That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to amend the Unemployment Insurance Acts, 1920 to 1933, and to make further provision for the training and assistance of persons who are capable of, and available for, work but have no work or only part-time or intermittent work, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid (hereinafter referred to as the said Act)—
§ A. it is expedient, in connection with the provisions of the said Act amending the Unemployment Insurance Acts, to provide (from and after the date on which the provisions of section five of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1921, empowering the Treasury to make advances to the Unemployment Fund, and paragraph (4) of article eight of the Unemployment Insurance (National Economy) (No. 2) Order, 1931, are repealed)—
- (1) for the payment out of the Consolidated Fund—
- (a) to the National Debt Commissioners of such sums, by way of temporary advances to the Unemployment Fund (to be repaid with interest to the Exchequer within six months), as may be necessary to make good any insufficiency of the fund to pay any instalment required by Part I of the said Act to be paid towards the discharge of the liability charged on that fund by section five of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1921, in respect of advances made thereunder with interest thereon and the liability incurred by the Treasury to the National Debt Commissions in respect of the provision of money for the purpose of the said advances;
- (b) to the Unemployment Fund of such sums by way of temporary advances (to be repaid to the Exchequer with interest before the end of the financial year) as may be required from time to time for the purpose of making any payments properly falling to be made out of the Unemployment Fund other than any such instalment as aforesaid and the repayment of such temporary advances as are mentioned in the last foregoing sub-paragraph.
- (2) for the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—
- (a) of such sums by way of advances to the Unemployment Fund (to be repaid to the Exchequer with interest not later than the end of the second financial year next following) as appear to the Treasury to be required to enable that fund to discharge any liabilities (including the due repayment of any such temporary advances as are mentioned in the foregoing paragraph (1)), which, in the opinion of the
1046 Minister of Labour, after consultation with the Treasury, that fund is or will shortly become insufficient to discharge;
- (b) of any increase attributable to the passing of Part I of the said Act in the sum payable out of moneys provided by Parliament by virtue of subsection (3) of section five of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, as amended by section one of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1929, or by virtue of sections forty or forty-one of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, or of section three of the Unemployment Insurance (No. 3) Act, 1931;
- (c) of any sum by which any education grants under any other Act are increased by reason of the additional powers and duties conferred and imposed by Part I of the said Act on education authorities;
- (d) of any increase attributable to the passing of the said Act in the amounts which are by virtue of paragraphs (1) and (2) of article eight of the Unemployment Insurance (National Economy) (No. 2) Order, 1931, to be paid into the Unemployment Fund; and
§ B. it is expedient, in connection with the provisions of the said Act amending the Unemployment Insurance Acts, to provide for the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of any expenses incurred by the Minister of Labour in carrying Part I of the said Act into effect; and
C. it is expedient, in connection with the provisions of the said Act relating to Unemployment Assistance, to provide—
(1) for the payment out of the Consolidated Fund to the several members of any Unemployment Assistance Board constituted by the said Act of such salaries as may be determined by the Treasury at the time of their appointment respectively, so, however, that the aggregate amount of the salaries of the members of the Board shall not exceed the sum of twelve thousand pounds per annum; and
(2) for the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—
(c) of such contributions to the said Board as the Minister of Labour, after consultation with the Board, may with the consent of the Treasury determine to be necessary to enable the Board to provide or arrange for the provision of training, instruction or occupation for such persons as aforesaid, to make payments to such persons while undergoing training, to make adjustments with public assistance authorities in respect of relief granted to persons who are or might have been entitled to such allowances as aforesaid and to defray any administrative and incidental expenses incurred in carrying Part II of the said Act into effect, and any expenses incurred in giving effect to reciprocal arrangements made thereunder in relation to Northern Ireland;
(d) of any superannuation allowances, lump sums and gratuities payable under the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1919, by virtue of the provisions of the said Act;
(e) of the expenses of any Government department attributable to the carrying of Part II of the Act into effect.
§ In this Resolution the expression 'annual local authority contributions' means, in relation to each of the three years ending on the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-seven, contributions to be made to the said Board annually by the councils of counties, county boroughs, and large burghs, computed as follows: the contribution of each council shall (subject to any adjustments necessitated by changes in boundaries and, in the first year, to an abatement in respect of the fact that the said Act will not be fully in operation for the whole of the year) be three-fifths of the sum of the two following amounts, that is to say—
- (i) the estimated expenditure (excluding the cost of administration) incurred by the council in the year ending on the thirty-first day of March or, in the case of Scotland, the fifteenth day of May, nineteen hundred and thirty-three, on the provision of relief (not being relief in respect of medical needs) to persons to whom
1048 Part II of the said Act would have applied if it had then been in operation, upon the assumption that no persons would in that year have been deemed not to be such persons by reason of special reports made in their case under the provisions of Part II of the said Act; and
- (ii) the difference between the estimated cost of administration incurred by the council in the said year in connection with the provision of relief and the estimated cost of administration which would have been so incurred if Part II of the said Act had then been in operation;
- (i) of the withholding of allowances in cases of special difficulty owing to the breach of conditions on which the allowances were granted; and
- (ii) of persons becoming ineligible for allowances by reason of special reports made in their case under the provisions of Part II of the said Act,
§ Provided that for the purpose of calculating the contributions for any of the said years of any council, which in the present financial year is receiving a grant out of moneys provided by Parliament for special grants to local authorities in distressed areas, the sum of the two amounts aforesaid shall be reduced by an amount equal to that grant."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ 10.14 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
It was expected on the Committee stage of the Money Resolution that there would be an abundant opportunity for discussion of the important items set forth therein, but, unfortunately, the opportunity was not given. Therefore, it is necessary to review shortly, at any rate, the position on the Report stage before the Money Resolution leaves the House. On Part I, it is necessary to remind the House that there has been practically no denial of the assertion that, if the Money Resolution passes in its present form, there is no 1049 hope whatever, at an early stage, of any restoration of the cuts in unemployment pay. I was struck by a sentence in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman in which he said that if he did not have £6,250,000 which he is saving owing to the re-arrangement of the periods under Clause 17, he would not be in a position to consider a reduction of Income Tax and other cuts.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain) indicated dissent.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman denies that statement, but he did make a statement dealing with the matter, which struck me at the time. He said:Will hon. Members kindly remember that the more the Exchequer has to pay out, whether it is to the Unemployment Insurance Fund or for any other purpose, the less the Exchequer must have left with which to make those remissions of taxation or restorations of cuts which everybody hopes may some day be made."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th December, 1933; col. 97, Vol. 284.]I do not want to over-emphasise what the right hon. Gentleman may have said in the rest of his speech, but that statement implied that he contemplated, first of all, remission of taxation, secondly, remission of cuts and, lastly, if there was any chance, restoration of the cuts in unemployment pay. While giving on Second Heading what appeared to be some improvement for the people who are in Part I and making the 26 weeks a possible 52 weeks, if they have five years' contribution to their credit, the Financial Memorandum clearly shows that the Government are expending £8,250,000 on these new entrants from Part II to Part I, which might well have been spent on restoring the cuts to those who had that promise made to them. I do not think it can be doubted that most hon. Members when they fought their elections promised all along, as the Government had promised, that as soon as possible the cuts to the unemployed would be restored. It can also be said that there are very few people in the House, if any, who contemplated that when there was a surplus of money the opportunity would not be taken to restore those cuts. In so far as numbers go from Part II into Part I, owing to the new arrangement, the Government are to that extent saving £6,250,000 and they are spending 1050 £8,250,000, which is equal to 20 per cent. of the whole expenditure upon Part I, which might well have been spent not only in restoring the 10 per cent. cuts but in reducing the contributions to the fund, which could have been done without any difficulty.
