§ "If, on a claim for benefit, it be proved that the claimant has refused, and refuses, without reason, to work when employment is found for him, or if it be proved that the claimant is not endeavouring to obtain employment, he shall be disqualified from receiving benefit for a period of six weeks or for such shorter period and from such date as may be determined by the court of referees or the umpire, as the case may be."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must point out to the House that this Amendment also raises a question of privilege.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
May I ask, before making any remarks on this Amendment, whether neither the Minister nor the Parliamentary Secretary has anything more to say with regard to this matter? [Interruption.] If not, I would ask the House to mark the attitude of the Government, after all the protestations that they have made. In the first place, as to the question of Privilege, 1224 which they waived so readily on the Amendment to which the House has just agreed. The whole question of Privilege is designed in order to protect the taxpayer from additional charges being laid upon him, and yet the Government have waived it at once and gladly when the effect is to increase the charge upon the taxpayer. But, when there is a technical breach of privilege because the charge is to be varied by being reduced and not increased, then at once they claim the right to insist upon privilege, and their impatience of any change becomes marked. It is an extremely strange inversion of the real duty of the House of Commons, which is to protect the taxpayer instead of laying additional burdens upon him. It is the more remarkable when we consider the way in which the Government have appealed to the House on former occasions. We have been appealed to by the Lord Privy Seal, and the nation has been appealed to in public, not to treat the question of unemployment as a controversial question, but to discuss it freely, everyone contributing what they can towards its solution. The Minister of Labour, when moving the Second Reading of this Bill, said:Unemployment insurance is not a matter of party politics, and I hope that in the many hours we shall spend on this Bill all parties in the House will remember that its object is to preserve the self-respect of the worker."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1929; col. 752, Vol. 232.]When however an Amendment, the object of which is really to make a, contribution, is brought before this House for consideration as to whether people, not only in this House but also in the country, will think it a decided improvement on the Clause in the Bill which was sent to another place, not only are hon. Members opposite prepared to insist upon their rights with regard to the matter of principle, but, so much do they treat it as a party matter, that we have not one single word of explanation on the Motion to disagree with the Lords on the Clause the draft of which is before us. A draft which every trade unionist realises is in harmony with the best practice and principles of trade unionism as practised by themselves. I would move that, either this House accept the Clause and waive the question of Privilege, or, if there is any technical objection to this Clause 1225 because of its wording, that the House is willing to amend it or to substitute something for it; but at any rate that the principle which is embodied in this Clause, the principle that there must be authority to call for effort to find work, on the part of claimants, is one to which this House assents as much as the other House which has sent this Clause down to us.
May I bring to the remembrance of hon. Members, though it is so fresh that, perhaps, it is hardly necessary, what has actually happened in the history of this Clause? It is very pertinent to our deliberations this afternoon. When the Minister introduced this Bill on Second Reading, she laid down two main principles to which she wished to give expression in this Bill. The first was that the onus of proof in matters of qualification for benefit should be placed upon the Exchange and not upon the claimant. The second principle, to which the right hon. Lady attached equal importance, was that there must be authority for the State to call for effort to find work on the part of claimants. Again and again the right hon. Lady emphasised that principle. Further on in her speech on the Second Beading, at the very beginning of the history of this Bill in Parliament, she stated that this Clause was the most vital clause of the Bill. As regards the first principle, that the onus of proof should be placed on the Exchanges, she was ready to consider drafting Amendments—in other words, that she adhered to the principle that at any rate a man must make an effort to find work. Drafting Amendments she would consider. And then she used, I think for the first time, the phrase which has now become historic, if not notorious, that, with regard to drafting Amendments only, she would be willing to gather the collective wisdom of the House. This principle, however, that the claimant should make an effort to find work was reaffirmed without any qualification by the right hon. Lady. Everything she said supports my claim that this House should assent to the principle, however they may amend the wording.
When it came to the Committee stage the same thing happened under 1226 different conditions. The hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. Hayday), introduced an Amendment because he was not satisfied that the early part of the original draft really placed the onus of proof upon the Exchange. But again on the Committee stage there was no question about the second principle, that the need to make a positive effort on behalf of the claimant was one which the Government had a right to claim. It was repeated by the Minister at that stage with great emphasis. She gave a warning in her capacity, not only as Minister but as a trade unionist of 35 years' standing, that some effort had to be made by the person who was asking benefit.
The Attorney-General, when he came to support her, was even more forcible. He said that this principle was a cardinal matter of national policy. It was a sound principle, and what is more, while impressing the necessity for it, he asked the Committee to give their minds to it and not to be led away by sentiment. He pointed out that if they departed from sound principles it would be to the detriment of the public interest. In fact this particular principle was really the Ark of the Covenant on which no one should lay sacrilegious or emotional hands. The House will agree that if there was one thing on which the main supporters of the Bill laid stress, it was this. The Attorney-General took occasion also to point out that this insistence on their part was not merely a passing opinion. The Government had had months in which to prepare the Bill, and therefore, clearly, the opinion was one to which they themselves attached the greatest importance. After this there came the great change, and the Attorney-General introduced the new Clause which was in the text of the Bill as it went to the other House, from which this principle, which they had thought so vital, had been omitted. Why? [An HON. MEMBER: "The book of the words again!"] According to the book of the words, which is sometimes very useful, the Attorney-General had again gathered the collective wisdom of the House.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
And that is about a tenth part of the number of times the Minister used that phrase. I have mentioned it for this reason. They gave it as their excuse and the hon. Member now has supplied what that wonderful phrase really meant. It did not mean gathering wisdom. It merely meant sitting on the fence until they could see which way the cat was going to jump, but on that occasion they mistook a playful gesture of the animal for its real intention and tumbled off.
They introduced this Clause because of what was afterwards realised to be a mere demonstration and not a real attack. That is the origin of the Clause as it went to another place. Now we have it back again with this Amendment. The hon. Gentleman himself said we gathered the wisdom of the other House. That is what the Minister appealed for. She wanted to get opinions from all sources. Her own wish was that this should not be treated as a matter of party politics. She wished to have a discussion on its merits, irrespective of what persons or bodies the different opinions came from. If there was any reality in that appeal she would be as glad to consider it as an Amendment coming from another place as from some of the more vocal Members on her own side.
We are told in the running obligate of interjections that is going on that this is a disgraceful proceeding on the part of the House of Lords. But the Minister of course, has gathered not only the wisdom of that place but the wisdom of the trade unions as well. In one trade union after another as shown by the White Paper—and this must have been known to many hon. Members opposite—precisely this same principle is embodied which the Government had itself stated was vital and which now they have completely abandoned. [An HON. MEMBER: "Which unions?"] If the hon. Member will get the White Paper he will find that there are 26 unions. This Clause is modelled almost precisely on a provision in the Rules of the National Union of Railwaymen.
§ Mr. J. WILSON
I noticed a statement in the other House which is entirely foreign to the facts relating to the National Union of Railwaymen. The rule was never of their own volition, nor does 1228 it apply to any of the benefits of the National Union of Railwaymen. For a short period they agreed to administer the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and during that period they were obliged, at the instance of the Ministry, to adopt this special rule, but it had no relation to their benefits. They found it costly to administer the Unemployment Insurance Scheme, and found very often that they were being made debt collectors for my right hon. Friend when he was Minister of Labour, and they refused to work the scheme, and in consequence of that, the special rules went by default.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Therefore, the National Union had ceased, before the end of last year, to administer the scheme. Is that what I understand? In that case I must blame the Minister and the Government, because here at the end of December is the rule which has been supplied by them in the White Paper. If so I am sorry that in this particular case they have misled both Houses of Parliament by having an inaccurate statement if that is the case. This indeed raises a new point. So far as this Union is concerned, inaccurate information has been given.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
The right hon. Gentleman is under a misapprehension. This White Paper only applies to 1928.
§ Major ELLIOT rose—
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
On a point of Order. Is it in order, while a Member of the Opposition is speaking, that he should give way to another Member of the Opposition, who should continue to debate.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Motion has been made, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment." The discussion now is as to whether we should disagree or not.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
If the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. Brown) will examine the Paper he will find that, while no doubt the National Union of Railwaymen may have ceased to administer benefit on an earlier date, the rules are those in force as at December, 1929.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Therefore, the case is made stronger. They may have paid unemployment benefit in 1928, but the point is that this principle is still in their rules at December, 1929. What is true of them is true also of the other Unions to which reference has been made in this White Paper. For that reason, I wish to ask Members of this House what they themselves think of this principle in the rules of the union to which they belong.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The hon. Member is in a state of semi-eruption. There are not many members of trade unions in the present Cabinet.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Philip Snowden)
There are several sitting on this bench.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
But there are not so many trade union members in this House. I would ask some of those trade union members who are Members of this House what they think of this rule in their own union? Is it right to have this principle in their union rules asking their members to look for work, or is it not? If it is right to have it in their own trade union rules, how can it be wrong to have it as a condition for Parliamentary benefit. If it is wrong to have it as a condition of Parliamentary benefit because it is too harsh, would it not be too harsh also in their own trade unions? I would ask those who are members, shall we say, of the Durham Miners' Union. There are the Member for Sedgefield (Mr. 1230 Herriotts) and the Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) in this House. They have a rule of this kind in their own trade union. Is it too harsh a rule in that union? And so it is with a number of the other Members. I would ask the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. Wilfrid Whiteley), if he were here, whether he has it in the union of which he is a member and of which at one time he was a branch secretary. It is true of other unions to which other Members belong. I ask, with great earnestness, whether, if they are content to have that principle in their own trade union rules, they do not agree with the earlier statements both of the Minister and of the Attorney-General, that it ought to be included as a condition for benefit under the unemployment insurance system of the country as a whole.
I am entitled to ask this question of the Minister, and I will ask her if she can give me an answer at once. I will gladly give way to her. Does she still hold, or does she not hold, the principle that the State should have authority to call for effort to find work on the part of the claimant? Can she give me an answer to that question now or will she give it later on? I wish to put that specific question to her in the hope that she will give me an answer. That principle is in this Clause which has come from another place, and it is absent from the Clause which has been passed by this House. We are reduced to considering one or two main points affecting the present position. Are we or are we not to accept this principle, that the State can positively call upon a man to make an effort to find work? If we accept the principle, we have either to accept this, Clause as it comes to us, or, at any rate, we have to accept the principle in it and make it clear and beyond question.
If we do not accept it, the consequences have already been made clear. The consequences have been made clear by the Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday), among others. The hon. Member made the, consequences quite clear when he pointed out in this House the facts with regard to placing. The Ministry may endeavour to develop its placing; but it will never—and the hon. Member for West Nottingham is my 1231 authority—be able to do so to such an extent that the offer of a job by the Ministry, or through the Ministry, can be made an adequate test. On the other hand, if it is not an adequate test, then we have the statement, assented to by the Government themselves, of the effect of the Clause, that many people, married women, who have done little or no work since marriage, seasonal workers and others, can get benefit; a considerable group of new claimants, consisting of persons who are not actually in the market as competitors for employment at all; That is the second point we have to consider.
It seems likely now that the present insurance system will have to be completely recast. If anything can doom it it will be the passing into law of an Act containing the original Clause as it left this House. It is a mixture. Little by little—while I was Minister, too—the principle of insurance has become abandoned and the principle of relief has crept in. There is no question that, if we adhere to the original Clause as it left this House, the principle of relief overshadows the principle of insurance. A mixture of the two is intolerable in a self-respecting State. They should be separated. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did you not support their separation?"] I wish I had done so, but at least I would not have been a party to debauching it in this way.
