conditions. In the country this Measure will take a lot of justifying. Personally, I am very glad to believe that this Uriah Heep Government, this Government that has one individual who gets up and addresses us with P.S.A. addresses, or sermons, and then has another individual who brings forward a Measure to inflict cruelty upon the poorest of the poor, will at no distant date meet some 309 similar fate to that of Uriah Heep. I believe that the working classes of this country will put an end to this Government, and not in any constitutional fashion. This sort of legislation will produce its fruit, and members of the Government will end their days on a lamp-post, and that will be a natural ending for such a, Uriah Heep Government.
If this Government be a Uriah Heep Government, and is to end its days on a lamp-post, even then I should not tremble. It seems to me that the real position of the unemployed man is so tragic that no Government could afford to do anything except try its best to find means of getting him work. The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) took the case of his friend who had been in work 37 years and then went out and tried to start private enterprise and saw how difficult it was and failed, which, I think, was an interesting point of view coming from a Socialist. There is nothing too much that any Government could do to help him over that ghastly time. I myself have seen men unemployed for years who have spent every penny of their saving rather than go on to what they call the "dole." We have another lot of people in the country that have never been in work. [LABOUR MEMBERS: "Hear, hear! "] There is not much reason why ever they should go to work because they are told by hon.Members opposite that the State should support them. There are young men who were in the War and who have never had a job. and in the meantime they have to listen to this very pernicious doctrine of Socialism which says, "Why should you work: the State will support you?" The most thoughtful of hon. Members in the late Government certainly realised that it was having A lamentable effect on the younger people of the country.
When hon. Members speak of the tragedy of these young men they are more responsible for it than any Government which has ever been in office You cannot go on preaching that doctrine to young people. However, I am not going to get out of Order, Mr. 310 Speaker. I want to bring this point to the notice of the Minister of Labour. I hope, in dealing with this question of unemployment, he will urge upon the Government to look into the question of the young men—there are not so many young women, because young women get married—between the ages of 18 and 25 who are hanging around. They are the tragedy now. Some of us who had a little more foresight warned the Government six years ago that unless something was done for the juveniles they would be incapable, when the time came for them to work, of doing anything. That is before the country just as much to-day as it was six years ago, and it is increasing every day. We on this side are very much concerned about it, and hoping the Government will think about it far more seriously than any Government has done before.
Certainly, if I thought this Bill would make it more difficult for the genuine unemployed to get this uncovenanted benefit, I would not touch it. There is something which is not very popular to say, but I will say it. I know, and hon. Gentlemen opposite know, we have had cases in the country, I do not say often, but cases where a woman marries, and her husband is in work and she decides to go to work. too. That is all very well, but if her husband has a regular wage to support her, and she afterwards applies for the dole, I do not think any section of the House wants that. [Interruption.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite know exactly what I moan, and to what I am referring. There are certain cases where nobody wants the uncovenanted benefit to be given. That is what, is seems to me. the Government are trying to tighten up, as they ought. I am perfectly certain the more they look into it, they will sec the dole is not being abused except in very few cases, but where it is. I feel certain every party in the House wants it stopped. I was very much amused by the right hon. Member on the front bench when his party behind complain about the three days' extension to six. He seems to forget what happened. Last year, in the House, the very thing about which they are complaining was put in without being discussed at all on a Friday afternoon. I do appeal to the right hon. Member if he wants what he 311 is always talking about, honesty in politics, to get up and explain that.
The right hon. Member knows perfectly well it was in Committee upstairs. I was not on the Committee, but when we wanted to extend the time from three days to six, the right hon. Member himself voted for it. I suppose pressure was put on, and they changed it. Is that clear to the right hon. Member?
The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well what I am talking about, and he knows of the pressure brought against his judgment by his party. I do maintain that, when you are discussing a thing so important as the unemployment problem, all parties ought to be quite straight and quite honest, and the Front Bench cannot afford to allow its back bench to get up and make speeches with which they do not agree, and yet have not got the honesty to say so. Before sitting down, I do beg of the Minister to consider this juvenile unemployment, which is getting no better. I hope the Committee he has set up will deal primarily with that, because these young men, who have never worked, are led to believe, by the speeches of hon. Members opposite, and through all the propaganda put forward, not only from the Communists but from the Socialists, that there is no reason why they ever should work. Yet there is nothing more pitiful or tragic than a young person, who has never been taught a trade, and who has had no chance at the very critical time of his life, of learning not only steadfastness in his work, but steadfastness in his character. I hope the Minister will bear that always in mind, and I would say to hon. Members opposite, do not preach what you know is not true.
§ Mr. TINKER
On a point of Order Can the Noble Lady point to anyone on this side who has told young people not to work?
The last hon. Member who spoke sat down with a terrible threat to us on this side of the House as to what will happen. I only want to say what actually does happen through the pernicious preaching of Socialist doctrine.
§ Mr. ROBERT YOUNG
There are several objections that we have to this Bill. The first is in regard to the waiting period for benefit. The second objection we have to this Bill is that it extends the discretion of the Minister. From my point of view, and, I believe, from the point of view of many others, it is not the Minister's discretion that should be extended, but the powers under the Insurance Act. The third objection we have is that, while we are in favour of reduced contributions when they can possibly be effected, we are opposed to the way they are effected in this Bill to supplement the finance of another Bill. The fourth objection I have to this Bill is that it is a departure altogether from the principles of insurance. When the Insurance Acts were introduced, they laid down certain benefits for those who were covered by insurance. The Minister of Labour had very little control over the operation of those Acts. The power was invested in the Committee or Court of Referees to which the men could appeal, and from that Committee could appeal to the umpire. Those who came after the original promoters of the first Act under the exceptional circumstances of unemployment departed from the strict principles of insurance. Ever since, we have been going on the wrong lines in dealing with insurance in relation to the unemployed. My right hon. Friend the late Minister of Labour made an attempt to get back to the principles of insurance lessened his own discretion, and in that way made an improvement on the departure of his predecessors.
An Insurance Bill should give to all who are covered by it the opportunity they need of receiving the same benefit under the same conditions. That was the original principle. When we commenced to talk about uncovenanted benefit we departed from that principle. It was 313 evidently forgotten that those who were entitled to the strict standard benefits were those who had paid their contributions for those standard benefits, and that those who were going to receive the uncovenanted benefit or the extended benefit in the process of time were practically the same people who would have to repay the moneys they received. In other words, the State came to the assistance of the unemployed because their funds in the Insurance Act had run out, and it practically said to the unemployed men, as well as the men in work, "We are going to lend you this money, strictly on the condition that when you go back to work, out of your contribution, out of the contributions of the employer and of the Government, as they will be paid in the future, all you are how receiving will be returned to the Fund to make it solvent." Not only that, but at the same time they were to pay interest for the loan of the moneys they were receiving for that purpose. I believe some is at 5½, some 5, and another amount 4½ per cent.
I do not see why there should be any difference, and the sooner we get back to the original principle the better. They are all unemployed men, and the first duty of any Government should be to keep these unemployed men, provided they are willing to work, in a physically fit condition for the day when employment may come their way. This Bill will not do that in any way at all for large numbers of people, but will render their position worse than it is. In relation to the extension of the period from three to six days, the Minister of Labour said that, so far as the boards of guardians were concerned, it would put an infinitesimal charge upon them. I am at a loss to understand how he came to that conclusion. If he were dealing only with men who for the first time had become unemployed, who had been regularly employed, and had said to them, "You are not to get any benefit until you are out of work six days," there might have been some force in his argument, but he himself, in answering questions, or, at all events, in a previous discussion, said that the unemployment was scattered over a far larger number of people than are actually out of employment at the moment. In other words, there is such a large amount of intermittent unemployment in the 314 country, these men being in the position of working a short period and then being thrown out of benefit, that this extension to six days will be a great hardship to them, and will not enable them to recover their position.
For that reason, I hold that this six days' extension will cause great hardship, and will also mean a very heavy charge on the boards of guardians and charitable institutions which help these men in many ways. There is another reason. At this moment we should not be reducing the benefits at all; we should be extending them. The original benefits were given in full knowledge that these men were getting help from other quarters. When they were introduced and paid, Ministers of Labour, one after another, knew the benefits the men were receiving were in addition to the benefits that they were drawing from their trade unions. It is well known to-day that many of the trade unions have expended their funds in relation to unemployment benefit, and there is little or no help coming from some of the trade unions in that direction. That being so, the Minister of Labour and the Government should be doing something to keep these men physically fit, by extending benefits rather than by reducing benefits, which this waiting period will occasion.
It is all very well to say that the actuary says that £6,500,000 will be saved by the operation of this extended period, but why should not account be taken of the circumstances that exist to-day? The unemployment question is too patent to the sight, and what we have to do is to see that those definitely out of employment nowadays and making a demand for the necessaries of life should get them. It is all very well to deal with figures, to engineer the figures, but it will be, time when we get to normal circumstances to look into them. We, of the trade unions, never bother with actuarial figures in that way. We find ourselves at present in the same boat as the Government, in relation to these matters. Our funds or those of the Government may both of them be called upon to pay far more than can possibly be covered by contributions over a certain period of time. Therefore, it is no use bothering us with actuarial figures, unless it bo to prove that 6½ million pounds ought really to be 315 transferred, to be used by the Government in its financial obligations under other Bills. That is the only reason that I can see why the figures should be put forward at the present time. It would be far more honest, generous, and beneficial to the community, on the whole, if the Chancellor had come down to the House and said: "You are not paying your way in the finance of unemployment; we want assistance for our other Bills, therefore, we will give sufficient into the fund," or that the Government should follow the advice given by several hon. Members by paying off the unemployment fund deficiency, if you like. If the right hon. Gentleman had said that they were going to increase the Government grant sufficiently to enable the reduction in contributions, that would have been an honest and a beneficial way to help in this matter.
This question of unemployment, as every one of us knows, is the most serious problem that is before us to-day, it matters not on which side of the House we sit. We ought to recognise that unless this problem is solved, and until permanent provision is made for the unemployed there is no possible chance of dealing adequately with any other problem that the House is called upon to deal with. You cannot deal with housing, with public health, with education, or other necessary problems in any practical way so long as you have a situation in which there is one and a-quarter million people out of work; people without adequate means of subsistence and without proper purchasing power.
So far as the question of Ministerial discretion goes, I do not want any Ministerial discretion to come either from this or that side of the House. I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the late Minister that he got rid of some of that discretion, which ought to be with the court of referees or with the umpire and not a matter for the Front Bench. Hon. anil right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench have got to see that proper legislation is passed; that proper conditions are inserted in the Bills that are put forward. The court of referees and the umpire are sufficient to determine whether or not a man is entitled to benefit. A man should be entitled to unemployment benefit on the same conditions in relation to 316 extended as to what we call standard benefit, and that should be a willingness to work. If a man or woman is covered by insurance and willing to work, by virtue of their contributions they should get the standard benefit until that benefit runs out. Benefit should be paid in relation to uncovenanted benefit or to extended benefit in the same way. Until we tackle the problem, as I see it, you will be creating greater discontent, dissatisfaction, and revolutionary tendencies by the throwing of other and ever-increasing numbers of men on to the scrap heap, as this Bill will assuredly do.
Those of us who are in the trade union movement know very well that if we put in these restrictions about three days and six days in our rules, it would be a mistake. We do not do the thing in that way. We say to the man: "You will not get benefit unless you are three days out of work," but then we give him the benefit from the beginning of his unemployment. Another trade union may say that there will be six days before a man gets benefit, bat then, when he does get it, he gets it for the six days, if he has been out that time. In another case a man may have to wait six days, and if he is out of work five days he gets nothing for the five. But if he is out of work the sixth day, he gets six days' out-of-work benefit. The Minister ought to have introduced a provision of that kind in order to safeguard the interests of the workers, because a man may be thrown out of work one, two or three times, owing to the erratic course of employment in our country at the present time.
For these reasons. I am opposed to this Bill. It is all very well to tell us, as hon. Members opposite have told us, that we are trying to throw large numbers out of benefit altogether. They know perfectly well that is not our intentior. That is the furthest thought from our mind. If the Minister had not been prepared to do something for the workers who are out of work at all events he should have left the position as it is by introducing a small Bill to extend the period for what is covered by the last Act. I sincerely hope that when this Bill goes to Committee the Minister will take into consideration the relation of the waiting period to the payment of benefit, and see to it that when unemployment begins that he is not going to stick 317 to the six days' period. I also trust that something will be done to throw back the responsibility of determining who is entitled to benefit upon the court of referees and umpire. These are the people who ought to determine whether a man is or is not entitled to benefit. I know, of course, there is the committee before the court of referees and the umpires, but I say that where those concerned are legitimately entitled to it, and legitimately unemployed, they should be entitled to their benefit.
§ Sir GERALD HOHLER
I unfeignedly welcome this Bill. There is no ground for saying that hon. Members on this side of the House do not support it. I think I could give reasons to the House, and to hon. Gentlemen opposite, suggesting what really an important subject it is with which we are dealing. May I remind hon. Gentlemen—I will not go back to 1911, but I think I am accurate in my recollection about the Act of 1920. I think the contributions by the workmen— I will not trouble about the women and children, but will use the workmen as an illustration—I think under that Act the contribution of the workman was 4d. and of the employer 5d. Now we have seen it grow under further Acts of Parliament, and we have now got, to my mind, the impossible position of 9d. from the workman and l0d. from the employer. I venture to remind hon. Gentlemen opposite about how much we have heard from them recently on the Pensions Bill being a tax upon industry. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear! "] I am only pointing out to them that they should try to be consistent. In the discussion on this Bill we have heard no reference at all to the endeavour, the active and valuable endeavour, to remove that tax from industry. Why have we heard no reference to that? Under this Bill the contribution payable by the workman is to be reduced to 7d., and by the employer to 8d. That is 2d. on each side taken from industry. To illustrate: An industry employing 1,000 men will by that reduction benefit to the extent of £800 per year, which is a very substantial sum. People who speak of these small sums do not view them in the aggregate. Clearly it is time that subject was dealt with when we are talking on this Bill.
I have never doubted—I have said so in the country and on the platform—that I believe in this Bill thoroughly. I ask 318 hon. Members to bear this in mind: that they are asking, I do not say for charity, I use the word "benevolence," for the people who are unemployed, but at whose expense? Hon. Gentlemen opposite claim to be the working classes, but this will come out of their fellow men. Do they not see that in the proposals put forward on this side the Government are trying to relieve their fellow men? I ask hon. Members to be consistent. I am not in the least impressed by what they say in my constituency, and I do not think in any other. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Harney) argued about finance, but I recommend him, if he wishes to carry his audience with him, not to make that speech before a public audience.
