§ Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, at the end, to insert the wordsor(c) the widow of a man who owing to his death has not been able to pay the whole of the contributions which other-wise would have entitled her to a pension under the principal Act.This is an important Amendment, and illustrates what I have always described as the gross injustices of this Bill. It will definitely bring to the mind of the Committee the fact that the major proposals in this Measure will create many and considerable new grievances. These anomalies are inevitable when we depart from the contributory principle. We find, side by side, vast numbers of people paying compulsory contributions under the provisions of the main Act, and a number of people arbitrarily chosen to receive, without any contribution, a free gift from the State. This Amendment is designed to include among those who are to receive a free pension of 10s. a week the widow of a man who, owing to his death, has not been able to pay the whole of the contributions which otherwise would have entitled her to a pension under the principal Act. Of course, under the principal Act there are quite properly, as is found in every compulsory insurance scheme, certain regulations, some of which are designed under the advice of the actuary, as regards contributions and the number of them which have to be paid before a pension is granted. Under the scheme in the principal Act, the number of contributions to be paid by a man before his widow can qualify for a pension is 104.
When you have made that statement and look at the position of two groups of people who are involved, both in the 2272 same section of the community, and both in what we may call the insurable class, you certainly see a very astonishing state of affairs as a result of the Government proposals. If you had maintained the contributory system, which has been the policy of the Conservative party and is, I understand, the official policy of the Liberal party, this difficulty, or, rather, this injustice, this anomalous position, would not have arisen; but we find ourselves in this situation. There may be a man who has been contributing under the principal Act but who has paid only 50 or 60 out of the 104 contributions before his death, and in that case his widow will receive no pension. On the other hand, if this Bill become law, another widow, one of the 400,000 or 500,000 who are the subject of this gift, whose husband has paid no contributions, will receive a pension.
I am not putting an extreme case. If I wanted to submit an extreme instance, there is the case of a person who has paid every contribution but one, and dies; his widow will get no pension through his failure to pay one contribution only. On the other hand there will be a widow, probably living in the same street, who has received a pension although her husband paid no contributions at all. There is also the case, which shows a graver injustice still, of the man who becomes a voluntary contributor. He has been invited to do so by the State, and not only has he paid his own contributions as a worker, but he has paid the employer's contributions as well. If through some mischance, some failure, perhaps, on his part, or his death, he does not pay the requisite number of contributions, his widow loses the pension, and yet another widow, in exactly the same social position in life, receives under these unfair and unjust proposals of the Government, a pension as a free gift
I want to make my position perfectly plain. I am moving this Amendment more particularly to call attention to the grave injustices which are created by this scheme, and, I hope, with the support particularly of Members of the Liberal party. If we had been able to pass the proposal to impose a test, in accordance with the pledge of the Prime Minister, there would have been some money available for widows of this class. In the next 16 years a sum of £80,000,000 2273 is to be devoted to one particular section of the community. I have always said, and I have not yet heard any argument to controvert it which has impressed me, that if that sum of £80,000,000 is to be given as a free gift it ought to be given to all equally deserving members of the community, and the class to which I have referred certainly ought to come in for a share.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I am glad to hear the hon. Member, even though it is rather late in the day, supporting that proposal. I warned him and other hon. Members when they let the Financial Resolution go by without protest on their part that we should inevitably find ourselves in the position we are in this afternoon.
§ Sir K. WOOD
No. The hon. Gentleman can reply later. I am anxious that he should contribute to our Debates.
§ Sir K. WOOD
We are in this unfortunate position that by a majority of this House the £80,000,000 has gone to one section of the community alone. At that time I endeavoured to get the House—and I appealed to the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown)—to say that if we could not get a fair division of this £80,000,000, we should at any rate endeavour to save some of the money by imposing the test which the Prime Minister himself had suggested. In that way we might have had something to give to people of the class referred to in this Amendment. But perhaps I did not present the case as forcibly as I might have done, and at any rate I did not get the support of hon. Members to whom I thought I could look. Therefore, we find ourselves this afternoon in this un-fortunate position, that we have not been permitted by the Government to make a fair apportionment of this £80,000,000.
For some reason which has not yet been explained, but which may be explained on Third Reading, nobody knows even now why the Minister of Health seized on a particular class of women—widows, 55 years of age—and said that all over that age were to have this £80,000,000. Nobody can conceive why that was done, especially when one remembers, as I dare say you will recollect, 2274 Mr. Dunnico, that when the main Act was discussed we were told there were many more hard cases and sections of the community suffering much more than widows were.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I will not remind you now, Mr. Dunnico, but I will endeavour privately to refresh your memory; but it is certainly fresh in the memory of many hon. Members present. This particular section of the community has been chosen, and we now see the grave injustice of it. I do not know what the Government's reply will be when a widow says: "At any rate, my husband, who is dead, did make some contributions towards this scheme. It is true that he was not able to complete his 104 contributions, but he did make some payment, and yet I am refused a widow's pension; and next door is a widow who is getting the pension although her husband has not made a contribution towards it." She will probably explain that she has no objection to the other widow getting the pension, but at any rate she will point out that her husband had done his best to comply with the conditions of the scheme and yet she receives no pension at all.
I do not know how that position is to be dealt with. It comes about through the abandonment of the contributory principle. If you do not have a contributory scheme, at any rate you must have a scheme with a test as to means. The Prime Minister was quite right about that. I asked him to-day if he would come here to explain this matter. I asked him to come here on Tuesday to take part in the Debate. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health has not been able to explain it, and I think it would have been a right and proper thing for the Prime Minister, having regard to the pledges he gave to the widows of the country, and the fact that he himself had said—
§ Sir K. WOOD
I hope I shall not offend against the rules of debate. I can quite understand the hon. Gentleman not wishing to hear these words, but I intend to say them, unless the Chairman says I am out of order. I say this Amendment reveals the gross inequalities which have been caused by the Government's proposals, and I await the explanation of the right hon. Gentleman of the case which I have put forward. This is no difficulty of mine. It is no good saying we have caused this difficulty.
§ Sir K. WOOD
The hon. Member may have an opportunity to explain how we have caused the difficulty, and if I am speaking again later I shall answer him. Let no one say this difficulty, this injustice, has been created by any action on the part of hon. Members on these benches or by the Members of the Liberal party. It is true that I have had some difficulty in following the actions of the hon. Members who sit on the Liberal Benches. I am not quite clear as to what has been their guiding principle in their discussions on this Bill, but they have no share or responsibility, nor have we, in the creation of the series of injustices revealed by the Amendment. It is certainly the duty of the Minister of Health to give a reply to the case which I have put forward and to state to the Committee what are the reasons which have actuated him in persisting with these proposals when he is faced with such a position as that to which the Amendment calls attention. Hon. Members are smiling to-day, but they will be sorry for it, and there will be many vacant places. I want to know what reply the Minister of Health is going to make.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)
We have listened with the usual interest and amusement to the usual speech by the right hon. Gentleman, one of those which sail very near the wind and partake of the nature of what I may call a semi-Second Beading speech. We have had the usual epithets hurled at the Bill: "These un-fair and unjust proposals," references 2276 to new grievances; but no real explanation of what the Amendment is all about. I was not a little surprised when I found that the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) and the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken had put their names down to this Amendment. I could have understood it had it been in the names of other less responsible Members of their party, for this Amendment, if it means anything at all, strikes at the very root of the principle on which the Act of 1925 was based, the principle which has been defended in season and out of season through the Debates on this Bill.
This is a frontal attack on the sacred contributory principle. If it is not that, it is utterly meaningless. Presumably—I use the word "presumably" advisedly—the intention of the Amendment is to bring within the scope of this Measure the employed contributor in respect of whom 104 contributions have not been paid. The 104 contributions are part and parcel of the Act of 1925. They were introduced by my predecessor as what he regarded as an absolute minimum stamp qualification for a contributory scheme. What he said, in effect, was that in the Health Insurance Act we required these 104 contributions, and he must require at least that qualification where he was going to give far more valuable rights than are given in disability benefits under the Health Insurance Act. He said 104 contributions was the minimum for any scheme which could honestly call itself contributory. Yet the proposal is now made, after this elaborate scheme with all its statutory provisions has been in operation for some time, to destroy that basis and to pay the pension in respect of people whose husbands have not made the necessary 104 contributions.
Let me go back to the right hon. Gentleman's own Act. The pre-Act widows with children were brought in without any qualifications at all, and why did he propose 104 contributions for the post-Act widow? Because, it being a contributory scheme, he had to have some kind of contribution basis, and it is no more right for hon. and right hon. Members opposite to ask me to give up a contribution test in regard to post-Act widows than it would have been to ask the right hon. Gentleman to do it. If it had been cut down to 100, there would still be the 2277 case of people who had contributed 99. As long as you have a contributory scheme, it must be conducted on insurance principles, and I am not making any alteration in the basis of it. All that I have done in this Bill is to bring within the benefits of the scheme people of the same class as people now under it, and not in any way to alter the financial burdens, because the whole of the additional burden is borne by the Treasury.
This proposal is of an entirely different character. It is to give the widow's pension under a contributory scheme to people who have not fulfilled the contributions. That is obviously absurd, and this Amendment is the more absurd, because, as a matter of fact, 'as it is drafted, it is limited to the voluntary contributor. Is any Member of the Committee going to suggest for one moment that voluntary contributors are to have special advantages over the compulsory contributors? I suggest that cannot be argued. This Amendment, in a word, strikes at the root of everything which I understood the Conservative party to hold dear. It is obviously an Amendment which we could not accept, and, so far from diminishing grievances, if it were put into operation, it would create a new set by making a distinction between the compulsory and the voluntary contributor.
Dr. VERNON DAVIES
The Minister for Health made the case against my right hon. Friend that he had not addressed himself to his Amendment. The Minister himself has skated round the Amendment, introduced a lot of irrelevant matter, and, deliberately or other-wise, has not faced the issue. He says this is a definite attack on the contributory system, but what he was careful to forget is that, by the Bill he has introduced and the Clause we are discussing, he has made the breach himself, and, he having destroyed the contributory principle, we say let us see that as little damage is done as possible. We are doing the best we can to bring this before the Government and the Minister, and they are, with great skill, I admit, deliberately evading the issue.
The point the Committee has to consider is this: you are now placing contributors who have made no contribution at all towards their pensions on the same footing as the class who have been contributing for a long time. That is a funda- 2278 mental difference in the principle and a fundamental injustice to the widows of this country. Why should the widow of a man who has paid 103 contributions and then, through sickness or death, failed to reach the full amount, not receive the pension while the widow next door, whose husband has not paid a penny piece receives the pension? It is a distinct in-justice and the Minister made not the slightest attempt to justify his opposition to this Amendment. He tried to excuse himself by the weak and lame argument that the burden is borne by the Treasury. Where does the money of the Treasury come from? It comes from the taxpayers of this country.
Another point we have to bear in mind is that the more money is used from the Pension Fund, the less is available for future benefits to the present compulsory contributors by increased pensions or diminished age or diminished contributions. To say that this is not injuring the people is a curious argument. I hope the Under-Secretary (Miss Lawrence) if she replies, will devote her attention to the terms of the Amendment and will try to justify the position that the Government are taking up, under which the widow of a man who has paid nothing can get 10s. a week and the widow of a man who may have paid 103 contributions gets nothing because he was one contribution short. The Amendment would relieve a gross injustice and I hope the Minister and the Under-Secretary will remember in future discussion that they have made a vital breach in the contributory principle and what they are doing now is to distribute largesse to those who have paid nothing, and refuse it to those who have paid.
§ Mr. TINKER
When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woolwich, West (Sir K. Wood) moved his Amendment, I thought he meant that the widows he was dealing with ought to get a pension but he said that he was not pressing the matter. It was only for the purpose of showing up the anomalies created by the Bill. So if we wanted to accept this proposal, the Conservative party would not have brought it in. It would mean laying it down that there need not be a certain number of contributions and thereby undermining the whole principle of the Bill. It is clear there is no intention on the part of the Conservative Members to press this Amendment.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
The only purpose is the intention of trying to show us up. The reason this change has been brought about is that the widows aged between 61 and 70 of men who had passed 70 years of age before January, 1928, were debarred from getting benefits under the last Act of Parliament. When hon. Members speak about anomalies, if the Conservative party can justify the many anomalies in their Measure, then I will agree with them on this. The number of anomalies in their Measure which will be removed by our Measure are far in excess of the number contained in our Measure. If there were 101 anomalies in the Conservative party's Measure and there are only about 20 in this Measure, then at least we are improving upon their efforts. The Measure which the Government are now bringing in is a vast improvement on the Measure of 1925, and when the time comes when we have to face our people on the relative merits of this Measure and the Act of 1925, they will say to us, "You have done very well in your Measure, and it is certainly a big improvement on the one which the Conservative party brought in."
§ Sir ROBERT ASKE
Some of us on these benches feel some difficulty about this Amendment, because we feel that, in principle, there is a good deal to be said for it, but we have as yet not heard what we were very anxious indeed to hear, namely, what the Minister has to say as to the merits of the Amendment. We much regret that the Minister said nothing at all upon the merits of the Amendment. He based his reply to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), who moved this Amendment on two grounds and two grounds only: First of all, that this Amendment did not accord with the Act of 1925, or at all events altered it; and, secondly, that it cut across the contributory principle. May I say, with great respect to the Minister, that any argument which right hon. or hon. Members opposite address to the Committee which is purely a matter of criticism as to the comparisons between any Amendment now proposed and the 1925 Act, do not appeal to us at all. We are not in the slightest degree responsible for the 1925 Act, and we regard any such criticisms—and I am 2280 saying this with great respect—as purely debating points, and, so far as we are concerned, as wasting the time of the Committee. What we would respectfully ask for is a statement as to the merits or demerits of the Amendment.
In the second place, with regard to what was said about this Amendment cutting across the contributory principle, we feel that that argument is not sound. The Amendment is still based on the contributory principle; all that it says is that in certain cases the number of contributions required will be less, and it does not cut across the contributory principle, because to bring a man's widow within this Amendment at all he must have been a contributor; in other words, he must have been within the contributory principle.
If I may express the difficulties which we feel, they are these: First of all, we should like to know what the financial effect of such an Amendment would be. Would there be a very large number of widows who would, by this Amendment, be included under this Bill? If the Minister would inform the Committee what would be the financial result, we should be in a much better position to make up our minds. We should also like the opinion of the Minister as to whether that financial result would be quite outside the scope of anything with which the Government would be prepared to deal at this juncture. Those are practical considerations which, as I think the Minister will appreciate, are very relevant on this Amendment.
I wish to add only this with regard to the Measure: We feel that the widows who are included in the Amendment are most deserving of sympathetic consideration by the Government, for the reason that widows who would be included under the existing provisions of the Bill include widows of men who may have paid less than half-a-dozen contributions or may have paid no contributions at all, but the widows under the 1925 Act must be widows of men who were actually insured at the date of their death; in other words, if a man had gone temporarily out of benefit, his widow would not get her pension. The statutory conditions which the widows have to satisfy under the 1925 Act are much more serious than the conditions which are imposed on the widows who come in under this 2281 Bill; because under this Bill, as I understand it, it is sufficient either that the deceased husband should have been insured for a very few weeks only—as long as he was registered it is enough—or if he died before 1911 he need not have been insured at all. Therefore, the position between the two classes of widows is really very anomalous and ought to be rectified, if the cost is not going to be so great as to jeopardise this Bill. That is the great consideration to which I respectfully ask that the Minister should give his careful consideration.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) is apparently leaving the House, because I was going to make a few remarks on the attack which he has made on my right hon. Friend the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood). I should like to know what my right hon. Friend has done which is either unusual or in any sense reprehensible. My right hon. Friend has brought forward an Amendment in order to obtain from the Government an expression of opinion, and a statement as to how they reconcile their action in rejecting this Amendment with the attitude which they have taken up on previous portions of the Bill. That is a perfectly legitimate thing to do. It is perfectly legitimate for any private Member of any party—and after all those in opposition, even though they may have occupied positions of great responsibility in a previous Government, are in that sense private Members—to bring forward an Amendment for the purpose of testing the view of the Government and to say at the same time, "We are not prepared to divide the Committee on this Amendment, but we put it forward in order that we may have the answer of the Department.
The hon. Member for East Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Sir R. Aske)—whom I should like to congratulate, if I may do so without impertinence, upon the clarity with which he put his view—has asked, in effect, the same question as my right hon. Friend the Member for West Woolwich has asked. He asked the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health, through you, Mr. Chairman, to explain to the House how it is that a Government which has given pensions to persons who have not contributed one penny for them, is able and ready to 2282 justify to the country its action in refusing pensions to widows who may have made, as has been pointed out, no less than 103 contributions. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health said that my right hon. Friend has made a fundamental attack upon the contributory principle. I do not think that he has done so, because the persons who would come within the scope of this Amendment are those who have made some contribution; but whether he has done so or not is entirely beside the point. The point at issue is how the hon. Lady is going to justify this in the country. I noticed at the commencement of the Debate that hon. Members opposite treated the whole matter as rather a derisory one. I do not want to make any attack upon them, but I venture to say that they will not find it so when they go their constituencies.