The next consideration is the effect of this Clause on employment. The Leader of the Liberal party, when the Bill was brought in, said that his great fear was of the accumulated effect on industry and on the country generally of the great expense that was being caused. He pointed to Members opposite and said that no doubt their wish was to break down the present social system by all this cumulative expenditure incurred by the Government. His fear must be very much greater now when an annual expenditure of over £4,000,000 has been added hastily in respect of this one Clause alone because the Government were rattled.
Let me put this point to the Government. Anybody who is conversant with 1232 business in this country knows that it is not merely the magnitude of the unemployment figures which shows the gravity of the situation. You may get a very high figure during some temporary spell of cold weather, such as occurred last February, but the figures at the present moment are significent of much more than that. They are significent of a widespread depression in industry, not of a purely temporary character dependent on the conditions of the moment, but one which is likely to be of lasting hurt and damage to the country as a whole and to all those unfortunate men for whom some hon. Members profess such concern and who are most affected by this depression. The figures at the present moment are a true test. As everyone knows they are appalling. When we met after the Christmas Recess they were already 20,000 worse than the year before. When we had our last Debate in this House they had become 40,000 worse than the year before. To-day, the figures are nearly 50,000 worse than a year ago. This is the time, if they persist in their old Clause, when the Government choose to take a step which, in the opinion of all those who analyse the situation most carefully, is likely to hurt employment and retard recovery. I would -ask: Are they going deliberately to persist in their previous policy? [An HON. MEMBER: "Certainly!"] Their master's voice!
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
When the Clause which was sent to another place was placed in the Bill by this House everyone knew that the Government were confused and rattled and put it in as a concession, as has already been called out from those benches, to the pressure exercised upon them. The Government found out afterwards that there had been no real intention of carrying that pressure to its limit. Yet they persist in the clause which they put in, abandoning the principle which they themselves thought was vital. The consequences are likely to be of most far-reaching detriment to industry both by the actual financial burden imposed and by adding to the uncertainty of the depression. 1233 We have had three weeks of leisure since then to reflect. It is always an awkward thing for any Government to admit that it has made a mistake. But we have found out the truth again and again in this House, that whenever an individual has made a mistake and is perfectly frank in making an apology and clearing it up, everybody thinks the better of him. I believe, though it may not be to the party advantage of the Opposition, the position of the Government in the country would be strengthened, if they were to say, having had time to reflect, that it was clear that in the stress and strain of the moment they had made a mistake. On the other hand, I believe that if they go on, this will be one further count in the indictment against them and that it will lead to their undoing if, in the words of an old writer:They persevere stiff-neckedly in their naughtiness and sin.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ Mr. DICKSON
The Amendment must come with heavy effect upon the mind of the House. Its purpose is to strike at the heart of the Bill. It seeks to reimpose a brutal hardship and that murmuring sense of injustice which was heard from one end of the country to another. The ex-Minister of Labour, in support of his argument, has referred to trade union regulations. He said that what their Lordships in another place seek now to impose upon this House was in harmony with the best principles adopted by trade unions. He asked how something which was not harsh when operated by a trade union, became harsh when introduced into a Measure of this kind. He based his arguments upon that fallacious reasoning.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am sure that the hon. Member does not wish to misrepresent me. I said that the main basis of my argument was that it was a principle which both the Minister and the Attorney-General believed to be cardinal and essential.
§ Mr. DICKSON
I do not want to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman, and I am sure that he does not want to put me off. The main contention on which he 1234 based his argument was that their Lordships were simply endeavouring to introduce a principle which trade unionists considered to be good and just in the administration of their own affaire. That was the basis of his argument, and it is entirely fallacious. The right hon. Gentleman ought to know perfectly well, and I imagine that he does know perfectly well, that a piece of machinery which is effective, humane and just in one element or atmosphere can, when removed to another element and under other conditions, be absolutely brutal, unjust and the opposite of humane. I will give an illustration. A liner is a very admirable piece of machinery for giving speed of transport in its proper element, when it is in the water, but it would make a poor show in transport if it were endeavouring to travel from London to Inverness by road. The difference between those two elements is not greater than the difference in the two elements which the right hon. Gentleman sought to reconcile in his argument.
What are the facts of the administration of the piece of insurance machinery? In the first place, we have the trade union. There you have regulations administered by men who are of the same membership, very largely of the same outlook and with the same knowledge of their trade as the men who are affected by the regulations. You have men there who have intimate knowledge of their trade and also knowledge of the character, mentality and fibre of the men. You have an understanding that you cannot have in the administration of the vast insurance machinery under insurance conditions. I am now assuming that what was said by one of my hon. Friends on this side was untrue, and that what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman is justified, although it is not justified. In trade unions the rules are administered by men who are in continual contact with the employing side of the industry for which they cater. They know whether or not it is reasonable for a man to say that there is no job for him. They are in a position to say definitely that jobs are here, there or elsewhere. Finally, the membership of the organisation can constitute their own court of appeal. If they have a sense of in- 1235 justice they can appeal to their own peers, not in another place but in their own place.
Compare that position, that element, that machinery, with the element in which the right hon. Gentleman and Gentlemen in another place wish to put the machinery. It is not a bigger change than trying to put a liner on the road from London to Inverness. Nearly always you have men concerned who are not conversant with the conditions of industry, men who do not know whether there are jobs or not, men who have never tried to find out whether there were jobs, because the onus was not upon them to find out whether there were jobs or not. It is to the interests of a trade union, administering similar regulations, to find out that there is a job and to strike men off their roll for refusal to accept, and it was to the interests of the gentlemen administering the Insurance Acts to find that men were not looking for work, in order to save the fund by striking them off benefit. When you carry the machinery into this element, an entirely antagonistic element, the truth lies in the background, and it is in the knowledge of every hon. Member who has had any working-class experience. The truth is that you have asked men to do a grossly stupid thing. There might be one job and 10,000 men. We asked 10,000 men to go round in a weary tramp in the hope that one would be opposite to the door when it was opened. The 9,999 men who could not get the job had to be kept on a stupid and callous round, in order to satisfy the conditions of the Employment Exchanges.
I would suggest to hon. Members opposite that they should endeavour to introduce a little more humanity into this aspect of the unemployment problem. I have been fairly fortunate in my life. I have been unemployed for only three weeks, in nearly 30 years of working life. I never want the experience again, because going from place to place looking for work, and very often for something which is not there, being snubbed, being treated with contempt is the most humiliating experience that can come to any man who has any manhood and self-respect. The right hon. Gentleman bolstered up his argument by 1236 examining the attitude of the trade unions on the question of not genuinely seeking work. I am not very well conversant with the rules of this House and I may perhaps get out of order, but I wonder why he did not examine the attitude of mind of gentlemen in another place who are seeking to impose this particular condition on the working class people of this country. I wonder how many of them would be disqualified for not genuinely seeking work. With some of the working class people it is an occasional lapse, but with the gentlemen who are seeking to impose this condition upon the working class people the condition of not genuinely seeking work is not only a habit but a profession, an hereditary profession. We have had in this House representatives whose families, as far as I know, have not genuinely sought work for 800 years.
§ Mr. DICKSON
When the time comes I may give attention to the hon. Baronet. As a Socialist and as one who does not believe in class distinction, as one who does not believe in class war but who believes that class war can be removed only by removing the cause of class war, I suggest that it comes with very ill grace from the other puce to seek to impose this particular condition upon whole masses of working class people.
§ Mr. DICKSON
The condition of looking for jobs that are not there. It has been the apex of stupidity to look for a needle in a haystack Gentleman in another place insist that, working class people shall look for a needle in a haystack, with the proviso that the needle is not there. The right hon. Gentleman point out that the unemployment figures are now 50,000 higher than they were this time last year. I suggest, in all seriousness, that that means that another 50,000 people are to be condemned, if we accept this Amendment, to look for jobs that are not there. That addendum to the right hon. Gentleman's speech weakened rather than strengthened his argument. This House will do a very great wrong to honest, deserving, eager men and women 1237 if it re-imposes the condition set forth in the Amendment. I do not know how any man who knows anything about working class conditions, who looks into the face of an unemployed man week after week, certainly if he has himself been unemployed, can think of what happened under the old conditions without a deep sense of shame and humiliation. That sense of shame and humiliation ought to be present to the minds of every man and woman who seeks to impose such a condition. I hope that the House will reject their Lordships' Amendment, and that we shall say that the only true test of a man not genuinely seeking work or being desirous of work is that there shall be some measure by which it can be said that there is a job or a reasonable chance of a job. If a man refuses the job, I hold no brief for him. I have no use for men who take from the community without giving to the community, whether they are dukes or dockers. If that was applied generally, some people would be in a much worse condition than they are today. I hope the House will reject this Amendment and will remove a black stain from the Statute Book and a shame and a humiliation from great masses of the unhappy working classes of this country.
§ Mr. OLIVER STANLEY
It is rather unforfunate that this Amendment should be considered in the atmosphere in which it is now being discussed. My impression of the Debate on this question during the Committee stage was that the House was more or less agreed on the essential principle of the test which should be applied, and that the difficulty the Committee felt was in finding a set of words which would fulfil the desires of us all. Hon. Members disagreed with the form of words which were first introduced because they thought they did not carry out the intention. We disagreed with the form of words which ultimately left the Committee because we in our turn thought that they did not carry out the purpose of the combined intention of the Committee. In these circumstances, I submit that this is an instance where the Lords Amendment does deserve the most careful consideration. We have to remember that the Clause which supplanted the first Clause was given birth to under suspicious surroundings, and, secondly, that the Lords have not merely negatived that 1238 Clause, not merely struck it out and put something in its place with which the House of Commons had already disagreed, but that they have inserted for our consideration an entirely new set of words designed to carry out the principle upon which we are agreed, and, therefore, words which deserve the earnest consideration of the House.
I do not want to weary hon. Members by going over the origin of what is called the Hayday Clause, but it will be fresh in their minds that that Clause was not the outcome of an inquiry; it was not the outcome of the right hon. Lady's consideration of the Bill. But was an entirely different Clause, containing the principle which the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Dickson) has attacked so strongly, was a Clause recommended by the Committee, decided on by the right hon. Lady and defended so ably and strongly by the right hon. Lady and the Attorney-General. It is mere humbug to say that the Clause as it went to the other place was the result of the combined wisdom of the Committee. If hon. Members opposite want to maintain that position they must not only affirm that hon. Members on these benches have no claim to any part of the collective wisdom of the House, but must also understand that their own Ministers, their own Cabinet and Front Bench, have no part or parcel in that wisdom either. We all know that the right hon. Lady had this Clause in her mind when she was considering the Bill, and she must have considered and rejected it. She preferred the Clause to which she agreed. Are we to visualise a picture, after the Debate in Committee when the original Clause was withdrawn, of the right hon. Lady running to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and saying, "My dear Chancellor cellor," or whatever she calls him, "the hon. Member for West Nottingham has-found a new formula. It is one which never occurred to me, but it seems to satisfy everybody. I am afraid it is going to cost you another £2,000,000 but you must find that amount too." To which the Chancellor said: "My dear Lady, why did you not tell me before that the 'boys' wanted this?"