The point I want to make is this: that these proposals are not only an immense advantage to the man, but to his employer. The Bill is going to do another thing for which we have heard so much argument in this House, particularly from the party opposite. All these insurances are very splendid, but they all put up the cost of living and the cost of production. Take the employer. His payment is 9d. That must come out of the article that he is producing, and the buyer has to pay the price. It is the same thing in regard to the workman. So long as hon. Members allow these things to continue—these contributions to rise steadily—they are burdening industry and not assisting it. I want to see something done to assist industry. I am fully in sympathy with what has been said, I will not say believed in. I am just as sympathetic on unemployment as anybody, and as to the contribution being paid, but I say you are increasing the trouble by the burdens you are putting on. That is why some of us want to relieve industry.
Having dealt with that point, which, it seems to me, is all-important, may I remind hon. Members opposite that this fund is in debt to the extent, if I am right, of about £15,000,000. May I remind them as to who has to pay a large proportion of this debt? It is the working man. He has to pay towards it as well as his employer. The greater you increase this debt, the more you are increasing the burden on industry, and intensifying the position we are in. Therefore, I welcome this Bill, and I am surprised that hon. Members opposite 319 have not said something about Clause 2. I would just say nothing more than to kindly remind them that they seem to have forgotten Clause 2 when they put down this Amendment. I think it would have been wiser to have accepted Clause 2. To my mind unemployment insurance is all very well. The main principle of it I entirely and absolutely approve. I approve of the original Act, but whether we are wise, in a time of this great depression, to deal in this manner and cast the whole of this burden in the direction we are is quite another thing. That is not a point which hon. Members have been dealing with in this Bill at all. Hon. Members never gave a word of blessing to the Clause which reduces the contributions of the workmen and the employer. Not a bit of it. They forgot all about it, but if they had taken the view I am putting we should never have heard that speech with its reference to the Uriah Heep Government and all those other lovely literary references which the hon. Member was pleased to give us.
I approve of the principle of giving the power to the Minister of Labour. We can always discuss the Ministry of Labour Vote when it comes up. Hon. Members will be there next year, and if they do not like the way in which the Minister has administered this Act they can ask for the Vote for his Department to be put down, and move an Amendment to wipe out the whole of his salary, if necessary. Not only do I believe in that principle, but I am bound to say, and I say it quite convincedly, that I am in favour of the period of six days. I am not afraid of anything I say. They can hear it in the country if they like-that is, in my constituency, for nobody else cares about it except them. I am not going into the rather complex way in which the continuous periods are calculated under the other Act that we are amending. Possibly hon. Members will think that is because I do not understand it, and that may be one possible reason. The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) gave us an admirable illustration of why the six days is right. As I understand it, he spoke for the casual workers, the dock workers, more particularly—I do not say he confined himself to that class, but he referred more 320 particularly to the dock workers. Their labour was ever casual. A man may earn a good sum at casual work, and yet draw unemployment benefit. I do not say that he does, but if the Act is so drawn as to admit of that it ought to be amended. That is my view, and I am entirely in favour of the six days.
There are in industry a lot of skilled men, a great many of whom, I dare say, have never been out of a job in their lives because of the steady character of their work, and their own excellent characters, too—they are the sort of men the employers would be the last to part with. We are putting all the burden upon these men, amongst others, of finding the necessary funds to pay people who may or may not be bad workmen, or indifferent workmen, who may or may not have many failings to which all human nature is liable, and, in addition, may not be very skilled at their job. To throw the whole burden on those steady men is wrong, and I think the Government are making a great step forward in bringing up this Bill—as will be seen when it is fairly and honestly examined —to relieve the great load resting upon trade and the men who are in work. The hon. Member for St. Helens said that, including their sickness benefit contributions and trade union contributions, men at present are paying something like 18d. a week. [HON. MEMBERS: "More! "] I should have thought it was more. That is a very heavy burden. Let hon. Members reflect how that depresses the spending power of those men. In the present great depression In trade we should be very glad if anyone could see a way of lightening that burden until the whole world gets back to work again. I have heard no proposal put forward that will see us through, but, alt the same, we ought to try to relieve as far as we can the men who are keeping industry going, both employers and employed. Let the men retain as much of their wages as possible to spend. Some amendment of this Bill may be necessary, and I am sure any proposals put forward will be dispassionately and carefully considered by the Government, but do not let us condemn a Bill the whole object of which is to try to improve the position of those whom hon. Members: opposite have ever claimed to speak for, and claimed alone to have the right to 321 speak for—though I doubt the justice of that claim. This Bill will have my cordial support, and I am very glad that it has been introduced.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I would like to say, first of all, that the hon. Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor), whom I am sorry has gone, is quite wrong in thinking that anyone on these benches desires to perpetuate a system which makes legislation of this kind necessary. We would very much prefer that the Government, with their great majority, should settle down to the task of finding how to provide work instead of unemployed pay. None of us has ever tried to teach the people that able-bodied people should live without work. We want all the able-bodied to work, from one end of society to the other; and the only objection we have to the sort of statements we have heard to-night is that the proposal is applied only to the people at the bottom and of the social scale. The first thing that struck me when I read the actuary's report on this Bill was, where is the £6,500,000 coming from? Although there have been a lot of speeches from the other side, more than we have had during the last few weeks, not one hon. Member opposite has attempted to answer that question. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) asked that question at the beginning of his speech, and I thought someone on the other side would have dealt with the point. The hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Gillingham (Sir G. Hohler) talked about removing the burdens from the shoulders of the workers. We want to do that, and if you ask us where the money is to come from, we say the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought not to have reduced the Super-tax or have taken the 6d. off the Income Tax. Then there would have been plenty of money to relieve this burden and provide for widows' pensions, without the sort of jigsaw puzzle arrangements we have under this Bill and the other arrangements the Chancellor is going to make. The fact of the matter is, when we go into this financial juggle—I cannot call it anything else—
§ Sir G. HOHLER
I believe the hon. Member thinks he is replying to my 322 speech, but really I did not say anything about this at all.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Those who are listening to me, and those who happen to have the misfortune to read what both of us have said, will be able to judge whether I am replying to his arguments or not. I understand the purport of his speech to be that he and other hon. Members opposite desire to remove burdens from the shoulders of honest working men, who are being pressed down by the contributions they have to pay, and that they desire also to relieve the contributions which the employer has to pay and which are a burden on industry. In answer to that I was saying that the Chancellor of the Exchequer ought not to have taken 6d. off the Income Tax or reduced the Super-tax, and that if he had not done so we should have had sufficient money with which to carry on, without recourse to any legislation such as we are discussing to-night. This Bill is not designed primarily to reduce unemployment contributions from employers and workmen, but to ease the cost of the contributory scheme of widows' and orphans' pensions.
How are we going to get the 6.500,000? I maintain that we are going to gel it at the expense of starving the most defenceless portion of the working-class. The hon. and learned Gentleman, in talking of casual labourers, said a man might earn a lot of money in, perhaps, one or two days. Even if he does, he and his wife have a great deal to make up, because there are days and days when the man does not earn anything at all. I do not know whether hon. Members realise what a terrible scourge casual, intermittent work is to the working people in certain districts. When I first went into public life as a poor law guardian, 33 years ago, the late Charles Booth was making his investigations in East London. He investigated the conditions in the borough of Poplar, and he recorded that 25 per cent of the male wage-earners of that district never knew from one day to the other when they would got work of any sort or kind, and he said, what is perfectly true, "How can you expect a people to be thrifty when they do not know from one day to another what money they will have to be, thrifty on?" I am speaking in the presence of my colleague 323 the hon. Member for South Poplar (Mr. March), who will agree with me that the condition of things is worse to-day than it was 30 odd years ago; and then people wonder why we get impatient, and especially get impatient when a Bill like this is brought in.
I do not want to say hard things about the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour. We have known one another very many years. He undertook part of the inquiries that were carried on under the late Poor Law Commission, and he knows the facts. I suppose he knows the facts about casual labour better, probably, than any other Member on the Front Bench, with the possible exception of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I cannot understand how he can stand at that box and defend this proposal to alter the 3 days to 6 days. I asked the Clerk of our Board of Guardians yesterday what effect the reduction of the waiting period a year ago had on conditions there. Without being able to give me a great number of figures, he was able to show that the number of men coming to the Guardians for relief immediately dropped. Many men were able to carry on without coming to the Guardians at all. It is said that 70,000 men were put on the unemployment benefit through the lowering of the waiting period. It must be admitted equally, that 70.000 will go off again if the period is increased to 6 days. Hon. Members opposite cannot have it both ways. They cannot say that by lowering the period from 6 days to 3 days we put that number on the unemployment fund, and that they will not go off when the waiting period is enlarged. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, in answering my hon. Friend the Member for St. Helen's (Mr. Sexton) in that bland manner of his said he hoped the hardships would not be so very bad, but he cannot get away from the fact that what is proposed will hit those 70,000 men.
There is another side to this Bill. If this Measure passes you are going to give the Minister of Labour power to issue Regulation. It is admitted that the right hon. Gentleman in using his discretion will do so in regard to classes and not individuals. Before the Labour Govern- 324 ment came into office, and before the present Minister of Labour took office, young people were not allowed to have unemployment payment if they were living at home with their parents. Here we had the old doctrine of the family income business brought in. Some hon. Member opposite earlier in the Debate said that people who had children ought to accept the responsibility for them. I take the case of a man who gets married and lives with his father and mother. I have known cases before August last where a father living at home with his son's family, because of his son's earnings, has been refused unemployment pay. What is going to happen, Where you are going to get this £6,500,000 from is partly from the people who will have to wait for six days, partly from the people of the character I have just mentioned, and also from the young men and young women. In some cases they do not get this benefit until they are 25 or 30 years of age. I have known of a working carpenter living with his son or daughter, and they have paid into the insurance fund, and when their benefit has run out and they have gone up to get unemployment pay, investigations have been made as to the family income, and because some committee or some umpire thinks that they have enough to maintain the family as a family income, they deny unemployment pay to these people. You may think that is a very good principle, but I maintain that is is a bad one, because this is what you are doing and this is what you are giving the Minister power to do.
We shall have Regulations issued which will bring back this old condition of things, and what happens? You at once lower the standard of living of the whole family. You put on to the father, working hard, the responsibility, in addition to feeding himself and his wife and any young children, what, I maintain, is something that the community ought to bear, and not that man and his family at all. It is for that reason that I am against this iniquitous proposal to give this power to the Minister. I respect the right hon. Gentleman very much as a man, but I would not give him this power because of the tremendous pressure which is being put up against him on this sub- 325 ject. I am sure this provision would not have been in the Bill had it not been for the Press campaign for economy. Is it not unworthy of a great historic party, when you are crying out for economy, that the only place you can start it is right down at the bottom of the social scale? It seems to me that the only thing you can attack is the unfortunate people who are victims of conditions over which they have no control whatsoever. I think that these propositions are the meanest that this House has ever had to discuss. I cannot for the life of me understand how the present Minister of Labour has summed up courage enough to bring forward such proposals. There is no hon. Member sitting on the benches opposite who does not know this question through and through. It is often said that this is an insurance scheme, and that when people are out of work year after year you cannot expect that insurance scheme to go on maintaining them. Lord Derby once told us that when the War ended, in order to avert civil war and revolution, it was necessary to put big sums of money into the unemployment insurance fund in order to keep the people quiet. I want to know if hon. Gentlemen opposite subscribe to that doctrine. If you do not, then you should not vote for this Bill, because it is simply dotting the i's and crossing the t's of everything Lord Derby said. You would not have dared to do this on the eve of the Armistice, but you are now sending ex-service men out into the street
Down in Poplar, although we are a red borough, and although I was against the War and did everything I could to get it stopped, yet Poplar sent more men to that wretched war in proportion to its population than any district throughout the metropolis. To-day you are making them understand that when their children were sacrificed, and when they themselves made sacrifices, they were doing it for a nation that is now paying them back in this fashion. I would be ashamed if I had held up my Sand for any single man to go to the War, and I should never have been able to face them after such legislation as this. Down on the Floor of the House I will fight this Bill through to the end as far as I can. You may go out and misrepresent what we are doing if you like. If 326 this Bill is thrown out and nothing is done to restore the power we want restored under Clause 2, there will not be so much hardship as if the Bill goes through as it is. This Bill is going to perpetuate dire miserable poverty in a way that you ought to understand. It is for these reasons that I hope my hon. Friends will go on fighting this Bill, and if it gets into Committee I hope we shall do our best to obstruct it and prevent it becoming law in any shape or form.
§ Sir PARK GOFF
I rise to make a few observations on the extension of the waiting period from three days to six days. I think the proposal in the Bill will prove to be a most serious hardship for those whom I have the honour to represent, who have been the hardest hit of all through no fault of their own. You have only to consider the position to be convinced what a hardship this will be to the thousands of people who have been out of work for so many years in Cleveland. There we have 19 ironstone mines and only five of them are working, and some of those are only working one, two or three days a week. That is a very serious hardship to these men. As regards this extension from throe days to six, they do not want even a gap of three days. A great number of these men have been out of work since the 11th February, 1921. For this area I had some statistics sent me this morning from which I find that there are 95 blast furnaces, and only 30 of them are working now. There are over 22,000 people out of work in Cleveland, and they have been unemployed since the 11th February, 1921. The ironstone miners have done everything they could to assist the mineowners, and they have accepted throughout the whole of that period without demur all the reductions that they were asked to accede to. Our men there are only too ready and willing to help those who wish to help them. They do not want unproductive or palliative employment at all. What they want is not so much the relieving of unemployment as the provision of employment.
This is the only staple industry in Cleveland. They are always the first to come out when work stops and the last to restart when work commences again. Out of 22,000 unemployed in this district during the last 4½ years, I have only known of three cases of alleged fraud. 327 Since November last, as my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary knows full well, I have introduced on many occasions several deputations from Cleveland on this very subject, and also on the subject of unemployment generally. The proposed dock at the mouth of the Tees which was going to give work to thousands for several years would be of enormous benefit to the shipping of the port, and an enormous advantage to all the seafaring elements on the north-east coast of England. When you consider that all we want there is a subsidy to assist that dock, when you consider that there is only one stumbling block in the way, when you remember that you are going to employ thousands of men, what a relief that would be when you remember that one union alone is relieving distress to-day at the rate of £3,000 a week, and in some parts it represents 3s. 9d. per capita of unemployment on the rates.