§ Mr. TINKER
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to explain, the point I made was that the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) was not prepared to force an issue upon this point; he recognised that it would be met. That was the gibe I made. After all, when an Amendment is made we expect that it is going to be forced to an issue and the opinion of the House tested.
Quite obviously the hon. Member has not understood what my right hon. Friend has said. He said he was not prepared to go to a Division on the matter, but he wished to know the view of the Government upon it, and how they reconciled what appeared to be two entirely irreconcilable principles; that is to say, how they reconciled on the one hand giving pensions to those who have not contributed, and, on the other hand, refusing pensions to people who have made 103 contributions. I think there will be no difference of opinion in any quarter of the House that emoluments paid out of public funds to people in the country seldom produce any gratitude to the Government. [Interruption.] Hon. Members opposite will find that out at the next election. We also know that so-called hard cases and grievances which arise under Acts of Parliament are calculated to do far greater harm to the Government than the good which is done by any benefit which they may have conferred by legis- 2283 lation. There is no difference between the two sides of the House upon that point; everyone knows it. I do not envy the position of right hon. and hon. Members opposite in having, as many of them will have, Communists on their flanks, and having to explain in public meetings that their Government has refused to allow pensions to women who have made 103 contributions but have given pensions to other persons who have made no contributions of any kind whatever.
§ Captain CAZALET
The argument used by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health that this Amendment cuts across the whole contributory basis of the Conservative Act of 1925, as has been explained from these and other benches, cuts no ice whatever. By the action of the Minister of Health the whole position has been changed, and it is he who is illogical in making such a statement and not we who are illogical in putting forward this Amendment. As one of the irresponsible Members whose name is underneath this Amendment I want to make one or two observations upon it. hon. Members opposite have told us—and I think the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland said it in so many definite words—that they expect to get kudos and popularity at the next election from the passing of this Act. I think they are under an illusion and will suffer a disappointment with regard to that in the course of either the next few months or the next few years; but if they are expectant of getting popularity from such individuals as receive benefit under this Act, they must also take the responsibility for the injustices which it creates. We on these benches know full well that at the last General Election we suffered for anomalies which we admit were created under our Act, but no Amendment which has been moved up to now in the Committee stages of this Bill has displayed and exhibited the gross anomalies which arise under the present Measure to such an extent as has this Amendment. After all, if this Amendment is not one that is suitable for remedying these anomalies, then we who have put our names to it will be quite prepared to accept or consider sympathetically some other Amendment which may be drafted by the Government to remedy this state of affairs.
2284 The right hon. Gentleman said that, on the question of the 104 contributions, we might well take some of those logical arguments which were used by the hon. Lady the other evening when she was defending the figure of 55 for the age. But surely the point is that, as long as you have a contributory system, you can defend logically some figure such as 104, but when you depart from the contributory principle I fail to see how you can find any logical defence for denying a pension to the widow of a man who has not paid his full 104 contributions, while you give it to one who has paid no contributions at all. If I may just ask the hon. Lady a question, is it possible to give us any figure at to the number of applications for pensions that have been made to the various authorities by widows whose husbands had not completed their full 104 contributions? Would the hon. Lady also consider this point? The other evening there was a long discussion as to what constitutes the right of a widow to receive a pension in respect of the war service of her former husband. I would ask the hon. Lady whether it would not be possible, in reckoning the 104 contributions, to take some account of that, and allow the widow to count as contributions so many weeks' service, for instance, in different parts of the Empire. I have in mind two cases, in particular, in my own constituency. There is another Clause in the Bill which extends the scheme within the Empire—
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of HEALTH (Miss Lawrence)
I would submit that the hon. and gallant Member should wait until we reach that Clause, and that his remarks on that point are not relevant to this Amendment.
§ Captain CAZALET
I shall hope to have the opportunity of raising the matter then, but I think my remarks are relevant to the present Amendment. In the case of one widow in my own constituency, her husband had only paid 52 contributions, owing to the fact that he had served as an engineer in Africa for some 18 months. After returning to this country he paid 52 contributions, and then died—
§ Mr. SKELTON
On a point of Order. I understand that the hon. Lady denies that the statement of my hon. and gallant 2285 Friend is relevant, and I would like to ask, now that my hon. and gallant Friend is taking the matter up, whether it would not be worth while for the hon. Lady to listen to him?
The Ruling which I gave was that it is not out of order for a Minister to shake her head, and it is not a point of Order to ask why she did so.
§ Captain CAZALET
I thought that the hon. Lady was discussing the point I was raising with the hon. Gentleman next to her, in order to enable her to give me a satisfactory answer. I am sure I have never failed to get from the hon. Lady complete attention to the points I have raised, and I hope that this one is deserving of her attention. I know that it is quite wrong and makes bad law to generalise from exceptional circumstances, but I do not feel these two widows' cases which have happened to come within my notice in the last few days are exceptional. We on these benches will have to justify ourselves before our constituents—[Interruption.] Yes, and we shall find it very much easier after having spoken on this Amendment from these benches to justify ourselves than will hon. Members opposite. What I was suggesting was that, if an individual had served for so many weeks or months or years in an insurable capacity abroad, within the Dominions, within the Empire
§ Miss LAWRENCE
On a point of Order. The case of persons who leave the country is dealt with in Clause 3, paragraph (c), and I should like to ask your guidance, Mr. Dunnico, as to whether such a consideration would not properly be taken when we come to that stage.
§ Captain CAZALET
This, of course, does not refer to people who are going abroad in the future; I am referring to people who in the past have gone abroad, and who have returned to this country and then died. I hope, however, that I 2286 shall have the opportunity of raising the point again at the appropriate stage.
On that point of Order. Surely, the case which my hon. and gallant Friend has been quoting does come within this Clause. There is no question here of payments being made to persons in the Dominions. This is merely the case of a widow whose husband was in the Dominions, and therefore could not come under the Act until he returned to this country some short time since, after which he died before he had been able to make up the statutory number of contributions. Such a case would, of course, come under this Amendment.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I would press the point of Order, because there is a whole Clause devoted to what may be called in-and-out contributors, and it does seem to me to be be very inconvenient to mix up that question with residence questions.
May I respectfully submit that, while the hon. Lady may contend all sorts of things, she cannot prevent my hon. and gallant Friend on this Amendment from using as an example people who would be affected by it, such as widows whose husbands have gone to the Dominions and therefore failed to make up the necessary number of contributions? I respectfully submit that the hon. Lady's contentions or wishes cannot affect the question of what is in order or what is not in order.
In so far as this Amendment raises the question of the widow who loses her pension by reason of her husband not having made the full number of contributions, it will be in order. On the other hand, seeing that the time at our disposal for debate is restricted, I suggest that the hon. and gallant Member should not develop too much the residential phase of this Amendment.
§ Captain CAZALET
I had already said all that I had to say on that particular point, but I think it shows, if I may be allowed to say so, that the hon. Lady has taken the same attitude as the Minister with regard to this Amendment, and has completely ignored either study or con- 2287 sideration of it. The only other point that I wanted to raise was as to whether it would not be possible, in the case of men who had done a certain amount of war service, to count towards their 104 contributions any weeks of service that they had done during the period of the Great War.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
That was provided for by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamber-lain) in his own Act.
§ Captain CAZALET
I am delighted to hear that, because in a very similar case which was raised in my own constituency, where the period of war service had been properly reckoned and tabulated, the unfortunate widow, under my right hon. Friend's Act, has not yet received her pension. The assurance which the hon. Lady has given to me will give me courage to take up the matter once again, and to hope that I shall be successful. I conclude by saying that I think this Amendment has exposed to a greater degree than any former Amendment the extraordinary anomalies which exist under this Bill, and that we on these benches have a perfect right to defend ourselves as we have done to-day and intend to do in the future if we are accused, as no doubt we shall be, of having sanctioned such anomalies. From our point of view and from the point of view of the unfortunate widows who are being most unjustly deprived of pensions, and whose curiosity and wrath and fury we shall have to satisfy, the anomalies which exist under this Bill could not have been better exposed than by the discussion we have had on this Amendment, and I think it will be extremely difficult for hon. Gentlemen opposite to explain those anomalies in their constituencies.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I desire to apologise to the hon. Member for East Newcastle-upon-Tyne (Sir B. Aske), but, when an Amendment is put down which is really not a serious Amendment, and upon which those who put it down do not intend to go to a Division, it is only natural that one should treat it, perhaps, a little lightly. We have a contributory system for National Health Insurance, Pensions, Old Age Pensions, and Widows' Pensions, of which the finance has been very carefully thought out. 2288 Parliament chose to make that system a contributory system, and Parliament is, I think, going to choose this year to give out of Treasury money a definite grant to a definite and diminishing class of persons. No embarrassment would be caused by the giving of such a grant to people who in the natural course of things will gradually die off, but our liability under a permanent contributory scheme is quite a different matter, and in dealing with a permanent contributory scheme we are bound by other actuarial conditions than those which govern the cases of certain individuals who are fast dying out.
In all insurance schemes from the Act of 1911 onwards it has been a cardinal principle that there should be a substantial period of insurance, in order that the persons who come in may be effectively insured, and there has been this test of 104 contributions ever since the Insurance Acts have been in force. The object is clear, namely, that there shall be a strict test of bona fide insurance. The hon. Member for East Newcastle said that he did not care in the least what might be put forward by members of the Conservative party or by us with regard to consistency, and that he did not think anything of the Act of 1925 or of the reasons which actuated the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston in passing it. I do not know whether he will take as a precedent the Act of 1911. I have here the Debates on the Bill of 1911, and it is surprising to see how many of these important questions which are arising under this Bill were settled then for good and all. This is what was said by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) on the 17th July, 1911:We feel there must be a substantial waiting period After all there is a very serious liability incurred in regard to paying a man a pension of five shillings for his life. I do not think the method adopted is unreasonable.… It is quite impossible for us to accept a liability under two years."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th July, 1911; cols. 837–8, Vol. 28.]
When the right hon. Gentleman was speaking of 5s. a week for life, he was speaking of disablement benefit, not pension, but we want to retain that qualification which is the qualification laid down in all the Health Insurance Acts, and was adopted by everyone who had to do with 2289 health insurance, and is the foundation of all insurance systems—a period of insurance.
Now as to the anomalies. All the anomalies occur in the Act of 1925. In the 1925 Act, on the contributory side of the matter, there have to be 104 stamps. For the pre-Act widows there are no contributions. The case is almost precisely the same as ours except that the 1925 Act took insurance at the time of death as the test, we at some time within three years. At present there are people being turned down, or who may be turned down, who have contributed 60, 70, or 80 stamps, and pre-Act widows with children whose husbands never contributed a penny are left in. We have added a greater number of pre-Act widows, that is perfectly true, but the contrast between the woman who has paid nothing, and the persons who have contributed not enough is in the Act of 1925.
Is it not a fact that under the Act a widow only got a pension until her youngest child reached 14½—not a permanent pension—whereas widows under this Clause get a permanent pension?
§ Miss LAWRENCE
Yes. They get permanent pensions, but the inconsistency remains that the pre-Act widow gets a pension without having contributed a penny, while a widow with children whose husband has contributed 50 stamps gets nothing. This Amendment is put down and is not going to be pressed to a Division, because no man who ever had any serious responsibility with regard to insurance would vote for altering in this way, the main qualification in all the Insurance Acts—the possession of 104 stamps. It is not put down seriously. It is put down in order to have a little conversation.
Did I understand that the hon. Lady's main answer was that there was inconsistency in the Act and, therefore, no one could complain if, as she admits, there is also inconsistency in this Bill?
§ Miss LAWRENCE
No. My main theme was that to do away with the 104 stamps would bring chaos into insurance. The second was the line of argument that is called in Latin, argumentum ad hominem.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I hoped that the way the Government would meet the Amendment would have been to say, "It is impossible to grant it as it stands, but we consider that it is possible to let in this class of widows if they themselves pay up the balance of the 104 contributions." I urge the hon. Lady, and I most earnestly urge hon. Members opposite, to see that if the widows are allowed to pay up the balance of contributions themselves, the contributory principle will be met. Would she still consider, with a view to the Report stage, the adoption of the Amendment under the condition that the widows themselves pay the balance of the contribution? This payment by the widow, or the beneficiary, of an unpaid balance of contributions is already in existence in various parts of the Act. I am tremendously anxious to maintain the contributory principle, but surely that can be done with the greatest ease by allowing widows of men whose contributions are incomplete to complete them themselves. I wish the Amendment had stated that clearly, but even now I wish very much that the hon. Lady would take it into consideration with a view to the Report stage.
There was at the beginning of the 1925 Act some difficulty where widows or old age pensioners were in the position that contributions had not been fully paid up, through default on the part of the employers or the men, or for any other reason. The referees in Scotland, and the Law Courts in England, have laid it down quite clearly that it is within the scope of the Act to let the beneficiaries make up the balance of the contributions and so enjoy the benefit, and if that principle were adopted in this matter we might be able to grant benefit to the widow of a man who, owing to his death, has not been able to pay the whole of his contributions. The idea has been echoed across the House more than once that this is a useless Amendment and is not going to be pressed to a Division. If it enables the hon. Lady to look at it in this way, to stick to the contributory principle but let the widow pay the balance of the contributions, surely it has done valuable work, and I urge her to allow these widows to come in in this way.
It is rather difficult to talk about the merits or demerits of the 2291 Amendment, when you know that no one would be more surprised than hon. Members opposite if it were accepted by the Government or carried on a Division. I have risen simply for the purpose of stating one case that has come to my notice which the Amendment would not remedy. I know of a case where a man paid 104 contributions, because he paid a week in advance, but because the 104 weeks had not elapsed benefit has been denied to the widow. This Amendment, while looking at one side of an anomaly, does not touch that point at all. [An HON. MEMBER: "You can put another one down."] The hon. Member is more used to drafting Amendments than I am. If he will put one down I will support it. I think the anomaly is one that should be remedied.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
I should not have risen but for what the Parliamentary Secretary said with regard to the financial effect of the Amendment, and particularly what the Minister said in answering my right hon. Friend. He brushed aside all question of injustice to the widow and said the Treasury was going to pay the whole cost of these new pensions. Is that so? In the case which has just been brought before the Committee of a man who paid 103 contributions, what becomes of those 103 contributions? Obviously they go into a fund, and you have only to look at the Financial Memorandum to see that the balance in the Treasury is diminishing year by year until 1946. Therefore, it is true to say that any contributions paid in anticipation of getting a pension under the Contributory Scheme where the widow fails to get the pension because enough contributions are not paid are positively being used under the Government's scheme for paying pensions to the widows of men who ex hypothesi could never have paid any contributions at all in respect of that pension.
The Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton) asked the hon. Lady whether the portion of her speech in which she said we had in the 1925 Act broken down the contributory system was her principal reason for opposing the Amendment. She said it was not, but she frankly admitted that it was a part of her argument. I followed the argument and I found it 2292 to be exactly the old one we have had again and again from the Minister himself, that the excuse for the whole of this enormous addition of a noncontributory pension scheme is the fact that certain small exceptions to the contributory principle were made by the Act. In fact the argument has been, and was again today, that you may as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. That old proverb is not nearly strong enough to meet this case. It seems to me that the Government are going on the principle that you may as well be hung for stealing an elephant as for stealing a mouse. A little departure from the contributory principle was made by the late Minister of Health, and a colossal invasion of it is made in the Bill.
Earlier in the Debate, I moved an Amendment to raise the age for benefit from 55 to 60, and my right hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) instanced a case that might occur of a widow whose husband had paid a considerable number of contributions and died before the contributory period was completed, and another case, possibly in the same street, of a young widow in respect of whom no contributions at all have been paid. I want to make that point a little stronger. If the Bill goes through without Amendment and we retain the age of 55, we shall have cases, possibly in the same street, of a very much older widow, perhaps 5 or 10 years older, than one who has a pension for which nothing has been contributed, who will be saying, "My husband at any rate paid 100 contributions and would have paid the lot had he not died, and I am 60 years of age, but there is another widow of 55 in respect of whom nothing has ever been paid, and she has been given a pension, and I am denied one." I had cases like this in my mind, although I frankly admit—and I told the Committee so at the time—that in moving my earlier Amendment I was mainly influenced by the colossal burden to be placed upon industry by this enormous free gift of public money. I also had in mind the fact that it would create the anomaly of a younger widow being given a pension at the age of 55 for nothing when widows up to 60 years of age, and even up to 65 would not be getting a pension at all.
I am quite sure that this Amendment is justified, even if it is only to make that 2293 fact clear. As to bringing this Amendment before the Committee and not carrying it to a Division, my right hon. Friend the Member for West Woolwich has made it perfectly clear that Amendment after Amendment has been moved from these benches in order to try to get some sense of proportion into this Bill and to ensure that the whole of the money, the £81,000,000, shall not be given to a small selected class, and given on a principle which is utterly at variance with the contributory principle on which the 1925 Act was based. If we had had any of the Amendments accepted, this and many other hard cases would have been dealt with, and we should have had something infinitely fairer to the whole class of people in the country who need these pensions than anything we shall ever get under the Bill as it is at present drafted.
