Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a sum, not exceeding £7,303, 564, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 3lst day of March, 1928, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Ministry of Labour and Subordinate Departments, including the Contributions to the Unemployment Fund, and Payments to Associations, Local Education Authorities and others for administration under the Unemployment Insurance and Labour Exchanges Acts; Expenditure in connection with the Training of Demobilised Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men, and Nurses; Grants for Resettlement in Civil Life; and the Expenses of the Industrial Court; also Expenses in connection with the International Labour Organisation (League of Nations)."—[Note: £4,350,000 has been voted on account."]
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I beg to move to reduce the Vote by £100.
We are now going to enter upon a discussion dealing with many hundreds of thousands of people in need and in danger in this country. The present Government is now entering upon its third Session, and the right hon. Gentleman is asking us to approve his Estimates and his salary. He and his colleagues came to power on a sort of slogan of peace abroad and prosperity at home. Wages were to rise, employment was to be secure, and, generally with their advent, unemployment and poverty would fly away. I suppose it is only the barest truth to say that after a couple of years or more of their administration the problem of unemployment is far more difficult to deal with, pauperism has increased beyond any figures comparable in modern times, and this in spite of the fact that a year ago the right hon. Gentleman entered into a sort of conspiracy with the Minister of Health and that brilliant jack of all trades and master of 1722 none, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to rob and plunder the unemployed of their health insurance, and at the end of it the right hon. Gentleman appears before us asking us to give him another year of confidence and another year in which to administer the affairs relating to his office. He is not only taking the course of cutting down the expenditure on the applicants who come before him and driving them on to the Poor Law, but his Department has taken the decision that practically no more works shall be undertaken with assistance from the Ministry. The numbers who have got employment to-day under these schemes are some hundreds of thousands less than a year ago, with the result that the local authorities are having pushed on to them, a burden which is more than many of them can bear, and in addition, quite decent, ordinary unemployed workmen are being pushed into the workhouses and the casual ward. It is a matter of some importance that the working people of the country-should understand that during the long period of the war most of the casual wards were closed and most of them have been reopened because of the policy of the Government in not attempting effectively to deal with the problem of unemployment.
I have taken the trouble to get some figures for hon. Members opposite to digest. Men who only a year or two ago, during the war, were looked upon as great heroes who, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) said, should never go back again to conditions of poverty and distress, have been pushed on to the Poor Law. In one huge district of London there are at this moment nearly 4,000 men who have been put in the pauper class by the action of the Minister, of whom at least two-thirds served in the British Army. That is a disgrace, not only to the Government, but to the House generally. No one who took any part in recruiting can view that condition of affairs without the deepest shame. These men have done no harm. Nobody wants them, and all the Minister can do, and all this Government—that wasted hours during the few months my right hon. Friend was in office in denouncing him because he did not find work for these people and find a remedy—can do, is to throw them off unemployment in- 1723 surance and tell them they are not insurable propositions any longer.
The right hon. Gentleman has invented some new sort of phrases, such as "they are not likely ever to obtain insurable employment," or "insurable employment is not likely to be available," and so on, and these people, ranging from 40 to 50 years of age, are now many of them getting nothing at all and have nothing to look forward to beyond Poor Law relief. The right hon. Gentleman and the House, which always prides itself upon its patriotism, may take comfort to their souls that, if they go through the casual wards of England and Wales to-night, they will find that the overwhelming majority of the men in those institutions are those who served in His Majesty's Forces. That is the reward which you have given them. If there were nothing else to be said, that is enough to justify me in asking the Committee to reduce this Vote, in order that we may mark our censure of the right hon. Gentleman's administration. I want to emphasise as strongly as I possibly can the enormity of the crime that has been committed, first of all, by the spokesman for the country in pledging the men who went to the War that they should not come back to conditions of unemployment and poverty, and, secondly, by the Minister of a Government, with the biggest majority of modern times, in standing quietly by and leaving hundreds of thousands of them to the tender mercies of the casual wards and the workhouses. That is one of the most infamous things that has every happened in our history.
I want also to draw attention to the manner in which the right hon. Gentleman has attempted to save his fund and still further to penalise the unemployed and their friends and relatives by the sort of Order that has been made in regards to persons living at home with their relatives and friends. This bringing in of charity organisation methods is particularly unworthy of the right hon. Gentleman. There are some Ministers whom one could excuse, because they have not had the advantage of the experience of the right hon. Gentleman, but he knows perfectly well that conditions of labour, conditions of employ- 1724 ment, are in the main responsible for people being out of work. He and Miss Squire made a Report on the question of "Pauperism, Unemployment and Casual Labour." It is a Report to which many of us sitting on this side of the House could, with some exceptions, put our own signatures. Yet, in face of that the right hon. Gentleman has initiated this kind of policy, which says to a man or a woman out of work, "The responsibility for you being out of work is not the State's but your father's and mother's," or, in the case of a father being out of work, that the responsibility is the son's. That has reduced the administration of unemployment insurance to the level of Poor Law relief. I am certain, having heard all the Debates, that those who framed the Health and Unemployment Insurance Acts never had any intention of bringing in the family income as a reason for withholding the payment of insurance money.
Neither did they, nor those who later on brought in the Measure which gave the Minister power to give extended benefit, ever contemplate that we should have a Minister who would say that the grant of the benefit should depend upon the family income. And what a family income it is that the right hon. Gentleman has laid down! Here is a small document that he has apparently issued to committees that have to decide this business. He says that a recommendation to allow benefit would ordinarily be approved by himself where the average income per head of the household is 10s. per week or less. Where the income per head is between 10s. and 13s., a claim would be normally allowed—that is exclusive of rent—but closer scrutiny would be necessary as the income approached 13s., and where the income per head per week was over 13s. the claim could not properly be allowed in the absence of quite exceptional circumstances. I tried by questions to get from the right hon. Gentleman what he really means by exceptional circumstances. Taking a family of a man and his wife and three or four young children or two young children, and an elder son or two elder sons out of work,, the right hon. Gentleman says that if the income which the breadwinner earns averages out at more than 13s. per head, over and above the 1725 rent, then he roust maintain those members of the family out of work.
That is one of the meanest propositions of which the right hon. Gentleman has been guilty. He was a young man himself once, but I do not suppose, when he was thinking of getting married, that he had to put money by in order to pay for a home, like a working-class young man has to do, and I would like to ask him what right he or the State has to say to a young man or to the father of young people, "It is your responsibility and not the responsibility of the State." I maintain that this condition which has been laid down by the right hon. Gentleman is quite unworthy of Parliament,, and I hope, when we go to a Division, that hon. Members on the other side who come in contact with working-class people and who know what a burden it is on a working-class home when one of the members of the family is out of work, will vote their disapproval of this particular form of penalising the poor. I want to say that the rich do not take this kind of line. I can give two examples of Cabinet Ministers who have extremely wealthy relatives, one a coalowner and the other a director of many companies in the City. For many years, they drew money out of the public Exchequer, because they swore an affidavit that they could not maintain their position as ex-Cabinet Ministers, and until public attention was called to the fact they went on drawing this money. Their relatives could have kept them, their relatives could have provided them with much more than the £2,000 or £1,200 a year or whatever the particular pension was that they received. But when you come to a working-class family, you lay down a condition such as this, which is as mean and contemptible a thing as even the right hon. Gentleman has done in his relations to the unemployed. I want to enter as strong a protest as I possibly can in the matter.
I want also to know what this Government, which was going to do so much better than my right hon. Friend, proposes to do with the men who are being discharged from the various dockyards under the scheme of economy. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes to leave the 400 or 500 men who are being discharged from the Ports- 1726 mouth dockyard, without any provision at all, when they can no longer draw standard benefit, and to push them on to the Poor Law guardians and make that town pay for the economy which is being practised by the other Departments of the State. The Minister of Labour ought to be able to do something more than merely put off these people in this way. I had proposed to say something about the question of men's and women's training, but some of my hon. Friends are going to deal with that subject. I want, however, to say this in passing. There is no more pitiable spectacle in this country than the middle-aged woman whom nobody wants. To-day, just as I came away, I received a letter from a woman who, for the working time of the 51 years of her life, has worked hard and laboriously, and now in the last year nobody wants her. That poor woman's fate is the workhouse, because the right hon. Gentleman simply folds his arms and says: "I have nothing to do with anything except just to say, This is only an insurance scheme, and it is not a scheme to deal with all the unemployed.'" If it does not, then he himself ought to produce a scheme that does. The right hon. Gentleman does not get rid of his responsibility merely by saying that it does not come within the four corners of insurance. If it does not, then it is his business to provide some other means. Then the right hon. Gentleman takes some pride to himself that he has established some training centres.
I had better say at the outset, in case the hon. Member pursues, or his friends wish to pursue, a discussion on the training of the unemployed, that it would not be in order on this particular Vote, because, if the hon. Member will look at the Votes, he will find that it is vote 8, and not Vote 7, that deals with that subject.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am sorry. We gave the authorities notice in the usual way that we desired to raise the question of training, and it is a great pity that that Vote was not put down. It was an oversight on my part not to have looked at the Vote, but I took it for granted that we were dealing with efficient people who knew their business. I had given notice that that was one of the subjects with which we wished to deal, and I might 1727 have plunged right into it at the beginning, in which case my speech would have been prematurely cut short. In the circumstances, if you rule that I am out of Order, we can only hope to deal with training on another occasion and to await our opportunity.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland)
I do not know whether it is possible within the rules of Order, but I have no objection whatsoever to the hon. Member dealing with it. I did not realise until this morning that it was possibly outside the rules of Order. I only heard of that possibility this morning. I have taken no objection myself. I do not know whether there is any way of remedying the matter, but if so I should be glad.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
Would it be possible, with the consent of the Committee, to take a fairly comprehensive view of the whole subject of unemployment, if no objection were raised?
I am very much in the hands of the Committee, but it has always been the rule that discussion of the Estimates must be confined to the subjects which arise on the actual Votes that are taken. It is true that on the Vote which includes the Minister's salary general questions of the administration of his Department may be dealt with, but not those for which there is a separate Vote. The particular question which has been raised by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) is on Vote 8, which is not down for to-day. I cannot establish a new precedent in regard to discussions in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman will realise the danger of doing that.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I quite realise that, but I am not raising the matter from that point of view. I was only wondering whether the Chair could extend its indulgence, as in the past, where, by the common consent of the House, it is impossible to take into review the whole subject without glancing at a subject strictly outside the particular Vote. I thought that perhaps you might be able to grant that indulgence to hon. Members now. It is very difficult to discuss the problem of unemployment fully and fairly unless you are able to take a com- 1728 prehensive view. Of course, if anyone had raised an objection for any particular reason, I can understand that it would be your duty to apply sternly the Rules of Order; but there are circumstances in which the Chair extends an indulgence when it is the general view of the House.
I should be only too glad to extend any indulgence in my power, but I am quite sure that I should be wrong in establishing a precedent of that kind.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
That being so, I will not attempt to pursue the question of training, except to say that I hope we shall get another opportunity of doing so. The only thing I wish to say, finally, is that the right hon. Gentleman comes to us to-day to ask us to give him practically a renewal of confidence. We on this side have not the least confidence in his willingness to administer the Unemployment Insurance Acts in a manner which we consider fair and just to the people who come before the Employment Exchanges. I have not brought with me the long lists of cases which we have produced on previous occasions. When we do that, it leads to nowhere. The cold, brutal fact remains that, while the right hon. Gentleman can boast that the figures of those to whom he has paid, through the Unemployment Insurance, weekly allowances, goes down, the number of people who are pushed on to the boards of guardians goes up.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The right hon. Gentleman says that that is not true. I asked for figures some time during this Session, and the figures which I obtained show that in January the number was, at least, 100,000 more on Poor Law relief than it was during the previous 12 months. I do not think the right hon Gentleman can truthfully contradict that statement. All of us know from our own experience with our own boards of guardians and our own local authorities that these figures can be verified by our own knowledge. I find that in the month of January there were 150,000 men and nearly 136,000 women, and in December of last year 284,292 men, or 134,000 above* the previous January. I suppose the 1729 right hon. Gentleman will not contradict the figures supplied by his own colleague, the Minister of Health, although he can contradict me. The number of women who, I take it, were mainly the wives of the men, was 259,950. From my own experience, I know that these figures are, quite definitely, very largely made up of the unemployed pushed off the right hon. Gentleman's register. If he queries my statement, as I have no doubt he will, with regard to casual wards, I received a reply from the Minister of Health which shows that in 1926 there were 8,162 casuals in the casual wards of this country, and on the 28th January, 1927, 10,610. Will he say that is not true?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Commander Eyres Monsell)
Address the Chair.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
They are his own colleague's figures, not mine. The right hon. Gentleman spoke to me, therefore the Chief Whip can hold his tongue. I am not going to allow the Chief Whip or the Minister of Labour to chip me. I am here as a Member of this House, and I am no more than that and no less than that. When the right hon. Gentleman charges me with making an untrue statement, I give him the figures of his own colleague, and he has not the decency to acknowledge them and to withdraw his statement. Any gentleman would have done so. Then the Chief Whip weighs in with his remarks. What has it to do with him? I am speaking to the Deputy-Chairman, so you can mind your own business. I suppose we shall have to ask permission, in a bit, to look at these Gentlemen. On their own showing, on their own figures, that is what they have done. Nevertheless, they come here with a big flourish of trumpets and say that they are going to settle the unemployment problem, that they are going to show the Labour party how they can deal with unemployment and how they can get rid of unemployment. They have increased unemployment and have brought discord and disorder into industry, and in the end they only produce a bankrupt Budget, with their genius of a Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I want to draw attention to Vote 8 on the Estimates, for the relief of unemployment. Particularly I want to deal with the item, 1730 "Training and Equipment of Women for Employment."
I do not know whether the hon. Member was in the Committee when we were discussing this question. She will see that the particular Vote which she proposes to discuss is Vote 8, which is not down for to-day. The subject she wishes to discuss does not arise on the Vote before the Committee, so that I am afraid she will not be in order in discussing the training of women.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I bow to your ruling, but we are talking about the relief of unemployment and the salary of the Minister of Labour. Is it impossible for me to touch upon the question of what is being done for women?
The hon. Member must realise that the particular question she wishes to raise is on another Vote. If that Vote had been down for to-day she could have discussed that subject, but she cannot discuss it on this Vote.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
I rise for the purpose of pointing out that the difficulty in which the Committee finds itself is partly due to the fact that there is no such thing as a Ministry of Labour. There is a Ministry for the collecting of statistics about unemployment and for the investigation of the partial relief of unemployment. The primary purpose for which the Ministry should exist, namely, finding work for the unemployed, does not seem to be a very large part of the Ministry's duties. I cannot join with the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) in his general invective about the Ministry, because I have a rather sardonic memory that the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) four times during his tenure of office as Minister of Labour in the Labour Government had to defend this Vote against a Motion for the reduction of his salary, and his only contribution was to say that he could not get rabbits out of a hat.
§ Mr. BROWN
That is a rather worn phrase. Brown rabbits are the best, I understand. A celebrated lady Member 1731 of the Labour Government went down to Wales at that time, and said that the Labour Government had schemes for unemployment up their sleeves. I thought that a very sinister remark, because when one studies the fashion for ladies one realises that they have no sleeves, so that if she has any schemes for unemployment up her sleeves, I do not know where they are to come from, any more than I know how they are to get rabbits out of a hat.
A great deal has been done by the Ministry of Labour, not merely this Ministry, but others, with regard to the unemployment problem. I suppose we shall be able to discuss unemployment grants under Vote 6, which shows that under unemployment insurance schemes some £12,140,000 comes under the Ministry of Labour Vote for insurance purposes. That is a great help to men who are out of work. Had it not been for the unemployment insurance schemes there would have been a great deal more distress in the country that there is at the present time. It is very unfortunate for the Ministry of Labour that in administering his office he cannot get more support from his principal colleagues in the Ministry. It is very unfortunate for the nation and for the unemployed as well as the Ministry of Labour that not a single Minister of the Crown sits for an area where unemployment is rife. There is no Minister of the Crown who sits for a necessitous area. The present Ministry is composed, as regards its principal members, of those whose electors are all comfortably off.
I would direct attention to certain figures. The Prime Minister sits for the Bewdley Division. So little unemployment is there in Bewdley, that it does not even appear in the index issued by the Ministry of Labour. There is, however, a little town of Stourport, where the insured persons number 2,080, and the percentage of unemployed is 7.6. Take the Division represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Whip. In the town of Evesham there are 2,400 insured persons, and the percentage of unemployed in only 2.7. There axe no figures at all for the Epping Division, represented by the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, presumably because the rate of unemployment is so 1732 low, that the figures are not worth putting into the index. The nearest town I can find to the Epping Division is Chelmsford, and in Chelmsford there are 11,000 insured persons, and the percentage of unemployed on the 14th March was 1.8. The nearest approach we get to a necessitous area represented by a Minister of the Crown is in Birmingham, where four constituencies are represented by Cabinet Ministers. There is the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Labour, the Secretary of State for the Dominions and Colonies and the Minister of Health. There are in Birmingham 364,150 insured persons, and the percentage of unemployed is 8.2.
There is no record with regard to the constituency represented by the Home Secretary, but in Hounslow I find that there are 11,100 persons on the register and the percentage of unemployed is 7.1. In Colchester, which is represented by the Secretary of State for War, there are 12,050 insured persons, and the percentage of unemployed is only 48. The largest rate of unemployment for any constituency represented by a Minister of the Crown is in Oswestry, the Division represented by the First Lord of the Admiralty. There are in that constituency 3,980 persons on the register, and the percentage of unemployed is 9'7. That is due to the fact that mining is carried on in that area. With regard to the constituency represented by the Secretary of State for Air—Chelsea-—there is no reference to unemployment at all. It is in the same category as the constituencies represented by the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer—there is so little unemployment that it is not worth recording, it is not worth noticing. In the Division represented by the President of the Board of Trade there are 23,320 insured persons, and the percentage of unemployed is the extraordinary low one of 3.1. I take the case of one other Member of the Government, not a principal Member, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, because I hope to have something to say about the attitude of the Treasury to the Unemployment Grants Committee on a later Vote. In Canterbury there are 6,900 persons insured, and the average rate of unemployed is 3.1 per cent.
1733 I have troubled the Committee with these figures, but I think it is very unfortunate that so many of these figures in regard to unemployment are only averages. An average may be mathematically a fact, statistically it may be a fiction, because it may conceal things which should be brought to light. The Ministry puts the number of insured persons at 1,017,000 and says that the average rate of unemployment is 12 per cent. The fact is that two things are concealed in these figures. The first is that the distribution with regard to localities is grossly unequal. If you compare Birmingham with Glasgow you will find that in Glasgow there are 399,260 insured persons and the average rate of unemployed is 14.6, compared with 8 per cent. in Birmingham. In Greenock the number of insured persons is 26,170, and the average of unemployment is 23.9. Take the case of Middlesbrough—-and no wonder the right hon. Gentleman on a previous occasion referred to the hon. Member who represents Middlesbrough as a very melancholy Member—out of 53,600 insured persons no less than 15.5 are unemployed. In Jarrow there are 9,940 insured persons, and the number of unemployed is 42.1 per cent., that is on the 14th March last. In Leith there are 25,980 insured persons, and 19.7 men are unemployed, 7.7 women, and 11. juveniles, making an average of unemployment of 16.7.
The point I want to put is whether the Minister of Labour gets enough support from his colleagues in the Cabinet in his attempts to do justice to the insured persons who are out of work. If we could look into the Cabinet room and see the agenda for the Cabinet meeting, I wonder in what order unemployment would come. I suppose China would come first, the Budget second, women's vote third, trade union law fourth, leasehold fifth, the fighting services sixth, Poor Law seventh, safeguarding eighth, housing and rent restriction ninth, agriculture tenth, education eleventh, rating reform twelfth, and unemployment, the unlucky number, thirteenth, which probably never gets reached in the Cabinaet meeting. The Minister of Labour, instead of having to suffer the general invective of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley, is really, I think, entitled to the sympathy of the Committee because he has no power to 1734 initiate schemes of work in order to provide work for those who are unemployed.
It is a great pity that the principal Ministers to the Crown cannot be transferred from the comfortable seats they represent at present to some of the great necessitous areas so that they could get to understand the questions which burn into the hearts and minds of the men and women in these areas. Unemployment insurance, we are told, amounts to £12,412,500. That is a remarkable sum, and it is a remarkable tribute to the foresight of pre-war Liberal Governments in initiating schemes of employment. I shall not be in order in discussing grants on this Vote, but I hope I shall have the good fortune to catch your eye, Captain FitzRoy, when Vote 6 is being discussed, because I desire to say something about unemployment grants. There is no question as to the unfair distribution of the burden of unemployment as between one town and another and as between one trade and another, and it is causing a grave feeling of injustice to grow up, especially in the ports of the country where the shipbuilding, engineering and heavy industries have been suffering for the last seven years very heavily from the slump in trade which began in 1920.
§ Lieut-Commander KENWORTHY
I have heard many Debates in this House on the Vote for the Ministry of Labour. Since hearing the last Debate I have paid a visit to the United States in company with another hon. Member in order to examine various phases of unemployment and life over there. I understand the Minister of Labour sent a Commission to the United States, which has issued a very interesting book. I do not want to refer to anything in that book at the moment because it is at the disposal of the right hon. Gentleman. I want to refer to one or two matters which I discovered during my visit, from which I think we might learn several useful lessons. Looking at the attendance in the Committee at the moment it is difficult to realise that in this country we have still over 1,000,000 unemployed persons—I do not know how many more have been put on to the Poor Law guardians. Look at the few Members there are on the Government benches! The hon. Member for Ilford (Sir F. Wise) is always in his place when Estimates are being considered, and he shows an example which his colleagues 1735 might very well follow. But, with the exception of the hon. Member for Ilford and the hon. Member who went with me to America, who apparently knew that I was going to speak on this Vote, there are less than a dozen Conservative Members present out of over 400 Conservative Members of the House. Having said that, let me now return to those things which have been done in the United States of America which, I think, might very well be adopted in this country in connection with the problem of unemployment. In 1921 the United States was faced with a terrible crisis. There were actually 6,000,000 people registered as unemployed, and the situation was as serious as it could be. The Minister of Commerce, who corresponds to the Minister of Labour in this country, called together a very comprehensive conference of employers of labour, mayors of towns, representatives of the State Goverments, representatives of the trade unions, and everyone who was supposed to be in a position to help.
They sat in continuous session for six weeks and they thrashed out a policy. And this was their policy. In the first place, all available work was rationed out and as many people were put into earning as they could get on the pay books. The theory in the United States—and it is a very sound theory— is that if you get men spending they will create employment for others, and the more people you can get on the wage rolls the better. They rationed out all the available work and got as many people as possible at work. Then they deliberately anticipated work, which would not have been put in hand for some years to come. New plant and new buildings were put in hand, and the State Governments deliberately forestalled their requirements in the way of new buildings, new roads and new bridges. They deliberately created work. The Board of Education put in hand the building of schools, the Health Department put in hand the building of new hospitals, which they would not have done in the ordinary way for a few years' time. And, as more men were put on the pay books, they became spenders, more goods were consumed and more men thus found employment. They managed to get these 6,000,000 men into 1736 employment again, and they have never had to meet the same problem since. Is not that a lesson which we can learn in this country? Cannot we do something of the same kind instead of drifting as we are doing now? This has been going on since 1922 in this country, and we are now in the fifth bad year of unemployment. Are we going to face another winter with large numbers of men losing their aptitude for work and becoming demoralised by long periods of idleness? Cannot the Minister of Labour initiate some big policy?