Here is a great opportunity for a great Minister to take advantage of relieving the rates, and finding remunerative employment on works which will be a local, national and even an international benefit. We have 22,000 people out of work and they have been unemployed for 4½ years with all the misery and poverty which that brings in its train, and that is enough to break the stoutest heart. I have taken deputations to four or five different Ministers. They admit that we have a great grievance, and appreciate the courage and fortitude of all the Cleveland unemployed. I think my hon. Friends opposite will not deny that we are in a unique and exceptional position, because I represent the greatest industrial area of its kind in Great Britain, famous throughout the world for its ore and iron and steel. If the Minister agrees that it is in a unique and exceptional position, I think I am justified in maintaining that it deserves special consideration. On these grounds I appeal most sincerely and earnestly to my right hon. Friend to do what is in his power as far as this district is concerned. I ask him to exercise his power of discretion, or his power of waiver, and not to break the backs of those who cannot continue to bear this intolerable burden.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I am one of those who, having read this Bill, having read 328 the Actuary's statement affecting the Bill, and having heard the Minister's explanatory speech when he moved the Second Reading to-day, intend to vote against the Bill, in spite of the many explanations and expositions we have had from Members on the other side. There is one thing that I should like either the Minister of Labour or the Parliamentary Secretary, when he replies to the Debate, to make clear to the House, and that is with regard to the Actuary's statement at the beginning of the second paragraph on page 4, where he says:I estimate that the relief to the Fund derived from the new restrictions upon the granting of extended benefit and the extension of the waiting period is equivalent to £6,500,000.I want the Minister of Labour to tell the House why he did not state what those new restrictions are. They are not in the Bill, but the Actuary must have known what they are to be before he could estimate the saving. What are they?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I can only speak again by leave of the House, but, if the House will allow me, I should like to say that they are the same restrictions as to classes which have been stated for many months, and there is no intention of going beyond them. They are exactly the same classes, namely, young men living with their parents who are able to support them, married women living with their husbands who are in work, certain classes of half-timers, and also aliens, with exceptions, who have not been resident in this country before the 1st January, 1911, or, as the discretion will be exercised, a date that proceeds as the years go on, so that it will apply to those who have not been in this country for a sufficient length of time to make it quite sure that they have become members of the population like ourselves. Perhaps the hon. Member will forgive me if I just explain that the last thing I wished was to withhold any information from the House, and I have on my notes a note to mention these classes, but it escaped my eye as I was passing along, because I did not want to take up too much time.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I am certain that the House will accept the right hon. Gentleman's explanation. I want now to put this question: Is it the intention of the 329 Minister of Labour to put any restrictions upon the section of workers who are thrown idle owing to a trade dispute?
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I am glad that we are free of this matter as far as it has gone, because it was quite evident, both from the contents of the Bill and from the speech of the Minister earlier in the afternoon, that the House had not been made acquainted with the restrictions which he intended to put on certain classes of people, and with which the actuary himself must have been acquainted before he arrived at his estimate of the saving. Consequently, in my opinion, it was necessary that the House should have the facts that were placed before the actuary when he made his calculations.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND indicated assent.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
There is one thing that I should like to know when the Parliamentary Secretary comes to reply, and that is the amount of saving from the two sections—from the waiting period and from these classes which have now been enumerated. The amounts are lumped together at £6,500,000; how much is it estimated will be saved from, each section —how much on the waiting period and how much on the classes? I do not mean how much on any single class, but the summing up of all the classes that the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned. I trust that that information also will be given to us later in the evening, because I think it is necessary that the House should know it.
With regard to some other points that have been raised during the Debate, the Minister of Labour, in a very frank speech, stated his reasons for seeking this saving. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), I am not putting anything personal into what I am saying; all those on the Front Bench, when it is full, come under the ban. I consider this to be one of the meanest Bills ever introduced into this House. I consider that for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to take credit to himself for bringing in a Bill to give contributory pensions to widows, 330 orphans and aged people, upon the saving of £6,500,000 of which the poorest of the poor who are unemployed and in a most defenceless condition are going to be robbed, is not only financial juggling, but actual dishonesty to the people of this country who have paid their insurance contributions. It is actually tricking the people of this country.
§ Mr. T. HENDERSON
On a point of Order. Would it be in order to ask you, Sir, to agree to the adjournment of the House until the different parties assemble in greater numbers? There are no Liberals and only eight Conservatives present while we are discussing this very important Bill.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
I could not take a Motion of that kind in the middle of a speech of an hon. Member.
§ Mr. WESTWOOD
On the same point of Order. May I ask if you would be prepared to accept a Motion for the Adjournment of the House after my hon. Friend's speech is finished, so that we could discuss the absence of the Tory party and the complete disappearance of the Liberal party from this Debate?
§ Mr. MACLEAN
I am no party to these interruptions, although the Liberal party has continued the process that commenced two elections ago, and now has disappeared entirely. Whether that will be to their credit or discredit, in a discussion of this kind, will remain for their representatives in this House to explain to their constituents. As I was pointing out, the circumstances that have led to the introduction of this Bill to effect a saving of £6,500,000, and to give to the Minister of Labour further discretionary powers in addition to those he already possesses, are, in my opinion, such as this House ought not to agree to. We ought to agree, and I 331 am certain that we should agree, and that the House would give unanimous approval, to a Bill of only one Clause to give an extension of the period as stated in Clause 2. I am certain that that would receive the unanimous support of all Members of the House. When the Bill goes into Committee I suggest to the Minister of Labour that he should endeavour to amend it, to make it a one-Clause Measure, to cut out the part extending the waiting period and the part that gives him further discretionary powers. These things, I am certain, would make it an agreed Measure, but it cannot be an agreed Measure on the lines on which he has introduced it and on which some of his supporters evidently want to assist him in carrying it through. What, after all, are the circumstances of the situation? You are trying to take away £6,500,000 from people to whom that money will be a perfect godsend, and you are placing those same individuals from whom you are going to take this large sum upon the rates of their parish council and the boards of guardians, who will require to pay them the exact £6,500,000 that you as a Department are going to save. You cannot get away from that.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND indicated dissent.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
It is no use the Minister shaking his head. If you are going to refuse these people unemployment benefit where are they going to have the benefit? They can only get it from the parish council or the board of guardians or starve. [An HON. MEMBER: "Steal!"] There again the Home Secretary will be after them hot and fast, and I have no doubt he will blame the Minister of Labour for the increase in the number of criminals. This is one of those hastily conceived Measures that come from any Government which has within it as a Member of its Cabinet the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill). They are all wooden down there. The fact of the matter, of course, is that it is a sanctuary for him to go to and he has found sanctuary in the bosom of the Government, after himself telling the country 18 months ago at Manchester that Britain without Liberalism was Britain without its soul. He has shed his Liberalism and given up his conscience and gone to the Tory 332 party. I suggest to the Minister of Labour that he should abandon this attempt to prey upon the poor people of the country. This is a national question. It is still a war question. You are still paying interest upon War Loan, because you look upon it as part of the indebtedness of the country owing to the War. You have to-day this vast mass of unemployed men and women, the result of the War, every bit as much a national obligation as the payment of war interest I am certain that no Member of the Cabinet, and no Member on the Tory benches, would be agreeable to a reduction in the rate of War Loan interest, much less the repudiation of that part of the National Debt which was taken for the last War. If you are prepared to recognise your national obligations to the financiers you have to recognise this obligation to the human flesh and the brains and brawn of the country. You cannot escape your obligation. As long as you continue this method you cannot tell the amount of friction that is likely to arise. You cannot tell the amount of unconstitutional movement, as you think it, which may arise.
The Noble Lady the Member for Sutten (Viscountess Astor) was gravely concerned about the young people. The Minister of Labour knows perfectly well that in every big industrial constituency to-day there are boys who, in normal times, having left school, would have gone into the shipyard, into the engineering shop, into a workshop of some kind, and there been trained in some useful trade, going through the various stages of apprenticeship. He knows perfectly well that thousands upon thousands of these boys to-day, at 18 or 19 years of age, have never done a day's work, have never served an hour's apprenticeship, and are becoming a problem not only for the Minister of Labour, but for every Department of this Government and every civic authority in the country to take in hand. These are problems that the Minister knows. They produce this Bill, taking away from the unemployed £6,500, 00, cutting down, by placing additional restrictions upon certain classes, the number of people who are going to get unemployment benefit, making the conditions mere rigorous to obtain employment than they are to-day, and making it more difficult for them to 333 obtain unemployment benefit. The Prime Minister hopes that by a Bill of this kind you are going to promote peace in the country and co-operation in industry. You can grind the people of the country down to a certain depth. They will submit to a lot for the sake of the children and for those who are dependent upon them, but I warn the Minister of Labour and the Prime Minister, and those who sit with him, that they cannot crush the people down too far. There may arise the conditions that arose in ancient Rome described by Macaulay:Lest when the latest hope is fledYe taste of their despair,And learn by fear in some dread hourHow much the wretched dare.Do not drive the people down into a wretched condition. Do not drive them down to the lowest depths of despair, or you may find out, when it is too late, that your maladministration has brought about conditions such as those of us who are lovers of peace would gladly wish had never come into our midst.
§ Lieut. - Commander BURNEY
The speech of the hon. Member who has just spoken is somewhat characteristic of those he gives the House. The first parts are always logical and reasonable, but towards the end he gives us a pyrotechnic display of sentimentality. I am certain he does not believe the Prime Minister, of all men, is endeavouring to grind the faces of the poor. I suggest we should consider the Bill on its merits. I congratulate the Government on endeavouring to deal with this question, because they are endeavouring to deal with two very important matters. Firstly, they are endeavouring to relieve industry, and on that we have heard very little so far, and, secondly, they are endeavouring to prevent persons obtaining the benefit of the dole when they are not really entitled to it. In so far as their endeavours are concerned, I think the Government are to be congratulated.
I am not so certain, however, whether we are dealing with this question upon the basis or in the manner in which it should be dealt with. In so far as any Government has to tackle this question from the practical point of view, I think it would be very difficult to conceive measures more practical, and, perhaps, more efficient, than those which the Government are now producing. 334 But I only look upon them purely as a temporary expediency to deal with a very pressing matter. I doubt whether we ought not entirely to recast our ideas in regard to the whole of our unemployment insurance policy. To begin with, it is not an Insurance Bill. The beneficiaries are paying one-third of the total contributions which are to provide the benefit. The other two-thirds are coming, one from certain selected sections of the community, in the sense of industry, and the third portion is coming from the State as a whole.
I think we ought to consider whether or not we ought to deal with our unemployment insurance upon two grounds. Firstly, upon the ground of insurance. If it is to be dealt with purely on an insurance basis, I am in agreement with a great deal of what has been said from the other side, because it is very difficult to defend any of these measures if the question is dealt with purely upon the basis of insurance. The whole business is complicated by the fact that the benefit accruing to the beneficiaries is very much greater than that which they have themselves paid for; greater to the extent of one-third from industry and one-third from the State. Therefore, we may ask whether the time has not come to reconsider our whole policy in regard to the question of insurance.
I am not one of those who agree either with the President of the Board of Trade or with the Minister of Labour in regard to the way in which they look upon this unemployment problem. If I am wrong, I hope the Minister of Labour will interrupt me. I had not the privilege of hearing his speech as I was detained. I believe it to he the fact that both the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Labour have stated that they do not believe that the present unemployment on the scale we now have it is anything but temporary. Neither do they believe that the causes underlying that unemployment are anything but temporary, and due to the War. I take a very different attitude.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I hope my hon. and gallant Friend will not think I want to interrupt him; but I do not think I ever expressed such an opinion. I do say, frankly, that many of the causes of unemployment are, I think, 335 ultimately due to the War but whether they are of a temporary or more permanent character I have never expressed an opinion.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I am very glad to hear the Minister of Labour say that, because I think it is very necessary that not only the Government but Government Departments should thoroughly investigate and come to a conclusion as to whether these causes of unemployment are temporary or whether they are likely to be permanent. Whether they are temporary or whether they are permanent has a very great bearing upon the finance of this Bill. If we take unemployment as being in certain industries permanent, then, surely, the relief to that industry should be national. If, on the other hand, unemployment in any industry is sporadic, then I think it should clearly be said that the relief to that industry should fall upon the industry. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to separate the consideration in this Bill as to how we not only propose to deal with our whole problem of unemployment, but as to whether we are satisfied in our own minds that the causes are temporary or permanent.
I believe that we in this country are going through one of those great periodic changes in the history of nations, and that it is due to scientific development and advance that we are in the condition that we are to day. The Minister of Labour, in a speech which I did hear a week or two ago, and which I should like to criticise, said that if the cost of coal could be cut down by 2s. 6d. per ton, there would be no unemployment in the coal trade.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
He said that we should recover the bulk of our foreign trade, and that therefore there would be very little unemployment in the coalfields. I think that is a fair expression of what was said. So far as reducing costs by cutting down wages in the coal trade are concerned, how does that alter the fact that invention has caused great hydro-electric power stations to be 336 erected in Northern Italy, permanently reducing the demand for coal from our mines. How does it alter the fact that Scandinavian countries do the same thing? How does it prevent the development of methods for burning brown coal and other types of low-grade coal, with the result that the brown coalfields in Brazil and in Australia are being developed, and to-day are permanently taking away coal markets from this country.
That state of change is taking place, not only in the coal trade, but in many other trades, and it is occurring because we are going through a great change in our development as a nation. I made a speech on unemployment a few weeks ago in which I made an appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to work upon this problem in conjunction with the Prime Minister and to try, purely as a non-party committee, to find some common grounds and some common policy between the parties under which this problem could be dealt with. It is useless for each party in turn to endeavour to deal with these various problems of unemployment, unemployment insurance and the like, if we feel that the next party coming into power, by the change of luck at the Election, is going to reverse the policy which has been brought in. It is a great waste of national effort, and that is the sort of thing which every sensible man wishes to avoid. In this great crisis of our national existence— in my opinion it is a great crisis of our existence—I may be wrong, I hope I am wrong, I believe the condition of this country is going to grow steadily worse, that the unemployment figures are going to go up and that an increased burden will be placed upon the community as a whole because our unemployment figures go worse, so will our position again be more difficult. That is why I say at this crisis of our national life it would well become the Leader of the Opposition, and it would well become the Leader of the party which is not in existence at the present time in this Debate—
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I do not make much appeal to the Liberal party, for the reason that they are mainly composed of doctrinaire and academic persons. I want to appeal to practical 337 persons on each side of the House who are not hero as professional politicians, but who are here because they have businesses to run and men to employ, and because they feel the responsibilities and the troubles with which the country is now faced. I believe that the country would welcome any move by the Leader of the Opposition to have a non-party conference with the Prime Minister to see in what way these great questions could be dealt with by an inter-party Committee.