I am not in a position to speak about the debt to-night, although I cannot understand why we are not in a position to discuss the finance of this matter as a whole. The fact remains that there is also a sum of £5,500,000 a year to come to the Exchequer which might well have been spent upon the unfortunate unemployed. I do not want to use strong or wild words, but it does look to me very much as if it is almost equal to a violation of the pledged word by the Government taking the particular course that we are asked to take to-night on this Financial Resolution. I maintain that those who vote against this Financial Resolution will at least have the right to go into the country and make it clear to the unemployed that by passing this money Resolution there is no hope in the near future for any restoration of the sacrifices they were asked to make in order that the country may be placed in a more satisfactory financial position.
The Government have not answered the question which was put in relation to the members of the Unemployment Board. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury answered many questions and he was very frank, but he was not explicit and did not answer some questions which were put to him. It is necessary to remind ourselves of the position of what are called the transitional cases. When unemployed on transitional payment were placed under the public assistance committees there was one striking feature during those Debates and that was that Members of the House were very reluctant to place these transitional cases outside the scope of the Minister and under public assistance committees without giving them some right of appeal direct to those who were to settle the amount they were to receive. As a result of our discussions it was arranged that any man or woman who was on transitional benefit and was not satisfied with the amount of the award might appeal direct to the committee and, if necessary, take someone to plead his case for himt That kept direct touch be- 1051 tween transitional cases and the public assistance committee.
When the public assistance committees were set aside in Rotherham and Durham hon. Members were concerned to find that while the amounts were settled by individual persons who were the servants of the special commissioners, there was no access to the commissioners, and they felt that there should be a right of access to the special commissioners. The result was that if a man has a grievance not only has he the right to go before the special commissioners but he has also a right to take some one with him. Before this right of appeal was allowed there was considerable uproar in the county of Durham. There was a number of disturbances, but as soon as it was possible for the applicants to meet the commissioners and have their case put by one of the local officials, the whole grievance on that score disappeared and things went much more smoothly. I am not uttering a threat but stating a fact when I say that the result of putting these commissioners on the Consolidated Fund Bill and outside the influence of people locally, will be considerable disturbances in the country because of the lack of opportunity of meeting those who will decide the applicants' fortunes.
My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) asked on Monday last what was the position of these commissioners. We have not had an answer. For how long are they to be appointed? What is to be their position? Are they irremovable by some future Government? We are entitled to something like an explicit answer to those questions. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury said that we should have an opportunity for discussing this matter when we dealt with the Consolidated Fund Bill, and on Motions for the Adjournment of the House, if we wished. But he did not answer this question: If there are immediate grievances felt by the people who are on transitional payment, will it be possible to put questions on the Order Paper and have an answer given in this House? We ought to know to-night. Are these commissioners to be in the same position as judges? The fact remains that they are to be in a dictators, but unlike other dictators they dictatorial position. They are to be 1052 are not to be seen and not to be heard. They are to do their work in secret. They are not to be called upon to defend their position. It seems to us that that is in direct line with some of the policies prevailing in other countries, which are sometimes condemned in this House. I sometimes think that the attacks which are made upon my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol are rather a means of defence than of attack by those who make them and that under cover of those attacks dictatorship of the worst kind is being put into operation by this Financial Resolution and by the Bill.
Upon the question of local authorities the Minister has not met the problem at all. I agree with him when he says that as far as the distressed areas are concerned it is a different problem and is not met by the problem of taking full possession of the whole of the unemployed. But the fact remains that in counties like my own, where there is a rate of 17s., there will be still 1s. on the rate for the unemployed, apart from the rest of the Poor Law. That is a very lamentable position indeed. I do not think there is the slightest doubt that not only local authorities, but Members of this House, feel that we have been badly let down by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's refusal to take over financial responsibility for the whole of the unemployed. I thought, when earlier statements were made to that effect that there was a road out, some sort of an opening through which the Minister of Health and the Chancellor of the Exchequer could wriggle. The fact remains that the Government allowed the country and this House to believe that, they were going to take full financial responsibility for the unemployed They have finally refused to do so.
I dare say that this Resolution will have the support of the House. It is a Resolution which will put upon great numbers of families a grievous burden. It is all very well for hon. Members to talk with a certain sense of moral superiority about the necessity of making the family bear the burden. But to families in areas such as many of us know, the duty of maintaining sons or fathers, uncles or nephews, involves a burden which no Member of this House would like to bear, personally, in the connection with his own family. The Bill will 1053 have the support of a majority in this House but we shall fight it and of this we are certain. Whatever the House may think of a course which is designed to reduce Income Tax and give consideration ultimately to those who are well-placed, in order to lay a burden upon people who have been subject to ruthlessly severe conditions during the past few years we believe that in voting against this Measure we shall carry the best elements of the country with us, and that we shall be justified at any future election.
§ 10.32 p.m.
§ Sir ROBERT HORNE
I do not intend to occupy the attention of the House for more than a few minutes. I propose to deal only with one point, and I hope I shall not be, in any sense, controversial. I have risen with the sole object of making an appeal to the Chancellor if the Exchequer in connection with the arrangement which this Financial Resolution outlines for the share of the National Exchequer and of the local authorities in supporting the able-bodied unemployed. The matter was indicated in the speech of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) but no more than indicated, and I hope I shall not be traversing ground already too well trodden, if I remind the House of the main principles which I understand were laid down with regard to this point. They were, first, that the National Exchequer was going to take on the burden of supporting the class to which I have referred, and secondly, that there was to be a special allowance for the depressed areas.
I appreciate the fact that if one analyses the language in which these pledges were given, one finds many loopholes and qualifications by which the Government can escape from any attack upon them in that connection on this scheme. But I do not think I am wrong in saying that the general impression created in the country—indeed the principle laid down—was that this burden of unemployment rested far too heavily upon individual districts through no fault of theirs and that the National Exchequer ought to come to their assistance. To what extent that assistance should be given is no doubt a matter of discretion, but at the same time there was a general 1054 principle, and I think in dealing with the matter we are entitled to comment upon that fact.