There is another phase of this same problem to which I should like to draw attention. In the United States they deliberately adopted a policy of high wages wherever they could pay them, the idea being that the workers themselves form the best market for the goods which they themselves produce. The case of Mr. Ford, who sells his motor cars to his own workmen, is an example. But that is only one example. A highly-paid, wage-earning population means a great consumption of goods, or else it means their savings, which in their turn are invested in other industries. I do not say that under this Government especially the Ministry of Labour can compel employers to pay high wages or not to cut piece rates when production goes up, but let us see the example that the Ministry sets. I presume that the Minister of Labour agrees that where high wages can be paid it is a very good policy, which means a big internal consumption and in turn gives employment. Let us see the example set by the Ministry of Labour. This is the headquarters staff, presumably in London, where the cost of living is high. I see that men cleks receive £60 a year, rising to £250 a year, and that women clerks receive £60 a year, rising to £180 a year. That is a miserable wage. I understand from a footnote that that includes the cost-of-living bonus. The writing assistants, of whom we are employing 14 this year, receive 18s. a week, rising by 2s. to 36s. a week. What kind of wage is that to pay to writing assistants? Lower down I see that shorthand typists receive 28s. a week, rising by 2s. 6d. a week to 46s. No decent employer in any private office in London would think of expecting good work to be done by a shorthand typist for 28s. a week. It is setting an extremely bad example to employers all 1737 over the country. Typists receive 22s. a week, rising by 2s. to 36s.
I think that that is scandalous, and the sooner the Government decide to give votes to women under 30, the better chance there will be of returning a Labour Government and making an end of this disgraceful state of affairs. Then again take the case of the unestablished messengers, presumably men, of whom there are 85. Two of them are in receipt of retired pay, one from the Navy and the other from the Army. Apparently the other 83 do not get a service pension. They are paid 29s. a week, rising by 1s. to 34s. When the Ministry of Labour pays disgraceful wages like those, it is setting a bad example to employers. The Government are blessing the policy of low wages and competing with the standard of Central and Eastern Europe, instead of adopting the American policy of high wages, which the Ministry of Labour's own report shows has brought great benefits to the United States. There you have a country where the skilled workers can earn a far higher wage than in this country, and where their whole standard of life is very much higher. The American and the Australian standard are what we should aim at, instead of the standard of Poland or Czechoslovakia or Austria.
Those are two things that I have learned in the United States, and I very respectfully draw the Minister's attention to them. On the one hand there is the policy, successfully adopted, of a great national conference of everyone concerned, in which Labour co-operated, as it would he in this country without a doubt. Organised Labour would certainly take part in such a conference and the bringing forward of well-thought-out schemes for creating work, in some cases artificial hut nevertheless useful work. One is inclined to become a little hardened to the state of affairs in this country. Our unemployment seems to he almost chronic. But we must fight against the feeling of cynicism and drift. Something has to he done. Apart from the injury done to the finances of the country, there is still worse injury being done to the morals of the people. After a certain number of years men lose hope and lose the aptitude for work, and when that happens we are in a very bad position indeed. We must fight against 1738 this apathy. I am not talking party politics, hut I appeal to hon. Gentlemen opposite who know that what I say is true, to back me up in urging the Government to tackle this matter.
This is the first day we have had this Session for discussing the Ministry of Labour. The Minister of Labour is unfortunately not here, and I am very sorry he is not able to be present. This is the first of the Debates this Session, hut it is the last of a very long series of Debates on unemployment which have extended over a number of years. We do not get any further forward. Even the work on road schemes has been cut down owing to the raid on the Road Fund by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I sent the Chancellor of the Exchequer a resolution passed by the West Riding County Council, drawing attention to the fact that the grants they are now getting from the Road Fund are insufficient to provide the necessary new roads required for modern motor transport or to repair existing roads, and protesting against any further encroachment on the Road Fund. That is one example. No doubt many other county councils have communicated with hon. Members in the same way. Are we going to allow the Government simply to drift along in this way? We have had great excitement in the House about China, and that occupies the attention of the Cabinet first and foremost, but the most crucial thing in the homes of the people is the fear of unemployment when they are in work, the sight of crowded men outside the factory gates, willing to take their jobs if only they can get them and to do so at a lower rate, the general breakdown in the standard of workpeople because of unemployment, and, on the other hand, the thousands of perfectly decent men and women who are able to work, but cannot get work. They ask, "What are you doing in Parliament?" I am trying to urge the House and the Government as well as I can. I have put forward two suggestions which I think are constructive, and I hope that something will be done.
There is one other matter with regard to America. They have a system in the State Department there for the very careful collection of statistics, which are analysed and sent round to manufacturers in order to avoid overproduction. I would particularly draw the attention of the Opposition Front Bench to the point.
1739 The American Department invites statistics which will show the forward contracts, the stocks in hand, the orders for goods, the total production, and so on, of all the manufacturers in the country. They get these statistics from the wholesalers and even from the retailers, and they are able to see when overproduction is threatened. They warn the manufacturers accordingly, and the manufacturers then slow down production to avoid a slump. It has been found that only a 10 per cent. overproduction causes a slump and that a 10 per cent. underproduction causes a boom. America is a great country, much less compact than we are, and it would be easier to do that here than in Washington.' Yet it is done very successfully there.
Let me give an actual example as given me at Washington by Mr. Hoover, who explained the position personally to me. He is a great economist and a man whose opinions are respected everywhere. Take the case of motor tyres. They get figures showing the production for the next six months; also figures of the stocks in hand, the forward contracts and the actual number of tyres in the different retailing establishments and garages, and so on. Then they get from the other Government Departments the probable demand for motor tyres because of the production of new motor cars for the next six months. They are then able by a careful analysis to draw charts showing the probable demand for tyres, the existing stocks, and the rate at which these stocks are being added to. They are then able to say, "We are not producing enough tyres. There will be a shortage. You can increase your output;" or perhaps they are able to say, "There is going to be over-production in the next three months and you must slow up." It may be asked how they compel manufacturers to do this. They do it by using the credit power of the Federal Reserve Banks to bring pressure to bear on the State Banks to refuse credits to manufacturers who ignore their advice.
We cannot do that here, but we can bring a good deal of friendly pressure to bear, and I doubt if, with the bitter experience of the last few years, manufacturers would deliberately ignore the advice given them, if they knew that the 1740 figures were carefully collected and scientifically analysed. I cannot discuss legislation on this Vote. I am talking about the home markets in the States; it is infinitely greater than the overseas markets. The overseas market is a different matter altogether. Yet there we could do a great deal by a more careful collection of statistics from the representatives abroad of the Overseas Trade Department and a co-ordination of those figures with the demand of the home markets. That is all part of the same system. I am throwing this out only as a suggestion. We have done nothing for five or six years, and we have still an army of unemployed, who in many cases are becoming unemployable. I am not making a party attack, but am making suggestions to the House. Those are three suggestion which we might adopt. Perhaps they might be considered by the Committee which has been dealing with unemployment for two or three years, but has not produced any new schemes except road-making, and even that has been cut down.
I must make one protest on a question of administration. I have had many cases in my own constituency, but what I am referring to is, I fear, rather widespread in the country. The Minister is increasing the number of men who are refused uncovenanted benefit because their parents are earning, or, in the case of fathers, because their sons are earning. This is leading to a great deal of hardship. If an unmarried man cannot get work and his father happens to be working, it is not fair that the son should be refused uncovenanted benefit. It is apt to cause bad feeling in families and to lead in many cases to distress. Take the case of a father who cannot get work and is refused extended benefit because his son is working. That means that the son has to keep the whole family, whereas, perhaps, the son is saving up to get married but cannot get married because he has to keep his father owing to this refusal of benefit. I do not think that was the intention of the House when the original Act was passed, or when the amending Acts were passed. I do not think it is fair to do that, and I would ask the Ministry of Labour to issue instructions to the Employment Exchanges not to be so harsh in these 1741 cases, and that, unless they are certain that the men are not genuinely seeking work, they are not to take them off benefit simply because the father has a son who is working. The next thing we shall hear will be that a son will be refused extended benefit because his widowed mother works. That is reducing the case to an extreme example, but I do not think the House would tolerate that. Why, then, do they do so in the case of the father? I put forward these suggestions in no party spirit. I know the difficulties of the Ministry of Labour, and I know that much of their difficulties are created by policy on the part of the Government. Therefore, I do not feel justified in making any sort of attack on the Minister of Labour, or on the Ministry of Labour, when the real attack ought to be made upon the Government that has not tackled this matter in a great national spirit, which is the only way that this terrible evil of unemployment can be got rid of.
Mr. HILTON YOUNG
The hon. And gallant Member who has just sat down may not be aware that the Board of Trade are at present organising an index of production. This is an index which will enable bankers, manufacturers, and all who are engaged in production to follow, from time to time, the upward or downward course of the mass production of the country. It is towards such an effort as that that one looks with the most hope for that basis of scientific information which will enable the country to deal most effectively with this question of employment in the future.
§ Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY
I think the right hon. Gentleman did not quite get my meaning. Apart from the figures of production, in the United States they are also able to foretell the probable consumption in the future. You must have the two sets of figures, as the production figures are not so helpful by themselves.
No; I do not think that that is so. I think an index of production will provide those who are controlling manufacturing interests with most of the information they need with regard to the future, At any rate, the matter is worth mentioning, because this index, which might undoubtedly be of the very greatest utility to the country in the 1742 future, must naturally be somewhat of an object of suspicion at the first set-out to manufacturers, because it involves the revelation of a certain amount of information which is commonly looked upon as strictly private. I think it is, therefore, worth mentioning in this House, if only for the sake of persuading hon. Members to use such influence as they may possess in various circles to try to further the provision of the essential information which would be so beneficial to the country. With regard to the relations between banking and industry, I should doubt very much whether any experienced man of business would care to see the factor of official influence introduced into these relations. The relations between banker and customer are conducted through the great commercial banks, and all their business instincts and the business instincts which are natural to our fellow-countrymen and which are the foundations of our industry, would cause them to view with the utmost apprehension the introduction into these strictly business-like and common-sense arrangements of the influence of Whitehall.
In these discussions we are apt to hear very much nowadays about the question of the relative rates of wages here and in America. In America they pay high wages, higher than we pay here; and sometimes that fact is thrown down into our debates as if it were the sole fact that we need observe in order to discover the way out of our industrial difficulties. "Only pay high wages here," it is implied," and all will yet be well." That is surely a most profound delusion, because there are so many circumstances that are so absolutely different in this country from what they are in America. In America you have vast potentialities of unexploited wealth, you have a more rapidly increasing population, you have rapidly-increasing opportunity; you have, in fact, a country that is growing richer very much faster than this country, and they can afford to pledge their future. But I believe we must look to a more inward circumstance in order to observe the real difference between America and ourselves, and that is that the American industrial community has accepted, unreservedly, with full knowledge and conviction, the mechanisation of industry and the organisation of industry for the 1743 full exploitation of the machine, whereas here that has not yet been fully accepted, and I think to some extent the leaders of trade unionism are responsible for it being but slowly accepted in this country.
I will not particularise any trade in this country; I will not specify any particular industry, but I think more could be done by those who are responsible, and the recognised leaders of trade unionism are responsible for the necessary education of their followers, because they are their followers in this matter. There is still in the psychology of the inhabitants of this country a reluctance to accept the machine, an old historical reluctance to accept proper organisation and the exploitation of the machine, and I think the observer and the historian will say that this is one of the chief causes of our difficulties in competing with our rivals at the present time. I might express it in this way. In America, the factory is organised so that the machines will produce at a certain rate, and labour has to accept that rate of production; in this country the factory is organised so that labour produces at a certain rate and the machines have to accept that rate. That is one of the principal reasons for the more expensive production in this country at the present time.
A certain amount of patience is required in such a Debate as this for the occupants of these benches to sit and hear the present misfortunes of industry attributed to the policy of the Government. I think these things are very much more out of the control of any Government than people are wont to say in political speeches. It requires patience to sit by and at the present juncture hear our evils attributed to the policy of the Government and not to their true cause in the immediate past; that is, the general strike and the great stoppage of the coal trade. But this Debate must not be allowed to pass without that word of common-sense being said. There are many hon. Members of this House who watch closely the progress of industry and its struggles, and such watchers know well that, at the beginning 1744 of last year, this country was well started on a slow forward uprise towards prosperity, and those of us who did not foresee that great disaster of last year felt sure that by the end of the year we should find ourselves in a far more prosperous state. Then our hopes were dashed by that great disaster. How is it possible for reasonable men and women not to know that, when the whole country's basic producing trade, the production of the raw material of coal, has been stopped for three-quarters of the year, the country is bound to suffer in its prosperity, and that when £300,000,000 has been marked off the capital wealth of the country that the country must suffer? We Have yet to experience in full measure the evil results of that great disaster; those evil results have yet to be worked out. But for it, at the present time the number of unemployed might well, at the most optimistic figure be 250,000 less, and at the least optimistic figure, 100,000 less.
It requires patience for the humble student of the facts of existence to stand by and hear this light attribution of all our disasters to the inactivity of the Government, and to hear it said that the Government ought to go out and provide work in this country. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) made a vigorous attack upon the Ministry of Labour for not being, as he said, a real Ministry of Labour. He said it was a mere collector of statistics, and not a Ministry for finding employment for the unemployed. Long may it be before any Ministry sets out to find employment in this country. A Ministry to collect statistics and provide information for employers and employed appears to some of us to be precisely what the Ministry of Labour ought to be. We are profoundly convinced that it does not lie in the hands of any Ministry or of any Government to deal with the present, industrial evils in this country. On the contrary, one of the chief causes of these industrial evils is the profound delusion that it is by such activity that we can cure our troubles, and not by the efforts of the individual. If we could eradicate that delusion, if employers and employed would only turn all their efforts, all their initiative, all their labour and their goodwill into an effort to heal the evils in their own industries and to meet their competitors at 1745 the gate, then this country would find itself on the path of recovery and prosperity.
§ Mr. PALING
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Young) said it required a lot of patience for Members on that side of the House to listen to the accusations made against the Government for not finding employment and prosperity. I would like to assure him that it requires a lot of patience on the part of Members on this side of the House to sit and listen to the accusations which are continually levelled at working people for not producing enough, and particularly when these accusations are levelled by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich, who, I believe, is something of an economist. When he was asked for proof rather than for a general statement, he refused to give any. I suppose, probably, one of the industries which is as much accused as any other of refusing to have machinery is the coal-mining industry. I have risen time after time in Debates in this House to ask any hon. Member opposite, or any hon. Member below the Gangway, or any hon. Member anywhere, to give one concrete case where machinery has been refused, and where the action of the men has been responsible for the non-installation of machines. I have not yet got that case. We are also told, time after time, that the bricklayers will not work and that they limit production.
Only last week a question was asked as to how many bricks were produced in this country and the answer showed that the number was more than double the number produced in pre-War times— although the number of men in the industry, relatively speaking, is very little more than the pre-War number. If bricklayers are limiting production, I should like to know where the bricks are going. I suppose the unemployed are eating them. Hon. Members who make these accusations should seek for some evidence to support their statements. The right hon. Gentleman also said that in America it is the machine which sets the rate of production and that in this country it is the person who tends the machine. He said that here it is labour which sets the rate of production. Again, the right hon. Gentleman rides off on a general statement and refuses 1746 to give a concrete illustration. I suppose, in this respect also, the coalmining industry is accused. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman is aware that 90 to 95 per cent. of the coal produced in this country is produced on contract and that 95 to 100 per cent. of the men who are getting coal on contract are prepared almost to work their blood to water, if they can get tubs to fill and thereby secure increased earnings. If the men got facilities to produce the coal which they could produce, their earnings would go up. There is no question of limitation in regard to this matter; for them,, it is a question of getting as much coal as they can in order to secure the biggest wages. When the right hon. Gentleman talks as he has been talking, it shows that he does not understand the realities of the situation. He ought to go down into the mines and investigate this question. Let him go down to Somerset where they drag wheelless tubs in the coal mines, and ask the Somerset owners why they do not instal machinery. If they made investigations of this kind, hon. Members opposite would not be so foolish as to make some of the statements which one hears from the other side.
I am, however, more concerned about bringing up one or two questions affecting the administration of this Department. It has been said that we ought not to attack the Ministry of Labour in regard to these matters inasmuch as the responsibility for what is being done really attaches to the Cabinet. I do not know who is responsible, but the fact remains that since the advent of the Tory Government the most despicable Regulations have been sent out to the Employment Exchanges and many people have received horrible treatment as a result of those Regulations. I give an example of what is occurring. A young lady in my constituency who is 19 or 20 years of age and who has been paying unemployment insurance contributions since she was 16, was thrown out of work last year as a result of the stoppage. If my memory serves me aright, she had never before been unemployed. It was admitted that she made all the efforts that she could reasonably be expected to make to find work,, not only at her own business but in other trades. She received standard benefit for a time; then, as a result of the tightening up 1747 of the Regulations, it was stopped and she complained. A few days afterwards she was offered a position in a canteen. Her board was to be provided and her wages were to be 6s. per week. She refused and she was marked down as "not genuinely seeking employment." I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry if that is fair? Does he consider that the refusal of such an offer as that justifies marking a person down as not genuinely seeking work?
Here is another case brought to my notice in a place where I happened to be speaking a few weeks ago. It is the case of an ex-service man with one arm who has been unemployed, more than less, since 1923. The local committee was satisfied that it was almost impossible for him to get work. He had lost his left arm in the War and the disability increased his difficulty in finding employment. In that little town there had just been formed a parking place for cars and my information is that the largest number of cars which could be parked there at one time was half-a-dozen. This man was offered the job of attendant. He was to be provided with a uniform, and when he asked what were the wages, he was told that there were no wages, but that he would receive tips. He refused the job, and he was marked as "not genuinely seeking employment." The facts are admitted, and I have approached the Minister on this particular case. Is the refusal of a job which has no wages attached to it sufficient to cause a man to be described as not genuinely seeking work? Is a job in which a man has to depend on tips accounted as genuine work? Those are two cases which show how the administration is being carried out. Another point to which I direct attention is that of the number of people who are being refused benefit because the income of other members of their family is supposed to be sufficient to keep the unemployed person also.
§ Mr. PALING
If that be so it makes the case infinitely worse. I was under the impression that it was only extended benefit that was refused on this pretext, but if it applies also to standard benefit then it is sheer robbery. I saw one of 1748 the papers which are sent round for the purpose of getting information in regard to this matter. The paper has four columns. In the first column is to be stated the names of all members of the family over 14 years of age who are at work. The next column is for the ages of the various members of the family; the third column is for the nature of their employment, and the fourth column for the amounts of their respective wages. A case was brought to my notice of a young man who had been through the greater part of the War and who had been unemployed up to recently. He became unemployed and a few weeks later this paper was sent to his father. There were one or two other members of the family at work, and because the income of the family was deemed sufficient this young man was refused benefit. I asked the other day how many people had suffered because of this Regulation —sent out by the Tory Government—and the figures were round about 283,000. These people, who are being refused benefit, are as much entitled to it as anybody else. Hon. Members opposite are always talking about the sacredness of contracts and are always anxious to impose that point of view on us. In view of what I have just described, if hon. Members opposite are anxious about the sacredness of contracts, they ought to see that this Regulation, which is affecting such an enormous number of cases, is withdrawn at the earliest possible moment. I also desire to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what would occur in a case where members of a family who were asked for this particular information refused to give it? Can they be compelled legally to give it*? Has any case occurred where this inquisition has taken place and where the information has been refused? If so, what steps have been taken by the Department, and has any compulsion been put upon people in any case to declare the income of the family?
Finally, I desire to ask a question regarding the International Labour Office, which comes under this Vote. What are the Government doing to put into operation the terms of the Washington Convention. I read that the French Senate have agreed to the ratification of the Hours Convention, provided Great Britain and Germany ratify. This country seems to be the big obstacle 1749 in the way of the ratification of this Convention. I put it to the hon. Gentleman that the reduction of hours rather than the increase of hours is the best way of securing employment for the huge number of people who are at present unemployed. In the one industry in this country in which hours have been increased, namely, the mining industry, there are more men out of work to-day than there were previously. That is the effect of increased hours. In view of this evidence, does not the hon. Gentleman think it worth while to face the difficulties—if there are any connected with this matter—and to put into operation the agreement which was reached at Washington. I was reading last night a census taken about 1930 or 1921 of the main industries in this country, showing how the amount of production per person employed had gone up twice, thrice and in some cases four times, and in nearly all cases the hours had gone down. Is it a wise policy to increase hours at this time and, by increasing hours in the mining industry and by doing such things as this Government have done, to make it possible for other countries to come into line with our reactionary policy and hold up an agreement made as long ago as 1921. If the hon. Gentleman is genuinely concerned about finding employment for the unemployed then, in addition to withdrawing the foolish restrictions which I have mentioned, he will advise his colleagues that they could not follow a better policy than that of decreasing instead of increasing hours, and he will advocate the carrying but of this Convention, which is, apparently, being held up by Great Britain.
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken twitted my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. Hilton Young) for what he called riding off on certain statements which he made, but the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling) himself galloped away altogether with the question by citing the coal industry, which every thinking person knows to be an entirely separate and distinct affair. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It is an industry dealing with raw material, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich in his speech quite obviously was dealing with industries of a very different kind.
I was merely pointing out that, to cite the coal industry in this connection, was not particularly apposite to the argument which had already been put forward. That is the only point I wish to make about that matter. I am sorry the hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull (Lieut.-Commander Kenworthy) is not here at the moment, because I wish to speak on one or two points which he raised. I want to object to his casting any aspersion on the fact that these benches were not as full as they might have been when he got up to speak. Perhaps that was the reason, but I would not like to stress that too much. I am glad that he has now come back. Had he been here before, he would have realised the ineptitude of some of his own friends, because they wished to raise the question of training, which we are all anxious to discuss, and, unfortunately, it was not under this Vote at all. We are, therefore, precluded from discussing it, owing to their lack of Parliamentary appreciation, and the hon. Member for East Ham North (Miss Lawrence) was entirely prevented from making a speech.
The hon. and gallant Member for Central Hull dealt with this very interesting Report on industrial conditions in the United States, and if his speech, and the few remarks which I wish to make, will draw the attention of any hon. Members who have not already studied this Report to it, I think he will agree with me that we shall not have spoken in vain to-day. It is a very interesting document indeed, and in the Appendix it makes an observation which I think hon. Members opposite ought to bear in mind, and that is the remark that there are at least one and a half million industrial workers unemployed at any time in that country. It goes on to explain, as most of us probably know, that there are none of the social services in existence in the United States that we have in this country. There is no unemployment insurance, there is no pension scheme, there is not even any system of Poor Law relief, and, therefore, when one is talking about high wages in 1751 the United States, one must remember that there are very great drawbacks there, and that probably, taken in the long run, the wage earner in this country is in a better position than the vast mass of the wage earners in the United States. The hon. and gallant Member went into the history of the great unemployment position in the United States some years back, and if hon. Members will refer to this Report, they will see, on page 12, that the gentlemen who went out there and submitted this Report on their return point out that there was a policy of reduction of wages put into the field, but that it was resisted to such an extent that the manufacturing community bowed to the opposition, and the policy of industry then changed—I am now quoting:to the reduction of costs other than by further wages reductions, and there was a concentration on increasing productivity and reducing costs, and a general increase of efficiency.and so on. There you have their explanation of what happened. Instead of continuing with the wage reduction policy, everybody agreed—and this is borne out in the bulk of the Report—on concentrating on increasing productivity and reducing costs, with as little interference as possible by Government.
There, I would like to reinforce what my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Mr. H. Young) said, that unfortunately, we have got this Ministry of Labour, which, by the very fact that it has that name, deludes a certain number of unthinking people into imagining that it is the Ministry whose function it is to try to create work. It is obviously only a statistical Department with the administrative work placed upon it by this House to carry-out certain aspects of unemployment insurance. No one ever imagined that it would be the Department to create an enormous amount of work, to find jobs. That is not the function, in our opinion at any rate, of any Department of the Government, and I do not know that when the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Shaw), whom we are glad to see back again, was at the head of it, it was the policy of his own party.
However, greater productivity, as this Report says, can be achieved in certain definite ways, and if hon. Members, when 1752 they study it, will turn to the very interesting figures in the Appendix dealing with the simplification of processes, they will find that in some cases the percentage of decreases is almost incredible. Incidentally, one is glad to notice that during the time of the present Government a great deal has been done by Committees, expressly set up for that purpose, to find out how to simplify the processes of manufacture in order to get a cheapening of production, but I do not know that we shall attain to such results as are found in this Report. I will take a few cases at random. For example, cake hospital beds. They are no* a very great industry, but it shows what can be done for they simplified them from 33 varieties down to one; milk and cream bottles were reduced from 78 varieties down to four; and grinding wheels from 715,200 down to 255,800, a reduction of 64 per cent. It stands to reason that along those lines you can get a very greatly decreased cost of production without touching the question of wages at all. That is the first point to which this Report particularly refers, and that process has, as I say, been going on in this country during the last two years. In the United States they say it was one of the means by which they were able to keep industry prosperous without reducing wages, and that is what I am trying to get at. There is no reason why that should not be done here, by developing this, as one of the methods recommended.
