HC Deb 24 April 1934 vol 288 cc1593-688

5.26 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 57, line 13, to leave out "not less than three nor more than five," and to insert "six."

I am moving this Amendment in conjunction with three other Amendments standing in my name, because they all hang together: In page 57, line 24, leave out "one," and insert "three"; in line 25, leave out "one," and insert "three"; and in line 26, leave out from "workers," to end of paragraph.

The purpose of these Amendments is to increase the number and to define the composition of the committee to be set up to administer the affairs of the fund. The committee have an extremely arduous and a very extensive function to carry out. They are responsible not merely for routine work but for considering all the many points enumerated on pages 58 and 59 of the Bill, each one of which requires very detailed consideration and technical knowledge. In these circumstances I think it is necessary to have a considerable number of members, and in particular more than one to represent the point of view of the workers. The Schedule provides that the committee shall consist of a chairman and not less than three or more than five other members, and only one of them is to be a representative of the workers, who are directly interested, of course, in every one of these problems, and only one is to be a representative of the employers. There are many crosscurrents of interest affecting both employers and workers in this matter. For instance, there are the majority non-trade unionists on the one hand and the minority trade unionists on the other, and it is humanly impossible for one person adequately to represent both those bodies on occasions when their interests conflict.

The history of this Amendment is a somewhat curious one. It was originally put upon the Paper in the names of the hon. Members for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) and St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard). The circumstances in which it was withdrawn are so peculiar that I shall, if I may, draw the attention of the Committee, and in particular of hon. Members sitting on those benches, to them. I feel certain that when I have developed those circumstances, the hon. Members concerned will return to their first mind and will support me in the Division Lobby.

The Amendment was not withdrawn because it was a bad one, but because it was too good an Amendment and was going to improve the Bill. That was the objection to it, not that there was any thing wrong with it. That is an extra ordinary sidelight on the way in which hon. Members opposite regard their function as an Opposition. I should have thought that an Opposition, when beaten on principle, would try to improve a Bill, although they objected to its fundamental principle, in order to make it as good as possible for their constituents. Apparently, certain hon. Members opposite, if the official statement of their party is accurate—I have no reason to doubt it—appear to take a different view. They appear to think that it is fair to use their constituents as pawns in a party game, and that the right procedure is to make the Bill as bad as possible in order to stir up strife and trouble among their constituents and to get political advantage out of it. I am well aware that there is a difference of opinion on this matter upon the benches opposite. If rumour has it rightly, there was a majority of one.

I appeal to those who are on the benches opposite—and this includes the hon. Members for Chester-le-Street and Normanton—to get the others of their party to come round and support me in trying to make this Bill as good as possible in the interests of their constituents. I observe that before hon. Members opposite made up their minds on this matter, they decided to consult the National Joint Council. I will now quote from the official statement of their party: This body considered the matter and expressed the opinion that on the whole it would be as well to press the Amendment, but, in doing so, the council fully realised that the question was one of Parliamentary tactics, Which could alone be decided.


Viscountess ASTOR



Have we really come to this?

Viscountess ASTOR



If the Committee will be serious for one moment, I would wish to treat this as a matter of constitutional importance. Is it to go out as the settled policy of hon. Members opposite that whenever they thoroughly object to the principle of a Measure, they are not going to make constructive Amendments? That is what they say in this statement. Going on, they say: The party, having heard the opinions of the National Joint Council, decided, nevertheless, that the better course would be to refrain from any constructive Amendments"— Of destructive Amendments let us have as many as you like, but refrain from any constructive Amendment— which might be interpreted as a weakening in the opposition which was offered towards Clause 17. Are we to take it, whenever in future we see a constructive Amendment on the Paper in the name of any hon. Member opposite, that the inference is that there is no particular objection to the principle underlying the Bill? That is the necessary inference, if this is a settled point of party policy. If we find a constructive Amendment, we may know thereby that hon. Members have no serious objection in principle to that part of the Bill. On the other hand, when the objection in principle to any part of any Bill is serious, and we see any Amendment on the Paper, we may know that that Amendment is intended to be destructive and not constructive.