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that I asked the Prime Minister to have a conference of this sort and that he refused?
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
If the hon. Member made that suggestion, I congratulate him on having put forward such a proposal.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
Perhaps the Prime Minister did not appreciate what was said. I believe what I am saying and I propose to say it. If the Prime Minister does not agree with what I am saying probably he will not take much notice of it, but it would be a very bad thing for the Conservative party if Back Bench Members did not say what they thought. But I do not want to be put off my line of argument. It is difficult to pursue a consecutive argument when one is continuously interrupted. I come back to the question of dealing with unemployment insurance and unemployment as a whole. If we take it as a fact that many of our industries are undergoing a great change, owing to the changing position of the country and that the changing position of this country is due to the fact that a certain new value is being put upon raw materials in various parts of the world, then we come to this conclusion that many of our industries, such as the coal trade, the steel and iron trade, and the shipbuilding trade, are likely to have permanently very large figures for unemployment until the persons in those trades have been reduced to the number required for those industries in this country.
If that be so, it is obviously unfair to tax those industries with the upkeep of the men out of employment in those 338 trades, because it is a national charge, just as the War was a great national charge. This charge, which is being introduced into this country and imposed upon this country because of the re-orientation of values, is just as much a national charge as the War or any other great enterprise of that character. Therefore, if we deal with trades which have an unemployment figure of more than 10 per cent., and on the figures for those trades come to the conclusion that one of these great charges is taking place, then it is unfair, and goes to the root of the stability of unemployment insurance, if you leave those industries to be dealt with as if the unemployment were merely sporadic unemployment.
Then I come to the other industries in which the unemployment is sporadic, dependant on various minor stages. In these cases I think it only right that the industry should support those persons who are out of employment. There is one further fact. Human nature is no better in the labouring classes than in any other class. [HON. MEMBERS: "And no worse! "] Therefore, if public money is being doled out, a very large number of people will try to get as much as they can for as little work as they can. Accordingly, it is in the interests of all parties that, when public money is being doled out for any purposes, the cases should be vetted and considered with great care, and we should devote great care to our administration. There again, there is a great difference between a true insurance policy, under which people are entitled to insurance, and a policy by which we supplement what they are getting with benefit from the State or from the employer.
Then we must consider the difficulty of getting these numerous eases. I think undoubtedly that they are numerous. I would not like to express an opinion as to the percentage, but many persons in this House will recollect having brought to their notice cases of people who draw benefit who are not entitled to it. There-tore, I should prefer those industries in which the unemployment may be termed sporadic to be put upon the local rates, and not upon the State. I suggest that for this reason. In reference to the contributions which come from the public it makes very little difference to the taxpayer as a whole whether they are what 339 is called borne by the State or by the locality [HON. MEMBERS: "No! "] But there is a very urgent desire on the part of those who live in a district, and have to contribute to the rates, to see that those persons who are not entitled to draw the benefits do not draw them. Therefore, it seems that there are very good grounds for reconsidering the whole of this unemployment insurance business.
I think that the Minister has done what he could in the Measure which he has introduced, but I think that it is a thoroughly unsatisfactory one. I think that it will undoubtedly cause considerable hardship in many parts of the country. But from the practical point of view again it is very difficult to introduce a great change in a series of Bills like those which govern the whole of our policy of unemployment insurance. Hon. Members will agree that, if we are to upset the whole basis of our unemployment insurance policy, it is not a matter which can be dealt with in a few weeks or months, but is a matter which has to be very carefully considered by the Government and the Department. Therefore, when we consider this Bill, if it is a Bill which is presented as a purely temporary expedient, I am prepared to support it, but I would like to obtain from the Minister of Labour an expression of opinion to whether it would be possible, thoroughly to investigate the whole of our policy in regard to unemployment insurance. I do not believe that consideration will be of any value to this House unless, when the matter is considered, it is considered in conference with the Labour party, because we do want continuity of policy in those matters.
In conclusion I should like to draw attention to a matter which the House should seriously consider, as I believe the effect of the financial policy pursued by foreign countries upon unemployment problems over here is very considerable. What has happened in foreign countries such as France, Germany, Belgium and the like has been that all the money that has been lent to the State has been largely written off, and not only have the internal loans been greatly reduced, but the loans to industry in the form of debentures have shaved a like result. It is pertinent to consider what has been the effect upon our labour market of this 340 inflation policy in those countries and from which we import many of our manufactures. Owing to the inflation policy, the number of persons who are left without having to work is very much less than in this country, and for that reason the competition in those countries for employment is very much fiercer than it is in this country. The result is that not only can those countries get their men and get better men for the same rate of wages as is paid here, but also, owing to that much fiercer competition, there is a considerable decrease in the salaries and wages which persons will take. That, again, reflects upon this country, and make? it much more difficult to compete in our manufactures. One result of this has been the effort made by this Government to reduce the burden upon industry in this country, and one method of so doing has been the introduction of this Bill. I suggest that the whole matter should be reconsidered, because all unemployment insurance is bound up with our unemployment policy as a whole. I hope that there may be some possibility of the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister meeting and endeavouring to find out some line of common advance which pan be taken by the two great parties in the State, in a common attack upon what I believe to be a vital danger to this country.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
The hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) generally makes a fairly valuable contribution to the Debates, and I was glad to hear him express the opinion that unemployment was as much a national responsibility now as it was immediately after the Armistice. I regret to say that that opinion is not general upon the benches opposite. That was fairly apparent this afternoon when the ex-Minister of Labour was replying to the present Minister. My right hon. Friend was dealing with the £6,500,000 which is to be saved, according to the actuary's report, under this Bill, and when he claimed that that money belonged to the unemployed, several Members opposite indulged in laughter that was both loud and long and derisive. I want to remind hon. Members opposite and the Minister of Labour in particular, and my own colleagues, what actually 341 took place in 1918. I am glad to see that one Member of the Liberal party has arrived. He complained about the House being very tame when he was speaking this afternoon. I would remind him that the benches of the whole of his party have been empty for the last couple of hours.
I want to remind the House of what took place in October, 1918, in regard to unemployment benefit, when the national responsibility was realised. Eight general secretaries of trade unions were summoned to London. Two of them are on these benches now, one the hon. Member for Newton (Mr. E. Young), who spoke this afternoon, and the other myself representing my own society in place of our general secretary. There was no request then on the part of trade unions for an increase of benefit. There was no unemployment in October, 1918. We met the representatives of the War Office, the Admiralty and the Board of Trade. We never asked for any increase of unemployment benefit, yet there were proposals put before us to increase the benefit to 25s. per week, and that sum was ultimately increased to 29s. Why? Because the country fund responsible Ministers then were of the same opinion as is the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge to-night, namely, that it was a national responsibility and there was a national danger. The boys were coming home from the Front. We were told that the War was about to end. It was recognised that if men who had been for years engaged in the. exercise of arms were to come home and were compelled to walk about the streets for a sustained period, there would be trouble of a very serious kind. I signed the Government proposals and so did the hon. Member for Newton. These sums were paid to the men for a very considerable period.
Now there is a change of opinion. National responsibility is not realised. I would warn the House and hon. Members who laughed here this afternoon, and the Minister of Labour himself, that although the danger may not be so palpable or so obvious, it may be none the less real now. If the first Clause of this Bill goes through unaltered, I warn the Minister that there is real danger, just as there was in October, 1918. I read a speech delivered quite recently by a prominent man, who, speaking of the danger of 342 revolution in this country, said, "There is as much revolutionary tendency in Englishmen as there is in a plum pudding." There is not much revolution about a plum pudding when it is outside, but when it gets in side the case is sometimes otherwise There may be danger. I hope there may not be. I am not an alarmist, but going about my own constituency of East Newcastle I realise that simmering beneath the surface is a feeling of extreme discontent. Men are on the margin now, and if they are pushed any further there may be trouble. The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) and the hon. Member for Rotherhithe (Mr. B. Smith) have dealt very ably with the question of repair work and unskilled men. I only remind the Minister that in addition to the unskilled labourers there are many skilled men who, when they are engaged at all, are engaged on casual work, and that in the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industry particularly we have a large number of men of all trades who are practically engaged upon casual work. I ask him to realise that the first Clause of the Bill is going to bear harshly on these men. They are at present going through a very difficult time, and, if there is to be a reversion to the six days, their difficulty will be to keep within their societies and keep within benefit under the Insurance Act at all.
The Minister in his speech illustrated the difference between the Bill and the Act of 1924 by an analogy. He was drawing the distinction between standard benefit and uncovenanted or extended benefit, and he said the man entitled to standard benefit was like the man who went into a shop with ready money and who was entitled to buy and to get what he bought, whereas the man entitled only to extended benefit was like a man with no money who went into the shop and asked for credit. That analogy, however, breaks down. As has been said already, this is an insurance scheme and the member who enters in the manner indicated by the Minister without money and asking for credit may not get the credit, but under this Bill he will have to pay for it. I will be interested if the Minister in his reply deals with that point. The first Clause of this Bill, I notice, contains the exact wording of an instruction issued to rota committees 343 three years ago. That wording which it is now sought to incorporate in the Bill is as follows:the Minister may, if, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, he considers it expedient in the public interest so to do authorise that person to receive benefit.That was an instruction to rota committees three or three and a-half years ago. At that time I became chairman of one of these committees, and I asked the manager of the exchange how I was to know what was ''expedient in the public interest." I asked what was the determining factor, the guiding principle; what was I to do to mete out justice in conformity with this instruction? He gave me a very simple rule. I do not know whether the Minister knows of it or not, but it was mentioned by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). It is a question of the family income. We not only had that as a guiding principle, but we had the exact figure on which to go. We got the figure of 14s. per week per head, and if the family income was at or above that figure, then we were to turn down the applicant. Is that fair under conditions such as prevail? Is it fair when a man comes before the rota committee that the chairman should reckon up the family income, and if it comes to 13s. 9d. per head per week to give benefit, but if it comes to 14s. 1d. per head per week turn down the applicant? Is that insurance or is it charity? I say that going back to the provisions of the 1920 Act, which Clause 1 means, is reverting from an insurance policy to that charity which is condemned by hon. Members opposite.
The Minister, at considerable length, pointed out to the ex-Minister of Labour that what had been claimed for the Act of 1924 had not been justified. He said extended benefit was never paid as a right and that the Act of 1924 had not conferred that right. If there is no difference between the 1924 Act and the right hon. Gentleman's proposals then why produce the Bill at all? There are only two real proposals in the Bill—one to revert back to the 1920 provisions and the other to extend the waiting period from three to six days. That is all the Bill contains, and when that has been said about it all has been said about it. I draw the atten- 344 tion of the House however to the fact that the men recognise that the 1924 Act did give them the right to extended benefit and took away that aspect of charity which is rightly condemned on all sides of the House.
I desire to touch upon the injustice of making unemployed men and women pay for the widows' and orphans' pensions and for old age pensions at 65 Is it not a singular thing that the actuary's report shows a saving in contributions amounting almost to the identical sum that will be got in relief under the Bill? The two figures are £6,800,000 relief to industry and £6,500,000 saved by the Bill. These figures taken together mean that the unemployed men and women are going to pay for the pension scheme. I have in mind that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he anticipated that the unemployed figures were going to be reduced to 800,000. This Bill indicates that to be the settled policy of the Government; that they are determined by hook or by crook to have the figures down to 800,000. I conclude my remarks by emphasising what I said at the outset. The national responsibility is here; the national responsibility exists as it did in 1918, and I warn the Government, if they persist in this course, the danger may not only be real but may become very apparent and very obvious.
§ Mr. REMER
I do not propose to follow the numerous speeches of hon. Members opposite as to the seriousness of unemployment in the country at the present time, for the very good reason that I do not think it is a subject of debate at all. I do not think there is any party, whether on the benches opposite, on this side of the House, or even among the remnants of the Liberal party which exist at the present moment to the extent of one member present in the House, who does not feel deeply on this question of unemployment. That problem has baffled all political parties, and it has baffled probably the Labour party when they were in office more than it has baffled any other party, and I think it is rather unbecoming of those hon. and right hon. Members whom we have heard speaking to-day on the subject of unemployment insurance to have dealt with it at such length and forgotten the basic facts of the Bill which we are discussing to-day. If we come to this question of unemployment insurance, it provides an 345 instance of a vicious circle. Unemployment itself causes the insurance benefit to be paid, the insurance benefit causes higher taxation, higher taxation causes in itself unemployment, and there we have the vicious circle, and I feel very strongly that we should come down to realise what are the basic facts upon which we, who are sitting on these benches, and the hon. and right hon. Members opposite, are divided as a matter of principle.
I heard the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) speaking tonight at great length about the sad and difficult situations which arise in the everyday life of the working people. We all know about these things. The hon. Member who has just resumed his seat has also given sad stories of what exists, but do hon. Members opposite not realise that we in this matter are acting as trustees, that we are dealing as trustees with the money that has been subscribed by the working people and the employers of this country, and that we have no moral right whatever to allow people to have these benefits unless they are entitled to them? The right hon. Gentleman interrupted the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. N. Maclean) in the course of his speech, and if you deal with the two specific points which he mentioned, namely, the eases of a wife living with her husband and of a son living with his parents, there we have two cases where we are not entitled, as trustees for this fund, to distribute this money until we are perfectly sure that people who have not subscribed anything whatever or who have subscribed insufficient to secure benefits under the original Act, are entitled to receive benefit.
I should like the attention of the Minister of Labour for a moment, because I feel a little misgiving on this question of unemployment insurance. Since I have been in Parliament we have had 14 Bills dealing with unemployment insurance. I know that the time is difficult in which to get comprehensive Bills through dealing with the whole subject, but in my view, instead of doing as the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) did when he was Minister of Labour, and instead of doing what my right hon. Friend is doing now, that is, having a patchwork dealing with this problem, I feel that it is necessary to deal with it on a far more com- 346 prehensive scale, and it is my view that this problem cannot be dealt with on national lines, but that the reform of this unemployment insurance question must come on local lines. If we take the boards of guardians, which are distributing a very large amount of relief to the same class of people who are receiving unemployment insurance, there seems to be a great lack of liaison as between the Ministry of Labour, which gives the unemployment insurance, and the boards of guardians, which give outdoor relief, and I think one of the greatest reforms possible is to see that there should be close liaison as between the boards of guardians and the Ministry of Labour.