Another thing which hon. Members opposite may read with interest, considering the opposition which they and other Members of this House gave to the Electricity Act, is to be found on page 18 of the Report, where in states:Large scale manufacture has been stimulated by the great development in the interconnection and interchange of electric power which is available at a low cost.That the Government has set upon its feet in this country, for last year's Act had as its object exactly the same sort of thing as this Mission reports having reduced the cost of production in the United States. These are the lines on which something can be done, but they have nothing to do with Government intervention as such. The Electricity Act is an Act passed by this House and not by the Government qua Government, 1753 and least of all by the Ministry of Labour qua Ministry of Labour. Simplification of processes is not a matter which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour could bring about on his own. There is one further point on which I should like to say something, and that is that the time is really coming to discuss the question as to whether we want a Ministry of Labour at all.
Certainly. I do not see any reason why it should not go. If the hon. Member will cast his mind back, he will remember that originally unemployment exchange work was not done by the Ministry of Labour at all, but by the Board of Trade, and there are many reasons for thinking that it might be changed, but I do not want to risk getting out of Order on that point. The point I wish to make is that one of the great causes of unemployment, and particularly of the continued unemployment in this country as compared with our industrial competitors, is the very high rate of taxation in this country. You cannot get away from that. Every single economist and man of business will agree about that, and the only point about which they will disagree is as to whether rates or taxes are the worse. They both form a very great burden.
When we come to consider the big issues of unemployment, I hope we shall try to perceive how something can be done by the general consensus of opinion in this House to deal with the matter. The Debate should not just end in a sort of discussion on points about Mr. So-and-So or Mrs. So-and-So, whose unemployment benefit has been cut off. Those matters can be dealt with by correspondence with the Department, but surely we ought to take this chance to-day of discussing the rather wider issues of the question of unemployment. Personally, I feel, at the moment, very strongly on this subject, because the part of the country which I have the honour to represent has been having a bad time and is having a worse time now than it has had for a considerable time past, and the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Taylor), I am sure, will say exactly the same thing for the city which he represents. In this House there are many who represent industry, but many hon. and 1754 right hon. Gentlemen opposite claim, wrongly, to represent the wage earners more than we do. They do represent organised labour in their capacity as trade union leaders, I admit, but I will not grant them their claim that they represent any more wage earners, or that they do it any more assiduously, than hon. Friends of mine here.
However, as trade union leaders, I recognise that they have a contribution to make, exactly as captains of industry who may sit here or in another place have their contribution to make, and I hope that, taking this Report on conditions in the United States as their text, they may together find it possible to work out a better feeling in industry. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Norwich said just now, it is no good just blaming the Government for the fact that the Unemployment Exchange figures are up. We have to remember what happened last year—the mining dispute and the general strike—and that their effects will last for a long time to come. We cannot have a great national cataclysm and then expect a sponge to come along and wipe the whole thing off the slate. We have, unfortunately, to pay for that great industrial trouble, but there is no reason why we should conduct our discussion in any way except in the most sincere attempt to find some helpful method, not of solving the unemployment problem—that we cannot do in five minutes—but of finding some palliatives for the very dreadful situation in which so many parts of the country at present find themselves industrially.
§ Mr. T. SHAW
May I begin by thanking the last speaker, the hon. And gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), for his kindly reference to myself, and by assuring him that I should have been very glad in 1924 if he had then known that the Ministry of Labour was not a labour-finding Department?
§ Mr. SHAW
Then may I assure him that his party did not know it, and that it was then the Minister of Labour who had to act, so to speak, as the whipping boy of the Government on questions affecting labour and employment and unemployment, and I am afraid we cannot give a dispensation to the present 1755 Minister of Labour and say that he is quite different and must be excused. He must bear his share of the fray and be the responsible member of the Government to reply to criticisms on the general administration of the Labour Ministry and the position of the country so far as unemployment is concerned. I am one of those who believe that a great deal can be gained by a quiet discussion as to how best to make industry more efficient, because I believe efficiency in industry does not mean harder work for the workers, longer hours and smaller wages. It means more scientific work, easier work, shorter hours, and higher wages. So that I would welcome a discussion as to how best we could help industry to become efficient.
I think the last speaker was in the House when the mining dispute took place, and if this Government had been big enough and strong enough to say that the remedy was not in the direction of lower wages or longer hours, but in the direction of more efficient working, the result to the country would have been quite different. After all, the problem presented to the country was one which the Labour Ministry had to face, because it is responsible for the negotiations which take place between organised workers and employers. It is the Department in whose care is placed the conciliation methods of the Government in case of industrial dispute. If it had been big enough it would have said at that time that the ferocious demand by the employers for a reduction in wages was unjustified, that the demand for increased hours was unjustified, and that what was justified was that they should on their part determine to work their industry more scientifically. But the hon. Gentleman's Government did not take that course at all. They did not give the miners a chance to discuss the thing without a pistol at their heads. Was it the way to make the industry more efficient by demanding before the miners ever met that they must agree to a reduction in wages? The Minister of Labour was a very responsible member of the Government, during those negotiations, and when I am asked to vote for a reduction in his salary, I shall certainly vote for that reduction, because I believe in respect to the miners' dispute he made very great mistakes, and the country was bled in consequence.
1756 Let me turn to the question of the method of administering unemployment insurance. In 1924 we did make an effort —a serious effort—to take out of unemployment insurance the very great blot we saw on it of treating it as if in part it was a charity organisation, as if benefits were paid to men and women out of charitable inclination, and not as a right. We had assumed that all the talk about what would be done for the workers was genuine. We assumed a lot of things to be genuine which since have proved to be Pinchbeck, but we assumed that that talk was genuine. We tried to take charity entirely out of unemployment insurance and to lay down a principle which, for the first time I think, made real insurance in this country—the principle that, as long as a man or a woman who was forced by law to pay contributions to an unemployment insurance fund, was genuinely unemployed, trying to find employment and able to take that employment when it was found, that that man or woman should not suffer, however long unemployed, in a genuine way. That we tried to do. The tendency since this Government came into office, I am afraid, has not been that tendency at all. They have reintroduced the charity taint and the board of guardians. They have deliberately, in the words of an hon. Friend of mine, made young men and women spongers on their parents. There is nothing worse in this world than for a young man or young woman, accustomed to earning wages, accustomed to keeping themselves, to find that, because of things over which they have no control, they have to become parasites on parents, and prevent, very often, those parents from putting by something for a rainy day, and throw, finally, the old people on the board of guardians, so that in their old age they have to seek relief from a quarter that every decent workman hates as the Devil is supposed to hate holy water.
That is the condition of affairs. Why should it be? If proof of the charity taint in unemployment insurance be wanted, there is an official document published by the Ministry of Labour which admits that these things have a certain taint of charity in them. The Ministry has deliberately re-introduced the guardians in the place of unemployment insurance. Take 1924. In that year there was a phenomenon. Wages went up, and people who were going to 1757 the guardians went down in numbers. Both before and after 1924 wages were going down, and people going to the guardians were increasing in numbers. Was that which happened in 1924 a mere accident, or was it due to something done by the Government of 1924? I say it was due to something done by the Government of 1924, and the facts and figures are there. Before 1924 and after 1924 wages go down; in 1924 wages go up. Before 1924 and after 1924 there is a bad record with regard to workmen and workwomen having to go to the guardians. In 1924 the numbers of people going to the guardians were decreasing. These are facts which I want hon. Members, who, I suppose, are inspired by the same desires as myself, to realise, and I want them to ask themselves whether it is not better in a nation like ours to keep men with self-respect, to keep them away from the guardians if they can be kept away, and to make them feel themselves to be independent members of the community, getting what they paid for, what they are entitled to, and getting the State to help in a condition of affairs for which the people who are unemployed are in no way responsible.
Finally, I should like to say a word or two about the Washington Convention. I think of all the shameful chapters in our industrial history, this is the worst. I was personally present in Washington. I was chairman of the Commission which drew up the Convention. Consequently, I think I know something of what I am talking about for the moment. I was present at every meeting of the workers' group at Washington, and over and over again we compromised because of the pressure brought to bear by the British Government representative at that Convention. We thought we were dealing with honourable men. If we had dreamt that what has taken place would have taken place, we should have refused to sit with them at Washington. I look upon myself as one of the men who were at Washington deliberately deluded and tricked. It is no use mincing words. I feel exactly what I have said, that we were deliberately deluded and tricked at Washington. Engagements were entered into which the Government had no intention at all of carrying out. How are you going to get peace in industry if things like this occur? How are you 1758 going to get a body of workers, who believe they have been tricked, to look at things with a calm sanity? You must keep your word with the workers if you are going to get them to show calm sanity; you cannot get it on broken pledges. You must implement your pledges. That Convention was signed by the representatives of the British Government. It was signed by the representatives of British employers. It was a compromise in which the workers gave up many things in which they believed in order to get a compromise, and then when it came to be implemented, it was not implemented. Instead of the British Government, which had been for a century in the forefront in industrial legislation keeping in the van, they have been the one Government who have done more to hinder the acceptation of the Washing-tno Convention than any Government of the world. They are the Government which have held up Europe. Here was an opportunity for the British Government, by implementing their promise, to place this country in a still more favourable position, comparatively, than that in which we were placed before, and yet they are precisely the Government which have done more to prevent that Convention being accepted than any other Government in the world.
In 1924 there were meetings of Ministers. I, personally, met the French Minister of Labour, and the French and German Ministers of Labour afterwards at Berne. The result of that meeting was announced in the Press. It was—I cannot recall the exact words— that there was nothing to prevent the ratification of the Convention. As far as I understood, the French Government then were willing, provided only Germany agreed to carry the Convention of Washington. The German Minister of Labour was prepared to recommend his Government to carry the Convention. We, as a Labour Government, were prepared to make an attempt to carry the Convention, and the Bill was actually introduced in the House to carry the Washington Convention into effect. We have presented the same Bill, but it has been met by a blank wall of opposition on the part of this Government. It is perfectly true they called another meeting of Ministers, and again there was a declaration which gave some 1759 of us hope that the Government seriously intended at last to do something to carry out the promises which were made to us at Washington at the end of 1919. But the actual facts are, that we are just where we were at the end of 1919, and I would like the Ministry to say definitely and clearly whether they have or have not any intention at all of carrying the Washington Convention into effect. There were technical difficulties in the way which we were prepared to face and overcome. The present Government will have difficulties in their way whenever they attempt to carry the Convention. They will have a big difficulty in fighting many wealthy supporters who will be against the carrying of the Convention. I know all that, but if we are to have the feeling we ought to have in this country, if we are to have mutual respect and confidence between the two sides in industry,, such relations can only be built up, if the Government are to be the conciliating authority, by confidence in the Government. If the Government try to carry out their promise in this respect—for the men responsible for the Washington Convention were, very largely, the men who were the Government of the day— then there is a chance.
In my own party there are differences of opinion. I am one of those who hold the opinion very strongly indeed that we ought to get in our industries the greatest possible efficiency and the greatest possible co-operation, because I know that efficiency and co-operation mean higher wages for my own people, mean shorter hours, greater contentment and a happier life. No matter what theories are held on any side of the House, if I see an opportunity of getting greater wages for shorter hours and more comfortable work for my own people,, I shall vote for the proposal, whichever party brings it forward, whether Labour, Liberal or Conservative. These things can only come by greater confidence, greater reliance on each other's word. So long as we have things happening such as have happened in connection with the Washington Convention there can never be any confidence. If we are to abolish the old idea of an employer trying to get every- 1760 thing he possibly can out of a worker at the lowest possible wage, the idea that a worker is worth so many shillings and must not have more, whatever he does, and the worker's retaliation, "You pay me as little as you can, and I shall give you as little as I can," we shall only succeed by the recognition of certain vital and essential principles.
The first that I should put forward, from the workers' point of view, is that there should be a change of heart both on the part of the Government and the employers. Both must recognise that working men are no longer content to be valued at a certain number of shillings, to be hewers of wood and drawers of water, to be mere cogs in a wheel, moved by a crank, but ask to be treated as human beings, with human feeling, human aspirations, human sympathies and human rights. If the employers will get that into their heads and will say to the workers, "We want the greatest possible production—not out of your bones, but out of scientific working—and we are prepared to pay the greatest possible wages and will not cut rates if you give us higher production," then there is a chance of the workers responding. Otherwise, there is no chance. If the Government will play the game with the workers, and, instead of showing what they showed in the coal dispute and in the Washington Convention, will show the workers that they are sympathetic and intend to carry certain principles into effect, and will implement their words, then there is a chance of a better feeling in industry.
§ Mr. LLOYD
I would like to refer to two or three points concerning administration, but, before doing so, may I say that I am rather surprised to find the last speaker at variance with the Report of the. Samuel Commission? I had believed that he was one of those who supported in the coal dispute the findings of that Commission. He has told us tonight that in his view the whole of the trouble in the coal trade could have been solved by achieving greater efficiency, and the very clearly affirmed conclusions of the Samuel Commission that that was not adequate to meet the difficulties of the coal trade apparently do not receive his support. I am glad, in a way, to hear his enthusiasm for efficiency as one solvent of our industrial troubles. I think 1761 I may say there is far more good will on the employers' side towards the development of efficiency than is sometimes indicated from the benches opposite. On the other hand, I do not think that even if 100 per cent. efficiency were obtained we should cease to hear these tirades against the Government or against the Ministry of Labour from the other side of the House. It is rather depressing to note again and again in these Debates the complete failure to accept the actuarial basis of insurance when dealing with this unemployment insurance scheme. I would prefer to see the unemployment insurance scheme so developed that it is made actuarially sound. Only in that way can it become a real satisfaction to the workers in the sense of guarding them against unemployment. It is no satisfaction to the genuine worker to be guarded against unemployment by a scheme which is not actuarially sound.
Say what you will, the payments do become charity if the scheme is not actuarially sound; and to me it is a matter of indifference whether that charity is purely philanthropic or is the charity of the State. Extended benefit is the charity of the State. There is no distinction between the charity of the State in the form of extended benefit and the charity of the State in the form of relief paid by guardians. I know the latter form of relief is infinitely more distasteful to the recipient than the former, but that is a difficulty which ought to be got over. The workmen themselves should be the judges of the limits of true unemployment insurance. The insurance scheme should be of such a nature that those who are unemployed and satisfy the conditions which have been laid down should have the benefit of an actuarially sound scheme; but people who have no chance of employment, people who are morally or physically incapable of taking employment, and people who have no intention of accepting employment should pass, by the judgment of their colleagues in industry, into a totally different class, in which, indeed, the State would provide for them, but would provide for them under restraints of various kinds calculated to improve their physical or moral fibre or whatever was amiss.
The other feature absolutely necessary to any such scheme is a variation of the amounts to be received as unemployment 1762 benefit. I do not believe the scheme can ever be really satisfactory so long as the benefit paid is exactly the same, no matter what a man's personal circumstances are and no matter what has been his experience in employment. To satisfy the higher class of workman there must be some higher benefit which he can obtain either by extra payment or by a specially good experience in employment.
There are two small points of administration to which I should like to draw the attention of the Minister. The first relates to unemployment papers which have been signed by a justice of the peace or a minister of religion or some such person. I suggest that in order to relieve the unemployed man from the rather offensive inquisition to which, undoubtedly, he is sometimes subjected, there should be some provison whereby a claim can be certified by the man who signs his unemployment papers. An expression of opinion about the genuineness of a case can easily be provided for on these papers; that would go far towards avoiding unnecessary and offensive inquisition into genuine cases. The other point refers to the unemployment insurance districts. There are cases—I have one in my own constituency—where men in a certain part of a town happen to come within an unemployment insurance district quite foreign to their own town. To sign on they have to go into a district where they are not known, they meet officials who do not know them, and, possibly, they come before a committee who are not acquainted either with them or the circumstances of their employment. It is both unpleasant and a difficulty for these men to have to go into a strange district to argue their own case for unemployment benefit. Every effort should be made to enable a man to apply for his unemployment benefit in his own town, where he is known and where the circumstances of his employment are known.
I view with some anxiety the growing debasement, if I may put it so, of the unemployment insurance scheme. It seems to me that it is not growing into the status of a free and reputable insurance scheme, but that it is rather sinking, partly, I suppose, from the fact that it is so tremendously overburdened, and partly from the fact that so many hon. Members opposite do not regard it as an actuarial 1763 insurance scheme at all. In one way or another, it is getting degraded in a way which is very disheartening to those who are anxious to see it grow into a full and complete and sound insurance scheme. I sympathise with what has been said on this point. Men do suffer both from rather offensive inquisitions into their private circumstances, and also from being treated all alike whether they are seriously endeavouring to secure employment or not. It is perhaps one of the misfortunes of a State scheme that it must deal with men of all types, but I think everything should be done to raise the status of this scheme, and to get rid of the elements in it which tend to reduce a man's self-respect or offend his feelings. Apart from that, I would like to add a word of admiration for the men handling this scheme in London. They have had an enormous burden thrown upon them during the last year, and in those districts where the burden has been particularly severe it is remarkable how well the officials have got through it. I think some tribute ought to be paid to the staff of the Ministry for the remarkable success they have had in dealing with an unprecedented amount of work.
§ Mr. HARRIS
As far as I can gather, the main purpose of the speech of the hon. Member (Mr. Lloyd) was to discourage extended benefit. He spoke of the general debasement of the insurance system. When the Minister of Labour replies, I think he will be able to tell the Committee that up to last year, in spite of the tremendous burdens which the Insurance Fund has had to carry, the scheme has been found to be actuarially sound and the liability for money advanced is so small that it can easily be wiped out. Even at the present time, in spite of the strain put on the Fund during the last 12 months, the extra money provided by the State to meet the claims of extended benefit has been in the form of a loan which in no way can be called charity. On the contrary, anybody who has had experience of the administration of these funds during the last two or three years in relation to extended benefit knows that it was almost impossible for anybody to get it unless he could prove that he had been genuinely seeking work. Therefore, I think the last speaker need not be alarmed that 1764 the Ministry of Labour is making inroads into the Fund which could not be legitimately claimed as part of its function.
The last two speakers from the benches opposite have apparently gone out of their way to attack the Ministry of Labour, and they seem to have a very poor opinion of the work of this Department. The previous speaker seemed to me to be ready to preach the funeral service and desired to see the Department wound up with as little delay as possible. It has been argued that the Ministry should be by no means looked upon as a work-finding Department, and some indignation has been shown at the suggestion that it should be used for that purpose. There need be no qualms about that, because the Ministry has not been over successful in finding work. My quarrel is that the original purpose of the Fund for the last three years has been very much departed from. The Ministry of Labour was formed directly by organised labour, and during the last few years it has become the managing body of a large system of insurance. Very large benefits are being dispersed by the Employment Exchanges, and they have performed their task on the whole most efficiently.
Considering the amount of money disbursed and the number of index cards to be kept, I think the Minister of Labour will agree with me when I say that the staff of the Employment Exchanges have done their work economically and efficiently, and that side of their work is beyond reproach, I know that many of them have been very much underpaid, and I have advocated that there should be a much larger permanent staff doing this delicate and responsible work. My complaint is that although there has been an enormous increase of the insurance side the employment side of the work has largely decreased, and they do not seem to me to have the staff which is necessary. Anyone who goes to see the clerks of this Department at work must realise the great pressure on their time, and they must notice how difficult it is for them to discharge their function as an Employment Exchange. The Report of the Unemployment Insurance Committee bears excellent testimony to that. They go on to point out the peculiarities of modern industry, and they say that specialisation is the root cause of much unemployment.
1765 I do not know whether the Ministry of Labour can save itself from being wiped out as is threatened, or whether it will go back to its original function as a work-finding machine. Every day the work has become more specialised, new machines have been introduced as well as new methods and new ideas, and it is very trying when there is a large amount of unemployment in a particular area and the employer finds that more skilled labour is essential for his trade. The Ministry might give their minds more to the work of the Employment Exchanges and make them go back to their original function, thus securing for them not only the confidence of the workers but of the employers. The Report to which I have referred points out that employers are not utilising the machinery of the Employment Exchanges largely, because they have not been satisfied with its service, and if the machinery can be improved then the two parties, the man out of work and the man wanting workers, would be brought more closely together, and those who have been so long unemployed will be able to find an occupation.
I have had some experience of Employment Exchanges myself. I quoted to this House two or three years ago a curious case which is typical of many others. I pointed out that there were a great number of men unemployed in the silk industry before the War, and when they came back from the War they found their occupation had gone. I know that for over two years one of these men had to exercise every ingenuity to find some other occupation. He was constantly going to the Employment Exchange only to he told that there was "nothing doing." He was cross-examined frequently and refused extended benefit, and at last he was forced to hawk programmes at race meetings and resort to all sorts of things to keep body and soul together, and finally he had to go on the Poor Law. I know the ordinary person would say that this man did not want employment, but at any rate he did not get any help from the Employment Exchange. Fifteen months ago that man saw an advertisement inserted in the papers by a manufacturer in the North of London where, owing to a change of fashion, this manufacturer had restarted his old industry, but he could not find the necessary skilled labour at the 1766 Employment Exchanges, and he had to resort to advertisements in order to find it.
The workman I have referred to, who was a constituent of mine, applied for the job in answer to the advertisement, and he has now been working there for over 15 months. The machinery of the Employment Exchange failed to find that man any work. I do not want to generalise from a single case, but that is an example of the Employment Exchange machinery being inadequate to bring employer and employed together. I am rather inclined to think that various Government departments work too much in watertight compartments in regard to these matters. The multiplication of department does not necessarily mean efficiency, but on the contrary in some cases it has just the opposite result. I am not sure that the work of this department would not be better performed under one head, because the finding of work is very much intimately connected with overseas trade.
The President of the Board of Trade is now divorced from the Minister responsible for the organisation of labour. He launches out into all sorts of fantastic legislation, such as Merchandise Marks, Safeguarding of Industries, and Film Bills, with the idea that he is in some way helping to find employment, but, if he were in more direct contact with the actual facts and realities of life I think he might do more useful work. It is the same in the case of the Overseas Trade Department, which spends a large amount of money in advertising, printing maps and collecting statistics. If, instead of that, they were in close contact with the needs of the labour market, if they were more brought up against the kind of men who were out of work and losing their skill, they might be able to help employment very much more efficiently than they can now, divorced, as they are, owing to the existence of these separate departments. I am not going so far as to advocate the closing down of the departments and depriving these two excellent Ministers of their jobs, but I do say that, if they are to discharge their functions properly, they ought to be very much more in contact with other departments.
The Ministry of Labour ought to be constantly meeting the Overseas Trade Department, the Board of Trade, and 1767 also—though I must not mention it on this Vote—the Board of Education. We shall be talking on another Vote about the training of men. The Board of Education seem to think they have no responsibility for technical education or things of that sort, but, if these Departments were meeting more, and exchanging opinions, we might get more on the high road to bringing back this vast army into useful occupation. If the Ministry is going to justify its existence, it will have to be more active and self-assertive; it must not be so passive. If I may be allowed to say so, I was very glad, and I believe the House was very glad, to welcome back the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Minister in charge of this Department. We are all sorry to know the reason of his absence, and he has our sincere sympathy. We recognise his pluck and courage, and his very wise action in trying to forget his troubles by coming back to his old place and giving us the advantage of his great knowledge of labour problems.