What has happened, or what is to happen, as we see it, so far as it can be estimated, as the result of this Financial Resolution? I will take an individual instance. It is an amazing thing to find a disparity so wide as is exhibited by these figures, that under this scheme Glasgow will still have to bear a burden of contribution of £410,000, being nearly £100,000 more than the great community of London, seven times its size, will have to sustain.
I say that on the face of it that is an extraordinary anomaly, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has shown that his heart is not incapable of being softened upon these matters, because he has already made a concession, which I hope will lead him, upon disclosure of these figures, to make a further concession. I think he might be all the more prone to do that, coming as he does from a community which gets off very lightly, as I see it. Whereas Glasgow has to pay a burden of contribution of £410,000, Birmingham, which is not very much inferior, in size at least to Glasgow, has. only to bear a burden of £38,000. The Chancellor of the Exchequer may say that Birmingham is much better governed than Glasgow. I will not enter into a controversy upon that matter, because I hope to touch his heart rather than excite his dialectic powers, but at least he must concede that that is an amazing difference between these communities, and I cannot believe that even if Birmingham be better governed than Glasgow, which I entirely dispute, it is better governed to that extent.
I would ask the House and the Chancellor to take a look into the future. One of the most formidable difficulties with which we have been faced in recent times in this country is the drift of the great Northern industries to the South. It is the cause of very much heartburning as well as of very great hardship and distress. It is not merely from Scotland, because similar experiences have been suffered by other parts of the country. The North East Coast of England is suffering as badly as Scotland, and so also are the North West portion 1055 of it and large areas of South Wales, and as I judge from some of the figures that I have seen, all of these communities are going to suffer to some extent in the same way as the West of Scotland under this scheme.
I said I would ask the House to look into the future, and how I see the picture developing is this: The Government at some time or other must do something to stop the drift of these industries from the North to the South, because no country can suffer the wastage which takes place by that drift. The industries that come to the South have to have made for them new roads, new drains, and all the equipment which is necessary for a modern community, and a large number of new houses have to be built, whereas in the parts from which these industries have drifted you have the old houses, the old roads, and all the old equipment; and as a population does not very readily move from one end of the country to another, you have a large mass of derelict people nursing a very natural grievance, and perhaps developing feelings which are not very favourable to the stability of the country.
It seems to me that somehow or other the Government will have to deal with that matter, and the question is: are they going to consider it now when there is a possibility of preventing some of these ills before they become exacerbated? What does any captain of industry consider when he is estimating the chances of starting his business in one part of the country or the other? The first thing he looks at is the rates of the community. I have myself in recent times, in my capacity as a member of the Scottish Development Council, known of two cases in which people who had considered starting in the Glasgow area were deterred by the rates which are charged there. We talk about vicious circles, which is a phrase very much overworked, but here is the worst form of social vicious circle that you could contemplate. What happens? As these industries go away, the existing rates have to be borne by a smaller number of people and a smaller number of industries, and they become higher and higher upon the people who are left. These great communities, which by their industries have previously been the support of the country, become the sources of great distress and trouble.
1056 My appeal to the Chancellor is to consider whether he cannot do something in order to mitigate the evil which undoubtedly will increase and grow. Is it not possible that he can find some way in which this amelioration can be made iu order to soften the blow which these distressed communities have to suffer? I understand that there are some hon. Members who raised the question of mis-government creating increased rates in certain districts. Is it possible to get rid of that question by giving aid according to the proportionate amount of unemployment that there is in the various districts? It ia not the fault of the West of Scotland or the North-East Coast of England or of the Cumberland district that they are suffering from unemployment worse than London. Is it fair that they should have to bear such an extravagant burden as they have to endure? The principle to the contrary has been conceded by the Government, and the only question is to what extent are you going to mitigate the evil and what steps are you going to take?
I venture to ask the Chancellor, against the stage when we are dealing with the Clauses of the Bill, to consider whether ho cannot do something in a practical way to meet this difficulty. We shall be ir a very embarrassed position when we come to the Bill, because, as I understand it, we shall not be in a position to make any amendment to increase the charge on the Exchequer. Therefore, our mouths will be shut. This is the last opportunity when we shall be able to say anything, and I beg the Chancellor to keep in his mind that there is a great and bitter feeling of injustice in many communities in this country with regard to the incidence of these charges; and, if he desires to make matters easier for them and to expedite the course of progress in this country, I would beg him to take what I have said into account.
§ 10.45 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
At the outset I would like to say that in the main I agree with the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home). As he stated, when once this Financial Resolution is passed the payments to the local authorities are fixed and cannot be altered under this Bill. I think everybody is agreed now that the 1057 burden falling on local authorities is in some cases altogether excessive. I venture to disagree with the right hon. Member for Hillhead on one point, his reference to the fact that firms go into the question of rates when considering where to start business. I do not think that is quite the case, because de-rating has relieved firms following certain forms of production of practically almost all their local rating burdens. Therefore, rates would not enter so much into their calculations, but the rates are an important aspect of the question from the point of view of the community as a whole.
I have very little hope of the Chancellor of the Exchequer doing anything, however, because on the last occasion he told us that he had made up his mind. All that I can say is that, whether he likes it or not, this situation is creating for him a problem in the big cities. We on these benches are ofttimes blamed for being the creators of revolutionary thought, and it may well be that we do take part in that work, but the creators of revolutionary thought are not so much us as the forces of which complaint has just been made. Whatever differences there may be in the big city from which I come, people there are united in feeling that some measure of justice must be afforded them in view of the fact that they have to meet a cost of £400,000, as against less than £40,000 in Birmingham. It is £100,000 more than the whole City of London.
I turn now to what I consider is an equally important aspect of the situation. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) quite rightly raised the question of "cuts," and asked the Chancellor what was the position about the restoration of the "cuts." We are apt to talk about the unemployed as though they had suffered only one "cut." Unlike other public servants—teachers, soldiers and sailors—who have received one "cut," a 10 per cent. reduction, the unemployed have suffered a series of "cuts," at least three. Not only have the unemployed suffered a 10 per cent. "cut," but their benefit rights have been reduced to 26 weeks in a given year, and consequently the period of benefit has, on an average, been nearly halved. Thirdly, the conditions of benefit have been altered and made stricter. "Not normally in insurable employment" only operated after a person had received 1058 well over a year's benefit—almost a year and five months. To-day it operates at the end of 26 weeks. Therefore, to-day the most unfortunate section of the community, those least able to bear it, have not met one cut but three cuts, including the most vicious cut of all, perhaps—the means test. I am not only asking for the restoration of cuts, but that in taking into account the treatment of the unemployed we should also take into account the other cuts which they have received.