I do not know whether I am entitled on this Bill to discuss the wider aspect of it, and I do not propose to do so at length, but it is my view that this country has sooner or later to come to the question of trying to find some means whereby this problem can be dealt with through insurance by industry, rather than on a broad national basis. The right hon. Member for Preston will know that this question was one upon which his Government was defeated, during the life of the last Parliament, on the Report stage of his, I think, No. 4 Bill, but as there were so many Bills during the last Parliament, I am not quite sure of the number. His Government, I say, was defeated on this specific point on the lines of keeping insurance by industry alive as a principle, instead of, as he wanted to do, killing it, and I would impress on the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour that this question of getting more local administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund will, I am sure, be economical in principle and will prevent fraud, for what we are all really out for is to prevent the fraudulent receiving of the Unemployment Insurance benefit.
I would now like to come to what is really the dividing line between the party opposite and ourselves. The right hon. Member for Preston will remember very well that when we got upstairs in Committee, Dr. Macnamara, who was then a Member of the House, turned round to the Labour Members, who were supporting the Government of that day, and said: "All through, you have fought the principle of the contributory basis of unemployment insurance." The right 347 hon. Member for Preston must have felt very uncomfortable at that time, because he was trying to defend the principle of the contributory insurance against unemployment, and he will remember very well the incident to which I am referring, because behind him there were the loud cheers of almost very Socialist Member of Parliament of that day. That is the real basis. The right hon. Gentleman when he was in office did everything that it was possible for him to do in order to try to kill the basis of contributory unemployment insurance by making the benefits so large that the scheme would eventually become bankrupt. I say that after consideration, because the whole basis upon which they conducted their operations when in office was to increase the benefits out of all regard whatever to what the actuarial calculations told them would be the position. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that, when that Bill was going through Committee, Miss Bondfield, who was then Parliamentary Secretary, told us definitely that the result of the extended benefits, which were given according to actuarial calculation. would put the Fund absolutely out of credit and would increase the very serious overdraft which stood at that time. There is the dividing line between the Socialist and the Conservative parties. The Conservative party want to see, and I think also the Liberal party want to see, the continuation of the contributory basis of unemployment insurance. There is the dividing line between Socialism and anti-Socialism. They want to see the State paying the whole of those contributions, and paying them in such a way that the people receive those moneys without any calculations from the actuaries or anybody else. There is one point which the right hon. Gentleman made in his speech, and it has been re-echoed on the Back Benches, about the actuarial calculation. My right hon. Friend, if I may call him so, knows full well what the Government Actuary is. He knows that if the Government Actuary makes a calculation, it is made on the most conservative estimate. I have been in the House seven years, and never once on an Unemployment Insurance Bill have I known the Government Actuary's Report to be 348 otherwise than on the most conservative basis. If it was £6,000,000, the figure was really £8,000,000, and so on. It was always on such a basis as to be most careful and economical.
§ Mr. T. HENDERSON
Does the hon. Member mean, if that is the case, that instead of £500,000, they would be taking £900,000.
§ Mr. REMER
I cannot give figures and I do not put myself against the Government Actuary. But I. am certain the Government Actuary is always on the most conservative side. If there are those people who are receiving moneys which the working people have subscribed to, we are coming to the point of issue, which is this—that the working people have subscribed those very large sums, amounting to many million pounds a year, and we, as the House of Commons, have no moral right to say that those sums which have been subscribed for a specific purpose should be used for any other purpose. We are dealing with this matter in order to get rid of that overdraft at the Treasury which has existed for two months, and in order to enable the position to be rectified. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley made a most pathetic speech just now. He has made the identical speech many times previously. He might have made some of the new Members almost cry with the pathetic story of the young man who lives with his father. We have heard that story in variegated forms from the hon. Gentleman on numerous occasions previously. What does it amount to? Those people have not subscribed their full amount under the unemployment insurance, and I say to the hon. Member, have we the right—
§ Mr. LANSBURY
It is exactly the opposite. Those people have paid in and then because they are living with their parents who are supposed to be able to maintain them—
§ Mr. LANSBURY
And the young man directly he starts work again—or the old man—will pay in just the same as everybody else will pay in.
§ Mr. J. BECKETT
I suggest that the hon. Member should inquire of the Macclesfield Unemployment Committee.
§ Mr. REMER
The hon. Member comes to this House with stories such as that to which I have referred. I think he may play on the minds of some of the Members of this House who have only been here a short time, but we who have been in the House for some little time think it is about time those matters were put in plain language. There is one other point that the hon. Member referred to, namely, the decasualisation—because it is decasualisation—of dock labourers. On this question I bow to no one, because I am a Liverpool man myself and I have worked with dock labourers from 6 o'clock in the morning to 6 o'clock at night, and I can claim to know something about that subject. If the hon. Member or his party can put forward any scheme which will solve that problem, I can only say they are very clever people.
§ Mr. REMER
The position is a very difficult one and when the Labour party's Bill was before Parliament dealing with decasualisation of the dock labourer it provided that they should be taken out of unemployment insurance altogether. It was promoted by the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) and other people well known on the unemployment insurance question. [An HON. MEMBER: "It provided something else!"] I am quite in agreement with the hon. Member. There is what I think is the real remedy for all the difficulties with which we are faced, namely, that there should be insurance by industry rather than by a national scheme to deal with the problem. It is for those reasons it is my intention to support the Bill to-night. I cannot say I am satisfied that it is the last word or is a satisfactory way of 350 dealing with the situation in which we are placed. There is one more stage in which this unemployment insurance shall be dealt with on a national basis and which will put it on a comprehensive basis. I am quite certain this Bill cannot be left in the unsatisfactory position in which it is at the present time, but because I believe the Government's time is limited, it is my intention to support them in their Bill to-night.
Mr. W. M. ADAMSON
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer) into the very wide range and aspect of unemployment insurance which he took. He began by criticising unemployment insurance, and termed it a vicious circle, and later he was defending the very system he had criticised.
It is curious that the hon. Gentleman should refer to the payments made by employers and workmen if he only meant the unemployment problem. However, the unemployment problem is outside the scope of the discussion. I want to deal with an aspect of the position referred to by the Minister of Labour. He described the extended benefits under unemployment insurance as insurance on credit. I am not prepared to criticise that statement, or to try in argue at the moment that there is anything wrong in that belief, but if it be insurance on credit, then the anticipation is that the workers in the aggregate are going to repay by contributions the benefits they receive during the period of unemployment, and it ought to be the very last thing for the Minister to introduce a Bill that is probably going to hinder these benefits being paid. There may be in this Measure Clauses to extend the Act for a further period, and, possibly, we might be able to support not only that, but even a reduction of contributions, both for employers and workmen; but the other provisions of the Bill are such that we on this side of the House are bound to support the Amendment to try to destroy the provisions of the Bill.
351 It has been remarked by various speakers during the discussion this evening that there are two sets of individuals at least that should be considered in discussing the provisions of this Bill, and the first set is those workmen who are now employed who are paying contributions. I am enabled to speak as one who for several years paid contributions to national unemployment. I was in the fortunate position that I did not have to apply for any benefit under the scheme, but I quite gladly and willingly gave up those contributions to the scheme in the national interest. But there is a section of the community which, I think, it is equally important to consider, and that is the unemployed themselves, and, from this point of view, I want the House to pardon me if I speak, probably with some little feeling upon this point, because some 16 years ago I was in the unfortunate position that, in spite of years spent in a skilled trade, I had a period of 18 months' unemployment, with only five weeks at work. There was no National Unemployment Insurance scheme in those days, and during the whole of that period I was dependent on my own resources, with little mouths to feed, and, at the end of the period, I had only 6s. a week trade union benefit coming into the home. I had no other resources whatever, and I want the House to imagine the position of a man who is described as respectable and thrifty, who has to face the world with its difficulties and defend his responsibilities, knowing that he has less and less hope to return to the type of employment in which he was engaged, with no possible initiative to which to look forward, and hope driven gradually further and further away.
I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary if this saving of £6,500,000 is going to be made by reducing the men who have had 18 months', two years', or three years' unemployment, to no benefits whatever? I say that these men who have fought for these things and have paid their contributions, are entitled to the benefits. No Minister of Labour ought to use the powers of a huge majority in this House to pass such legislation, and to send men, women and children to the Poor Law authorities, when they should have the full rights and privileges of the benefits to which they are entitled.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir JOSEPH NALL
One would imagine, from the course of the Debate, that we were not discussing an insurance scheme, or its merits as an insurance scheme, but that the House was engaged in reviewing the present aspects of the Poor Law system. As the Minister said this afternoon, this Bill is only a stage in the process of bringing the present scheme to a more permanent basis. It is only a stop-gap Measure. So far as it goes, it draws attention—and very necessarily draws attention—to the way in which the present system of administering unemployment benefit, the present state of the law on this question, has drifted more and more away from the basis of insurance, and, particularly under the Act of last year, has become more a substitute or an alternative for poor relief proper. I think that tendency has been most unfortunate, because, as has been indicated in the speech of the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, confusion exists between those who have paid their contributions week by week and year by year, are genuinely insured, and are genuinely entitled to draw benefit, and the comparatively smaller number of those who draw uncovenanted, or extended, or, in other words, unpaid for benefit. As I understand this Bill, it does not in any way infringe upon the right, or infringe upon the benefits, of those who are genuinely insured persons, who have paid their contributions, and who, quite reasonably, expect to draw the benefits for which they have contributed.
The House should consider, should take this opportunity of considering, whether we in fact are going to restore the actuarial basis of the insurance scheme, and ultimately, when the present series of Acts fall for renewal next year, permanently to establish a sound insurance scheme, or whether we are going to drift along, as we have so far drifted along, and this great idea to become more and more another system for relief, a system of poor relief, such as it is to-day, indicating uncovenanted or extended benefit, without any of the safeguards or control which applies to a Poor Law system proper as administered by the boards of guardians. It is, I venture to say, in the interests and to the advantage of the great mass of industrial workers who pay their contri- 353 butions and are genuinely insured persons, that the Poor Law out-relief elements which have crept into the administration of this scheme should be gradually eliminated so that that aspect of the benefit reverts to its more proper sphere and more appropriate administration under the boards of guardians and the Poor Law proper.
Personally, in the last few years I have several times drawn attention to the abuses which have crept into the scheme. I remember, I think it was in this present Session of Parliament, suggesting that in future, with the opportunities which exist for able-bodied women to obtain employment to-day, it would be quite a reasonable thing to exclude them from the operations of these Acts—all able-bodied women under 30 years of age.
§ Sir J. NALL
I think there is room for inquiry as to whether, in order to make this a real insurance scheme, the age limit for both sexes under the operation of what is called the dole should not be raised; whether, in fact, young persons under whatever age is found to be most appropriate, it may be 18 years, or 20 years, or 25 years of age, under whatever age inquiry suggests to be the appropriate figure, both sexes should not be excluded from the operation of this scheme. There is no doubt the influence—
§ Mr. WALLHEAD rose—
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I only wanted to ask whether the hon. and gallant Member means to exclude these people from contributions as well?
§ Sir J. NALL
Oh, yes. I am not suggesting that anyone should go on paying contributions without getting benefits. What I am suggesting is that there is scope for inquiry as to whether young persons under some age to be determined shall not be excluded from the Act altogether, both as to contributions and as to benefit. In the Lancashire mills today there is a shortage of boys in the occupation of little piecers. I know certainly that in the town of Bolton, and in that part of the spinning trade where there is practically 354 no depression, where—as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) knows pretty well—there has not been that depression which exists on the Oldham side; in Bolton to-day and for some months past it has been impossible to obtain the requisite number of lads for the occupation of little piecers. To-day boys are taken up by train from the surrounding district into Bolton to fill these gaps. When there are known vacancies of the kind, and when these vacancies cannot be filled from the, available labour within the town itself, although it is well known that there are quite a number of eligible lads out of work, there is, I suggest, a field for inquiry which the Department should look into. I know this thing has had the attention of the trade unions concerned, and I believe is still having the attention of the trade unions. Certainly it is a matter requiring consideration from the employers' side.
When you have there, in one of the great staple industries, a disinclination on the part of lads to take up vacancies which are waiting, and when there is open all over the country thousands of vacancies where young women could be employed, and there is a disinclination to take up the work, there is scope for focussing public opinion upon the particular fact which results from inducing people, either directly by means of the benefit, or indirectly by enabling other members of the family to maintain them whilst out of work—there is, I say, scope for inquiry with a view to inducing those who are out of work to adopt a more reasonable frame of mind in taking up existing vacancies. If hon. Members opposite will be so good as to allow speakers on this side to continue without persisting in that continual interruption —[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"]—to which some speakers have been subjected —for you hear constantly a running interruption, not quite so audible in my case as in the case of other hon. Members on this side—I would wish to indicate to the House as to what so far as the women-folk are concerned there are still considerable openings, and a volume of vacancies into which able-bodied young women can be absorbed. In certain cases there are vacancies young ladies could take. The present disinclination to take 355 them may be, and undoubtedly in many cases is, attributable to the operation of the unemployment benefit provisions as we know them to-day.
I welcome this Bill as a step towards bringing the present system of insurance back to a real actuarial basis. I hope that in considering the scope of the Bill for next Session the Department will be guided, so far as insurance is concerned, by a regard for permanency, and by a desire that that part of the scheme of relief which is not insurance shall be properly undertaken by boards of guardians. So far as the employment of women is concerned, there is undoubted scope for the Board of Education to render assistance. Reference is frequently made in this House to the migration from rural districts to the towns. That migration is, perhaps, no more disastrous in the case of young men than in the case of young women. The old idea that the womenfolk of the country side should find employment about the farms and holdings in the areas in which they live is not pursued in these days as it should be. There is a tendency for them to be attracted to the industrial centres, where many of these girls, after working for a comparatively short time in some insurable trade, drift on to the register of the Employment Exchange and draw benefit, as, indeed, they are entitled to do; but they go on drawing benefit with no inclination to revert to those rural occupations where there is scope for obtaining work.
In the country districts to-day there is a shortage of female labour in poultry farming, in dairy work, and in all those other branches of farm life where a woman can help. This has an influence on the settlement of men on small holdings. Only recently my attention was drawn to the fact that young men who have been settled on small holdings since the War, and who have put up a great effort and have succeeded in their side of the work, have ultimately had to give in because their wives had had no training on the side of farm work which the wife can properly look after. The influence of their wives was exerted against continuing in this rural occupation, and they have drifted back to the towns, having lost their little all in their small holdings, and they are unemployed and 356 drawing benefit, if they are eligible for it. The Board of Education can do a great deal towards reviving rural industry.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think the hon. and gallant Member is departing from the subject of this Bill. We are not dealing with the Board of Education.
§ Sir J. NALL
I am sorry that I must not pursue that point. I merely wish to indicate that it is right and proper in this Bill, and in the reconsideration of these insurance schemes, that benefits should not unduly be paid as they are at present.