Following from that principle, we come to a very interesting result. Hon. Members opposite complain sometimes, and at first sight there might seem some justification for their complaint, that they do not receive adequate time for discussion of certain parts of this and other Bills. If the Amendments which are crowded out were constructive Amendments, one would be inclined to be a little sympathetic, but we know from the statement which has been officially issued that Amendments which have been crowded out are not constructive but are intended to be destructive. Therefore, the only complaint which hon. Members opposite have is that they are deprived of a certain number more hours in which to try to carry on a Second Reading Debate for the destruction of the principle underlying the Bill. In face of this pronouncement, nobody on this side of the House will have any more sympathy with hon. Members opposite when they make such complaints about their Amendments.

Finally, they go on—and this seems to be a strange conclusion— It will then be the responsibility of the trade union movement.…to decide whether or not it shall be represented on the Statutory Committee. Hon. Members come here professedly as representatives, in a special sense, of the working class. We do not accept, of course, that they are that in any sense at all, but that is their profession. Professing to have some special concern in the interests of the wage-earners, and knowing, as they do, that hundreds of thousands of those wage-earners are out of work and drawing benefit, and will continue to be so for years, at least until a General Election, after which they may be able to make changes in the law—probably not for three Parliaments to come—they desert the interests of the unemployed who are in benefit and will be in benefit between this date and the earliest date when hon. Members hope to be able to alter the law, in order to gain some sort of political capital by stirring up strife and trouble in the constituencies.

I appeal to hon. Members opposite. I am sure that those whose names were attached to this Amendment beforehand do not place the interests of class war in front of the interests of their constituents. I appeal to those very numerous hon. Members to put the interests of their constituents first and to change their minds and support me on this Amendment. It would not be fair to have a Commitee of five persons—six persons including the Chairman—only one of whom was representative of the workers. If the Minister is not able to accept the Amendment as it stands, will he at least go so far as to undertake that, if more than three persons are appointed, the next one appointed after the minimum will be an additional representative of the workers, and that the next one after that shall be an additional representative of the employers. If he could, so to speak, ear-mark those two, it would meet the point with which I have dealt. Many hon. Members opposite are in sympathy with it. It is not possible for one man sitting by himself, however able a person he is, to keep his end up, if I may use a popular phrase, in discussion as well as if he has at his elbow another representative of the same interests—

Mr. BUCHANAN indicated dissent.


The hon. Member knows—


There are only three of us here.


If the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) were deprived of the support in this House of his two colleagues, his own personal contribution to our debates would not be half so good or half so valuable.


If I were here by myself and had not the aid and advice that I have, the House would tire of me much more frequently than it does. Hon. Members tire of me as it is, but to say that I would not be capable of representing the working-class, and that I need my colleagues to keep me true to the working-class, is inaccurate. We would do that, even if there were no others here.


I was only taking that as an illustration of my general proposition. I am quite certain that the hon. Member for Gorbals would be every bit as diligent in his attendance here and in his addresses to us, but I venture to think that his addresses would be neither as convincing or so well-informed if he were here by himself as they are now that he is in his present company. The same applies to one representative of the workers sitting on a board of six people, or to the unfortunate sole representative of employers, for that matter. In either case he has nobody to fall back upon and to consult. He has to do everything by himself. I ask the Minister to accept this Amendment or something very much like it, but, if the Minister does not do so, I ask hon. Members opposite to return to their first view and to support me in the Division Lobby.

5.43 p.m.

Commander COCHRANE

I hope that hon. Members are going to deal with this point. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) has told us what has happened, but hon. Members opposite are the only people who have first-hand knowledge of what has happened. We must accept the view which has been given by my hon. Friend as completely accurate, unless hon. Members give us the benefit of their views upon what is a very important Amendment affecting a very important question about the people who are to direct this very large fund. I hope that one hon. Member at least will be willing to give the Committee the benefit of his views.

5.34 p.m.


"In vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird." We on these benches make no apology for belonging to the organised trade union movement, or for being candidates of the organised working-class Movement of this country. The Amendment which the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) has laboured so much looked very nice on the face of it, but it is a little bit of sugar for the bird. It means the nationalisation of Non-Unionism. Sympathy with the worker would be sympathy with that worker who will not help himself by joining an organisation for his own protection. We are told that we have to make special arrangements for those men to be put upon committees who administer public funds. We make no bones about saying that, if they are not prepared to belong to the appropriate organisation, they have no locus standi in the administration of the Unemployment Fund.

If a man is not man enough to belong to the organisation of his fellow workers he ought not to be recognised by any working-class organisation. We are having an election in West Ham shortly, when we will give you an answer, such as I hope will also be given at Hammersmith today, which will indicate the attitude of the workers of this country. You may fool some of the people all the time, or all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

5.46 p.m.