§ Mr. KELLY
Making a speech which would be an exposure and that he and his hon. and right hon. Friends have no intention whatever of securing a pension for these people who are mentioned in the Amendment, I think I am justified in stating that there is a want of sincerity and of good faith in his action.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I must make a personal explanation. I do not think the hon. Gentleman heard all my statement.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I said that if the Amendment which would have imposed a test as to means had been carried, it would have made available a sum of 2294 money for a lot of these hard cases, but that has been defeated by the vote of the hon. Gentleman and his friends.
§ Mr. KELLY
I quite understand the right hon. Gentleman desires the means test to come in. After his experience with regard to his work on the London County Council, one would have thought that he would have thrown it behind him for a lifetime. It is one of the vilest methods of dealing with pensions to bring in the means test.
§ Mr. KELLY
I am saying it to the whole Committee at this moment, and my right hon. Friend is a Member of this Committee, and I hope he hears it quite as well as the right hon. Gentleman opposite. We are asked in this Amendment to agree that widows of those men who have not paid 104 contributions should be entitled to benefit. I agree that these widows should be entitled to benefit. I think that the Act of 1925 was a Measure for which no credit ought to be shown to the late Government.
§ Mr. KELLY
The hon. Gentleman will have his chance, I hope, in a moment. The Measure of 1925 produced an anomaly which there was no attempt to remedy. The tacking of widows' pensions and old age pensions on to National Health Insurance is something which has never been justified. Here we have a continuance of that even in the Amendment which is now moved. I hope that outside this House it will be noted that the Amendment was moved by the right hon. Gentleman and supported by hon. Gentlemen opposite, not with the intention of carrying it, but with a determination not to vote for pensions to be given to these widows. I hope that the Amendment will be forced to a Division. Indeed, I would ask my Front Bench to accept it and extend the pensions. I can put before the Committee many more cases than did the hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Captain Cazalet), who was not concerned so much with the giving of the pension judging by his speech, as to see that no attacks should be made upon him. I am sorry that he is not in his place. The whole burden of his story was not the question of pensions and those en- 2295 titled to them, but the effect that this might have when he has to face his constituents. I would make him a present of a few cases which have not been referred to by previous speakers. There are many men employed in the engineering trade who are engaged as outworkers, fitting machinery into factories and various works on the Continent, and who whilst out there are not permitted to pay contributions under Health Insurance. I know of cases of widows who, because of the narrowness and the many restrictions of the 1925 Act, have not been considered as entitled to a widow's pension or even to the old age pension at the age of 65. I agree with this Amendment. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is arranging to carry it to a Division.
§ Mr. KELLY
I think that those hon. Members who have not been taking up much time in this Committee ought not to be closured, now that they are taking some part in the discussion. I hope that hon. Gentlemen opposite will take this Amendment to a Division and enable a greater number of widows—they have not been able to tell us how many—to receive a pension.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
I must say a word or two about this speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Rochdale (Mr. Kelly). He must understand that there has to be very great forbearance on these benches if this Bill is to be got through, in accordance with the undertaking, before eleven o'clock on Tuesday night. We resent very much the implication contained in the last sentence or two of the hon. Gentleman's speech. We should have been justified in the circumstances in supporting the Closure if it had been moved while the hon. Gentleman was on his feet. The Bill is not our Bill. It is the Minister's Bill, and it is his duty to assist its progress by silencing if necessary, Members of his own party.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 20, at the end, to insert the words:or(e) the widow of a man who, though not qualified to receive a pension under 2296 this Act or previous Acts is, by reason of infirmity, unable to follow any regular trade or employment and whose circumstances can be proved, to the satisfaction of the Minister, to warrant assistance.As far as these pensions Debates are concerned, the Government have not accepted any Amendment, as far as I know, of either of the Opposition parties, and, therefore, they may consider granting this Amendment, which cannot in any way be called a party Amendment. It is an appeal—and I think it is an appeal which will be supported from all parts of the House—to assist the widows of men such as teachers, small tradesmen, clerks and men who have not been in an insurable occupation. These men have worked all their lives and have kept their heads above water, but have not had an opportunity until recently of contributing towards widows' pensions. They die and their widows are left to fight on as best they can. The great majority of these men have not had a chance of saving money. Their wives have to carry on afterwards. They may start a small business or they may try to earn their living in any of a hundred and one possible ways. They may be attacked with some illness, they may become infirm. Their only chance of continuing to live will be to go to the poorhouse and get Poor Law relief. Surely, that sort of thing cannot be right. These women are as much entitled to a widows' pension as the women who are being brought in under conditions which obtained 30 or 40 years ago when their husbands might have been engaged in an occupation which to-day would have been an insurable occupation.
The Minister objected very strongly to one of the Amendments on which I spoke previously because, he said, it would mean a great deal of administrative trouble; it would mean appointing special inspectors and increasing the work of his Department. Here is the case of a small section of these women and a very deserving section, and there would be no such administrative difficulties. I would ask him to consider this matter very carefully. It does not mean giving away much, and in view of the very large number of widows—500,000—who are coming in under this Measure, I think he might consider taking in a few more. A large proportion of the 2297 women to whom I refer have no savings at all. They may have had some terrible illness, or an accident, and are unable to earn their own living, and have to subsist on the charity of their friends or have to get relief. At the election the present Government and their supporters told the people that they were going to give pensions to all widows. Was that true or not? It was stated on the authority of the present Home Secretary that they were going to give pensions to all widows, and to increase the amount of the pensions. I appeal on behalf of the widows affected by our Amendment, not from the party point of view but from the point of view of justice. Decent workmen, clerks, teachers and small traders have left their widows unprovided for, and those widows are now too old to work but it may be 5, 10 or 15 years before they are entitled to an old age pension. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give his most sympathetic consideration to the Amendment, in view of the promises that have been made and his own statement in this House that he wants to help all the widows who are in need, need being the real test for pensions.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I do not wish to be thought unsympathetic to the claims of infirm widows, large numbers of whom are in very difficult circumstances. It is true that large numbers of persons who do not come within the ambit of the Bill are in difficult circumstances. I am trying to deal in this Bill with a more or less limited problem. In this Amendment we are going far beyond the real basis of the Bill. This Amendment would bring within the scope of the Bill all infirm widows, subject to their distress which, I understand, is wholly undefined.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I thought that that was so. At any rate, the Amendment does bring in all infirm widows, whether their husbands were insured or not. The one thing that we ought to stand by in this particular Measure is insurability. This Bill is designed to bring in the widows of the same class of people who are now within the scope of the contributory insurance scheme. Once we get beyond that, it would be an entirely different Measure. When we are told, as 2298 We have been told a large number of times, that we are committed to giving pensions to all widows in need, I can only reply, "Give us time."
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I know that we said it. I know that the Prime Minister referred to it. I have never denied it. I should think we were even more deserving of public confidence than we are if we were able to solve all these problems in one Measure. You cannot deal with the infirm widows, whether they are in an insurable class or not, in a Bill of this description. Infirmity does not mean total incapacity. A woman may be infirm and yet able to do something in the way of occasional work. She may be infirm at one time and not infirm at another. Although the hon. Member suggested that this is a relatively small problem and that no administrative difficulties would arise, I can assure him that there would be considerable administrative difficulties. As infirmity passed away the widow would, unless she fulfilled other conditions, no longer be entitled to receive the pension. Other widows would come along and become infirm and would pass within the scheme, and we should find ourselves engaged in fairly continuous inspections of all widows who happened to be infirm—a changing class of widows, some of whom would be getting pensions for a long period, while others would be getting pensions for a relative short period because the pension would cease as the infirmity passed away.
I must insist upon this point, that it is impossible within the scheme of the Bill to bring in people who are outside the insurable class. If we are to deal with that problem we shall have to deal with a large number of other problems at the same time, and it would need an entirely different kind of Measure. It is not that I am unsympathetic to the claims of the infirm widows that I cannot accept the Amendment, but because the measures to be devised for dealing with them are different in character from the Bill now before the House. I hope, therefore, that the Committee will realise that this is an Amendment which cannot very well be brought, logically, within the four corners of the Bill.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I think my hon. Friend has done another useful service, in addition to the many he has performed in 2299 this House, in bringing forward this Amendment and I think he can be content, having brought it forward, to have on the records of this House the apology—
§ Sir K. WOOD
—which the right hon. Gentleman has just given to the infirm widows of the country. It is a very different story from what we have heard before. The last time that the right hon. Gentleman spoke of infirm widows in relation to widows' pensions we heard all sorts of claims made as to why they should receive a pension, all sorts of stories about widows who were bedridden, widows who were struggling along and had nobody to help them or to support them. That was the complaint made in those days. We were told at the time that we did not make any provision for them. To-day, these widows are put on one side by the right hon. Gentleman. There is nothing in this; Bill for them. I think we can very well rest content in preserving the right hon. Gentleman's speech, which will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT, together with the explanation that he gives as to why provision cannot be made in this respect. We shall be content with that reply and the explanation given.
There is one further point, which has been provoked by the right hon. Gentleman's speech. If he is defending the Prime Minister's pledge, I would invite him when next he gives an explanation to tell us why it was that the Prime Minister did not qualify the pledge in the way the right hon. Gentleman has done today. If the Prime Minister had done so, I think that a good many of the widows would not have been prepared to give the Government the support which they did, in return for the undertaking which he gave. There can be no doubt about it that they have been betrayed. We have had another exposition this afternoon of the attitude of the Government towards cases which they themselves brought forward as deserving, not very long ago.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I was very puzzled by the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I have been reading the Amendment with ordinary common sense and trying to 2300 understand its simple purpose. The right hon. Gentleman talks about doing justice to widows who happen to be ill, but this Amendment has not to do with the sick widow but with the man who before he died happened to be ill and, because of his illness, was not able to follow his ordinary trade or occupation.
§ Mr. HARRIS
Of course, it does. The right hon. Gentleman was referring to another kind of Amendment which ought to have been on the Order Paper, but which is not. I respectfully suggest that it would not be difficult to legislate for cases of this kind, which are cases of very great hardship. The man suffered from illness for many years and was not able to earn his living—
§ Sir K. WOOD
Will the hon. Member permit the hon. Member for Bethnal Green South-West (Mr. Harris) to make his contribution? He has not spoken long.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I thank my right hon. Friend for protecting me from my friends. He was endeavouring to do that which I was endeavouring to do, and that was to find out what really are the views of the Minister. The fact that this Amendment has been called, is proof that in the opinion of the Chair it is an Amendment of a practical kind, and worthy of consideration. As I understand it, the Amendment aims at protecting the widow of the man who before his death was suffering from illness of such a character that he could not be an insured person. We are right in assuming that during his lifetime his wife suffered from want and that when he died she finds that she is worse off than her neighbour who happened to have been married to a man who was in full employment, and insured, and able to keep her in comparative comfort. That will cause a great sense of injustice and grievance. The whole object of the Bill is to amend the Act of 1925 in order to do away with anomalies, and with a sense of injustice. I am afraid that ii the right hon. Gentleman will not meet the grievance which is sought to be 2301 covered by the Amendment, we shall be creating a fresh sense of grievance. The more widows there are with pensions in any particular neighbourhood the more we shall find that those widows who are left without pensions, where they are deserving of help, will feel a great sense of injustice. This is a good Amendment. Although it may not be perfect in its wording and it might be possible to devise better wording for the Report stage, I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to have dealt with it and not with an imaginary Amendment which has not been moved.
I must express my disappointment at the attitude taken by the Minister of Health on this and on every other Amendment moved from this side of the House, and I am sure that our disappointment will be shared by these widows throughout the country. We lost a considerable number of votes owing to the provisions in the Act of 1925 and we shall await with confidence the next election after the proposals of the Government as outlined in this Measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health has referred to the anomalies in the 1925 Act. We brought in that Act with a limited fund at our disposal and endeavoured to do the greatest amount of good with the sum available. But the right hon. Gentleman has brought in his Bill in order to create a new heaven and a new earth irrespective of finance. Hon. Members opposite seem to miss that point entirely. We did not bring in our Bill in 1925 to cure all the ills, but to cure as many as we could with the fund available. The present Government have brought in their Bill irrespective of finance, and it leaves out far more people who ought to benefit than it really benefits. The Minister was somewhat more cynical than usual in saying that the Government could not deal with the case of the infirm widow as the inspection of such cases would mean a tremendous charge on the Exchequer. The Government should have thought of that before the last General Election and should not have raised hopes which are now doomed to disappointment. Unless the Minister of Health can see his way to give some help to this most deserving class of widows I say that he is betraying the very widows who put him into power.
§ Sir PHILIP PILDITCH
I think there is a certain amount of confusion in connection with this matter. I wonder if the hon. Member for Willesden East (Mr. I. G. Somerville) would agree to the omission of certain words in his Amendment; that is the omission of the words "of a man." I presume his desire is to benefit the widow; he does not desire to grant a pension to a dead man. I suggest that the words "of a man" are superfluous because a widow cannot be a widow of anybody but a man who is dead. I think it would be a very desirable Amendment if these words were omitted. We should then know that we are really helping the widow and not a man who is no longer alive.
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
After the words of wisdom which have fallen from the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Sir P. Pilditch), I will consider the matter between now and the Report stage. At the moment, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Robert Young)
The next Amendment is that in the name of the hon. Member for Willesden East (Mr. D. G. Somerville) to leave out paragraph (ii).
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 34, to leave out paragraph (ii).
This deals with a very serious matter and I feel somewhat strongly on the points that are involved. This paragraph refers to Section 21 of the Act of 1925, and with the three years limit which is specified you are going to disqualify a certain number of widows from getting a pension. Let me read Section 21 of the 1925 Act:A woman shall not be entitled to and shall be disqualified from receiving payment of a widows' pension if and so long as she and any person are cohabitating together as man and wife.We have heard a great deal from the Government about having no inquiry into means, and up to a point I agree with them, as long as these means are not such that any widow having a substantial income will also draw a widow's pension. The Government have made a great point that there should be no inquisition into means as it is irritating and humiliating to the person and might lead to evasion. Equally I suggest there should be no 2303 inquiry into morals. It is just as irritating, just as humiliating, and leads to just as much evasion. What business is it of the Minister whether any widow does or does not cohabit with any man? If she is a widow she is entitled to a pension in respect of the contributions of her husband who has died. The second point deals with the question of the double pension. Let me read Section 24 of the 1925 Act:A pension or an additional allowance under this Act shall not be payable to or in respect of any person to or in respect of whom a service dependents pension within the meaning of this Act is payable, except where such a pension is payable in respect of the service of the pensioner's son during the late War.As I read this paragraph it appears that a woman would not be entitled to a double pension where it is a question of a pension or allowance in respect of her late husband. That seems to me to be unfair. This pension is to be granted to widows who come within the Bill but by this paragraph, if it is left in the Bill, they will be disqualified and you will create another anomaly and a bad one, where the widow was the wife of a man who fought in the War. The question of the widow living with another man and the question of the widow who gets a double pension, are cases which the Government should look into to see if some exception can be made. It is not fair to treat one person better than another and I am sure it is the intention of the Government to treat all classes fairly and to reduce anomalies.
§ Mr. SOMERVILLE
I want to strike out paragraph (ii) of this Clause, which refers to conditions under the principal Act. If it is struck out it will eliminate these exemptions in the principal Act.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
Perhaps I had better try to explain this rather complicated matter. The hon. Member has misunderstood the point a little. Let me take first the case of a woman under Section 21 of the principal Act. Under 2304 the 1925 Act a widow who is entitled to a pension but who is living with a man does not receive her pension as long as that connection lasts. When that connection comes to an end she receives her pension again. If that provision had not been put in you would have had this situation, that a widow who remarried would lose her pension but that a woman who lived with a man without being married would get a pension. The House of Commons felt it most unreasonable to put a premium of 10s. per week on such arrangements. It was put in for very obvious reasons, which I do not think anyone will dispute.
I come to the reason why this paragraph is put in. The House after a long discussion came to the conclusion that a marriage should not really carry with it any claim to a widow's pension unless three years had elapsed between the date of the marriage and the death of the husband. It was said that an old man might go through the form of marriage on his deathbed with a young girl of 16 and the House therefore said that a certain period must elapse. But they forgot that there is one class of deathbed marriages which is now wholly lawful and that is where the parties have been living together and where on his deathbed the man wants to regularise the union and put things straight. The effect of the provisions with regard to deathbed marriages, and the fact that a woman who forms an irregular union gets her pension, is that in the case of a couple living together and no ceremony takes place the woman gets her pension, but if at the approach of death the man feels that he ought to do the right thing and marries her then she loses her pension. That was not foreseen in the Act of 1925 and one can imagine cases where a real conflict of conscience takes place where the man wishes to regularise his marriage but is told that if he does put things right and marries the woman the law will tell him that it is no good. He can if he likes, but the woman will forfeit 10s. per week.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
Now I come to the second reason why we take out the provisions of Section 24 of the principal Act. The case of a widow who is getting a 2305 son's allowance is in abeyance. If she marries again and if the man dies she cannot receive her widow's pension because it was not actually being paid at the time when the marriage took place. The deathbed marriage provision is only to exempt people whose pensions were actually being paid at the time of the marriage, and pensions in abeyance do not come under this provision. The paragraph in question reads as follows:(ii) the widow of a man mentioned in paragraph (b) of this subsection shall not become entitled to a pension unless at the date of his death three years have elapsed since the date of the marriage or unless immediately before the marriage she was, or but for the provisions of sub-section (1) of Section twenty-one or of Section twenty-four of the principal Act would have been, in receipt of a widow's pension.We have put that in in order to deal with cases arising under Sections 21 and 24 of the principal Act, and the point is the same in both, that there is a pension as it were, in abeyance.