I am not going to argue that this £8,000,000 which has been given in one direction would be better spent in another direction. Those who are getting the £8,000,000 are entitled to receive it. I declare, however, that the £8,000,000 is granted, not because it is right, but in order to buy off a section of the unemployed, to appease them at the expense of the others. In this matter of the cuts, the unemployed are put in a different position from the employed. When the Budget statement is made, the teachers can demand that their cuts shall be reduced. Every section of the community can go and say to the Chancellor: "You have a surplus. Give us a share of it." The one section that cannot do this is the unemployed. Under this Act it is not the Chancellor who is to decree whether the cuts are to go back or not; it is this authority set up under Part I. To-day cuts are on every section of the population. Bodies outside try to bring pressure to bear upon the Chancellor. Every hon. Member is meeting deputations, either here or in his division, from cinema people and others engaged in every form of trade who are taxed and want to have a share of the Budget surplus. Teachers and civil servants are agitating, and they have access to the Chancellor and his Department in order to state their views. The unemployed are by far the greater section of the community; yet, under this Bill, while we may have millions of money to play with, payments are not going to be dependent upon that, but upon whether the insurance fund is financially stable. To treat the unemployed in that fashion is wrong. The cuts were not made by a committee. They were made by the Government, and it is the Government's responsibility. No committee should be asked to undertake the restoration of the cuts. I often hear debates upon housing, but it is of no use giving people new houses unless you give them 1059 the income with Which to maintain the houses once they have them. To-day all social progress depends upon how the unemployed will be treated.
I want to add a word upon another aspect which was raised by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) in regard to the treatment of the unemployed under Part II of the Bill. I question whether the House is fully aware of what we are doing under Part II. We are engaged in taking the question of the unemployed out of politics and hand it over to local committees. When I last spoke I used in illustration the criminal and the judge on the bench. If we pass this Resolution, the unemployed are going to be worse treated and have fewer rights than any criminal. The Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Scotland reserve to themselves in every criminal case the right to alter or quash a sentence, and to show mercy, and they are constantly exercising that prerogative towards the criminal population, but when the Commission makes a decision in regard to the unemployed, no Member of Parliament will be able to question it. He may raise a question in this House about a criminal sentence and can ask the Home Secretary to modify or to change it, but he cannot ask a question in regard to a sentence upon the unemployed. The reply given by the Minister of Labour in each case is that he has no power to intervene, because a body has been set up, and he has no rights over it. It is a terrible thing that this House of 615 Members should be engaged in depriving millions of our fellow human-beings of that access which even the criminal population have to the House of Commons and to the Government. I trust that whatever else this Measure does, it will show that this treatment of the unemployed is the most shameful thing in British politics.
The Government think that this Bill will take the unemployed out of party politics. You cannot take them out of party politics. You may shove the problem on to commissions, or on to whom you like, but 2,000,000 human beings who are unemployed will use whatever powers they have. The hon. Member for Dunfermline (Mr. Wallace) attacked the hon. Member for Shettles-stone (Mr. McGovern) in regard to a 1060 deputation of hunger-marchers at Edinburgh, saying "You have no right to use unconstitutional means, because every Member of Parliament has access, on behalf of his constituents, to a Minister of the Crown." That ceases to be the case. We are now to be refused the constitutional right of approach. The unemployed man shivering in the street has not even his union to defend him, because in many cases he has passed outside his union. Even if he is still a member of a union, it will be impossible for them to defend him, because the cases are so numerous. He is defenceless, and, in a little room, he is sentenced. He can appeal to another body, who sit equally in secret and make their decision, and he has no redress left but an answer of the Minister of Labour: 'This is the work of this body. They have heard the facts, they have made a decision, and I am not interfering with them."
I say that working people treated like that must take another course of action. I have often argued that, where a country had its access constitutionally, it has no need to take other steps to get its grievances redressed; but to-day, if this Measure goes through, the working people, or, at least, the sections of them who are to be treated in this fashion, will be perfectly entitled to use, and justified in using, any and every means to air their grievances. This Financial Resolution in many ways denotes the progress of the Bill. It means that, when we have passed the Resolution, we have decided that the cuts are not to be restored; it means, at least to my mind, that for 12 months more the unemployed must suffer; and I trust that those who vote for it will one day be treated by the men and women outside in the same fashion as they have treated them.
§ 11.2 p.m.
§ Mr. DICKIE
I listened with great interest to the powerful appeal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Home) to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on behalf of the distressed areas. I listened also in ignorance as to whether that appeal was likely to bring, or to wring, any concession from the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But, as I listened, it appeared to me that the plea was being made much too late, for 1061 the right hon. Gentleman adduced no new fact, he stated nothing which has not been already stated by myself and my colleagues and by other Members who have the misfortune to live in and represent distressed areas. He reiterated with greater authority those extremely powerful arguments which have hitherto fallen upon the deaf ear of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I can only hope that, coming from him, they will meet with more success than they have met with when they have been put forward by us who occupy the the back benches.
I intervene this evening in order to make the position of myself and, I think I may say, a few of my friends who represent distressed areas, perfectly clear. Those of us who support the National Government have nevertheless been somewhat critical of the financial provisions of this Resolution. I have said before that I believe that the maintenance of the able-bodied unemployed should be a national charge, and, in view of a certain amount of what may be described ambiguity in that phrase, I should like to say that I mean by it, as I always have meant, that the whole of the money to pay for this charge should be found by the State, and that the whole of the administration should be undertaken by the State. That view I and my friends from distressed areas have consistently pressed upon the Government, and we were under the impression, after the Debate of the 6th July, that that was the view which was taken and accepted by His Majesty's Government, and that that principle would be embodied in the long-term proposals which the House is now considering. Naturally, I was disappointed that it is not so, and I think it extremely unfortunate that for all these months we have been allowed to labour under the misapprehension that that was their intention and that they intended to apply it in its entirety.
But although the Government have not gone the whole hog, it ought not to prevent us from being grateful for what has been done for the distressed areas. I have already expressed my gratitude for the temporary provision made in the summer, by which we have benefited to a certain extent, and I want to add my voice to those which have already expressed gratitude to the Chancellor of the 1062 Exchequer for the additional concession that he made last week. I speak for one of the most distressed areas in the kingdom, and I consider it both idle and stupid to speak as though the concessions that have been made are negligible or as though we ought not to be grateful because they did not concede the whole demand that we make. I consider him a very lucky man who gets everything he wants in this world. I believe it is sound policy to take all you can get when the opportunity offers and to wait for another opportunity to get a little more.
