§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [14th June,] "That the Bill be now read a Second time."
Which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof the words:
whilst realising the necessity for continuing certain temporary provisions in the Unemployment Insurance Acts, this House cannot assent to the Second Reading of a Bill which fails to remove the injustice inflicted by the reductions in benefits and the imposition of a means test, and continues in force provisions with regard to certain anomalies which have the effect of depriving many unemployed persons of their right to benefit."—[Mr. Lawson.]
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ 11.6 a.m.
§ Mr. DAGGAR
I was pleased to hear the Minister confess that the genuinely-seeking-work condition was one which he did not want to see revived. That is a well-deserved compliment to the members of the Labour party, who are entitled to the credit for having destroyed that condition. He told us that he also intends to modify the Regulations dealing with seasonal workers and married women. That also will be appreciated by Members on these benches, if such a modification will bring back on to the register many people who ought not to have been struck off, and in the attainment of that desirable object I sincerely hope the right hon. Gentleman will be more amenable to the suggestions of the Advisory Committee. We were also informed by the right hon. Gentleman that the efficacy of the Anomalies Act had been justified. I should like to know whether the Financial Secretary to the Treasury shares that view. I ask that question in view of the pleasing homily delivered to Members on this side by the Minister of Labour when he dealt with alleged inconsistency on our part. He might have invited the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to be present in order to share the pleasure that we derived from that little homily.
384 Circumstances have changed considerably since the Anomalies Act and the other Acts now to be prolonged were placed on the Statute Book, and in this connection it is my intention to make one or two quotations from the speeches of the hon. Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, to whom I have already referred. Although he is not present, I am sure he will be pleased to know that his past, when he occupied an entirely different bench from the one he now adorns, is being recalled. On that occasion he quoted from speeches delivered by our people as far back as 1924, and, to the credit of the Minister of Labour, he was so hard pressed in criticising the Anomalies Bill which was then under discussion that he entertained himself, if not the House, by quoting from speeches delivered by the Prime Minister, who was a reliable politician at that time, namely, in 1913. I do not intend to unearth the past of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to that extent. I am content to refer to his speeches in 1931, in order to determine, at least in my own mind, whether the sermon delivered on consistency could not have been preached with more appropriateness to the Gentleman whose name is attached to this Bill.
He stated on the 8th July, 1931, that the then Minister justified the introduction of the Measure in view of the fact that there was an anticipated deficit on the Budget of something like £100,000,000. That is not the position to-day, and whatever justification there might have been for the introduction of the Measure in 1931, that justification, in our opinion, and especially with regard to the Regulations, does not now exist. Furthermore, if the Minister so desired, he could have told the House that at the time of introducing the Anomalies Bill powers were being sought to borrow no less than £25,000,000, making a total amount for which the party then in power were responsible for borrowing in order to pay unemployment insurance benefit of something approaching £115,000,000. We were subjected on that occasion to the brilliant observations of the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), who referred to a number of the unemployed as "cadgers on the dole." The right hon. Gentleman's party, as far back as the 8th December, 1930, on the 385 Second Reading of the Unemployment Insurance Bill then under discussion, moved this Motion;This House declines to proceed with the Bill until the Government has declared its policy regarding the admitted abuses now causing a continuing waste of the insurance funds."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1930; col. 67, Vol. 246.]The right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), on whom we can always rely for making at least an interesting contribution to our discussion, if not an informative one, said that the Government then in office wasa Government of the dole drawers, by the dole drawers, for the dole drawers.In addition, the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, quite accurately, stated that this party was responsible for setting up the Royal Commission on Unemployment. The step was taken in view of the criticism to which I have already referred and largely because of the financial condition of the fund at the time, but that is no defence for the Minister. He is under no obligation as regards the recommendations of that Commission, neither is he compelled to accept the advice of the Advisory Committee or to defend what we consider to be the iniquitous Regulations for which he is responsible. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury also stated:I do not think it is fair on the unemployed"—That is referring to the Bill., Seeing the names attached to this Bill, which prolongs the life of that obnoxious Measure, does he think it is fair now? He went on:although I think there are germs of common sense in the Bill. If it were to contain powers to remove all anomalies, the anomalies that tell against the unemployed, I think there would be some sense in the Bill.In the opinion of the hon. Gentleman there was no sense in the Bill, because, he said:the people who are being penalised under the Bill are the people who have paid the contributions, and, if the insurance scheme were upon an insurance basis, no one would question their right or call them anomalies or any other convenient epithet.Here is another brilliant observation from the hon. Gentleman; I should be glad to know if he is going to take part in the Debate. He says:There would be justification for taking even tyrannical powers to deal with the question, not of unemployment insurance 386 but of unemployment. Right hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House are a little slow about dealing with unemployment. They have not done anything for the un-employed, so now they are proceeding to take it out of the unemployed, and I do not think it is quite fair."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1931; cols. 2207–8, Vol. 254.]Obviously to-day, as he occupies a different bench, he thinks it is fair, but he might have been on that occasion honourable enough to state in the House that the Measures for which our people were responsible, namely, destroying the not-genuinely-seeking-work condition and increasing benefit placed an increase on the insurance fund of something like £14,500,000. If he can give us some guarantee that he is prepared to do as much for the unemployed as was done on that occasion by our people, when they were without power but simply had office, for which he at the time was probably angling, we shall be the first to congratulate him and the Government. The National Government, however, have not only reduced benefits and the period for which benefits are payable, but they have increased contributions and have imposed the means test, for which there is no defence. According to their own statements, they have—I suppose that this word is not appreciated in this House․deliberately deprived the unemployed of £29,500,000 in 12 months.
Like many others, I exercise some caution in using statistics in this House in view of the difficulty with which we are all confronted of determining which of the figures supplied by the Ministry of Labour are reliable, especially when they are used with further additions by Members of this Assembly. I am wondering whether the Parliamentary Secretary can assist me. On Wednesday of this week he said that the net savings from the operation of the needs test was £20,500,000 for the period from the 12th November, 1931, to the 6th May, 1933. On the 11th April this year the Minister stated in reply to a question that £29,500,000 bad been saved by the means test and cuts ill benefits, another item being thus drawn in to make it that amount. On Wednesday, when the Bill was introduced, my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), who moved the Amendment, said that the Government had deprived the unemployed of £55,000,000 in two years. Relying upon the figures supplied by the Minister, 387 ought not that figure to be £59,000,000 in two years?
I was pleased that the Minister on Wednesday again emphasised the obvious when for the second time on behalf of the Government he accepted complete responsibility for the imposition of the means test. That is of interest to us in view of the statements made in the country that the Labour party was responsible for the means test. There appear to be some misgivings, if not doubts, in the minds of many Members, including the Minister of Health, who has stated that the children of the unemployed have not unduly suffered from the cuts in unemployment insurance benefit. I want to give one or two instances. I shall not give them from my own division, which is considered by the officials to be a depressed area, but I shall give them from other parts of Great Britain, namely, Yorkshire, Glamorgan and Aberavon. Before doing so, I should like to call attention to a statement that has been made in a highly respectable journal, namely, "The Lancet." It is stated on the authority of four experts to whom none of us would willingly ascribe political consciousness. "The Lancet" states that what they call the "physiological minimum" subsistence diet per week for a man would cost 4s. 10d. to 6s. 8d., the average of the four figures being 5s. 8d. The Ministry of Health has also issued a report on diets in Poor Law children's homes, in which the figure is given as 4s. 6½d. per child per week as the minimum necessary for food to ensure adequate nutrition—and this in institutions where supplies are bought at wholesale prices. If we accept these figures, and assume a family of two adults and four children, they ought to spend from 28s. to 29s. per week on food alone. Such a family, if the father is unemployed and receiving full benefit, has £1 11s. 3d. If they spent on food what is necessary in the opinion of "The Lancet" to provide the physiological minimum of subsistence, there would be 2s. 3d. per week available for rent, fuel, light, insurance, clothes and boots for six people. No one can say that 28s. or 29s. is available for the purchase of food.
These are the three cases to which I want to refer. They are not to be found in a Tory newspaper, but in a paper the 388 reliability of which will not be questioned, namely, "The Labour Woman," for April, 1933. I have admitted that the cases do not appear in a Conservative journal, but I should be amazed if the Parliamentary Secretary has the courage to dispute the figures. They have been obtained as a result of the Labour Women's Advisory Council sending out to different areas for particulars as to the amount of money that is available for food for families. The first case is from Yorkshire: Family of father, mother and three children of 11, 5 and 2. Total income, £l 9s. 3d. transitional payment. Bent, 8s. 7d.; coal and gas, 3s. 6d.; clothing club, insurance, cleaning materials, 3s. 6d.; food 13s. 8d., of which 2s. is for milk. The average amount per person for food is 2s. 8½d. The next is a case from Glamorgan: Family of father, mother and five children. Total income, £1 11s. 3d. unemployment benefit. After paying 10s. 2d. for rent per week, 3s. for coal and light, 5s. 6d. for clothes, insurance and cleaning materials, 11s. 7d. is left for food, which 'includes bread 6s., margarine 1s., milk 10½d., and no meat, fish, eggs or butter. The average amount per person for food does not exceed 1s. 8d., which is considerably less than the amount laid down in the report to which I have referred. The last case is that of a father and mother, with three children aged six years, three years, and six months. The total income from transitional payment is £l 9s. 3d. The rent is 8s., gas and coal cost 2s. 9d., clothing club 1s., food, 17s. 6d. There is 2s. 3d. for milk and 3s. 3d. for eggs and butter. The average amount of food per person is 3s. 6d. And yet we are told by a responsible Minister that there is no privation among the children of the unemployed.
I will give an instance supplied by one who was at one time a Member of this House, and whose integrity and character can be vouched for by even those who do not share his political views, namely, Dr. Somerville Hastings. In January and February of this year he, with other doctors, made an examination of 53 school children belonging to 21 families of the unemployed in a western district of London. They selected these cases because younger children in the same families had been shown to be ill-nourished. He and the other doctors reported: 389We found that 31 of the children were below the average weight of children of the same age in the London elementary schools, and that 33 of them showed definite signs of under-nourishment.While I have quoted cases in which the rent was only 10s. 2d. a week, the doctors here refer to rents of not less than 17s. for a single room in those areas. I leave right hon. Gentlemen to decide whether, in their opinion, there is suffering amongst members of the unemployed. I am sure there are Members of this House who could multiply these cases by hundreds of thousands. There must be considerable suffering and privation amongst the children of the unemployed, despite the statements to which I have already referred, and despite the type of unreliable observation made by a lady who is in a position to know better, namely, the wife of Mr. Montagu Norman, who has said that London school-children are not suffering unduly from unemployment. Even where children are not suffering to the extent which we might legitimately expect, that can be explained to a large extent by the fact that in the depressed areas fathers and mothers are making considerable sacrifices in order to maintain a decent standard of existence for their children. It has been pointed out, not by a Member on these benches, and not by a Member of this party, but by no less an authority than the medical officer of the Penypont Rural District Council that:In some cases the children looked under-nourished and certainly there were a number where the fathers and mothers had Buffered by giving the children a big share of the food supply.There is no Member in this House who cannot agree with the statements to which I have already referred, and yet we know that in this country there are innumerable persons in receipt of allowances, for pleasure and clothes only, considerably in excess of £20 or £50 a week. In conclusion I want to submit that there is no more justification for the application of a means test to an unemployed man than there is for its application to a man who is employed. An employed man is employed not because he has any additional virtues to an unemployed man, and an unemployed man is not unemployed because of any fault of his own.
§ Mr. H0LF0RD KNIGHT
Do I understand that the hon. Member puts for- 390 ward the view that on an application for public assistance there should be no inquiry into the circumstances of the case?
§ Mr. DAGGAR
That has been admitted from these benches on more than one occasion, and I still hold the opinion that if an unemployed man is rendered idle through no fault of his own there is no justification for the application of a means test, because the means test implies that if there is a son or daughter in the house they have to keep the father or the brother who is unemployed. I maintain, for what it is worth, that the responsibility for the adequate maintenance of an unemployed? man is one that society itself ought to bear, in view of the fact that the worker has no control over the means by which he is provided with employment. For these reasons and many others I shall support the Amendment which has been moved.
§ 11.31 p.m.
§ Lord EUSTACE PERCY
Unfortunately, I was prevented from being present at the previous day's Debate on the Bill, but I have read the Debate, and I think I am right in saying that the great majority of the speeches referred less to the Bill before us than to the past Bills the memory of which it revives, and to the Bill which we are expecting towards the end of this year. The speech of the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) rather continued that tradition of debate. The whole of the first part of his speech seemed to have little to do with the Bill, but a great deal to do with the past of himself and of hon. Members on this side of the House. I do not know that it is very much good, when we are dealing with a problem of this kind, to try to poke up our heads above the ruins of our own pasts and explain the reasons for our past actions. I sometimes think that on occasions like this hon. Gentlemen opposite might be well advised to remember Lot's wife. There are moments when those benches opposite, seem to be rows of pillars of salt, merely embittering the atmosphere and doing no good at all.
In the very few words I have to say I wish to look not at the past but at the future. In introducing this Bill the Minister gave a sketch, a very brief one, but 391 all, I suppose, that we could expect, of some of the principles on which he proposes to base a great definitive Measure to deal with unemployment insurance. He gave that explanation, I think, in order to emphasise the complexity of the problem and the reason why to-day we are considering merely a makeshift Bill. I do not complain of the postponement of the Government's definitive Measure, as some of my hon. Friends have been inclined to do, because I think they have been very wise not to rush in with a final Measure at this moment. It is obvious that the remedy or the means of dealing with the problem of unemployment must depend entirely on the probable nature of the employment and the conditions of employment of the great mass of our people in the future. Those who believe that the conditions of employment or the nature of employment for the great mass of our people are going to be the same in the future as in the past are being shown, with increasing force, to be on very unsafe grounds.
This is an unemployment insurance scheme directed to dealing with that complex system of highly specialised labour and mass production which grew up in the nineteenth century, and there are many signs to-day that the whole of that system of specialised labour is crumbling, and that we may have to look forward to a very different system in the future from that to which we have been accustomed in the past. Even the principles upon which His Majesty's Government have apparently decided to base their future Measure seem to me to be very unsafe. There is a universal chorus of approval for the principle that, as a National Government, we shall be responsible for the whole of the able-bodied unemployed. That rests upon assumptions as to the future yield of national taxation as compared with local taxation which are very bold assumptions, and nothing more. The whole of the insurance system at the present moment is based mainly upon two forms of taxation, the taxation of incomes and a direct taxation upon employment in the shape of an insurance contribution—a direct taxation which has been responsible for more unemployment in 392 the last few years than many of us realise.