I did not know that we were going to discuss this matter on this particular Amendment because there is another Amendment in the name of my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne)—in page 2, line 39, to leave out from the word "was" to the word "in" in line 42. That Amendment deals specifically with this point and I had supposed that we would discuss the point on that Amendment rather than on the Amendment now before the Committee.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
The point was raised by hon. Members opposite and I thought it as well to explain it at this stage.
I have no objection to discussing the matter on this Amendment. I merely wanted to know if it was the intention to do so.
§ The CHAIRMAN
May I suggest, in these circumstances, the advisability of withdrawing the present Amendment and having the discussion of this matter on the later Amendment mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain).
§ Mr. D. G. SOMERVILLE
In the circumstances and as I am assured that both these points will arise under the other Amendment I beg leave to withdraw.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.2306
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I beg to move, in page 2, line 35, after the word "not," to insert the wordsif the marriage took place after the twenty-fifth day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-nine.This refers to marriages which took place after the date of the introduction of the Bill. The object is to prevent fraud, but it is quite clear that nobody could commit a fraud under an Act until the Act was in existence, and marriages of this kind could not be contracted with an improper intention until after the provisions of the Measure had become known.
§ Amendment agreed to.
I beg to move, in page 2, to leave out from the word "was" in line 39, to the word "in" in line 42.
As the hon. Lady has said, this is a very difficult and rather complicated point, and my hon. and gallant Friend put down this Amendment in order to obtain from the Government an explanation of why it was that, in the particular case of a late marriage, these disabilities were to be removed. I do not think I have very much objection as regards the class of case which comes under Section 24 of the principal Act. It is possible that a person would have been in receipt of a widow's pension if she had not also been in receipt of a service dependant's pension, and I agree that we do not want to deprive a widow of her pension after the death of her husband, even though her marriage to that husband was a late marriage, if she was entitled just before that marriage to a pension, whether a widow's pension or a service dependant's pension. But in the other class of case, coming under Section 21 of the principal Act, the Government proposal does not seem to be equally justifiable. In the explanation given by the hon. Lady she appeared to assume that in all cases where a marriage took place after cohabitation, the marriage was a marriage of the persons who had been cohabiting. But there is nothing to that effect in the Bill. The marriage might be with somebody else, and not with the person with whom the 2307 woman had been cohabiting. It does not seem to me, therefore, that the reasons which the hon. Lady gave for inserting this proposal really cover the ground.
I put it to her that in order to carry out her intention, assuming that it is right that her intention should be carried out, some alteration or elaboration of the wording would be necessary to ensure that this benefit shall be given only in cases where the marriage is the marriage of the people who had been cohabiting before. What we are considering now is the case of the late marriage. We recognised before, as I think the Government now recognise, the necessity of not offering a temptation to two people to marry for the sole reason that the husband being old and perhaps in bad health, and likely to die within a short time, the woman can get a pension at the expense either of the Fund or the State by that method. We must not put that sort of opportunity in people's way, or make it easy for an opportunity of that kind to be taken. In the principal Act certain restrictions were imposed in the case of these late marriages. We find in Section 3, which deals with widows' pensions, a proviso as follows:Provided that the widow of a man who had attained the age of sixty at the date of the marriage shall not, if the marriage takes place after the twenty-ninth day of April, nineteen hundred and twenty-five, be entitled to a widow's pension.Those words were inserted for the same reason as that which moves the hon. Lady to insert corresponding words in this Bill. Then in the 1925 Act three alternatives were given. This provision was to operate unless—(a) There have been one or more children of the marriage.Obviously in that case it is a genuine marriage, not made for the particular motive of obtaining a pension.
(b) At the date of the death of her husband three years or more have elapsed since the date of the marriage.Again I suggest that that is a reasonable condition.
(c) She was immediately before the marriage in receipt of a widow's pension.The Committee will see that if a widow already in receipt of a pension by right of the insurance of her former husband, were to marry a person who was over 60, and if he died without either of these 2308 other two conditions being fulfilled—there being no children and the three years not having elapsed—it would be very Hard in her case that she should not only lose her second husband but also lose her pension from the first husband, having no right to a pension from the second. That was a case which we had to consider, and therefore we put in the third condition. But if a woman was not in receipt of a widow's pension, because she was cohabiting with another man, she was disqualified because she had not been in receipt of a pension just before the marriage, and whilst I can understand that you might make a case—if you thought it a good case—for a marriage which has taken place because the old man has been told that he ought to make things right, there is no justification for a proposal of this kind where a widow who has been cohabiting with another man, marries an old man of 60—not the man with whom she has been cohabiting. Therefore, I put it to the Government that if their intention in drafting this paragraph was what we understood it to be from the hon. Lady, namely, that of restoring the right to a pension in that particular case where a woman has been cohabiting without marriage, and where as a matter of fact marriage takes place, she ought to exclude the case where the marriage is not between those two people, but between the woman and some other man.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I think the right hon. Gentleman has overlooked one point. If he looks at Section 21 of the principal Act he will find that the woman is disqualified from receiving a widow's pension, if and so long as she and any person are cohabiting. If she leaves the man then she receives her pension, and if, in the case contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman, the connection is broken off, the widow gets her pension back again. If she then marries a man of 60, she comes under condition (c) mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. She was immediately before the marriage in receipt of a widow's pension. That case would arise under the 1925 Act. The woman does not get the pension while she is living with the man, but if she leaves the man she again becomes a widow for the purposes of the Act. She then marries, let us say, an old man and he dies. At the time of the marriage she 2309 was in receipt of a pension. Both the cases we are trying to meet are the cases where the thing is put right at the end. If the widow living with a man breaks off the connection, she becomes again, within the meaning of the Act, a widow; she gets the pension, and she can marry whom she likes, and come under the proviso (3, c). That is the case if she has married someone else. But in the case of the real deathbed marriage, it is grossly unfair that that should be penalised.
I am not objecting to the case where there is a deathbed marriage with the person with whom the woman has been cohabiting, but I think you want to be careful of the person who does cohabit until she finds an old man with a lot of money, who, she thinks, may die soon. She has not been in receipt of a pension till she marries, and I do not see why she should be brought in now.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
She comes in under the 1925 Act. If you have a thoroughly unscrupulous woman, I suppose such cases might arise, but I think it will be a very small class, and it was considered to be so unlikely a gap in the 1925 Act that it was not dealt with there. If the right hon. Gentleman will fill up the gap in his own Act and supply appropriate words, I am sure my right hon. Friend will be glad to consider them.
I do not think there is any difference between us except in the expression of opinion whether it is worth while to provide that an undeserving class of case, small and exceptional if you like, shall nevertheless be excluded.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I hope the Minister will not further reconsider this point. This is a very liberal concession that the Government are making, and the real effect of the Amendment would be to put a premium on immorality rather than on morality, because we are dealing with widows of men of 70. For the purpose of this Amendment, we are dealing with a woman who is left a widow and is entitled to a pension, and has lost that pension because she has cohabited, but 2310 who can get that pension back at any moment when she ceases to cohabit. Are we to put that unfortunate woman in the position of being deprived of a pension, merely because she gets married to a man who is not kind enough to die within three years? As long as she lives in what is termed sin, she loses a pension, but she can recover it at any moment. If, on the other hand, she marries, and this Amendment is carried, she will lose her pension. For these reasons, I very much hope that the Minister will not further consider this point, the explanation of which has been most satisfactory.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
If the Amendment be withdrawn, I am certain my right hon. Friend will carefully consider this very small point. If there is anything in it, it can be dealt with on the Report stage.
I agree that it is a small point, but on the understanding that it will be considered in a serious spirit, with a genuine endeavour to remove a defect if it be found to be a defect, I will ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The next Amendment I call is one standing in the name of the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain)—in page 3, line 10, at the end, to insert new paragraph:(v) a sum shall not be paid on account of a pension under this section to or in respect of any person while that person is absent from Great Britain.I am not quite sure whether this Amendment is covered by Section 22 of the principal Act.
§ The CHAIRMAN
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will move it and explain what the point at issue is.
I beg to move, in page 3, line 10, at the end, to insert the words:(v) a sum shall not be paid on account of a pension under this section to or in respect of any person while that person is absent from Great Britain.As you have obviously been aware, Mr. Chairman, the Amendment which you have called is practically the first paragraph of Section 22 of the principal Act, and I would not have put it down if I had been satisfied that that paragraph 2311 was still in force as regards this Clause of this Bill, but I notice that in a later Clause, Clause 3, we find it stated:The provisions of this section shall have effect with respect to persons who are in any part of His Majesty's dominions outside Great Britain, whether they left Great Britain before or after the commencement of this Act.It goes on to say:If a pension would but for the provisions of paragraph (a) of Section twenty-two of the principal Act (which relates to the residential qualification of pensioners) be payable under or by virtue of that Act to or in respect of any such person as aforesaid, then the said paragraph (a) shall not apply as regards any sum accruing on account of the pension after the commencement of this Act.That is not a pension under Clause 3 of the Bill, but any pension under the Act, and, therefore, it appears to me that the first paragraph in Clause 3 abrogates paragraph (a) of Section, 22 of the original Act as regards pensions payable under this first Clause of this Bill. If that be so—and the hon. Lady will correct me if I have wrongly interpreted the effect of the Clauses—I want to protest against it, because I do not think it is a right thing. Here you are going to give a free pension, or a pension without any contribution having been paid in respect of it, to a number of widows. One of these widows may be the widow of a man who was formerly employed, let us say, in Ireland. She may be living in Ireland now. She may come over here and collect her pension of 10s. a week, which is to be paid for, not by the taxpayers of Ireland, but by the taxpayers of this country, and she may go back to Ireland and enjoy it. She may live in Ireland with this pension, and neither herself nor perhaps any of her relatives are even, I will not say contributing towards the cost of the pension, because nobody will do that, either in Ireland or in this country, but paying any share of the taxation of this country. That seems to me to be altogether unjustifiable, and therefore I put down this Amendment. If a person chooses to come back and live over here and pay whatever contribution she may be called upon to pay towards the expense of carrying on our local or national government in this country, I have no objection, but if she is going to live somewhere else, even if it be in some 2312 part of His Majesty's Dominions, and to draw this pension, which is to be paid for by the taxpayers of this country, it seems to me to be going rather farther than is justifiable.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I cannot see any logic in drawing a distinction between the several classes of pensioner. If the Committee passes Clause 3, I cannot see any reason for distinguishing between the widow pensioners under the 1925 Act, including the pre-Act widows, and the widow pensioners under this Bill. The effect of the Amendment, if carried together with Clause 3, would be to remove the residence qualification for the widow pensioner under the 1925 provision, the pre-Act widow pensioner with children under the 1925 Act, but to leave the pre-Act elderly widow outside. Take the case of Ireland, mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman. Supposing a man has been an insured man in England, and has married an Irish wife, and died, and the old woman goes back to live in her native country, I cannot see why she should be deprived of her pension. The husband would have had to insure in England at some time or other, and his widow would draw a pension. Supposing she chooses to go into the Channel Islands, why on earth should she be deprived of her pension simply because she has got relatives settled in Jersey or Guernsey and goes to live there with them? Supposing the old woman has got some children settled somewhere in the Empire and wants to go and live with them, is it wrong that the old woman, who may be a grandmother, should rejoin her family? If you cut her out, she may have to stay at home. If she has gone out, say, to Canada, to live with her family, is that a reason why she should have 10s. a week less than a woman who has stopped at home in England?
Either you desire to let these old women take these pensions within the Empire, or else you say it is not fair that they should draw something from the English taxpayer and live somewhere within the Empire, but not in this country. Why should you say that one class of old woman may take her pension with her to any part of the Empire and another class may not? Do hon. Members opposite really want to deprive our elderly widows of their pensions because they stay with their relations in Canada?
2313 That is what the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment means. We say, Give the old widows a pension. You may disagree with this particular class of old widow having pensions, but we say that where the State has given a widow a pension, she shall hold the pension wherever she goes. There is a particular reason in the case of emigrants. People may desire to emigrate with an old woman, a grandmother, a pre-Act widow of the age of 55. If you say, "You may go to Canada, but if you take grandmother with you, you will lose 10s. a week," you are doing something which is utterly wrong. It is quite absurd to make this distinction. I have pointed out that this residence qualification, this idea that crossing St. George's Channel would qualify for a pension, is impossible. I would point out that under the Bill a widow must have spent two years in Great Britain before the date when, under the provisions of this Section, she becomes entitled to a pension. She should then be free to stay in England with her relatives or to migrate with them.
§ Mr. MILLS
I have sat through the Second Beading and the Committee stage of this Bill, including the all-night sitting, and have not spoken because I desire to see the Bill through, but I should like now to point out in a few words to the right hon. Gentleman the limiting effect of his Amendment. Supposing that an old lady was invited to pay a visit overseas, it would mean that she would lose her pension during the few months she spent with her relatives, whether in Ireland or farther afield. I have, as a Member of this House, mentioned the case of my own mother who went to Canada in 1912, stayed there during the War because my brothers were in the Canadian Army and, when she returned to England, was refused a pension because she had spent six years of her life since 55 outside this country. I am glad to say that by raising the matter in this House, I was able to mitigate that cruel decision. This is a limitation which would rob the widow of her pension during the time she visits her relatives, and the Committee ought not to agree to it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. LAMBERT WARD
The Committee is rather in danger of creating a privileged class in these widows. The Income Tax payer 2314 who is resident abroad gets no rebate whatever; he gets no personal allowance or children's allowance if he does not reside here. By this Bill we are giving these widows a pension and allowing them, if they live abroad, to draw it without any rebate whatever.
§ Sir B. PETO
My right hon. Friend who moved the Amendment has been taunted because he did not make any such provision in his Act with respect to the pre-Act widows. I would point out that, under the 1925 Act, there was involved a comparatively small number of widows who obviously might only be included for a limited period. It was, therefore, not worth while to make this difference, especially as that small number of widows would only be on the fund until their children left school. What was done under the 1925 Act is no argument as to what ought to be done in the case of the present Bill, where we are dealing not with a small number, but with an immense class of widows in respect of whom no contributions have been paid. As a matter of justice, considering that no contributions have been paid for this class, it is perfectly reasonable to say that their pension should be paid only to those who are resident in this country. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman did not see fit to make this residential condition necessary in the case of a small number of pensions for a limited period is no reason whatever, in logic or justice, why this Amendment should not be accepted. As to the argument of the hon. Member opposite, about the widow who goes to stay for a few weeks with friends abroad, if the relatives are in such affluent circumstances as to be able to pay her expenses for a trip abroad for a few weeks, there is no reason why she should receive this pension.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
This is the first time I have spoken in this Debate, and I rise to say that I hope that the Government will not accept this Amendment. I do not understand the reiterated arguments about the non-contributory character of this pension. Hon. Members opposite talk as if the money that is to be paid for these pensions dropped from the sky or came from some providential fund which they themselves provided. These women are the widows of men who have been in industry for a con- 2315 siderable number of years. My contention is that, if any man has done useful work in our country in any modern form of industry for any number of years—say, from 14 to 55 or 60—he has created sufficient wealth in that period of time to provide his widow with a much more generous pension than she is getting under this Bill and to provide for himself as well. As to the hon. Member's argument about the non-contributory character—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member may have said it was non-contributory, but he did not pursue it, and the hon. Member cannot develop it.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
I am not going to develop it any further. I have said all that I wanted to say on the matter. I hope that the Government will stand by their Bill and not accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am surprised at the remarkable doctrine expounded by the right hon. Member who moved the Amendment. I had a similar controversy with him on the 1925 Bill. I am surprised that the exponent of Imperialism and of regarding the Empire as one, should put in the Bill any barriers to the free movement of population between the various parts of the British Empire. I thought the doctrine of his party was that they regarded the development of the Empire by the free movement of population as essential to the well-being of civilisation. Yet here he is moving an Amendment which will make it very difficult for some elderly widow, who has done her part in bringing up children as citizens of the Empire, to go to them in South Africa, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. That is what the argument of these super-Imperialists amounts to. I happen to be connected with New Zealand and I know many cases where, when the grandmother is left a widow, the children invite her to join them overseas. The right hon. Gentleman suggests that, if she wishes to go out and join these Empire builders, she should be penalised by losing her small pittance of 10s.
The hon. Member who has just spoken is labouring under a complete delusion, as many Members of his party are apt to do. When we are in Committee—no Liberal 2316 would, of course, understand it—our duty is to protect the taxpayer. That is the primary object of this House. But because we are trying to draft the Bill in such a way that there will be no possibility of the taxpayer's money going to a wrong source.