Here was a chance for the Ministry really to have helped employment. It is a common statement from all parties that this country in the past has sometimes been handicapped in competition because of its higher standard of labour conditions as compared with Continental countries. We were said to be at a disadvantage owing to longer working hours on the Continent, and to the fact that our system of factory legislation was properly enforced, and factories here were properly regulated. Here was a great opportunity to reach agreement. The Washington Convention was not so much a charter for Continental labour, as a justification of the standards of our own country. It was removing the excuse of employers that they could not give good conditions because of competition in foreign countries. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Labour, which was really the parent of the Washington Convention, ran away from its own child. We want some explanation of that; we want to know what is at the bottom of it. We cannot think it is merely the Cabinet. We cannot think that the Cabinet have solemnly sat round a table and said, "We cannot accept the Washington Convention, although it is going to do good for this country, because we do not like it, because it has a vague 1768 parentage of foreign origin, or because-It was blessed by a Labour Minister of Labour." We cannot believe that that is the cause; there must be some underhand, some sinister influence at work. The right hon. Gentleman smiles. Perhaps he will put me right. Is it the Federation of British Industries? Is it the Chambers of Commerce? Is it the captains of industry?
§ Mr. HARRIS
My hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) is speaking truer, perhaps, than he realises. The way to help Moscow is to perpetuate bad conditions of labour in this country. The very best message that you can send to Moscow is that a Convention of this kind has been agreed to by most of the great countries of the world, and a Tory Government in this country turns that Convention down and refuses to ratify it and give it the sanction of law. That is the way to encourage the worst influences of Moscow, and my hon. Friend the Member for Bow and Bromley is, perhaps, speaking truer than he realises when he interrupts me with the magic word, "Moscow." At any rate, I hope that, when the Minister or the Parliamentary Secretary comes to reply, he will give some more satisfactory explanation of the mysteries of the Washington Convention, and the reason why this country, which stood to benefit very much by its ratification, should be the first country to turn it down and refuse to ratify it.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I want to raise a specific case of the administration of this Department in connection with an application by a firm of English manufacturers for the admission of an alien who was necessary for the proper conduct of their business. This particular firm, Messrs. Rose Brothers, of Gainsborough, employ about 800 workpeople, the major portion of whose output is sold abroad, mainly on the Continent of Europe. Their products are highly specialised cigarette machinery, wrapping machinery, and various other devices. During the last few years, this firm, by great initiative and energy, has been very fortunate in maintaining a considerable number of people in full employment. This year, for the purposes of their business, they find it necessary to exhibit at Leipzig, 1769 Prague, Paris, and various other places on the Continent, and I mention this in order that the House and the Minister may know that this firm is very closely concerned with trade on the Continent of Europe.
On the 24th January of this year, the firm made an application to the Ministry of Labour for the issue of a permit in order that a lady of Swiss nationality who was residing in Paris might come to reside in Gainsborough to undertake the? work of a foreign correspondent for the firm. The reason for the application was the desire of the company to increase the efficiency of their business. As at present situated, all their translation work in French, Germar, Italian, or other European languages, has to be sent out of the small town of Gainsborough to a town some 20 or 30 miles way. They have to wait for its return before they can answer a telegram or an urgent inquiry, and in these days a few hours makes all the difference between the securing of business and the destination of that business to some foreign competitor. Again, in connection with the issue of propaganda literature or catalogues for circulation in these foreign countries, the firm, as at present situated, are under the necessity of sending their translation work out of the town, out of their own works, out of their own offices, to people who have no technical knowledge of the trade, which, of course, creates constant delays owing to revisions and alterations, and altogether the situation is very unsatisfactory.
This firm advertised very extensively in the hope of securing a person of English nationality with the necessary qualifications for the work. It was quite obvious that those qualifications would necessitate some considerable residence abroad, and a really efficient knowledge of the languages, if things like catalogues were to be compiled, quotations made, and business correspondence dealt with. After spending over £50 in interviewing people of English nationality, and after wasting, a considerable amount of time, the firm, through one of their directors, who was on a tour abroad, in association with their Paris representatives, succeeded in finding exactly the person they wanted, from the point of view of efficiency, in this particular lady. Un- 1770 fortunately, the director who handled the business was not familiar with the methods of the mandarins and bureaucrats who appear to control the administration of the Ministry of Labour, and he did not, perhaps, in the initial stages, take the steps that he ought to have taken. However, this lady was engaged. She gave up a good post on the strength of an undertaking reached with this English employer, and she was asked to proceed, for the firm's benefit, to England as quickly as possible.
After the return of the director to England, an application was made to the Ministry of Labour for the issue of a permit for the entry of this lady. There is no question of the firm paying a lower salary than would be paid to an English person; there is no question of the moral character of the individual lady who is the subject of the application; there is no question, as I understand, of there being any political objections to this lady. The only substantial reason which can be secured as accounting for the decision of the Ministry seems to be that a crime was committed by this firm in not, first of all, making an application to the Ministry of Labour through the employment exchange machinery to help them to find a foreign correspondent. While, however, the Ministry of Labour may have considerable achievements standing to its credit, I think that personally, if I were a business man, I should not want to waste my time in applying at the Gainsborough employment exchange for an efficient foreign correspondent who was capable of compiling catalogues in three or four different languages.
By employing this one alien, this particular firm may be able to provide additional employment for 100 people who are responsible for the maintenance of British families, and I cannot for the life of me understand the prejudice that the Department has shown in this matter. There is no question in this case of doing an Englishman out of a job, because the Ministry of Labour, strange to say, in their last letter refusing this permit, indicate that they are quite willing to issue a permit for another alien to come into the country, but not for this particular person. As I understand it, the position is as follows: This lady left Paris and left her 1771 employment to come to England, under the impression that the firm in this country was taking the necessary steps to put her in conformity with the laws governing the admission of aliens into this country. She was then given to understand by these directors that while there was some delay in carrying out the Regulations, nevertheless she could come as a visitor for two months, and in view of the urgency of the firm's needs she had better come in, and during that two months the firm would straighten out the difficulties. I now want to quote from a letter addressed by this firm to the Conservative Member of Parliament who represents the division, in which complaint is made that the lady was treated with considerable indignity when she reached Newhaven, her ticket was confiscated, and she was returned to France. They say:Madam Durst Dunner was crossing to England as we told her we were applying for the necessary permit, but we understand she was subjected to all kinds of indignity at Newhaven, namely, locked in a cell like a criminal, her ticket confiscated, and she returned to Dieppe at her own expense, and is now destitute in Paris, having given up a position to come to England, where she was educated at King's College, and we naturally feel our responsibility greatly and shall be glad for any help that can be rendered.If the facts be as I have stated them, this is a case in which there ought to be immediate inquiry into the administration of the Department. I should like to quote, for the benefit of the hon. Gentleman who will reply, the following postscript to the letter. This gentleman, writing to the Conservative Member of Parliament, says:Regarding the interview our Mr. W. G. D. Durdey had with the Ministry of Labour, we may say it was most unsatisfactory, as they absolutely ignored the business side of the question altogether and could only see the matter from their own particular limited standpoint of officialdom, even going so far as to ask why it was necessary at all to have a foreign correspondent; why not send the letters to Germany and France in English and let them do their own translations, the same as foreign firms do with England. Needless to say, a continuance of the discussion after a suggestion of that kind was futile, as it showed the small grasp of affairs possessed by the party responsible for such an unbusinesslike suggestion.Then, as it were, to crown the general attitude of irresponsibility with which this 1772 application had been dealt, the Department refused to convey the reason for the refusal of this permit and simply said it was not their custom to convey reasons for their decisions in cases like this. I understand from correspondence I have received to-day that the reason the permit was refused is the terrible crime this lady has committed in seeking to enter Britain on the assurance of a British employer without being in possession of a permit. If the facts are as I have stated, I hope the hon. Gentleman will make full inquiry and will at once take steps to stop this kind of nonsense, which is not only harassing to British employers, but is responsible for perpetuating unemployment.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Betterton)
Some further discussion will, no doubt, take place, to which my right hon. Friend will desire to reply, and I should like to refer to one or two points which have been raised already. The statement the hon. Member has just made throws a light upon this matter which to me at any rate is new, and in a sense makes it more serious,. May I remind the Committee exactly what is the obligation and the responsibility placed on the Ministry of Labour in this matter. We have the obligation to see that aliens do not come here to take the job of an Englishman or woman if it can be helped. There are cases where it is clear that to prevent an alien coming here would not only not prevent an Englishman or woman getting a job, but might have the effect of doing precisely the opposite, and unnecessarily embarrassing a firm in this country. In this case, Messrs. Rose asked for a particular alien to come here in the capacity of foreign correspondent and typewriter. We asked them, first of all, to allow us to see whether we could not find someone here who could fill that post. So far as I can ascertain, we were unable to find a person capable or available for the post, so we offered them a permit to bring into this country someone who would do the work of which they were in need, but we said owing to the circumstances to which I am now about to refer we were unable to allow this particular lady admittance here. The reason was that she said she was coming on a visit, that her husband was with her, and he said he was coming on a visit too, whereas 1773 we now know they were not coming on a visit at all, but were coming on a promise of employment.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Was not that statement made on the representation made to her by the head of the British firm to the effect that she could come at any time as a visitor for three months, and she had, better say she was coming as a visitor and the other things would be straightened out after she arrived? Is not that correct?
§ Mr. BETTERTON
That is new to me and, if it be so, it makes the matter much more serious, because here you have an English firm attempting to bring an alien into this country, telling her she can come as a visitor to take up employment afterwards. If that be so, I do not blame the woman so much as the firm who put her up to making this statement, which, on the face of it, was untrue,, and that is really the seriousness of the situation. Further, her husband was coming with her to take up the post of a clerk, which, no doubt, could quite well be filled by a British subject.
The right hon. Gentleman, whose absence from this House during the last few months was for reasons with which we sympathise, raised again the question of the Washington Hours Convention. Only a month ago we discussed the attitude of the Government with regard to the Washington Hours Convention for a whole day, and as recently as last Thursday we again discussed it for some time when the matter was raised by the hon. Gentleman who was Under-Secretary for the Home Office in the last Government. I really do not think the Committee will expect me again to-day to take up further time on this matter. The last time I dealt with it I pointed out that the question is now under the consideration of a Cabinet Committee, and, until they have considered it and examined it from every point of view, neither I nor my right hon. Friend will be in a position to state what the decision of the Government is, because it is of all questions not only a matter of the very greatest importance but one with regard to which if we give a wrong decision we may inflict very great harm and injury on this country.
§ Mr. CLYNES
Can the hon. Gentleman say whether Lord Cecil is Chairman of that Committee, and is it the absence of Lord Cecil that is the cause of delay?
§ Mr. BETTERTON
It is common knowledge that he is a member of the Committee and that he has been for some time in Geneva, and during that time of course we have not had the advantage of his advice and assistance over here. I want to refer to another point that was raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. Shaw). He is always telling us that we are, by Regulation and by administrative action, what he calls tightening up the administration of unemployment insurance. In truth and in fact, the cases about which there is so much controversy and so much difficulty are all cases that arise out of the Act of 1924. That Act came into operation a very short time before the right hon. Gentleman went out of office,, and it is we, and not he, who have had experience of its effects. When the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), who opened the Debate, talked about inventing phrases, he, too, seemed to forget that these are not phrases invented by my right hon. Friend, but they are the words of the Section of an Act of Parliament for which the right hon. Gentleman was responsible,, and which we have to administer, and therefore we can at least regard this in its right perspective. The hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling) quoted two cases where he said the construction of the words "genuinely seeking work" had been harshly construed. In fact, those are words which, under the Act of Parliament, are to be construed not by us but by an independent authority, the Court of Referees, and ultimately the Umpire, so whatever construction was placed upon those words in those cases we, at any rate, were not responsible for it.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Hull (Lieut.-Commander Ken-worthy) made a very interesting and, for a Debate of this kind, very sympathetic speech. He, at any rate, realised what the difficulties of the Ministry of Labour are, and he was sympathetic in regard to the difficulties which we have to face. He referred to his experiences in America and told us that in America a large sum of 1775 money had been spent at the time of their industrial depression in acceleration of and in anticipation of work, which would not otherwise then have been carried out. I do not think it would be in order for me to deal in detail with that on this particular Vote, but I would remind the hon. and gallant Member that that is exactly the policy which has been carried out for some years in this country and that very large sums have been administered by the Unemployment Grants Committee. It would be in order, of course, when that particular Vote comes up for discussion, to go very much further into the matter.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman also dealt with the question of statistics, and that was answered in part by the right hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Hilton Young). Some of those statistics, for which the hon. and gallant Member asks, are statistics which should be and, I think are, provided by the Board of Trade and others by the Overseas Trade Department, and not by the Ministry of Labour. I would remind him that the Ministry of Labour, within the money at its disposal, has a very efficient and very able statistical Department, and the results and the extent of its work I should be very glad to discuss with the hon. and gallant Gentleman in order that we may be able to give him statistical information on many points which he may not think at present available.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich said that it did seem to him absurd to blame the Government in view of the disaster of last year, or to say that the Government should or could provide work at the present time. I am bound to say, when one considers all the events of last year and the enormous loss to national wealth and the national opportunity which was then destroyed, that my only surprise is that unemployment is not a great deal worse than it is. When one looks back to the prospects that seemed to be opening up only this time last year, and when one remembers what happened between the beginning of May and November, my surprise is that the figures, serious as they are—though they show an improvement week by week—are not much more serious and worse. My right hon. Friend, who will reply to this Debate, will answer the questions which I know 1776 are going to be raised and any further points which hon. Gentlemen care to raise in any part of the House.
§ Mr. PALING
Before the hon. Gentleman sits down, may I ask him a question? He said, or tried to imply, that the whole of the difficulties arising in connection with harsh interpretation were really the Labour Government's fault. I would ask him how many Regulations have been sent out since the advent of the Tory Government, and who was responsible for the Regulation which has thrown 283,000 people out of benefit because the family income was deemed sufficient?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I rise to continue this Debate and to rake up the point which the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Paling) has made. The Parliamentary Secretary, who is generally very fair in matters of Debate in this House, and who usually, at least, accepts the position that is put, has, I am afraid, either wilfully or through neglect, led this House into a false position. In reply to the Debate, he said that most of the things raised—in fact, the implication was that all the things raised—by hon. Members in previous speeches in regard to disqualification were due to certain things which were done in the Act of the Labour Government. I want to admit one or two things, because I think it is always good for opponent or friend alike to admit just what is against him. I agree that "not genuinely seeking work" was part of the 1924 Act, and, as such, has disqualified a large number of people in regard to whose cases we are complaining to-day? admit that, and I agree that other parts, such as "not having a reasonable period of work during the last two years" were also part of that Act. But what was the point put by the hon. Member for Doncaster? It was that the 1924 Act did not discriminate between young men below the age of 25 and men over 25, and that since his figures had been given or his question was answered it was found that over 200,000 persons in this country have lost benefit which under the 1924 Act would have been granted to them. That is the point which the Parliamentary Secretary has not met—that 200,000 persons below the age of 25 would 1777 have received benefit under the 1924 Act, and yet the Parliamentary Secretary calmly stands in his place and tries to lead this House to believe that those people are disqualified because of the 1924 Act, whereas he ought to have known that the 1924 Act, whatever faults it may have possessed, made standard benefit and extended benefit cease to be a charity and gave it to the recipients as a right. The Parliamentary Secretary is further aware that the 1925 Act gave him certain rights which the 1924 Act did not allow him to possess, and whereas it might be true that "not genuinely seeking work" find "not having a reasonable period of work during the last two years" were incorporated in the 1924 Act, he knows that in addition to the large number of persons disqualified under the age of 25, his 1925 Act gave the Minister the right of incorporating new Regulations and gave him a discretion which formerly under the 1924 Act he did not possess and could not possess without a new Act.
Therefore, the hon. Gentleman must, in trying to throw the blame on the 1924 Act, bear in mind the responsibility which the 1925 Act has in connection with it. As a matter of fact, the 1925 Act would never have been needed if the Minister of Labour had not wanted powers to dispossess people of benefit. The reason for passing it was the fact that he thought he ought to have additional powers in order to strike off certain people then receiving benefit, and who, he thought, were not entitled to it. At the time of the passing of the 1926 Act we told him, and I think he himself agreed on that occasion, that certain people in receipt of that benefit would lose it the moment the Act became effective.
I want to raise another question. Not long ago I put a question to the Parliamentary Secretary regarding certain people disqualified from benefit. It is now a common occurrence in this House for the Minister to rise in his place and say, "The Court of Referees, they are the people to judge; they are the people who know the facts. They see the persons before them and hear the arguments for and against, and, having heard them, they are the persons to judge." If that applies to the Court of Referees, it ought, I think, reasonably to apply to the local committees as well. Here are the local committees meeting day in and day 1778 out—employers of labour and workmen's representatives as well as a quota from bodies like the British Legion and other bodies who have no special political significance, but who know something about everyday considerations in working class life—here are the local committees set up to examine cases, meeting week in and week out, and have bodies of men come before them, and yet we find increasingly under the present Administration that the Divisional Officer comes along after the local committees have come to a decision and overturns their decision.
Let me put to the Ministry of Labour a question I put to his Parliamentary Secretary some time ago. In the Finnieston Exchange in Glasgow, something like 90 persons applied for benefit. The facts were not disputed at the time by the Parliamentary Secretary. Something like 90 persons made application for benefit at that Exchange, and the local committee heard the men's cases. Most of them were either seafaring men or dock workers. The local committee examined them and heard everything they said and went into all the questions about them—where did they work, where was their search for work going on, and so on. There was an employer of labour, mark you, in the chair—not a workman but an employer of labour—and there was a workman's representative and, I think, a representative from the British Legion, or one of those bodies of no special political significance. Yet, after that local committee, composed of three persons like that, had heard all the facts in the most careful way, and in all the cases had practically come to the unanimous decision that the men were worthy applicants for unemployment benefit, and after they had recommended accordingly, what happened? The Divisional Officer came along and said, "What is this local committee? Who are they? This employer of labour, this trade union official, this British Legion representative—what are they? They are local people. They cannot know the facts as well as I, who reside in Edinburgh. I know the facts better than they although I do not know the men intimately at all." This divisional officer swoops down and refuses benefit or refuses to allow the Exchange decision to operate. He sends the men back to 1779 the local committee—again an employer and again a trade union representative and again a person not representing a political body. They hear the case and for the second time, not only does that local committee re-affirm its decision, but re-affirms it more strongly than ever. And again the divisional officer, who has no contact with the men and who knows nothing about them in the same friendly fashion as the local committee does, refuses those men benefit on the ground that during the past few years they have not had a reasonable period of work, looking at all the facts of the situation. Here you are in a port or shipbuilding area, where even yet it is admitted employment is nothing like it should be. Where men have searched and searched for work, along comes the local committee and, knowing the facts, they grant benefit. Then comes the divisional officer and upsets the decision of the local committee. When we raise the case here, the Minister, if it is a case where the local committee have given its decision, says: "The local committee says that, and that must be the decision." When I write to him in a case where the local committee have refused, he says: "The local committee, knowing the facts, have refused; therefore, I must uphold them." In this case he says: "The local committee have granted it, but my officer, acting for me, has refused it, and I must up-hold him." It seems to me a terrible injustice. The divisional officer, knowing nothing about the circumstances, ought not to have been allowed to interfere.
I want to raise another issue. In answer to a question which I put, the Parliamentary Secretary stated that, as a result of a certain scrutiny in Scotland, a certain number of cases were referred to committees and disallowed by them. In that he is referring to those who have not had a reasonable period of work during the last two years. I understand that what happened was, that the divisional officer went to certain Exchanges—the Glasgow South side Exchange, the Partick Exchange, and one or two others. In certain cases the manager may have been more lenient than has been the case at other Exchanges. The divisional officer came along and, not knowing anything of the 1780 facts, said that there were too many men or too many women who had been drawing benefit for a long time and that it was the duty of the Exchange to reduce the number, heedless of the facts. As a consequence, certain of the Exchanges where, unfortunately, trade has been bad, have been selected for action, which has not been taken uniformly throughout Scotland or Glasgow.
It is not good enough to argue that the Act must be run purely on an insurance basis. One of the failures of this Debate, and one of the reasons why we cannot discuss matters as we ought to do, is that a Report has been issued on which legislation is pending which may alter the whole basis of the past working of the Act. Some hon. Members feel that it is hopeless to raise the position before the present members of the Government, because whatever we say, whatever appeals we make, we are met by the statement on the one hand that the local committees are to judge, and when the local committees are with us the Government refuse to allow their decision to operate. You write to the Minister of Labour with regard to a case which raises the question of whether or not the insured person is genuinely seeking work. In the intervening period, while correspondence is going on, the man gets work, and you point out to the Minister that this is evidence that the man has been genuinely looking for work. The Minister replies that he would not have got the job if he had not been refused the benefit. If a man fails to get a job, it is said that he is not genuinely looking for work, and if he does get a job it is said that he would not have got it unless his benefit had been stopped. That sort of treatment does not give a man a chance.
Even if I accept the suggestion of those who say that this Act must be run strictly on the insurance basis, under which you pay so much and you only receive in return so much, the Minister of Labour cannot get away from the cogent question if we are to run it merely on an insurance basis, what is to happen to the other individuals who cannot come within an insurance scheme. There are men and women who cannot qualify within the narrow limits of an insurance scheme. Take the case of the man who is out of work for a long period of months 1781 or even years. It is said that such a man ought to get work; that he ought not to he out of work for one year or two years. Take the case of the man who is out of work for six months. When I worked at my trade it was quite a common occurrence if a man was out of work for six months and a job was going inside the works that some of us in order to give the man a start deliberately told the foreman an untruth. If we had told the foreman that the man had been out of work for six months or a year he would not have started him.
When a man has been out of work a considerable length of time his chances of getting a job get less and less, not only from the employers' point of view but from his fellow-workers' point of view. The foreman says: "He has been out of work six months or 12 months." The employer or the foreman have a feeling that a man who has been out of work a long time is not quite as good a craftsman as he ought to be. They know that his income has not been good and that he has not been fed as well as he might have been. It means that employers, foremen and many workmen look upon the pour devil who has been out of work for a year or two years as not being within their category, and that, therefore, he should not be allowed unemployment benefit. The Minister may argue the question on an insurance basis, but he must face the fact that he has to provide work.
The treatment of men is bad enough, but the treatment of women is shocking. In certain Exchanges in Glasgow I find not only in regard to extended benefit but in regard to standard benefit that the treatment of women is absolutely shocking, as compared with men. Recently, I sent particulars to the Parliamentary Secretary. It was the case of a young woman who had been working for one firm for 24 years. She was dismissed for alleged misconduct. She went before the Court of Referees, who decided to grant her benefit at the end of a four weeks' disqualification period. What happened at the end of the four weeks? Although she had 24 years' work to her credit with one firm, and nothing against her character—she was a single woman— the divisional officer said that the woman was not genuinely seeking work and must undergo a penalty of a further six weeks' 1782 disqualification. She ultimately got benefit through the Court of Referees. Although she was granted benefit she suffered hardship. I would ask hon. Members to think what it means to a person, who has been in receipt of ordinary working class wages, to be disqualified for a month before the case is decided, and then she is to be disqualified for a further six weeks. In any event before her appeal comes on and she finally gets her benefit another two weeks may elapse. That means six weeks without anything, and a problematical decision at the end of that time. A case of that sort is a great hardship.
For every man refused benefit I found in certain figures which I produced recently that there were at least two if not three women disqualified. Hon. Members here may sneer and argue that the people who receive benefit are bad people, but the Blanesborough Report has disproved that. One good thing which that Report has done is that it has disposed of the idea that the unemployed people are either bad people, spendthrifts or people who are getting something to which they are not entitled. I would advise anyone who reads that Report to read the evidence of Mr. Price, who stated that the Committee were not to be misled into the belief that the people they were dealing with were bad people or people not worthy of the highest consideration. It is not sufficient for the Minister to plead insurance. It is not sufficient to come to the House and argue on figures. He may argue figures and he may quote the 1924 Act, but he cannot get beyond the fact that there are tons of thousands of women and men who are being refused benefit and refused the means of life at the hands of the Government. The Minister may have the last word, but behind it all this grim tragedy is going on, and he ought to set his mind to trying to solve it.