To face confidently and boldly a permanent system, under which employment insurance and the relief of the able-bodied unemployed shall continue to be based upon a failing and declining Income Tax and upon that direct tax upon employment which shall less and less be based upon any form of local taxation, is a scheme which will have to be very closely and carefully examined when it is introduced towards the end of this year, lest we should be found to have established once again a so-called permanent unemployment insurance system which will be out of date in 12 months. I do not complain of the delay, or that this is a makeshift Bill, or that almost the whole of the work of this Session has been makeshift work, though some of the authors of which have not been willing to admit it to be makeshift work. I see that the Minister of Health has just left the Chamber. His stern and positive insistence on the continuance for the next three years of the same block grant as has prevailed for the last three years is already being shown to be a makeshift, subject to immediate alteration—but that is not a subject which I must pursue. It is obvious that, in this period leading up to the World Economic Conference, when we are hugging to our bosoms the hope of a rise in commodity prices, and of restarting something like prosperity on a scale at any rate equal to that of 1929, so long as we are waiting for the international arrangements which we hope, against hope, may bring that about, we have to content ourselves with makeshift measures; but at the end of this year, and from that time onwards, will come a period when we can no longer content ourselves with makeshift measures. We shall have to decide what kind of new world we are entering upon, and the nature of the permanent reconstruction which we shall have to undertake if we are to meet the conditions of that new world—for a new world it will be.
In that connection, I want to urge upon the Government one thing which was mentioned by the Minister in his speech and the importance of which far transcends any other aspect of this question. The hon. Member for Abertillery spoke of the evidence of mal-nourishment among 393 children. I do not question evidence of that kind. I have had a good deal of experience of investigating the state of nourishment of children in the schools in depressed areas. There are two statements that one can make with absolute certainty. One is that the general standard of nourishment and of physical well-being of the school children in the depressed areas has been maintained in the most marvellous and unhoped-for way; the other statement—in spite of that, and granted that—is that of course there is intense hardship in individual cases. There is mal-nourishment in individual cases. There is terrible mal-nourishment among the parents of those children, and it is largely for that reason that the physical standard of the children has been maintained. This question of nourishment, important as it is, is perhaps not the most important thing. All experience proves that a decline in family means may, so far as the welfare of the children is concerned, be more than compensated for by the better selection of diets as a result of school meals, and so on. That was proved during the War by the Belgium Relief Commission under Mr. Hoover's administration. Never had the physical standard of Belgian children been so good as under the carefully selected diets of the relief centres of Belgium, in spite of the fact that the families were reduced practically to starvation. Experience has shown that that problem is comparatively easy of solution, where the proper measures are taken in all respects.
There is one problem the solution of which is far more difficult, and that is the problem of an apparently permanent and growing unemployment among juveniles. That is not only a threat to the future well-being of the nation, but it creates an appalling mass of individual physical and moral misery which it is impossible to exaggerate. That is the real tragedy of the depressed areas—not the under-nourishment of the schools, but the human material going to waste day by day, week by week; new generations of that material coming out of the schools and going to waste again year after year, age-group after age-group and generation after generation. What are you going to do about that? What are the Government going to do about it? That can only be solved in connection 394 with a scheme for the relief of unemployment: It cannot be solved within the educational system.
§ Lord E. PERCY
It cannot be solved merely by raising the school-leaving age; it cannot be properly dealt with by any continuation school system which is universally compulsory, but which allows of the exemption of schools. It cannot be dealt with by such a system within the educational system because—and this is the fundamental answer to the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton)—we do not know what the future of those children is going to be. We know that their conditions of employment are, in all probability, going to be radically different from those of their fathers, and any educational or school system which 1s part of a general school system always tends to a certain rigidity. It always tends to be based upon the standards of the past, and not upon the standards of the future. You may have a technical school system which trains boys very well for the sort of industrial occupation which their fathers were engaged in, but it is far more difficult, within any regular educational system, to set up that variety of training establishments and to give that variety of training methods which are necessary in order that the present problem of unemployment may be dealt with. If you try to deal with unemployment within the school system, you will do little more than simply make your schools a waiting-room for another year or two, and, when those boys and girls come out of the schools, they will be just as unready to enter employment, and it will be just as difficult to find employment for them, as when they left school a year or two before.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Why cannot it be possible for these unemployed boys to continue in the ordinary secondary school or grammar school, as the Noble Lord's son and my son will continue, until they are about 18, if they can manage it?
§ Lord E. PERCY
But look at the unemployment that is caused by grammar school education at the present moment. I do not think there is anything more pathetic—the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) shakes his head—
§ Lord E. PERCY
I am not saying whether it is an effect or whether it is a cause; I am noting a fact, namely, that, of all the forms of unemployment at the present moment, the most pathetic is the growing unemployment, the terrible unemployment, among girls and boys who come out of the secondary schools at 16, among the fewer who come out at 18, and the fewer still who come out of the university at 21.
§ Lord E. PERCY
Of course it is not caused by the secondary school. I am only saying that the secondary school or the university is no remedy for it, and we are looking for a remedy. The university or secondary school is not a cause of unemployment, except in so far as it does to some extent, as we all know, produce misfits, because you do bring unsuitable people into the secondary schools, whether they be dukes or dustmen. We all know that some dukes would be much better in a factory at 14, and some dustmen would be much better in a secondary school. Whatever the social class may be, you do produce misfits. I am not saying that school education is the cause of unemployment; I am saying that it is a hopelessly ineffective remedy to deal with the kind of unemployment with which we are faced at the present moment. I hope that at any rate my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton is not going to dispute this, that, whatever we may think of the capacity of a school system to reduce the present appalling juvenile unemployment, an enormous part in dealing with unemployment among juveniles must be played by the junior instruction centres and similar arrangements of the Ministry of Labour. If there is any doubt about that, let me give one final reason. The one thing that you cannot do in a school system is to deal with the in-and-out child—the child who gets employment at 15, falls out of employment at 15¾or 16, and is still looking for work. You cannot put that boy into a secondary school, even if you could arrange a method of sticking him in at 16, and then suddenly allow him to leave in three or 396 four months' time. It is the in-and-out boy, who gets a short period of blind-alley employment, and not merely the permanently unemployed, who is the danger to himself and the community at the present moment. I did not want to refer to this matter until my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton challenged me.
I do not want to criticise the school system, for which I have been responsible for many years, and I think my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon knows how interested in it and how keen on it I am still at the present moment. I still say that, as part of the remedy for the unemployment problem—I merely mention it; it would not be in order to go into it—you might bring into force, as I have suggested before, the raising of the school leaving age by one term during each of the three years 1935, 1936 and 1937, so as to "iron out" that "bulge" of juveniles who will be thrown on to the labour market during those three years. That is an auxiliary measure which I would certainly advocate, but, for the real practical and strategic dealing with this appalling juvenile unemployment problem, I do say that the junior instruction centres of the Ministry of Labour represent the greatest and most immediate hope at the present moment. What is necessary, as was pointed out by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton (Mr. Macmillan) in the Debate on Wednesday, is to get rid in the first place of the present gap between the school leaving age and the age of entering insurance, and I hope that His Majesty's Government will not be deterred from introducing a measure of that kind by any recollections of what may have been said in the past by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, by myself, or by any hon. Member opposite, about lowering the insurance age. We have got to close that gap, because, otherwise, our whole scheme will go by the board, and I hope that the Government will not be deterred by any fear, either of what any of us in this House may say or of what any section of educational opinion may say outside. I think my hon. Friend the Member for Aberavon will agree that all are now so impressed by the danger of that gap that they would be willing to have it closed by any means rather than see it continue.
That is the first measure. The other must be a great development of these 397 junior instruction centres, with much more variety in them, and much more experimentation in more positive training, and especially, I believe, in training for the land. I will not weary the House by going further into that question, but I would make an appeal to the Government. Some months ago we had in this House a speech, which impressed the whole House, on the appalling nature of the housing problem. That is one of the scandals of our civilisation. This is the other, and, if there is one duty that rests upon this House, it is to see that, whatever happens to adult unemployment, at least the juvenile who is perforcedly unemployed shall be cared for and trained, and his deterioration prevented, by the best devised measures which we can put into operation.
§ 11.53 a.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I hope the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) will not think I am discourteous if I do not follow his line of argument. To-day we are discussing a Measure which seeks to prolong two Measures, namely, the Act passed in the time of the Labour Government, and also previous Unemployment Insurance Acts. The Minister was careful to point out that the present Bill does not continue the cuts in benefit or the means test, but that those were done by Order in Council, and, therefore, are not affected by the Bill. That is true, but one also knows that, if the Bill were not passed, the whole of unemployment insurance, including the cuts, the means test, and everything else, would be thrown into the melting pot and would have to be faced anew. Consequently, while what the Minister said was technically true, one cannot escape the fact that the whole question is bound up together. I hope I shall not be accused of being too critical of my colleagues in this House, or of any section of them. I would repeat what I said when I spoke last on the Ministry of Labour Vote, namely, that I have not too much room to criticise others, because I am open to too much criticism myself.
As I came down to-day and saw the beautiful day outside, I thought of this House in the past being packed almost to suffocation. I thought of every section of the House crowding in to hear how a co-operative tax was to be levied. I 398 thought of it literally full when the American Debt Settlement was discussed. To-day we are discussing the future well-being of millions of decent working people, the only subject discussed in Britain among the great mass of the common people, and the House is almost empty. Worse than that, it is cynical and feeling almost bored. It was packed to hear about the co-operative tax and the American Debt and it would be packed if we were discussing some scandal concerning an individual Member. It may be that we have discussed unemployment insurance until the subject is threadbare. It may be that there is nothing new to be said, and it may be that the ordinary Member of Parliament, like everyone else, craves for change. There is no change here. There is nothing to excite him, so he misses the Debate and lets it pass. We are discussing something more than unemployment insurance. A million heads of homes have been out of work, some of them for five or six years and, with any improvement that you can picture, they will be out of work for another three or four years. What we are discussing to-day is not what we discussed when this scheme was devised. We are not discussing a method of giving to a man something to tide him over from the period of unemployment to the period of work. We are discussing the permanent income, the livelihood, the wage, of millions of unemployed men.
The Minister on Wednesday said that, if we defeated the Bill, we were cancelling out all the arrangements that had been made to keep the unemployed. That is a common Parliamentary device and a common argument. I cannot understand the attitude of the Labour party in this. We discussed recently a Rent Bill packed full of injustices, and they would not divide against it because it contained one good portion among fifty bad. The Labour people called us fools, and almost knaves, for dividing against it. If their position was good on housing, it must be good on unemployment insurance. The Bill contains one small good thing but most of it is bad. The answer to the Minister is simple. It is the duty of those who are opposed to a Measure to seek to reject it. The rejection of a Bill means that the House of Commons is dissatisfied with it. It is a direct instruction to the Government that the Measure 399 is inadequate and that the matter must be dealt with anew and at once. The Bill does two things. It continues the Anomalies Act and it continues all the unemployment insurance legisation, including cuts and including the need test. I was one of a very small group, numbering 14, who opposed the Anomalies Act, and we suffered personal abuse and obnoxious terms in the Debate. It is necessary to rake up the past for two reasons. I do not know if I am differently constituted from the majority of politicians but I often feel this. Politics used to have a charm for me but it has none now. When you get men coming to the House of Commons professing ideals and aspirations and then find them doing the very opposite of everything that they have advocated, one must feel that there is nothing sincere about it, that it is a dreadful unreality.
One must examine these things to see how far sincerity plays any part in them. To-day we are discussing the continuation of the Anomalies Act. I listened to the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) the other night, and one would almost have thought from his speech that the Anomalies Act was passed in order to put people in benefit. He cursed the Government for not passing a certain regulation, and said that if the present regulation had been passed in another way people would have been put in benefit in some other way. The hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) stated that he went into the Lobby all night in support of the Anomalies Act and would still do so. There is that much to be said for him, but when hon. Members come down, as did the hon. Member for Govan, and make the most contemptible excuses, one wonders what life is coming to.
What are the facts? Let us face them. The facts are that the Labour party did this for the first time in the history of Unemployment Insurance. Everybody on standard benefit had their insurance policy determined by Act of Parliament until they passed the Act. One must remember that this is an Insurance Scheme and that men take out a policy. When a man takes out a policy for insurance he is entitled to know the conditions of the policy. But the Labour party deliberately and brutally took the policies of people who had the insurance 400 qualification outside the Act and left them to be determined by people over whom Parliament had no control. What is the use of hon. Members on the benches above the Gangway saying that they had not made some regulation or other. They did it, and they wanted it to be done. They voted for it. They were here, and they packed the Committee. There is something low down about it when they come down now and blame the men whom they appointed to do the job. When a certain person is appointed to do a job and is afterwards blamed by the people who appointed him for having done the job there is something about it which is dirty and mean, and only mean men could argue it. Down comes the hon. Member for Govan. He blames the people whom his Government appointed to do the job. The truth of the matter is that they either wanted the Anomalies Act to cut people off benefit or they did not. If they did not want to cut people off benefit it was no use passing the Act.
In my view—and I say this emphatically—although the means test is bad in that it affects far more people, the Anomalies Act is worse in that it robs people and gives them nothing for their payments. That is one of the contemptible effects of the Anomalies Act. There are four classes affected by it—short-time workers, married women, intermittent workers, known as the fellows who work two days a week, and seasonal workers. The first class, the short-time worker, is not really touched. It is true that in any system you find all sorts of misfits cropping up. Who in this House does not know of the anomalies of Income Tax or Death Duties. In any human system you can find people in whose interest a case may be made out. When the Anomalies Act was being passed they trotted out certain individual cases. A Cabinet Minister told us that he was in favour of it because he knew the wife of a dentist who was getting benefit. We were told about somebody else getting £8 a week and that this sort of thing would have to be stopped. One hon. Member told us that he knew of cases among coalheavers. By such means one can defend any provision of a reactionary Measure introduced into this House. The fact is—and it is to this matter I wish to call attention, because I think that it is perhaps the most criminal thing under the 401 Anomalies Act—that people working three days a week are not affected by it although the Act meant that they should be. The Act provides that before a man can be disqualified in respect of three days, he has to receive for the three days he works more than he would get normally for six days. A man normally earning £5 or £8 a week, would, if he worked three days a week, need to exceed his £5 or £8 before he could be disqualified in respect of the other three days. Therefore, the £5 or £8 a week man, with whom the Act was brought in to deal, remains. Why?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Not merely thanks to me. There is a much greater reason, as I will show in a minute. Take the seasonal workers. I received a letter from a girl at Bonnyrigg in Midlothian. She said that she had been employed for many years with the Turkey Red Company, and that four years ago the company shut down, and, like many others, she had been unemployed since. Her companion the first year she was out of work obtained employment at a Rothesay boarding house and since then had worked each summer. Last summer she had completed her third summer, and on applying for insurance benefit was refused benefit although she had her stamps because she was a seasonal worker. This girl tells me that this is her first summer and says that if she takes work she will, at the end of the summer, be refused benefit. She states that the other girls who have remained unemployed the whole of the time still continue to receive benefit, while she and her chum are disqualified because they are seasonal workers, and took work. She asked me whether she should take the job: "If I take it," she said, "I am refused benefit. If I do not take it, I shall get benefit." It used to be said, "not genuinely seeking work"; now it is "genuinely seek work," and the Labour party will rob you of your benefit. Why should you punish people because they are seasonal workers?