I mean that when you are considering a Bill in Committee, it is the duty of the Committee to see that the money is going to the people for whom it is intended. This Amendment is not put down with any desire to stop the movement of population, but it is a definite principle which has been brought forward here. My point is this: Under this Bill we shall be paying pensions to people who are not residents in this country. While a person is resident here it is quite easy to administer the pension. Some of us have had experience of cases where people go abroad and draw sums from this country. They are a long way away and the complication of administering the pension is considerable. May we have from the Parliamentary Secretary some statement of how these pensions will be administered and paid abroad? Hon. Members will remember that, when the old age pension was originally introduced, there was a picture in "Punch" showing that in Ireland a very large number of the family were drawing the old age pension. It was shown clearly at that time that there was a certain amount of abuse, as far as that section of the country was concerned. What machinery has the Parliamentary Secretary for knowing when these pensions cease, in other words when the person entitled dies? It is not easy to find out, and it would be of interest to know how she proposes to deal with the matter. I hope she will give serious consideration to the point.
§ Mr. TINKER
The people who will get these pensions are persons in poor circumstances, and the 10s. will not be sufficient to keep them. If they decide to go overseas to their children, surely it will relieve the State of some responsibility, because it will mean a helpless person going abroad to be helped by someone else. With the young and virile going from these shores, what is going to happen to these old people? If these old people go abroad to live 2317 with their children, we ought to regard that as a benefit to the State, and say to them that because they are going to relieve us of a burden, they can have their 10s. I am sure that hon. Members opposite have not recognised that point and I hope that they will not press the Amendment, for it will put a penalty upon persons well deserving of all that the State is going to give them.
§ Captain GUNSTON
None of us are up against emigration, and to bring in that point shows that a misapprehension has arisen about this Amendment. I am rather afraid that it will be possible for a widow living in Ireland, whose husband, long since dead, might at some time have been in an insurable occupation, to come over and draw a pension in this country, and then go back to Ireland. The hon. Lady has drawn our attention to Clause 11, and I understand that she thinks that this Clause prevents anything of the kind happening. It is, however, still hardly a sufficient safeguard, because from my reading of it, it is possible for the widow living in Ireland whose husband at one time might have been in an insurable occupation, to live here for two years and then go back and enjoy for the rest of her life a pension to which neither her husband nor the Irish Free State had contributed. There should be a further safeguard, for we want to protect the taxpayer in order that money should not be spent on objects on which nobody wants to spend it.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
I beg to move, in page 3, line 11, to leave out Sub-section (2).
Broadly speaking, this Sub-section defines the income limit of the non-manual insured worker who has died previous to the Insurance Acts. The Sub-section refers to Paragraph (k) in the Schedule of the Act of 1924, which reads:Employment otherwise than by way of manual labour and at a rate of remuneration exceeding in value two hundred and fifty pounds a year, or in cases where such employment involves part-time service only at a rate of remuneration which in the opinion of the Minister is equivalent to a rate of remuneration exceeding two hundred and fifty pounds a year for whole-time service.The Committee will observe, therefore, that the Bill seeks, in defining insurable 2318 service for the late husband of the widow, to go back to the pre-1919 state. The income limit in the original condition for insurable occupations for non-manual workers was £160. From the point of view of the draftsman, I can understand that he desires logic and tidiness, but from the point of view of administration, I think that after so long a lapse of time, it will be extraordinarily difficult if you have' some other limit than £250. If the Minister will accept the Amendment, she will find that when she sets out her schedule of questions to be answered by the claimants, she will have taken away from those who are to determine the validity of the claims a good many troublesome cases on the borderline of £160. It will be easier for a widow to prove that £250, at present the insurable limit, was the income limit of her husband, and I am sure that it will ease the amount of time in determining claims.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I am afraid that I cannot accept this Amendment. The people who are to receive widows pensions are widows of men of the insurable classes. Up to 1919 the limit for non-manual workers was £160. That was at the time when a £ was a £. In 1919 the value of money, prices and wages had changed, and Parliament changed the £160 into £250, because of the fall in the purchasing value of money. The amount of £250 post-War was in the opinion of the House the fair equivalent in cost to the £160 pre-War. That is to say, the people who are now receiving £250 are as nearly as possible on the same level as people who were receiving £160 before the War. This change from £150 to £250 is merely an expression, as it were, in the Insurance Act of the fall in the purchasing power of money. If you adopt the limit for non-manual workers of £160 in 1919 you take in men of the insurable class. If you put the limit at £250 before 1919, you will take in a great number of people who are not in the least of the insurable class, and who were deliberately excluded from the Insurance Act as being a class for whom that Act was not intended. The hon. Gentleman said that the administration would be easier. It would make the most awful chaos in administration. A man who was getting £250 before the War is the same sort of man who is getting £400 or £500 now, 2319 and is outside an insurance occupation, and you will bring in as pre-Act widows people who were not and never have been of the insurable class. The Amendment would not make it at all easier for administration, and we should be venturing into unchartered seas from the point of view of the Department.
The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) can hardly have consulted the original Act when he moved his Amendment, because the provision in this sub-section merely follows the usual course of a Government in that is to say they are adopting words which are used in the original Act of 1925. If you look at the Section which deals with excepted employment in the Act of 1925, you will find in sub-section (9) the words:This Section … shall so far as it applies to any period before the thirtieth clay of June, nineteen hundred and nineteen, have effect as if for references to two hundred and fifty pounds a year there were substituted references to one hundred and sixty pounds a year.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
This Motion enables us to review in somewhat fuller detail exactly what has been dealt with by the Committee during their long and arduous journey through the Bill, and I should like to make a few remarks with regard to the Clause before it is either added to or deleted from the Bill. It gives us the opportunity of taking a considerably wider view of the position in which these widows, for whom we are now legislating, will find themselves. The Committee and the country as a whole should realise clearly what this Clause is meant to do. It is meant to bring within the ambit of widows pensions some half a million women whose late husbands had in no way contributed towards any fund out of which the pensions are to be paid. These 500,000 women will in the aggregate, according to the right hon. Gentleman, receive over the next 16 years to something like £81,000,000, which is to be provided entirely by the taxpayer. That, as my right hon. Friend said when he first saw the Bill, is enough to stagger us, because of the enormous cost which it will throw upon the country. It stag- 2320 gers us too because it has had no explanation from the Treasury Bench, We have had no explanation from the Treasury, and I have no hesitation in repeating that criticism, because it is no light thing to commit this House to this vast expenditure without any explanation or a word said of what the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Treasury may be.
The second point which I should like to stress is that by inserting this Clause into our pensions legislation, we are grafting a Clause which is based on the non-contributory, principle upon a compulsory contributory system of pensions. This is not only trying to ride two horses at once, but is laying up an enormous amount of complication for the future. We are faced with injustices now; it must be patently unjust to bring in half a million women and to give them free pensions when, at the same time, millions of our fellow citizens are compelled to pay weekly contributions towards the fund in the sure and certain hope that in due course they will get pensions, to some part of which they have contributed. It seems to be manifestly unjust that we should have, on the one hand, one great block of people receiving pensions free, and on the other hand another great block of people receiving pensions towards which some contribution has been paid. That is really the fundamental objection that I and many of my hon. and right hon. Friends have to this Clause standing part of the Bill. We are trying to engraft on to a perfectly logical, sensible and easily understood principle of contributory pensions the principle of giving pensions to another class of persons, probably on the same economic basis through having had husbands who were at one time in the insurable class; but the fact that this latter class are going to receive pensions for nothing, as it were, will create a feeling of injustice on the part of their fellow citizens and neighbours who are receiving pensions because their husbands contributed to the scheme or who hope to receive pensions should their husbands die.
I think the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are raising a problem which will be very difficult in the coming years. Whether his party approve or disapprove of contributory pensions, I put it to him that administratively, at the lowest, but 2321 probably anyhow, it is going to be almost impossible—if he wants to—to get rid of the contributory pension system, on the ground of finance for one thing, and on the very ground of fairness for another. Therefore, these difficulties will not increase—I mean these difficulties will not decrease—[Interruption]. I said "decrease," and the hon. Member who has interrupted me must know that all hon. Members make a slip like that sometimes.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
These difficulties will not decrease through the Government having brought in this extra 500,000 widows. I was dealing, when I was interrupted, with the injustices which will be caused in the minds of many people when they find that their next-door neighbours are getting pensions on a different basis from that on which they themselves are receiving them. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman has taken that fully into account. Recently I came across something in this connection which struck me very forcibly. It was a remark in a speech made by Mr. Rudyard Kipling in Canterbury. He was addressing a body of schoolboys, and was talking to them about the comparisons between school life and life when they grow up. He said this, which I commend to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman:Most injustices in this world are not inflicted deliberately, but because people won't take the trouble to think things out. It makes their heads ache, and if persisted in may make them change their opinions.If you have your opinions so set that you do not want to risk changing them, you do not think, and you find yourselves, possibly, bringing about some injustice.
We on these benches have tried to stress and to bring out this position. I know that it is easy to single out one hypothetical case or another, but our object in doing so has been to try to bring more forcibly to the notice of the right hon. Gentleman that, though he may be granting pensions to something like 500,000 widows, he will be raising up a terrible sense of grievance throughout the countryside which he, at any rate, will not be able to remedy. What are the qualifications for pensions, going to be? According to what we have decided 2322 so far, a woman must first of all be a widow and of or over the age of 55. We have tried to get explanations from the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues as to why they selected the age of 55. The right hon. Gentleman on one occasion during these Debates said the age of 55 was reached after a good deal of consideration, but on another occasion he admitted that it was a purely arbitrary age. It must be arbitrary, any age must be arbitrary, but we have never got any explanation from the Treasury Bench as to why they should have selected this particular age, except that the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friend have told us that is the age at which a large proportion, if not all, of the women whose cases we are considering are beginning to find themselves ready to drop out of the industrial field owing to increasing age. But there is no particular reason that can be adduced by anyone as to why the age should be 55 any more than 54, 53 or 47.
That is the first qualification—the widow must be a widow of 55 or over. There will be injustices and grievances felt by those who are under 55, but they cannot be dealt with at the moment. Then the late husband must have been either a member of an approved society or his normal employment must have been one which, in the opinion of the Minister, was one in respect of which, had the Act been in force, contributions would have been payable. That was a consideration which caused a good deal of discussion. The Minister said there was a great volume of case-law in the Department defining what exactly is an insurable occupation, and because of this great volume of case-law he claimed that his Department, or, as the Clause says, "The Minister," should be the arbiter as to whether or not a man's occupation would have been insurable. That was a point of view which many of us contested very strongly, and we based our arguments on the fact that it was rather hard on the applicant that the Minister should have the last say. We felt the applicant ought to have the right of appeal if she had lost her case with the Minister; she ought to have a further chance of pleading her case before impartial people. On that point the Minister would not meet us, though he did agree to meet us on the other point as to the qualification that the late husband was normally occu- 2323 pied in what would have been an insurable occupation.
There are two tests; first the insurability of the occupation of the husband, and, secondly, that it had been his normal occupation. On this latter point the right hon. Gentleman agreed to consider between now and next week whether he would give some other title than his own ipse dixit with regard to the normality of the occupation of the dead man. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give that matter his very favourable consideration. We are trying to give the applicant one more chance after the Minister has dealt with her. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) made a great appeal that the point should be settled by the Minister, because he said we could question this decision. Whether that be a good point or not, it seems to me that you will give the applicant a better chance if you give her two chances instead of one; give her the Department first and then another appeal. Of course, there must be finality somewhere. [Laughter.]. I do not see that there is anything very funny about that, but as it seems to impress hon. Members so much I will repeat it. There has to be finality somewhere. I suggest that it will give the applicant a better chance if two completely different people deal with her case.
We have tried to make other conditions. We have tried to limit the number of persons who will get this free gift in order to have further funds available for those who could prove that their cases were harder. We tried repeatedly to devise Amendments which would have carried out the pledge of the Prime Minister that every widow in need should be able to get a pension. That, probably, could not have been done under this Bill, but some part of that pledge could have been carried out, whether by using the tests which were prescribed under the Old Age Pension Acts or putting in the income tax limit, which would have been more wise and more reasonable from the point of view of the woman concerned, saying that no widow should get this free gift pension from the State if she had an income higher than the income tax limit. But the right hon. Gentleman would have none of that. I think the right hon. Gentleman never did justice to that argu- 2324 ment. He never really made out a case for not putting in the income tax limit. It will be very difficult to justify giving a pension to a woman whose present income is such that she has to pay income tax when no one with whom she has been connected has at any time contributed anything at all towards the pension except perhaps through income tax. The right hon. Gentleman could only say there were very few of such cases, but whenever we have asked how many widows are concerned, and how many widows would not get pensions, he says he does not know. He said at question time that he did not know how many widows that would cut out; he does not know whether there are many or few of these comparatively well-to-do women who will be getting pensions under these provisions.
That is one general line of criticism against this Clause, and I regret very much that the right hon. Gentleman did not see his way to accept our criticism. I have always made my position quite clear, and I believe it is the position of the whole of my party, and it is that we wish to see pensions put on such a basis that pensioners obtain them as a right. One of my objections to this Clause is that we are going away from that principle. There is no right in any contributory or legal sense; there may be in the charitable sense—[HON MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—in the sense that this House, in its wisdom, may desire to distribute certain moneys over a certain section of the population; but when it comes to a basis which is any basis of contribution or need, the right hon. Gentleman has entirely refused to meet us.
We object, too, to this idea that the Minister should be the judge. Though he has met us with regard to the normality of the employment, the Bill as introduced laid it down that he was to be the final judge and arbiter on all these matters with regard to these 500,000 widows. I dare say in this case the powers will not be used arbitrarily, but it behoves this Committee not to give all these great powers to any Minister or Department, because if you do you will be sowing the seeds of what is called administrative law. It is no excuse to say that something of that kind may have been done in the provisions of the Act that we are amending, 2325 or some other legislation five, 10 or 20 years ago; and the final proof that it is no excuse is to be found in the fact that to-day the great antagonists of these despotic powers being given is the Lord Chief Justice, who at one time was a Law Officer of the Crown, and must, with great respect to him, have agreed to the Measures passed when his Government was in office.
That disposes of the argument about going back to previous legislation. I do not believe this Clause is going to do one-half of what the Minister thinks it will do. I agree that it is going to give 10s. a week to approximately half-a-million women, but it will not remedy the injustices which he says he is setting out to remedy. Then as to cost: The figure of £80,000,000 or so has been bandied about in the course of Debate and has figured in some of the Papers and questions and answers which deal with this Measure, but it remains true that the right hon. Gentleman said that he did not know what the capital cost would be, because it had not been worked out. That is my final comment on this question. It is my final comment. [Interruption.]. hon. Gentleman opposite apparently have never head of repetition as a form of emphasis. I commend it to them when they are addressing their constituents. It is a valuable addition to their speeches. What I was saying, in spite of these attempts to draw me off, was that the right hon. Gentleman says he is frankly trying to assist the largest number of people possible, and in the laudable desire, from his point of view, to do that, he has fixed upon 500,000 widows who will, if the Committee passes this Clause, receive the benefit, but at a cost which the right hon. Gentleman says he cannot compute.
Here we have the final proof, if proof is required, of what this country will be in for if it really allows itself to be run on Socialist principles. No estimate of the cost! Whether the country can afford it of not, he says, depends upon whether it wants it, and I put it to the Committee that this Clause of this Measure will show the country as a whole exactly what is meant by Socialist legislation. A great many people will realise that it means picking out arbitrarily, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, a certain class of the community, arbitrarily 2326 choosing an age at which they are to receive benefits, and, by no process of logic, argument or need, distributing to a certain class of the community sums of public money to which they have not contributed and to which no one with whom they are concerned has contributed. All this is done for no reason whatsoever except that in that way we are supposed to be assisting the largest number of the most needy section of the community. When that is done without any financial considerations being brought to bear on the discussions, I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman will not in the end be so pleased with his Measure as he is to-day.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
Some of my hon. Friends on these benches, during the Second Reading of this Measure, expressed their sense of dissatisfaction with this Bill. We felt that the amount of expenditure was utterly inadequate in regard to a number of widow's and orphans. We have had to face the question of what is the best course to pursue, when one's own Government is responsible' for the Measure, in regard to the Amendments that are proposed. In the name of Members of the Independent Labour party I want to say to the Minister of Health that the fact that we have not put any Amendments on the Paper is not to be taken by him as meaning that we in any real sense acquiesce in this Bill. Clause 1 appears to me a pitiably mean and inadequate one. There have been many discussions during the Committee stage of various Amendments, and a great deal of reference has been made to the speeches of Members of this House. Quite frankly, I and some of my colleagues have been very uneasy because we feel that so far as this Measure is concerned many of those points were justified. It is well that we should be frank in this Committee. One has to recognise that in dealing with this Measure there may be a case made for the correction of anomalies in one Measure and dealing with the full subject of social insurance in another and greater Measure. This Bill and this Clause, however, do not deal with the anomalies that we ourselves pointed out in the Act that is now being amended.