I represent a Glasgow constituency. In Glasgow we have had a good deal of trouble with the Exchanges, some of which have been taken down with a view to being rebuilt or reconditioned. There is one Glasgow Exchange which has been pulled down at the instance of the Office of Works, because it was said to be a dangerous building. The work of that Exchange is now carried on in different 1783 parts of the city. It is a central Exchange. It is also the head of the King's Roll Committee, and it carries on a thousand and one objects other than those of an ordinary Exchange. When is it the intention of the Ministry to provide a building in order to provide a central place for the central executive? I hope the right hon. Gentleman will try to meet the point that I have brought before him. If men and women cannot be brought within a definite insurance scheme, I hope that he will outline the Government's policy towards these unfortunate people.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
I do not intend to follow the hon. Member who has just sat down into his detailed criticism of the conditions in Glasgow, but he made one remark which is not correct. He said that it was the duty of the Minister of Labour to provide work for the unemployed. I do not think that duty can be attributed to the Minister of Labour. The Ministry of Labour is the Department for the administration of such Acts as are passed by this House and also the Department for obtaining various statistical data which may be available for employers and employed.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
The Exchanges are principally to enable employers and employed to obtain labour and employment, the one from the other. I have had occasion to obtain several hundred persons during the last few months, and I have obtained nearly every one through the Employment Exchanges. Their help has been very useful. My object in rising to-night was to refer to the statistical records of the Ministry and to ask the Minister of Labour whether he would consider taking action in another direction to that in which he is at present engaged. It always seems to me that Debates on unemployment never deal with one of the major factors in the whole situation, and that is the factor of the monetary policy of the country. If we consider what has happened in France recently we find that a million more persons have been employed in France than were available in France, with the result that this extra labour has had to be imported. In this country we have had consistently for the 1784 last few years not less than a million, people unemployed. Wherever we look around the world we find that the monetary policy of the country has had a great effect upon employment and unemployment. In the United States, in Italy, and in Germany, the rise and fall of unemployment almost coincides with a change in the monetary policy of the country, and I want to ask the Minister of Labour whether he will consider investigating very much more closely than at present the effect not only in this country but in other foreign countries of the connection between the monetary policy obtaining in these various countries and the problem of employment. Some little time ago the Chancellor of the Exchequer was asked whether he would consider setting up an inquiry such as was suggested by Mr. McKenna, the Chairman of the Midland Bank. The question put to the Chancellor of the Exchequer was:Whether he would be prepared to appoint a Committee to inquire into the working of the Bank Act, 1844.The Chancellor of the Exchequer replied to this effect:I am not aware of any grounds to justify an inquiry of this character, which would certainly have an unsettling effect in many directions.I should have thought that the unsettling effect of a million unemployed people was also an important matter, but if the Chancellor of the Exchequer will not set up this inquiry perhaps the Minister of Labour will investigate the matter from the point of view of the effect upon the general employment of the country. The more one considers the general position of unemployment in this country the more one is forced to the conclusion that the over-riding and compelling cause of a great deal of our unemployment is the monetary policy which we follow at present. Hon. Members no doubt know that the Cunliffe Committee Report is still in operation and we get, even now, further deflations which must mean a fall in prices. A further fall in prices must mean more difficulty in regard to employment, because falling prices necessarily mean unemployment. I grant that at the moment in the period of recovery which is now taking place, as a result of the catastrophe of last year, our unemployment figures are successively going down, but before we get to the half 1785 million mark there will, I think, be a check to this reduction of unemployment.
Another matter to which I should like to draw attention is the report issued by Professor Cassell in which he deals with the whole question of unemployment as controlled by the production of the world. He drew attention to the fact that the falling off in the gold production on the Hand would necessarily be followed in the next few years by a further constriction of gold, with a resultant constriction of credit; that a decrease of credit would necessarily imply falling prices and that a fall in prices would necessarily mean a fall in wages and further unemployment. That is a matter which the Government should study continuously, and I deplore very much the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not set up the inquiry. It would be interesting if the Minister of Labour would obtain further data, and inform the public, as to the effect of the instalment purchase system in America. There has been a very great development of selling upon the instalment plan in the United States, with the result that they are able to carry out a very much more continuous production policy than is possible in this country. I know conditions in America are very different to those which obtain here. The export trade of this country is very much more important to us than is the export trade to the United States, but at the same time the policy of instalment buying has had a very considerable effect, beneficially, on wages and employment in the United States.
§ Lieut.-Commander BURNEY
So far as production and purchasing power, undoubtedly. One might look upon trade as something like a steam engine. The engine itself is the production, the steam is the credit, and the controlling valve is the monetary policy of the country. You have to get steam into the engine before the engine will work. It is in that respect that I think the Government should study the relationship between employment and the monetary policy very much more than they have done up to the present. In these Debates the introduction of the monetary policy and its effect on unemployment always results in emptying 1786 the House, because it is a dull subject, but I hope hon. Members will impress upon the Government the necessity of calling a conference or an inquiry such as Mr. McKenna so earnestly advocated in his address to the Midland Bank; and I also ask the Minister of Labour to try and provide, by his statistical records, some help to those who are studying the problem of unemployment from the monetary point of view.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
This is one of the opportunities for a general criticism of the administration Of the Department, but I am afraid the discussion, so far, has wandered into the larger realms of international relationships which are not capable of immediate application to the problems we are confronted with in this country. I am under no delusion that the Ministry of Labour is a work-finding agency. I do not think it ever was intended to be a work-finding agency, but rather that it should work, as a kind of barometer to the Board of Trade, so that the indications of the ebb and flow of trade could be followed and matters so adjusted that you would have a more even absorption of available labour rather than sporadic periods of great employment followed at short intervals by periods of great unemployment. But, admitting that the Ministry of Labour and the Employment Exchanges are not a work-finding agency, the Ministry of Labour has no right to apply the Regulations in an unsympathetic manner and disqualify persons from their employment benefit on the ground that they were not genuinely seeking work. Much has been made of these words "genuinely seeking work." It depends not so much upon the actual words as upon the intentions of those, who have to apply them. You may apply them with a cold and soulless manner, or you may apply them with humane desires and intentions,, and if you apply these words in order to find out to what extent it is a genuine case, with an intention to qualify and not disqualify the applicant, there is no harm or injury in them.
Every person applying for unemployment benefit has to prove, not only that they are genuinely seeking work, but also that they are "available for" work. If they are available for work and the exchanges cannot offer them employment 1787 then they have no right to use these words in order to disqualify the person from the receipt of unemployment benefit. The Parliamentary Secretary made a point of these words in relation to the 1924 Act. You can always select a Section from an Act of Parliament and apply it just as you may desire it to be applied, especially when it is applied in association with the Minister of Labour's discretionary powers. May I refer to what the hon. Member opposite has said, in order that the Minister may clear up again the misunderstanding that any person in receipt of extended benefit is in receipt of State charity, that the standard benefit is the only benefit paid for and established as a matter of right, but when the person goes on to extended benefit, he ought not to complain because that is a form of State charity. I think the country ought to know that for every week for which there is no stamp qualification, that counts up on the debit side of the account of the person, and has to be redeemed when he or she becomes again absorbed in work, before any further entitlement can be proved for benefit. That debt must have reach-id enormous proportions. We have been confronted with the statement that something in the region of 46 per cent of the present recipients of benefit are on extended benefit and are not drawing their benefit as standard in accordance with their stamp qualifications.
On that standard benefit, whatever may be said as to the Ministry's intentions, one is confronted with the fact that when you speak of an actuarial basis, you speak as if it were quite an easy and simple thing to make a calculation with any degree of certainty as to what can form an actuarial basis. The House ought to remember that the Act of 1911 extended to only three or four trades or industries. Because they were fairly steady industries, and had fair employment for a number of years, they were able to accumulate to their credit about £21,000,000 by the end of 1920. But by that time we had got to the present chaos. The Governments prior to 1920 had not studied the problem that was bound to overtake them as a result of the aftermath of the War. When you got to 1920 you had a scheme running with £21,000,000 to its credit, but you had also a fear of block unemployment following im- 1788 mediately after 1920, without any provision having been raade for it. How could you attempt any actuarial basis then? You could not do it. You took the £21,000,000 standing to the credit of the old Act, and extended benefit to those who could not, in the nature of things, have qualified for any stamp right benefit at all. You said, "If they give proof that they have been employed in an industry now included under the Act, they may come into immediate benefit, notwithstanding the fact that no payments have been made." Is that State charity?
What about the thousands of ex-service men to whom the State was paying direct out-of-work donation, who were thrown on to the Unemployment Acts about April, 1921, without a stamp qualification? The State shifted its own direct responsibility on to the Fund, and it ill behoves any Member now to say that those workmen are in receipt of a form of State charity. Had it not been for that action, it appears to me that the State would have had a great deal more trouble confronting it than it has had by reason of the extension of the unemployment scheme. Since then what has followed? I have noticed that every year the administration becomes less sympathetic. It is because there is no actuarial basis, no real foundation. It is very easy to say that if you have 6 per cent. of your industrial population unemployed, you will be able to maintain them on a certain three-fold contribution by State, employer and workman. But who can say that 6 per cent. is the actual figure? It is all guess work. Because of that, it will be impossible for you to provide anything like a scheme that is definitely on an actuarial basis. The Department during the past year has been more severe in its administration than at any period before. Whether it is because the problems have been greater or whether it is because there was a desire to keep the figure down to 1,000,000, in order that it would not be necessary to go to the Treasury, I cannot say.
Here are, not individual cases, but groups of cases in which grave hardship has been suffered. I ask, first of all, as the Minister was asked three weeks ago, as to the number of ex-service men at present in receipt of unemployment benefit who have not been able to pro- 1789 vide a stamp qualification, and were originally the Government's separate and definite charge under the out-of-work donation payment that the State made. How many ex-service men are there in receipt of unemployment benefit who have not been able to get a stamp on a card during the past two years? I know that the Minister said it was impossible to supply the information. If we have a Ministry of Labour not sufficiently up to date to be able to tell us what are the stamp rights or what is the absence of stamps in the case of those now receiving unemployment benefit, there is a grave lack of efficiency somewhere. The Minister can soon find out whether an applicant has sufficient stamps to qualify him for admittance to benefit, and he can follow that up and see whether a man has exhausted his stamp rights. If he has those records he certainly ought to have all the records of every recipient of unemployment benefit, showing the different periods during which they have been able to qualify, and the periods of unemployment they have had covering the two years' period. How many applications for extended benefit have been turned down?
Another thing that was hinted at by an hon. Member opposite was the fact chat, where large groups of men are unemployed, the Ministry divides them, and a portion of them go to one Exchange, and part to another Exchange. There is the case of the ironstone miners. One Exchange is at Melton Mowbray, almost in the heart of the ironstone area. The other Exchange is at Grantham. The men are divided between the two Exchanges. They got their standard benefit, but as soon as they applied for extended benefit, what happened? It is true that the Department conducted an inquiry when attention was called to the matter, but hundreds of men were willy-nilly refused extended benefit because it was assumed that they could not satisfy the authorities that they were "genuinely seeking" work. Imagine the position of men in a largo ironstone area, where there is no other trade or industry except agriculture, being expected to go into the town of Melton Mowbray, which is a hunting centre or to Grantham, where the books at the Exchange were already full of the names of unemployed engineers' labourers, where there could 1790 be no occupation, but where a word from the employers ought to have satisfied those in charge as to the facts. Cannot the Ministry satisfy itself as to the genuineness, in block industries like that, of a man's right to extended benefit, by approaching the employers and saying, "Your works are closed down Is there any other employment round about here?" The employers will say at once, "There is no other employment here, but ours—blast furnaces, and ironstone quarries and mines. We will take the men back as soon as trade picks up. "Why should the Ministry say to these men in effect," We do not think you have been genuinely seeking the employment that we know is not there for you"? Most of these people have their cottage homes mortgaged up to the hilt. Could not greater cohesion be brought into play as between the Exchange and the employers and the workmen's representatives, where there are block industries?
There is one other point. Following the miners' dispute and the great depression that set in afterwards, a large number of unemployed were men drawing part compensation. They might be having 2s. or 4s. or even 10s. a week as compensation for injury, representing a percentage of their disability. They cannot find work; neither can they sue their employers for full measure of compensation, because the Court will hold that they can do light work. But such work is not available for them. The Court says, "We cannot restore your compensation above the percentage you are getting because you are capable of performing some work." The Employment Exchange says, "We cannot admit you for benefit because, in our opinion, yours is a compensation case that does not suitably fit you for such classes of employment as we might have available." Of course, there is not a set policy; that I admit. We shall be told that each case is dealt with separately. I want human sympathy to enter into the matter. I want some kind of policy laid down, some general line that will be followed. A man who is in receipt of 15 per cent. as compensation ought not to be called upon to suffer as between the Court and the Employment Exchange.
There are just two other points to which I would like to call attention. I 1791 would like the Ministry of Labour to be a little more sympathetic and humane when they send women away from their town to find some other form of employment. Perhaps the Minister will be reminded of a case at Glasgow where some women were sent away to employment on the notification of a firm that they wanted them, and that they were willing and ready to provide accommodation for them until they were suited. Some of the women went to this place; I do not know whether it was Dundee, but it was many miles away from Glasgow. They were married women. They got to the place and made their application, but the firm that applied for them had made no arrangements for their accommodation. They were taken to an hostel. The matron of the hostel said that it was really more than she dared do to admit them, because it was a single girls' hostel, but some arrangements were made for them. These women returned the next day, and —it seems almost unbelievable—their employment benefit was refused them upon their return. Inquiry did take place, and I believe that one or two of them were restored to benefit, but a period of many weeks had passed by. I think one ought to realise just what were the anxieties of these folks, all for the want of a little human, sympathetic, common-sense application in such distressing difficulties.
I notice an item here for the Training and Resettlement of Disabled ex-Service Personnel. I would ask whether that reduced amount from £366,649 in 1926 to £80,143 in 1927 represents the disband-ment or reduction of the personnel of the. Department that was engaged in this matter, or whether it represents a reduced amount to be spent in the training and resettlement of disabled ex-service men. It is not quite clear from the heading. Perhaps the Minister will be able to satisfy me on that point. Is the reduced amount in personnel only, or does the reduced amount represent less activity in training and resettlement? The only other point I would like to offer on this occasion is one that I have raised for the last five years. It is as to premises. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) mentioned the fact that an exchange in Glasgow had had to be 1792 demolished because it was unsafe. I have been in one or two that; certainly are unsafe and decrepit. If a fire ever occurred in some of them they would become little-short of death traps for those who happened to be in them. There are others which are corrugated iron sheds. When one sees the totally inadequate and unsuitable nature of these buildings for the purposes of registration, one can only feel that one must keep pegging away until there is a different type and style of exchange erected. The Minister, of course, has answered this question before, and he has said that in this matter one is dealing with an abnormal period, and that as soon as things get down to something like the normal it will be possible to take a balanced view of the requirements. But I think it is essential that the premises should be brought up to date and that, instead of being temporary, they should be of a more permanent character. I will admit that when there is a heavy trade depression it is possible that there may have to be some temporary provision Lastly, there is a matter of £31,000 shown in this item as our contribution to the International Labour Office. I would like the Minister to answer this. We have been talking about the Eight Hours Convention, but what I am now concerned about is this. Let us take the four principal European nations; ourselves, France, Belgium and Germany. Can the Minister tell us, of all the Labour Conventions that have been submitted, how many have been endorsed by Great Britain that require legislation 1. I believe we have ratified somewhere about nine, but that only five require legislation. I would like to know the comparison between those four European countries as to the number ratified, and the number ratified requiring legislation, in order that we might get a fair proportion as to the extent to which we have carried out the responsibilities of the International Labour Office.
§ Mr. BARKER
I would like to call attention to the administration of the Ministry of Labour, and I am going to bring before the Committee to-night a few cases that I have brought before the Minister and his Department. I have tried to settle them with him in an amicable way without bringing them before the notice of the Committee. The 1793 first case I must refer to is the case of a young lady who was a barmaid in a very respectable hotel in Newport. This young lady was four years in this hotel. She bears a very excellent character, but she was taken ill, and when she had recovered from her illness her situation had been filled up. This young lady applied for some unemployment benefit from the Employment Exchange. She was offered a position as a barmaid in a soldiers' canteen 100 miles away from where she was living. She refused the situation and, I think, very rightly so. I, personally, think that no respectable woman would go and obtain a situation in a military canteen. I say that it is no place for barmaids; it is a place for barmen, not for barmaids. There is no Member of this House who would willingly allow his daughter to go into such a situation. Because this young lady refused this situation she was refused unemployment benefit. I think that is a great reflection upon the administration, and I say that a very great wrong has been done to this young woman. I take this opportunity, the first opportunity that I have had of registering my strongest protest against the action of the Minister.
There is another case with which the Minister is extremely familiar. I am referring to the case of a man named Sidney Pask who was employed at the Llanhilleth Collieries, Monmouthshire. He was employed there for very many years. He is a man of very excellent character. As a matter of fact he is on the urban district council of Abertillery. It was necessary at this colliery to close a certain portion of the mine, and Pask was thrown out of employment. He received his standard benefit and he received a good portion of extended benefit, but ultimately he was deprived of benefit on the ground that he was not genuinely seeking employment. This man went to an extraordinary amount of trouble to secure employment, and he gave no less than 14 certificates from various persons to show that he had been genuinely seeking work. However, notwithstanding the fact that all this evidence was tendered to the Minister, the right hon. Gentleman still remained unconvinced that this man had been genuinely seeking employment. If Pask could not get benefit, it is quite impossible for anyone to get benefit. To say that this extended 1794 benefit is merely State charity, as has been said from the opposite benches to-night, is a perfect absurdity. When the Unemployment Insurance Act was passed the contribution was fixed at 3d. per week. That contribution has been raised to 9d., and at present it stands at 7d. Benefits have been increased and it has been extended. That is not State charity at all. That is insurance in every sense of the word. That is paid for by the workers and by the industry to a far greater extent than it is paid for by the State.
Another case which I wish to bring before the Committee is with reference to a man who was employed by a public newspaper at what was termed a collector. This man, unfortunately, lost two of his insurance cards. I do not say anything in extenuation of an act of that character. It seems to me that there must have been a certain amount of carelessness, but there should be some less penalty for the loss of an insurance card than that of depriving a man of benefit simply because he cannot find his card. Although he had a great many stamps on his card this man up to now has been refused benefit. His case is still in the hands of the Minister and it has been there for the last four months. It does not reflect any credit upon the Ministry to deprive a man of benefit for the reason I have stated, and then to spend such a long time in investigating his particular case.
The other case I have is with reference to a man who was employed at a colliery. He met with an accident at this colliery and the result was that he had compensation for a considerable time and he has now recovered from that accident. The company, when the colliery was working, gave him what was known as light employment and the man carried out this light employment, but eventually the colliery closed down and this man lost his light employment. Then, because he could not satisfy the Ministry that he was genuinely seeking employment, this man was refused unemployment benefit. The idea of asking a man to go into the labour market to-day when he is partially disabled, and to compete in the labour market for a situation, is putting a condition upon the man that he is not able to fulfil. I think that the Minister has 1795 no justification for his action in that respect.
Another case which I wish to bring before the Committee is with reference to a man who was employed at the Llanhilleth colliery as a stoker. Immediately the lock-out commenced the company changed the motive power of that colliery from steam to electricity and the man was discharged. When he put in his claim for benefit it was refused. The court of referees allowed him the benefit, but the insurance officer appealed against that decision and the umpire refused benefit. The mere fact that there was a lock-out had nothing to do with this man. It was only coincident with the fact that the company was changing over from steam to electricity. Another case, which I have brought before the Minister, refers to four check-weighmen. They bad nothing to do with the lock-out; they were not involved in the dispute, and they had no notice from their employers or from anyone else. These men were idle during the time of the lockout, for which they had no responsibility whatever, and yet the Ministry refuses them any compensation. There are many cases of that character. The Act has been administered most rigidly and in a most niggardly and unfair manner during the last 12: months.
The statement has been made on the other side that if is not the duty of the Government to find employment. We realise to the full that this Government do not regard it as their duty. There are over one million unemployed. Reference has been made to the great trade dispute of last year as if it had been responsible for the present unemployment, but before that dispute commenced there were one million unemployed, and it has become chronic in this country to have one million unemployed. As long as I am a Member of this House I shall protest against a social and economic system which involves one million of our people in the misery and poverty which our unemployed are suffering at the present time. If it be not the business of the Government to find employment, then whose business is it? The capitalist employers have proved themselves unable to find employment. We have one million men and 250,000 women constantly idle. They have to be maintained by their 1796 fellow-workers, and the Government take no steps to remedy a state of things which is becoming one of the greatest evils of our civilisation. The only hope I can see is that time will have its revenge on the Government, and that we shall have a Government in power which will have more sympathy with the working classes and a more enlightened policy for the country, and one which will show some measure of humanity in administering the law.
§ Mr. KELLY
This discussion has ranged round a great many aspects of the work of the Ministry of Labour. We have been told by some hon. Members opposite that the only function of the Ministry of Labour is that of gathering statistics. If the view taken by members of the Government party be that the only function of the Ministry is that of gathering figures and throwing them at the heads of the public, them all one can say is that it is a very expensive machine to keep in existence for that purpose. I think that view of the Ministry's function shows the type of mind of Members who support the Government. They have not yet realised that the Ministry of Labour was set up for the purpose of finding employment. The hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge (Lieut.-Commander Burney) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich (Mr. Hilton Young) stated that it was not the duty of the Government to find employment. Have they ever read the points put forward when the labour exchanges, as they were then called, the Employment Exchanges, as they are now called, were first set? up The whole point then made was that these institutions wore to be for the purpose of finding employment. They were to ascertain where work was available and bring the unemployed persons into touch with the work They were to investigate the conditions and to ascertain what was required. If the Ministry of Labour has net performed that function of investigation to the extent which it might have done—and I am convinced it has not done so—then that is the fault not of he Act, not of the House,, but the fault of those who at various times have been placed in charge of the Ministry of Labour.
We are told that it is never the function of a Government Department 1797 to find employment. I rather think that duty has been put on the shoulders of the Secretary of State for War more than once in connection with the industrial establishments under his control and certainly it has been imposed on the Office of Works and on the Admiralty on more than one occasion. The hon. and gallant Member for Uxbridge told us that the difficulty at the present time in. providing employment arose from the fact that there was something wrong with our monetary system. Then we had the point put forward three or four times that America should be a glorious example to us in the matter of providing employment and high wages. The remedy suggested for our troubles is one of which I hope too much notice will not be taken by our people. It is suggested that the demand for goods is there all the time and that we ought to order all the goods and all the materials we require on the deferred payment principle. I wonder if that is the only suggestion which has been brought back from America by the delegation which has just reported. I confess I have not read their report and therefore I must not attempt to criticise it, but if what we have heard to-day is all that is contained in the report, then that delegation need never have left these shores. Surely it is the duty of the Ministry of Labour to face the problem of unemployment and, if their powers are limited, they ought to seek powers from the House of Commons.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. James Hope)
I am afraid that matter obviously involves legislation and cannot be discussed in Committee of Supply.
§ Mr. KELLY
I am sorry if I have been led astray in replying to some of those who spoke earlier in the Debate and who suggested that it was not the duty of the Ministry of Labour to find employment. One would have expected that, even on the point of administration, the Ministry would have done a great deal more than it has done in the last 12 months. We are told that higher wages would give greater purchasing power to our people and that there would be a greater demand for goods on the production of which our people are employed. Judging by the salaries paid to many of those in the service of the Ministry of 1798 Labour, that Department is not a great lover of high wages, and some of the people in its service are paid such low wages that I wonder that the question of high wages is ever referred to by that Department. We were also told by the Parliamentary Secretary that, considering the general stoppage and the coal stoppage of last year, he is surprised at the condition of trade at this time. Does he attribute the depression in trade from which we are suffering to the stoppage of last year? If so, I can find no body of employers, at least among those whom I have to meet, who would make such a statement.
In regard to the administration of the Insurance Act, we have heard to-day that the court of referees and the umpire could settle the differences that have been raised by us at various times, but I want to point out that it is not the court of referees which is to blame in a great many instances, but the insurance officer, who, after a court of referees has gone very fully into a case and decided in favour of the applicant, comes along and says: "Although you have investigated and sifted this case, and although the court has been presided over by a paid chairman"—and many thousands of pounds are in this Estimate for the payment of these chairmen— "I am a much more important person and know much more about it, and I refuse to carry out the decision of the court." Then, if it happens to be a member of a trade union who is dealt with in that way, he forces the association to appeal to the umpire, but if he is not a member of a trade union, there is no appeal for him. Is that a fair and just method of administering the Insurance Act? In many cases which I have had to take to the umpire during the last 12 months, against the decision, not of a court of referees, but of the officers of the hon. Gentleman opposite, in which I have secured the verdict of the umpire, I have been amazed at the mind of the Department in coming to such decisions.