There is another contemptible thing about it. Everybody knows that a house painter's work is seasonal. My father was a building trade worker. Every winter he walked the streets unemployed. He worked nine months a year without the loss of a day, and as regular as 402 clockwork he was three months out. Seasonal, of course, but such a man is not refused. Almost every trade is seasonal, but they are not touched. There are the domestic servants. Why are they touched, and why are not the painters and others touched? Because they belong to the unions which give the shillings to the Labour movement. You could not touch them—you were afraid. There was as much justice in touching them as the servant girl. You left them alone, but a contemptible attack is made on decent women with nothing but their virtue. How is a seasonal worker to live if he or she does not get benefit? From the people, from the parish, from anywhere. If it were justifiable, because she was merely a seasonal worker, to say that she was to get no income, then there was every justification for saying others were not to get benefit.
The treatment of the seasonal worker under the Anomalies Act, leaving aside married women, is a shocking disgrace to British public life. I do not know if other Members feel like I do, but since I started taking an interest in this question, it seems to me almost criminal that these women should be faced with the position in which they are. I went down to a court of referees about 40 or 50 miles from here, a place dependent on seasonal workers. Everyone had stamps. The Labour party may give 10 different excuses for the Anomalies Act. One is that the Liberals forced it upon them. They did not say that when the Act was being passed through the House. Another excuse is that if they had not done it, they would not have got the money. Another is that the Act is a good Act, but that it is administered badly. Who administers the Act? The courts of referees—the same courts that were appointed by the Government. As a matter of fact, the umpire has made the Act much more lenient than when it was passed. Let them go about attacking people like the umpire when he, in effect, has made the Act better. One girl had 74 stamps in two years. It is not far off two years' work, when one takes holidays and so on into account. She was refused benefit. If she had had 75 stamps, she would have got benefit. Take the two-day worker, such as a public house waiter. He is earning, it may be, 15s. in a public house on Friday and Saturday. He does not get benefit 403 for the other four days. If the same man got his employer to employ him for three days for the 15s., then he would get three days' unemployment benefit. In other words, work a day for nothing, and you will be rewarded with three days' unemployment benefit.
As to the married women, I only Want to say that the great bulk of them do not work because they are fond of work. They are no more fond of work than other people. No one is very fond of work. You have only to look at the House of Commons. We work because the work determines the amount of livelihood we get. We interest ourselves in other things, but none of us is unduly fond of work. Married women are no exception to that rule. They work because it is a means of adding to their income to make life more tolerable for them and their families. You take women off benefit because they are married. A woman after she is married must have 15 stamps, eight in the first 13 weeks. In times like these, when work is almost impossible to get, it is practically excommunicating every married woman from benefit.
I want to say this other word on the means test itself. To-day everybody in this House admits that the means test is not a very happy affair; indeed, nobody here would be sorry if it were abolished entirely. The only defence for the means test is that the nation at the moment is not in the comfortable position that it formerly was. In other words, as the. Noble Lord puts it, taxation has reached such a height that it is causing great unemployment, and that therefore the means test must be imposed, because the nation now cannot afford to do what it did before. That is the case of the average intelligent Tory. He does not defend the means test in the sense that it does not bring hardships. He knows that it does bring hardships. He does not defend it in the sense that it does not do wrong. He knows that it does wrong. He says that the nation is not in a position to-day to be able to afford what it formerly afforded. There may be a case for that point of view, but I see no evidence of poverty in this country in the sense that there is no wealth. One has only to look to-day or any day to see wealth all around us. I often think that certain sections of the community are 404 becoming richer. The means test is playing havoc in regard to the malnutrition of the people, and it is affecting their morale. In regard to unemployment, as such, I have never accepted the view that it is undermining the morale of the people in the sense expressed by certain hon. Members.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
No. I mix with the unemployed people as much as anybody. When the House of Commons is not sitting I go to Employment Exchanges every day. I live close to the biggest Employment Exchange in Scotland, and I do not take that view. I have seen people who have been unemployed years, and providing they can get a decent income their morale and decency has been maintained right throughout. No section of the community, given a decent income, can keep their morale better than the unemployed. The thing that I have against the means test is that it is driving the unemployed into being mean and into being liars, and once they start that it becomes a habit. What do we find to-day? What about the unemployed man who knows that his boy is coming off standard benefit? What happens? Out of the house he goes, into another home. They look for every subterranean method of overcoming the means test. If they are cute they will overcome it, but if they are simple they will not. The means test is shocking in its cruel effect, because it punishes in the most rigid and cruel fashion the best type of people you have in your population.
Every aspect of the means test has been argued. I agree with my Labour colleagues in saying that the means test is anti-social and wrong. It is said that when a man has run through his insurance benefit the income of himself and his family ought to be examined. Let me put a few questions to those who adopt that line of argument. If a son is at home and he earns £3 a week, you say that the father should be assessed on that income. What guarantee have you that the son gives him that income? What guarantee have you that the son gives him £l a week? You enforce the law on the father, but the son can go to the house whenever he likes and you leave the father in a shocking position so far as livelihood is concerned. Let me 405 say a few words about children's allowances. One hon. Member made an eloquent plea this morning on behalf of the children. Two shillings per week is the child's allowance. That was the allowance under the Labour Government. I moved to make it 3s., but the Labour party voted us down. Before I could get back into the Labour party I should have to sign a document saying that if the party asked me to vote for a 2s. allowance again I should have to do it. The Labour party agreed to 2s. a week for a child and I was castigated for voting for 3s. It is a bit thick to-day for them to complain about the 2s. allowance. One begins to wonder where beliefs really are. The Labour party say: "You must vote for these things if we want you to vote for them." What does the ordinary man in the street think about politics? He says, "Does it matter a damn who I vote for?"
This Measure represents social tragedy to millions of people. The big predominating question to-day is the upkeep of the unemployed, not the American Debt and not even work schemes. Unemployed folk say to me, "Geordie, what about the means test? Is there any chance of it being abolished or modified? What about the scales of benefit?" This Bill represents a carryover period. The big Bill is to be discussed between now and the New Year. I have no wish to hurry the Government, because I know that their new Bill, whatever it is, will be worse even than this. They have never improved anything yet. The record of the present Prime Minister as Prime Minister shows that. Take his record in the Labour Government. The Labour Government started by giving one or two shillings to the unemployed. That was the first period. Then there was a second period of doing nothing. Then there was a third period, when they openly started to attack the unemployed. Each period became worse than the last. They appointed a Royal Commission. They did not need to appoint a Royal Commission. What is the use of appointing a Royal Commission if you do not pay attention to it. I pleaded with the Labour Government that if they had a Royal Commission they ought to put Arthur Hayday on it, because he knew more about this problem in his boots than they knew about it in the whole of their bodies.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
He knew all about the problem. No man knew more than he. The Government would not do that; they appointed a Commission. That is the record of the Prime Minister in the Labour Government and it is his record in the present Government. I do not say that the Government should hurry things, because the next thing they do will be as bad, if not worse. This Bill represents a terrible social tragedy. I should be happier if I could see anything as an alternative to the present Government. The unemployed are falling more and more into an abyss of despair. They have no faith in politicians, and the only thing I can see in this Bill is destruction, almost death, to many thousands of people. The only comfort is that these apathetic millions may yet rise in their power and sweep out of office and power those who are doing this dastardly thing, but I hope that when they get the power they will not be as callous and as cruel as those who have now the power.
§ 12.36 p.m.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) raised the Debate from politics to high statesmanship and the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) has not lowered the standard. He once did me the great personal kindness of telling me how to address this House. He said "fix your eyes on somebody and try and get him interested, and then the rest of the House may stop and listen." I am going to fix my eyes upon him. I agree with much that he has said, but I cannot think that there are many Members of the House—I am not sure that even he believes it—who believe that a man should be granted State money, State charity, State maintenance if you like, irrespective of his means after he has gone out of insurance. I would also remind him of that insurance, that a man drawing benefit has only contributed one-third to the fund out of which his insurance is paid. I only propose to speak for a few minutes on one specific point, and then to make one general observation.
The point I want to raise concerns the last sentence in the speech of the Minister of Labour when he said:For the general policy of the system of assistance to unemployed industrial 407 workers, the Minister of Labour will be responsible, on behalf of the Government, to the House."—(OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th June, 1933; col. 185, Vol. 279.]So far as it goes I, with other Members of the House, welcome that statement. The Act which was passed by the Labour Government, Miss Bondfield's Act, undoubtedly gave the unemployed more money per week and satisfied many in that way; but at the same time it insulted a great many of the unemployed by putting the scrounger upon the same footing as the genuine unemployed man who wanted work. If I were to criticise the means test legislation, I should say that the greatest mistake which was made has been the psychological mistake of appearing to put the genuine unemployed man on the same level as the scrounger. It is not intended to do so, the money is paid not by a local authority but by the State, but, nevertheless, the words "public assistance committee" has grown up to mean so much in the lives of our industrial population, so much that is a social degradation to them, and rightly so. From the start money paid in relief by public assistance committees should have been called not transitional payments but unemployment relief, to distinguish it from Poor Law relief.
As a corollary to that surely these words—I may be under a complete misapprehension—at the end of the speech of the Minister of Labour do not mean that there is not going to be a Poor Law remaining to fulfil the old functions which the Poor Law used to fulfil before the present depression cast upon it a burden which it was completely incapable of bearing? I hope that the old Poor Law, purged of the industrial population, will remain to fulfil its old functions which it has fulfilled so well since the time of Queen Elizabeth, functions which every unemployed man who wants work will support. No unemployed man who wants work sympathises with the man who does not want work. If the Minister of Health wants a formula—the Department seems to love formulas and it also loves jargon, which extends even to the titles of their Bills. The Ministry of Labour is not frightened of using the English language, perhaps because they have among their permanent officials a well-known poet—if the Minister wants a formula which avoids the awful jargon which proceeds 408 from his Ministry, I would suggest that the unemployable unemployed man who wants to be employed should be looked after by the Ministry of Labour and the other people should be looked after by the Poor Law, which should remain as formerly "the residuary legatee of all forms of want."
The other point upon which I desire to say a word is that of juvenile unemployment, and I want to appeal to the Minister of Labour to make compulsory and general what they have begun to do in a voluntary and rather diffident but, nevertheless, experimentally useful way. Germany at the moment is a much abused country, but in its labour legislation it is in many respects miles ahead of this country; and whether or not the unemployed like it—I think they do as all churches in Germany have supported the Government—it is an immense social advantage to Germany to send her young unemployed away into different parts of the country, in camps, for general education, with a due measure of games, entertainments, and lectures, with a due provision for training for the variety of jobs which they may have to undertake when they get work again. It should be done at once, and so help to remove what I may call the dreadful blank wall attitude of the unemployed, the staring at advertisements, trooping up to the market place to hear the local communist preacher, or to see the strong man disentangling himself from ropes; that is the life of the unemployed man, that is the horror of this psychological degradation.
For that reason I would like to see the Ministry of Labour act at once, and send all juvenile unemployed who have been unemployed more than six months—those between the ages of 18 and 25—into labour camps, give them a personal allowance, not pay them anything beyond that necessarily, feed them well, give them amusement and games, and send them back fit. When I was a boy I was sent into the Officers Training Corps of my public school. I hated it like poison, but probably I am to-day the better for it. The unemployed boy would be better for the training that I have described, not military training of course. I ask the Government to act in this piece of social legislation which they have in their minds for the future—to act with the same vigour and enthusiasm as they are 409 acting in trade legislation which aims at the greater employment of our people.
§ 12.47 p.m.
§ Mr. R. T. EVANS
I too am anxious that the House should not be detained unduly, and I am anxious that my contribution to the Debate should in no way degrade the level which has been attained hitherto. The contribution of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) focussed our attention on the really crucial point of the situation. The House, it is true, is discussing a continuation of provisions which are now operating, but in view of the imminence of the formation of some new scheme for dealing with unemployment insurance, I fee} that it is well worth our while to concentrate attention upon the new facts which have emerged. The whole of our economic outlook has been changed by the developments of the last few years. There is no doubt that in an industrial and sociological sense a new world has been born. But politicians and statesmen have not yet adapted their thinking to the conditions of this new world.
I am not going to deal with the vexed question of the means test; that ground has been traversed very fully. But I would like to call the attention of the Minister to the effect upon home life of the operation of the principle of a family income. Cases have come within my own personal observation of complete disintegration of home life. I am not going to give the House details of which I am aware, but I know of families that have been disintegrated. Young men have been encouraged to leave home, encouraged to get married, though many of them never had any entitlement to stamps, and many of them have done practically no work since they left school. Hundreds of families are now being brought up in South Wales where the parent has never earned a halfpenny. I am not blaming or censuring these young men, but it cannot be a good thing for any community that conditions of that kind should be allowed to develop.
The other point that I want to stress has been stressed more than once to-day. That is the question of the Ministry of Labour undertaking something really big in the matter of juvenile unemployment. There is no doubt that the big increase in births in the years immediately follow- 410 ing the War has resulted in a bulge which will be shown in the school-leaving population from now to 1937. All the prospects are that juvenile unemployment will increase. I rather agree with the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings that that is a problem which cannot be brought completely within the scope of our educational system. Nor indeed should it be left entirely to the Ministry of Labour. Here we are on ground on which the educational scheme and the schemes of the Ministry of Labour are co-terminous, and the need is for co-operation. The raising of the school-leaving age will not ultimately solve the problem, and the mere provision of marking-time occupations in juvenile centres will do nothing. We want to bring the kind of atmosphere that we have in educational institutions into association with the technical bias which might be expected in the Ministry of Labour scheme. We must somehow or other co-ordinate these two elements, and do something to prevent the inevitable degradation of spirit of these young men and women.
We have been told this morning about the changing conditions. I want to concentrate upon the facts relating to South Wales. There you have a situation which epitomises the forces that are operating on a large scale throughout Britain. South Wales as a distressed area has certain peculiar features. The situation is one which merits very special attention, because the industries which have sustained the economic life of South Wales are industries which, it seems to me, are peculiarly in the position of having very little prospect of rehabilitation. A few weeks ago I put questions to various Ministers, and their answers conveyed this information: that in the five years 1928 to 1932 inclusive there was paid out in respect of the various benefits, unemployment benefit, transitional benefit and so on, through the Employment Exchanges of the Welsh Division, no less than £35,634,000. In that time there was received from employers and employed only £6,000,000 odd. That would seem to indicate the position in South Wales. All this is apart from the mountainous sums which have been paid out in respect of public assistance year after year. In the case of the Glamorgan public assistance area between £13,000 411 and £14,000 a week is paid out; in Monmouth well over £4,000 a week, leaving out county boroughs like Cardiff and Merthyr and Swansea. You have there a situation which is becoming worse, and I cannot see any gleam of hope for many of these industries, from the point of view of providing employment.