The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), whose constituency adjoins mine, has been one of the strongest opponents of the National Government in so far as this question of the distressed areas is concerned. When we decided first of all to approach the National Government with a view to doing something on behalf of the distressed areas, we invited the hon. Member to join us, but he refused to be associated with us in any way.
§ Mr. DICKIE
The hon. Member may alter his mind and vary his congratulations in a moment. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street went to his constituency and described the efforts of this group of Members as being mere flapdoodle. Then we obtained a concession from the Chancellor of the Exchequer under which Durham county receives £94,000. The immediate result of that was that every local authority in Durham reduced its rates by sums varying from 5d. to 1s. 4d. in the pound. Strange and paradoxical as it may appear, the fortunate local authority which was able to reduce its rates by the maximum figure of 1s. 4d. was the Chester-le-Street Urban District Council. Although political prejudice or party rancour may not permit him to thank us for having obtained this measure of relief, he might at least thank the Chancellor of the Exchequer for having lifted this burden off the shoulders of his constituents. In addition to that, as one of those who know the operation of the body that discharges the functions of local government in Durham, he might with advantage and wisdom impress upon his colleagues on the Durham County Council the desirability of being a little more careful as to how they spend the ratepayers' money. [Interruption.] I 1063 know hon. Members do not like this but they might at least take their medicine. With the concession granted in the summer, the additional concession last week means that in Durham, after all deductions have been made and provision made for the essential services, we are better off to the extent of 1s. in the pound on the rates. If that is something to be sneezed at, I do not know anything at all about local government. An ounce of practice is worth a pound of theory. The ratepayers of Durham County are now feeling the advantage in their pockets. I would point out to the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street that it is not the large concerns and ratepayers but the local authorities who are benefiting. Socialist local authorities are to-day so realising the position of the county that they are passing on the relief granted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the ratepayers who are their tenants, and they are actually reducing the rents of the council houses. These are the facts, and I submit that that is practical and effective work, although it still leaves us with a burden that is almost intolerable.
§ Mr. DICKIE
I do not know what the burden would have been if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had been allowed to continue in office for another year. We in the county of Durham are very grateful for the measure of assistance which the National Government have given to us. The need for this assistance shows the gravity of the problem. I suggest to the House in all sincerity that neither doles to the individual in the distressed areas, nor doles from the National Exchequer to the distressed areas, will go to the root of this problem. In these areas thousands of workers will never, in the most favourable circumstances, be re-absorbed into their occupations. I differ from the words of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), when he spoke of our industries "drifting south." They are not drifting south.
§ Mr. DICKIE
Our shipbuilding industry, our iron and steel works, and our 1064 heavy engineering works cannot drift South. We are suffering from the fact—and this is a point which the right hon. Gentleman touched upon a little later—that, owing to the heavy burden which we are bearing, we cannot attract new industries. Until we solve that problem, there is no hope for the North-East coast and other distressed areas. There are 40,000 miners in the county of Durham alone who are unlikely to be re-absorbed into that industry. I wish to say here what I have said on the platform many times: that the solution of this problem was indicated by the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he was Minister of Health and at the time of the passing of the Derating Act, 1929. That solution was the transference of labour and the redistribution of our population. I sincerely trust that in the near future the National Government will seek to apply that principle with the determination to succeed, if only in the hope of mitigating the evil of unemployment and preventing the utter demoralisation of thousands of honest workers who only ask for permission to be allowed to earn their daily bread by the labour of their hands and by the sweat of their brow.
§ 11.15 p.m.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I cannot think that the House will desire to prolong a discussion which, when it is concluded, I fancy will be found only to have revealed one new point, and that was the point made by the hon. Member for Corf-sett (Mr. Dickie), when he told the House of the reductions in rates which had followed the concession made by me on the last occasion. After this Financial Resolution has been passed there will be a Very ample field in the course of discussion in Committee on the Bill to elaborate objections or difficulties which are found as to the procedure under the Bill. There are, however, one or two points which are covered by the Financial Resolution which will, when it is carried, limit discussion in the future. With regard to the points made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), he has not had the advantage that many of us have had of listening to a discussion lasting many hours upon this subject. If he had been able to spare the time to come down and take part in the previous discussion it would not have been necessary 1065 for me to say again, what I say now to him, that all calculations founded on hypothetical figures of what the cost of local authorities in a standard year will be, are dangerous and unreliable at this stage. No local authority knows yet what will be the cost, as finally determined, in a standard ye'ar. I have seen enough of calculations that have been made, based upon the present classification of the various classes of persons who come for out-relief, to know that in a number of cases there will have to be very drastic alterations before a final figure can be arrived at. When my right hon. and learned Friend compares, for example, the amount which Glasgow will have to pay with what Birmingham will have to pay, he perhaps has not thought of the reverse side of the picture. I can quite understand, if I were to take my r ght hon. and learned Friend's figures as correct and work out from that what is the relief which Glasgow is going to get as compared with that in Birmingham, I shall probably find that Birmingham will be making representations to me wanting to know why it is that in the case of Glasgow, which is a little inferior in size to Birmingham, and which is probably a good deal more wealthy, the relief which is given under this proposal is not less than £298,000, whereas in the case of Birmingham it will only be some £25,000. My right hon. and learned Friend will, therefore, see that there are two sides to the question.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The one that is suffering much more gets much more relief; not an unfair proposal. In regard to the speech of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), as I have already had to point out, my trouble is that he never listens to anything that I say. He went a little farther to-night. He advanced a completely inaccurate description of what will be the effect of the Bill and misquoted the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. First of all, he misquoted the words, and then he misquoted the application. I dissented, and on looking at the passage in question, he corrected the words. I must ask him once again to read the speech when he will find that the remark I made to the effect that the more the Exchequer contributed to the Unemployment Insur 1066 ance Fund the less it would have for other purposes was in reference to a suggestion that the Exchequer should take upon itself the whole burden of the debt which belonged to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The observation had no bearing on the £6,250,000; we were discussing another point altogether. The hon. Member is mistaken in saying that the Resolution precludes any restoration of the cuts in unemployment benefit.