I will give on or two instances, dealing with women particularly. In fact, a short time back I came to the conclusion that the Ministry of Labour were opposed to marriage, because the moment they found that a young woman had married, they watched so closely from the moment 1799 of her coming on to benefit that they at once stated that she was not genuinely seeking work. We have had to take ease after ease until at last the umpire himself has grown rather tired of hearing the point put up. If the young woman had not gone through the marriage ceremony, no exception would be taken by the Ministry, but because she had accepted the conventions of the times and had married, then the Ministry of Labour did all it possibly could to deprive her of benefit. I can assure the Committee that there are many such cases. I had a case recently with regard to some men who were employed in the Isle of Harris, and because they were employed in that out-of-the-way place on the coast of Scotland, after the court of referees had decided the case, the insurance officers decided that these men, because they would not go to the mainland for work, but were waiting for the season, when they knew they would be fully employed, must have their cases turned down. Luckily, we won the case before the umpire, but now one finds them taking it out of the individual by depriving at least one man of his extended benefit. It looks as if, because the case was won by the men before the umpire in the matter of the standard benefit, the Department is taking it out of the one who had run through his standard benefit by depriving him of the opportunity of extended benefit.
I would like to ask, in regard to the Trade Board section, how many prosecutions have taken place during the last 12 months, and what is the policy of the Department with regard to employers who set the Trade Boards at defiance. Take, for example, the employers in the net trade at Yarmouth. Is the Department looking very seriously into the position of that industry with regard to the employers having decided to defy even the decisions of the Trade Board? Further, I would like some explanation of an item under the heading of "Travelling and Incidental Expenses." It is an item of £7,450, and one of the details mentioned is that of "medical examination of claimants." Will the Minister explain what that means?
§ Mr. KELLY
Page 60, under G2. the last line but two: "Expenses of medical examination of claimants at the instance of the Chief Insurance Officer or Courts of Referees." Does that mean that now the courts of referees and the insurance officers are sending claimants to medical officers in order to have medical certificates as to their condition? If so, the position is becoming really serious. Then there is another point, and that is with regard to dependants' allowance. Quite recently I had a case in which a man, whose wife was unfortunately in an asylum, had to pay 6s. a week for her maintenance, but when he was unemployed he was refused dependants' allowance, and the ground given was that, seeing that he was not paying 10s. a week for her maintenance, he was not entitled to dependants' allowance. I would like to know if that is the condition set up by the Minister of Labour. There is another point which I have raised with him, and about which I have had a communication to-day from his Department. That is with regard to the glove-workers at Yeovil. We have heard in this House a great deal in the last few weeks about the glove-makers in that district, and I want to ask him why it is that the glove-workers who are unemployed in Yeovil are refused dependant's allowance for their wives, because their wives happen to be doing a small amount of out-work which brings them in something much less than 10s. a week. I hope the Minister will give us some explanation as to the position.
Is it the policy of the Minister of Labour to go very closely into the plans which are drawn up by the Office of Works with regard to the Employment Exchanges? Are they being constructed in such a way as to enable the staff to perform their work properly? Is the Department which is set apart for the juvenile side being constructed in such a way that it enables the people, who are advising the young persons, to do their work without having great crowds and confusion which one sees in many of the Exchanges at the present time; and, if I may touch upon a local matter, I hope the new Exchange which is so much needed, and has been asked for so long, is going to be built at Rochdale.
Lastly, with regard to unemployment, I hope the Minister will look upon his 1801 Department as being something more than a mere gatherer of statistics; that he will consult with other Departments and find out if it be not possible to place more people into employment; and that where he finds difficulties, whether it be in engineering, shipbuilding or the cotton textile trade, he will make a point of demanding inquiry and investigation to see what can be done in order to provide more employment for those who are unemployed, but willing and ready for work when it is found for them.
§ Mr. GEORGE HALL
I, also, would like to call attention to some cases which have come to my notice during the course of the last 12 months or so, and, in dealing with these cases, and the general question of administration, I think it should be pointed out to the Committee, that while it has been rightly argued that the Unemployment Insurance Fund is not a charity, we ought to mention that neither is it a fund which is contributed solely by the State. I know of no fund which is contributed to so much as this fund is by the workpeople, where they have such little say in its administration. The National Health Insurance Fund, which, I think, could be taken as a fund somewhat similar to the Unemployment Insurance Fund, is one where the people who contribute have a considerable amount to say in the administration of the fund, but, in so far as the Unemployment Insurance Fund is concerned, notwithstanding the fact that two-thirds of the sum is contributed by the workers and the employers, and less than one-third by the Ministry of Labour, or by the State, the Ministry has got the whole of the administering of the fund, and it is because of their attitude in the administration of this fund that complaints have been raised here this evening.
I want, in the first instance, to emphasise the point put with regard to the attitude of the Ministry as to girls being sent to canteens. This has given rise to a good deal of criticism of the administration of the Fund as far as South Wales is concerned. My hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker) mentioned a case from Newport. I, myself, had occasion to take up some cases with the Ministry some three or four months ago. They wrote me a very courteous reply. They asked me whether I could make specific charges against the 1802 employment of girls in canteens in Alder-shot. They asked me whether there was any charge with regard to the question of immorality. I think myself, as one who comes from South Wales, that the objection which a number of parents have to their daughters being sent to this kind of work is a real one, without having themselves to prove that there is a tendency to these young girls to go wrong in these canteens. I believe with my hon. Friend that serving in canteens is more suitable for barmen than barmaids, and the fact of girls not accepting employment in the military canteens ought not to be used as an excuse, as it is, for the Ministry depriving those girls of their unemployment benefit.
There is another case in which I am interested, and I thank the hon. Member now sitting on the Front Bench for the very courteous way he dealt with this case, although, unfortunately, he could not do what I think he or his Department ought to have done in connection with it. This is one of the many cases of young men deprived of their unemployment benefit because of the household means. This is a very glaring, an exceptional case. It is the case of a widowed mother with three children. The eldest child is an uncertificated school teacher in an elementary school. There is another daughter who is a cripple, and there is a son who is unemployed. The son who is unemployed was refused his unemployment benefit because of the fact that the daughter, who was an uncertificated teacher, was in receipt of income which really made the income in the household more than 13s. per head per week. The result was that this girl was called upon to maintain not only her mother and her crippled sister, but also her brother at the same time. The whole question of depriving young men of benefits to which they are entitled is a real scandal. When it comes to a case such as this, I do think the Ministry should deal with the matter very much. more generously than they are dealing with it.
I would like to ask, also, what is intended to be done with regard to the number of men who are thrown out of employment in the coalfields, very largely as a result of the action of the Government last year. The hon. Gentleman is smiling. I will repeat—a number of men 1803 who were thrown out of work in the coalfields very largely as the result of his action and that of other members of the Government last year. In the South Wales coalfield we have no fewer than 63,000 men unemployed. We have 30,000 more men unemployed at the present time than we had prior to the coal stoppage, and, unfortunately, 60 to 70 per cent. of those men are men over 55 years of age, men who have spent some 35, 40, 45 and some even 50 years of their lives underground. These men, again as a result of the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, could be turned off benefit almost any day. Of course, it could be argued that they are not genuinely seeking work in some instances, notwithstanding the fact that 90 per cent. of the men employed in the district I have the honour to represent are employed in the mining industry. These men who are out of work have done no work other than colliery work all their lives. Even allowing them to continue in receipt of benefit for another 12 months, it can then be argued that they have not sufficient stamps to their credit to justify them being paid unemployment benefit.
In my own district the Poor Law authority estimate that it is costing them £100,000 a year for relief for the men who are unemployed, a sum equivalent to a rate of 3s. in the £. Whatever may be said about the functions of the Ministry of Labour, they ought to look ahead to judge the effect of Acts of Parliament or changes in industry upon men employed in any particular industry. I was very much interested and amused by some of the statements made here this afternoon about the Ministry of Labour. My hon. Friend the Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) regarded the Ministry of Labour as simply a Department for providing statistics or for the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. That might have been its purpose seven years ago, but the fact that no fewer than 2,000,000,000 working days have been lost as a result of unemployment shows that the Ministry of Labour ought to be engaged in something else than the collection of statistics or the administration of the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
1804 It has been argued that unemployment is all a question of production; one would be led to think there had been no increase in production during the last 15 or 20 years. I do not know how far hon. Members have acquainted themselves with the preliminary Reports of the Census of Production, recently published, but they show several instances where the value of output per person employed in industries has doubled, and in some instances has increased something like fourfold. But the unfortunate thing is that some of the heavier industries, notwithstanding this tremendous increase in value per person employed, are employing fewer men to-day than they employed 20 years ago. I would like to give one or two instances. The output per person employed in the steel industry in 1907 was valued at £115, whereas in 1924 it was £218. The number of persons employed in the steel industry in 1907 was 261,000, and in 1924 it was 250,000, or 10,000 less. Cotton provides another glaring instance. The value of the output per person employed in the cotton trade in 1907 was £79; in 1924 it was £159. The number of persons employed in the cotton industry in 1907 was 572,000, and in 1924 517,000, nearly 60,000 fewer. Another case which it would be as well to mention is that of tobacco. The value of the output per person employed in the tobacco trade of this country in 1907 was £155; in 1924 it was no less than £617, or nearly four times as much, and it is interesting to note that there are just 1,000 more persons employed in the tobacco industry in 1924 than in 1907, and the major portion of the 1,000 were women.
§ Mr. HALL
The duty is just about double. This is the production per person employed in the tobacco industry. One could go on citing instances. If people talk about lack of production in industry, one might advise them to read up these reports of the Census of Production, which would prove that there was a great increase in the value of output per person employed. In the administration of the Insurance Fund the 1805 Ministry ought to remember that it is not wholly a State fund, but it includes immense contributions from the work-people and the employers—the major portion from the workpeople. In the mining industry, in addition to the direct levy week by week, our people also contribute 87 per cent. of the amount paid by the employers; and yet we have no voice in the administration of this fund. At the same time, I would like the Ministry of Labour to get down to their real purpose and function, which should be to endeavour to prevent the colossal losses we are suffering in this country through unemployment.
§ Mr. MARCH
A little while ago an hon. Member below the Gangway stated that he could not understand why it was that Members of this party were continually bringing forward the question of unemployment on the Ministry of Labour Vote, seeing that it was not the business of the Minister of Labour to find employment. At the same time he claimed that his party were as much the representatives of the working classes as are the party to which I belong. If it were not for the ignorance and stupidity of the working classes, probably many of the hon. Member's colleagues would not be here; and no doubt; it is because his party are so deeply interested in the welfare of the workers and of the unemployed that we have seen so many of them during this Debate. A little while ago there were six Members on the Government side of the House. There are one or two more now. One thing which we on this side of the House can say is that no member of their class sent us here, and therefore we do represent the workers, because it was only the workers who recorded their votes for us. However, while there are grievances and complaints as to the action of the Ministry of Labour, not only Members of this party, but all hon. Members are justified in bringing forward complaints to the Minister. I have heard a number of other hon. Members submitting complaints as to the treatment of women who have been paying into unemployment insurance for many years.
I have had several cases, and I want to bring two cases to the notice of the Minister which I know have been sent on to him. One was a woman who 1806 worked in an office as a ledger clerk, and the custom of the business is that when a woman gets married she cannot be any longer employed. This woman had paid into the Unemployment Insurance Fund for eight or nine years, and simply because she got married she was not entitled to go to work there, and she had to seek for work elsewhere. Afterwards she registered at the Employment Exchange and she was told that she was debarred from benefit immediately they knew she had got married. I know the Minister has had this matter under review and he has concluded that the husband of this woman is earning sufficient money to keep her. As a matter of fact her husband is a soldier in the Army, and I would like to ask whether there is any private soldier in the British Army who is getting sufficient money to keep himself and a wife when he is miles and miles away.
Another case is that of a young woman who was working in a confectionery factory, and she had worked there ever since she had left school at fourteen. She has paid into the Unemployment Insurance Fund from 16 years of age, but a few months ago stupidly she got married. A couple of months after marriage she had spent all the money she had saved during the period of her employment. Her husband works in a victualling yard at Deptford and he gets about two guineas a week. He has to cross the water backwards and forwards night and morning. This woman has been deprived of her benefit although she has applied at the Employment Exchange for work. As a matter of fact the work they offered her was inside domestic work. Now is it feasible for anybody to expect a young woman just about to get married to take inside domestic work after working a number of years in a confectionery factory. Of course she is willing to do daily housework, but there is none to be had, and she cannot get the standard benefit. That is enough to make people very disgruntled and dissatisfied, independent of taking off the extended benefit.
In my district there has been a lot of unemployment for several years, and some men there have had no employment for three or four years. The work has been so casual that the men have not got 1807 stamps enough to bring themselves Tinder the Act. The result is they are cut off and we have about 5,000 of these men now being supported by the boards of guardians. Of course they have to register and they do their best to look for employment, but the matter has now got so acute in the East End of London that there has been a conference of the East London boards of guardians and some of them are asking the Minister of Labour to do something to assist the guardians and providing work for these men. One would think from what has been said that there is no desire on the part of these men to get employment.
I am glad to see the hon. Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams) in his place. A few days ago he made a very big taunt against us on this side in regard to what he had discovered when visiting West Ham. During that visit he went to a firm and they told him that since the appointed guardians had been officiating the girls they employed were asking the managers to find employment for their fathers. That is nothing unusual. It is nothing unusual for me to have dozens of men calling at my house asking me to find them a job. If you live amongst the unemployed and get tormented as we do, you would not taunt us about the girls asking for employment for their fathers. We have had that year in and year out. Then there is the question of the Report which has been issued on this subject. I want to know what all this decrease means in the sum of money paid to the ex-service men. It seems to me that the Ministry is not even going on with the work of the training centres in order to get these men primed for the work which they are able to do. If this money is going to be cut down, then there is going to be more men thrown on to the boards of guardians in districts where at the present moment they cannot bear their financial burdens. I hope the Minister of Labour, when he receives those resolutions from the East End of London boards of guardians, will digest them and see if something cannot be done to provide assistance for districts like Poplar.
§ Mr. SULLIVAN
I want to join in the complaints which have been made 1808 about the administration of the Unemployment Fund in the area which I represent. In the county of Lanark we generally have from 10,.000 to 12,000 miners out of work. The coal stoppage took place last year,. and immediately after that we had the bureaux refusing payment to the men who had become idle owing to the general lock-out because it was assumed it was possible for these men to get work during the stoppage. As a matter of fact, these men could not get work prior to the stoppage. I think if we had 10,000 unemployed men normally before the stoppage, we were entitled to have the same number recognised as qualified for benefit during the stoppage. In addition to the miners, we had members of other trades thrown out of employment who had nothing to do with the stoppage.
Take the case of an engineer or a joiner who had nothing to do with the stoppage. Those men continued at work as long as the employer had any use for them, and when the employers sent for them they resumed work, but the Minister of Labour refused benefit in cases of that kind. One case that I dealt with personally, the case of a pithead man, who is a statutory official under the Mines Act. His duty is to see the men safely lowered and raised, and he is in no way connected with the Miners' Association. This man was sent home by his employer after the first week of the stoppage, and, to his astonishment, he was refused benefit; and, although I made appeal after appeal, that decision was upheld, despite the fact that we were able to point out that the employer had taken on one of his officials to do the work in which that man was normally engaged. Our complaint is that we have been treated much worse in respect of the payment of unemployment benefit than any other section of the community.
Coming to the present time, it may be news to hon. Members to know that we have 67,081 persons recognised as unemployed in the County of Lanark, according to the information supplied by the right hon. Gentleman; and those men, finding it impossible to get work, are one after another being refused benefit on the ground that they are not genuinely seeking work. In an area where unemployment was rampant prior 1809 to the stoppage, and is rampant at the present time, what hope is there for a miner, or even a steel-worker, to get employment? The only chance these men have of getting work is through the displacement of somebody else, and in the parish of Bothwell, which I represent in this House, I believe one-eighth of the unemployed are receiving parish money, which means that, for every seven that are being paid unemployment benefit, another man or woman is being paid by the parish. It is a bit hard on people who have to pay rates or who have to take charge of a home, when they ought to be getting benefit as a right because they have contributed to it.
My hon. Friend the Member for South Poplar (Mr. March) made a complaint about the Minister doing nothing to find work. I want to make a new charge against the Employment Exchanges. Not only do they not endeavour to find employment, but they actually hinder people in getting it. I will give a typical case. A young miner, who was unemployed prior to the stoppage, had no hope of getting employment during the stoppage, and I advised him to go and learn another occupation. As hon. Members know, there is only one industry that is booming in this country at the present time, namely, omnibus-driving, and he tried to get an opportunity of learning omnibus-driving. The offer was made to him that, if he went and learned for a given number of weeks, and passed the test at the end of that time, he would have a chance of getting work. There was no payment for learning; he was quite pleased to learn, and, at the end of the period, he was able to pass the examination. But what do we find? Immediately that young man reported, as he was bound to report, that he was trying to learn another occupation, he was refused benefit, and no redress has been made. The case was before a committee last Wednesday, and what the result will be I do not know, but up to that point he has been refused. Not only are they not helping people to get work, but they are hindering people in getting work. They know quite well that in the present state of industry the introduction of modern appliances has displaced men, and there is no likelihood of numbers of these men ever being employed in the work at which they were formerly engaged. That applies equally 1810 to the miner's occupation. You have these two reasons: we had unemployed before the stoppage, and we have the additional hour that is being worked adding to the number of unemployed, so that there is no hope of these men getting employment in that area, and nothing is being done.
I claim that from a business standpoint it is bad for a nation to have so many men idle and knowing that they are not likely to get employment, and nothing is being done either to create new work or to assist them to migrate to places where there is some chance of their getting work of some kind. I think it is the biggest tragedy that the working man or woman has to face—this search for work. We feel strongly on this matter because we meet it every weekend. When I went home on Friday night, a man came to my door and wanted to know, peculiarly enough, if there was any hope of a war in China. I asked him why. "Well," he said, "I was in the last War, and, since the last War finished, I have found it impossible to get work. My only hope is a new war, or else I must go and commit suicide." That is how you reward men who stood by the country in its time of need. That man is looking for another war. If war breaks out in China, he will either get soldiering or work, and it is scarcely right for the people of the country to stand and look on at cases of that kind. My own experience in dealing with the right hon. Gentleman is that he is always courteous and sympathetic, but, after all, courtesy and sympathy do not meet these claims. It is much better that these people should get work or should get benefit, than that they should be driven back on to the parish rates, and make it impossible for industry to recover so that workpeople may get more work.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Reference has been made to-day to the system of inquisition which is going on in Employment Exchanges. I had hoped, when the Minister of Labour made his reply last year on this subject, that there would have been some modification in the method in the case of those unfortunates who have to come before anyone, of trying to find out what they call their financial status; but I discovered that, instead of any modification having taken place, it has rather 1811 been intensified. I think everyone who has any acquaintance at all with the working class knows, amongst their own immediate friends, whom they have known nearly all their lives, that they do not want to go to an Employment Exchange. It is the last thing they want to do; they do not like the idea of any inquisition into their affairs. But, in addition to this inquisition, you have statements made that practically make out the applicants to be liars—and I am using that word after having considered it all the time I have been sitting here this afternoon. Here is the relation in which that applies—the expression "Not genuinely seeking work."
Men whom I know personally have travelled in one day from Springburn to Dalmuir, going into every works where their trade was carried on, and coming back, the next day going up the river the same distance and coming back, and yet they are told at the end of all that effort that they are not genuinely seeking work. That seems to be adding insult in an injury for which they are not responsible. I should have thought that by this time it would have been understood that, no matter what the wages or station of a man may be, he has still got human feelings left. When people are told so regularly that they are not genuinely seeking work, one would think that there was plenty of work to be found. That is really what is implied when these men are told that they are not genuinely seeking work—the implication is that there is work for them if they care to look for it. That, however, is not true. Even if it were true, what is the function of an Employment Exchange? What were Employment Exchanges instituted for in the first place? Was it not that, in order to facilitate the carrying out of work, one district could appeal to another through an Exchange for the supply of the kind of workmen they require? If there is this work that seems to be the basis for saying people are not genuinely seeking it, why are the Employment Exchanges not in possession of the jobs which these men are supposed not to be looking for? I put that question quite frankly to the Minister, and ask for a reply. When you say an individual is not genuinely seeking work, you imply that there is work to be found. 1812 If there is work to be found, why are the Employment Exchanges not in possession of the places where it is to be found? That would seem to be the real basis of the functioning of the Employment Exchanges. It has been pointed out that they have been developed into a statistical department, but surely the statistics ought really to be the number of jobs that are awaiting hands, and the function of the Exchanges should be putting the idle men in touch with the jobs. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Norwich made some statements more remarkable for their inaccuracy than their accuracy. He seemed to forget the country he was living in. He made reference to machinery and production, but he did not seem to understand that there had been any decrease in production. He implied that the working classes generally were against the introduction of machinery. When challenged to point out one of the hundreds of cases he said he knew, he could not name one case. As a matter of fact, the whole call for the last 20 years, so far as the mining industry is concerned, has been for the application of modern science to get coal, and yet we have a Bill in the House trying to get the abolition, of tubs without wheels. Is there anything so strikingly backward as that, and yet the Prime Minister, in his premises in the past, said when the Government got into their stride, dealing with the question of unemployment, they had great schemes to link up power with industry. The Electricity Act has been mentioned by a Member who evidently had not read it as being an indication of something that was going to take place in the interest of cheaper power, and consequently an increase in industry.
§ Mr. HARDIE
But this Act was being used as something that was being done 'by the Government to help unemployment. The Prime Minister, speaking on the unemployment business in the first Session of this Government, said that with the linking up of cheap power the whole question of the use of coal would be brought in. He indicated that we could not have any great electrical scheme unless it was linked up with coal, 1813 and yet here we have the Electricity Act with not a single reference anywhere to the use of coal and the big increase in the number of people who could be employed in the manufacture of by-products before it reaches the point of the generation of electricity.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not quite see how that affects the Minister of Labour. This is the occasion on which he has to submit his Estimates and submit for criticism of the way in which he administers his Department, but he really cannot be responsible for the possible failure of the Electricity Act to increase employment.
§ Mr. HARDIE
When dealing with this subject before it was pointed out from these benches that the Electricity Act would reduce the miners by 300,000. If that is in order in dealing with the Unemployment Estimates, anything that has taken place and been put into operation by the Government that is increasing what we are dealing with to-night would, surely be in order.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Not unless the Minister is responsible. If he is responsible, he can be attacked and criticised, but he cannot be held responsible simply because some other Measure by some other Department has not decreased unemployment.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Is not the right hon. Gentleman individually responsible in as much as, taking part in the Government, he was responsible for the Electricity Act?
§ The CHAIRMAN
What he may have done in the way of helping legislation in the past is not permissible.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
Surely, if the Electricity Act is going to result in a diminution of employment to the extent of 300,000 miners, it is within order to criticise the lack of imagination of the Minister in making provision for dealing with over a million people who are unemployed?
§ The CHAIRMAN
If an argument of that kind were admitted, another Member might criticise the Minister for not resigning because he had not persuaded his colleagues to introduce a general tariff.
§ Mr. HARDIE
It has been argued that we could increase employment by a simplification of processes. You, Sir, were not in the Chair when all this was allowed to be debated. We do not have many cases where that has brought about an increase in the numbers employed, but the relation to that subject is the question of the patent, and in this country, no matter what the patent might be which would increase employment, vested interest has always the first say as to whether that patent shall be applied, and we have many cases where good patents are put on the shelf until vested interest has its call and is allowed time to take out what it says it is entitled to. But they are not looking at the question of unemployment. They are only looking at the question of profit, and it is here that the Minister of Labour might do something. He might, for instance, try to influence those in charge of an industry to forego what is called vested interest and to take up the latest business in their line in order to develop it and at the same time increase the demand upon the unemployed army. We were told also that scientific application in the organisation of industry was prevented largely by the working classes as organised in trade unions and other bodies. That, again, is an absolute falsehood. The whole of industry on our side is anxious for the application of all modern methods, because we know that by them not only are you going to increase your production, but you are going to have to increase wages in order to prevent a glut on the market which will cause more unemployment. We know that the scientist is the man who is making more progress towards what we believe in than any other force in the industrial field. Just as in the last 15 years we have doubled our production, so with the application of modern science we can still further increase that production. You will then be driven, if you are to prevent a glut and the consequent unemployment, to provide higher wages in order that men can buy up the increase made possible by the machinery and also in order to prevent the displaced men becoming a charge on the community.