§ Mr. SPENCER
How could they get benefit when they have come off a small holding and have no stamps on their card?
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Sir J. NALL
I say it is right and proper in considering this Bill and in reconsidering the whole scheme of insurance that steps should be taken to discourage the payment of benefit to young women who can quite properly find employment in the rural areas and in domestic life. That is one of the chief factors in making the present scheme unpopular, as it is unpopular with many people to-day, and I hope the Minister will not be deflected from his clear duty to revise the scheme and bring it back to a real basis of insurance by arguments which, quite soundly, might be applied to questions which, after all, are really questions for the boards of guardians in connection with Poor Law reform.
§ Mr. DENNISON
We have listened for five hours to a series of speeches similar to the one by the hon. and gallant Member for the Hulme Division (Sir J. Nall), and I wish to put it quite clearly, and I hope without offence, to hon. Members who follow the line that he took that we on these benches do not regard the payment of unemployment benefit as a charity or relief. We desire to raise the question of unemployment benefit above the description of "doles." We say to hon. Members on the opposite benches who say that in private ownership is to be found the only method of conducting industry that those who defend that system must accept full responsibility for the defects of it, and the greatest defect is unemployment. I wish the Minister of Labour and the Government, instead 357 of wasting time on trifling with the question of the unemployment benefit, had brought forward some constructive scheme; or that a gesture had been made by the Minister of Labour or the Prime Minister, when discussing this great problem last week, with the object of raising it above party considerations, accompanied by an invitation to all sections of the House to put their brains together, so that if we cannot solve the problem, we could remedy its worst effects and minimise the suffering of the unemployed. An examination of this Bill shows clearly that the Government, instead of having any intention of relieving the poverty of the unemployed, are going a long way to increase their difficulties. Of all the times a Measure of this description should have been introduced which means a tightening up of unemployment benefit by increasing the waiting period and putting thousands off unemployment benefit, I suggest that this is indeed the wrong time having regard to the condition of the industries of the country at the present moment. What will be the position of those of us who earnestly desire not only peace abroad but peace at home when we find ourselves confronted during the next two or three weeks by people who will be entitled to say that the Government of the clay are on the side of the employers who are now endeavouring to press down wages and increase working hours. I am not saying this offensively, but it is an argument which will have to be met by people like myself who desire a peaceful settlement. I am so fond of peace that I will fight for it any time. I say that this Bill in two features is going to increase the difficulties and aggravate the position of the unemployed.
It is nothing new for me to say that I represent the iron and steel trade, and I want to tell hon. Members the plight we are in at the present time as regards the people employed in that industry, and I wish to demonstrate how our workmen will be affected under the arrangements laid down by this Bill. I desire to make a special appeal for this particular industry, because the iron and steel industry has been more seriously affected by unemployment than any other industry in the country, because the depression has been much longer than in the coalfields. There are thousands of workpeople in the 358 iron and steel trade who have been unemployed since 1919. At Blaenavon steel works the men have been idle since 1919, and the same applies to the Jarrow and Clyde iron and steel works. In regard to the extended benefit which the Minister of Labour desires to be left at his discretion, these men will be greatly affected if that policy is pursued, besides thousands more, because of the long period which they have been unemployed, and if inquiries are made at the local Employment Exchanges, these men will be regarded as not having made reasonable efforts to find employment simply because of the long period they have been out of work. If this Bill is passed, it will give that discretion to the Minister of Labour. Unfortunately for the right hon. Gentleman and for us, we have had a taste of the discretion he is prepared to exercise, and I am opposed to giving him a continuation of that discretion, because I am satisfied that the treatment meted out to thousands of our men will be meted out to thousands more.
With regard to the extension of the waiting period, it has been the practice, and a long established custom in the iron and steel trade, that where intermittent employment or short time is being worked the workpeople share, with the result that short time working when depression comes along is a common feature in the trade. It will be no uncommon thing. to find that when this Bill is passed that thousands of men will never qualify for benefit at all because it is a common practice for the steelworks to close clown at the end of the week or the beginning of the week, and you will find this will be repeated over and over again and these works will be working four days a week and standing idle for the first two days. You will also have the example of workpeople standing idle for six days in three weeks and never qualifying for the benefit. I think that is grossly unfair because you have no right to penalise men or women who are willing and anxious to work, as thousands of them are, in the iron and steel industry because they are unable to find work, by denying them maintenance during the period they are unemployed. These workpeople have given of their best, and they have increased their output per man by 50 per cent. since 1913. and as a reward, instead of something being done in the nature of 359 betterment, they have got to be tightened up under the administration of this Bill and denied a reasonable sustenance. I am opposing this Bill, and I trust the Minister of Labour will be able to modify these proposals, which we regard as harsh and unfair.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MacDONALD
We have reached very nearly the limit of an ordinary Parliamentary day, and we have heard expressions of opinion from both sides of the House. Now I wonder what the Minister thinks of this Bill after he has heard those expressions of opinion? Hon. Members behind me, with an intimate knowledge of unemployment, both as administrators and unemployed, are violently hostile to the provisions of this Measure. I say emphatically, that so far as? we are concerned we are going to give this Bill no compromise at all. It is a thoroughly bad Bill, and it is a breach of the pledges the Government gave to the electors during the last election, and it is an open and declared confession that, so far as the problem of unemployment is concerned, the only thing the Government can do is to tinker with the register.
Then, when the Minister turns for comfort to his own side, he finds very poor comfort. There has not been a single speech so far as I have heard—and I do not think I have missed any, except what I understand was the very delightful and reasoned speech of the Noble Lady (Viscountess Astor), who represents, appropriately, a seaport town—so far as the speeches that I have heard are concerned, there has not been one that has supported this Bill. Hon. Members have had to express excuses for voting for it, as they are going to do, but, taking the three speeches that have been delivered since the dinner hour—the speeches of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Remer), the hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Commander Burney) and the hon. and gallant Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nall)—could any Minister have received colder comfort than the Minister of Labour received from those doughty supporters of his? So far as we are concerned, we take up the position that the unemployed have claims against society, not as paupers, but as unemployed persons. They are not merely nuisances, they are not merely derelicts; they are men and women genuinely want- 360 ing employment, willing to do everything they possibly can to get employment, registered against the risks of being unemployed; and, therefore, for hon. Members opposite, like the hon. and gallant Member for Hulme, to say that people of that type ought to be deliberately cut off a register containing the names of independent—
§ Sir J. NALL
The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, does not wish to misrepresent what I said. What I said was that the benefits under the Insurance Acts ought to be on an actuarial insurance basis, and that beyond that the Poor Law should be adopted.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
I should like very much to appreciate the difference between what I said a moment ago and what the hon. and gallant Member has said now that he did say. All that he seems to me to say is that, while you can legitimately insure for, say, six months' unemployment, after that you must become a pauper willy-nilly. That is the first great contribution of a positive kind to the solution of the unemployment problem that the rank and file of the Tory party have made in this Debate. I will turn to the more substantial part of the hon. and gallant Member's argument in a minute, but what; this Bill confesses, openly, plainly and unbhishingly, is that the Government are baffled by the unemployment problem, and they propose to crown their enormity by reducing the statistics of unemployment registered at the Employment Exchanges. To knock off an unemployed man from the unemployment register and put him upon the pauper roll is one of the methods by which the Government propose to reduce unemployment.
There are two provisions of this Bill that are good. In the first place, there is the extension of the right of waiver held by the Minister of Labour regarding the benefit to be paid to unemployed persons whose insurance cards do not hold 30 stamps. The right hon. Gentleman takes a great deal of credit for that, as though it were anything more than a 361 mere mechanical operation, provided for because, when the system was instituted first of all, it was necessary on account of the fact that everybody believed we were in an exceptional state of unemployment. There is no Member on this side of the House, I believe, who takes the view that that sort of thing should have been permanently provided for. If hon. Members opposite want a present, I will make it. I do not believe that ought to be permanently provided for, and the way to safeguard it is to treat this provision giving that power in the same way that that class of legislation is treated which is the subject of our Expiring Laws Continuance Bill. This provision, not only for that big volume of unemployment, but that extraordinary baffling continuity of unemployment, which means that thousands of people—200,000 I think is the estimate by the actuaries—have come to an end of an insurance which, when the system was instituted, was assumed, in relation to our past industrial experience, to be sufficient to meet the needs of the unemployed. Now since the crack has come, now since the bottom has fallen out of our unemployment fund, it is discovered that those calculations are all wrong, and that the new world requires a much larger and a much bolder treatment, and it was provided for, as a temporary expedient, that the Minister of Labour should be able to use his discretion and extend those benefits.
But that was not all. Then something else happened. It was decided that if there was to be an extended benefit the money was not going to come from the State. The money was not going to come from a fund which the Minister, who is a sort of dispensing angel, really ought to have control of. If the Treasury had said, "pending a solution or a termination of this period of excessive burden, the taxpayer will provide the money for the extra benefits," there might have been logic in saying, "the Minister shall dispense the charity." But that was not what was decided. Hon. Members do not seem to be aware of the fact that what was decided was that the extra benefit should be found from the contributors who were originally insured against short time unemployment, and then the position was that all paid for the extra benefits, but it was within the Minister's 362 discretion as to who should have it. There is no Ministry on the face of this earth endowed with any common sense and with the logical faculty which will defend a system like that. If the Minister was in control of the money and found the money, if it was his own money, if it was the Government's money, he might put in a claim for being the dispenser. But the Minister is not that at all. The people whom he is going to clear out, the 200,000 people, are going to pay for the extra benefits which they themselves are going to be denied. Therefore when the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite said, "I believe in insurance," he must be in favour of the extra payment provided by the insured persons for extra benefits being part and parcel of the insurance scheme, and the insured persons being entitled to the extra benefit by right and not by charity, as is proposed in this Bill. My right hon. Friend changed this from a charity to an insurance. The House ought not to lose its grip on this matter until we have made up our minds what is to be the statistical basis of the provision for unemployment in the future. I do not believe in the rule-of-thumb business. Until we know more definitely what is the mathematical basis on which we must calculate our insurance against unemployment, or any other means we take to meet it, it is far better that the power should be renewed once a year, instead of once in six months. It would be far better to do that, and I hope that the Committee to which this Bill will go —whether it is to remain on the Floor of the House or go upstairs matters not— will extend the six months' period into one of 12 months, and allow it to be one of the laws that expire and must be renewed once in 12 months. That is the position for which my right hon. Friend provided.
Now the Minister reverses the insurance features of unemployment and still asks the unemployed person to provide from his pocket the extra benefit. He then says, "Although you provide it, by compulsion, and it is your property, I am going to take it from you." I am here tempted to reflect upon an argument used by a respected Member of this House—the hon. Member for Exeter (Sir Robert Newman)—who, when we were dis- 363 cussing widows' pensions took a very strong point, that the pension was her property. I repeat that statement to-day on this Bill. This benefit is the property of the people, who have earned it in the form of wages; but the Minister comes in and says, "I am going to take it compulsorily from you. The House of Commons has decreed that extra benefits should be paid and must be paid, but I, the Minister of Labour, will decide who is going to get them." The position is preposterous.
Another point made by those who are very anxious to support this Bill, in good grace, is that it is actuarially sound. I do not know. I have been in terrible difficulties sometimes to make ends meet, but if I was no more actuarially sound than this scheme is, according to the White Paper, then I am afraid that my place in this House would very soon be taken and another would have to fill it, because I should be in the Bankruptcy Court. If we were in the position that the White Paper shows that this Fund is in, our doom would be fixed and ordained, and there would be no escape from it. This scheme is not sound, as shown by this White Paper.
With 1,300,000 upon the live register, with this Bill in working operation, the loss to the fund is to be £4,400,000 a year. That is what the Federation of British Industries considers to be a good scheme. With 1,200,000 on the live register, according to the White Paper, the loss would be about £4,000,000 a year, but, oddly enough, by a combination of processes which is not shown—I do not know why—hon. Members, if they turn to Section 7 of the White Paper, will find that the results given for 1,100,000 persons on the live register are given without any reason. And while with 1,200,000 persons on the live register the fund would drop £4,000,000 a year if the number is reduced by 100,000 the fund would show a balance of £3,000,000 a year, so that there would be a difference between the two of £7,000,000 a year. If I am wrong I hope that I shall be corrected.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I think that the right hon. Gentleman has not read the Sections quite carefully. The loss of £4,000,000 with 1,200,000 is before 364 the changes contemplated by the Bill, and the surplus of £3,000,000, with 1,100,000, is after the changes contemplated by the Government.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
All I can plead is that the two sentences in paragraph 6, from which that meaning is drawn, are very hard to interpret:With the live register of 1,200,000 and on the present basis of benefits and contributions"—that is after a certain description of the changes created by this Bill—the fund would be incurring a debt at the rate of nearly £4,000,000 a year.And then it says:under the conditions set up by the Bill, therefore, it unemployment were as stated there would still be a small addition to the debt of the Unemployment Fund.A "small addition," so far as the literary arrangement is concerned, is a reference to £4,000,000. That is how I read it. I admit that you can put the other meaning on it.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The right hon. Gentleman will agree that I do not wish to interrupt him, I only desire to make the point clear. I should have thought that the wording of the actuary was quite clear, and the wording of the actuary is this:With a live register of 1,200,000 and on the present basis of benefits and contributions"—the present basis is the existing basis at this moment, before the Bill comes into effect—the fund would he incurring debt at the rate of nearly £4.000,000 a year,which, of course, is a fairly large sum.Under the conditions set up by the Bill, therefore, if unemployment were as stated,"—that is to say 1.200,000—there would still be a small addition to the Unemployment Fund.That is to say, is would about balance. But, coming to paragraph 7 of the White Paper, it is quite clear, on reading the last sentence carefully, that under the revised conditions of the Bill, with a live register of 1,100,000, there would be a. balance of £3,000,000 a year surplus for the reduction of debt.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
The last point is quite clear and I am glad to have the explanation. I drew the attention of 365 some of my friends to it. I will put my interpretation down to my own stupidity in order to shorten the explanation. But if hon. Members are in the least interested in the subject and will read the first part of paragraph 6 of the report they will find that the whole impression of that is that the actuary is dealing with the situation as it would be if the Bill's proposed changes take place. However, there it is. With 1,300,000 on the live register the Bill means a deficit of £4,400,000 a year. With 1,200,000 on the live register there is still to be a loss on the fund, not much, but still a loss. When we get down to 1,100,000 on the register there is to be a benefit to the fund of £3,000,000 a year. And that is what they call a financially sound scheme. I now understand why an attempt has been made to increase the gap. Someone just now referred to the difference between the Tory party and the Labour party. I will point out another difference. The Tory party approaches the unemployment problem from the point of view of claims. The Labour party approaches it from the point of view of human consideration, the unemployed being men, married or unmarried, with family responsibilities and with citizenship responsibility. Votes! Nobody has any less right than hon. Members opposite to sneer about catching votes. Votes or no votes, the unemployed are something more than votes.