The Clause as it went to the Lords was not the result of the cogitations of the right hon. Lady, nor was it part of the 1239 collective wisdom of the Committee. It was simply introduced because she bowed to the desires of her friends in high places. We on this side at any rate have a right to be suspicious of the Clause as it left the Committee. I want the House to consider the new Clause which has come down to us from the other place. The hon. Member for Lanark has just made an eloquent speech. He complained of the brutality of the new Clause. He referred in invidious terms to the brutality of Members of the other place who would introduce such a principle. He did not seem to recollect that the right hon. Lady, who was sitting within such short distance of him, was guilty of even greater brutality in the Clause she originally introduced. Some of the arguments of the hon. Member were entirely devoted to a Clause which reproduces the old principle of not genuinely seeking work. He used the expression "not genuinely seeking work," and he gave instances which came under the old administration. He complained of the administration of an entirely different Clause, but he did not attempt to discuss what I want to discuss, and that is whether in fact there is not a great difference between this Clause which comes down to us from another place and the old not-genuinely-seeking-work Clause; whether, in fact, it does not more nearly carry out the general desire of the Committee than the Clause which we owe to the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday).
§ Mr. DICKSON
If the hon. Member will look at line 4 of the Lords Amendment he will see the words "that the claimant has not endeavoured to obtain employment," which is exactly the same thing.
§ Mr. STANLEY
I intend to dissect the Amendment, but I will come to that point later. I want to see whether we can find agreement on the principle. I take it that hon. Members in all parts of the House do desire that the unemployed man should make some effort of his own to find a job. It is agreed that he should not wait for the Employment Exchange, especially under the conditions which exist now, when they are not fully informed of the jobs that are vacant. Hon. Members are not content 1240 that he should depend entirely on the efforts of the Employment Exchanges to place him. Their objection has been that this effort to place some onus on the man to find work for himself has resulted in an abuse of the principle; has resulted in what they term administrative persecution. What are the principal differences between this proposal and the Clause of not genuinely seeking work? First of all, there is the question of the onus of proof. Under the not-genuinely-seeking-work proposal the onus of proof lay upon the man; he had to prove that he was genuinely seeking work. Under this proposal, the onus is upon the Employment Exchange to prove that the claimant has not endeavoured to obtain employment and, therefore, one of the things which hon. Members opposite were demanding in Committee is secured by this Amendment. The onus is shifted from the applicant to the Exchange.
What was the other principal complaint against the not-genuinely-seeking-work definition? It was that it contained an objective test, that the Employment Exchange had to decide whether a man was genuine or not, and that that could not be done without being able to enter into the man's head and see what his thoughts were on the subject. Hon. Members will notice under this new Clause that that objective test is removed and that they have to prove definitely that he is making no effort to find work. They have not to prove that he is genuine but that he is making no effort to obtain work. These two main complaints of hon. Members opposite against the previous Clause has been fully met by the Amendment of another place. Why do we think that this form of words is superior to the form of the Clause as it left this House? We believe that this will not impose any of the hardships to which the hon. Member for Lanark has referred; that it will not exclude from benefit any man except the sort of man whom all hon. Members in this House will agree is not entitled to benefit. We believe that the advantage of the new Clause lies in the fact that it will obviate the danger there was under the Clause of the hon. Member for West Nottingham, of people who are not entitled to benefit, and whom we all agree should not get benefit, applying for it and getting it. Our support for 1241 this Clause is based on that ground that it does not reduce the advantages given to the genuine unemployed man by the previous Clause but does reduce the possibility of the new test being taken advantage of by those whom we all agree should not have a share in the benefits of the scheme.
I think the effort of the other House is at least worthy of the consideration of hon. Members, and I am sure they have given consideration to it, and is also worthy of some explanation from the right hon. Lady or the Attorney-General. I should be delighted to hear the Attorney-General show his usual dexterity in explaining why this new Clause does not meet all the requirements which he so eloquently, so forcibly and so poetically laid down to the Committee on a previous occasion, but which during the next week he so eloquently, so forcibly and so poetically reversed. I hope we shall have the privilege of hearing from the Front Bench not the sort of prejudice which the hon. Member for Lanark has introduced into this discussion, but really solid reasons why we cannot consider that this new Clause does meet the wishes of the House. I hope that we shall have some figure as to the difference it will make in the number of those who would be refused benefit as compared with those who Would be refused under the previous Clause, and some good reason why we should accept the Motion to disagree with the Lords in this Amendment.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
As one of those who took part in the discussions on the Second Reading and also in the Committee stage on Clause 4, I should like to address one or two observations, which will be very short but to the point, why the House should disagree with the Amendment which has come to us from another place. The right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) recommended this new Clause to the House as one which ought to receive our very serious consideration, but the House, I think, would not have failed to observe that in recommending that course he very carefully refrained from committing himself in any way to the effect that the Clause would have if incorporated in the Bill. He skated, indeed, with the great 1242 facility required in covering very thin ice. The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) has endeavoured to fill the gap left in the arguments of his Leader on the Front Bench, but after due consideration his arguments still leave me quite unconvinced, and I speak with some experience of the way in which these things work out. The two Members who have spoken from above the Gangway on the Conservative side of the House have treated very lightly the way in which this House came to its decision on Clause 4 before the Bill left here. Let me recall as briefly as possible what actually happened. It will be remembered that when the Bill was first brought in—this will not be denied in any quarter—the Government had given very careful consideration to the original Clause 4. On the Second Reading, in the second speech of the Debate, the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvin-grove (Major Elliot) pointed out at once that the Clause was creating new tests, with which he was himself dissatisfied. There was a new test of diligence, and, I think, of negligence. I am not sure that the hon. Member for Westmorland did not express dissatisfaction with the Clause.
When we got a little bit further up the Conservative Benches we heard one of the hon. Members from Belfast who was very active in his dissent, and he spoke with knowledge of the working of the Act in Belfast. I do not know whether the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Womersley) is here, but right away from the Second Reading and through the Committee stage he was in direct opposition to the Clause as drafted and in support of the Clause later put in the Bill. On the Committee stage it became evident at once that the whole of the Members of the House who represented industrial constituencies were dissatisfied with the original Clause. The matter has assumed almost a constitutional aspect. It has been spoken of outside as the revolt of the Commons. We had not got very far before we had the remarkable spectacle of Members trying to draft upon the Floor of the House a form of words or a formula which in their view would give relief to a large number of individuals who were suffering what was not only an undeserved, but an unintended and unpremeditated injustice. Attention was focused on the matter by the right hon. 1243 and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General and by my right hon. Friend the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). Afterwards there was further consultation, and the Clause in the Bill came back again to the Floor of the House, where it was supported by a large majority.
§ Major ELLIOT
On no occasion whatever did any consultation take place with Members on this side of the House.
§ Major ELLIOT
It is a fact that we took a very considerable part in the Debate on the Clause and that we carried our Amendment to a Division. It is perfectly futile to suggest that we took no part in the Debate on the Clause.
§ Mr. WHITE
That is not the point with which I am dealing. My point is that the suggestion that the Clause in the Bill as it left this House was lightly arrived at and was not sufficiently thought out, is entirely incorrect. On the contrary, the Clause did represent in a large measure the collective wisdom of the House, and especially, for what it may be worth, that of those Members who were particularly concerned with this problem as representatives of industrial constituencies. That was the Clause which went to another place. I have given some consideration to the procedure in the other House, and it seems to me that the new Clause which comes to us on this occasion does not represent a carefully planned scheme at all. Its origin seems to have been of the most random character possible. What took place was that Clause 4 was deleted altogether, and then it seems to have occurred to some Noble Lord that something should be put in its place. Apparently he, having taken up the White Paper, pitched upon a form of words which seemed to him to fill the Bill. If it were desired to insert and to give effect to a set of trade union rules, one asks why the rules of the National Union of Railwaymen should have been selected? We all know that 1244 it is a great and powerful union, with many able and distinguished men in its ranks.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
The rule is inoperative; it is not in operation at all. It was framed 30 years ago to meet individual cases.
§ Mr. WHITE
My point is simply this: If the other place desired to insert a trade union rule in the Bill and to make a selection, why should the rule of the National Union of Railwaymen be chosen, whether operative or inoperative? It is a great union, but its experience in the matter of unemployment is quite different from that of other unions. Members of the union have been particularly fortunate in the matter of unemployment. Furthermore, when the question arises of finding employment for railwaymen when they are unemployed, the matter has to be gone about in a very different way from the ordinary. Everyone who has studied the matter knows that the railways have their regular staffs, and also they have, to use a most anomalous phrase, their "permanent casuals," to whom they naturally go for the filling of accidental and incidental vacancies. Their problem is quite different from that of other unions.
If the Noble Lords who carried this Amendment wished to insert in the Bill something which had the fall authority of trade union practice, they would have done better to have looked to the practice of some of those unions which unfortunately have had such a heavy task, which have incurred great cost and have gained valuable experience in dealing with unemployment. There is no real suggestion or argument in favour of putting trade union rules into force in this legislation unless it is based on the very serious and unfortunate assumption that the powerful trade unions or the bulk of the unemployed, when unemployed, will be less honest in their treatment of an Insurance Fund, and less careful to guard it against wilful abuse, if it were a State fund administered by the Ministry of Labour, than they would 1245 be if it were a fund collected and administered by their own trade union. That is a very serious assumption to make. Therefore I remain at this moment quite unconvinced of the desirability of accepting this Amendment which has come down to us from another place.
Having regard to the character which was given to the Clause in its original conception, and having regard to the haphazard way in which this Amendment has come down to us, I think this House would stultify itself if it went back on its previous decision. It is true that Clause 4 of the Bill has yet to be tried out. I must say that since it was discussed there have been representations made to me leading me to the conclusion that in some respects it might be improved. But I think we should be stultifying ourselves if we went back on a decision arrived at after so much care, and supported a decision arrived at in so random a way.
§ Mr. SEXTON
I sympathised with the fight hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) in his attempt to make out his case. The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) had only to interrupt once or twice on one particular point, and the right hon. Gentleman collapsed right away. The hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) told us, in effect, that there was no difference between the Clause sent back to us from another place and the one which another place deleted from the Bill. If that is so, why make the change? The Clause sent up from this House was deliberately framed and represented the collective wisdom of this House. One thing that strikes me as peculiar is the sudden affection of the party opposite and of another place for the rules and regulations of trade unions. It comes with queer grace from a party whose record for half a century has been one of persistent persecution of trade unionism and trade union rules. Moreover, we still have a lively recollection of judge-made law. We do not forget the Taff Vale decision; we do not forget the Osborne judgment. We shall never forget the Trade Unions Act, which was deliberately and wilfully drafted in this House in order to kill the trade unions.
1246 Even though the substituted Clause was quoted as a trade union rule by an illustrious legal Member of another place, we already have examples of trade union rules which have been Judge-made. We have example after example of trade union rules affected by decisions given in the Courts of this land, and when an ex-High Court Judge in the other place suddenly discovers that the best thing to do in a particular instance, is to suggest that a trade union rule, whether operative or not, should be included in an Act of Parliament, my suspicions are immediately aroused. An hon. Member said that the suggestion which comes to us from the other place embodies the honourable desire of this House, but how often has the honourable desire of this House been absolutely wrecked by decisions in the Law Courts? What became of the Trade Union Act, 1872, which was intended to be the great charter of the trade unions? It was absolutely smashed and yet we are told by Noble Lords in the other place that they know how to deal with trade union laws better than those who have served a lifetime of practical apprenticeship in these matters, and who can look back on the history of trade unionism and realise what has been done by the Judges in the past. Some reference has been made by the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. O. Stanley) to the poetic manner in which the Attorney-General dealt with Clause 4. If the hon. Member were here, I would ask him to extend his charity, or his admiration as the case may be, to a poetical effusion which occurred to me inspired by this discussion and which, in my opinion, covers the whole case:The Earl of Fitznoodle in ermine and red,Strongly objects to the nation being bled,For the payment of doles to loafers who shirk,Their duty, in not genuinely looking for work.But the Earl of Fitznoodle has cousins and auntsWho've existed for decades on State supplied grants;Perish the thought—not the dole but a different plan—That their ancestors lived in the time of Queen Anne.Thus hundreds of thousands went into their fobsWhether genuinely or otherwise seeking for jobs.