I make no apology for the decision at which the Labour party arrived. I happened to be one of those concerned in arriving at that decision, and I took some active part in the Debate. If the Labour party had not arrived at that decision within their own party, but had been subject to some decision outside the party, the charge would have been made that we were not free men—

Viscountess ASTOR

Nor are you.


We have been free enough on this occasion, as the Noble Lady must agree. We have been free enough in the Labour party, representing our constituencies on a constitutional basis, to come to this decision as a Labour party, free from all dictation, exercising our own right; and complaint is made this afternoon that we exercised that right as a constitutional democratic party. That has given the hon. Member opposite the opportunity of a gibe. He has not only had a brief this afternoon, but a text. I do not wish to deny him the opportunity in the least, but, on the other hand, I am proud of the decision at which we arrived. Why did we arrive at that decision? Because this Bill cuts right across everything for which we stood as a Labour party in relation to the unemployed. The hon. Member knows very little about it. We have said as a Labour party that unemployment payments should be given as a right to the unemployed. We have stood for the principle of work or maintenance—

Viscountess ASTOR

You will never get it.


This is too serious a question for fooling. The Noble Lady had better keep quiet just for five minutes. We have said, as I have understood it, that unemployment benefit should never depend upon whether the Unemployment Fund is solvent or not. We have said that the effect of unemployment upon the unemployed man, suffering through no fault of his own owing to the conditions—


The Labour party never said that.


The hon. Member may say for the sake of argument, if he likes, that in practice we were unwilling, but that point of view of the Labour party right down the years has been work or maintenance—


Tempered by the means test.


No, never. This, so far as I am concerned, is a matter of first-class importance, and I am going to defend what we did with all the might that I possess. I say again deliberately that, in the first place, this Bill puts the receipt of unemployment benefit on the basis of a solvent fund. It takes the administration of unemployment benefit out of the hands of Parliament. It puts Parliament in the second place; as a matter of fact, it wipes out Parliament in the administration of unemployment insurance benefit. Therefore, we have said, quite rightly, that we should not be on an undemocratic body, a body that represents a step towards Fascism and dictatorship—that we should not be represented on that body in the administration of this fund. I am proud to think that the Labour party, reviewing the whole position and the principles upon which this Bill is based—on the one side the principle of a solvent Insurance Fund, and, on the other side, the principle of throwing men over to public assistance regulations and rules, of throwing the responsibility on bodies outside Parliament—said that membership of that body would mean that we were involved in the principles that underlie this Bill.

The hon. Member opposite may generalise as much as he likes about constructive and destructive attitudes, but we looked at this Bill, and we said that it meant the taking of control outside the House of Commons, and that member-ship of these committees meant, by implication at least, agreement with the principles embodied in the Bill. Therefore, we say that we will keep our hands clean and free, in order that—and I hope the time will come quickly—we may be able to fight in the constituencies, to bring forward with clean hands principles in opposition to those of this Bill; and, when we have won our victory on that basis, and are returned, I am confident that we shall say that this Bill must be [...]iped off the Statute Book, that the Statutory Committee must go, that the public assistance board is not the way to deal with the unemployed; and that we shall go back to our own first principle and our own policy which we have advocated for many years on the platforms of this country.

5.53 p.m.


I shall not detain the Committee for very long, because, unfortunately, I have another appointment. I did not know that this discussion was going to take place, and I should not have intervened but for one or two remarks of the last speaker. The Labour party are entitled to make decisions in their own party meetings. In that respect they do not differ much from the Conservatives. You gather up there, and the Prime Minister bullies you as he bullies any other party. It is the same Prime Minister. It is true that he does not always come, but he sends his delegates. He used to send his delegates up to us. It is true that his delegate now is Sir John Gilmour instead of John Clynes, but they are the same delegates—they do the same work, and there is no difference between them. I agree with the last speaker that this matter is terribly important. This Amendment does not quite cover it. I would like to see the House devote some attention to the theory of real democratic government. I have never had much quarrel with the Labour party on their principles; my quarrel with them has been on their application of the principles. I recognise that this is not the time to go into those matters, but there are one or two issues—


You agree that this is a step towards the application of those principles?