After all, when we think of the pre-Act widows, the widows before 4th January, 1926, when we realise the amount of criticism that Members of the 2327 Labour party addressed to that anomaly, and the fact that the anomaly is allowed to remain in a very large Measure, naturally some of the Members on these benches feel very sore about the position. A woman who became a widow on 3rd January, 1926, received a pension only if she had members of her family under 14 years of age, and perhaps the woman next door might become a widow on 5th January, with no family, and yet she was ineligible for the pension under the previous Act How often have Members on these benches, and spokesmen of the Labour party in the constituencies pointed to the utterly ridiculous character of that arbitrary date, 4th January, and the consequences it entailed to so many! Yet we continue that anomaly, unless the widow is 55 or 60 years of age. That is one of the most vicious anomalies that the former Act was responsible for, one of its most cruel conditions, its way of discriminating by an arbitrary date. Yet it is continued here. The only attempt that is made to deal with it is by this reference to the age, or else by the alteration that is made in the succeeding Clause, that until the child is 16 years of age the pension may be continued.
What a pitiful condition of affairs, that the widow is to be left in this position, battling away on this mean pension, quite inadequate for a mother to bring up her family in anything like decent conditions! She takes it out of herself, trying to give the boys and girls of her family something of an opportunity in life, and then the pension ceases, unless she is 55 years of age, when the youngest child has become 16. It is said that the children are then out to work, but what child going out to work is bringing in an income that will provide for itself in any adequate sense? Yet the children then are to take up the maintenance of the widowed mother. I and my friends of the Independent Labour party think that this Government and the members of our party are going to face the same difficulties in the future, in regard to the continuance of this anomaly, that the people opposite met at the last General Election. The, criticisms passed on the right hon. Gentleman opposite were thoroughly justified, and the electorate agree that they were, because even hon. Members opposite will admit that at the last elec- 2328 tion one of the big factors in determining the issue was this question of anomalies in connection with pensions—that and the similarly cruel treatment by the former Government of the unemployed. To my mind those were the great determining factors in the last election, not something about international affairs, and I believe that this Clause, with its anomalies and the new anomalies that will be created by the imposition of the 55 or 60 years, will put the members of this Committee into the same impossible position that the hon. Gentlemen opposite were put in by their previous Measure. In the opposition to this Clause and the fight which is being put up, I myself would like to have seen right hon. Gentlemen opposite in the position of saying that they have learned something from the last election. This is a mean Clause; as the hon. Members opposite would amend it, it would be meaner still. They have set out to make this Clause 1, with all its anomalies, meaner still. They may say that they did not, that they sought to extend it in some way by bringing in a means limit; but when the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crook-shank) was talking about the cost, it was very evident that the Conservative party were not in any more generous mood with regard to those matters.
One is in a very difficult position indeed with regard to this Bill and with regard to its Clauses. I may be asked: "Why did you not put down Amendments to this Clause and seek to amend it?" The Minister assured us that it was only the beginning—that it was the first Measure, and that there was to be another Measure. I should like to ask him whether he can tell us anything about the time when we are likely to get the second Measure. I think the Committee is entitled to know at this stage something more than simply the indefinite idea which has been thrown out that this is one of a series of Measures. One is not unreasonable, I think, in asking that, because one is not pressing the right hon. Gentleman to name a date, or a month; one does not necessarily mean even that one is pressing him for an exact year; but one might ask him whether this second Measure is coming within the lifetime of this Parliament. If one is anticipating the normal life for this Parliament, will it come within the 2329 five years for which this Parliament may last under the Constitution? I myself, when I think of the programme of the Government with regard to other first class Measures, feel uneasy with regard to that point. What exactly does it mean? Assuming that this Parliament does go on, if not for the full number of years, for two or three years, are we going to the country telling the people that if we had continued in Office for five years a second Measure would have been introduced?
Then there is another question which arises in connection with the promise of future legislation which will put these widows and old people into a better position: the question of cost. I think the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health said that one of the factors which the Government had to face in connection with this was the question of cost—that the finance which it involved was a material factor in the drafting of the Bill. When I hear the finance of the Bill discussed, and when I think of it as being upon the non-contributory basis to which this party is pledged, then I wonder where in the future the extra finance is to come from. Are we going to have a great revival of trade? Are we going to have ever so many Super-tax payers, so that one can increase the Budget to a very large extent, which is not possible to-day? I do not believe for a moment that there is going to be any such great extension of the prosperity of this country as will make possible, say two or three years' hence, taxation which is not possible to-day; but I think the money is in the country here at the present time, and that the Government should have been able to get the money when they brought forward this Measure. We are going to begin all over again on some other occasion, and we are going to have the Minister of Health and his satellites behind him setting themselves to repeat the process with another new Measure, and then we will walk through the Lobbies; and by that time it is possible that, owing to the accidents and the misfortunes which occur in life, the Government may be a little less popular in the country than it is at the present time. [Interruption.]
§ Mr. STEPHEN
My hon. Friend suggests "Tory cheers"; but some Members 2330 of my party wriggle with joy when their Prime Minister is praised in the Conservative Press, or when he says something which elicits sympathising cheers from the Conservative benches; but, when legitimate criticism of one's own Government comes, and someone on the other side cheers, it seems to be a grievous wrong. I am not to be deterred by any more or less intelligent, or otherwise, interruption from my colleagues on the benches opposite from saying things which I think ought to be said in connection with this Measure; and I say here definitely that I am quite confident that there is not a Member of the Labour party in this House who feels any measure of comfort in putting forward this as our first Measure dealing with the wrongs and the needs of the widows and their children in this country. I am quite confident that every Member in his heart feels that it is inadequate, and very different from the Measure which we visualised when we were on the hustings, and when we came back into this House with the glow of a great electoral triumph in our hearts.
I come back to the question: where is the money to be found for that great Measure in the future which is going to make these things right? Will that money be more capable of being found at a future date than it is to-day? I myself cannot see how circumstances are going to change so greatly that in time to come taxation which is not possible at the present time is going to be possible. In this connection, I want to say that, while one is quite willing to have patience with the Government and to wait as long as possible, yet at the same time there are those people in our constituencies who are in those circumstances: widows and old people who cannot afford to wait, who have been looking to the great changes and the tremendous improvement in their circumstances which were going to result from the coming into office of a Labour Government. Many have received the same kind of letters which I myself have received from widows in my constituency. They tell me that they are excluded, that they thought they were going to be included, that our election pledges led them to believe that they were going to be included, and yet to-day they are going to be left in those circumstances. They expected so much of this Measure. There, are 500,000 of them who are going to get 2331 10s. per week, but so many of those 500,000 will still be within the ambit of the Poor Law. They are going to be left in that position; so some of us feel that this Measure is not going to be, for us, something which we can put before our constituents with any great measure of comfort as carrying out the pledges of the Labour party, and as bringing to many distressed people joy and gladness where there has been despair and hopelessness in the days gone by. We cannot feel that this Clause, in its operation, is going to bring any great help to so many of the needy people in our constituency, and we think it well that our own Government should know, and that hon. Members of this House should know, that those are our views in regard to this Measure, and that our hope is that, so far as those other great Measures of social change are concerned, we are not going to have a repetition of what has taken place in connection with this widows' pensions scheme, but that the Government are going to be courageous and bold in their handling of those other Socialist questions, and that they are going to give us at least one great Measure, wide in its ambit, far-reaching in its effect, which will bring to the poverty-stricken people in our country a sense of hope in the days to come through a Labour Government being in office.
We have just listened to a speech of quite exceptional interest and power, the speech of a man who, however much many of us may differ from him—and we do differ from him—in some fundamental considerations, is, we recognise, sincere and has the courage of his sincerity. I watched, while he made his speech, an air of pensiveness, and even of melancholy, overspreading the countenances of hon. Members opposite. [An HON. MEMBER: "You need not worry about that!"] I am not worrying about that; but I think they were worrying about it, because they realised that that speech to which they have just listened will be made in their constituencies, to their constituents—[Interruption]—a speech which will undoutebdly point the difference between promise and performance.
The hon. Member has described this Measure as pitifully mean and in- 2332 adequate. He, of course, is comparing it with the Bill which ought to have been introduced if those promises to which he alluded had been carried out in their entirety. He has been put off with the excuse that there has been no time to produce the whole, and that this is but an instalment of some much greater Measure that is to some. Hon. Members to-day can still sing that song; they can still go down to their constituents and perhaps, for a time, they can get away with it. But after a while the constituents will ask the same question that was asked by the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen): "When can we expect this Measure? Is it to be a matter of months, or is it to be a matter of years, or is it to be some time in the future after the next Election has taken place?"
We on this side had to suffer at the Election from two things. We suffered what every Government must suffer from, that is to say, the grievances of those who have been disappointed, or who compare their circumstances with those of others who have received benefits which have not come to them. We also suffered from the fact that hon. Members opposite and their friends in their party were not content with pointing out anomalies and inequalities—I will not go so far as to say injustices, but anomalies and inequalities—but they said, "If we had been in office, those anomalies and those inequalities would never have been created, and, if you send us to office, they will be immediately removed." The hon. Member for Camlachie is disposed to taunt the Conservative party with having learnt nothing from the Election. He, at any rate, has learned something since the Election and since his own Friends came into office. He has learned that the difficulties which we had to face are difficulties which have got to be faced by any Government, no matter to what party it belongs, and that those who, while out of office and free from all responsibilities, are reckless enough to make promises without having first thoroughly acquainted themselves with the practicability of carrying them out, must expect, when they once take their seats on those benches, to suffer such reproaches as they have been writhing under during the last 20 minutes.
2333 On the Second Reading of this Bill, I said that, in the course of the Committee stage, we should offer the most strenuous opposition to those parts of the Bill which we felt to be seriously defective, and we have endeavoured to keep that promise in the discussions upon Clause 1. We have now spent two days and more, including a night, on the discussion of a single Clause in the Bill; but, after all, even the time that we have spent upon this Clause is not disproportionate to its importance in the Bill, because everybody recognises that this Clause is the Bill. It is the backbone of the Bill. It is the most important Clause, not merely as regards the number of persons affected, or even as regards cost, but as regards the principles which are affected by its Operation.
We have had numerous speeches upon the comparative advantages of contributory and non-contributory pensions. The hon. Member for Camlachie is in favour of giving non-contributory pensions to everybody. The party opposite profess on the platform to be in favour of the same thing, but in practice it does not work out that way, and, as a matter of fact, unless some miracle happens, unless, as the hon. Member said there were to be such a prodigious revival in trade during the next three years as would create a whole new class of super-tax payers, and incidentally, of course, raise the general level of prosperity in the country, it is quite certain that the country could not afford a scheme of non-contributory pensions. [AN HON. MEMBER: "That is not true."] The hon. Member is a little discourteous in saying that it is not true. He might well say, "That is not my opinion," and I agree that it is a matter of opinion, but it is just the difference between the back bench and the front bench. The front bench, who have, as they have told us on several occasions, begun to think, take one view, and the back bench, which has not yet begun to think, takes another view.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to say that I and my colleagues believe that the present number of super-tax payers, and the income of the country to-day, are sufficient, if taxation is sufficiently heavy on those who can bear it, to provide for a non-contributory scheme.
I quite appreciate that the hon. Gentleman does believe that, but of course, if he were sitting on the front bench instead of on a back bench, he would then change his mind. Taking the Clause with its very limited contribution to the system of non-contributory pensions, even so, it goes, in our opinion, a great deal further than is justifiable. The hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary, in particular, has devoted herself many times to a justification of it on the ground that we of the Conservative party, in the Act of 1925, had ourselves departed from the contributory principle in giving pensions to pre-Act widows whose husbands had paid no contributions. I have never denied that that was a lapse from strict consistency in our Act, and, in fact, I have stated that that was my view.
I must remind the Committee once again of the special circumstances which in my view, advocate as I am of contributory social systems, justified that departure so far as it went. By giving pensions and allowances to the widows of men who died soon after the passing of the Act, we put the children of widows whose husbands had died just before the passing of the Act in a worse position than they were in before, because those children, during the course of their lives, would have to compete against children whose mothers had been given pensions and allowances, and who, therefore, would start with greater advantages in life than the children of pre-Act widows would get. In other words, we, by our own act, had definitely worsened the position of the pre-Act widow with children who had to compete with children starting with these advantages. Having, as I say, by our own act worsened the position of those children, we had to see that that wrong was put right, and we could only do it by giving allowances in respect of the children of pre-Act widows. Of course, it was no use to give the allowances to the children alone; we had also to give the pension to the widow—not for the sake of the widow, but for the sake of the children. That was shown by the fact that the pension for the widow ceased when the allowance for the children ceased.
That, of course, was the distinction between the widows dealt with under the 1925 Act and the widows dealt with under this Clause. Under 2335 the Act it was a pension given to widows only for a short period, while her children were young and were not able to assist her in the income of the house-hold. This Clause gives pensions to widows for their lives, and surely that is a distinction between the two cases which absolutely delivers us from any justifiable charge of inconsistency. I need hardly, perhaps, labour the point, because the question is not only one of the period during which the widow gets the pension, but there is also an enormous difference in the number of the widows themselves. Here we are dealing, I understand, with something like 500,000, and under our Act it was, I suppose, less than 150,000. But I think the other case that I have been putting against the difference is the stronger, and to my mind that is the real distinction between our system and the very much more far-reaching proposal contained in this Clause.
Of course, it is agreed that there is a fundamental difference between our selves and hon. Members opposite in that they are in favour of giving non-contributory pensions, even though it be theoretical rather than practical, while we are in favour of giving contributory pensions and we have, as we believe, solid grounds for considering that to be the better principle. Where this Clause is, to my mind, so lamentable is in the indiscriminate nature of its benefits. I consider it is a scandal that we should be giving free pensions of 10s. a week for life to people in receipt of £5 a week. What is the justification for that when you put along side it all those which I will not now discuss in detail, but which have been numerous in the course of our discussions, of people who are in need and who are not going to be touched by the Clause?
§ Mr. MACKINDER
You have given bigger pensions. You have given thousands a year to people with more than £5 a week.
I do not think we need complicate matters with the discussion of individual pensions in the case of distinguished men, if that is what the hon. Member is referring to. That is an old subject, but rather a different one. I am arguing a different 2336 point. After all, it is my speech and I am entitled to choose my own line of argument. I was speaking of the indiscriminate nature of the benefit and I said it seemed to me a monstrous thing that you should be giving these free pensions to people who admittedly are not in want of them—because everyone will admit that there must be such cases though there may be a difference of opinion as to the number—and at the same time withholding them from people who need them and who are not touched by the Clause. We were not allowed on the Clause to discuss the case of the spinster, but you are going to have them and many other classes of persons who will be aggrieved at being left out. There is the case, of course, of the widows of people who never were insured and never were in insurable occupation, who are not touched by the Bill. They had no legitimate grievance as long as pensions were only going to people under an insurance scheme, but when pensions are being given on this scale without any contribution at all those people, in my view, have a justifiable complaint. We had cases brought up of widows of policemen who died before 1918. If they died within three years of retirement they came in. If they had not died soon enough they were shut out. That is the sort of anomaly which it is very easy to make a story about on the public platform, and which certainly will prove just as embarrassing to hon. Members on that side as some of their speeches were to us at the last election. There is the case of the post-Act widows, the case we were discussing earlier to-day, of widows of men who came into insurance after the Act was passed, started to pay contributions and then died. Those widows have been shut out too, and they are going to be worse off than those widows whose husbands never paid any contributions. That is a very hard case. I think there is going to be a very great deal of difficulty in defending the with-holding of pensions from these widows.
I have had many cases brought to my notice as perhaps other Members have too or, if they have not, they will. I had a case the other day of a widow whose husband was a voluntary contributor. Here it was not only the number of his contributions, but the fact that he was paying the employer's contribution as 2337 well as his own. He paid a number of contributions and then died. There was no pension for his widow. Again there is no injustice in a case of that kind so long as we are sticking to a contributory system. The words quoted by the hon. Lady from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) are perfectly applicable to any insurance system. You must have a minimum number of contributions. But, of course, when you have the two systems side by side in the same Act, a number of people who are upon a contributory system and have to pay their contributions or forfeit their right to pension, and at the same time people who pay nothing receiving good pensions, you cannot help having these grievances and injustices. If we did not press our Amendment, if we only used it as a demonstration, it is because, even if we brought those people in, it would really only make a new grievance as compared with the position of those who have to pay the full contributions, and much more besides, because the husband did not happen to die soon in his insurance career but late and the widow got the benefit so long after those whose husbands died at the beginning of the Act. All these difficulties arise out of the want of a guiding principle in this Clause. It comes back to this, that if you are going to give, whether it be pensions or whether it be any other kind of State assistance, broadcast at the expense of the taxpayer without any contribution from the beneficiaries, there is really only one principle which you can adopt and which you ought to adopt, and that is the principle of need. You may settle how you like what shall constitute need. That is a matter for argument and arrangement. But you ought not, in view of the great inequality which exists between the means of different taxpayers, to draw money out of all taxpayers in order to give it to those who are quite well enough off to do without it. That was the principle which was recognised by the Prime Minister in the speech to which allusion has been made more than once in the course of our discussions. I do not know whether, when he made that observation, he had consulted with the Minister of Health. I think it is very likely that he had not, but that it seemed to him obviously the right principle if you are going to dis- 2338 tribute non-contributory pensions. It has not been followed out in the Bill. It has not been followed out in the Clause. We have not been able to persuade the Government to accept any Amendment which would have introduced the principle adopted by the Prime Minister. That being so, the Clause remains, after all our discussions, as vicious as it was when we first began to discuss it, and we, at any rate, intend to go into the Lobby against it.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
It is not often that a Member of this House stands at this Box and has a fusillade directed at him from two corners of the House. I have hitherto been fortunate enough to escape a cross fire. Both my hon. Friend the Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) during the time they were in double harness put the same point as to the time of the next Measure. Every Member of this House knows what a foolish question that is. It is a question which is lacking in political sincerity. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is!"] That is what I say. No one can, at this moment, give any undertaking as to months or years when such a Measure is likely to be introduced into this House. King's Speeches come with unfailing regularity. Members might look forward with expectancy to the next King's Speech, and the one that will follow that, and the one that will follow that, and in each of these I have no doubt they will find more and more all the pledges given by my party duly honoured.