§ Mr. DICKIE
I took down the words of the hon. Member and he said that by passing the Financial Resolution there was no hope of any restoration of the cuts.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member on this occasion used the words "in the near future." That is an interpolation which makes a considerable difference to his original statement that there never could be any restoration of the cuts if the Bill was carried in its present form. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) made the same point. I say that there is no foundation for the statement. As to whether a restoration in the cuts takes place in the near future, or in the distant future, or in the middle future, must depend on a great many causes, which apply not only to unemployment but also to the restoration of all the cuts which were imposed at the time of the crisis. All I say is that there is nothing in the Bill which prevents an ultimate restoration, I do not say at what time, of the cuts imposed on unemployment benefit.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I put this point to the right hon. Gentleman. Under this Bill a committee is set up whose duty it is to report to the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the financial standing of the fund. On that report the Chancellor makes his decision, but in the case of the rest of the community the decision is made not on the financial standing of the fund but on the surplus in any Budget. The surplus in the Budget will 1067 come on now, but the Committee must await the report until some time after the fund has started to function.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not take any exception to the interruption. Let me try to make a little clearer how I see the position. The hon. Member says that a Budget surplus is going to come. He may be right, it may, and I will concede him this point, that as the Bill stands it will not be possible to restore the cuts in unemployment benefit if there was, or seemed to be likely, a deficiency in the fund. Of course, if the fund is to remain solvent, if it is to be self-supporting, what is the obvious consequence? What is it that is going to make the difference to the financial position of the fund wlhich will decide the question as to whether there is going to be a deficiency or a surplus. It is the question of the level of unemployment. The hon. Member knows that the present arrangements of the Bill are founded upon an average level of unemployment of 2,500,000. He knows that at present that is considerably over the actual figure of the unemployed. I do not say that we can be certain at this moment what is going to be the level for the next 12 months, but, at any rate, at the present moment the figure is substantially below the 2,500,000. Suppose that that figure were to go up very considerably; suppose that there were, instead of a surplus, a prospective deficiency in the fund. Can the hon. Member suppose that in that case there is going to be a Budget surplus? I can assure the hon. Member that that really postulates a complete reversal of the present condition of affairs in the country.
I put it to the House that really, if you take careful account of the actual factors which will weigh with us in this matter, you must see that the prosperity of the fund is bound to go hand-in-hand with the prosperity of the country. The two things are bound to go together. Therefore, if the prosperity of the country some day is sufficient to give the then Chancellor of the Exchequer an opportunity of restoring cuts and remitting taxation, putting back the conditions as they were before the crisis, one surely can, without any very great demand upon probability or imagination, assume that at the same time the Unemployment In- 1068 surance Fund will be showing the probability of a surplus.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I do not want to argue this, but, even conceding the right hon. Gentleman's point, you will have the position of a surplus that is to be known in April or May of next year. Your Committee cannot report on this fund before a considerable time has elapsed, and therefore you can decide on restoration of the cuts in April or May, but you cannot make it until this Committee has reported, which will be after a considerable lapse of time.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member is mistaken. To begin with I must protest again against the assumption that there is going to be a surplus next April, which will allow the restoration of general cuts. The hon. Member must not make any such assumption. It would be misleading the people of the country to make assumptions at the present time when we have not got sufficient material to justify them. But the hon. Member is mistaken in supposing that it is necessary for the Committee to wait a considerable time. On the contrary Clause 17, Sub-section (2) states:The Committee shall … make a report to the Minister on the financial condition of the fund at such other times as they think fit.Therefore it is for the Committee to make a report on the financial condition of the fund at any time. There is no necessity for the long wait which the hon. Member mentioned. I really think that some hon. Members are making unnecessarily heavy weather upon this subject. There is nothing here which would justify any statement that it was impossible that cuts in unemployment benefit could not be restored at the same time as other cuts.
One other point about the Unemployment Assistance Board in Part II. A lot of questions have been put and theories have been evolved upon the subject which really do not depend at all on whether the board is on the Consolidated Fund or whether the salaries of the board are upon the Votes. These questions, some of which again were raised by the hon. Member for Gorbals, can be discussed in Committee. They are not affected by this point as to whether the salaries are on the Consolidated Fund or not. It is, of course, true that there is a difference between salaries which are on the 1069 Consolidated Fund and salaries which are on the Votes. If there were no difference in practice, we should not have made a difference in the Bill. Since it is provided that the terms of the appointment of the board will be expressed in the Warrant of their appointment, it follows that this is a matter again which can be discussed in Committee. What is the position of those members of the board whose salaries are on the Consolidated Fund? Obviously, the salaries cannot be discussed on the Votes. The policy of the board, of course, can be discussed on the report which the board is bound to make, and on various other occasions. As to the members of the board, if the terms of the Warrant of their appointment provide that they shall hold office for a definite term of years, then they are irremovable during that term of years. They can only be removed by their own consent. That is the position. Of course, the idea is to give them a definite position of security, because this is a provision which both adds to the dignity of the office and ensures to those holding it, and who may have been asked to give up some other remunerative employment, that they shall not be exposed to the danger of finding that they have lost what they had before, and are deprived of the salary of the office which they have taken. With regard to questions, I certainly think questions can be put down about the acts and procedure of the staffs who are not on the Consolidated Fund. Their salaries will have to be voted and therefore the position of those not on the Consolidated Fund is completely under the control of Parliament. With regard to the members of the board, therefore, the position is as I have stated. They will be irremovable, but only during the term of years, for which each one will, according to the terms of his appointment, be in office.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
That is a matter which may be discussed in Committee. It will be possible to put down Amendments to vary the terms of the appointments and by the time we reach that point in the Schedules I hope we may be in a position to give the Committee a great deal more information as to our intentions and possibly as to the personnel of the board than I am able to 1070 give now. There are many points still undecided but before the hon. Member has the opportunity of discussing that matter in Committee I hope we may be able to give him a great deal of information which will perhaps satisfy his curiosity—at least to some extent.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I do not fully apprehend what the hon. Member's question means. I thought I had stated it plainly. The terms of the appointment will state that it is to be for a certain number of years at so much a year but that salary is to be on the Consolidated Fund.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
The right hon. Gentleman said the actions of the board could be discussed on the presentation of the report and on other Parliamentary occasions. Can it be discussed on the Minister's salary?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Expenditure, of course, if that is what the right hon. Gentleman means, can be discussed but not the salaries of the board.
§ 11.35 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The amount of Debate that has taken place to-night seems to be an indication that there has not yet been allotted to this House the amount of time that it requires. I merely rise, however, to express our dissatisfaction with the reply which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given to the questions put by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). He did not make plain to us that the unemployed man is not being placed by this Financial Resolution and the legislation that will emerge from it in an inferior position to every other citizen who 1071 suffered some loss at the time of the National Government taking office. The Chancellor of the Exchequer objected to the hon. Member for Gorbals speaking about a possible surplus that would be available when the first Budget came along. I can understand the Chancellor's objections to that, although the speeches that he has been making recently in the country have certainly raised very high hopes.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I have said nothing about next year at all in any speech that I have made in the country. What I have said was that there was likely to be a substantial surplus on this year.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Unless we are talking about something different, when the right hon. Gentleman says "this year," I am thinking about this year too, the year that we are in just now. He has been making speeches which indicate that he is anticipating to finish this year and make his Budget statement under very cheerful auspices. He will have to get back to one of his lugubrious "10 years" speeches to get the mind of the country to a right average, because I am certain that large sections of the community, teachers, other civil servants, Income Taxpayers, and so on, are all anticipating, not something 12 months hence, but something in this Budget statement that is coming along. I am sure the big majority of the people in this House and in the country will agree with me that that is the mind of the community with reference to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has been saying in recent months. If he has been over-enthusiastic, then let him take an early opportunity to moderate his enthusiasm.
