HC Deb 30 January 1930 vol 234 cc1220-3

Lords Amendment: In page 3, leave out lines 11 to 18.

Agreed to.

Lords Amendment: In line 26, after the word "include," insert the performance of work for payment which is less in amount than the increase in the weekly rate of benefit or.


I must point out to the House that this Amendment raises a question of Privilege.


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."


It would be to the advantage of the House if we bad a few words of information from the Minister on this point. We are pleased to find the Government in this reasonable mood, and we are all thoroughly in agreement that the House should agree with the Lords in this Amendment. It raises, of course, a question of principle, but I understand that the Government waive the question of Privilege, and, of course, by reason of your words, Mr. Speaker, record will be made in the Journals of the House, so that the position of this House will be in no way prejudiced by the decision to which it has come. The Amendment, of course, was moved in another place by one of the Noble Lords there, and it is a fact that it increases the number of persons who can claim benefit. It allows a wife who is performing certain work which brings in remuneration less than the increased benefit, 9s. per week, still to qualify for a portion of the benefit, although she is in fact earning a little money. The instance given in another place was that of a woman who performed a trifling service, say, in providing a few cups of tea, or anything like that. It might be ruled that she was doing that for profit and was earning a certain amount of money, and might be disqualified from receiving benefit. I do think that in all these Amendments, even where the Minister is recommending that this House doth agree with the Lords, a few words of explanation are not out of place. I have done my best to explain the Government's Amendment to the Govern- ment's supporters, and I think it would be well if we had a few words from the Minister also.


We are satisfied with your explanation.


I hope hon. Members opposite will be equally satisfied with the explanations of hon. and right hon. Members on this side when we support the proposal that this House doth agree with the Lords in other Amendments which are brought forward, when we can point to the valuable precedent which the Government themselves have created on this Bill in accepting a Lords Amendment, although that Amendment raises a question of Privilege, and point out that this question of Privilege is fully safeguarded by the entry in the Journals of the House that this House has waived its privilege on this occasion.


I thought that the right hon. Lady was going to rise to speak, but, apparently, she is not yet quite convinced, or some of her supporters may not be convinced, as to whether we should agree with the Lords in this Amendment. In that case I feel that it is incumbent upon us on this side or upon me at any rate, to emphasise the fact that this Amendment is what I might describe as an Amendment rather of a kind-hearted nature, and not an Amendment which closes up the avenues. If I understand it rightly—I may not understand it rightly—it is meant to help a few people who may get an occasional job. Of course, this is very important. I see the Chancellor of the Exchequer shaking his head at me, and I am not sure whether he is not taking the line that I am encouraging him in needless extravagance. Of course, if he feels that we must disagree with the Lords in this Amendment, I am perfectly willing at any rate to listen with due humility to his observations on this matter; but I should like to join with my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Kelvin-grove (Major Elliot) in congratulating the Government on the fact that this very bad Bill, thanks to this Amendment, is made a little bit better. I support the Amendment, though I am not quite sure whether we might not have done it ourselves in the House of Commons at the proper time, if only we had a, little more time to discuss these vital questions.


The matter was so fresh in my mind that perhaps I assumed, unwisely, that it would be equally fresh in the minds of others. This is what is generally known as the "cup of tea" point. It was thoroughly discussed in the House during the general discussion that took place, and an Amendment with regard to it was on the Paper, but was withdrawn owing to a misunderstanding, it being thought that it was covered by another Amendment. The Government subsequently agreed to accept a manuscript Amendment to remedy that mistake, but the manuscript Amendment was not called. It was, therefore, inserted in another place. I feel sure that the House agrees with the principle, and I hope the Amendment will be agreed to.

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

I should like to ask the right hon. Lady whether the question of possible hardship in the rural areas is properly covered by this Amendment. The question of there not being an actual cash transaction was dealt with in another place. Many people in the rural areas are in and out of work, sometimes in agriculture and sometimes in the building trades, because men in the building trades are sometimes out of work owing to weather conditions. There is no cash transaction there, and I should like to know whether steps will be taken to see that the local authorities who deal with this matter deal with it in a sympathetic manner. In such cases, when married men with families are out of work, they are sometimes penniless except that the wife keeps poultry or pigs. I do not ask the right hon. Lady to give a definite answer now, but I shall be glad if the matter can he attended to, and I hope very much that she will see that the local authorities pay special attention to those people to whom I have referred.

Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND - TROYTE

Does not the Minister's explanation show that this omission was entirely due to the fault of the Government in forcing the Bill through its Committee stage in this House by the use of their mechanical majority, backed up by the mechanical majority of the Liberal party?

Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.


I will cause a special entry to be made in the Journals of the House with reference to this Amendment.

Lords Amendment: In page 3, line 28, at the end, insert: Provided that the requirement in paragraph (b) of this Sub-section as to the employment of the female person previously to the insured person becoming unemployed shall not apply in any case where the necessity for employing such a female person did not arise until after the date on which the insured person became unemployed.


I beg to move, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is simply a matter that could not be provided for in its proper place.

Question put, and agreed to.