I am very glad to have the advice of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston. But his advice was that this Bill is going to bring us what he would regard as well merited unpopularity in the country, and he, like some of his hon. Friends, suffered from the delusion that their defeat at the General Election was merely due to their Pensions Act. They are under a misapprehension. It was four and a half years of palsied government, of misguided activity, that led them to take their broken ranks from this side of the House to that. When we put this Measure by the side of other Measures we may be perfectly sure that we shall not meet with the same end. The right hon. Gentleman's criticisms of Clause 1 have, of course, been dealt with 2339 before. First, he says that we are going in this Clause much further than can be justified, and we have had his apologia in respect of his breach of his own principle of contributions and his admission of the pre-Act widows with children. There were, he said, special circumstances which justified departure from the principle of contributions. These children were being placed in a worse position because of the grant of allowances to the children of post-Act widows. They had their lives before them, and he felt sure that he was justified in breaking away from this sacred principle of Conservatism.
I would make the same plea. I have made a further breach in the principle of contributions because of the special circumstances; because there are, in almost every working-class street in this land, young widows and old widows living cheek by jowl, and the young widow is getting a pension and the old widow is getting none. These elderly widows have still part of their lives before them. I am proud to be in a position to give them a pension because of the lives that lie behind them, and because these women have, in the over-whelming majority of cases, served the nation by the children they have brought into the world. I say that these working-class women are as much entitled to a pension at the hands of the community as the young post-Act widow is entitled to a pension. That seems to me to justify this break-away from the principle of contributions.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the indiscriminate nature of the benefits, and talked of some scandal about free pensions to women who have £5 a week. It was not a scandal when he gave free pensions to pre-Act widows, with children, most of whom would be as well off as the pre-Act widows of elderly years who are to get pensions under this Bill. If it be a scandal that a certain number of elderly widows with means will receive a pension under this Bill, a scandal of exactly the same kind was perpetrated by the right hon. Gentleman when he admitted, without contribution, the pre-Act widow, with children. It may be that he gave her the pension because of the children, but the fact is that he gave her a pension, and she had means. What a shocking thing! I do it for the perfectly sound reason that you cannot be- 2340 gin to pick and choose, and if you do in your scheme give pensions, without an inquiry into means, for one set of people, another set of people being brought into the Act are entitled and ought to be treated in precisely the same way.
This criticism about the scandal of rich widows going to the post offices, in their limousines, to draw pensions of 10s. a week, is coupled with an allegation that we refuse to give pensions to a class in need. I can assure the Committee that were we to make the necessary investigations to ensure that the rich widow in her limousine did not get her pension, at the end of it I should have a debit balance, and there would be nothing to pay out to the widows or the people excluded from the Act, and who are in need. These people who are in need to-day and outside this Measure are no creation of mine. I did not invent them. They were there in 1925. This new interest on the part of hon. Members opposite in the needy poor is to be welcomed, but the underlying implications of speech after speech from the benches opposite is that in the last five months this Government has, somehow or other, produced these needy persons. They were there before. It is true that we are not in a position to-day to deal with all of them, but it is not the creation of a new anomaly to deal with half-a-million of them.
The right hon. Gentleman complained about two systems running side by side. I should like the Committee to appreciate the logic of what that means. If to meet any human need you introduce a system of contributory insurance and you do not have two systems running side by side, there will be needy people left out, and they can never come in. Does it mean that hon. Members opposite do not want to do anything for the pre-Act needy widow?
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
To be true to their principles, they cannot. If you have a system of widows' pensions introduced by any date, I do not care what date, if you want to avoid two systems running side by side you can only do so by excluding the widows who are widows when your scheme comes into force. Is that the intention of hon. Members opposite?
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I doubt very much whether the right hon. Gentleman will try to answer. Two horses have been ridden by the right hon. Gentleman during the Debate—this insistence on a contributory scheme, and the muddle you are in if you wish to bring in the pre-Act widow, and at the same time a desire to extend the scheme to other needy people. On their own view they have no business to be doing that. They ought to be doing it by a system of contributory insurance, which, obviously, cannot be applied even to the needy spinsters, with whom the right hon. Gentleman has fallen in love. I am charged by the right hon. Gentle-man that there is no guiding principle in Clause 1. He says that we ought not to use the taxpayers' money to help people who are well off. The right hon. Gentleman did that himself in his own Act. If you give one penny of State contribution to any insurance scheme which has no means limit, you are using State resources to help people who are well off. Under the Act of 1925, which applies no means test, there is a State contribution of £4,000,000 per year, provided in part by very needy taxpayers to give subsidies to well-to-do people who are getting pensions under the Act of 1925. That is an argument which only needs to be stated to carry its own refutation on its face.
The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the problem of need. There are two ways of dealing with the problem of need. One way is the inquisitorial method, and the other is a method not necessarily applied to individuals, but applied to classes of the community. The whole basis of our health insurance schemes, from the time of the first Bill, introduced by the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), down to to-day, has been that it is necessary for the community to make social provision to meet the needs of a certain class of people who are, on the whole, needy people. They are the working people of this country. They are the people for whom these insurance schemes have been specially devised. We have brought nobody into this new scheme except the very class of people for whom the Liberal Act of Par- 2342 liament of 1911 originally made provision, and for whom the Act of 1925 made provision. We have taken the principle of need, and we have taken the principle of need as it has been applied by successive Governments to the great bulk of manual workers, and the less paid sections of the community outside the manual workers.
The right hon. Gentleman said, and it is perfectly true, that Clause 1 is the backbone of the Bill, and he warned me that when we went to the constituencies we should meet with reproaches and criticisms.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I am not ashamed of Clause 1. I am prepared to go into the constituencies, even the right hon. Gentleman's own constituency, and to stand 'against such criticism as may be brought against me. I have never rated Clause 1 too highly, but Clause 1 does more for the widows of this country than the whole Act of 1925. It will bring within its ambit 2½ times as many widows as are enjoying the benefits of the Act of 1925 to-day. It will bring in at least 80 per cent. of the widows of this country. It will bring in the great bulk of the needy widows of this country, and the widows who have reached that time of life when economic independence is a hard thing to attain. I am not ashamed of the Bill. The hon. Member for Camlachie said that this is a mean Bill—
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I welcome the right hon. Gentleman's conversion to Poplarism, and indeed it is most terrifying in the person of the right hon. Member for West Woolwich. At any rate it is a very considerable contribution, I place it no higher than that. This is not a perfect Bill; it is a partial Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I have said it before, but it does some considerable measure of tardy justice to a large class of people who were ignored by the late Government and so far as the vast majority of hon. Members on this side of the House are concerned I do not think they share the views of the hon. Member for Camlachie. With me they regard this Clause as an honest and immediate attempt to deal with a large and pressing problem. When I am asked why 2343 a scheme complete in all its details governing all the ramifications of social insurance in this country was not introduced before we did anything I say that it was our duty to do what we could as quickly as possible for the maximum number of people.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
The Minister of Health has described this Clause as a partial clause. The answer to that is, in the words of my hon. Friend the Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) that it ought not to have been partial, it should have been impartial. The right hon. Gentleman is, of course, entitled to complain of the speech of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) but at any rate the language used by the hon. Member for Camlachie was much more moderate in tone than the language used by the right hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley) about the measure of the right hon. Gentleman for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) for, speaking in Glasgow on that Bill, the right hon. Member for Shettleston described it as the most heartless and contemptuous fraud ever perpetrated on a helpless people. At any rate we can mark a growth in moderation of the Members from Clydeside, which I hope will be noted in Scotland. [An HON. MEMBER: "And in Leith."] I have been able to take care of Leith in the last two elections in spite of hon. Members, and I think we will leave the future to take care of itself.
This Clause raises a most important issue. Apart from all party challenges about contributory and non-contributory schemes the Clause has a very real issue, and I am glad it is in its present form because it will enable Parliament and the country to appreciate just how far the nation can go within its resources on the line advocated by hon. Members opposite. This is a partial Bill, and after having listened to the discussion about finance and after hearing the Parliamentary Secretary turn down our Amendment to lower the age from 55 to 45—not now in the Clause—the Minister says that 55 is the age at which our economic power—[An HON. MEMBER: "You did not go on with it."] We did not go on with our Amendment after it was turned down by the Minister. When I support a Measure—I mean what I say—I only bring forward Amendments in order to 2344 hear what the Minister has to say, and if it is impossible to work them into the scope of the Bill I have no intention of being fractious or trying to score a party point by forcing divisions which can be used outside the House for party purposes. When hon. Members opposite get a chance to move Amendments to other people's Bills I hope they will he as moderate in their views of their opponents as we have been.
This raises a very serious issue. We are entitled to appeal to hon. Members opposite, even if we do not reproach them, that before they next descend upon the constituencies to discuss the question of a partial non-contributory insurance scheme they will make some calculations as to what it would really cost to do what they advocate and bring in a complete non-contributory scheme. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health in his speech foreshadowed large changes, but it will be quite unfair for hon. Members opposite to suggest that they have only done this because they could only do it on this line quickly. If we are to have a non-contributory pension scheme I hope the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make a statement in this House as to what it would cost to carry out their scheme and as to where he can command the money to finance such a scheme.
Much has been said about the anomalies of a contributory scheme; now we are getting the anomalies of a noncontributory scheme, and with that non-contributory scheme on a partial basis. In fact, the whole Bill bristles with anomalies and injustices inevitable in the case of a contributory scheme. We welcome this Clause because it removes a certain hardship flt in every city and industrial centre, yet, nevertheless, the fact remains that because this method has been chosen, hastily and partially, we have created a whole new system of anomalies and injustices which will be felt. The Minister of Health accused the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) with having fallen in love with the spinster. I would rather be in the position of the right hon. Member for West Woolwich—fallen in love with the spinster—than in the position of the Minister of Health who has jilted the spinster before she has had a chance.
§ Mr. BROWN
I understood that in this case the right hon. Gentleman s love was all embracing and that he was speaking for all spinsters. The next time the Prime Minister of the Socialist party talks about people in need I hope he will make inquiries as to what he means by that phrase. In my judgment this Clause has made it imperative that before any party goes to the country in the future and talks about giving pensions to people in need they will define two things, first, what they mean by people in need, and, secondly, how they propose to finance any change to meet the needs of these people.
That is not a point of Order. Hon. Members must bear in mind that they have no right to interrupt the Debate unless the hon. Member in possession gives way.
§ Sir K. WOOD
On a point of Order, Sir, I would like to call attention to the fact that the hon. Member for Partick (Mr. McKinlay) has repeatedly risen in the course of these Debates on what he calls points of Order, which are not, in fact, points of Order. The hon. Member must know by this time, even though he is a young Member, that he is not entitled to do so, and I hope, Sir, that you will have regard to the conduct of Debate and to the fact that this is very unfair to other hon. Members.
I think I ought to point out that this is the first occasion on which the hon. Member for Partick has risen since I have been in the Chair, but I would urge upon hon. Members to keep clearly in mind the 2346 fact that they have no right to address the Committee unless the Member in possession chooses to give way to them.
§ Mr. BROWN
This is the first time that I have ever refused to give way to an hon. Member and I have done so for this reason. The other night when I had only six minutes, the hon. Member for Partick rose, presumably on a point of Order, but only to make a remark which robbed me of two minutes of my time and had no relation whatever to the Debate.
§ Mr. McKINLAY
On a point of Order, I want to know if no allowance is to be made for a young Member's innocence.
§ Mr. BROWN
We should have to write an entire cycle of new "Songs of Innocence," in order to describe the hon. Member for Partick in relation to that delightful term. I welcome this Clause for two reasons. First, because it will remove great hardships and anxieties from at least 500,000 widows; and, secondly, because it places in perspective what can be done inside the limits set by a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer and not a Tory or Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Captain GUNSTON
We have heard some amusing remarks to-night about spinsters and widows and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) has been accused of having a special regard for the spinsters. May I say on behalf of those on the back benches on this side, who took a rather active part in the discussions on this Bill, that we very much appreciate the attention and the answers to detailed points which the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary has always given us. I think, however, that one of the most astounding speeches ever made by the Minister of Health—and he is always surprising us—was made this afternoon when he tried to give a new definition of "need." When we challenged hon. Members opposite regarding the Prime Minister's pledge that every widow in need would have a pension, they laughed in a rather uncomfortable manner. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I quite sympathise with hon. Members opposite, if they have to go down to their constituents and say "our Prime Minister made a pledge, but we have no intention of carrying it out." The new 2347 explanation that has been given of the Prime Minister's pledge is that when hon. Members opposite talked about "the widow in need" as the only standard, they did not mean widows individually, but widows as a class. That is the new definition and I shall examine how it is going to help hon. Members when they come to explain their broken promises to the electors.
The Minister went on to say that of course these pledges could not be carried out at once, and that it would require many King's Speeches to do so. I do not think that the leaders of the Labour party said so in the country at the last Election. [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes, they did!"] They said they could give widows pensions, but we are now told that they meant a policy of installments. It is quite true that if you want to buy and furnish a house you can pay by instalments, but that is a contract and the man who sells the house or the furniture understands it. Hon. Members opposite did not tell the electorate that their pledges were going to be redeemed by instalments and that the electors them-selves would all be dead and in their graves before many of those instalments were forthcoming. If hon. Members opposite are in difficulties regarding anomalies, that is entirely their own fault. I believe that the Minister of Health described this as a Bill to remove anomalies, but it is going to create anomalies. We knew in connection with our Insurance Act that there were bound to be anomalies, but we could always say in regard to any hard case which arose, "We know it is a hard case, but the person concerned is not an insured person." Directly you get away from the idea of insurance, you come up against very grave difficulties.
I was speaking in the country the other day on this Bill and, as I always try to be fair, I was pointing out that numbers of widows would undoubtedly benefit under it. Of course I had to point out the people who would be excluded, and when I began to go through all the classes of people who would be left out, I found—as it was not an all-night sit-ting—that I had to cut short my speech. Hon. Members who have listened to these Debates must have heard of some dangerous anomalies which are going to arise 2348 and are going to be difficult of explanation. How is one to explain the case of the widow of a man who served for 23 months in the Great War, or any war, and who died within three years after the end of that war? His widow will not get a pension. Hon. Members cannot say that the people are not insured and it does not comfort the widow to tell her that, although she may be in need, the Prime Minister's pledge does not mean individuals, but a class. How is one to explain the case of the widow of a smallholder, in indifferent circumstances, who is not pensioned, while in the same village the widow of a man who is employed by a brewer to look after a public-house will get the pension? How is one to explain the grant of a pension to the widow of a man who sells drink and the refusal of a pension to the widow of a man who produces food? That is one of the anomalies which they are going to have great difficulty in explaining.
I would like to refer to an Amendment that I had on the Paper, which could not be called, quite naturally, owing to the large number of Amendments, but it referred to a widow whose means are very limited, a widow in need, who does not come under this Bill, but who is the sole support of a sick relative. She will not get a pension. You will have a very well-to-do widow living in one street in a village and getting a pension, and you will have in another street the crying disgrace of a needy widow, without a pension, who is the sole support of a sick relative. How are you going to justify it? It is no good hon. Members opposite saying they have removed some anomalies. They have, but they have created many more, and they cannot make the excuse that we could, that this is an Insurance Bill, nor can they make the excuse that the country cannot afford it, because the Minister said that this will be no burden on industry. I would like to remind the Committee of the famous saying of Abraham Lincoln:You can fool some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.The Liberal party attempted it, and look at them now. The Labour party are attempting it, and when they go to the country and cannot explain why they have made no attempt to carry out their 2349 pledges, I suggest that in a few years their numbers will be no greater than those of the Liberal party in this House.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I would not have risen at all had it not been for the very unfortunate speech of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen). The hon. Member made the statement that he was entitled to offer legitimate criticism. I am not going to object to that, but my point is that his criticism was most illegitimate and puts him in a somewhat difficult position. I agree the devil's disciple is always in a difficult position, and the hon. Member's speech was an embodiment of the devil's disciple. He professed to speak for influential Members of the vigorous body known as the Independent Labour party. I question in my own mind whether the hon. Member does speak even for the body which he describes as the Independent Labour party. I question very much if he speaks for the Members of that party inside this House, because I know some of them who do not agree with his speech to-night. I raise no objection to the hon. Member directing what he calls legitimate criticism in a legitimate place at a legitimate time, but he is choosing his own ground, and he is speaking, not to his colleagues, but to the world at large from these benches. That is why I take this opportunity of enlightening the world outside this House that, as far as I am concerned—I was one of the authors of the Independent Labour party before the hon. Member was ever heard tell of—I do not agree with his criticism.