But whether there is a surplus or not, the point is this, that in the next Budget statement, if there is a surplus, the Chancellor of the Exchequer by his own act can restore cuts to civil servants and can make cuts in Income Tax, but by their legislation which we are passing just now, he debars himself from doing it. Even if there is a surplus, he is giving the cuts on the unemployed a statutory position that no other cut has, and he is putting the unemployed in this position, that while a Budget surplus can lead to the restora- 1072 tion of other cuts, it must be an Insurance Fund surplus here, and it is quite conceivable that at the end of this financial year there may be a Budget surplus, but there certainly will be no Insurance Fund surplus, because at the end of this financial year this Unemployment Bill that we are now discussing will not be on the Statute Book, let alone having had any time for its provisions to make any change or alteration in the state of the fund.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member is running two arguments at once. If the Bill is not on the Statute Book, the power will not be in the hands of the board.
§ Mr. MAXTON
That is being clever; it is not being candid. Let us assume that this Bill becomes law two days before the end of the financial year. That is not being clever; it is our old friend the marginal case. It will be about that time, if I estimate the timetable correctly. We are coming back at the end of January with something like 18 allotted days. The maximum that we can have is only three weeks. I am not far wrong in estimating that this Bill will find its place on the Statute Book not very long before the end of the financial year.
§ Mr. LUKE THOMPSON
Suppose it does not go on to the Statute Book until three months after, and suppose there is a gradual diminution in unemployment, there is no reason why under the present Acts the cuts should not be restored.
§ Mr. MAXTON
There is no reason at all. If the Bill does not become law before the Budget statement, the Chancellor can restore the cuts, but, if it becomes law before the Budget, he has given away his power to restore the cuts. That is the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan); the unemployed are put in an inferior position to every other person who suffered cuts at the time of the national crisis, and it is not right. If any should be in a favoured position, they are the unemployed. They should come before the Income Tax payer, the highly-paid civil servants and the teachers. This legislation is definitely putting them on a lower scale.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Quite definitely. If the legislation pursues its ordinary course, quite definitely it puts the unemployed on a lower level to the extent that they are statutorily on a lower level. The other cuts can be restored at any minute when the Chancellor makes up his mind, and the Government supports him, but the restoration of the cuts of the unemployed is to be dependent upon the state of a fund which is outwith the control of the House and of the Chancellor.
§ Captain STRICKLAND
Is not this position possible? Suppose the Committee report favourably on the fund, the cuts might be restored to the unemployed before the teachers or any of the other people could have theirs restored, and even to a greater extent than they.
§ Mr. MAXTON
They can be restored at any minute. The fact remains, however, that it is a bad principle, even though it were to work to the benefit of the unemployed, that a body outside Parliament altogether, judging a fund outside the control of Parliament, should be the effective body from which the restoration of the unemployed workers' cuts has to come. That is absolutely wrong in principle. It puts the Government in a wrong position, the House in a wrong position and, above all, puts the unemployed in a wrong position.
§ 11.46 p.m.
§ Mr. EDWARD WILLIAMS
The conclusion I drew from the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that the number of unemployed in this country is to be taken as a barometer to register the prosperity of trade. Generally I think we would agree with that, but it is possible for unemployment to increase and for trade to become in some respects more prosperous. I refer, of course, to unemployment that may arise in certain industries. It would seem that the Chancellor also endeavoured to deny what has been very widely reported over the weekend, and that is, that he hoped for a surplus at the end of this financial year.
1074 That is what was stated in a paper which has apparently reported accurately what he is supposed to have said. The Government cannot have it both ways. In this Bill they have certainly put the unemployed in a class apart from all the others who suffered "cuts." The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has covered Very faithfully what I intended to say and without repeating that speech I would only say that there seems to be very little hope that this Bill will get through before the end of the financial year. If this Bill had not been introduced and there had been a surplus at the end of the financial year I am certain that I am expressing the opinion of most Members present when I say they would have desired the unemployed to have a restoration of their "cuts" before any other class of persons. There is not much response to that statement, which I thought reflected to a large extent the views of all Members present in the House at the moment. Now that the Bill places the unemployed in a category apart, even if there is a Budget surplus at the end of the year, there is no prospect of a restoration of cuts for the unemployed, though there may be such a prospect for other classes.
During the week end there was a conference in Cardiff of representatives of distressed areas, and speech after speech there referred to what had been said by the Minister of Health in April and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 6th July, I think it was, in this House. Representatives of the distressed areas who have had occasion to visit London to see the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Minister of Health all concurred in this—that they expected, from what had been said to them, that the burden now being borne in accordance with the formula in this Bill, that is based on the 1932 position, would have been borne by the nation and not by those distressed areas. We appreciate, of course, that distressed areas had a grant. Out of the £ 440,000 granted some time ago, Glamorgan had roughly £66,000; but that has nothing to do with this issue at all. Even after receiving that sum, Glamorgan is faced with a very heavy burden indeed. I have had occasion to stress the fact here before, as also have my colleagues in South Wales, that Glamorgan has a Poor Law rate of 8s. 5d. in the pound. They 1075 are still faced with that enormous burden and will have to carry it, and it is the heavier because the rateable values are falling speedily, year by year. During the last three years they have fallen enormously—by over £700,000. Collieries are closing—it is true that they only pay 25 per cent. of their rateable value under the Derating Act—they are going into liquidation; large firms are going out of commission; businesses are vacant, and local authorities, because of their decreased rates, are finding that they have these heavier burdens thrust upon them at an ever accelerating pace year by year.
We are hoping that the Government will take some steps in this matter. This seems to be the last chance we have to place our views before the House. The distressed areas are certainly dissatisfied. I am amazed at the speeches we have heard, especially that of the hon. Member for Consett (Mr. Dickie). Durham is still the heaviest-rated area for Poor Law purposes in the country, with 9s. 1d., and yet he had cause to congratulate the Government on their beneficent action during the last few months in relieving the local authorities of some of their burdens.
§ Mr. DICKIE
All I did was to point out that the local government rates in Durham were relieved to the extent of £94,000.
§ Mr. PARKINSON
May I point out to the hon. Gentleman—and he ought to know it—that that £94,000 is not equal to the actual amount of increased cost since this Government came into office?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member cannot have it both ways. However, I do not want to stress that point any further. We can see in this Bill the stabilisation of the cuts for the unemployed, and that there is no hope that they will get anything like the other people should some surplus occur at the end of the financial year. Further, we are definitely opposed to the fact that you are at this stage gagging the unemployed throughout the country, depriving them of any opportunity of voicing, through their elected representatives locally and apparently also through their 1076 Members of Parliament, their grievances and hardships. We are certainly not satisfied with what the Chancellor has said, and we are making our last protest on this matter in opposition to this Financial Resolution.