Suppose that the decision had been the other way by one vote, and that it had been decided that the Labour party should be allowed to put down this Amendment. In other words, suppose that the vote, instead of being a narrow one in favour of that, had been a narrow one against it—


May I ask the hon. Member to be perfectly fair, and accept what has been done? He is stating a supposititious case, but it is a fact that the vote has gone that way, and I ask him to give us credit for that sincerity.


I am giving them the credit, but I say that it raises the issue that, if the vote had been the other way, the hon. Member would not have been allowed to represent his Division; he would have had to accept just the same thing as those whose names were attached to the Amendment. The hon. Member for St. Bollox (Mr. Leonard) was not allowed to represent his Division; he has had to withdraw. I say this to the House of Commons, that the first loyalty that I have, and must have, is to the Division I represent. The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) represents a point of view of which he has no need to be ashamed, but every right to be proud. He says that his party has always stood for work or maintenance, and on two issues in that connection I challenge him. He became most indignant about the means test, but I should like to refer to a public party decision. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) is not present. At Scarborough he and I were in the Labour party. I was a delegate from my union to the Labour Party Conference, and he moved at that Conference a Motion for the abolition of the means test. The Conference turned it down, and the then Lord Privy Seal was his leading opponent.

I accept the hon. Member's theory that unemployment is not a crime, and that, therefore, a person who is unemployed ought to be dealt with as needing help, and ought to get his unemployment benefit as a right; but the Labour Party Conference and the Labour party in the House of Commons have repudiated that. Let me take the Anomalies Act as an illustration. It is true that not very many people were affected by it, but it will be agreed that it used to be the old Socialist doctrine—and I think it is a correct one—that, as long as there was one poor person, they had no right to be content. The issue was not on the numbers, but on the principle. I agree with that. While the numbers are small, the principle is the same. Seasonal workers go out and look for work and get it, but they are refused benefit, not because they are bad but because they are seasonal workers. In other words, they are penalised because of their poverty.

I am out of the Labour party because I would not do it and because I remain faithful to their creed. I cannot get trade union money now because I have never voted against the Labour policy yet. They said, "You have never voted against the policy of the party, but we have, and, in order to make you do what we have done, you must sign a document saying that, if we meet you in private, you will do the same." They wanted me to sign a document saying that if we agree in private, I must either vote with them or abstain from voting, which is cowardly. I did not sign. I know the power of your machine, and you must win. The best test is that my union has elected me to the most difficult position in it, and they are better judges than the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham), who sneers. They know me, and they work with me. I hear men say that the party believes in this and that when I know they have been doing it, and it is wrong. The hon. Member says I enjoy it. What about your enjoyment of me upstairs when you persecuted me in private meeting to do things. How did you enjoy it?


I wonder whether the hon. Member is personal?


No, and I do not want to be personal. This Bill is taking the power away from Parliament. There was one occasion when the Labour people rose in the middle of the night and did not want us to have the right to vote. You took the power completely out of Parliament's hands. You took me upstairs, and I was censured, not because I had voted against it, but because I said I would. I am more moderate than ever they were. I could not be an extremist if I tried. My quarrel with them is that they said I was to sign a document that, if they decided anything at a private meeting, I must do it. You voted for the 2s. for the children because someone went to a meeting and told you you had to do so. This issue raises the whole theory of democratic government. Sooner or later, we have to face up to this, that a pledge given to your constituents is a solemn thing, and no movement has the right to take from that pledge anything that is in it, and that pledge solemnly given to poorer people has a right to be carried out.

I will vote against the Amendment because I agree with the hon. Member fo[...] Aberavon (Mr. Cove). This is a shockingly bad Bill and it is our duty, thinking that it is going to lower the status of the poorest people, to fight it in the hope that one day they will put a decent Bill in its place which will say what the founder of the Labour party laid down as its cardinal principle when he said that the nation ought to see that the person who cannot be fitted in is given a decent, human reward. With that I fundamentally agree. They robbed the poor people under the Anomalies Act. I opposed them, and I would oppose them if they did it again.

6.7 p.m.


The Debate has been one of exceptional interest, but, on the whole, it will probably be the opinion of the Committee that we might now come to a conclusion on the Amendment. The result of the Amendment would be that the Statutory Committee would consist of three representatives nominated after consultation with employers and three after consultation with the trade unions. That would be three on each side. That is not in the least what I think the constitution of the Committee should be, and I am sure I shall have the majority of the Committee with me in resisting the Amendment.