What is his alternative? It will be interesting to know, if a division is called, whether the hon. Member is logically going to carry out what he calls his legitimate criticism. I shall wait with very much interest to see whether he does or not. In some respects some of us are not altogether satisfied with the instalment proposed by the Minister of Health and would like to see more, but what is his alternative? If he is logical at all in his opposition, the hon. Member will go into the Lobby with his new-found Friends, and I want to know whether the hon. Member will take the responsibility for doing that. During the General Election I pinned my faith to a bigger Measure than this, but is that singular to the Labour party? That is the game you all play, every time there is a General Election. I am prepared to go down to my 2350 constituents and to say that, little or much as it may be, this Bill is at least a step in the right direction and that we ought to accept it as an instalment. I am very sorry to have to say what I have said, but it had to be said, because there is a limit even to the toleration of colleagues on this side of the House.
I will now say a word or two with respect to the ex-Minister of Health and his colleagues on the other side of the House, who roll like a sweet morsel over their tongues the giving something for nothing and hold up their hands in horror at what they call people in comfortable circumstances receiving pensions. My memory travels back to the time when I was leading a deputation to the father of the right hon. Gentleman the ex-Minister of Health, and begging for pensions of five shillings a week for old men of 70, and he held up his hands in holy horror at the idea of pauperising the people. That is the tradition of the party opposite. The whole path of the history of the Conservative party is strewn with the corpses of the very thing the right hon. Gentleman himself complained of in his very unfortunate reference. Let me give one or two cases. The Tory party gave pensions to naval and military heroes and their descendants, some of them with more than one widow within the meaning of the Act. Some of these pensions enjoyed by the descendants of these heroes this very House not long ago commuted at anything from £25,000 to £40,000.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I only want to say this, that so far as this Measure goes, although perhaps I am just as keen as anybody else on getting more, I am prepared to say that no man who is responsible for preventing the materialisation of this Measure dare face his constituents afterwards. All this talk of honesty and sincerity is, in my opinion, little less than organised hypocrisy. Compare the emoluments which during the history of the Conservative party have been given to the military and naval heroes with the case I produced to this House yesterday. It was the case of a married soldier who lost his leg and eye in the War, his household goods sold to keep life and body and will together in his wife and family. During the solemn Two 2351 Minutes Silence, while Members of the Cabinet and members of the Royal Family were honouring the gallant dead, this soldier was being tried in one of the police courts of this country for non-payment of local rates and sentenced to 13 days' imprisonment. To add insult to injury, one of the magistrates, a gallant Colonel, wore a Flanders Poppy in his buttonhole.
I am surprised at the indignation of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen). If this Bill was rejected through his instrumentality and his vote, which his logic would entitle him to use against it if he carried out the logic of his speech, he would go to Camlachie and say: "I defeated this meagre Measure which at least gave you some relief from the horrible conditions you are living in to-day."
§ Major KINDERSLEY
This Clause raises the principle of contribution or non-contribution to insurance. We have one departure from the principle in our own Act, but, if you analyse it, as has been done by my right hon. Friend, it was hardly a departure because the pension was given to the widow in respect of her children and was taken away from her as soon as her children attained the age of 141. Therefore, I maintain that that was hardly an exception to the contributory principle on which our Act was based. I consider the maintenance of the insurance principle in all these social services to be of the utmost importance to the country. There is a far larger number than hon. Members opposite imagine of people in all classes who have the greatest objection to the system of doles and who have and have always had that spirit of independence for which our people are noted. They regard with the greatest disquiet the tendency to-day to distribute public money on purely arbitrary principles without any regard to means.
There is a far graver aspect even than that. If this sort of thing is continued, as I understand it is going to be continued by the party opposite, it must inevitably end in the destruction of democracy. It always has meant the destruction of any democracy which has gone in for that system of doles, and it must inevitably do so. Hon. Members opposite speak as if there were unlimited 2352 wealth in the country which could be tapped for these purposes. It is my belief that within the next six months the world and this country are going to go through a period of economic and industrial depression such as we have never seen for many years. They will find that it is not so easy to get these millions of money to distribute arbitrarily among the people. It is because I believe that this is a deadly disease which gnaws at the vitals of democracy and has always destroyed it hitherto that I, for my part, shall go into the Lobby with the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. N. Chamberlain) with an absolutely clear conscience, and I shall be prepared to defend my vote on any platform in the country.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
The other evening, when we were discussing a certain portion of Clause 1, I raised the position of the widow of the share fisherman who lost his life prior to the Act being passed. I saw the Minister privately afterwards, and he said that he would have it cleared up and be able to give an answer later on. I took expert advice, and I find that there is some little doubt which requires clearing up. The doubt arises under the words on page 2:his normal occupation was at some time within the said period employment in respect of which contributions under the principal Act would have been payable if that Act had been in force at that time.The position is that the share fisherman did not come into insurance until 1928. Taking the words I have quoted in conjunction with Clause 24, it is not quite clear whether the widows to whom I have referred are included, and I should like a clear statement on that point.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
The point is quite simple. You will see that the Bill sayshis normal occupation was at some time within the said period employment in respect of which contributions under the principal Act would have been payable.That would mean that, as contributions would have been payable under the Insurance Act of 1925, under which share fishermen were included, their widows would come under the Act.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
They were not included in the 1925 Act—not until 1928. That is the point at issue. Clause 24 2353 says that this Act shall be construed with the Act of 1925, while the Act of 1928 is not quoted.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I think that the hon. Member is right. I will report to my right hon. Friend with a view to seeing whether anything can be done. Share fishermen are in the 1928 Act, and not in this Bill, and it is a point that must be looked into.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
If they are not included in this Clause, will it be possible to introduce an Amendment on the Report stage to include them?
§ Major McKENZIE WOOD
I am surprised at the statement which we have just heard from the Parliamentary Secretary. I have gone into this matter carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that there is no doubt that share fishermen are included, but, if the Parliamentary Secretary is in any doubt, I hope that it will be removed at the earliest possible moment. I think, however, that there is no doubt that share fishermen are included, because in Clause 24 there is a definition of what is meant by the principal Act, and the Clause says that the principal Act is to be construed as meaning the principal Act, as amended by this Bill.
§ Sir K. WOOD
It simply says it may be cited. The words are: "This Act may be cited as the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1929, and shall be construed as one with the principal Act, and that Act and this Act may be cited together as the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Acts, 1925 and 1929."
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
I am sure that all hon. Members are desirous of seeing this class brought in, and, if the hon. Lady will make sure that they are put in, I shall be perfectly satisfied.
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I have promised that I will look into it. I am not certain at this stage, but I will look into the point.
§ Mr. WOMERSLEY
I would like the hon. Lady—[Interruption.] I think 2354 that I am justified in asking the hon. Lady if she will see to it that they are included. [Interruption.] I have often heard hon. Members opposite pleading for their constituents, and I have a perfect right to ask that my constituents shall have consideration—
§ Miss LAWRENCE
I think that the hon. Member has raised a substantial point, and I can only say that I will look into it.
§ Mr. E. BROWN
If, unhappily, they are not in the Bill, surely we are entitled to ask the Minister to put them in, since the Government, up to this moment, thought that they were in. The Committee will agree that, if they are not in, they ought to be in. It is not a matter that interests the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) and his constituents alone; these gallant men are all round the coast of Great Britain.
§ Mr. J. JONES
On a point of Order. I would like to ask if there is going to be unlimited opportunity for Members on the other side to talk, while we on our side are to keep our mouths shut?
§ Major ROSS
I wish to raise a point about the inconsistency in this Clause with regard to the widows of ex-service men. In Sub-section 1 (a) are two paragraphs which have at all times been part of the Bill. Then there are two more paragraphs, which were added, one as an Amendment which was on the Paper, and the second as a manuscript Amendment. When I put this point on a previous occasion, the Parliamentary Secretary was rather inclined to brush aside the argument—
§ Miss LAWRENCE
We were then dealing with war service, and I brushed aside share fishermen and everything else because previous occupation had nothing to do with war service. I said that if they served during the War, whatever their occupation—it did not matter two pins if they were share fishermen or anything else—they were included.
§ Major ROSS
I was not going to trouble the hon. Lady with the question of share fishermen. The point I want to make is that we have a distinction between paragraphs (i) and (ii), and paragraphs (iii) and (iv). Paragraphs 2355 (iii) and (iv) deal exclusively with ex-service men, and, in their case, there is this distinction: two years' service during the War or during naval or military operations is required from ex-service men in order that their widows shall qualify under this Bill. In paragraphs (i) and (ii), which deal with those who are not ex-service men, that condition of two years does not come in. That condition is very unjust. The hon. Lady, when dealing with the point before, said that the widows of ex-service men were adequately compensated under the Ministry of Pensions. They do not all get pensions, and I would draw the hon. Lady's attention to the principle which is introduced into this Bill, in a later Clause, by which those who are classed as industrial casualties are compensated as such under the Work-man's Compensation Act, and at the same time are able to benefit under this Bill. It is surely unjust that those who are industrial casualties should be allowed this double compensation, while those who are casualties in the country's service, in naval or military operations, should not be entitled to any such benefit. I cannot understand the explanation which the hon. Lady gave, because there are many widows of ex-service men who have died since the War who have not pensions, and it is the principle of this Bill that industrial casualties shall receive compensation as well as compensation which is received under the Work-men's Compensation Act.
As regards the fourth of these paragraphs it is unjust and a very considerable anomaly that two years' service as a minimum should be insisted upon as regards naval and military operations, because it is notorious that, excepting the South African War, very few campaigns extended beyond two years, and it would be very difficult to find men who, even if they had served throughout, had two years' service and whose widows would thus qualify under this paragraph. The right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill is making a distinction which is particularly unfair to the ex-service men. He is making a discrimination between a man who comes under the Act in the ordinary course of industry and a man who comes under it owing to his service in war. I know it is urged that many ex-service men will 2356 come under one or other of the first two paragraphs, but from the fact that these two other paragraphs have been introduced it is clear that the Ministry think there must be ex-service men whose dependants will not come under the first two, and the Clause, as it stands, is grossly unfair to the dependants of those men.
§ Mr. J. JONES
I shall not detain the Committee long. I never do. [Interruption.] If you are so anxious about a Division, you ought to have moved the Closure long before this. The wonder to me is, that, as the late Government had an overwhelming majority for four and a half years, all these anomalies which have been brought forward in this Debate should still exist. Hon. Members opposite had complete power to do as they liked for four and a half years, but they never thought about all these anomalies until they lost their majority. Now they have come along in the virtuous position of people who have broken all the Commandments and are asking the Labour Government to do what they had not the pluck to do themselves. They claim to be especial friends of all ex-service men—Army and Navy pensioners and all the others, including those who go down to the sea in ships. But men went down to the sea in ships when the hon. Member opposite was a member of the Government. Then the hon. Member opposite talks about getting something for nothing. If there were not people in this country who get something for nothing he would not be in this House.
As to all this virtuous parade on the part of hon. Members opposite, I only want to say that I wish to God they meant it. The real test will be for them to go into the Lobby against this Clause. Let them face the music. I am prepared to go down to my constituency, where there are as many seafarers as anywhere else, men who have gone through the Army and through the Navy and all the other Services, and deal with this point. Those men know that this Bill will mean an increase of 50 per cent. in the numbers of those who are entitled to get pensions. That is the real truth. What we may do in the future does not matter. Some of you will draw pensions and never work for them, and never contribute anything towards them. Knowing all about non-contributory pensions it is remark- 2357 able how enthusiastic you are against them. I believe in pensions for everybody—just the same as you do, when you chose your parents properly. They can have pensions from the day they go into the cradle until the day they go into the soap box. It is contemptible cant. I say it again, it is contemptible cant to hear these crocodile tears. [Laughter.] You cannot express it in any other way.
The Bill does not contain all it ought to have in it, but I know what would happen to it if it had. I can see all the enthusiastic supporters of those who are left out of the Bill walking into the Lobby to defeat us because we were extravagant and threw the nation's money away. We cannot touch them at that game. They know how to throw money away. Their friends the manufacturers are going to make huge profits out of the nation's difficulty. All the profiteers can have a free run for their money. This Debate proves to me the hollowness of the whole situation. We have been wasting hours on matters which ought to
§ have taken only minutes. Arguments have been advanced day after day and will be advanced again to the end of the chapter about the extravagance of giving people something for nothing—and this from those who have done nothing else but give other people's money away! Every manufacturer in my constituency will in a couple of months time have 75 per cent. of his rates taken off, in spite of the fact that some of them have just declared dividends of from 5 to 17½ per cent. That is not something for nothing! No, that is paying honour to the services they have rendered to the party opposite. I say the vote ought to be taken now on this Clause, because everything has been said that could be said and, because hon. Members opposite will not oppose this Clause, there being no real honesty of purpose in their criticisms.
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 275; Noes, 98.2359
|Division No. 35.]||AYES.||[9.54 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Compton, Joseph||Harbord, A.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Cove, William G.||Hardie, George D.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Daggar, George||Harris, Percy A.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Dallas, George||Haycock, A. W.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Dalton, Hugh||Hayday, Arthur|
|Angell, Norman||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Hayes, John Henry|
|Arnott, John||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Day, Harry||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Herriotts, J.|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Dickson, T.||Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Barr, James||Dukes, C.||Hollins, A.|
|Batey, Joseph||Duncan, Charles||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Ede, James Chuter||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Bellamy, Albert||Edge, Sir William||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Edmunds, J. E.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Benson, G.||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Egan, W. H.||Isaacs, George|
|Bevan, Aneurln (Ebbw Vale)||Elmiey, Viscount||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Blindell, James||Foot, Isaac||Johnston, Thomas|
|Bowen, J. W.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Brockway, A. Fenner||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Bromfield, William||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Bromley, J.||Gibbins,. Joseph||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Brothers, M.||Gill, T. H.||Kelly, W. T.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Glassey, A. E.||Kennedy, Thomas|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts. Mansfield)||Gosling, Harry||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West)||Gossling, A. G.||Kinley, J.|
|Buchanan, G.||Gould, F.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Knight, Holford|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Granville, E.||Lang, Gordon|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Cameron, A. G.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Lathan, G.|
|Cape, Thomas||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Groves, Thomas E.||Lawrence, Susan|
|Chater, Daniel||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Church, Major A. G.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Lawson, John James|
|Clarke, J. S.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hall. Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Leach, W.|
|Lee, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Palmer, E. T.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Sorensen, R.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Perry, S. F.||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Pole, Major D. G.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Longden, F.||Potts, John S.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Lowth, Thomas||Pybus, Percy John||Sullivan, J.|
|Lunn, William||Quibell, D. J. K.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Rathbone, Eleanor||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|McElwee, A.||Raynes, W. R.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|McEntee, V. L.||Richards, R.||Tillett, Ben|
|Mackinder, W.||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|McKinlay, A.||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Tout, W. J.|
|MacLaren, Andrew||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Townend, A. E.|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Ritson, J.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Turner, B.|
|Mansfield, W.||Romeril, H. G.||Vaughan, D. J.|
|March, S||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Viant, S. P.|
|Markham, S. F.||Rothschild, J. de||Walker, J.|
|Marley, J||Rowson, Guy||Wallace, H. W.|
|Mathers, George||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Matters, L. W.||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Maxton, James||Sanders, W. S.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Messer, Fred||Sandham, E.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Middleton, G.||Sawyer, G. F.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Millar, J. D.||Scott, James||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Mills, J. E.||Sexton, James||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Milner, J.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||West, F. R.|
|Montague, Frederick||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Westwood, Joseph|
|Morley, Ralph||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Sherwood, G. H.||White, H. G.|
|Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Shield, George William||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Mort, D. L.||Shillaker, J. F.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Moses, J. J. H.||Shinwell, E.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Simmons, C. J.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Muff, G.||Simon, E. D. (Manch'ter, Withington)||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Sinkinson, George||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Murnin, Hugh||Sitch, Charles H.||Wise, E. F.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Oldfield, J. R.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Mr. B. Smith and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Paling, Wilfrid||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Purbrick, R.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Remer, John R.|
|Atkinson, C.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Balniel, Lord||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Salmon, Major I.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hammersley, S. S.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Hartington, Marquess of||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Bracken, B.||Henderson, Capt. R. R.(Oxf'd, Henley)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Southby, Commander A. R. J.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H.C.(Berks, Newb'y)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Tinne, J. A.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Long, Major Eric||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Cranbourne, Viscount||Mac Robert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H.(Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L.(Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Marjoribanks, E. C.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Muirhead, A. J.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||O'Neill, Sir H.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Fielden, E. B.||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Pilditch, sir Phillp||Captain Margesson and Sir Victor|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Warrender.|