HC Deb 10 December 1929 vol 233 cc329-31
Major GLYN

I beg to move, in page 12, line 14, to leave out from the word "Act," to the end of the Subsection.

Our object in moving this Amendment is to draw the attention of the Committee to the position in which we are placed on account of the withdrawal of Clause 4. It is obvious that Sub-section (1) of Clause 15 does not make sense, because it refers back to Clause 4, the exact form of which is not yet known. There is a further Amendment by the Minister of Labour on this Clause—in page 12, line 16, to leave out from the word "if" to the word "six," in line 17, and to insert instead thereof the word "section." She will move out those words, I suppose, for the same purpose as on Clause 7, where certain words were taken out temporarily, with the idea of putting them back later. It does make the Committee stage very difficult when an important Clause like this, dealing with the transitory provisions, refers back to Clause 4, the exact terms of which we do not know. If Clause 4 in its new form is going to be satisfactory to ail sections of the House, it will be the most remarkable Clause ever drafted. It may be that it will be satisfactory to hon. Members who sit below the Gangway on the Government side, and to hon. Members who sit below the Gangway on this side. It will be extremely interesting for us to see the form that the Clause takes. In the meantime, I do not think the Government ought to ask the Committee to accept Clause 15 until we have had some more information on the subject.


As the hon. and gallant Member has rightly said, I propose to move out certain wards in this Clause, in order to move them back again on the Report stage. The Clause reads quite well without those words, because it remains applicable to the other provisions mentioned in the Clause and it will be applicable to Clause 4 when that is approved by the House on Report. Hon. Members must realise that in dealing with conditions of benefit you have to consider the machinery by which the change-over is going to be effected. This is a pure machinery Motion, which enables me to spread the change over six weeks. We shall give a slight advantage to those whose disallowances mature or whose claims mature during that six weeks period, and it will enable us instead of penalising people after the 13th March under the old Act to begin to bring the new provisions into operation under the new Act as from an earlier date. It is quite impossible that on a particular day, the 13th March, we should be able to deal with the tremendous numbers of persons who would be ripe for dealing with in connection with the change-over. Therefore, from the standpoint of the smooth working of the machine we have put in this six weeks' period during which the disallowances to be considered will be dealt with under the new Act instead of under the old Act.


The Committee will be aware that from the point of view of drafting we are in a remarkable position in connection with this Bill. I have been in this House longer than anyone in the Chamber at the present time. I have been a Member of this House for a quarter of a century. I have seen many Governments and many Ministers and many methods of doing business, but I have never seen any Government and I have never seen any Minister conduct business like the present Government and the present Minister of Labour. The right hon. Lady is proposing to move to leave out certain words, which she will put back again later, because neither she nor the Government nor the extraordinary collection of groups which form the Socialist party have yet made up their minds how they are going to deal with the most important portion of the Bill. If this is not an instance of administrative incapacity and chaos, then I have never known a case of that sort.

Major GLYN

If the Minister of Labour can give me some idea of the expense involved, I will withdraw my Amendment, in view of her explanation.


I believe that the cost of the operation is estimated at about £500,000.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 12, line 16, leave out from the word "if" to the word "six," in line 17, and insert instead thereof the word "section."—[Miss Bondfield.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.


There is an Amendment standing upon the Order Paper in my name and the name of the hon. Member for East Leyton (Mr. Brockway), providing that regulations and instructions sent to the officials of Employment Exchanges shall be published and made available to insured persons at the Exchanges. Hitherto, most of the regulations issued in regard to Unemployment Insurance have been in private and confidential circulation. Such regulations ought to be made public, so that the unemployed persons may know what conditions govern them. Perhaps the Minister of Labour will give us that assurance.


I am trying to avoid any misunderstanding in regard to regulations, whether confidential or otherwise.