The Labour party takes the view, first of all, that the human claim of men and women upon whose backs responsibilities have been placed is such that it is but right that the men and women should have a chance of fulfilling those responsibilities. Therefore, we make finance fit the requirements. The Tory party reverses the process. It says: "We cannot get this fund to fit; we cannot get it to square until the people upon the fund are down to somewhere between 1,100,000 and 1,200,000. Therefore, our proposal for dealing with the unemployed is to give the Minister power to make exclusions, to put up tests that have nothing whatever to do with unemployment, but tests of mere financial convenience, and by the creation of those tests we are going to save it, to disqualify, to reduce the numbers, and we will make the unemployed needs fit the finance." Then they say, "Of course, these people will not 366 die or starve; they must go upon the Poor Law. "I am opposed to knocking these men and women off, because they must go to the Poor Law, and that for two reasons. First of all, the most grievous burden, the most unshiftable burden that industry has to bear to-day is the burden of rates. I joined most heartily in the cheer when the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne) gave voice to the good, sound doctrine that we have been preaching for years, namely, that the burden of rates is far more oppressive to industry than the burden of taxation.
A Government which professes to have concern for an enlivening of our industry, for an easing of the burden, and a brightening of the prospects of industry, is saying, "We are going with two hands to put burdens upon your back that you cannot shift. At any rate, one of them is very difficult to shift. We are going to add a very irritating tax to your burdens for the number of people you employ, and we are going to enable you to pay that by taking off a similar tax for unemployment insurance, and because we are going to take that tax off you for unemployment insurance, we are going to compel a certain proportion of the now provided for unemployed to go upon the poor rate, and so increase your poor rate." That is one of the most extraordinary propositions I have ever heard from a Government which professes to have an interest in the industry of this country. That is the industrial argument, and I am only sorry that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead is not here to reinforce and support me in the argument I am putting forward. The other consideration is this; that the unemployed man or woman who has had a run of unemployment, say for 12 months, 18 months or two years, is not a legitimate subject for Poor Law attention. We have gone beyond that—at least I hope we have gone beyond it, and I hope the House of Commons has gone beyond it. These men and women are not derelict; they are simply part and parcel of the life of Society. The Society of to-day cannot be run without these people, and they can only be dealt with in a proper way by being considered and treated as independent members of the community, whatever be the scheme you adopt. Insurance has been suggested as the best scheme; all sorts of other proposals have been made, and all sorts of modifications have been 367 proposed, but whatever the treatment may be, I beg of this House to remember that these are men or women in the prime of life, who are willing to work, who are asking for work, but who are unfortunate in their attempts to get work through a certain period more than this limited insurance period. I do beg of this House to help us in every way to keep those men and women absolutely clear of the taint which undoubtedly comes to those who have recourse to the Poor Law. That is the reason why we are going to oppose this Bill.
In the end in very plain language what the Government says is this: "We want to get 200,000 people off the register." In other words they want to keep £6,500,000 in the coffers, and they are cutting their coat according to a cloth that has been limited by their own decree. It is not another party that has limited it, but the Government themselves. The Government say: "We will reduce your claimants until those that are left can be satisfied from the cloth that we have decided shall be cut." I think this Bill is unworthy of the Government. I think it is unworthy of the House. It is not a contribution to the problem of unemployment; it is not a contribution in the problem of dealing with unemployment by insurance; it is not a contribution to the problem of how to take up the young that have never come into the market; it is not a contribution to the problem of how to deal with the woman who is married but who is not a member of a family with an adequate family income without her insurance coming in. It is not a Bill that deals with the problem of over-coutinued unemployment; it is not a Bill that deals with the problem of extra allowance for over-continued unemployment; it is a Bill that squeezes a big problem into a mean and insignificant and, therefore, an unjust position, and, as such, we will heartily oppose it through every stage through which it has to pass.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Betterton)
As the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said, this Debate has now gone on for a good many hours—I do not, for a moment, say it is too long—and, as was perhaps 368 inevitable, a good deal of the discussion has extended very wide of the subject-matter of the Bill which is before the House. The right hon. Gentleman, who has just sat down, has, I think, made it necessary for me to re-state in a word or two the position in which we are, the reasons why we are there, and the means by which we propose to deal with the position. If I understand the psychology of this House aright, this House is always very willing to regard with respect opinions with which it profoundly differs. We, on this side of the House, disagree with many hon. Members present who disapprove of the whole contributory system of insurance, but but while we disagree with them we understand them, and understanding them, as I say, we respect their arguments. But what we have difficulty in understanding is this: we have difficulty in understanding right hon. and hon. Members who appear to be supporting a contributory scheme when, in fact, every one of their arguments is relevant only to a non-contributory scheme. I will develop that point in a moment, but the Leader of the Opposition appeared to me to be mixing up in a certain' part of his speech standard and extended benefit. He mixed up, as the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) has so often mixed up, right and equity, and when he said that 200,000 persons were paying, I would point out that the whole of this situation has arisen because, in fact, those 200,000 persons to whom he referred had run out of benefit and were not paying at all. Therefore there was a confusion in his mind as to what was the effect of the fact that those 200.000 persons had run out of benefit.
May I recall to the House the situation as between now and the causes and circumstances which have led up to this Measure? The Bill introduced last year by the late Minister for Labour was founded quite clearly upon the contributory principle. It was furthermore fortified by an actuary's report; indeed, by two actuaries' reports. That Bill made two main alterations. First, it removed the discretion of the Minister in certain particulars, and, secondly, it added to the benefits which were to be paid week by week. But the right hon. Gentleman, realising rightly that his Bill was based on a contributory basis, did as he was 369 bound to do. He safeguarded the finances of that Bill by a very stringent provision, and he said, "Although I take power to waive it for one year, after the coming October, unless 30 contributions stand to the credit of those who are to benefit, then they fall out and are not to benefit at all." He clearly did so, because he realised that that was a necessary part of the contributory system contained in the Bill.
Let me remind the House exactly what happened. The right hon. Gentleman was urged in Committee by certain hon. Members of his own party to reduce the waiting period from six days to three. He declined, because he said that if he did so it meant rearranging the whole financial conditions of his Bill. My predecessor, the then Parliamentary Secretary—actually both of them—voted against the proposal to reduce the six days to three. The vote in Committee was, I think, 10 to 8, but the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) voted by mistake in favour of six days. Had he voted as he intended to do the vote would have been equal. After that, of course, the Bill came down on the Report stage to the House, and the right hon. Gentleman the late Minister of Labour then accepted the three days which he had refused in Committee. I myself happened to ask him, while the Bill was in Committee, precisely the same question which he has asked me to-day, so I should have thought his inquiry would have been unnecessary. He asked me what would this cost, and the answer he gave me himself was:I can tell the hon. Member what our calculation is; i.e., that this Amendment (that is the waiting period) in the course of the year will cost £4,800,000, and, frankly, I do not think I have a dog's chance of getting it through.When, very naturally and properly, if I may say so, the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) and many other hon. Members in all parts of the House have asked me how this figure of £6,500,000 is made up, my answer is the answer supplied by the right hon. Gentleman, that on the basis of 1,100,000 unemployed, according to the right hon. Gentleman's own figure, the amount represented by that number of unemployed would be £4,800,000. Therefore, I want to answer quite fairly and precisely the question put by the hon. 370 Member for Bow and Bromley, that, as far as we can see, the answer, on the calculation made by the right hon. Gentleman himself, is that probably a sum of between £4,500,000 and £5,000,000 will be represented by the waiting period alteration, and the remainder by the exercise of the Minister's discretion.
May I say a word upon this question of discretion 2 The right hon. Gentleman the late Minister of Labour, the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, and many other speakers on the other side, over and over have talked about a statutory right to benefit, a right irrespective of contribution, and that particular point was emphasised by the Leader of the Opposition. Surely all those arguments would be strictly relevant if you had a non-contributory scheme. If you had a non-contributory scheme, there would be no question at all of considering or talking about the relation of contribution to benefit. But where you have a contributory scheme, it is quite obviously out of the question and if you once establish the absolute right to benefit irrespective of the contribution paid, then you are doing two things. You are, first of all, inflicting a really serious injustice on the other contributors to the Fund. Singularly little has been made of that point in the discussion, but, after all, the Ministry of Labour are the trustees of the contributors. You are doing something which is quite inconsistent with the whole scheme of insurance. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said a good deal with which I entirely agree about several matters, but the point I want to make is this: as a system of insurance this thing will break down if you attempt to attach to it something which is really not insurance at all, but something of another nature. I would refer again to the right hon. Gentleman the late Minister of Labour, for he realises from his experience of last year that in regard to extended benefit it is necessary, for several reasons, to retain a very large discretion in the hands of the Minister himself. There is no part of the duty of the Minister of Labour which is more difficult and more anxious, and which, personally, I can say gives me greater anxiety than the exercise of this discretion which is imposed upon my 371 right Ron. Friend the Minister of Labour and myself by the Act of last year. By the Act of last year the Minister of Labour is the ultimate authority to decide whetherin normal times insurable employment suited to his capacities would be likely to be available for him.A more invidious and a more, shall I say, painful task, it is hardly possible to describe—this discretion which is absolute and put by the Act of last year into our hands. It involves a tremendous amount of difficulty. The Minister also, under the Act of last year, has to decide in the last resort—of course with the statutory assistance—whether a man hasbeen employed in an insurable employment to such an extent as was reasonable having regard to all the circumstances of the cast, and in particular to the opportunities of obtaining insurable employment during that period.These are matters in which there is a discretion in the hands of the Minister. To say, as the right hon. Gentleman said to-day, that the discretion should be removed from the Minister is palpably absurd.
There are one or two specific points that have been raised. The hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton) raised a point upon which I heard him, with great eloquence, speak in Committee last year—that is the very difficult point of the two half-days. The question of dealing administratively with the two half-days is a point that has baffled successive Ministers of Labour from the very time insurance was first started. No doubt the hon. Member will raise it again in Committee, and it will be discussed. But may I say it baffled Dr. Macnamara, it baffled Sir Montague Barlow, it baffled the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Minister for Labour last year, and now my right hon. Friend and myself, to see any administrative possibility of dealing with it. It is a difficult and important point. The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) referred to the report by the Minister of Labour in which the Minister thanked hon. Members like himself who have devoted so much of their time to local work on the committees. Were it not for hon. Members like him who devote time, labour, and experience to the administration of our system of insurance that 372 system would break down. Therefore when the hon. Member asks whether he is to go on doing so, whether we want him to go on, I tell him that we are indebted—perhaps I should not say more than we know—but more than I can express—to the hon. Member and hon. Members up and down the country who have made this scheme work. The scheme may have imperfections, I know there are anomalies and difficulties, and without the assistance of, as I say, people in the localities who know the locality the system would break down.
There is one further point I wish to deal with, and that is the waiting period. I think there has been some doubt and misapprehension as to what the effect of this waiting period is. Until last year six days had been the waiting period since 1912, with the exception of a few months. When my hon. Friend the Member for the Cleveland Division (Sir P. Goff), among others, referred to the hardships that this would inflict on men already out of work, I think he was under a misapprehension, because my right hon. Friend the Minister explained that the extension of the waiting period to six days will not affect the benefit position of any person who has satisfied the three days' waiting period under the existing law and who is still unemployed. The waiting period will not have to be served by that applicant until there has been an interval of employment of more than six weeks.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
If the unemployed are going to be in the: same position as they are now, will the hon. Gentleman explain how he is going to save the £5,000,000? [HON. MEMBERS: "£6,500,000!"] No, he is getting a part of that from another source.
§ Mr. BETTERTON
I want to be quite frank with the hon. Member. I was going on to explain from what classes that will come. It will not come from the two classes I have already mentioned, because three days already served franks a man for six weeks. As the hon. Gentleman says, the money will have to come from somewhere. The classes that will be affected are the two following: applicants who may have been unemployed and served the three days waiting period under the existing law, but who have been employed for more than six weeks since 373 they last drew benefit will have to serve a, new waiting period of six days after the present Bill becomes law. That is one class. The second class are those applicants who have not previously been unemployed and who claim benefit after the present Bill becomes law—they will have to serve the waiting period. The question of the continuity rule to which my right hon. Friend referred when he was speaking is, of course, a very difficult and a very complicated one, but further discussion on the details of it might be left;, I suggest, to the Committee stage.
There is one further question to which I wish to refer. My right hon. Friend said this was a stop-gap Bill. He meant that the Act of 1924 comes to an end in June next year in this sense, that the benefits cease to be payable. Therefore it will obviously be necessary before that time to have a new Bill. This is a carrying over Bill to enable us to make good a grave defect and carry on until next year. The Minister of Labour has said he is going to set up a committee almost immediately to inquire into three things. First of all to inquire into the principles of the unemployment insurance scheme; secondly, to inquire into the finance of it; and thirdly, into the administration of it. There is no doubt at all that our present scheme and system of unemployment has gone, in some direction, a very long way from the insurance basis. I think myself that the creation of something like this system of uncovenanted benefit was necessary for this reason, that an immense addition was made by the Act of 1921 to the numbers of insured persons, and something like an addition of 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 coincided and synchronised with a slump in trade, which, for the suddenness with which it came, was quite unparalleled. Therefore, you had this great increase in the number of unemployed synchronising with a slump in trade, and for that reason uncovenanted benefit, or extended benefit was created. My right hon. Friend thinks that a committee should inquire into some of the very questions which have been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition, and consider what in the light of existing facts and experience are the lines upon which we should proceed in the future.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
It is to be a Committee representative of the three parties who contribute, the employers, the men and the State.
§ Mr. MacDONALD
Will it be a Departmental Committee, a Royal Commission or a Committee of the House of Commons?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
It is not proposed to set up a Select Committee of the House of Commons nor yet a Royal Commission, but a Committee set up by the Department representative of the three parties.