6.8 p.m.


I agree with the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) that the attitude of the Labour party on this Amendment is a matter of first-class importance. He told us that he and his friends are free men in this matter, and there are some in the House who seem to agree with him. It is very easily put to the test. Would the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) tell us whether he has been told to vote against the Amendment. We know that he is in favour of it, because he put his name to it, and we know that he has been told to take his name off, and he has done what he was told. Has he also been told to vote against it, and is he going to vote against it? If so, it is a farce to describe him as a free man in respect of the Amendment. How can any Member be described as a free man if he puts his name to an Amendment because he believes in it and refuses to vote for it because he is told not to do so. If he will answer my questions, we shall know whether the hon. Member for Aberavon is right in describing his friends as free men.

6.9 p.m.


I want to say one or two things, and I shall say them, I hope, in moderation. I want to ask the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) if the principle that he has laid down is a universal principle. I agree with the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) that the opposition to the Bill is entitled to destroy it in any way that it can. All oppositions have exercised that right. I wish, however, to know this from the hon. Member for Aberavon. When he moves an Amendment, which apparently in his view is a constructive or improving Amendment, am I to take it at its face value or is the Amendment really a destructive one? Have the Opposition received an order that no constructive Amendment is to be moved and that the Bill is to be made as bad as possible? What do we come here for? Are we sent here to represent our constituents and to speak and vote as we think right, or are we to be dictated to by a party or any other organisation? The principle that the hon. Member has laid down is the destruction of Parliament.

I do not in the least deny the force of party, but there are considerations which rise above party and there are occasions when we have to keep our independence, and I believe the great majority of the House do, but, supporting a principle which I am very sorry to see accepted by one whom I hope I may call my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), if the action that he has taken is to be accepted as typical of the Labour party I am afraid that that principle does not apply to the Labour party. I would ask him to reflect very deeply before he commits the party which he now leads to a point of view which I think is wrong and dangerous and destroys the activity and usefulness of Members, since that usefulness must depend very largely on the credit which the House attaches to their speeches. That credit will not be paid if the House believes that those speeches are made to order and do not express the convictions of the speaker. I have known the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street for some years. He and I used to represent different parts of the same county. I appeal to him to say something. I believe in him and in his honesty of purpose, but I believe he has made a mistake. I appeal to him as a Member of the House of Commons and as a House of Commons man of many years standing. I do not think it ought to go out that the Labour party takes the view that Members of the House of Commons are not able to express their views and by their speeches and their vote give weight to what they think right. That is a most dangerous and destructive doctrine, and I hope the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street will dispel it.

6.15 p.m.

Viscountess ASTOR

I beg to move, in page 57, line 14, at the end, to insert: At least one Member of the committee shall be a woman. I would remind the Committee that women are particularly qualified to deal with the rates of children's allowances and to decide rates of contributions particularly affecting women. There is a strong feeling in the country that women are not getting a fair return for their contributions. I am certain that hon. Members, if they inquired in their constituencies, would find that it is so. The Committee will have to examine the Anomalies Act, which is causing great difficulties. I do not know whether the Labour party who brought in this Act will still stick to their guns over this gross injustice to women. The Anomalies Act was brought in by the Labour party, and to the everlasting disgrace of the Labour party, they gave it to a woman to bring in. Have hon. Members not noticed that if there is something disagreeable to be done, men generally give it to a woman to do? The Labour party made extravagant promises when they came into office, and, as they knew that this matter was a difficult job, they gave it to a woman. I do not think that I have ever been more sorry for anybody than I was for the late Minister of Labour. Under the Anomalies Act a married woman, who might have worked all her life and have contributed to insurance, saw all her insurance cut out unless she could prove that she had had eight consecutive weeks' work since marriage, and, what was far worse, unless she could prove that she had a reasonable chance of getting work in her own neighbourhood, which was almost impossible. The Anomalies Act threw out of insurance hundreds and, indeed, thousands of women in the industrial areas.

I am sure hon. Members realise that there are certain qualifications which can only be possessed by women who are engaged in social work. I do not wish to say a word against the men, but still, when it is necessary to inquire into domestic affairs and into the state of dependence of children, women can do the work better than men in many cases—I will not go so far as to say in all cases. I know many a man who is more an old woman than any woman, and I know some women who are a little too mannish. We want to be certain that a qualified social worker is appointed on the Committee. I think that I am not asking too much of the Minister. In fact I am certain that he will accept the Amendment, because right along he has shown a deep sympathy, I will not say for the fairer sex, and I cannot say the weaker sex, but for the other sex.