Taking the ease of steel as an example, there is the instance of the Clyde Bridge Steel Works where an operation is performed to-day by five men, which in 1914 was performed by 75 men. Yet to-day the 1815 five men are producing a half more again than the 75 men did then. I want to ask the Minister of Labour, since there is no decrease in the amount of wealth which has been produced and since there is more wealth to pay wages with than there was before, what he is going to do with the 70 men who are displaced by that process. The problem is not one of a lack of production or a lack of wealth through the employment of five men as against 75 men, but of an actual increase in production. Is he going to advocate a lethal chamber to take away the surplus made by the scientists through increasing production? [Interruption.] I do not know if we will try the lethal chamber out upon the Minister himself or not, but we must get some kind of statement from him, in view of the continued increase in production and the decrease in the need for men. We must be told what is to be done. Are you going to deal with those men kindly in a lethal chamber, or are you going to provide for them as human beings ought to be provided for? In any case, even on the poor relief scale, you have got to supply bread, and you must remember that four out of every five loaves we eat are brought from abroad. That means that, even on a poorhouse basis, you are spending the money for that bread in other countries. I would ask the Minister of Labour to look at it from that point of view and to look at the home market first. The home market is really the market that will deal with the unemployment question. Properly organised we can deal with all the unemployed in this country.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not see how the Minister of Labour, with the powers he possesses under the various Acts, can do this in the course of administration.
§ Mr. WHEATLEY
May I submit for your consideration that the primary duty of the Minister of Labour is not to dole out money, but to find a solution for the problem of unemployment. If in the administration of his duties he has miserably failed, surely we are entitled to criticise him.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is perfectly entitled to criticise his administration, but not to criticise him for not carrying out certain acts which apparently require long and difficult legislation.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
Surely if the Minister, in the exercise of the discretionary power placed in him by the Act of 1925, has cut off so many of the young men and women who are living at home with parents or friends, and if, by his withdrawing the Regulation which he has made and by his allowing those young men and women to get benefit, there would be an increase in the purchasing power in the hands of the unemployed which would mean an increase in the home market, I submit that the hon. Member has the right to criticise the Minister for not having acted in this way and consequently increased trade generally.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is perfectly in order to criticise the Minister for withdrawing a Regulation or not issuing another, but it must be something within his power.
§ Mr. HARDIE
Another consideration to which I would like to draw the attention of the Minister is in relation to unemployment in the coalfields. We were told from the benches opposite before the stoppage that the coal trade in this country was suffering from competition from foreign coal, and also from oil and from the fact that other countries were making electricity from water. The remarkable fact is that, since the stoppage was over and since work began again, you are having a bigger demand for foreign coal than ever before. That argument has been used in order to try to get out of the fact that the coalfields today are producing a larger number of unemployed. If the Minister of Labour wanted to deal seriously with unemployment in the coalfields, he might use his influence to see that the reconstruction, necessary in that industry should be put into operation now. The coal is the best in the world, and when the Minister of Labour tells us that the coal trade is suffering from this, that and the other extraneous cause, we know it is not correct.
In conclusion, I would like to refer to the inquisition that is going on. If the Minister of Labour thinks he can have a laugh at the inquisitorial business which is going on very well but it is not a form of humour that will tickle my risible faculties. I want to deal with the cruelties perpetrated upon young girls by the employment exchanges.
1817 Recently I had a case of a girl who was very anxious to get a job. She was sent to a hotel 200 miles from her home. The woman in charge of the hotel was not a kindly disposed person at all, and the girl wrote home to her mother, who sent me the letter. I had private inquiries made and discovered a state of things which I thought could not have been possible between an elderly woman and a young girl. The girl was absolutely compelled to come back home as the place was absolutely impossible. When she came back and went to the employment exchange, the whole of her statement was looked upon with suspicion. That is always what happens. This young girl, who was used to industrial life in a big city, but was willing to take on any work, received no sympathy at all when she came back from this place. An inquisition took place, and these inquisitions demoralise young people. In this case the mother went to the employment exchange with the girl, and a statement was made which seemed to read that the girl would not do what she was told. That is the usual kind of nonsense. As a matter of fact, the girl was supposed to be up at half-past five to light the fires, and sometimes was not in bed till 12 o'clock at night. Sometimes not in bed until 12 o'clock at night, and that went on for seven days a week. Yet the Employment Exchange had the power to say that this girl was not genuinely seeking work. That becomes a sickening phrase, particularly to people who are sincere, and who would rather take on the hardest kind of job than be told that they are not genuinely seeking work. We are told that there are people about who will do this or that, and who do not want work. There has always been that sort of thing before the Employment Exchanges came into existence. Why tar the whole lot, because there are one or two who will do something wrong? Why should not cases like those be dealt with? Why not develop some power of discretion in relation to these matters? I hope the Minister of Labour will see to it that the cases that have been brought before his notice tonight are dealt with on fair lines, and that he will do something to avoid these things in future.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
I wish to deal with a few points of administration before I make a few general remarks on the question of employment. My first point is with regard to casual employment, and the taking away of benefit from those who are wholly or partly occupied in seasonal employment. I wish to mention a case which I brought before the Minister recently, not with the object of attempting to indict the Minister, hut to draw the attention of the Committee and of the Minister to the position of seasonal workers. I brought before the Minister a case from Campbeltown on the West Coast of Scotland. The reason for the disallowance; of the unemployment extended benefit in this case, which was the case of a girl, was given in a paragraph which I find it necessary to read, which says:An examination of Miss Mitchell's industrial record shows that her insured employment during the past two years has been of a seasonal character, and in view of the fact that this is the main type of insurable work"—I want the Minister to note that—available at Campbeltown, there is grave doubt whether Miss Mitchell can be regarded as satisfying the further statutory conditions for the receipt of extended benefit.I do not raise this case for the purpose of indicting the Minister or of attempting to say that he has not acted in accordance with precedent and regulation, but to draw attention to the fact that this girl is an example of hundreds of other girls and women in the country. She takes seasonal employment here as a turnstile attendant, and for the rest of the year she takes domestic service or any other work that comes along. This girl has accepted employment at a less wage than she would get if she were on benefit. She is a girl eminently fitted for work and anxious to do work. The question of seasonal employment will have to be seriously considered.
Most of the employment of all kinds in (Campbeltown at the present time and for the last two years has been seasonal. If we are going to compel these people in Campbeltown to pay for insurance benefit, they will have to be brought into line with those in other parts of the country who are receiving benefit, or the question whether they have to pay the full contributions or not will have to be 1819 considered. I want to emphasise the point that although the unemployment fund is contributed to by employers and employed, to the extent of two-thirds of the accumulated fund from those two sources, the workers have no voice whatever in the administration of the fund. It has been brought vividly home to my mind that that is so. In Campbeltown there is no such thing as a rota committee. All the cases from the West of Scotland and the Highlands have to be remitted to the mainland at Greenock. These people have no voice as far as administration of the fund is concerned, and they have very little justice as far as benefit is concerned.
The second point I wish to raise is the question of the training centres. This is a question which the Minister will need to look into. Recently, I put forward the case of a young girl who was engaged in an engineering works. She was paid off, and drew several weeks' benefit. Then the Exchange people asked the girl if she was willing to take training as a domestic servant in one of the training centres. She was anxious to do anything, and she signed on to work for a certain period at the training centre. Within three days of starting her training she was sent for by her late employer, but she was prevented by the authorities of the training centre from returning to her old employment; she was told she could not go. Her father then took her away. He felt that the training centre, instead of being a benefit to her, was going to prevent her from being available for employment during the season there. A bar was then put up by the firm, and this, apparently, was done in conjunction with the training centre and, presumably, with the knowledge of the Minister. I had to intervene in this case on behalf of the girl and I am glad to say that I succeeded in getting back her old employment. I wish to urge that the question of the training centre is becoming very acute, and if the training centres are to be used to prevent girls from getting employment, there will be trouble over the matter.
On the general question of employment, I want to refer to what took place in one of the Government Departments in connection with the sending out of a 1820 circular to firms, mostly engineering and shipbuilding firms, asking them what they found to be their chief difficulty in getting orders and bringing employment to those who were out of work. When the answers had been received to that circular, it was found from most of the answers that the reason that orders wore not being obtained was not because there were not orders in the world markets and not that British prices were higher than Continental prices, but that the difficulty experienced by shipbuilding and engineer-ins: firms was that they were not able to give long-term credits. I remember particularly the answer of a very large firm of engineers, Messrs. Horns by and Rushden, to the effect that they could compete in the world's markets, and that there was no lack of orders, but that they could not give the long credit that other firms in other countries were able to give. In August of last year, the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department announced to the House that he had brought in a credit insurance scheme. Last week, I read in the newspapers that Austria has brought forward a similar scheme, and I understand that Germany has brought forward a similar scheme. I want to ask the Minister of Labour—
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
I want to ask him whether he has consulted his colleague in charge of the Overseas Trade Department with regard to the further extension of our credit insurance scheme in order to bring it into line with the credit insurance schemes of other countries. The Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade was asked last year whether it was his intention to extend the credit guarantee to all countries, and he said that it was, with the exception of Russia. In to-day's paper I find that the Austrian scheme is to be extended to Russia and that Germany has earmarked 300,000,000 marks for Russia in her credit guarantee schemes. The Minister of Labour does not seem to be much interested in the question—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not see the relevancy of this to the general subject under discussion. What I do not understand is what the Minister of Labour could do if he had the power. The hon. Member might ask the Minister of Labour 1821 to urge the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department to take some action, but he can do no more.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
It does not require legislation; the scheme is in operation. When the scheme was announced in this House I had the Blue Book of the Russian mercantile marine in my hands, and I pointed out that Russia was 1,803 vessels short of the full equipment of her mercantile marine; that most of the vessels were very small craft; that so far as the trade in the Caspian Sea and in the Black Sea was concerned it was carried on with obsolete ships, and that Russia was prepared to give orders for new vessels provided she could get the benefit of our trades facilities scheme, or any of the schemes we were extending to other continental countries. I want to know whether the Minister of Labour has had any consultation with his colleague in the Overseas Trade Department in regard to this matter, or are we going to refuse to do what Germany is doing and what Austria is now going to do? Are we going to pursue the foolish policy of trying to punish Russia, whereas we only punish our own unemployed at home. I am not concerned with the general policy of the Government towards the Russian Soviet, I am concerned with the question—
§ The CHAIRMAN
This is really a matter for the Secretary to the Overseas Trade Department. I have allowed the hon. Member considerable latitude, and he has asked whether the Minister of Labour has drawn his colleague's attention to that point. I am afraid I cannot allow more.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Does not this Vote cover the cost of our expenses in connection with the International Labour Office, and is it not therefore quite a proper place to discuss what is being done in other countries, of which presumably the International Labour Office keeps a record?
§ The CHAIRMAN
No. I think not, because this is a matter for extending credits to Russia. The International Labour Office is an office to try to bring about a more uniform system of hours and conditions of labour in different countries, but it has nothing to do with the application of British credit to trade with Russia or any other country.
§ Mr. CONNOLLY
I see the Minister of Labour is making a note, and I hope he intends to reply to the point. I want to know whether he has considered this question with his colleague, and whether he is going to persist in denying our trade credit scheme to a potential customer? Is it to be forever a question of Russian pre-War creditors—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Minister of Labour has nothing to do with that. The hon. Member has asked the Minister whether he has brought this matter to the notice of his colleague, and he will be able to answer. If the Minister of Labour attempts to defend the general policy of the Government, I shall pull him up with no less severity than I have the hon. Member.
Mr. W. M. ADAMSON
There are one or two points of administration which I want to bring before the right hon. Gentleman in connection with a case I have already brought to his notice within the last 12 months. The first case arises out of the mining dispute. Although it did not affect an actual miner it affected a worker, a carpenter, who had employment in connection with the mining industry. He was employed for several weeks after the commencement of the lock-out, but then, evidently because there was no further need for his services in the mine, he was dismissed, and applied to the Employment Exchange for his benefit. He was refused benefit, and requested me to take the matter up with the Ministry. I considered that hardship had been inflicted upon this workman. He was in no way identified with the actual dispute, and he was dismissed because of the dispute. I may be considered fortunate, for the Ministry of Labour, after reviewing the case, agreed that the man should receive a payment of £17 odd which was due to him as benefit. In passing, it may be remarked that the board of guardians claimed £15 of it for assistance given the man during that period. My complaint is not regarding the treatment of this man, but because a number of his fellow-workers, who were dismissed at the same time, who were in the same occupation and under the same conditions, have been refused benefit. They made their claim 1823 following the repayment made in the original ease. They have been definitely refused benefit, although their claim is exactly parallel to the first claim, which we considered was a test case with regard to this payment of benefit. The complaint I make is that the Employment Exchange and the insurance officer should have taken the decision in the first case as a definite decision and that benefit should have been allowed in the other cases. As a consequence, there is a grievance that the machinery of the Department does not operate equally in all cases. I trust that even now there may be a review of these cases also.
The second case I want to raise is equally important, and if the practice to which I shall draw attention is the general rule, there is something lacking in the administration of unemployment insurance. The case concerns a young woman who was in the clerical department of a business establishment. For some reason or other, due to no fault of her own, after being employed for five or six years she was dismissed, and a younger girl clerk put in her place. After her experience and having been certified by her employers as capable, she was anxious to get a similar position in an establishment of a like character if possible. For a time that was impossible, and she was paid unemployment benefit for a few weeks through the Employment Exchange. On one occasion, when she was signing at the Exchange, she was interviewed and was offered a post out of the district as a nurse in a Birmingham hospital. Considering that she had had no training as a nurse and no qualifications, she refused the offer, and I think quite rightly, especially having regard to the responsibility towards patients in the hospital. Because of her refusal of the offer she was refused benefit on the instructions of the insurance officer. That was an injustice. If the Employment Exchange authorities could not offer clerical work according to her capacity, they might at least have given her an opportunity of being able at some time to get a situation suited to her training. The outcome of the refusal of the Exchange to give her the benefit for which she had paid was to force her into domestic service. If that is the best that we can get out of the administration of insurance it is a reflection upon the 1824 administration. It makes mere machines of men and women if they are not to have an opportunity of doing the thing for which they have been trained and which is likely to be of service to the community.
The third case I want to raise is typical of many that occur in particular industries. A miner had the misfortune to meet with an accident. For a time he had his usual compensation, but finally he accepted settlement of his compensation claim under the pressure of the insurance company, with a promise that he would get light employment with the firm with which he had been previously engaged. In a few weeks, however, it was found that there was no more use for his services and he became unemployed. When he applied to the Exchange or his benefit, he was allowed to sign on for the qualifying period, and then when his ease came before the officials of the Exchange he was told that as he was nolonger to be employed in an insurable industry he could have no benefits. These are three typical cases out of my own recent experience. The Minister may claim that he cannot interfere in these cases. I appeal to him to take a much wider view. If we place this scheme on the basis of insurance, men and women are entitled to get benefits when they accrue. Much of the discretion of the Minister ought to be exercised in the direction of leniency in such cases as I have mentioned,, and when he is advised by his officers I think decisions might be varied according to the conditions under which they arise, and with leniency, tempered with some encouragement at least, so that people may be allowed benefits solong as they are carrying out the qualification of seeking employment and being anxious to obtain it. I trust that our appeals on these points will not fallon deaf ears, but that something will be done administratively to assist in these particular cases.
Mr. TREVELYAN THOMSON
The present state of affairs in regard to unemployment is surely a tragedy of the first order. We have over 1,000,000 unemployed, which is equal to 10.9 per cent., and the industrial north has a much bigger percentage. On the northeast coast it is 15.8 per cent. and, taking 1825 particular industries, in the marine engineering trade, it is 306, and in shipbuilding 45.2. What are the Government doing and what do they propose to do in face of these appalling figures? Apparently nothing more than to go on doling out millions upon employment benefit and Poor Law relief to able-bodied men. Do we realise that, since the Armistice, we have spent on unemployment benefit and Poor Law relief to able-bodied men £400,000,000, and that that sum has been paid away for nothing in return? Not a single hand's-turn of work was done for it. Surely it would be infinitely better, wiser and more statesmanlike to provide work for wages, and get something tangible as a result. That money might have been spent on re-making the roads and it would have given us a new system of road transport. It might have provided money for the demolition of slums and the rebuilding of our cities, and we should have had valuable assets to show for it. Is the Government prepared to go on in that way, doing nothing to encourage local authorities to provide work for the unemployed? The Lord St. Davids Committee issued a Report recently which showed what could be done on these lines. The Report showed what could be done in encouraging local authorities with regard to the making of roads, schemes for gas, water, tramways and such undertakings.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think this comes under Vote 8 and not under Vote 7. Schemes for local authorities of this character are not before the Committee on this Vote, and the hon. Member is out of order in referring to them.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
On the general question, there is only one point with which I will delay the Committee. I think the Debate to-night has shown that there is a very general feeling that it would be extremely helpful if the system of specialised Exchanges could be rapidly developed. This applies not only to districts with small populations, but, even in the great cities like Manchester and London, a great deal of the trouble which is created by trying to fit round persons into square holes or vice versa would be obviated if experienced persons 1826 were handling the problem, who really understood whether the request they were making to the individual was reasonable or not, and the umpire, in giving one of his decisions in connection with a woman's case of that kind, drew particular attention to the importance of ascertaining the attitude of mind of the applicants towards work, or disinclination to work, as being a more determinate factor than any rule of thumb in offering them any job. I am sure that specialised Exchanges dealing with the nature of the work that should be given to persons with special qualifications would enormously help the Ministry to overcome some of those difficulties that occur simply because there are inexperienced people dealing with the matter or else because the machinery itself is not sufficiently elastic.
My purpose in taking part in the Debate is to raise a specific point on Vote 7 in connection with Trade Boards. Here the Minister cannot be absolved from direct responsibility. This is a matter of administration, within the powers of the Minister, and it is in connection with the suspension of activities in the development of the Trade Board system that I desire to offer my criticism to-night. Trade Boards in this country have been of enormous importance, particularly to women. It is known that the Trade Board system covers about 3,000,000 workers and of that number 70 per cent. are women. When some of us who are sitting in this House can take our minds back to the fight for the Trade Boards in 1906, 1907 and 1908—we got the first Act in 1909—and remember what the conditions were in the trades that formed the first group of the Trade Boards, we realise of what immense value that machinery has been, not only to the individual worker, but to the trades represented in the Trade Board groups. The establishment of the Trade Board groups has made for greater efficiency in connection with that large group of miscellaneous industries now covered by that system. But we still have two very black patches in relation to women's employment, and in that matter, I think, the Ministry is deserving of great criticism, because efforts have been made, inquiries have been held, and a case has been established for the setting up of a Trade Board in relation to the catering trade 1827 and certain sections of the drapery and allied trades.
I will give one or two figures in regard to the catering trade. We find that, compared with the official rate of the trade board—and hon. Members who are acquainted with the system know that the official rate is the minimum rate and is not the only rate fixed by trade boards; there are differential rates, and the rate paid to the average worker is higher than that fixed for the minimum rate—in the catering trade, 36.8 per cent. of the women are paid less than the lowest trade board rate, and 39.7 per cent. of the men, but, if you delete the waitresses from that group, and take the workers other than the waitresses, the young people and the kitchen staff, and the other unseen staffs who make for the comfort of the diner in the restaurant, we find that 43.3 per cent. of the women are below the trade board rate, and 41.4 per cent. of the men. Someone mentioned in the course of the Debate that averages were misleading, and I agree. The averages in this instance are misleading, when you merely quote them as lower than the trade board rate. If you turn to the actual analysis of wages paid—and the cash receipts in the cases I am to quote are the total remuneration paid, estimates being made of tips and every other kind of cash payment—we find the amazing percentage of no less, in the case of women under 18 years of age, than 36.2 per cent. who are getting in actual money earnings 15s. a week or less. We have 36.3 per cent. getting less than 20s. a week When we come to the higher age group, it is worse still. We find 35 per cent. of the women between 13 and 20 years of age getting less than 20s. a week. In the third group, that is women of 21 and over, no less than 20 per cent. are receiving less than 20s. a week and 31 per cent. are getting less than 25s. a week. When I tell the Committee that less than 20s. a week means wages ranging from 20s. down to 5s., they will realise that we still have a sweated industry in our midst. We have in these figures a clear demonstration of the importance of setting up a trade board without further delay.
The catering trade cannot be described as a languishing trade. The returns of the companies engaged in it show that they are very prosperous indeed. We have great firms, year after year, pay- 1828 ing ordinary dividends of 10 per cent., 12½ per cent., 15 per cent., 21 per cent. and 26 per cent. We find them with steadily increasing profits, and only one or two companies show a drop in profits for the year1925–26 out of the list which I have before me. In connection with the question of the hours worked in the catering industry, not only do we find conditions where many of the worst paid also work the longest hours, but we find they have no sort of protection either from the Factory. Act or any other kind of Act. In little coffee houses, in the cheaper forms of restaurant and tea-shop, the hours of labour are practically unregulated and organisation is practically non-existent. There you have the two conditions laid down in the Act as those under which it is the duty of the Minister to set up a trade board, namely, low wages and the lack of any organisation or anyone competent to defend the workers in the trade. There is also the fact that there are large employers of labour in the catering trade, including some of the largest firms, who would welcome the establishment of a trade board just as the better employers in the trades where boards have already been set up welcomed the coming of those boards, and that for a very good reason. They did not pretend to be philanthropists, but they desired that there should be a minimum below which it would be illegal for any competing employer to engage labour. While that may not be the highest motive, it is a very common-sense motive, and one which is definitely recognised in the catering tirade. We have in advance the assurance that influential groups of employers would welcome the setting up of a trade board in that industry.
I wish to deal very briefly with the fancy drapery trade and with the failure to set up a trade board in connection with that branch of industry. Like the catering trade, the drapery trade is very prosperous, and we find firms paying dividends regularly year after year such as 9 per cent., 15 per cent., 17 per cent., 18 per cent. and 21 per cent. These are firms which are not doing the cream of the trade, but are very much in the hurly-burly of the rush trade. In connection with the drapery trade, we find all the extremes of which one can think in industry. There are firms which lead the way in regard to hours of labour and 1829 conditions of employment. On the other hand, there are firms which take advantage of the helplessness and disorganisation of the women workers to put them under sweated conditions. We find the worst hours are in that section known as the fancy goods trade. There we have 67.3 of the persons employed working 48 hours a week or more, whereas the tendency throughout the tirade is to work a 48-hour week maximum, and, in many cases, they are working less.
With regard to the wages, we find that here again they compare very badly with the Trade Board rates. We have cases, particularly in those sections of the trade described as bazaars, or what in America they call the 10-cent stores, or over here the 6d. stores, a very large turnover of young labour. Young girls are taken from schools, they go into the trade for a few years, they are paid miserable wages, and then, at 18 or 19, they may be set adrift and other young girls taken on in their places. Out of a total number of 150,000 people examined, 70,000 were under 21 years of age, or nearly 50 per cent. There is here, again, a complete lack of organisation. It is estimated that the numbers organised in this trade vary from between 3 per cent. to 10 per cent., and if one deducted from the trade those people who are working in the co-opera-tive stores, where they are well organised, I very much doubt if one could find very much more than 3 per cent. throughout the whole of the rest of the trade put together. There is no reason in the nature of the trade itself why it should not be properly conducted, and why there should not be a very high level of conditions in all the shops in the country. Many of the employers in this trade have toed the line and regulated conditions, even where no form of organisation existed, and they have helped by means of the small proportion of organisation that did exist and the agitation that was created in 1896 for the regulation of hours in shops, and I am very glad to know that, having got a basis in connection with the Shop Hours Orders, many of the employers have gone one better than that, and the general public has been educated into the importance and value of early closing from every point of view.