§ Sir B. PETO
I wish to call the attention of the House to a consideration which 1247 is, I think, even more to the point than the interesting poetical effusion of the hon. Member for St. Helens (Mr. Sexton). We are debating a Clause which has been sent down from another place, and we are doing so without a single word of explanation from the Government as to why they think that the words selected in another place are bad or wrong or inappropriate, in whole or in part, or would produce worse effects than the words which this House put into the Bill. That places us in some difficulty. It has become evident how much the course adopted by the Government is likely to cause long and in some respects unnecessary Debate, because we had had no direction as to the particular reasons which the Government have for moving to disagree with the Lords in this Amendment. In view of the fact that previous speakers have quoted words which do not appear in this proposed new Clause, the words about" genuinely seeking work," I ask the House to consider what will be the effect of this simple Clause of six lines which is suggested to take the place of a Clause occupying a whole page. We have been told that it is a sound principle, that anyone who refuses work offered to him ought not to obtain benefit, and that is precisely what the proposed Clause says. May I ask the attention of the House to the exact words:If on a claim for benefit, it be proved that the claimant has refused and refuses, without reason, to work when employment is found for him "—I have not heard a word of objection to the Clause as far as that—or if it be proved that the claimant is not endeavouring to obtain employment "—These seem to be apt and appropriate words, and, at any rate, worthy of consideration by the Government, especially when we have heard again and again of the difficulty of finding words in place of those which, by general agreement of the House, had often been mistakenly applied, namely, "genuinely seeking work." The Clause goes on:he shall be disqualified from receiving benefit for a period of six weeks, or for such shorter period, and from such date as may be determined by the court of referees or the umpire, as the case may be.These words imply in every case that the man will be disqualified only for six weeks or less, if it has been decided by 1248 the umpire or the court of referees that he was not endeavouring to obtain employment or, alternatively, that he had refused or was refusing work which had been found for him. Not only do I say that we ought to have had some explanation from the Government as to why they consider that these words are unjust, or that they will work unjustly against those seeking benefit. I go further, and say that they are very apt words, quite apart from the source from which they are derived. We have heard about the rules of the National Union of Railwaymen, and a question was raised by the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) as to whether this rule was in operation in 1929 or had ceased to operate in 1928. What on earth does that matter? It was a rule of this great trade union, presumably, for a considerable number of years. If they found it unnecessary, the special circumstances of that union and the small number of its members out of work make that very easily understood. But where ought we to look for words to put into a Clause of this kind, if not to the rules of trade unions, broadly and generally, which were operating benefit for years before State unemployment benefit was ever thought of at all?
We may fairly look to the rules of friendly societies in this matter and, broadly and generally, it will be found that all these organisations, by one formula or another, have always made it a condition that there must be some endeavour on the part of the member seeking benefit, to find work for himself—not that somebody else is to find work for him—before he can receive benefit. I ask again, what is the objection to these words? We have heard speeches which imply that nothing which comes from another place can possibly be acceptable to this House. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad to note that attitude of mind. There has been from time to time—during the proceedings on the Parliament Act and even before that—a great deal of discussion as to the functions of another place, but I never heard it disputed that a second Chamber has the duty of revising legislation and giving the first Chamber a further opportunity of considering words, even words which have been deliberately put into a Bill. I think sufficient has already been made of the point as to how this particular 1249 Clause was inserted. It is obviously the duty of any second Chamber to do such revising work. That is the position now, and in face of that position, I think it is discourteous to this House as well as to another place that we should have a mere Motion from the Parliamentary Secretary to disagree with this Amendment. We are entitled to a full explanation from the Minister.
On the general question of whether these words are appropriate or not, I would point out that there is a tendency among hon. Members opposite to imply that those who constitute the main Opposition are, in some way, unsympathetic to the claims of people who have the misfortune to be unable to find work. It is suggested that we like Clauses such as that former Clause under which, undoubtedly, in many cases committees asked people to go round looking for jobs. The hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Dickson) said, I think, that as many as a thousand people were sent marching round where there was only one job. In my own constituency I have had some experience of this matter, and my sympathies are entirely with those who were workers in the particular trade which I am about to mention. We had for a time shipbuilding on a small scale, and a ship-repairing industry. The ship repairing continues to a certain extent, but the other has ceased. I know cases of people who were engineers or ship repairers in which the committee insisted that they should show that they had gone all round to look for jobs, although in my opinion the only jobs available were wholly unstated to them. I have had cases of seamen who were ashore after a voyage. They were told to look for land jobs, though they could not possibly have done the work.
Is there anything in the proposed Clause to suggest that that state of things would operate under it? I say not. The Clause only makes two conditions, and it is perfectly clear that only in a case where the court of referees or the umpire decides that the man has refused a job offered to him, or is not endeavouring to obtain employment, that it would operate. Take the case of the seaman. If he shows that he was endeavourng to get another job in his own proper trade, that would be sufficient to satisfy the court of referees. There is nothing about march- 1250 ing round looking for jobs where none exist. As far as I can judge, another place have found the apt and appropriate words, and in the absence of even the slightest indication from the Government of their reasons for refusing those words, I—and I think I can speak for my friends—disagree with the Government and agree with another place that these words are better than the long rigmarole of a Clause which was inserted, in such peculiar circumstances, in this House.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
It has been said that no reference has been made to the suggested Amendment which has come from another place and that no argument has been used to point out any dangers included in the Lords Amendment that are not possible under the original Amendment as the Clause left this House. I think the distinction is very clear indeed, and that the Lords Amendment to take the place of that which was put in the Bill by the people's elected representatives will bring back the old method of inquisition. You will find inquiry being made. I think it was the fear of the House of Commons when discussing the Bill on Second Reading, that if there were any words, no matter how simple and innocent they might appear, that were capable of developing into a form of inquisition against the unemployed person, it would be as well to have no such words and to make the Clause as clear and plain as the English language could make it. This Amendment would at once commence the inquisition as to whether an Exchange official was right in accusing an unemployed person of not endeavouring Co obtain employment. As soon as he suggests to a court of referees that a person is not making an effort to secure employment, the unemployed person is at once put on his defence, and must at once say "But I am." Then the inquisition commences. They say, "What have you done? How have you done it? What effort have you made?" The charge is made, and the onus of disproving it always falls upon the weakest, in this case the unemployed.
If ever there was justification for this House not agreeing with a Lords' Amendment, it is now, and for the very reason which the right hon. Member for Tam- 1251 worth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) adduced. He said there is an increase in the number of unemployed and that, because the House of Lords has acted in the capacity of protectors of the taxpayer, we propose to dissent from their views. The Noble Lords, when discussing this matter, gave no argument for the abolition of Clause 4. If now we are to understand that their action was prompted by a desire to protect the taxpayer, it can only be done for a purpose, and that is to diminish the calls upon the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and so reduce the outgoings and the possibility of the Exchequer having to come further to the aid of the unfortunate unemployed. Surely the logic is this. If the right hon. Gentleman says there are more unemployed and the Government's Clause will make it easier for them to get benefit and, as I admit, easier for them to retain benefit once they have established their right to it, and that the Noble Lords have been prompted by a desire to protect the taxpayer, there will be more distress, greater demands, greater restrictions to protect the taxpayer, and between the two the squeezing harder and tighter of the mass of unemployed who may have reason to call for some degree of benefit.
I do not want to be unfair in criticism of the Noble Lords, but I say that when this House of Commons, upon a matter dealing with industrial difficulties caused by trade depression and Capitalist development, gives the thought that it has given to the subject—and this in part will answer a query put by the hon. Member for Westmorland (Mr. Stanley), who said that the original Clause was not the result of any inquiry or investigation—the Noble Lords are unfair in lightly treating an opinion based upon experience, investigation, and discussion in this House by people who are in direct touch with the citizens of the country. The House of Lords, sitting down in some atmosphere of comfort, remind me of the old lady who visited a poor cottager in cold weather. On going into a cold room, she said to her coachman, "John, when we get home you must remind me that we must send these poor folk a pair of blankets, as it is very cold." But when that same kind-hearted lady got into the atmosphere of her warm drawing-room, and shed herself of her furs, 1252 she said, "John, I do not think there is any need now for you to take those blankets. There is quite a change in the atmosphere." The atmosphere of the House of Commons, with the full blast of its knowledge and experience of this problem is one thing, but in the other House the Noble Lords are in a different atmosphere.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
Certainly those experienced in unemployment problems can speak feelingly, and with a great knowledge of what it means to be idle, and in the atmosphere in which they find themselves, out of the greatness of their hearts, they feel that the atmosphere surrounding them, as unemployed persons, is the atmosphere of comfort that surrounds the rest of the unemployed persons in industry. I never heard any argument beyond that, and I think it is an insulting argument. I have heard it said in this House that we are demoralising our people by giving them just that modicum of support that will enable them to keep body and soul together during a period of distress, that to protect the taxpayer that suffering is necessary, and that we must tighten up the rules against them in defence of the taxpayer.
My hon. Friend said it had never been the subject of inquiry, but I would remind him of the Morris Committee, and that they were 10 days listening to evidence and discussing the Report, that two members of that Committee supported some test, that two other members of equal importance suggested that the offer of a job was the only real test that should be applied, that one disagreed with the other four, and that one who was a representative from the Department did not sign the Report. Those who heard that evidence and those who care to read it can get more eloquent facts from those who came from the distressed areas and dealt directly with the problem than they have ever heard on the Floor of this House, facts which, if we spoke them here, hon. Members would simply say was rhetorical sob-stuff. They were plain facts.
The right hon. Gentleman makes much of trade union rules. All these trade 1253 union rules were submitted to members of the Morris Committee, and I protested against them being discussed unless we heard evidence in relation to them. What right have we to have rules, the purpose of which no one knows without hearing evidence? What right have we to have them produced and discussed, when they deal with entirely different sets of circumstances from those under a national unemployments insurance scheme? They may represent a body of men of 1,000 membership, on low wages, voluntary contributors to a fund, who have only their own little contributions with which to make a little provision, with no State aid and no employers' aid; men who work with Tom, Dick, and Harry and will sit and talk with an applicant, and not ask him to go into a dozen other trades outside his own occupation. Surely you are not going to attach all that importance in these circumstances to those rules, and say that they should be applied here. Would you agree to apply in all social services anything that had not been tested by evidence and by questions in these matters?
The right hon. Gentleman opposite said we had been doing nothing but debauching unemployment insurance, and that the Lords Amendment would help us to get back on to the right track. Again, is there not behind that the intention to tighten up the scheme, that this test shall be so applied as to exclude many thousands who are at present drawing unemployment benefit, and to prevent others possibly from being able to secure the benefit even in the first instance? Debauching unemployment insurance? Who shall allege that against a Labour Government?He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.People who live in glass-houses should be very careful. Let them remember 1911, 1916 and 1918, when they gave ex-service men from direct Treasury funds out-of-work donation. Let them remember 1920. Who was responsible for that Act, which at once destroyed all semblance of unemployment insurance as insurance is counted? Who debauched Unemployment Insurance when they robbed the 1911 fund of its accumulated £22,000,000 to pay the ex-Service men whom they had jettisoned from the Unemployment Fund?