6.19 p.m.


I cannot help believing that the Minister will accept this reasonable Amendment. I have a similar Amendment in the same terms. There are many precedents for a requirement of this character. We have it in the education committees of municipal and county authorities, but it may reasonably be argued that it is not necessary to make this class differentiation, but to say that the best five persons should be selected, whether men or women. That is, of course, the case against inserting a provision of this character, but anyone who is familiar with the provisions of Unemployment Insurance must recognise that there is a separate and definite problem for women. The Noble Lady has referred to the Anomalies Act which was brought about because of the complex and difficult problem of women in employment. It is only fair, right and just, if these new provisions are to work smoothly, and if the new body is to secure the confidence of the persons concerned, that there should be a woman on the committee to look after the interests of women. Therefore, I hope that the Minister will not be content by merely saying that a woman will probably be appointed, but that he will accept the principle that it shall be laid down in the Act of Parliament that one at least of the members of the committee shall be a woman.

6.21 p.m.


One of the most satisfactory features of the debates we have had on the Committee stage of this Bill has been the increasing value and importance which hon. Members in all parties have attached to the setting up of the Statutory Committee. The Bill specifies the various and several duties of the Committee, some of which have been indicated by the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor). In addition, there have been suggestions—in the list which I have before me there are 14 or 15—which it is suggested should be put before the Statutory Committee for inquiry. Therefore, obviously, in the view of the Committee as a whole, the importance of this Statutory Committee is very considerable. Indeed, when the Bill was drafted that was this conception of the committee which I hoped that the House would accept because I desired that we should set up a body to which the Minister of the day, whoever he might be, could refer for consideration and advice various difficult problems arising out of unemployment insurance. In view of the importance of the Statutory Committee and the variety of the topics with which they will have to deal, I think it is right to accept the Amendment which the Noble Lady has moved.

6.23 p.m.


Perhaps one's first impression when the Minister makes a concession is to accept it gratefully and say no more, but I am sorry I cannot do that on this occasion. I want to plead with him that, since the Amendment which preceded this suggesting that at least one-fourth of the members of the committee should be women has not been called, he might reconsider the matter on Report and introduce an Amendment in that form. My reason for the suggestion is that it is clear that, if the membership of the committee is only four, it will come to the same thing. If the Minister decided to make the committee of a maximum size of six there might be something in the objection because you could not have a woman and a half. I ought to have the support here of the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid), whom I do not now see in his place, but who spoke a few minutes ago on another Amendment. He stated that if you want to put a special point of view two can do it very much better than one. I put it to the Committee that there is a very large number of questions which will come before the committee which specially and very technically, and in a definite sense, will affect women. All the questions which will come before that body will affect women, of course, but, if you consider the size of the committee, a number of exceedingly difficult questions will arise requiring really expert knowledge.

Take the question to which the Noble Lady referred of the function of the committee to deal with special classes of applicants to whom special regulations apply. That raises the extremely vexed question of the Anomalies Act. It is true that that Act was introduced by a woman Minister, and I do not think that she could have foreseen the results when she introduced it. During the first fortnight that the Regulation under that Act was in force 74,000 women were struck off unemployment benefit, and in a year 180,000 women were struck off. There is very grave concern among many of the bodies, who at the time thought that the Act was perhaps a necessary Act, at the way it is being enforced. A large number of women who have contributed to insurance all their working life have been swept off from insurance benefit because it was argued that their marriage made it less likely for them to obtain employment in their own districts. A case came before the umpire of a woman who had worked continuously until marriage. After marriage, and before her confinement, she was dismissed from her job, and when she desired to go back again afterwards she was refused reinstatement. She applied for unemployment benefit and was refused on the ground that, owing to her having had a child, she was not likely to be able to obtain work in her own district. If she had been an unmarried woman with a child she could not have been refused on that ground. It is the custom, I understand, to accept a claim for benefit of an unmarried woman with children. What a stimulus to public morality! You can imagine that poor married woman going away and saying, "What a fool I was to get married!"