I would like, in this connection, to say, although it probably may not come under 1830 this particular Vote, that one of the things that passes my comprehension is that when we are trying to get in the tobacconists' and sweet shops, particularly the former, the same opportunities as in the Trade Board trades for a little leisure for the shop assistants, hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of this House declare that the tobacco shops must always be open, so that at any time, night or day, they may be able to get their tobacco. If a woman can do her weekly marketing in the hours that are to be regulated now, surely it is not too much to ask that gentlemen should be required to remember in the morning how much tobacco they are likely to want during the day. [An HON. MEMBER: "Ladies smoke too!"] However much ladies may smoke, I have not heard them asking that the tobacco shops should be open always.
The point that I wish to impress upon the Minister is the fact that here we have two great areas in which it has been proved that, in the one case, the conditions throughout the trade are very bad as compared with Trade Board trades, although there is nothing in the nature of the trade which would justify the employers in giving those conditions, and in the other case we have the position of one end of the trade being very badly treated and comparing abominably with the conditions already laid down and observed in the same trade in a very large measure, so that whereas in one case we complain of the large area that requires regulation to bring the trade up to something like decent conditions of hours and wages, in the other trade the trouble is confined to a comparatively small area, but it is very intensive in that area, and in both cases I have personal knowledge that there are groups of employers who are prepared to join with the workers in demanding these Trade Boards which have been promised. In both trades effective investigation has been made, and the evidence for the Trade Boards has been definitely established, and we want the Minister to assure us that they will be set up without any further delay.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I do not think anyone who has listened to the speeches delivered by Members on the other side during the latter part of this Debate will grumble as to their varied 1831 character. The vote was supposed to be reduced in connection with the lack of facilities for Russian trade, the lack of will on the part of this House to take a sufficient interest in new inventions, and certain items with regard to the conduct of business. I should think, that just as one would really be locked after by the Department of Overseas Trade, another by the Fuel Research Board and the third by the Board of Trade, equally any subject connected with the Army, Navy or Post Office could have been mentioned with just as much relevance. All I can say, in reply to the hon. Member for East Newcastle-on-Tyne (Mr. Connolly) is that I am in touch with my colleagues on each and every subject under their Departments that in any way concerns unemployment.
The subject which has been new in this Debate has been that which was raised by the hon. Member who has just sat down, and, if I may, I will deal directly and at once with the question of the Trade Boards, especially in connection with a Trade Board in the catering trade. I would like to make one matter quite clear. I want to state that, while I am not passing an opinion on the rates of wages, I have never been in favour of any system of low wages, and have always made that clear. If I mention any level of wages, I do not for a moment give any approval of them. I ask the Committee to take the facts as they are, and to consider how best they can be dealt with. From that point of view, I ask them to consider the catering trade. There was no promise to set up any Trade Board with regard to the catering trade. I speak subject to correction, but on my part there was no promise of any kind. What happened was that an inquiry was set on foot with regard to the drapery trade, the meat trade and the catering trade. I had the reports of the inquiry, and I announced at the time, and I repeat now, that in my opinion, and as I hope to prove to the Committee, the case is not established, and is very far from being established for setting up a Trade Board for the catering trade, or for regard to those other two trades.
I examined the reports carefully. I did more than examine the reports. I took hundreds of records of individual cases, and went through them personally. 1832 I analysed each one of them, and I balanced the results, measuring hours and wages together in each one of several hundred cases. It is as the result of a personal and careful examination of that kind in addition to the reports, that I have come to the conclusion that the case for a Trade Board was not established in those trades. If the Committee will bear with me, I can state quite briefly the steps which led me to that conclusion. On going through all those cases I found, to start with, as anyone can well imagine, a number of irregular cases—-those of people who help at odd times and are not regularly engaged whole-timers in the trade. I am sure the hon. Member who has just spoken and others will recognise that, though you do not get a large number of those cases, anyone who may be making the inquiry has to make a note of them. I could not give the actual number. There were a few in the very considerable sample I took myself—prabably about 1 per cent., more or less. So I had to take those out.
Then I considered what was a rate more or less comparable to the official rate in other trade boards as a whole. About 25s. a week is the sum nearly comparable to the actual trade board rates for women—the bulk of them. I am not talking about all the rates, I am talking of the bottom rates, and the hon. Member will find if she looks that 6¼d. to 6½d. per hour are about the bottom rates in the large proportion of eases. I took 25s. for that reason, and when I took the 25s., I then considered the total, which, according to the Report, the women were getting in those trades. I took the females over 21 and I took what was reported to me as what they got in wages and in tips and also in the value of meals, and on the whole I found that 95 per cent. got the equivalent of 25s. or over.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Including tips. I say at once that the estimate of the value of meals is always unsatisfactory. On the other hand, it is absurd to have an inquiry and not to pay some regard to that. In this case the meals were taken, not at the value to the workpeople, but on the basis of their cost to the employer. There, again, anyone who has conducted an inquiry of this kind will 1833 realise that the value to the person at work must depend on her circumstances. If she is living at home and can get home to meals, then the value is less than if she has to take her meals out; but the coat taken was the cost, as far as it could be ascertained, to the employer; on the whole, the value to the workperson would be quite distinctly higher. If the excess value of the food to the consumer over the cost to the employer is put at 2d. per meal that would have increased the 95 per cent. who are getting 25s. or upwards to about 96 or 97 per cent. There is one further fact to be taken into consideration. The greater part of the lower wages—the odd 3 per cent., or between 3 and 4 per cent.—were in the rural areas, where the standard is quite different from London or the other great towns. In the case of those trade boards where for different localities differential rates have been fixed, it has been decided to pay regard to the standard of living, and rates of pay have to be judged in comparison with this.
In these circumstances I had to consider whether it was right to set up a Trade Board or not, and, in my own opinion, I had to take account of this, that there is a tendency, in any case, for these rates to rise, that they are gradually rising; and that, once a Trade Board is set up, there is a tendency to stereotype the rates. And I have heard complaints that the minimum under a Trade Board tends to become the maximum; and, again, where a Trade Board is set up the tendency of it is to prevent people combining for themselves. If anyone were to say he wanted Trade Boards in order to kill trade unionism by kindness, then he would have some grounds for his contention. I have no wish to extend the Trade Board system from any motive of that kind. If money is to be spent on extra inspection I would sooner spend it on an inspectorate to increase, as we have been increasing, the number of inspections under Trade Boards already existing, because their rates are already fixed. Those are the grounds for my decision, and they seem perfectly adequate grounds justified up to the hilt by the figures.
In this case it would have been a mistake and not an advantage to set up a Trade Board. I formed that view not 1834 only after studying all the figures in the Report, but after personally examining some hundreds of cases. I fully recognise that there is another theory, and it is that you should fix a wage —there is a letter in the "Times" this morning on the subject—on the basis of human needs as against the lower level which is sometimes called the poverty line. When I hear that I have committed a fault, not only from hon. Members to-night but also this morning when I read my daily Press, in not setting up a Trade Board, I ask what the difference consists in. The one theory is to take the level of wages based on Mr. Seebohm Rowntree's scale of human needs brought up to date, and the figure is estimated at 63s. by Mr. Hicks and Mr. Citrine. The only inference from that letter is that Trade Boards are to be set up unless wages reach 63s. in the case of men, and the corresponding rate in the case of women.
What would be the result of adopting that theory? It would mean that we extend the Trade Board system until we included the iron and steel trade, the engineering trade, and the building trade. I do not think that there is any trade unionist in this House who would contemplate a result of that kind with equanimity, and from my point of view I think it would be a wrong course of action and a wrong tendency. In my personal view the proper use of a Trade Board system has been to keep it in consonance with Conservative policy as it has been known for many years. The fundamental note of Conservative policy in these industrial matters is one quite distinct, either from the laissez faire system of the old days or the State as a managerial factor of the present day theory. It has been the policy of the Conservative party from the days of the Factory Act onwards to establish minimum standards in industry. We did it in the Factory Act, and when it came to the starting of the Trade Boards they were started in exact consonance with that principle. I was one of those in the original movement to start Trade Boards.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
Had you been in the movement now, you would not have made the speech you have made to-night.
Sir A. STEEUMAITLAND
I have not altered my position in any way at all. 1835 I consider it is the duty of the Government to safeguard minimum standards, but above that to allow free play to individual iniative. To extend a Trade Board system above a minimum standard is to undermine, for one thing, trade unionism. That is what would be its effect; if anyone wishes to undermine it he can take his part, and it will be one of the results.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a larger degree of organisation in Trade Board trades than there was before they were set up?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I should be suprised to hear that any body of responsible trade union leaders wish it extended really to the lengths which would be inferred from the letter I have been reading to-day. For these reasons, I say I came to the conclusion,, after the most careful inquiry, that there was not a case for establishing a Trade Board in the catering trade, and I remain again precisely of the same opinion to-night.
As regards the other points that have been raised in the Debate, I am going to refer quite briefly to some of the charges that have been made. They are the same that we have heard before. We are told that in the Unemployment Insurance system we have been cutting people off benefit; that by that means we have endeavoured to reduce the live register; that our use of discretion is not justifiable in the first place, and was used with harshness on the top of that; that we have been overriding the local committees—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I hear signs of intermittent applause at each of those statements.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I can make myself, at least, heard in this House. Let us take the question of cutting people off benefit. The hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) accused us of introducing harsh Regulations by which people were cut, off. I am not going to repeat again what was said by my hon. Friend, except to say that this was not a matter of 1836 party scoring or anything of that kind, as the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) seemed to imagine. He condemned us for introducing the conditions to which people were subjected where extended benefit was being considered. As a matter of fact, they were conditions contained in my right hon. Friend's Act of 1924. The conditions to which the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley referred were those of not being normally employed in insurable employment; not a reasonable amount of employment being available to them in the last two years; and not making reasonable efforts to obtain work. Those were the four conditions in regard to extended benefit which were contained in the Act of 1924. Therefore, the shaft of the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley passed me by. In that respect he had better settle with his. right hon. Friend afterwards. When he comes to actual cases, and the charge of less sympathetic administration—I think that was the charge made by tie hon. Member— [Interruption.] That was not the part I am talking about: I will come to that. The hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) spoke of the administration being less sympathetic. The hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Barker) referred indignantly to certain check-weighers not being allowed benefit, and the hon. Member for Bothwell (Mr. Sullivan) did the same with regard to a similar case. If I had admitted those check-weighers to benefit, did the hon. Member want me explicitly to break the law as contained in Section 4 of the Act of 1924, because that is what I should have done. It would have been a direct breach of Section 4.
§ Mr. SULLIVAN
I did not refer to check-weighers but to tradesmen, such as engineers, joiners and blacksmiths, who had no connection with the miners' union.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The check weighers were mentioned by the hon. Member for Abertillery, and the tradesmen by the hon. Member for Bothwell, and the same remark, if I took the point aright, applies to both.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
If the hon. Member has a case which is on all fours and will communicate it to me, I will go into it. The actual percentage of the cases of extended benefit which were disallowed in the last eight months of last year were precisely the same as in the year that started 1st August, 1924.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
If I get the numbers I will give them to the hon. Member, but the percentage is 14.2 of the total in each case, and it is the percentage really that is most important.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
If 14 per cent. is left after the previous 14 per cent. has come off, you can see that the volume in numbers would certainly be much greater. Percentages are very illusive.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The applications rejected in that year were 505,000. The applications rejected during the last eight months of last year were 381,000. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) went on to make a charge I might have expected from others but not from him, that by so doing we endeavoured to reduce the live register. He knows the insurance system so well that it is the more astonishing, coming from him, that the alleged disallowances should have gone to reduce the live register to any great extent. The whole calculations have been published. I am sure he is one of those who have read them from end to end in the White Paper, and he will realise that they have no practical effect on the live register at all. The total numbers affected were possibly about 12,000 altogether, and the idea that the live register has been largely reduced so as to make it appear that trade is better through any action of this kind is based on a delusion entirely. I will give him, if he wishes, a copy of the live register, and I can show him the figures brought up to date, which point to the same conclusion.
We have debated the Ministerial discretion in this House. All I can say is that to give extended benefit is not 1838 necessarily giving relief as indicated by the hon. Member for Dudley unless it is given with unjustifiable reasons. On the other hand, it does not, as stated by the hon. Member for Nottingham, mean that the person who receives it has got to wipe off this deficit before he receives any benefit again. It means that you are giving insurance on credit and that in a large number of cases that credit will never be paid off by the accumulation of stamps on the part of the insured party. As the great majority will never repay at all, it is absolutely justifiable in cases like that to see to whom the credit shall be given. The discretion has been used without harshness, and instructions have been given to that effect.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
Surely the person who receives extended benefit has it debited against him, and before he can be re-established on benefit he must have these stamps.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Yes, but it is possible for him to receive extended benefit if he complies with other tests. The justification for the discretion is that it is used in a large number of cases in which those who have received extended benefit will never have paid off their debt by means of the stamps which they have got to their credit afterwards. I will only deal with one other point about insurance and that is the question of overriding—if one may use the word— local committees. It is quite true I take the advice of the local committees wherever I can and their advice has only been overridden in one half of one per cent. of all the cases. Again, I would tell the hon. Member for Gorbals that where the Minister has differed from them it does not mean that he simply has turned down all the cases but he has given benefit in 8 per cent. of the cases where they have refused it, so that the disagreement with the local committees is not all the one way. The question of the training of ex-service men has also been raised. I have been asked whether it meant that we were trying to reduce the training of ex-service men and the answer is not in the least. They are) individually getting the same amount of benefit as before. It means that, as time goes on, the number of those who come for training is gradually running down, as it has been for a number of years.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
The question I put was whether the £80,000 under this Vote for 1927 as against £366,000 last year represents a diminution in the actual training and resettlement, or whether it was a simple personnel and administrative charge.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Yes, it is a large difference as compared with last year. It means that we are now re-hearing later applications and that that type of training, which was instituted for ex-service men, has been running out in the natural course of things. It was running down when my right hon. Friend was Minister of Labour and it has been running down ever since. In the five minutes that remain I would only like to deal with the work of the Department, and I would assure the Committee in the first place that I do not think that my officers are in the least degree inquisitorial to any undue extent. We have to get a certain amount of information and, so far as I know and so far as I hear privately from people of all shades of opinion the officers of the Ministry get it with as little trouble as possible to all parties. I get testimony borne to the way in which they do their work and that often under the most embarrassing and difficult conditions, especially where there has been a sudden flush of work or a sudden amount of unemployment. Little by little they were building up the system, and the way in which they did it was admirable. The number of cases in which vacancies were found was gradually increasing until the general cataclysm of last year caused a drop in that as in everything else. I would like to pay my tribute to the way in which they have done their work, often, I frankly admit—
§ Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM
Does this refer only to England or does it refer to both England and Scotland? Or does the right hon. Gentleman say that this is a statement which applies to every hon. Member on both sides of the House? I have a different opinion upon it, which I should like to express if I had the opportunity.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The last thing I should do would be to fix it upon every hon. Member of this House, but I have heard it from a sufficiently large number to make me believe that it is pretty general throughout the country.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
They have done it under most difficult conditions and, knowing those difficult conditions, I wish to express my own appreciation, because I know the troubles that they have had. In conclusion, I would like to call the attention of the Committee to what I think escapes the notice of hon. Members when they are continually dealing with unemployment insurance, and that is the amount of work that is done in other respects. Suggestions, friendly suggestions, have come to me from the benches behind me that it was time the Ministry was abolished. Hon. Members opposite would wish to abolish the occupants of the post but not the Department itself. They would never find any Government which would administer so large a system as this without having a particular Department to take charge of it, and more especially when it has to do the other work in addition. In passing I should like to pay a tribute to the recent very valuable inquiry in America by Sir William Mackenzie. I think Members of the Committee do not realise how little it costs apart from the money spent upon unemployment insurance to carry on the work of the Department. The whole of the rest of the work of the Ministry is done for about £350,000 a year, including the International Labour Office, the statistics, the Trade Boards and the conciliation work. All I would say is, that so long as unemployment remains, so long as disputes have to be settled, so long will the Ministry of Labour remain, but so soon as there is no unemployment to insure against or disputes to be settled, no one will say nunc dimittis so thankfully as the present Minister of Labour.
§ Question, put, "That a sum, not exceeding £7,303,464, be granted for the said Service."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 126; Noes, 258.1843
|Division No. 72.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayes, John Henry||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield. Hillsbro')||Henderson. Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Baker, J. (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Shleis, Dr. Drummond|
|Baker, Walter||Hirst, G. H.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Barnes, A.||Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Batey, Joseph||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe|
|Bondfield, Margaret||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Broad, F. A.||Johnston, Thomas (Dundee)||Snell, Harry|
|Bromfield, William||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Spoor, Rt. Hon. Benjamin Charles|
|Bromley, J.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Stamford, T. W.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Brown. James (Ayr and Bute)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Buchanan, G.||Kelly, W. T.||Strauss, E. A.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel||Kennedy, T.||Sullivan, J|
|Charleton, H. C.||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Clowes. S.||Kirkwood, D.||Taylor, B. A.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lansbury, George||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawrence, Susan||Thomson, Trevelyan (Middlesbro., W.)|
|Compton, Joseph||Lawson, John James||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Connolly, M.||Lindley, F. W.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cove, W. G.||Lowth, T.||Townend, A. E.|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Lunn, William||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Mackinder, W.||Viant, S. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Wetthoughton)||MacLaren, Andrew||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||Walsh, Rt. Hon. Stephen|
|Dennison, R.||March, S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Duncan, C.||Maxton, James||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Dunnico, H.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Fenby, T. D.||Mosley, Oswald||wellock, Wilfred|
|Garro-Jones, Captain G. M.||Naylor, T. E.||Westwood, J.|
|Gardner, J. p.||Paling, W.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Glbbins, Joseph||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Whiteley, W.|
|Gillett, George M.||Potts, John S.||Wiggins, William Martin|
|Graham, D M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Purcell, A. A.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Groves, T.||Riley, Ben||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Grundy, T. W.||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O.(W.Bromwich)||Windsor, Walter|
|Hall, F. (York. W. R, Nonnanton)||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks,W.R.,Elland)||Wright, W.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rose, Frank H.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Hardle, George D.||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Scurr, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Hayday, Arthur||Sexton, James||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Charles Edwards.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Burman, J. B.||Edwards, J. Hugh (Accrington)|
|Agg-Gardner, Rt. Hon. Sir James T.||Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)|
|Albery, Irving James||Butler, Sir Geoffrey||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Alexander, E. E. (Leyton)||Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Fairfax, Captain J. G.|
|Allen, j. Sandeman (L'pool, W, Derby)||Campbell, E. T.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M.S.||Carver, Major W. H.||Fanshawe, Commander G. D.|
|Applin, Colonel R, V. K.||Cayzer, Maj.Sir Herbt. R.(Prtsmth.S.)||Fermoy, Lord|
|Apsley, Lord||Cecil, Rt. Hon. sir Evelyn (Aston)||Ford, Sir P. J.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrld W.||Chamberlain, Rt- Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Forestler-Walker, Sir L|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Chapman, Sir S.||Forrest, W.|
|Atkinson, C.||Charte is, Brigadier-General J.||Foxcroft, Captain C. T.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon, Stanley||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Bainlel, Lord||Churchman, Sir Arthur C.||Frees, Sir Walter da|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M-||Clayton, G. C.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gadle, Lieut.-Col. Anthony|
|Beckett, sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon W.||Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir G. K.||Gates, Percy|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Cooper, A. Duff||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton|
|Bird, E. R. (Yorks. W. R., Skipton)||Couper, J. B.||Gibbs, Col. Rt. Hon. George Abraham|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.|
|Blundell, F. N.||Cowan, Sir Wm. Henry (Islington, N.)||Goff, Sir Park|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Craig, Ernest (Chester, Crewe)||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Crooke, J. Smedley (Deritend)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.|
|Bowyer, Captain G. E. W.||Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Grotrian, H. Brent|
|Brass, Captain W.||Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Cunliffe, Sir Herbert||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Davidson,J.(Hertf'd,Hemel Hempst'd)||Hall, Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)|
|Brooke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Davidson, Major-General Sir John H.||Hall, Capt. W. D' A. (Brecon & Rad.)|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset,Yeovll)||Hammersley, S. S.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'I'd., Hexham)||Davies, Dr. Vernon||Hanbury, C.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C. (Berks,Newb'y)||Dawson, Sir Philip||Harland, A.|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Harrison, G. J. C.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Harvey, G. (Lambeth, Kennington)||Malone. Major P. B.||Shaw, Lt.-Col. A. D.Mcl. (Renfrew, W)|
|Hawke, John Anthony||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C. M.||Margesson, Captain D.||Slaney, Major P. Kenyon|
|Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Marriott, Sir J. A. R.||Smith. R. W.(Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Col. Arthur P.||Meller, R. J.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Merriman, F. B.||Smithers, Waldron|
|Herbert, S. (York, N. R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Hills, Major John Waller||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Hohler, Sir Gerald Fitzroy||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Wllt'sden.E.)|
|Holbrook, Sir Arthur Richard||Moore, Sir Newton J.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Holland, Sir Arthur||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westm'eland)|
|Holt, Capt. H. P.||Nelson, Sir Frank||Starry- Deans, R.|
|Hope, Capt. A. O. J. (Warw'k, Nun.)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Streatfeild, Captain S. R.|
|Hope, Sir Harry (Fortar)||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Hopkins, J. W. W.||Nuttall, Ellis||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Oakley, T,||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Horlick, Lieut.-Colonel J. N.||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)||Templeton, W. P.|
|Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Colonel C. K.||Oman. Sir Charles William C.||Thorn, Lt.-Col. J. G. (Dumbarton)|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney,N.)||Penny, Frederick George||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Hume, Sir G. H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)|
|Hume-Williams, Sir W. Ellis||Perkins, Colonel E. K.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Hunter-weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Perring, Sir William George||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Ilifle, Sir Edward M.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.||Peto, G. (Somerset, Frome)||Waddington, R.|
|Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Philipson, Mabel||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Jacob, A. E.||Power, Sir John Cecil||Ward, Lt.-Col. A.L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Jephcott, A. R.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Preston, William||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Kidd, J. (Linlithgow)||Price, Major C. W. M.||Watson, Sir F. (Pudsey and Otley)|
|Kindersley, Major G. M.||Radford. E. A.||Watson, Rt. Hon. W. (Carlisle)|
|King, Captain Henry Douglas||Raine, W.||Watts, Dr. -.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Rawson, Sir Cooper||Wells, S. R.|
|Lamb, J. O.||Rees, Sir Beddoe||Whcler, Major Sir Granville C. H.|
|Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Reid, Capt. Cunningham(Warrington)||White, Lieut.-Col. Sir G. Dalrymple-|
|Little, Dr. E. Graham||Raid, D. D. (County Down)||Williams, A. M. (Cornwall, Northern)|
|Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)||Rentoul, G. S.||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Loder J. de V.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.||Williams. C. P. (Denbigh, Wrexham)|
|Looker, Herbert William||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)||Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)|
|Lougher, Lewis||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Hereford)||Wilson, M. J. (York, N. R., Richm'd)|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs, Stretford)||Wilson, R. R. (Stafford. Lichfield)|
|Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Ropner, Major L.||Windsor-Cllve, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|MacAndrew, Major Charles Glen||Ruggles-Brise, Major E. A.||Wise, Sir Fredric|
|McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Withers, John James|
|Macintyre, Ian||Rye, F. G.||Womersley, W. J.|
|McLean, Major A.||Salmon. Major I.||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'dge & Hyde)|
|Macmillan, Captain H.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.)|
|Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Sandeman, N. Stewart||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Sanderson, Sir Frank||Wragg, Herbert|
|Macquisten, F. A.||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.||Young, Rt. Hon. Hilton (Norwich)|
|MacRobert, Alexander M.||Savery, S. S.|
|Maitland. Sir Arthur D. steel.||Scott, Rt. Hon. Sir Leslie||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Makins, Brigadler-General E.||Shaw, R. G (Yorks. W.R., Sawerby)||Major Sir George Hennessy and|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ It being after Eleven of the Clark, and objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Chairman left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress: to sit again To-morrow.1844
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.