Take iron and steel. There has been mooted a scheme for the reorganisation of the iron and steel industry. I am not going to discuss its merits. It may not be implemented in the form in which it has been put forward, but in any case it means the concentration of employment in a few efficient works, it means a definite closing down of practically all the inland iron and steel works. It may take the from of a pooling arrangement, as in the tinplate industry, but there again it is simply going to mean the casualisation of a large volume of labour. Take the coal industry. Can anyone who views the matter in an objective way feel confident about the future? There has been a very considerable increase in employment recently, but that has been in a specialised part of that trade, namely, the anthracite area. That might well be jeopardised by the decision of yesterday with regard to the stabilisation of a new parity between the dollar and the pound. A depreciated pound has enabled us to establish a grip on the Canadian market, but that may be jeopardised by a new valuation of the dollar in relation to sterling, which will restore the advantages of the Pennsylvanian producers of anthracite.
One feels that the industrial prospects of an area like South Wales warrant the Government giving it special attention and I suppose such is also the case with other distressed areas. Something like 250,000 people have left the South Wales area in the last 10 or 11 years. What would have happened in regard to public assistance, and in regard to the progressive intellectual and moral degradation of that area had these people not found outlets elsewhere, I do not know. There we find a permanent unemployment problem and it is not enough, in face of such a situation, merely to discuss the injustices wrought by the operation of the means test. I agree with all that has been said this morning about the importance of raising the allowance for children. I agree with many of the criticisms which 412 have been made but I feel that the problem is a bigger one than those criticisms would indicate. It is not enough merely to talk about incomes and about injustices. We have to envisage a future in which the real need will be to provide new avenues of employment.
Obviously, it would be out of place this morning to go into that aspect of the question in detail and I merely mention it in relation to one matter which was referred to by the Minister in his introductory speech. That is the extension of unemployment insurance to agricultural workers. I feel that agriculture provides one of the possible fields for the absorption of this great mass of the permanently unemployed. In view of the schemes put forward by the Government the outlook for agriculture is such that we ought to consider seriously giving the agricultural worker a new status. That question calls for consideration in view of the possibilities of rural development in the future. It has been discussed by a variety of committees and commissions and, as far back as 1926, the inter-departmental committee of which Sir Henry Rew was Chairman—
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Henry Betterton)
I hope the hon. and gallant Member will not read more into my speech than I said.
§ Mr. EVANS
Without going into the matter further I content myself with making the appeal that we should consider giving the agricultural worker a new status in the matter of insurance in view of the possibility of absorbing the permanently unemployed in agriculture. I also stress the importance of dealing with the problem of juvenile unemployment and of linking up with the provision of benefit, schemes for the absorption of those unemployed who are likely to remain permanently so, so as to prevent that degradation and demoralisation which otherwise seem inevitable.
§ 1.0 p.m.
§ Mr. COVE
This has been an interesting Debate and two of the speeches have been particularly interesting to me—those of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and the Noble Lord the 413 Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy). I am sorry that the hon. Member for Gorbals is not in his place as I wished to ask him some questions and to make one or two comments upon his speech. Everybody knows how interested he is in the unemployment problem and how much work he has done in relation to the unemployed, but I am begining to think I never hear more passionate cynicism in this House than that which is delivered by the hon. Member for Gorbals when he speaks on this subject. He has no faith in anybody or anything and least of all in the Labour party. I do not know whether this indignant preacher, filled with divine righteousness, delivers his sermons here with the expectation of converting us or not, but if he has no intention of converting us I cannot but characterise his speeches as sheer futility as far as this House is concerned. I am glad to see that the hon. Member is now in his place. I notice also that when he deals with the Labour party he indulges in nothing but denunciation, but when he comes to deal with the Tory party, one finds a note of apology running through his speeches. He was particularly apologetic to-day as far as the Conservative party were concerned.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Why did you rob the servant girls of their benefit? Why did you "pinch" their benefit after taking their shillings and their votes I Can you defend that?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
No, I said this—that once the Labour party had robbed the servant girl and left her with nothing then the Conservative party had justification for the means test but only then. When the Labour party had robbed the servant girl the next step was obvious and that was obviously the course for them to follow.
§ Mr. COVE
So the wickedness of the Labour party justified, if you like, the wickedness of the Tory party. But I want to ask the hon. Member who is so keen about the unemployed, where do the unemployed come in all this? If what the Labour party has done is wrong, surely what the Conservative party has done is equally wrong, and I am waiting to hear the hon. Member denounce the Conservative party with a fervour equal to that with which he has denounced the Labour party. The hon. Member cannot get away from his words this morning. He said that the average intelligent Tory—note the words—did not defend the means test. It was the "mean," "contemptible" Labour party, the immoral Labour party, in the hon. Member's denunciation, but it was the "average intelligent" Tory. He went on to say that they—the average intelligent Tories—could put forward arguments to justify the means test.
§ Mr. COVE
Oh yes, the hon. Member did. I do not want to put it higher than this. The hon. Member said that the intelligent Tory could put up an argument for the imposition of the means test and that argument was the general state of the national finances. Apparently, that is not the sort of argument that can be applied in the case of the Labour party, but it can be applied in the case of the Tory party. I am deeply sorry that I have had to say any words of this kind about the hon. Member.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Captain Bourne)
The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) must not interrupt.
§ Mr. COVE
The hon. Member still displays his cynicism. He cannot escape from it, although he expresses it in the form of righteous indignation. I welcome the hon. Member's realising, after all, that there are human frailties and difficulties inherent in particular situations, but I would have him say that the Tory party is the historic enemy of the working classes, the party of reaction, and that whatever delinquencies there might be in the Labour party, it is the party of the Labour movement and represents the working classes of this country. If the hon. Member really wants to help the working classes, so far from denouncing the Labour party, I would invite him to join us and to help us in remedying the inflictions imposed on the unemployed by the Tory party.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I offered to join, provided that I would not be asked to vote for robbing the unemployed or to vote for reduced wages, and the Labour party refused to have me in unless I signed an unconditional form that if they wanted me I should have to vote for these things. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That is perfectly true.
§ Mr. COVE
I can only say, quite nicely, to the hon. Member that in that case nothing stands in his way, because the Labour party will not rob the unemployed and it will not impose on him more rigidity than it imposes upon me, and I am quite satisfied that the Labour party can have full freedom as far as I am concerned. My final word to the hon. Member is, that if he really wants to do something for the unemployed, if he really Wants to fight the means test and the Anomalies Act now, there is only one way in which he can do it, and that is by attacking and fighting the Government that is in power and endeavouring to unseat the Government. He gibes at the Labour party for the time being as simply futile and inept, if only for the reason that the Government are there with a strong majority, and his business as a representative—I give him credit for being one of the ablest and keenest representatives—of the unemployed in this House is to come over to us and to fight the Tory Government or the National Government, which is the same thing, and thus to help the unemployed.
416 I want now to pass to what was said by the Noble Lord the right hon. Member for Hastings. He spoke of the training of juveniles, and, as far as I could follow him, he had very little faith or hope in the ordinary education system. He seemed to convey to my mind that all educationists were extremely rigid and doctrinaire people. I think he has tried to appraise the attitude of educationists merely by what he thinks they are. I and many others interested in education do not say that there should be one type of school only, that we should give one rigid sort of education in our educational system. On the other hand, we do not admit, with the Noble Lord, that our secondary system has failed or that it is the cause of unemployment. As a matter of fact, he was, in my view, confusing effect and cause, and the more I study this question and think over it, while I am not averse to—indeed, I support—vocational education, technical education, practical education, or whatever it may be called, I am more and more driven to the view that in existing circumstances, from the point of view both of the morale of our adolescents and of the general well-being of the nation, a secondary system of education is the finest contribution that we can make to our national progress.
I am rather amused when I hear from the benches opposite lots of talk about practical education, about its being splendid, and so on. They are only paying lip service to it, for the simple reason that it is more costly than is a general, literary education. I want to tell the Minister that I am afraid the Noble Lord put me in the wrong position when he suggested that I would oppose the bridging of the gap as far as insurance is concerned. I and, I believe, a large number of educationists would warmly welcome the bridging of that gap. I see no sense at all in having children from 14 to 16 years of age clean out of our educational system and at the same time clean out of supervision under the insurance system. Therefore, as far as I am concerned—and there are men on these benches with wide educational and administrative experience who support me—I would welcome most warmly the bridging of the gap between the ages of 14 and 16.
I am willing to make another compromise with the Ministry. The Noble 417 Lord suggested that it would be ineffective, as far as employment is concerned, to raise the school leaving age. I deny that entirely, and I assert that, while the effect may be exaggerated, the raising of the school leaving age would be a, direct contribution to the solution of the unemployment problem in this country, equally, at the other end of the scale, as the giving of pensions to men at 60 years of age would be a contribution. While you cannot boil it down to exact statistics, it is true that every Act which goes to shorten the working life of people is a. contribution to the solution of unemployment. If you have the bulk of your population with a working life of 40 years instead of 45 years, either by a raising of the school leaving age or by giving pensions at 60, then, by reducing the general span of working life to 40 years, you are inevitably making a contribution to the solution of the problem of unemployment.
I want to say a word or two about the juvenile centres. A year or two ago I hoped to go round to some of these places. The Minister was good enough to say that it could be arranged, and accordingly I went round some of these centres.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
May I say that I am most happy at all times to arrange for any hon. Member, wherever he may sit, to visit these centres at any time?
§ Mr. COVE
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that, and I will say, quite frankly, that I thoroughly enjoyed or, rather, appreciated, my visit to these centres. I do not agree that adolescents are not demoralised by unemployment. I think there is an element of demoralisation in youths being unemployed, and I would like to add, from a Socialist point of view, that if ever we come into possession of power, I would rather have a population to deal with whose morale was strong than a population which had been demoralised by a long period of unemployment. Anyhow, I believe that these juvenile unemployment centres are making a wonderful, an immense, contribution to the morale of these youths, and more particularly of the girls. I noticed that their physical bearing was entirely different. Their carriage seemed to indicate a sense of dignity, after they had been there, that they did not possess before they went to 418 these centres. It was not merely their interest in the particular work which they were doing, but the general sense of dignity and worth that these children got by attending these centres that impressed me more than anything else. If we can maintain our juveniles and keep that sense of dignity and worth alive, we shall be making a great contribution towards the conditions of life of a large number of these adolescents.
What I complain about is that far too little is being done. There is still room for a great extension of juvenile instruction centres. I would like to see the children kept at school until they can get work. I would like Parliament to say that so long as a child has no work it shall remain in the ordinary educational system. Wonderful and effective as the juvenile instruction centres are on what I would call the morale of the juveniles, they cannot by their very nature be the contribution that we desire from the educational point of view. You cannot plan a long time ahead and the curriculum is restricted. I make no criticism about those who are carrying them on, but the fact that they are unstable, that they can come into being and go out of being, that the personnel is continually changing, tends to destroy the higher educational value that ought to be given to adolescents at this age. Those of us who are interested in this question from the educational point of view are not doctrinaire or rigid. We are prepared to pool our ideas and to support the ideas of the Ministry and the Government if they will do something in a number of ways to tackle this terrible juvenile unemployment problem.
I observe from articles that I have read that juveniles are now becoming subject much more to in-and-out employment than they were a few years ago. As far as I can follow the state of juvenile unemployment, there is a far greater element of permanent unemployment among juveniles than hitherto. In the "Manchester Guardian" of the 1st June, there were statistics showing that there is a greater number of unemployed juveniles, that there is a greater permanent unemployment problem among juveniles than ever before, and that children coming out of school are sometimes out of work for a month, two months, three months and more extended periods before they can get into work. 419 That is particularly so in the depressed areas. In those areas we have children coming out of school from 14 to 18 years of age who cannot get into work. There is nothing for them to do. If an omnibus conductor's job is going there is as much social and political wire-pulling as if it were a post for a town-clerkship. If there is any little job going I am badgered out of my life by people who ask me to help them. Here is the problem—most of the juveniles in and out of work, most of them permanently unemployed, and most of those who do get work taking the places of adults.
Surely in the interests of the adolescents, in the interests of the social health of the nation, even as a sound economic proposition that it can be demonstrated to pay, we must deal with this juvenile unemployment problem in a much more drastic, comprehensive, and constructive manner than we have hitherto dealt with it. The Noble Lord seemed to me to be extremely pessimistic this morning. He saw a shrinking national income. So do I. He saw changes in the character of our industry from mass production to what I should imagine to be a more individual form of production. I do not see that in the main. What I do see is a contracting income, a permanent problem of unemployment, capitalism in a chronic and perpetual decline, without any hope for hundreds of thousands and millions of our working-class folk. An hon. Member opposite smiles, but his own Chancellor talks about 10 years with at least 2,000,000 unemployed. I think that it will be a longer period, but, if we take the Chancellor's period, surely it is vital in the interests of these youngsters and of the nation that we should do something to equip them permanently to make the best of their lives, to maintain their morale, and to expand their intellectual capacity. I do not believe that on the whole the most economic expenditure is that which merely has relation to vocation, because when the vocational training has been given the jobs are not there. Vocational training and technical training can be uneconomic unless there is an outlet to jobs after the training.
Therefore, this problem has to be considered in its human aspect, and we say that human beings in a civilised society have a right to food, shelter and culture, 420 and a right to participate in our glorious heritage of literature, art and so on. I oppose this Measure because it does nothing to meet that problem. It does not touch the fringe of it. I oppose it, because I hate and detest the means test. I have never subscribed to it. I have never admitted that transitional payment is a relief payment. No element of need should come in. I take the view that here are men and women in modern society thrown out of work owing to causes over which they have no control and as the result of the very progress of modern society. They are casualties to progress—not merely casualties to reaction and bad government, but casualties to progress and to the application of technical power and science. Therefore, this is a social problem, and the principle of a needs test is entirely alien to it. I shall take the simple stand, whether this party is in or out of office, that men who have been deprived of work are entitled to compensation for loss of wages. I am willing for a few people to get it in order that the majority may have some sort of justice. I am willing that a man with £1,000 invested should have his unemployment pay, and I am willing even that the rich man should have it, provided he takes his place in the queue, and is willing to work if it is offered. The simple test, the test that works out most justly is this: "Willing, available, ready to work when work is offered." If society cannot provide work, then society must find an adequate standard of life for a man through unemployment insurance as an elemental right.
§ Notice taken that 40 Members were not present; House counted; and 40 Members being present—
§ 1.27 p.m.
§ Mr. SMEDLEY CROOKE
I do not propose to follow the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) in all that he has said, but I would like to refer to that part of his speech in which he suggested that it would be wise to give an increased old age pension at a certain age, say 60 or 65, in order that people should take the pension and drop out of industry to make room for younger men who are unemployed. With that part of his speech I certainly agree, and I think it will be worth while for the Minister to bear that suggestion in mind when preparing his new Bill. My object in taking part in 421 this Debate is rather to substantiate and augment what was said on Wednesday by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North St. Pancras (Captain Fraser) when he was dealing with the means test as applied to disabled ex-service men and their pensions. He said that he was sorry that a percentage of the disability pension was ignored, and suggested, with which I entirely agree, that it would be better that a certain sum of money—he mentioned the sum of 15s. per week—should be ignored entirely by public assistance committees in determining what allowance to make to an applicant. I want to suggest to my right hon. Friend the Minister that he should bear that suggestion in mind. Last week there was a conference of the British Legion in London at which resolutions were passed that disability pensions of ex-service men should not be taken into consideration at all in calculating their means. Those of us who are more moderate than the majority, including my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North St. Pancras, told them very plainly that it could not be expected that the Government would take out of consideration entirely the pensions of disabled ex-service men, because some of them with 100 per cent. disability pensions are receiving more in pensions than others get in employment. But we did suggest that a more reasonable attitude might be taken. We felt that we might reasonably ask the Government to wipe out the percentage arrangement and substitute one under which the first 15s. or £l of a disabled ex-service man's pension should be ignored by the public assistance committee.