§ 11.54 p.m.
§ Mr. MACMILLAN
Had it not been for the gibe which the hon. Member thought fit to level at the right hon. Member for Hillhead (Sir R. Horne), I should not have intervened. At any rate, he cannot level that gibe at me. I had the misfortune to sit for a considerable number of hours waiting for this Resolution to be taken, and at the end of that time I am not afraid to say that I am quite unfit to make any contribution, however humble, to the Eesolution which came before the House last Thursday. I wish, however, to touch briefly on two points. The first is with regard to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said in connection with the relief of burdens upon local authorities, and what is to be carried by the Exchequer. I was much interested, and I think that the House was also interested, in the speech of the right hon. Member for Hillhead, who brought some very interesting facts and figures before the House. I believe that it was understood from the declarations of the Government in April and July of this year that the care of the able-bodied unemployed was henceforth to be a national charge, and wholly a national charge. It may have been that those declarations were governed by certain sentences which were capable of interpretation and upon which the Government now rely, but every hon. Member who heard them, and every citizen of the country who read them, believed that the only adjustment to which the Government referred was the weighting of the unemployed that would be necessary, and that the whole care of the able-bodied unemployed was to be carried by the Exchequer.
Surely if it is a matter of principle, and not one of conflicting benefits or gains, that the Exchequer shall be responsible for 100 per cent. of the care of the able-bodied unemployed, the relative gains of different towns or parts of the country is a consideration that does not enter into the argument. Much as I welcome the Resolution and the Bill as a 1077 whole, I deplore the fact that the Government have not seen fit to do the generous thing, take a big line, and say that they will take 100 per cent. care of the unemployed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has missed the opportunity of doing the thing upon a broad scale. He is prepared to take 95 per cent. care of the unemployed, but he still boggles about the 5 per cent. He says that it is an important point of principle that the local authorities should be to some extent financially interested. I believe that there is a principle long established in our history that the authority which raises and controls a service also raises the money for that service. This service is to be controlled by a national authority. On what principle is it that the local authorities are to be asked to pay their contribution towards it? Here was an opportunity for making a great gesture, and it has been missed. The right hon. Gentleman is like a timid lover who would revise the marriage service, and who says to his bride: "With 95 per cent. of my goods I thee endow; the other 5 per cent. you can look after yourself."
May I be allowed, after those criticisms, to end upon a note of congratulation. I listened with great relief to what the Chancellor of the Exchequer said about the restoration of the full amount of benefit. It is not a question as to the statutory distinction between one class of people and another. Under Part I of the Bill the unemployed may be in a
§ different category, but all that they care is whether they get their benefit at the same time as other people. That is the thing that matters. They do not mind whether they get their benefit by a direct act of the Chancellor or through an indirect act of the Commission. Reading between the lines, as it were, of the Chancellor's statement, I think that there is great encouragement to many of us and to the country. It would be against the public conscience if there were a remission of direct taxation, or a restoration of the cuts of other classes of people, without it being accompanied by a restoration of the amounts of benefit to the unemployed. We believe that if there is money to spare, be it in the Exchequer or the fund, it should go first to the lowest-paid and humblest classes of the people, who have suffered most from the crisis of 1931, and who are living, as we all know, just upon the borderline of being able to keep alive at all. From what the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, I think we may take courage and feel that, when revisions of taxation or restorations of wages are made in the case of the better-to-do classes in the country, they will be accompanied in point of time, if not in executive detail, by a restoration of benefit to those who are unemployed.
§ Question put, "That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 231; Noes, 54.1079
|Division No. 59.]||AYES.||[12.1 a.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Brown, Brig.-Gen.H.C. (Berks.,Newb'y)||Dickie, John P.|
|Albery, Irving James||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Drewe, Cedric|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Burghley, Lord||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Burnett, John George||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Dunglass, Lord|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Edmondson, Major A. J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Carver, Major William H.||Elliston, Captain George Sampson|
|Bateman, A. L.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Elmley, Viscount|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Flelden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Blindell, James||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Fleming, Edward Lascelles|
|Boulton, W. W.||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Flint, Abraham John|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Conant, R. J. E.||Fraser, Captain Ian|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Courtauld, Major John Sewell||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cranborne, Viscount||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Bracken, Brendan||Craven-Ellis, William||Gibson, Charles Granville|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Cross, R. H.||Glyn, Major Ralph G. C.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Crossley, A. C.||Goff, Sir Park|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Graves, Marjorie||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Grimston, R. V.||Martin, Thomas B.||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Scone, Lord|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Hanley, Dannie A.||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Mitcheson, G. G.||Shute, Colonel J. J.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Moreing, Adrian C.||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbart M.||Morgan, Robert H.||Skeiton, Archibald Noel|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Walter||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Morrison, William Shepherd||Soper, Richard|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Munro, Patrick||Spens, William Patrick|
|Hornby, Frank||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Stanley, Lord (Lancaster, Fylde)|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Newton, Sir Douglas George C||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid||Stevenson, James|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Nunn, William||Stones, James|
|Howard, Tom Forrest||O'Connor, Terence James||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G.A.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Penny, Sir George||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray F.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joeeph (Dumfries)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Sngden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe)||Petherick, M.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bllst'n)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Picklord, Hon. Mary Ada||Thompson, Luke|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Potter, John||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Kerr, Hamilton W.||Pownall, Sir Assheton||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Pybue, Percy John||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Ralkee, Henry V. A. M.||Train, John|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour.|
|Lindsay, Noel Ker||Rankin, Robert||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunlifte.||Ray, Sir William||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Llewellin, Major John J.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Lockwood, Capt J. H. (Shipley)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Rickards, George William||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Runge, Norah Cecil||Windeor-Cilve, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynrmouth)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde)||Womersley, Walter James|
|McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeeton)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Salmon, Sir Isidore||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Salt, Edward W.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir Lambert Ward and Lord Erskine.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Parkinson, John Alien|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Harris, Sir Percy||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Hicks, Ernest George||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cape, Thomas||Holdsworth, Herbert||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair, Maj, Rt. Hn.SIr A. (C'thnees)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Kirkwood, David||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dobbie, William||Logan, David Gilbert||White, Henry Graham|
|Edwards, Charles||Lunn, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McGovern, John||Wilmot, John|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzle (Banff)|
|Grentell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Griffith, F. Klngsley (Middiesbro'.W.)||Mallalieu, Edward Lanceiot||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Mr. Duncan Graham and Mr. Cordon Macdonald.|
Bill read a Second time, and committed to a Standing Committee,