1254 What political capital do hon. Members expect to make in 1930 out of a challenge across the Floor of the House that the Labour party, because of a clause of the character which was sent up to the House of Lords, is debauching Unemployment Insurance? If Noble Lords and Members of this House talk of debauching unemployed persons, let them look at the examples of the debauching influences. Their slanderous statements to the unfortunate unemployed have helped many of them—and I do not accuse hon. Members that it was to their pleasure—to premature graves. Will anybody deny it? [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes!"] Every day in the papers we read of suicides because of the inability to find work, and because of the distress consequent upon the disallowance of unemployment benefit and the difficulty of securing relief in any form. Are you glad that this great army of unemployed of 1,400,000 is signing on, and that only about 1,100,000 to 1,200,000 are getting any benefit at all? Do you even want to reduce that number? Will you deny that in the White Paper which the Department issued, it was asserted that you can count on another 80,000 coming on the fund if this Clause, as originally sent up, is allowed to stand? If you agree, why are you supporting the Lords Amendment which has no other purpose than to prevent that 80,000 from coming on to benefit? If we were not fighting at the moment in a political arena, you would, I am sure, say, "We know that this has got into such a chaotic state, that we will help to remodel the whole thing, and make an effort that will ease the conditions of these people rather than go on increasing their anxieties." By 31st January, at least, 30,000 of those who have been turned off under the old not-genuinely-seeking-work Clause, which is still operating, have a right to make another application for a reconsideration of their cases under the extension of the transitional period. The more this Clause is held up, the more you are handicapping the Department in dealing with these applications.
I have been a little surprised to learn of the increased interest in this Clause from the Conservatives. When we were debating Clause 4 very little contribution was made from the Conservative Benches during the whole of the discus- 1255 sion. Whether it was because there were difficulties on this side, and that they preferred to sit quiet and look on, I do not know, but I suggest that that is not the attitude of those who really desire to give a helping hand. If the difficulty were there, it was the business of everyone, in whatever part of the House they sat, to make a helpful suggestion. The only suggestion we got was at the end, and it was that Clause 4 should be withdrawn; but on the earlier Amendments to the original Clause, the Conservatives had taken no part at all. [Interruption.] I say that in the earlier part of the Debate on Clause 4 the Conservative party took no part.
§ Major ELLIOT
Every time I hear that statement repeated, I wish to make the definite point that it is not accurate.
§ Mr. HAYDAY
The OFFICIAL REPORT proves it. I am rather surprised that this intense interest has been created in a Lords' Amendment to a Clause, during the discussion of which the Conservatives did not make that contribution which anybody, desirous of helping to frame a Clause to meet the circumstances of the case, would have made. I leave it at that; my hon. and gallant Friend must take it as my opinion, and he must make whatever he can of it in his speech. When the noble Lords quoted these trade union rules, they did not know how the rules were applied, what were the circumstances of their creation, and they did not know that the rules had been discussed by the Morris Committee. They did not know that there was no evidence or cross-examination as to the circumstances that brought the rules into being. A scheme of national insurance cannot be brought down to the basis of the rules of any section, or of the application of rules that may be made in a strictly voluntary sense, perhaps to deal with 1,000 persons. The rules of an Act of Parliament are intended to cover the interests of 12,500,000 insured persons.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
I am not concerned very much about trade union rules. After all, trade unions are dealing with their own funds, and they can do with them what they like. I want to discuss this point as a matter of principle. As I understand it, the question really is whether or not a duty should be placed 1256 upon a man claiming benefit of endeavouring to find work for himself. That is the real difference between the two Clauses. Under the Clause in the Bill, it is obvious that a man seeking benefit need do nothing whatever. He can stop at home in bed, and do nothing unless somebody comes along with an offer of work, or an indication that there is a job for him, or unless he receives certain directions telling him what he has to do. In other words, unless somebody gives him a job, or gives him directions as to how he can get one, he can stop in bed and do nothing whatever. The Lords' Amendment in definite language imposes a duty on the man of endeavouring to obtain employment.
Some reference has been made to honest, deserving and eager men and women. Would any honest, deserving and eager man or woman really complain about being under an obligation to endeavour to find work? I think not. I can well understand people to whom these words do not apply resenting the obligation of having to find work. I suppose that this is the last opportunity that we shall have of discussing this question of principle. As I see it, it is this: Is the Government of the greatest industrial nation that there is, to lay down as part of the law of the land and as a principle for the guidance of its working people, that not one of them need make any endeavour to find work for himself? That is the principle, and you are beginning your tuition early, for you are taking the child of fifteen, and the lesson which you are inculcating into that child means this, and nothing else: "My child, you need through the rest of your life make no effort whatever to find work." [HON. MEMBERS: "Rubbish!"]
I make no complaint that the right hon. Lady the Minister of Labour has not expressed her views about this Clause to-day. We know what her views are, for she has told us over and over again, and I do not think that we have any right to expect her to get up and say what she has said so often. Let me just remind the House. In introducing this Bill, the right hon. Lady referred to the words "genuinely seeking work" and said that they were right in principle. She said that in their-natural meaning they were a proper requirement, but she went on to complain that they had been 1257 turned into the application of a psychological test. That psychological test was contained in a judgment of the Umpire, but I would like to remind the House that that judgment is to be found in the appendix to the Blanesburgh Report. The judgment and the test are discussed in the Report, and the suggestion on page 47 of the Report is that there should be no change in the test, but that there should be a statutory definition. Note these words, that the statutory definition should bein keeping with the policy followed by the Umpire, of which, if we may say so, we entirely approve.So that in the Blanesburgh Report the right hon. Lady has said that she entirely approved of the test laid down. In introducing this Bill, she said that the words were right in principle, but that they were wrongly applied. If they are right in principle, you surely cannot put it lower than this, that you are admitting that at least there must be and ought to be some duty upon men and women to look after themselves. Two objections were raised to this test of genuinely seeking work. The one was directed to the word "genuinely." What was "genuinely"? It was a foolish word ever to have introduced, because it was capable of many interpretations, and it did perhaps involve an inquiry as to what was going on at the back of a man's mind. That word has gone, and is not introduced into the Lords Amendment. The second objection was in the question of the burden of proof. It was said, and might be said, that under the old test, the workman had to prove that he was genuinely seeking work, and it was very easy for the tribunal to say, "We do not know one way or another, but you have not satisfied us." No doubt a great deal of injustice was done by the burden of proof being upon him and by its being so easy for the tribunal to say, "Well, we are not satisfied." But that burden has gone. The amended Clause reads:If, on a claim for benefit, it be proved that the claimant has refusedand so on,or if it be proved that the claimant is not endeavouring to obtain employment.The burden is now upon the insurance officer, who has to prove to the satisfaction of the tribunal that the man is not endeavouring to find work, and if the 1258 position is left with the tribunal saying, "We do not know one way or the other, we cannot tell," they are bound to continue to pay the man his benefit. They have now got to be satisfied of the negative—that he is not endeavouring to find work. The hon. Member who spoke last said all the insurance officer will have to do will be to suggest that the man is not endeavouring to find work, and the old inquisition will begin all over again. That is not the fact. Under the amended Clause the burden of proof is laid upon the person who alleges it, and until that burden of proof is discharged the man would be left in possession of his right to benefit.
The two real objections which were ever seriously urged against the old Clause are not reproduced here, and it boils down to this simple question of principle. Is it or is it not to be part of the law of the land that a man shall be under a duty to do something for himself? If we are going to leave the Clause as it was when it was sent to another place, we are saying in the most emphatic and the clearest way to every worker in the country, indeed, to every worker in the Empire, that the British principle is that a man and a woman are under no obligation to endeavour to find work for themselves. If we accept the Clause in its amended form we are affirming the principle that the man shall be under a duty to endeavour to find work, and that he shall be presumed to be performing that duty until the contrary is proved against him.
Something has been said about the extra, cost. Of course it is going to cost far more to adopt the principle for which hon. Members opposite are contending. That was conceded when the new Clause "was brought in; I forget how much more, but it was several millions more. It is going to cost far more than the Chancellor of the Exchequer saved when he stood up to Europe during his protest about the Young plan. A terrific fuss was made about the £2,250,000 that he saved then, but far more than that is now to be thrown to the winds in this way, and unnecessarily and unjustly thrown to the winds, because no one on the opposite side of the House would have the courage to get up and say, "We think a man ought to get his benefit even if he is not endeavouring to find work.
§ Mr. ATKINSON
Until the contrary is proved, the assumption remains that they are endeavouring to find work. But does anyone on the opposite side of the House really think it is right to lay down as a principle that even if it be proved up to the hilt that a man has deliberately not tried to get work, even if it proved that he has stopped in bed for a whole week doing nothing, even if it be proved that he has been drunk every day and making no endeavour to do anything—do you really say that that man ought to have benefit?
§ Mr. HAYDAY
Do you mean to suggest that there are unemployed persons in the category you have mentioned?
§ Mr. ATKINSON
There may be some, and there may be many more when you lay down this principle; but that is not an answer to my question. I am asking whether any hon. Member opposite thinks that a man who does that kind of thing ought still to be entitled to his benefit?
§ Mr. ATKINSON
The hon. Member says "Offer him a job." Then he really does think the man can stop in bed till somebody offers him a job. [Interruption.] No country ever became great on a principle of that sort, and I am perfectly certain that this country will not remain great when you inculcate principles of that kind in the minds of the workers.
§ Mr. ALPASS
I did not intend to intervene in this Debate, but such statements have been made here that, in the interests of those whom I represent, I feel bound to ask the House to listen to me for two or three minutes. It seems to me that the weakness of the ease which hon. Members opposite are trying to make lies in the implication that ordinarily the unemployed do not seek for work. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I think the speech to which we have just listened confirms that view up to the hilt.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
The position is that so long as there is any percentage at all, however fractional, it will defeat the honest purpose of this Measure, and we have got to safeguard that position.
§ Mr. ALPASS
My reply to that is that you would penalise and treat unjustly the vast majority in order to catch one or two. That is the only logical deduction from that statement.
§ Sir R. HORNE
It might as well be suggested that because we have a criminal law we regard all men as criminals.
§ Mr. ALPASS
I am not an old and an experienced Member of the House like the right hon. Gentleman who has just interrupted me, who has been here for many years, and he does not make it any easier for me to express what I feel. There is a large mass of unemployed concentrated in my constituency watching the issue of the Debate on this Clause with a great and vital interest. I have received a communication from the Unemployed Association of the City of Bristol asking me to do everything possible to influence my colleagues, though of course that will not be necessary, to reject this Amendment suggested by the other place. The implication which has been made is, in my opinion, a very gross libel upon the character of a large number of men who are really industrious in intention. I think hon. Members opposite would have a different point of view if they themselves had ever experienced a prolonged period of unemployment. I represent in this House men who have been unemployed for two, three, four or five years, and if I could show hon. Members opposite the letters which I have received from, and tell them of the interviews I have had with, men who have begged and beseeched me to use my influence to get them work, they would have a very different opinion as to what these men are trying to do. [Interruption.] This is only the second occasion on which I have addressed the House, and I think I am entitled to speak without being interrupted.