§ Mr. BETTERTON
The second point will be the question of finance, and after the strictures of the right hon. Gentleman on the actuary's report, I think he will be the first to agree that the finance of our whole system of insurance might well be examined by such a Committee. The third question to be examined is administration. I do not know if the House realises that there are in existence a volume of Acts, eight or nine in number, which are operative either wholly or in part at the present time, and it is the unpleasant duty of my right hon. Friend and myself, at any rate, to have to know them and the precise bearing which one has on the other. The Act of last year was based on the Act of 1920, which was for the purposes of the Act of last year the principal Act, and it is not surprising that when we have eight or nine Acts very complicated and very technical that there should be anomalies which might be got rid of, and it is not surprising that hon. Members should come to me, as they often do, and say that this section or that sub-section is altogether unconscionable and ought to be repealed. All that, we hope, the Committee will look into, and assist us, as the result of their deliberations, to found a permanent scheme which will not contain the anomalies which now exist, and will give the satisfaction that is so much to be desired.
§ Mr. SAKLATVALA
May I ask the Minister a question? Accepting the nature of the Bill as a contributory Bill, have the Government realised that to 375 obtain nearly £7,000,000 from 1,200,000 unemployed means a contribution from the unemployed at the rate of 2s. per head per week, as compared with one-third of that contribution by the masters and the employed workers?
§ Sir PATRICK HASTINGS
May I also ask a question, which I think is of great importance, and which, as the hon. Gentleman was so full and detailed in his explanation, he will no doubt be willing to answer? It arises on Clause 1. As I understand the explanation the hon. Gentleman has already given, the Actuary has formed an estimate of what will be the saving in a year by reason of the exercise of the Minister's discretion under Clause 1. The Actuary, I understand, has valued that amount at £1,500,000. It appears to be quite obvious that no actuary could arrive at such an estimate unless he had been told the principles upon which the Minister would act, and the class or classes of persons who would fall under the ban, if I may use that expression, of the Minister's discretion. I am sure it would be of great value to every Member of the House if we could know what the Actuary knew—in other words, what is the discretion which the Minister has already, in a sense, exercised in advance by estimating the exercise of his discretion, in order that we may know what class or classes of persons will be affected to the extent of £1,500,000?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
By the leave of the House, I can answer the two questions which have been put With regard to the first question, the hon. Member, I think, is not aware that it is not only, as I have often stated in this House and elsewhere, a standing army of 1,200,000 unemployed, but a very much greater number, probably three times as many, who at one time or another are in receipt of benefit. With regard to what has been said by the hon. and learned Member for Wallsend (Sir P. Hastings), I made a statement earlier in the afternoon giving precisely the information for which he asks, namely, that the classes comprised are the same classes which were dealt with similarly before the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Bill, that is to say, single persons living with their parents who can 376 support them, married women living with their husbands who are in work, in certain circumstances short-time workers, and also aliens, putting it briefly and broadly, whose residence in this country has not yet been long enough to make it tolerably certain that they have become a regular part of the population.
I would ask the indulgence of the House for a few moments while I state, in one or two sentences, the reasons that actuate me and many of those around me to offer a determined opposition to this Bill. Nothing that the right hon. Gentleman has said has dealt with the argument that in this Bill, at a time when the resources of the unemployed are more scanty than ever they were, when their sufferings are greater than ever they were, the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to extract £6,500,000 from those resources. That criticism has remained unanswered throughout the whole of the Debate. £5,000,000 of that is to be taken by extending the waiting period, which will diminish, of course, the benefits not only of those who are drawing extended benefit, but of those who are drawing the standard benefit for which they have paid their contributions. That argument is susceptible of much development by those above the Gangway, who are far more acquainted with the practical working of unemployment insurance than we who are below the Gangway or hon. Members opposite. The second point is that at a time when the right hon. Gentleman is acknowledging the burden of the rates and claiming that by his Pensions Bill he is relieving them, he is in fact putting this burden of £6,000,000 on the rates. It is so. Whore else does the hon. Member suppose these people are going to go to get their needs supplied? They have long passed the time when they have any reserve whatever. He is simply putting a burden of £6,000,000 on the rates, which is double the burden which the Minister of Health claimed he was relieving the rates of having his Pensions Bill. I suspect that one of the objects of the Bill is, by reducing the number of names on the live register, to give the impression that there is a diminution of unemployment. If the hon. Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nall) or the right hon. Gentleman him- 377 self imagines that by what he calls the introduction of an actuarial basis or by failing to register people as unemployed they cease to be unemployed or to suffer the hardships of unemployment, he makes a very great mistake.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
I regret to to say —[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—that a large and an increasing number of unemployed have now reached a stage—
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY rose—
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 278; Noes, 141.379
|Division No. 257.]||AYES.||[11.28 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Cope, Major William||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Couper, J. B.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Albery, Irving James||Craig, Capt. Ht. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)||Henn, Sir Sydney H.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Cralk, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Hennikar-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)|
|Ashley Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Hilton, Cecil|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Dalkeith, Earl of||Homan. C. W. J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Boyton)||Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hopkins, J. W. W.|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Hudson, Capt. A.U. M.(Hackney, N.)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Hume. Sir G. H.|
|Birchall. Major J. Dearman||Eden, Captain Anthony||Huntingfield, Lord|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks, W. R., Skipton)||Elliot, Captain Walter E.||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Elveden, Viscount||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n &P'bl's)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Jacob, A. E.|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Fermoy, Lord||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Fielden, E. B.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)|
|Brass, Captain W.||Finburgh, S.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.|
|Bridgeman. Rt. Hon. William Clive||Fleming, D. P.||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Briggs, J. Harold||Ford, P. J.||Kinloch-Cooke. Sir Clement|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Gadie, Lieut.-Colonel Anthony||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip|
|Brown, Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Little, Dr. E. Graham|
|Brown, Brig. Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Gates, Percy||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Loder, J. de V.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Looker, Herbert William|
|Burman, J. B.||Gower, Sir Robert||Lord, Walter Greaves-|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Grace, John||Lougher, L.|
|Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Grant, J. A.||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman-|
|Butt. Sir Alfred||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Lynn, Sir R. J.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||MacAndrew, Charles Glen|
|Campbell, E. T.||Gretton, Colonel John||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)|
|Cassels, J. D.||Grotrian, H. Brent||Maclntyre, Ian|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||McLean, Major A.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Alton)||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Macmillan, Captain H.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||MacRobert, Alexander M.|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Half, Capt. W. D. A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hanbury, C.||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Churchill. Ht. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Harland, A.||Margesson, Captain O.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Harrison, G. J. C.||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Mason, Lieut.-Colonel Glyn K.|
|Cohen, Major J. Brunel||Haslam, Henry C.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hawke, John Anthony||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Remer, J. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Rentoul, G. S.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Moore, Sir Newton J.||Rice, Sir Frederick||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Moreing, Captain A. H.||Ropner, Major L.||Waddington, R.|
|Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Murchison, C. K.||Salmon, Major I.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Nall Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Nelson Sir Frank||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Sandeman, A. Stewart||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W.G.(Ptrsf'ld.)||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Nuttall Ellis||Sandon, Lord||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Oakley, T.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|O'Connor T. J. (Bedford Luton)||Savery, S. S.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|O'Neill Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Oman Sir Charles William C||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Penny Frederick George||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley||Windsor-dive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Perring, William George||Shepperson, E. W.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Sinclair,Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfast)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Philipson, Mabel||Skelton, A. N.||Womersley, W. J.|
|Pielou, D. P.||Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine,C.)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Pilcher, G.||Smithers, Waldron||Wood, Sir Kinsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Power 'sir John Cecil||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Pownall Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||Sprot, Sir Alexander||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Preston William||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Price, Major C. W. M.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)||Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Raine, W.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Ramsden, E.||Styles, Captain H. Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Rawson, Alfred Cooper||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Colonel Gibbs.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hayday, Arthur||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Ammon Charles George||Hayes, John Henry||Sexton, James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Baker J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Hirst, G. H.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barker G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Barnes, A.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Barr, J.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Smillie, Robert|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighiey)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Snell, Harry|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Broad F. A.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Bromley, J.||Kelly, W. T.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cape, Thomas||Lansbury, George||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Lawson, John James||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro, W.)|
|Clowes, S.||Lee, F.||Thorne. W. (West Ham, Plalstow)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lindley, F. W.||Thurtle, E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lowth, T.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Compton Joseph||Lunn, William||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Connolly, M.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Varley, Frank B.|
|Cove, W. G.||Mackinder, W.||Viant. S. P.|
|Dalton Hugh||MacLaren, Andrew||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Davies' Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Warne, G. H.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||March, S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Maxton, James||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dennison R.||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Duncan, C.||Montague, Frederick||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dunnico, H.||Morris, R. H.||Welsh, J. C.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Westwood, J.|
|Edwards John H. (Accrington)||Murnin, H.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Naylor, T. E.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Oliver, George Harold||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Gillett, George M.||Palin, John Henry||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Paling, W.||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Greenall, T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Groves, T.||Riley, Ben||Windsor, Walter|
|Grundy, T. W.||Ritson, J.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Hall, F. (York, W. R. Normanton)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Halt, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.||Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. T.|
|Hardle, George D.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Kennedy.|
|Harris, Percy A.|
Bill read a Second time.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Bill be committed to a Committee of382
§ the Whole House."—[Mr. Ramsay MacDonald.]
§ The House divided: Ayes, 136; Noes, 255.383
|Division No. 258.]||AYES.||[11.39 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Harris, Percy A.||Saklatvala, Shapurji|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbre)||Hastings, Sir Patrick||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Hayes, John Henry||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hirst, G. H.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Barnes, A.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Barr, J.||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Smillie, Robert|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Beckett, John (Gateshead)||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Snell, Harry|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Broad, F. A.||Kelly, W. T.||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Bromley, J.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Stamford, T. W.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Lansbury, George||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cape, Thomas||Lawson, John James||Sutton, J. E.|
|Charieton, H, C.||Lee. F.||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro. W)|
|Clowes, S.||Lindley, F. W.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lowth, T.||Thurtle, E.|
|Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Compton, Joseph||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Aberavon)||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Connolly, M.||Mackinder, W.||Varley, Frank B.|
|Cove, W. G.||MacLaren, Andrew||Viant, S. P.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||March, S.||Warne, G. H.|
|Davies. Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Maxton, James||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermilne)|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Mitchell, E. Rosslyn (Paisley)||Watts-Morgan, Lt-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dennison, R.||Montague, Frederick||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Duncan. C.||Morris, R. H.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Dunnico, H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Murnin, H.||Westwood, J.|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Weish Univer.)||Naylor, T. E.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Gillett, George M.||Plain, John Henry||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Paling, W.||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Greenall, T.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Coine)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell. D. R. (Glamorgan)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Riley, Ben||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Ritson, J.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Robertson, J. (Lanark, Bothwell)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Hall. F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R. Eliand)||Mr. Arthur Henderson and Mr. T.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.||Kennedy.|
|Hardle, George D.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Boothby, R. J. G.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)|
|Ainsworth, Major Charles||Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Chapman, Sir S.|
|Albery, Irving James||Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Charteris, Brigadier-General J.|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Brass, Captain W.||Chilcott, Sir Warden|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Christie, J. A.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Briggs, J. Harold||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Briscoe, Richard George||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Commander F. W.||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Astor. Viscountess||Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brown. Maj. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Cohen, Major J. Brunei|
|Balniel, Lord||Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Conway, Sir W. Martin|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Cooper, A. Duff|
|Beamish, Captain T. P. H.||Bullock, Captain M.||Cope, Major William|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.]||Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Couper, J. B.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Burman, J. B.||Courtauld, Major J. S.|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Craig, Capt. Rt. Hon. C. C. (Antrim)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish.||Butt, Sir Alfred||Craik, Rt. Hon. sir Henry|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Croft, Brigadier-Genera! Sir H.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Campbell, E. T.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)|
|Bird. E. R. (Yorks. W. R., Skipton)||Cassels, J. D.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)|
|Blades. Sir George Rowland||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Cunilffe, Joseph Herbert|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Curzon, Captain Viscount|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Huntingfield, Lord||Raine, W.|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hurd, Party A.||Ramsden, E.|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Rawson, Alfred Cooper|
|Davies Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Reid, D. D. (County Down)|
|Davies, Sir Thomas (Cirencester)||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Remer, J. R.|
|Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Jacob, A. E.||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Jephcott, A. R.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Dean Arthur Wellesley||Jones, G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Ropner, Major L.|
|Elliot Captain Walter E.||Kindersley, Major Guy M.||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.|
|Elveden, Viscount||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Salmon, Major I.|
|Evans Captain A (Cardiff, South)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Fairfax Captain J. G.||Lamb, J. Q.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Col. George R.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Fermoy Lord||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Fielden, E. B.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Sandon. Lord|
|Finburgh, S.||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustavs, D.|
|Fleming, D. P.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Wood Green)||Savery, S. S.|
|Ford P. J.||Loder, J. de V.||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l, Exchange)|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Looker, Herbert William||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W. R., Sowerby)|
|Foxcroft, Captain C. T.||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||Lougher, L.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Luce, Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Galbraith J. F. W.||Lynn, Sir R. J.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Univ., Belfst.)|
|Ganzoni Sir John||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Skelton, A. N.|
|Gates Percy||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Smith, R.W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.|
|Gilmour Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Macintyre, Ian||Smithers, Waldron|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||McLean, Major A.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Goner Sir Robert||Macmillan, Captain H.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Grace John||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Grant J. A.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Greene W. P. Crawford||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Malone, Major P. B.||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Gretton, Colonel John||Margesson, Captain D.||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.|
|Grotrian H. Brent||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Mason, Lieut.-Col. Glyn K.||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Merriman, F. B.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Meyer, Sir Frank||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hall Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Hall Capt W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)||Waddington, R.|
|Hammersley, S. S.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wallace. Captain D. E.|
|Hanuury, C.||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Harland, A.||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Harrison, G. J. C.||Moreing, Captain A. H.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Merrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Haslam, Henry C.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Watts, Dr. T.|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Murchison. C. K.||Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Nall, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Joseph||White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple|
|Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Nelson, Sir Frank||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Williams, C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld.)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Kenn, Sir Sydney H.||Nuttall, Ellis||Wilson, Sir C. H. (Leeds, Central)|
|Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Oakley, T.||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)|
|Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Herbert, S. (York, M. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||O'Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|Hilton, Cecil||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Penny, Frederick George||Womersley, W. J.|
|Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Wood. E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Hohier, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Perring, William George||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Homan, C. W. J.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Philipson, Mabel||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)||Piolou, D. P.||Wragg, Herbert|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Plicher, G.||Young, E. Hilton (Norwich)|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.-|
|Howard, Capt. Hon. D. (Cumb., N.)||Preston, William||Commander B. Eyres Monsell and|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Price, Major C. W. M.||Colonel Gibbs.|
|Hume, Sir G. K.|
Bill committed to a Standing Committee.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.384
§ It being after Half-past Eleven of the Clock, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at Eleven Minutes before Twelve o'Clock.