This morning the Anomalies Act has been mentioned. The anomalies so far have all been on one side; I wish to bring before the Minister anomalies from the opposite point of view. We all know of anomalies such as have been referred to, cases of those drawing unemployment benefit who were not really entitled to it. I wish to bring to the attention of the Minister cases where, in my opinion, people should be able to draw unemployment benefit who are not allowed to do so under the present regulations. I refer to men who work at outdoor occupations, such as roadmaking and sewer laying. I have in mind the case of a married man with four children who works in that way; 422 there are many of them in my division. He gets up in the morning and walks two or three miles to the job ready to do a day's work, but it may be raining heavily or snowing, and when he and the other men arrive the foreman says, "You can get back lads, there is no work to-day." In that case the man loses his pay for that day. The rate of wages is, I believe, 38s. a week. If the man were "playing" all the week and drawing unemployment benefit he would get 31s. At the end of the week he does not draw 38s., because he has lost one day's work, not through any fault of his own but simply as an act of God. He could not work because it was raining. With the loss of that day's pay the man's wages at the end of the week are either about the same or less than the sum he would have received had he been drawing unemployment benefit and not worked at all. If he were working in a factory and he lost three day's work in a week he would be able to draw three days' unemployment benefit. I want the Minister to consider whether he cannot frame regulations under which a man who is working outside and who is stopped through no fault of his own is able to draw unemployment benefit for the days when he is stopped.
Another matter I wish to raise concerns what are known as the green cards. I acknowledge with many thanks the kindness of the Minister in sending me some time ago full particulars of the administration of the green card system, but I want to tell him that it still causes great disappointment among the workers. A man sets out from home in search of work. He calls at a place and is told by the foreman, "If you want work we can give it. You go back to the Employment Exchange and get your green card." At the exchange the man is told, "Very well, if there is a vacancy we shall be notified of it and we shall be able to send the man who is best able to fill that vacancy, and it won't be you, but somebody else." The man who has tried to get work is turned down and another man who has sat at home is sent for to fill the vacancy. I suggest to the Minister that he should consider whether something cannot be done to help those who have tried to help themselves rather than allow jobs to be given to those who have not been looking for work. I understand that Employment Exchange 423 managers say, "We always send to a job the man best qualified for it."
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The points that the hon. Member is raising appear to be purely matters of administration. I think that I am right in saying that they should be raised upon the Estimates, and not upon the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. CROOKE
I bow to your Ruling, Sir, and I will not pursue that matter any further. Perhaps I shall be in order in mentioning a matter which I brought before the Minister of Labour last autumn concerning what is called "sharing work." I took the opportunity of sending a reprint from the "British Legion Journal" to every hon. Member, on the subject of sharing work, and I want to draw the attention of the Minister now to a fact which he might not have noticed. In a mining area in South Wales, a number of miners have voluntarily offered to adopt the scheme which I brought forward of sharing the available work. The scheme, if tried, will not result in more money being spent in the country and it will not cost the Government any more money. The uplift among those who have been unemployed for so long will be great and their morale very different. The Minister cannot make the scheme compulsory, and I am not suggesting that he should do so, but he might give it his benediction and advise other classes of workers in other parts of the country to make similar sacrifices, to enable those who have not worked for years to obtain employment. I hope that the Minister will bear in mind these matters which I have brought forward. Although they may seem small in the aggregate if applied, they would make a great difference to our country in this time of depression.
§ 1.37 p.m.
§ Mr. CAPE
The essence of the matter we are discussing lies in the nature of the Amendment which has been put down by the Labour party. I do not want to enter into any controversy with the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) or with the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) in regard to the matters that they have raised. The chief part of the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals was an attempt to foment a quarrel between the Members on these 424 benches and the members of the Independent Labour party. I am not going to take part in any quarrel of that kind in this House, before an audience of people who are against both parties. That quarrel will be settled in some other sphere.
I am quite well aware that, unless this Bill is passed, the Acts will automatically expire. We are entitled to say that we do not agree exactly with the Minister when he stated that the means test and the reduction of the weekly payments under the Anomalies Act were not included within the scope of the Bill. They may technically not be included in the scope of the Bill, but, if the Bill went out of existence, the points which I have mentioned would be of no value at all. Therefore, we must take into consideration those salient factors in dealing with the question raised by the Bill. I never thought that the Government had any justifiable reason for making the reduction in unemployment benefit. They talked about equality of sacrifice, and about it being necessary for everybody to make sacrifices in order to help to extricate the country from what they called a financial crisis. I think it was grossly unfair and unjust, and that it was not creditable to a great country like this, to make such an attack upon those poor people. The Minister has power at the present time, if he desires, to restore that cut, and that is one of the reasons why we are opposing the Bill. The Government, after two years of office, still insist upon a reduction of benefit which they imposed in 1931, upon people who have to bear their fair share of taxation and are consequently not only affected by the reduction of benefit but by the increase in other forms of taxation.
I could take up, if I liked, the same attitude as is taken up by other hon. Members on this side of the House in regard to the Anomalies Act. At the time when it was being considered, I disagreed with it. If that Act was necessary then—I do not think that it was—every party in the House by some method of common consent agreed to the passing of it. I have a great suspicion that there was a general understanding among the leaders of the political parties to get the Bill passed as quickly as possible. The Government to-day have a majority strong, powerful and intelligent enough 425 to repeal the Anomalies Act. If the Labour party were wrong in putting that Act upon the Statute Book, those who continue it are wrong, and some attack should be made upon them as well as upon the Labour party. I agree with the hon. Member for Gorbals that the Anomalies Act did not so much affect those people whom the Government at that time thought it was going to affect, and that it did affect other people who I think ought not to have come under the Act at all.
In the division that I represent there is no outlet for the employment of girls in factories in which they can be absorbed. They go to work at the seaside resorts on the north-west coast in the summer months, and they pay towards National Insurance. They fulfil all the requirements that the law demands, and, when they come back to their own homes—not through any fault of their own or of their employers, but because circumstances have compelled them to come back—the girls are disallowed unemployment benefit. That is one of the harshest and cruellest things that happen in the whole of the unemployment insurance administration. If these were people who did not want to work, or who tried to escape work, there might be some justification for it, but the girls who go to these various places keep occupied for as long as they possibly can, for as long as people will continue to employ them, and it is grossly unfair that, while they are compelled as workers to meet all the demands of the Unemployment Insurance Act, yet, when they want some help to carry them through dark and dismal days, they are left stranded without any assistance. The greater portion of them would not even be entitled to receive public assistance, and, therefore, from the time they leave school until they are married, they are a burden on their parents and unable to help themselves. I think that possibly the Minister could make some arrangement even under the obnoxious Anomalies Act to provide for workers of this type.
In the Debate on Wednesday, the hon. Member for East Newcastle (Sir R. Aske) raised the question of a circular which he said had been sent out by the Ministry of Labour in regard to certain things that had to be done by the means 426 test committees. The Ministry challenged him on that point, as they were quite entitled to do. They will probably challenge me as well, and if they do I may collapse. They challenged the hon. Member to produce the circular. I do not know whether it has been produced or not, but it may be that he was wrong as to the Department from which the circular came, because I would remind the House that under the means test provisions circulars come from both the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour, and it is difficult, without a copy of the circular in question, to know exactly from which Department it came.
I want also to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to a circular regarding the means test. The means test committee in my district have now been instructed that, where there are two families living in one house, and there is any relationship between the two families, they must be counted as one household. A week ago there came to my notice the case of a miner who has a daughter who has been married for some two years. The daughter and her husband have been unable to get a house. The son-in-law is now unemployed, and last week he reached the period when he came on to what is called transitional benefit. To his amazement, when he came before the means test committee, he was told that in all probability he would have to suffer a reduction of 14s. 3d. a week in the amount of his benefit for himself, his wife and his child, because he is living in rooms taken from his father-in-law, and his father-in-law is working in the pit and the amount coming in just keeps them on a Poor Law basis for the whole family.
That is not the only case; there are others of a similar kind. Perhaps I may be allowed to mention examples in my own family. My youngest son has been married for some three or four months, and at the present time he is living in rooms in my house. He is an ordinary worker, and at the present moment is in employment, though very often he is unemployed. If he were unemployed and came on transitional benefit, he would immediately lose the whole of his benefit for himself and his wife, because he is living in the same house as myself, and my income would be taken as the income of the whole family. I have also a daughter who is married and is living in 427 rooms with some other people, simply because there is no housing accommodation in the locality. Her husband is unemployed, but, when he comes up for transitional benefit, he will be all right, because he is not living with his father-in-law, and, therefore, he will be entitled to receive his benefit, though he would not have been so entitled if he had been living with his father-in-law.
I want to draw the attention of the Parliamentary Secretary to that state of affairs, although it may be that the circular was not issued by his Department, but by the Ministry of Health, which, to my mind, at the present time, if I may offer this compliment to the hon. Gentleman, is a bigger menace to the workers than the Ministry of Labour. If the circular has not come from either of these Departments, it would appear that someone is superseding them both, and it must be the principal officers of the public assistance committees in various parts of the country who are issuing these orders. I think it would be worth while for the hon. Gentleman to make inquiries into these matters, because, if we could get to know where these things emanate from, it would satisfy our minds to some extent. I am not going to try to find any excuses for the administration of the Anomalies Act, but would only repeat that, if the Labour party is attacked for putting that Act on the Statute Book, I would charge this Government with not being courageous enough to repeal it. If the Government think that the Anomalies Act is wrong, here is a splendid opportunity for them to put the wrong right. The fact that they are still carrying on what they seem to imply is wrong is an indication that they are just as guilty as those who passed the Act. For the reasons which I have given, I shall have no hesitation in voting for the Amendment.
§ 1.53 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
It would require an orator with the eloquence and enthusiasm of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) to withstand the atmosphere of perfect boredom and dejection that seems to have come over the House. I am not such an orator, and so I will not attempt to deal with the wider aspects upon which I hoped to touch, but will merely say a few words with regard to 428 two, or perhaps three, specific points on which I hope for some assurance from the Minister. One is in regard to a question to which nearly every speaker in the Debate has referred, namely, the question of juvenile unemployment. I cannot share the optimism of the hon. Member for Gorbals with regard to the effect of unemployment on the juveniles. It may be easy to over-estimate the demoralising effect, and I myself often think it is perfectly marvellous what a large proportion of the unemployed are able to withstand the demoralising effect of unemployment. Nevertheless, it is, and must remain, a terribly serious problem, and nothing that the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) or any other speaker has said about it can be too strong. It is almost a platitude to say that, of all the aspects of unemployment, the unemployment of young people is the most deadly in its possibilities of permanent effects. One hesitates about using metaphors, but we seem to be sowing either a field of tares or a field of dragons' teeth. Unemployed young people may grow up nerveless and spineless, losing all their physical and mental vitality, through a long period of unemployment, or they may grow up to be embittered revolutionists. It will largely depend on their individual characteristics which form the demoralisation takes.
But we are all agreed as to the seriousness of the problem, and I should like the Minister to tell us definitely what evidence there is that it is being extensively tackled. When the report of the Unemployment Insurance Commission was published in November, the figures that it gave related to the first six months of 1932, and, taking all forms of juvenile occupational centres and other recognised bodies into account, there were fewer than 25,000 out of 120,000 unemployed juveniles receiving any kind of educational instruction at any of the recognised centres. That is to say, that over four-fifths of the juveniles, including the ages of 14 to 16 and the insured juvenile population of 16 to 18, were receiving no form of instruction. In view of all that has been said from all sides of the House, and in view of the fact that the problem was alluded to in the King's Speech, we want to know what is being done. It is useless to tell us, as 429 some speakers have done, that some of these centres are doing excellent work. I am sure that they are, but the question is what is the extent of that work, and, if there is still anything like four-fifths of the problem untackled, what is the Minister doing about it? The time has really passed when we ought to be content with giving academic encouragement either to local authorities or to bodies such as the Social Science Council and modest little grants to aid them to tackle the problem. It is far too big a problem for that and, with regard to the juvenile side of it, it is definitely a problem for the education authorities and the Labour Ministry to tackle jointly.
Can the Minister tell us what are the numbers of unemployed juveniles and what proportion of them are receiving some form of organised whole-time or part-time instruction? It is largely on account of the juveniles that it is difficult not to feel impatience with the further delay of six months before a permanent Measure is introduced. We shall forgive the Minister if the Bill, when it is produced, is worthy of the long period of gestation. In natural history the larger the animal the longer the period of gestation. In Parliament, unfortunately, it is not so. The more difficult the problem and the longer the time dealing with it is put off very often the smaller the Measure when it ultimately materialises. We hope the Minister means to produce in the autumn a Bill that is really worthy of the subject. I think one of the biggest steps that could be taken would be to raise the school age. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings told us that that would not be a cure. The extent to which it is a cure is simply a problem of arithmetic. It will be a cure for a fourth of the problem, because it will keep a fourth of the boys and girls between 14 and 16 definitely off the labour market. The second thing that all sides of the House are looking for is that the gap should be bridged between the school-leaving age and the beginning of insurance. If the school-leaving age could be raised to 15 and the insurance could be dropped to 15, we should have some control over the 15-year-olds and onwards. A system which gives no benefits is not likely ever to succeed in getting juveniles under instruction. Even if compulsion, which is not being exercised at present, is effectively 430 exercised, it could clearly only be exercised on those who are subject to insurance and are in receipt of benefit.
I wish to say a word or two on the subject of married women under the Anomalies Act. I very strongly protested, although I am not against the means test root and branch, against that part of the Anomalies Act which applied to married women, because I foresaw that the regulations under the Act were almost certain to be used so as to sweep out of insurance large numbers of married women who were genuinely unemployed persons and ought to come within its provisions. The figures are really somewhat startling. I do not know under which particular provision most of the disallowances took place, but the one that alarmed most of us all along was that relating to the industrial practice of the district and the state of industry of the district. The Advisory Committee, very mistakenly I think, merely referred back to the Minister the dispute in question as to the interpretation of the Clause with regard to conditions in the district. It has continued to be administered in such a way that it can be generally the practice to disallow married women residing in a district in which there is prolonged depression even if it is also a district where married women's work is the normal thing. The vast number of disallowances which have taken place in the textile districts of Yorkshire and Lancashire show that, and I am informed by those who have experience that cases are turned down in shoals with hardly any inquiry under this regulation.