May I refer to one or two incidents to prove that these men, in the main, are doing everything humanly possible to obtain employment? A little while ago there was an announcement in our Press that 20 men were wanted by the Post Office in connection with the development of the telephone—putting down a fresh cable, I believe it was. On the morning 1261 these 20 men were required 1,000 of the unemployed of my city presented themselves for the jobs. Some of them get there two hours before eight o'clock. Since I have been a Member of this House I have received from one of my constituents a letter describing experiences which I suggest are typical of what is taking place up and down the country. He walked 230 miles in search of work. In the letter he gave me the names of the places he had visited, and a long list of the places at which he had applied for employment. Eventually he presented himself at the City of Bristol Employment Exchange, and was "turned down" because he was not genuinely seeking work. The unemployed of my city, from whom I received a communication to-day, are very fearful indeed that unless this Amendment is rejected the old injustice will be continued, and we feel that the only way to safeguard their interests and secure justice for them is to reject the Amendment of another place and replace the Clause as it was. We ought to take no notice of this attempt to make it possible to reintroduce the old inquisitorial methods.
The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) said that if we rejected the Amendment we should be treating someone in another place with discourtesy. I want to suggest that the boot is on the other leg. I say that it is discourteous for persons in another place who, as the hon. Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Hayday) said, gave practically no consideration to this question, lightly to brush aside the results of the very serious and careful deliberations upon this Clause in this House by men who have had years and years of experience in the practical administration of these matters.
§ Sir B. PETO
I know that the hon. Member does not wish to misquote what I said. I said nothing about it being discourteous to another place to reject the Amendment. I said it was discourteous that we had had no explanation from the Government of the reasons why they object to this Amendment.
§ Mr. ALPASS
I think we had sufficient explanations in the long Debate which took place on the Clause when it was first incorporated in the Bill, and the discourtesy lies with another place in brushing aside the results of our deliberations. I sincerely hope that in the interests of 1262 the unemployed, to whom we wish to do justice, there will be no hesitation on the part of this House in rejecting the Amendment which has been sent down to us.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
I intervene in this Debate not only because I am profoundly interested in the constitutional question that has arisen, but also because I feel deeply upon the matter which the House is called upon to consider this afternoon. An hon. Friend on the other side has made a very strong and, as he thinks, I am sure, a very eloquent defence of the right of the House of Lords to constitute itself a Chamber to revise the legislation of this House. We would differ very much as to the right of the House of Lords to interfere with the decision of the people, either in regard to great fundamental questions or matters of smaller importance such as this; but if there is one question on which the House of Lords have no right to try to override a carefully considered decision of this House, it is on a matter of this kind. I have studied the Division List in the House of Lords, and I find that 94 Members of that Assembly voted for the Amendment which has been sent down to this House as an alternative to the Clause in the Bill. In other words, the proposal is seriously put forward by the House of Lords that 94 Members of a hereditary Chamber, inexperienced in the vital affairs of life, without knowledge of the conditions of the people, and ignorant of the great evil with which this Bill proposes to grapple, have decided that they are better judges as to how this matter should be adjusted than 600 representatives elected by the masses of the people. That is really the proposition as it presents itself to me.
In the first place, I object altogether to an Assembly that has done so much evil in its history by thwarting the generous will of the people of this country in every great movement of magnanimity and love for freedom—which has made itself an agent of reaction and has obstructed the progress of all democratic ideals—being my master as a Member of this House. I object also because the House of Lords, by its experience, its knowledge, its sympathy, or by any of the things that should inspire a great assembly of that character, has no right to place its judgment against that of the 1263 House of Commons. I heard some hon. Gentlemen opposite challenge the Government because they had not given any reasons for the non-acceptance of this Amendment. Why should the Government give reasons? If there is sufficient intelligence on the other side of the House to defend the new proposals put forward by the House of Lords, surely they do not expect the Government to repeat their defence of proposals which have been deliberately voted upon by the House of Commons. Therefore, I do not see any point in that argument. I do not see any point in the argument that the Government are showing cowardice or contempt—I take it to be the latter—because they do not attempt to defend what the House of Commons has decided in a constitutional fashion when it passed this Clause.
Let me now come to the merits of the question. I represent a great industrial community which is one of the largest in these islands. I am in constant touch with the unemployed, and I know the tragedy of unemployment as well as any hon. Members representing Manchester or Liverpool. I feel it more, because it comes closer to me, and I say that if ever a well-meant scheme—I understand that the scheme of Unemployment Grants Committee did not come from the Labour Government, but from the other side either as a Coalition Government or a Conservative Government—suffered from being destroyed in its operation it was this measure. The hon. Member for Central Bristol (Mr. Alpass) told us of the countless men and women who came to him, and asked him to find them employment, after they had made constant efforts to secure employment for themselves. In a former Debate that took place not long ago, I heard Conservative Members representing industrial constituencies repeat the experience to which hon. Members on the Labour Benches have testified, and unless the Government, at that time, had taken drastic measures in the form of the Clause which has been inserted in the Bill to deal with the appalling treatment of the unemployed who were seeking and failed to secure work, I should have regarded the Government as absolutely worthless. I think the Government were wise, after having taken into 1264 consideration the views which were expressed and declared by men of experience in all parts of the House, in dealing with this difficult problem by the method and through the machinery which will shortly become the law of the land. That is all I have to say in relation to this matter.
I would like to go a little further if I am in order. I still think, and most of us think, that what we are now doing is no solution of our industrial problem. There is not an hon. Member in any part of the House who does not feel that something greater must be done. This is a national necessity. It is no fault of the people that the industrial machinery has gone wrong. It is no fault of the people that they are faced with these difficulties. Most of those people fought for the glory of this Empire, and a great many of our people gave their lives for their country. Most of them believed that when the War was over they would come back to a country fit for heroes to live in. From what I know of Englishmen, I think they do not want to live so much as heroes as to live a humane and decent life. These people want work, and they do not want the unemployment grant. There is a spirit among the masses that they do not want doles, but they want work. I know that there are not many men, and very few women who if they could get work-would ever look for the dole.
Civic pride is not any special virtue of the rich. Civic and personal pride is to be found in the homes of the humblest people. I have proved all that. I belong to many charitable societies. I know the grim and constant efforts which these people make to hide their poverty. I belong to an organisation in my own city called the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which is a voluntary organisation. Although it is a highly noble organisation, the members would rather die than allow it to be known that they were accepting the funds of that society. That is the kind of spirit which prevails among the working classes, and it is a spirit which is not confined to any particular class. Therefore, I say that this problem will not be solved merely by giving unemployment allowances to people who are unemployed, but it will be done if this country and those who hold responsible positions will grapple with the great ques- 1265 tion of industry. I am a very silent spectator of the proceedings of this House, and I have listened to the suggestions made to solve this problem. I sat all through the Debate which took place yesterday, and I listened to the weary platitudes about the old and ancient economic creeds. I watched the unpicturesque propagandists who call themselves crusaders—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Member that I cannot allow him to widen the scope of the Debate beyond the actual question before the House.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Then I will come back to what I said before when I spoke in the House. I repeat that, if I were an Englishman and a responsible citizen of this country, I would again plead for a great united effort on the part of all sections in the country to try to restore the industries of the nation, and to build those industries up again and create new ones. Not long ago the Prime Minister suggested a great national peace conference. I do not know why, but it has not yet materialised. The Lord Privy-Seal has a colossal task to perform, and he is capable by his knowledge of the conditions of this country of doing something if any man can. I do hope that every man will co-operate and assist the right hon. Gentleman in his attempts to restore the industries of this country, a solution which would prevent the necessity for a discussion of this character.
This particular Clause has one peculiar attraction for me. Up to now the Employment Exchanges have been not only the machinery through which the people are paid the unemployment dole, but they have been a kind of inquisitorial tribunal. They form a great organisation, and to what better purpose could that organisation be put than that of looking for work for the people who have not got work. Would it not be better for those capable and efficient officials to devote themselves, in whatever ways they can, to trying to find out where work can be secured instead of continuing to be employed in the useless and unproductive work in which they are now engaged. If they would do that, I am sure they would satisfy hon. Members opposite, as well as those sitting on this slide of the House, because every man who found a job would relieve the State of whatever finan- 1266 cial responsibility it has to bear in regard to making provision for him. For that reason, and for many other reasons, i shall vote for the rejection of this Amendment, and support the attitude which has been taken up by the Government.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
I should not have intervened in this Debate but for the fact that I am desirous of calling attention to the problem which is before us from a rather different point of view from that which has been taken up by previous speakers. I do not profess to be an expert in matters dealing with unemployment, but long before I was a Member of this House it was brought pointedly to my attention that the administration of the Section in the existing Act was creating difficulties of a sort which I am certain its framers never intended, and never anticipated. I came to this House after the last General Election in the hope that I should see a change made in that Clause, and be able to take some small part in getting it amended. I was very pleased when I heard that an opportunity was to be afforded to me, and I watched the proceedings, in common with other hon. Members of this House, which culminated in the Clause which appeared in the Bill which received its Third Reading.
The point which I want to make about the Government's proposal in the old Clause in the Bill is this. Some of us feel that a great deal is said about unemployment insurance which has the effect of indicating to the people at large that unemployment insurance and the payments made to people who are out of work under the Unemployment Insurance Acts are in some way derogatory to the people who receive those benefits. I am not one of the people who can assent to that proposition for a single instant, but there is this much to be said, that any Clause in any Act of Parliament which has the effect of rendering possible an increased criticism of that nature from minds, however ill-informed, is a proposal which in my respectful submission is one which ought to be guarded against. I desire to assent to almost every word that was spoken a few moments ago by the hon. Member for one of the Divisions of the City and County of Bristol 1267 (Mr. Alpass) which I have known intimately all my life. I believe that the vast, the great and the preponderating number of working people in this country are genuinely seeking work, genuinely desirous of work and desire work rather than payments from public funds. But anything which casts a doubt upon the genuine character of however small a number of recipients of unemployment benefit is, in my submission, something which is likely to react adversely on the opinion which people generally have of all the people who are receiving that benefit. That is the point I desire to emphasise and, speaking as an obscure and humble Member of this House, that is the point I desire to press upon those who sit upon the Front Bench opposite.
I have had the opportunity, during a life which has been spent in criticising elsewhere legislation which has been passed in this House, of examining into legislation and into the words which this House and the other House use in endeavouring to translate their intentions into law. I look at the Clause in the form in which it has come down from another place and, looking at that Clause, I cannot help feeling that, so far as a large number of the speeches to which I have had the advantage of listening from hon. Members on the other side of the House are concerned, they have not really appreciated what the Clause does. I do beg of them to think once again of the observations which were made by the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson) in which he pointed out something which I desire to emphasise, namely, that under the Clause which we are now debating, the new Clause put in by another place, the whole assumption is that every person who comes forward applying for unemployment benefit is in fact a person who is seeking work. I do not use the word "genuinely" because that no longer has any application and should have no application in this legislation. No proof of that fact is required of the applicant. It is assumed and it underlies his application. It is not until the insurance officer under the revised Clause has taken upon himself the burden of attempting to prove, in the language of the new Clause, that the claimant is not 1268 endeavouring to obtain employment and he has proved it to the satisfaction of the Tribunal, not until that has been proved and found as a fact, can any question at all arise of depriving people of the benefit to which they are justly and properly entitled. I would say, in conclusion, as to some of the observations that I resent the suggestion that I am any party at any time, either directly or indirectly, for the purpose of saving money to the Exchequer, badly as that is needed, in endeavouring to deprive people who are entitled to benefit from receiving it. The object of this Clause, as I read it and as it is clearly expressed, is that the onus should be put upon the insurance officer, and I cannot think that any of the thousands of people whom I meet who are unfortunately in receipt of unemployment benefit would desire to have it otherwise.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
I am sure I shall be voicing the feeling of the whole House when I congratulate the hon. and learned Member who has just spoken upon not merely a clear and lucid statement but upon a statement which has lifted the Debate on to a much higher level than it was before he rose. I should like to say that the position of the Government is very definitely that it can do no other than disagree with the Lords' Amendment. The only substantial point of criticism which has been raised against that course—because for the most part the Debate has been merely a wearisome repetition of what was thrashed out in a threadbare fashion before—is the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Altrincham (Mr. Atkinson) which requires to be very clearly explained and demonstrated. The judgment of the Umpire was based on the words in the Act, the words "not genuinely seeking work," and the judgments which are contained in the four or five cases constantly quoted rested upon those words in the Act. When those judgments were considered by the Blanesburgh Committee, on which were represented some very able brains and which had a very able lawyer in the Chair, it was found impossible for us to find a form of words that would translate those judgments into an instruction to the Exchanges. We therefore asked the then Minister of Labour if he would try to find a statu- 1269 tory test that could be applied, embodying the intentions, or embodying the general sense of the Umpire's decisions. The Department could not do it. They issued the Umpire's cases as a guide to the courts of referees, and, whether we liked it or not, we had to come to the conclusion that it was impossible to find words of that description.
I would point out to the hon. and learned Member and those who have taken this line that, as a matter of fact, there is no essential difference between the Amendment sent down from the other place and the words I originally proposed. It has been the considered opinion of this House that the words I originally proposed would fail, as the words put in in 1924 failed. There are three of us in this House now who are very definitely House of Commons Members, who in no circumstances under the law could ever go into the other place, and therefore I am peculiarly a House of Commons woman, and I hope the servant of this House. If ever there was a Clause put into a Bill which could be claimed to be a House of Commons Clause it is this Clause, and I would regard myself as being unfaithful to the mandate of this House if I did other than definitely disagree with the Lords' Amendment.
§ Major ELLIOT
While we are indebted to the Minister for her intervention in the Debate, I am certain it would have tended to clarify and even shorten our discussion if it had been possible earlier for the House to obtain guidance, as it is entitled to demand guidance, from its officers, the Members of the Government who sit upon the Front Government Bench. But the Minister has now replied, and she has replied in uncompromising terms that she can advise the House to do no other than to disagree with the Lords in their Amendment. She first paid a very just tribute to the hon. and learned Member for the Bridgwater Division (Mr. Croom-Johnson), not merely for the clarity of his statement, but for the fact that he had lifted the Debate on to a plane on which it had not run for some time previously. We have heard the Debate coming to accusations hurled from the other side of the House that the whole purpose of these words was to defeat and to persecute the unemployed and to save the taxpayer at 1270 the expense of the unemployed. These accusations have been blown sky-high by the phrase of the Minister herself that, as far as she can see, the effect of these words is not dissimilar from the words she originally brought in in a Clause which, after months of consideration, she submitted to this House. We take it, then, that the hon. Members opposite should be justly ashamed of the accusations which they launched against Members on this side, which the Minister herself has now taken upon her own shoulders. Let us hear less of this loose abuse which in the mouths of hon. Members opposite so often passes for argument.
We have the hon. Lady's defence, which is a defence which must strike home to the heart of every Member of the House of Commons. She brings forward the defence that she is a House of Commons woman. It is, I think, the first time in history that phrase has been used, and I desire to register the historic occasion on which it has first been used in our Debates upon the Floor of this House. She states that she asks us to disagree with this Amendment on the ground that, after the consideration given to it by the House of Commons, it would be undesirable for us in this House to accept the proposals which were brought down from another place. On that, may I say that we have the Minister's own testimony, that the House of Lords, desiring to give this Chamber an opportunity of reconsidering its decision, has gone to great lengths of courtesy in finding a form of words which, as the Minister herself has said, embody very closely the proposals which she herself had in mind when she introduced the Bill into this House. It has done so, too, in a way that does not lay upon this Chamber the difficult task of being asked to reverse a decision to which it has previously come. Furthermore, the House of Lords has gone to the trouble of taking these words from the rules of a great trade union organisation and, when the accusations of imminent persecution are hurled against Members on this side of the House, we may justly say that they are equally entitled to be hurled against the officers and secretaries of those many working-class organisations who drew up and for many years have acted upon rules no harder and no more unjust than this rule 1271 which it is proposed to incorporate in a Statute of this House.
Where did the suggestion come from originally that these rules should be incorporated in this Bill? It came from the Minister herself. We remember the Minister in the Debates waving a bundle of papers in her hand and saying, "If I could only incorporate the rules of trade unions I should have no trouble with 'genuinely seeking work' or anything else." When the other House takes the Minister at her word and incorporates such rules, at any rate it is entitled to have its proposals treated with courtesy and decency, and debated, and not simply hurled aside as the attempt of a handful of unelected persons to dictate to the mass of the elected representatives of the people.
The hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Devlin), who, I regret to say, after making a vigorous attack, has gone away—because, no doubt, the arguments from the other side might have convinced him of the wrongness of the arguments which he brought forward—[An HON. MEMBER: "You are optimistic."] The open-mindedness of members of his race is well-known, and particularly of members from the North of Ireland, who have always been found to be peculiarly liable to have their minds swayed by argument. I can only say that it is a pity that the hon. Member, whom we hear too rarely in our Debates, after intervening, should have withdrawn the light of his presence from among us.
Let us consider the proposals which the other House has made, and let us consider them peculiarly in the light of the Debates in this House. We on this side of the House have been accused by Members below the Gangway and on the other side of not having brought our share to the collection of wisdom which the right hon. Lady desired to make when she was bringing forward this Clause 4. We rebut that accusation without the slightest difficulty. When Clause 4 was under discussion, on what text did we begin to discuss it? We began to discuss it on the statement of the right hon. Lady herself in introducing this Bill on the Second Beading. I will read the words of the right hon. Lady, for they are germane to the present discussion and 1272 the discussion upon which we shall enter when we have disposed of this Amendment. She said:I am fully prepared to consider drafting Amendments in Committee. I want to use the collective wisdom of the House to make this Sub-section completely watertight. If during the experimental year this Sub-section proves to be still open to criticism, opportunity to amend it will occur at the end of the year. Only experience can show whether this Sub-section, taken in conjunction with the work-finding activities of the Exchanges and the training, reconditioning and transfer facilities which we provide and which we hope to develop, will help us to avoid the twin evils of injustice to the claimant and imposition on the Unemployment Fund.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1929; col. 743, Vol. 232.]That was the Minister's considered opinion, that only experience can show, and she asked for an experimental year in which to try this proposal, and offered voluntarily an opportunity to this House to amend it again in a year's time. Taking the Minister at her word, we introduced into our discussions on Clause 4. as our main Amendment, an Amendment stating that Clause 4 should run for a year. We were willing to admit—[An HON. MEMBER: "You are on the wrong Amendment!"] The hon. Member does not, perhaps, fully understand the Debates. He may not have read them recently. I would ask him to read them again, and to take it from me—because, after all, it was our Amendment and not his—that our Amendment applied to the Clause, and the Clause contains the Amendment. Our part of the collective wisdom which we brought; to the solution of this problem is, I submit, still the only sensible contribution, namely, that it is a matter of experiment. Let it be tried; let us revise the Bill again in a year's time, with the result of this experience present in our minds; and let us realise that we cannot in one bound reach finality on this matter.
We not only discussed it to the extent of some seven pages of the OFFICIAL REPORT, but the Minister replied. She took part in the Debate and, more than that, she voted. And the Prime Minister and all the members of the Cabinet voted. The Secretary of State for War voted. But so little was the consideration that they gave to the Debate that the whole thing has entirely slipped from their memories. We said that the 1273 proposals which were brought forward from our side of the House, as to the conditions of genuinely seeking work and the conditions under which benefit is to be drawn were difficult, and would have to be considered and revised in the light of other provisions in other Clauses of the Bill, the whole arrangements made in regard to transitory provisions, and the provisions where the whole expense of the benefit is borne by the Exchequer. I think that nobody in any quarter of the House will suggest that benefit should be drawn permanently by these beneficiaries under exactly the same conditions under which benefit is drawn by others who are receiving insurance for which they have paid, and not relief to which they have made no contribution. We brought forward these arguments; we reviewed the position of the benefit qualifications on many Clauses; and we claim without hesitation that we did make our contribution to the suggestions called for by the Minister. All that we complain of is, firstly, that the Minister took no notice of them whatever and, secondly, that she has forgotten about them when a further stage of the Debate arises. The proposal of the other House is a proposal which, even from the point of view of this House, is certainly worth considering.
I would call the further attention of hon. Members in all parts of the House to the fact that that proposal was not backed with the full weight of the Opposition representatives. The Noble Lord the Marquess of Salisbury spoke at a later stage in that Debate, but he thought that it was reasonable that it should be brought forward, and in the Debate he went so far as to say that it was brought forward with the idea of giving the Government the opportunity of reconsidering the decisions that they had already come to. We are considering here, not merely the conditions under which the unemployed shall draw benefit, but the conditions under which a levy of 7d. a week is to be made on the wages of 8,000,000 trade unionists, most of whom are never going to draw benefit. Is a levy of 7d. a week a mere fleabite on a man's wages' It is not. The question whether 1d., 2d., or 3d. shall be levied on a weekly wage is considered at great length in the trade union lodges, and, I am informed, is debated often with great acrimony. 1274 Here is a levy of 7d., and the conditions under which people are to draw upon that levy are matters of concern, not merely from the unemployment point of view, but from the employment point of view. There are many more persons employed than there are unemployed; there are many more persons paying this levy than there are persons receiving benefit under it; and it is necessary for this House to look at the question as a whole.
Looking at the question as a whole, we see that the rules which were drawn up by the workmen's organisations themselves, with regard to the funds which they themselves have collected and created, form a useful precedent for examination by this House when it comes to legislate on the subject. The other House, with great good sense, asked that a White Paper should be laid; but, in spite of the fact that the Minister brandished these Papers before us in the Debates in November, and the other House asked for a White Paper on the 19th December, these extracts were not laid until the Bill was on the edge of passing from the other House altogether, and then it is claimed that the other House acted hastily and in a slapdash fashion. The blame, however, is upon the Government, which failed to produce a White Paper until nearly three months after the matter was originally raised in this House. It therefore does not lie in the mouth of the Government representatives to blame the other House for hasty legislation enacted rapidly, when the other House, having asked for information on the 19th December, did not receive it until the month of January was nearly at an end, and the Bill was within 24 hours of passing from that place altogether.
It is clear that the Government are asking that this Amendment should be rejected. They are, of course, within their rights in asking the House to do that. Hon. Members below the Gangway have indicated that they will support the Government in the proposal that this Amendment should be rejected. I would ask them to consider, not merely this Amendment, but the other Amendments. We have been told by the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) that already, before the ink is dry upon this Clause, he has received complaints against it, and is beginning to have 1275 doubts in his mind as to whether it is exactly right, and whether Amendments could not reasonably be made in it. Surely, all these things prove that our suggestion that this should be treated as an experimental matter, and considered after a short time in the light of experience, is a sound suggestion. That is the way in which we would attack this difficult problem, and not by a priori rules laid down with the idea that this is the last occasion on which the House will have to legislate on this difficult subject.