If a married woman lives in a district where married women's work is the normal thing and in other ways is able to satisfy the conditions laid down and is able to show that she has been normally an insured person up to the time of her marriage, then she ought not to be turned down merely because she is not able to get her 15 stamps and the district is one in which there is exceptional depression. The exceptional depression also affects the chances of getting work of the single women and of the men, whether married or single. It is not in itself a condition which affects a married woman especially because she is a married woman. It is unfair to turn down vast numbers of married women if they live in a district where there is lack of occupation and where married women's 431 work is the formal thing merely because the depressed condition of the industry makes it unlikely that for a long period she will get further work. That often applies equally to single women and to men. The regulation ought to be cleared up. It ought to be made plain that it is only if there is evidence of a permanent change in the conditions of unemployment so that married women, as such, are likely to be permanently no longer able to get work that benefit should be disallowed on that ground.
§ 2.6 p.m.
§ Mr. BANFIELD
There are one or two points which I should like to bring to the notice of the Minister. We are supporting the Amendment because we wish to maintain our protest against the means test and against the regulations of the Anomalies Act. The hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) put a point with regard to married women, and it would appear that in many quarters there is a dead set against paying any benefit to married women if it can possibly be avoided. Whether it is the deliberate intention either of the Ministry of Labour or of the Ministry of Health to give the impression that as far as possible married women should be choked off benefit, I do not know, but I am certain that the intention of the Act of Parliament is very often stretched to its utmost limits. The Parliamentary Secretary will remember that only a week or two ago I sent to him the case of a married woman living in my constituency who had been in industry for many years up to the time of her marriage. Of course, when she married she became ineligible for benefit until she had been in employment again for a certain period. The woman was again employed for a considerable period, but later went away from the place where she worked. She was only away for a short period, but on her return she was refused benefit on the ground that she was not normally insured. That is a case in which, obviously, the regulations have been stretched to the utmost. Nothing causes more bitterness, bad feeling, and resentment than that men and women should have to pay for insurance stamps for a considerable period and that when they apply for benefit they are told that for some reason 432 or other, in spite of the number of years during which they have made contributions, there is no benefit for them.
A good deal has been said this morning respecting the anomalies regulations and the way the Act has been worked. In my trade—the bakery trade—considerable numbers of people are unemployed. In that industry it is necessary that at the end of the week extra labour should be employed, and consequently an unemployed man may possibly get a day's work a week. In the case to which I am referring the man had been unemployed for three years. During that time he had worked one day a week, and because he had only been able to secure one day's work a week it was assumed that one day a week was the amount of employment available to him, and he was accordingly knocked off unemployment pay. Yet during the whole of that period his stamps had religiously been placed upon his card week after week. It is that kind of thing which causes bitterness and resentment.
Eloquent speeches have been made this morning on the position of juveniles. Nearly everyone is agreed that something should be done, but the matter seems to be left in precisely the same position. All the talk about bridging the gap between the ages of 14 and 16 will not materially assist in solving the problem. In places where there are big machine works there is an absolute demand for boys and girls of 14 years of age, but before they reach 18 years of age they are turned out of those works because they are no longer required. They are turned into the street without any trade in their hands and without any knowledge except of the particular machines which they may have worked. They may go for years and years before they are able to obtain another job. The question of juveniles and what to do with them will become, in my opinion, one of the pressing problems in connection with Unemployment Insurance. The number of juveniles who are unemployed grows year by year, and it is extremely difficult, in a system which tends to eat up juvenile labour for a few years, to find employment for hundreds and thousands of people between the ages of 18 and 25, or even at any age. Consequently the question of unemployment and Unemployment Insurance has in reality become one of 433 making definite provision for at least 2,000,000 persons, or possibly more, who will not be able to find employment again. As industry becomes more efficient and machinery displaces more and more men the volume of unemployment will continue to grow.
I hope that, when the main Bill is introduced in November, at any rate, the Government will not proceed to make conditions for the unemployed even worse than they are at the moment. There should be no attempt to impose Poor Law regulations or tests and to put decent people under the Ministry of Health if it can possibly be avoided. Speaking as an old guardian, I am satisfied that Poor Law administration should not be applied to the unemployed, who should not be punished because of their kind of poverty. I hope that the Minister will do all he possibly can to help us, particularly in regard to juvenile unemployment.
§ 2.14 p.m.
§ Mr. MAGNAY
There are more than one or two reasons why I should intervene in the Debate. First, I represent a constituency which is very much interested in unemployment. I was an advocate of unemployment insurance many years ago when it was not at all popular, and before it became subject to an Act of Parliament. Although I am a wholehearted supporter of the National Government, I am still a Liberal and should like to take some credit for the possibility of there being any Debate at all on unemployment insurance. I often wonder what the ladies who used to take in a well-known periodical would think nowadays. We remember the campaign, "Don't lick the stamps." I often wonder what would have happened to Britain if there had not been unemployment insurance since the War. Those who have any common sense or sense of fair play, should lick the boots of the Liberal party which brought in that munificent Act of Parliament.
I cannot support the Amendment, because it is sheer negation, and, in passing, may I say that a man of education like the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), when he complains of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), ought to have known that before there can be true conversion there ought to be 434 true conviction? I have been long enough in this House, and rubbed shoulders with the Labour party long enough to know, that it is quite impossible to convince them of anything but their own propaganda. May I recall the House to what is the common sense of the situation as it appears to me? This is a Billto continue in force for a further period the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1930,or, to repeat the words of Miss Bond-field, when speaking as Minister of Labour, on the Measure at that time:This Bill is solely an interim Measure. It is not intended to provide a permanent solution. It is solely to tide us over an interim period."Interim" seems to have been a blessed word like Mesopotamia was to the fabled old lady. What is the alternative to this Bill? That is what we are up against as sensible men. As I see it, there are 750,000 on transitional benefit who would have nothing but the Poor Law, and, speaking for a constituency which has 14,000 unemployed now, I cannot envisage that with any complacency at all. The strain upon the Poor Law already, as the Ministers concerned know, is more than we can bear, and there are 750,000 on transitional benefit who would have no other recourse but the Poor Law for subsistence. Then there are the disability pension men and the people receiving workmen's compensation benefit of 50 per cent. All their benefits would be of no effect. May I say, in passing, that I join myself to the company of those who plead for the ex-service men. I think that the pension that was given to the ex-service men is a high contractual obligation which should never be interpreted or liquidated in cash. They gave bones and blood for those of us who stayed behind to mind the stuff, and we cannot in honour do anything else than honour that bond which we deliberately gave them in the time of stress and war.
In the third place, the Anomalies Act would cease to function, and there would be no court of appeal from the insurance officer, no further appeal to the umpire. The approved courses for the instruction of juveniles would be ended. In blunt English, if the Amendment were carried, sheer chaos would result. To the Opposition I am going to say quite plainly, and, I hope, not offensively, that he who comes into a court of equity must come 435 with clean hands and hot feet. What was their record only two years ago? May I quote a Member of the Labour Cabinet at that time, I mean Mr. F. W. Jowett—not the Jowitt the quick-change artist. He said in a weekly sheet:The Labour Government before the last General Election proposed to cut down expenditure by £42,000,000. This cut included a saving of £5,000,000 by a means test, as well as a 15 per cent. cut in teachers' salaries. In addition, the Government offered to raise £10,000,000 by increased contributions, £4,000,000 by a special levy on all workers who were in work. The Labour party executive gave those of its members who were in the Cabinet a free hand to support all these cuts, and, in addition, to support a further cut of £10,000,000 by reduction of unemployment benefits. The estimated saving of £5,000,000"—and I have carefully read through the Debates to verify this—could only be effected by a means test on the Poor Law system of taking the total income of the household into account.So says Mr. F. W. Jowett, one of the Members of the Labour Cabinet.
§ Mr. MAGNAY
He was, at any rate, one of the men who were listened to with authority, and he could speak on behalf certainly of the Independent Labour party. Miss Bondfield said in Debate:The numbers who would lose benefits were relatively unimportant.The consequence of that £5,000,000 saved was that 212,153 persons, and, if you add their dependants, 300,000, were put out of benefit by the Government Act passed by the Labour Government. If the Socialist party say, "Work or full maintenance," then we can understand it. That is the Socialist philosophy. If they say "No means test at all," then we know where we are. But the Labour Government did not do that when in power, and the Leader of the Opposition a few months ago did not say that. He said the very opposite. I know he came to heel at the Conference at Scarborough, but we know what he thinks, and he may be pushed on from behind. In my constituency, with all the hardships that are necessarily inflicted by being out of work in such huge numbers, the operations of the means test by the local committees is giving every satisfaction locally.
436 I stand for the Bill because I stand for a positive policy. The Government have promised an all-inclusive, actuarially sound scheme, and I would suggest that, seeing that there are 17,000,000 workers insured for health insurance purposes, and that about 5,500,000 to 6,000,000 of those are not insured against unemployment, once we get all workers inside the health insurance scheme, the new one to make it actuarially sound, then we shall get this put upon a proper basis. The Government have done two great things which are the basis of all betterment in this country. We on this side are not concerned so much about unemployment as about employment. We want our people to get to work. We are not concerned so much with getting air cushions put into beds as to put strength into the men to work for their own living, and because the Government have done this so well in the past, and because I trust the Ministers concerned, I hope the House will give its full support to this Bill.
§ 2.25 p.m.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
Reference has been made several times during this Debate to the high quality of the discussion on the Bill. Those who heard the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) must have been impressed by the very able, critical and analytical speech that he made. There were, however, a few points in his speech to which I take exception, because they seem to indicate a very serious state of mind if the supporters of the Government who are free in their criticisms, like the Noble Lord, have any weight with their party. The Noble Lord said that he thought this was no time for a permanent scheme, and he raised the important issue that we cannot tell whether in the future it will be possible for the national resources to bear the whole burden of a scheme for dealing with the unemployed. If there is one thing to-day on which public opinion is settled, it is the fact that unemployment maintenance ought to be a national responsibility. If the Noble Lord is contemplating casting greater burdens on the local authorities, instead of removing them, he is flying in the face of enlightened public opinion to-day. One of the justifiable criticisms that can be levelled against the present Government is that already by their Unemployment 437 Insurance policy and their National Health Insurance policy they have cast greater burdens upon the local authorities, and so far from acquiescing in that situation, our view would be that the whole burden should rest on national funds and none whatever on local funds.
The Noble Lord dealt with the question of juvenile unemployment, to which other hon. Members made reference. I think we are all sensible of the serious results of unemployment, especially amongst the young, but I do not agree with the Noble Lord when he says that a longer educational life for boys and girls is no contribution to a solution of the problem. In so far as you limit the amount of labour available in the market you are doing something to take out of the arena possible competitors for a number of jobs which is not as large as the number of possible applicants. I do not agree that juvenile instruction centres, however valuable they may be, offer any solution of the problem. No amount of instruction creates a job. The Noble Lord attaches great importance to the juvenile instruction centres, but, although the instruction that is given is most valuable, it does not in itself contribute to a solution of the unemployment problem. Although it is very valuable as a means of preventing the deterioration of the unemployed juvenile workers, which is an extremely valuable piece of work, it deals with the victims of unemployment rather than with unemployment itself.
In this Debate, with the exception of one or two speeches, it does not seem that the Government have had too friendly a reception. The Bill has not been greeted with enthusiasm, except by the hon. Member who has just spoken. He seems to be more Government than the Government supporters in this matter. It is interesting to reflect in regard to the Minister's speech that he spent far too much time explaining the dire effects which would follow the passing of the Amendment and far too little time defending the arrangements which he is seeking to prolong for another year. Apart from certain modifications, still undisclosed as a matter for the future, the existing arrangements are to continue for a further year, and I gather that the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly satisfied with that. He is satisfied in his own mind that the present 438 system of unemployment insurance and transitional payment is such as to do justice to the unemployed worker, but he has not defended it. We were entitled to expect that he would. Our case against him is that in a year and nine months' experience has shown that so far from this system, imposed by considerations of economy, working fairly it is working harshly and creating an enormous amount of hardship to a very large number of people.
Play has been made with certain glaring individual cases of transitional payment where persons appear to have substantial means. I accept those cases as proved, but for every case of that kind we on these benches could draw attention to a hundred cases of really serious hardship. The odd cases of extravagance of administration are outweighed a thousand times by the proved cases of very serious hardship which have resulted from harsh and ungenerous legislation and administration. The whole weight of the Press has been thrown in the scale against more generous treatment of the unemployed and in favour of more severe restrictions and harsher conditions. A significant feature of the harsh administration was when powers were taken by the Minister to appoint commissioners. I remember standing at this Box, in the days of the last Conservative Government speaking against the Board of Guardians Default Act, and it fell to my own unhappy lot to have to do it on every occasion that the subject was debated. One of the first things that I had enormous pleasure in doing was to bring that iniquitous system of appointing commissioners to an end in 1929, and I thought that that system had gone for ever. Perhaps I was not so old a politician as the Noble Lord, but I thought that once that system had gone-even a Conservative Government would never dare to re-establish it. I could understand commissioners being appointed to deal with mean local authorities and to restrain the extravagant, but I cannot understand why commissioners should be appointed only when in the view of the Government there is too much generosity. Commissioners are never appointed—they were not in the old days and they are not now—where the local authority has been so mean that it has not given what even the Minister himself would have allowed had 439 the local authority been a little troublesome.
The appointment of commissioners is indicative of the mind of the Government and of their supporters. They are appointed only where there is a Labour majority. They are not appointed where boards of guardians have scales of pay far below the average, but only where Labour boards of guardians or, in these days, Labour public assistance committees interpret their responsibilities a little more generously than the Minister likes. That is the policy of the Government. Our contention is that in the light of the experience of one year and nine months of the operation of this system of economy and unemployment insurance legislation, the time has come to revise the arrangements and to restore at least the conditons which prevailed before the General Election of 1931. There is ample proof of the disastrous social consequences of this policy in the homes and lives of unemployed workers.
The Government claim to have carried the country through its economic difficulties; it is pleased with its achievements. We have just heard from the hon. Member for Gateshead (Mr. Magnay) what excellent work the Government have done, if that is so there is a moral responsibility to the casualties in the industrial field for a little more generous treatment than they have been receiving since the Government took office. They have suffered more than any other section of the community, and if there is any truth in the claim of the Government that the situation is now easier then in their mercy, if not out of a sense of justice, they should do something to ease the lot of workers who are not responsible for their own plight. The responsibility of the Government to do something now to ease the position of the workers is stronger than ever. If the Government were a body of mighty men, battling with the problem of unemployment and undertaking constructive efforts to deal with it, if they had a definite constructive policy for providing work, we might perhaps forgive them, but seeing that they have destroyed every constructive effort which was being made and are now relying on vain hopes and on their protectionist policy, the responsibility for a reasonable treatment of the unemployed becomes even greater.
440 Another criticism which has been heard from all sides of the House is the very unsatisfactory position of the distressed areas. When I heard the Minister of Health expounding his policy of robbing Peter to pay Paul, and trying to extort from wealthier local authorities money to give to the poorer authorities, I anticipated that we should have a temporary Bill of this kind, because it was clear that the Government had no settled policy on the question. If the Government is going to continue its present policy, if people are going to be cast off transitional payment and on to the Poor Law, if unemployed workers under National Health Insurance are to lose maternity benefits and other rights, then more and more burdens are going to fall on the distressed areas. This is a problem which ought to have engaged the serious attention of the Government, but by this Bill, without any Government assistance, their plight will be even worse than it was before.
Other hon. Members have referred to the fact that no permanent scheme is ready, and have regretted it. From what I have heard from the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour I am rather apprehensive as to the kind of permanent scheme we are going to get. In this matter I share the view of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). If Governments make promises they should carry them out. Certainly the Government ought to carry out a promise contained in the current King's Speech. This is a Government of procrastination; it has become highly skilled and adept in the art of procrastination. Having sat nursing the American debt problem for months at the eleventh hour and the fifty-ninth minute, indeed, almost at the fifty-ninth second, the House of Commons is made to look the most foolish assembly in the world by sitting twice waiting for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell us what is going, to be done about it. You could not have greater procrastination. We were within a few minutes of serious default when the Chancellor of the Exchequer came to the House and told us what was happening.
The same procrastination applies to the measure of unemployment insurance. In the last King's Speech there was no, 441 mention whatever of a Housing Bill, but on the heads of an astonished House of Commons there suddenly descended a Housing Bill, which was forced through all its stages, taking up a lot of Parliamentary time, which the Government were under no obligation to introduce. We are now to spend our time, this week and next, in dealing with a temporary Bill, more waste of Parliamentary time, when in His Majesty's Gracious Speech there is the most specific pledge dealing with unemployment insurance. I will not read the passages from the Speech, but the question of unemployment insurance takes up more space in the King's Speech than any other single question, and it was anticipated that a Bill would be introduced dealing with it. Then again, they had the report of the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance in their hands two or three weeks before they produced the King's Speech. They clearly meant to introduce definite unemployment insurance legislation. They have no scheme yet.
Whatever may be said about the Minister of Health who has had some legislation, some of which he did not want, it cannot be said that the Minister of Labour in this Parliament has been so busy on the Floor of the House that he has not had time and opportunity to bring forward this permanent legislation which was so specifically promised in the King's Speech. I share the view that if we had had it we should find it open to serious criticism. The noble Lord the Member for Hastings in this matter sees eye to eye with the Minister of Labour, who, while he wants to have a national scheme, is going to cast some of the burden on local authorities. If that is not the case the words which he used on Wednesday do not mean anything at all. When I heard of a readjustment of the financial relations between the State and local authorities, when they are taking responsibilities from local authorities, I know it does not mean that they are going to give money to local authorities but to make a further charge upon them. Nevertheless, although we are apprehensive about this new scheme, which is to be introduced some time or another, the Government were under a pledge to introduce this legislation and have failed to fulfil their promise.
442 I am satisfied that nothing that is said from these benches will have the slightest influence on the Government in the matter. But even if there are cases produced of people with a large amount of property getting unemployment benefit, even if those cases be true, hon. Members who support the Government must know that under this decentralised administration of a national scheme there are bound to be enormous variations in standards of administration, and that in many areas there must be an enormous amount of hardship, which I am certain supporters of the Government must deplore. If the Minister of Labour in carrying on this scheme would say that he is going to use his commissioners to stir up the reactionary authorities, that would be something. But no, the system has to go on now, after all this period of prolonged trade depression, with the outlook certainly no brighter than it was, with this deterioration and subtle demoralisation in our midst; when something more and not something less ought to be done for these people, we are to carry on for another year without any substantial alteration in the methods of administration. I hope even now that in this matter the Minister will be a little more generous than he has been hitherto, and will agree that his method of working the Act has meant serious suffering for very large numbers of people, and that even if he-insists on continuing it I hope he will find it in his heart, with the support of Members of all parties, to impose a more generous and more humane standard of administration on those who are responsible for the machinery of the Unemployment Insurance Act.
§ 2.49 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. R. S. Hudson)
The Debate of the past two-days has ranged over a very wide scope, considerably beyond the actual details and provisions of the Bill. On the-whole it has been a very interesting Debate. It has certainly raised a great number of points, of individual administration. I only wish that I had time to deal with all of them. As that time does not exist I propose to deal generally with as many of the points as possible. The main attack of the Labour party has been, firstly, our delay in bringing in a comprehensive Bill; secondly, the fact 443 that we have not restored the cuts; thirdly, a general attack on the means test, an attack on the report of the Durham Commissioners, and the administration of the Anomalies Act, as to which there have been one or two individual cases raised by hon. Members. I propose to deal with these points.
With regard to delay, my right hon. Friend said at the beginning of the Debate that no one regretted the delay more than we do. Both of us would have been only too glad had it proved possible to have piloted through the House a permanent Bill. But there is no doubt that the ramifications of any radical Measure, social, financial and administrative, the more you look into them the more complicated they become. It has not yet been possible to draft the necessary legislation. My right hon. Friend has promised that it will be introduced before the end of this Session. That probably involves sitting in the Autumn, and involves asking local authorities to shoulder the responsibility and burden of carrying on the present system during another winter. My right hon. Friend on more than one occasion has paid tribute to the public-spirited and self-sacrificing way in which members of local authorities, or the overwhelming majority of members of local authorities, have carried out what is a very onerous and often a very unpleasant task, and I feel sure we shall not appeal to them in vain to carry on in the same spirit for a further short period.
I think we can claim that, in so far as my right hon. Friend was able to forecast the details of our new administration, they have received a considerable measure of support, especially from hon. Members on our side. There have been one or two very good speeches, notably that delivered by the hon. Member for Western Renfrew (Mr. Scrym-geour-Wedderburn) and that by my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Crossley). To the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) I would like to say a special word of thanks for a very helpful speech. I have noted with interest that on all sides of the House hon. Members have approved the last sentence of my right hon. Friend's statement, in which he said that the general policy covering industrial workers would be the care of the Minister of Labour. 444 I have noted also with interest the general agreement, at all events among our supporters, that a definite cleavage and distinction should be made between employable men in the industrial field and those who cannot be so classed. One or two Members have suggested that public assistance committees should continue to deal with the latter class.
Let me deal with the general attacks on the means test. I think that most of the attacks made by the Labour party are due to a failure on their part to realise the difference between a contributory and a non-contributory scheme. It is clear that if you have a contributory scheme you must endeavour in some way to relate the amount of benefit that a man can draw to the amount of his contributions. As has been repeatedly stated, it is a fact that since 1921 the conditions have been relaxed and have destroyed all the real insurance elements of the scheme, and have made it nothing more than a glorified system of State relief. We want to get it back to an insurance system, and in an insurance system there must be some relation between the number of contributions paid and the length of time during which a man can draw benefit. If you give a man, after he has exhausted the benefit to which he has a right, the same amount of money under precisely the same circumstances, there is no justification for asking him to contribute at all. You may as well say that what you desire is a non-contributory system.
I am aware that hon. Members opposite, especially the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and his friends, would like a system of that nature. The Trades Union Congress put up a scheme of that kind to the Royal Commission. It was examined in detail, and hon. Members will recollect that the majority of the Royal Commission reported that they did not consider any such scheme as conceivable in any possible circumstances. They certainly said it was impossible in present financial circumstances. They pointed out that it would involve a charge of £167,000,000 a year in direct taxation. When it is recollected that the yield of taxation in the shape of Income Tax shows a staggering fall this year compared with last year, it is obvious that in ordinary circumstances, or any immediately conceivable circumstances, such a scheme could not exist.
445 We are therefore driven back to a contributory scheme and, if you have a contributory scheme, you must make some distinction between- the man who draws benefit to which he is entitled as of right by virtue of prior contributions, and the man who is not so entitled. That is the general answer but several hon. Members on the benches opposite hare asked the question why you should make any distinction between the man who draws benefit for 26 weeks and the man who draws benefit for any other number of weeks. As to the precise number of weeks for which a man should be entitled to draw benefit without coming under the means test, that is a matter for argument but this is not the time to discuss it. It can be more appropriately discussed when we produce our new scheme. My own opinion is that a single case of those quoted in their report by the Commissioners whom We had to appoint in Durham, is sufficient justification, by itself, for the means test. I do not want to quote many cases but let me take one at random. It is the case of a household which contains a man, his wife and two sons. The man owned 10 houses, one of which he occupied and the income from the remaining nine houses was 41s. a week. There was a mortgage of £50 and the two sons were working and earning 30s. per week. I think that in the present condition of the national finances there is no justification on moral grounds for giving that man 23s. 3d. a week from the harassed taxpayers or even the 20s. which the county council allowed. So much for the means test.
Let me deal with the question of the Durham Commissioners' report. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) made one or two threats as to what would happen if we used the examples given in the report for propaganda purposes. I can well understand his object. He and his friends in Durham object strongly to the country as a whole realising the sort of administration which was carried on by the Durham County Council. May I remind him that it was at his own request that we called for this report and at his own request that we published it. Having published it, we have no intention of not letting its contents be known. He and the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) went on to say that the expense of the Commis- 446 sioners was not justified, if these 44 cases were the only cases they could find in the whole of Durham in which to make reductions. I would point out that it was not a matter of 44 cases only—that they could have produced 440 cases or 4,400 cases of a similar nature. [HON. MEM-BEES: "Nonsense."] The mere fact that the Commissioners have reduced the percentage of full determinations from 92 to 70 shows the existence of illegal determinations. The Commissioners say in their report that the local authority whom they superseded had made no attempt to carry out their statutory duties. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) said he hoped that Commissioners would never be appointed again I think most of us agreed with him. We hoped we should never have to appoint them again, but the condition of never appointing them again is that local authorities should carry out the liability which they are elected to discharge.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
Let me remind the hon. Gentleman that the Government took power to appoint Commissioners, before it had set up the administrative machine under the local authorities.
§ Mr. HUDSON
It shows how wise we were in foreseeing what was likely to happen. These authorities were elected to administer the law and, in the words of the commissioners, they made no attempt to do so. The hon. Member went on to ask what was the cost of the administration and to suggest that the commissioners were costing more than the saving which they were making. I cannot tell the exact cost to a penny, but I can tell him that the additional cost for a year would probably be in the neighbourhood of £30,000 and that the saving which we anticipate from their appointment will amount to seven or eight times as much. On that ground alone, their appointment was fully justified.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Will the hon. Gentleman reply to the statement which I made as to the chief commissioner, who sat in judgment upon these other people. Will he reply to the question which I put? Is it not a fact that this man found it impossible to live on £l,200 a year himself?
§ Mr. HUDSON
I think on reflection the hon. Member will rather regret that the 447 heat of the moment led him the other day at Durham, to make the personal attack on the chief commissioner which he did make. However, as the hon. Member has raised the matter, I may be allowed to read the correspondence which passed. The late commissioner, Mr. Kenneth Holland wrote the following letter to my right hon. Friend on 6th March:On Tuesday last there was a report in the Press of a summons against me for payment of a betting debt incurred some time ago. The report was inaccurate in 6ome material particulars, especially in reference to the suggestion that I was relying upon the Gaming Act, but I do not regard it as appropriate to discuss here the merits of the action nor of my answer to it. The publicity which has been given to the incident was directed not so much at me in my personal capacity as in my position as commissioner in this area.In these circumstances the matter would be likely to be used to discredit my administration and that of my colleagues, and consequently might embarrass you as the Minister who appointed me. I should be glad therefore if you would see a way to accept my resignation of my duties as soon as it is convenient to you.To which my right hon. Friend replied:Dear Mr. Holland.—I have received your letter of 6th March. I very much regret this unfortunate incident, and I appreciate the motives which have led you to offer your resignation. In the circumstances, I feel I am bound to accept it. I should like to take this opportunity of expressing to you my sincere thanks for the conscientious manner in which you have carried out your very difficult duties.I think if there is any hon. Member who has never himself laid a bet, he should be the first to cast a stone.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I do not think that the attack reflects very great credit on the party opposite. I now turn to the question of disability pensions mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for East Newcastle-on-Tyne (Sir R. Aske). He suggested that the position of pensioners who received less than 12s. a week had, without exception, been made very much worse and he quoted in support of his statement a circular issued by my right hon. Friend's Department. His statement apparently was reported in the local Press and we had a letter from the 448 town clerk of Newcastle this morning saying that the statement was completely untrue and that, on the contrary, large numbers of pensioners drawing pensions of less than 12s. had benefited substantially by the terms of the Determination of Need Act. I have not time to quote the circular in full but if any hon. Member would like to see it I shall be glad to show it to him.
The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street suggested that although the genuinely-seeking-work condition had been abolished, its place had been taken by the "normally" condition. The "normally" condition, I would remind the House, was inserted in the Act of 1927, and the Labour party in their Act of 1930 embodied this condition, and as they were responsible for passing that Act, it is to be presumed that they thought the condition was a fair one. It was suggested in one of the speeches from the benches opposite that this condition was being administered by my Department in a harsh spirit, but there is no question of administration by my Department. The question of whether or not a man fulfils the "normally" condition is not one for my officials, but it is one for the determination of the court of referees, an independent statutory authority, and by the Umpire. Therefore, we have no influence whatever, and there is no ground for the statement that as a result of administrative action on our part, the "normally" condition is taking the place of the "genuinely-seeking-work" condition.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is that strictly accurate? It is true, but is it not a fact that the person who sends the people to the court of referees is this insurance officer, who is the hon. Member's servant, and to that extent an insurance officer, being his servant, can determine whether or not a man shall go to the court of referees? In other words, he can determine whether or not his claim can become the subject of adjudication.
§ Mr. HUDSON
Yes, but he cannot determine what the judgment of the court of referees should be. The umpire has expressed himself very definitely on this subject, and I think it is of sufficient importance for me to read out what he has said, which is that if a claimant, having been unemployed for a consider- 449 able length of time, is making no efforts to obtain insurable employment, it might legitimately be said that he has not satisfied the onus of proof required of him. The umpire continues:If, on the other hand, he is making some efforts, although they may fall substantially short of what in the past has been held to be necessary to satisfy the fourth statutory condition—genuinely seeking work—it might reasonably be found that the onus of proof is satisfied.In other words, the umpire's position is that the efforts that a man must make are substantially less than those he used to insist on in the old days. In another decision the umpire said:It is not necessary for a claimant to prove that he has been making applications for work day in and day out without regard to the utility or futility of such application.It is clear, therefore, that the umpire will not support any attempt to apply the "normally" condition in the sense that the old "genuinely seeking work" condition was applied, and in any case ray right hon. Friend proposes to call the attention of insurance officers again to the umpire's decision that I have just read out, so that, as far as that point is concerned, hon. Members really need have no apprehension. The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) raised a point in favour of one of his constituents that I will look into and let him know about, but prima facie he obviously did not exercise the right that he has of going to the relieving officer and asking why this decision had been given.
The hon. Member for Hemsworth (Mr. Price) argued that we had interfered with decisions of the West Riding County Council. We have interfered with no decisions. My right hon. Friend has no power to interfere with the individual decisions of a local authority. What he can do, and did do, is to call the attention of local authorities to the fact that in making these decisions they were acting illegally.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
May I ask whether the Minister at any time during the operation of the means test consulted the West Riding Public Assistance Committee where it was felt that their treatment was more harsh than some people thought it ought to be, or are we to understand from the hon. Gentleman's statement that he merely confirms the impression that 450 we all have on these benches that his Department or the Ministry of Health, which on occasion acts for it, only intervene where they think the local public assistance committees are too generous?