The other House made a worthy contribution to the Debates on this matter when it called for a White Paper, and obtained for the use of both Houses of Parliament the rules which the trade unions themselves had worked out to deal with this subject—[an HON. MEMBER: "Some of them!"]—which many of the unions have worked out to deal with this difficult subject. The White Paper deals both with those who do and with those who do not. It is a Government Paper and not a party publication, and it is a Paper well worthy of consideration in connection with legislation on this subject. The Government may carry their Motion to disagree with the Lords on this occasion, but, if they do, it will strengthen and enforce and buttress our argument on the next Amendment, which proposes that this should be a limited and not a permanent part of our legislation, and that only by a review at intervals is it possible for us to come to a permanent solution of this problem.
§ Mr. GRAY
I propose to vote against accepting the Amendment from the House of Lords. At the opening of this Debate, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) passed heavy criticism on the Government because they had bowed, apparently, to the views of private Members of this House. I want to make a protest on behalf of private Members of this House. I am a new Member, never having sat in the House before until the present Parliament. I, and probably a large number of other Members of the House, have only a very remote chance of occupying either the Government Front Bench or the Opposition Front Bench, and I am rather inclined to resent the 1276 suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that, unless an Amendment emanates from the Department concerned and if it emanates from discussion on the part of private. Members of this House, it is not of so much value. If we, as private Members, oppose the Department and the Department in the end has given way to our opinion, I resent very strongly that that should be imputed as any sort of crime. I hope that will happen over and over again. We have a House in which the Government have not a majority at their command and they cannot press any sort of Measure that the Department likes through the House irrespective of what may be the opinion of private Members. The Government of to-day have to command some assent outside their own party, more or less the common consent of the House, if they are going to carry their Measures.
I have been intensely amused at the conversion of right hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway and their enthusiasm for trade unions, but I do not follow their arguments. I am not a member of a trade union. I have considerable respect for them, but I do not admit that the decisions of a trade union have more value than the considered judgment of the House. I am not going to accept an Amendment because a trade union uses it as against an Amendment which has been fully discussed in the House, considered by many of us in private and then again considered and carried by the House. Are hon. Members above the Gangway converted to the principle that, because a thing is in the trade union regulations, it is, therefore, a good one? It may or may not be, but it is certainly no argument to my mind that it is a better regulation than a decision of the House.
I ask the House to reject the Amendment particularly because of what it is in itself, and that, perhaps, has not been as fully discussed as it might have been. Is there anything more difficult than to prove a negative? I do not mind what trade unions do. They have their own methods of working. When the House of Lords ask the House to put into a Bill that a Government would have to invite their officers to prove a negative before this individual is to be debarred from benefit, and the Clause was going to be adminis- 1277 tered by Judges of the High Court, with counsel and all the rest of it, we could afford to let the Amendment to go through, and there would probably not be a solitary individual whose benefit would ever be challenged under that rule, because under the ordinary law of the land you cannot call upon a man to convict himself. How, then, is an insurance officer going to prove to a court of referees that a man has not tried to obtain benefit? If the officer could prove that the man had stopped in bed day and night for a week, and was in good health, he might be able to prove that he was not obtaining benefit, but it would be rather difficult to prove that, if the man had done it. He would have to keep some representative knocking at the door every hour to see if the man had got up or not. if you apply this Clause as it has come down from the House of Lords to the ordinary conditions of law and evidence, you could not deal with a single case by that rule. The only thing that could possibly happen is that it would be administered by courts which are not accustomed to the rules of law and evidence and, if it was asserted that the man was not obtaining benefit, you could probably issue a warning that it might be used in evidence against him and he would probably again be submitted to the inquisition which arose under the old Act.
§ The Clause that was hammered out in debate is for the purpose which right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House desire, and is infinitely more effective and practicable than the Clause now suggested by the House of Lords because, under it, the Employment Exchange officials can build up a code of practice. It is no use for a man who knows the shipbuilding conditions at Liverpool, or some other big port, talking about the conditions in my own town. I know the conditions of my own town, but you cannot expect me to understand the conditions pertaining in Manchester. The only people who really know what a man has to do who wants to get work are the Employment Exchange officials in the areas concerned. If the Employment Exchange officials do not know what a man ought to do to get a job, why should you expect the man to know himself? If they do know, it is simple for them to build up their code of practice for all kinds of workmen and require them to carry it out. I do not 1278 blame the officials of the Employment Exchanges for what has happened under the genuinely seeking work Clause. The officials of the Department who administer the Insurance Act are just as desirous of doing what is right and just by the unemployed as Members of the House, or the Labour representatives who will have a share in administering the law that we have passed.
§ It was the Labour Ministry itself who first introduced the genuinely-seeking-work Clause. Until that time you never required any Clause of this nature at all, and you had no difficulty, because the amount of work available was more or less commensurate with the number of men seeking work, and as long as those conditions pertained, you could administer your Unemployment Insurance Act simply and easily, sooner or later, and sooner rather than later, finding a job for the man who was out of work and testing him by that method. But if we have the conditions that exist to-day, no matter what a man does, and however he tries to get work, and however much he wants it, for thousands of our workers in the great centres there is no job available and it is really hypocrisy and folly for hon. Members on this side of the House to suggest that they are not desirous of striking large numbers of men off the register for benefit who cannot get work, and they seek to apply to them a condition which may enable them to eliminate large numbers of these men.
§ You cannot possibly find a more effective method than that which you have put in the Bill, which gives to the Exchange officials power to require men to do whatever they think necessary, so long as it is reasonable. If this Clause is administered under the ordinary processes of the Law, with proper protection, you probably would not get a solitary conviction under it. You will immediately revert to the position that a man, having been challenged has to satisfy the Court of Referees that he is trying to obtain work, and you are up against the whole difficulty that has led to all these discussions. You are not entitled to take from men while they are in work a contribution and then, when they are out of work, and you can find no work for them, eliminate them, because you 1279 think they have not sought it, from the benefit to which they have contributed and to which they are entitled. I hope we shall reject the Clause.
§ Miss BONDFIELD rose in her place, and claimed to move, That the Question be now put."1280
§ Question put accordingly, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 284; Noes, 133.1281
|Division No. 123.]||AYES.||17.40 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Leach, W.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Freeman, Peter||Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.)|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Gardner, J. P. (Hammersmith, N.)||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lees, J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Gibbins, Joseph||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Angell, Norman.||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Arnott, John||Gill, T. H.||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Gillett, George M.||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Glassey, A. E.||Longden, F.|
|Ayles, Walter||Gossling, A. G.||Lovat-Fraser, J. A.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Gould, F.||Lowth, Thomas|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lunn, William|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Batey, Joseph||Gray, Milner||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||McElwee, A.|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||McEntee, V. L.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||McKinlay, A.|
|Benson, G.||Groves, Thomas E.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Bowen, J. W.||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Mansfield, W.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Harbison, T. J.||March, S.|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Harbord, A.||Marcus, M.|
|Bromfield, William||Hardie, George D.||Markham, S. F.|
|Bromley, J.||Harris, Percy A.||Marley, J.|
|Brooke, W.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Mathers, George|
|Brothers, M.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Matters, L. W.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Haycock, A. W.||Maxton, James|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Hayday, Arthur||Melville, Sir James|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Hayes, John Henry||Messer, Fred|
|Buchanan, G.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Millar, J. D.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Mills, J. E.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Henderson, Thomas (Glasgow)||Milner, J.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Montague, Frederick|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Herriotts, J.||Morgan, Dr. H. B.|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Hirst, G. H. (York, W. R., Wentworth)||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hirst, W, (Bradford, South)||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)|
|Cape, Thomas||Hoffman, P. C.||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.)||Horrabin, J. F.||Mort, D. L.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Chater, Daniel||Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)|
|Church, Major A. G.||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Muggeridge, H. T.|
|Clarke, J. S.||Isaacs, George||Murnin, Hugh|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Naylor, T. E.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Johnston, Thomas||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Compton, Joseph||Jones, F. Llewellyn (Flint)||Noel Baker, P. J.|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Oldfield, J. R.|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Rt. Hon Leif (Camborne)||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)|
|Dallas, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)|
|Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A.||Owen, H. F. (Hereford)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Palin, John Henry.|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kelly, W. T.||Paling, Wilfrid|
|Devlin, Joseph||Kennedy, Thomas||Palmer, E. T.|
|Dickson, T.||Kinley, J.||Perry, S. F.|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Kirkwood, D.||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.|
|Dukes, C.||Lang, Gordon||Phillips, Dr. Marlon|
|Duncan, Charles||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Picton-Turbervill, Edith|
|Ede, James Chuter||Lathan, G.||Pole, Major D. G.|
|Edmunds, J. E.||Law, Albert (Bolton)||Potts, John S.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Law, A. (Rosendale)||Pybus, Percy John|
|Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Lawrence, Susan||Quibell, D. K.|
|Egan, W. H.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Lawson, John James||Raynes, W. R.|
|Foot, Isaac||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Richards, R.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Walker, J.|
|Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Ritson, J.||Smith, H. B. Lees (Keighley)||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Watkins, F. C.|
|Romeril, H. G.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline).|
|Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Snell, Harry||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Rowson, Guy||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Salter, Dr. Alfred||Sorensen, R.||West, F. R.|
|Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Stamford, Thomas W.||Westwood, Joseph|
|Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Stephen, Campbell||White, H. G.|
|Sandham, E.||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Sawyer, G. F.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Scott, James||Strauss, G. R.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Sullivan, J.||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Scurr, John||Sutton, J. E.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Thurtle, Ernest||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Tillett, Ben||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Sherwood, G. H.||Tinker, John Joseph||Winterton, G. E.(Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Shield, George William||Toole, Joseph||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Tout, W. J.||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Short, Alfred (Wodnesbury)||Townend, A. E.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Simmons, C. J.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Turner, B.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sitch, Charles H.||Vaughan, D. J.||Mr. Allen Parkinson and Mr. Whiteley.|
|Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Viant, S. P.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Ganzoni, Sir John||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Albery, Irving James||Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley)||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Allen, W. E. D. (Belfast, W.)||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Atkinson, C.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Salmon, Major I.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Beaumont, M. W.||Hanbury, C.||Savery, S. S.|
|Bellairs, Commander Carlyon||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Berry, Sir George||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Haslam, Henry C.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Bracken, B.||Home, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Howard-Bury. Colonel C. K.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Buchan, John||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Southby, Commander A. R. I.|
|Burton, Colonel H. W.||Hurd, Percy A.||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Iveagh, Countess of||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Christie, J. A.||Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R.||Todd, Capt. A. J.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)||Train, J.|
|Colville, Major D. J.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Courtauld, Major J. S.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Cranbourne, Viscount||Makins, Brigadier-General E.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Wardlaw-Milne, J. S.|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey. Gainsbro)||Marjoribanks, E. C.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Mitchell-Thomson. Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Mond, Hon. Henry||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Duckworth, G. A. V.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Dugdale, Capt, T. L.||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G.(Ptrsf'ld)||Womersley, W. J.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Neill, Sir H.|
|Elliot, Major Walter E.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Captain Sir George Bowyer and Sir|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon. Barnstaple)||George Penny.|
|Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.