§ Mr. HUDSON
No, we intervene wherever we think local authorities are not carrying out the law, and if any proof were needed of the fact that on the whole this means test and transitional payments administration is on the generous side, it is to be found in the fact that of new determinations 76 per cent. are granted at full rate and of renewals 86 per cent. at full rate, leaving only the balance at either nil or less than full rate, and then only where there are substantial resources coming into the home.
Now let me deal with the question of anomalies. When I first looked at the Order Paper and saw that the Labour party were proposing to move this Amendment on the ground that they do not like some of the anomalies, I thought that the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street would tell us which anomalies he did not like, but, as the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald), pointed out, he did not fulfil that function. I prefer the hon. Member for Ince, who frankly and courageously said that he believed in the Anomalies Act. A good number of Members opposite tried to escape their responsibility, particularly the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Cape), by suggesting that they had not really intended, when passing the Bill, the effects that subsequently came about. That, however, will not really help hon. Members opposite, for the good reason that during the Committee stage there were at least 36 divisions, and before every one of them the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and his friends pointed out to Members of the Labour party what the effect of the particular provisions they were passing would be.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I agree, but they cannot come along now and say that they were not warned and that they did not do it with their eyes open. At any rate, hon. Members below the Gangway did warn them.
§ Mr. HUDSON
That is the most cowardly action of all, because you cannot say, because you did not vote in favour of it, that you disapprove of it. It would be perfectly easy to defend my position to-day by relying on the inconsistencies of hon. Members opposite, but I am not going to do that. I have a very much stronger case. I think that hon. Members opposite did perfectly right in passing the Anomalies Act. Anyone who casts his mind back to 1930 or 1931 will remember that there was hardly a town in England, and there was certainly not a street in any industrial town, where one did not hear of case after case of people drawing benefit who, by a general concensus of public opinion, were not entitled to it. The right hon. Gentleman who was then Minister of War, Mr. Tom Shaw, stated very truly that no one hated abuses more than the honest decent working man, and my experience is that that is perfectly true. He went on to say that it was no use shutting our eyes to the fact that anomalies existed; they did exist and ought to be dealt with I think that hon. Members would be much better advised frankly to defend their action in stopping these abuses.
What was the position in 1931? I am not going to say that the whole of the abuses arose out of the Labour party's Act of 1930, because it would not be true or fair. No doubt, however, that Act enormously increased them, for it not merely relaxed the conditions for receiving benefit, but it knocked away one of the main props on which the Blanes-burgh Committee had relied to prevent abuses of the improved conditions which they recommended. What was the result of that? By May, 1930, the number of persons receiving transitional benefit had risen to over 300,000. Some of this increase was undoubtedly due to an increase in the live register that took place at the same time, and to 50,000 who came off the Poor Law. The great majority, however, had never been in receipt of Poor Law relief before, and over 60,000 of them had never taken the trouble to sign on at employment exchanges.
Do hon. Members opposite really defend that? Do they want to see the Anomalies Act lapse and that state of affairs come back into operation? Do they defend the position which existed in the printing trade in Wales, where the 452 trade unions have an agreement with the employers that when a woman marries the employers will not take her back to work, and yet, before the Anomalies Act was passed, such a woman was allowed to go on drawing benefit for an unlimited period? Do they really believe that the position of the Scottish herring fishers was right? We found that before the Labour party Act of 1930 2,500 of those girls had applied for exemptions because they did not want to pay contributions, but after the Labour party Act came into operation they applied in overwhelming numbers for their exemptions to be cancelled in order that they could take advantage of the Act. Do the Labour party believe that fishermen or fisher girls in Scotland should pay 17s. 6d. during the season, their employers paying at the same time 20s., and be entitled year in and year out to draw £20 for the remainder of the year? Those were the sort of abuses that were in existence, and, believe me, the Labour party would do better to admit that we have been right.
Now I come to the question of married women. A specific object of the Act, it was stated by Miss Bondfield, was to prevent married women who, by the fact of marriage, are excluded from industrial employment from drawing benefit. It is idle to pretend, as the Labour party do now, that they did not anticipate that the results which have followed would flow from that legislation. The hon. Member for Ince made a good debating point when he said that it was unfair that women should have to satisfy condition I and condition 2, because the evidence they were required to give to satisfy condition I was put forward as an argument to prove they had failed to satisfy condition 2. That is a good debating point, and I give him full credit for it, but that is not the real test and the umpire has not regarded it as the real test. The real test is found in actual practice and in the employment found. The hon. Member for Ince quoted a statement by Sir William Jowitt to the effect that it was impossible to devise any form of words which would apply all over the country. The answer briefly is that the umpire, in his wisdom, has laid down certain decisions which apply to certain conditions of work. In particular, as the hon. Member for Ince knows, he gave a 453 decision which applies to married women in the Lancashire textile trade, and has considerably mitigated what otherwise would have been the effect of this particular Regulation. He has laid down other decisions for other parts of the country and for particular classes of persons. In other words, he has met the difficulty which the Act was intended to meet. My right hon. Friend has promised that before introducing the new Bill he is going to call the Advisory Committee together, and this question of the married woman will be one of those which will be submitted to them to see whether they can in the light of experience advise on any altered Regulation.
I turn now to the question of seasonal workers. An attempt was made by the hon. Member for Workington to discredit the operation of the Seasonal workers Clause of the Act by quoting the cases of domestic workers. I think that case is amply covered by what I said about fisher girls. Everyone knew that the Act was specifically designed to cut those very girls out of benefit, and the fact that it has been successful is one of the justifications for it. But apart from that, the hon. Member, like many other hon. Member, says: "Is it not unfair to insist on a person contributing during the season when she knows in advance that she is not going to get benefit during the off season?" Some hon. Members have asked me whether they ought not to urge their constituents to claim exemption. My answer has been that it is perfectly open to them to claim exemption, provided they are not employed for more than 18 weeks. From the investigation that we made, we found that, of all persons who were disallowed benefit during the off season, the majority had drawn benefit during the previous season and that the benefit they drew was greater than the amount of the contributions paid by and in respect of all the persons disallowed. So far as I am concerned, I would very much rather that they claimed exemption, because they are a greater liability than an asset; but, from the point of view of the people concerned, it is better that they should not do so, because there is a definite risk of unemployment during the season.
One question was raised by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street regarding 454 general conditions. He quoted from reports of medical officers of health, and a similar argument was used by the hon. Member who opened the Debate to-day. That matter was very fully dealt with by the Minister of Health on 8th May. He pointed out that he was keeping the matter under his constant review, and was having definite investigations made, but that so far he had not been able to find any general justification for the allegations. So far as concerns the specific case of Newcastle, the Chief Medical Officer of Health was sent to Newcastle last week to conduct a special investigation into that allegation. The Chief Medical Officer reported that there was no under-feeding of children in Newcastle, and no underfeeding in general, except in one or two cases of parents. It is perfectly certain, and everyone must agree, that there must be individual cases of hardship. You could not have 2,500,000 people out of work without some hardship arising.
When the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street goes on to say that the great mass of unemployed are infinitely worse off than ever before, I venture to think that he has ceased temporarily to understand the meaning of words. There is no foundation for that statement. There were no qualifying words. One hon. Member asks what about 1832. I will deal with a very much more recent period than 1832. The Labour Research Bulletin shows that, at the time the Labour party were in office, in spite of the relief that they granted to the unemployed by the steps that they took to promote relief works and so on, the real wages of the people steadily fell; whereas, since we have been in office, they have started to rise, and they are within half a point to-day of what they were when we came out of office. That is allowing for unemployment. If you take the actual full-time figure you will find that the people of this country are 22 per cent. better off than even as late as 1924. As regards the benefit for a single man; under the Labour party Act of 1924, the single man got 18s. Then 18s. in purchasing power, due to the change in the cost of living, was worth about 13s. 11d.; to-day the single man gets 15s. 3d. In other words, in actual purchasing power the single man is at least 1s. 4d. better off than he was under the Labour party in 1924. As regards the married man about whom we 455 have heard a great deal to-day, he is at least 6s. better off in purchasing power than he was in 1924.
§ Mr. TOM SMITH
What about the single man who goes on to transitional payments and who is reduced to 10s. per week?
§ Mr. HUDSON
He is only reduced in cases where he is living at home, and there are other resources in the house. In any case, in 1924 a single man of that type often did not receive anything at all. There was no discretion to reduce the single man's benefit; all that could be done was either to give the full rate or nothing, and the majority got nothing at all.
§ Mr. HUDSON
Yes, Sir; I have taken into account all the factors involved in the cost of living. I assume that the hon. Member will not deny that the Labour party also took rent into account, and rent is included in the figures I have just quoted with regard to real wages. I turn now to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). His position is entirely different—
§ Mr. LAWSON
May I remind the hon. Gentleman that I asked a particular question as to whether the Minister of Health had given any instructions as to the exclusion of 50 per cent. of the pension of a disabled man? That exclusion was permissive in Poor Law cases, and, in fact, it is not being taken advantage of by the Poor Law authorities.
§ Mr. HUDSON
The hon. Member will recollect that that matter was very fully discussed in the House, and the House decided, after full discussion, to make it mandatory in the case of persons applying for transitional payment under my Department, and permissive in the case of local authorities. That is the law as it stands to-day, and no doubt, as a result of its being permissive, there is a certain discrepancy as far as the recipients of Poor Law relief are concerned. As regards transitional payments there is no discrepancy, and I am satisfied that in every case the law is being carried out and the full 50 per cent. is being allowed.
456 The hon. Member for Gorbals is, as I was about to point out, in a very much stronger Parliamentary position, because he has opposed the Anomalies Act from the very beginning. There is probably no one in the House who knows more than he about unemployment insurance, owing, no doubt, to the many hours that he spends in arguing with officials of my Department on behalf of his constituents and others; and he also knows with what very great attention my right hon. Friend treats any representations that he makes about the details of administration. On this matter of anomalies, there is no common ground between us at all. The hon. Member frankly defends his opposition to the original Anomalies Bill on the ground that it was right and proper that money should be taken out of the pocket of the taxpayer and given to the unemployed, whether the unemployed needed it or not. As my hon. Friend the Minister of Transport pointed out, the hon. Member believes, no doubt quite sincerely, that taxation merely inconveniences the rich and benefits the poor. We, on the other hand, believe that taxation, and especially the excessive taxation of to-day, does more than merely inconvenience the rich—it damages the poor. It is true that it may put a few odd shillings into their pockets in the form of unemployment benefit, but it abstracts from them what is far more important, namely, the opportunity to work.
The Labour party were misled into extravagance in those days, and we saw the immediate result in a steady rise in the unemployment figures. They were frightened by that result, and passed the Anomalies Act, but we are still suffering from the effects of their administration. You cannot destroy confidence and get a reputation for extravagance without in a very short time injuring the trade and industry of the country, which takes a very long time indeed to recover. If proof were needed of what I am saying, surely it is to be found both in the unemployment figures and in the trade figures of the last few months. This year, for the first time in several years, there has been a steady improvement in employment in the first four months of the year. In 1929, the last year that we were in office, there was an improvement in three months out of the four, while in 1930, the Labour party's first year of 457 office, there was a steady deterioration of employment in every one of the first four months of the year. This is the first year in which there has been a steady improvement, and it shows that the husbanding of our resources is worth while.
Hon. Members opposite may possibly say that it is not they who were responsible for this, but the international slump. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman ought not to object, because he has always prided himself on being an internationalist. Hon. Members may have noticed in the "Economist" last week a table showing the drop in world trade in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, and the first quarter of 1933. The figures were so interesting that I had corresponding figures taken out for this country, and I find that, whereas in the two years when the Labour party were in office the drop in our export trade was much greater than the drop in the international
§ export trade, in the two years that we have been in office, more especially in the last quarter, the drop in our export trade has been considerably less than the drop in the world export trade. The conclusion that I draw from that is that there are certain elements within our control, that it was the extravagance of the administration of the Labour party that caused the increase in unemployment and the reduction in the standard of living, and it is the husbanding of the national resources that we have been responsible for that is improving the situation; and for these reasons I ask that the Amendment be rejected and a Second Reading be given to the Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 212; Noes, 29.459
|Division No. 224.]||AYES.||[3.32 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Albery, Irving James||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (L'pool, W.)||Crooke, J. Smedley||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Cross, R. H.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Applln, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Crossley, A. C.||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Davison, Sir William Henry||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Dickie, John P.||Kimball, Lawrence|
|Balnlel, Lord||Donner, P. W.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Duckworth, George A. V.||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Duggan, Hubert John||Leckie, J. A.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portem'tn, C.)||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Levy, Thomas|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Ellis, sir R. Geoffrey||Liewellin, Major John J.|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Ersklne, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Essenhigh, Reginald Clara||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian|
|Briant, Frank||Evans, Capt, Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Macqulsten, Frederick Alexander|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Magnay, Thomas|
|Brockiebank, C. E. R.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Maitland, Adam|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mallalleu, Edward Lancelot|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Ganzonl, Sir John||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Burghley, Lord||Goff, Sir Park||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Gower, Sir Robert||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Meller, Sir Richard James|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Graves, Marjorle||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro',W.)||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B, Eyres|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Grimston, R. V.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J.A. (Blrm., W)||Guest, Capt, Rt. Hon, F. E.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hales, Harold K.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Hall, Capt, W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Morrison, William Shephard|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney Zetl'nd)||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hanley, Dennis A.||Mulrhead, Major A. J.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Munro, Patrick|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hartland, George A.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Newton, sir Douglas George C.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Normand, Wilfrid Gulld|
|Nunn, William||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G.A.||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Patrick, Colin M.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Penny, Sir George||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Percy, Lord Eustace||Scone, Lord||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Petherick, M.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Peto, Sir Basll E. (Devon, B'nstaple)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||. Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Pownall, Sir Assheton||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Wardlaw-Milne. Sir John S.|
|Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Smith, Sir Jonah W. (Barrow-in-F.)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dlne, C.)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Ratcliffe, Arthur||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Ray, Sir William||Soper, Richard||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Rea, Walter Russell||Spens, William Patrick||Windsor-Cllve, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Reid, David D. (County Down)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Remer, John R.||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Rentoul, Sir Gervals S.||Storey, Samuel||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Stourton, Hon. John J.||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Robinson, John Roland||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Mr. Blinded and Commander|
|Runge, Norah Cecil||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Southby.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Edwards, Charles||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Price, Gabriel|
|Banfield, John William||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Jenkins, Sir William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Buchanan, George||John, William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cape, Thomas||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Cocks, Freoerick Seymour||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, Thomas (York, Don Valley)|
|Cove, William G.||Lawson, John James|
|Daggar, George||Lunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Malnwaring, William Henry||Mr. Tinker and Mr G. Macdonald.|
|Dobble, William||Maxton, James|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House for Monday next.—[Captain Margesson.]