There are an enormous number of cases of serious hardship arising from the Anomalies Act. I do not pretend that they are cases which can easily be settled, for there is a real difficulty connected with the employment of married women, and you require women who are experts in these matters to deal with it. There is the question of rates of contribution and benefit which has to be considered by the board. I hope that the Committee will ponder very carefully the question as to whether women's rates of contribution bear a fair relation to their rates of benefit. We all know that they bear a higher relation. A woman pays more in proportion to what she gets. There is a much more serious point. She makes far fewer claims on the fund than men in proportion to the number of women, and she gets no consideration on that ground. Her contributions are pooled along with the contributions of the men. On the other hand, I know that under Health Insurance, where women are heavier claimants because of the greater liability to ill-health, the women's contributions are pooled separately and they have to bear the whole of the cost of extra liability for sickness. The special point of view of women ought to be put forward by women who have made a special study of the needs and problems of their own sex.

There is the question to which the Noble Lady also referred as to whether dependants' allowances should be increased. I do not think that any Member will deny that, after all, the natural custodians of children's interests are the women. There were a great many Members in this House who spoke strongly in favour of increased allowances in respect of the children of insured persons, and I wonder whether they have noticed their failure to soften the heart of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that subject judging by the Budget. The insurance rates are to be restored to their old level, but there is to be no increase, through the Budget, of the children's allowances. If you take the least computation made by an expert body as to the cost of the minimum necessaries of life, you find that a man with three children, spending the minimum on food, clothing, cleaning and the like, has 2s. 3d. left to pay his rent and do everything else. If he has five children he has not only nothing left for rent but is 5s. 3d. short of the minimum necessary for food and clothing. Nothing more can be done under the Unemployment Bill on that subject and we, therefore, have to look to the Statutory Committee. Is it not desirable that there should be women members who will not forget the needs of the children?


On a point of Order. I cannot understand how the argument of the hon. Lady is related to women members of the Statutory Committee.

The CHAIRMAN (Sir Dennis Herbert)

The hon. Lady has, I think, after an elaborate argument, been referring directly to the Amendment, so she is not out of order.


Not in one sentence have I departed from the Amendment. The Amendment is that there should be at least one woman on the committee. The Minister has accepted it. I am appealing to him to consider on the Report stage the possibility of putting two women on the committee, and the reasons I have advanced have all been directed to pointing out that there are functions assigned to the committee which call for the presence of expert women. And two women are more desirable than one, because you cannot assume that one woman represents the whole of the female sex any more than you can assume that one man represents the male sex. There is often more difference between the points of view of a man and woman of the same class than there is between two men or two women of a different class on questions which affect the needs and experiences of women. I asked the first woman who ever sat on the Manchester City Council, "What do you find is your principal job?" and she said "My principal job is that when the men talk, and talk and talk, forgetting that women exist at all, I just get up and say, 'Gentlemen, and the women.'" You want women on the Statutory Committee who will remember the interests of women and children and put them forward. It would work very much better if there were a woman on the committee representing the insured women's point of view, and another woman representing what I would call the impartial outsiders' point of view. If you are to have six members, then I think a one-third representation is not too much. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for the concession he has made, but I hope he will see his way to go a little further.

6.35 p.m.


I want to protest against this concession being granted. I may be brave, but I make no apologies at all for doing so. Surely the right principle is that the best people, whoever they may be, women or men, five women or five men, should constitute the Statutory Committee. Above all, their job should not be to represent different classes; their duties should be impartial and judicial in character. Even on the Statutory Commitee it would be very important for women members to keep in order on the questions which will come before them. It seems to me that it is very seldom, no matter what the question may be, that you do not find irrelevant arguments suddenly put forward by a woman if she is a member of a committee. The poet Fletcher said: Women should talk an hour; After supper. 'Tis their exercise. There is also a Japanese proverb which says that a woman's tongue is three inches long but it will kill a man six feet high.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether between now and the Report stage he will consider whether he ought not to make a further Amendment, that at least one member should be a man?

Amendment agreed to.

6.37 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 57, line 16, to leave out "five," and to insert "three."

This is a proposal to limit the period of office of members of the Statutory Committee to three years instead of five years. This is a great experiment, and the powers which are given to the committee are so great and delicate that the success or failure of the Bill depends on the right kind of people being appointed. They will have to administer the whole of transitional payments which affect 1,000,000 people. The Bill has been introduced largely because the experiment of the public assistance committees has not proved to be a success. Criticisms have come from every part of the country. The administration of the means test lays upon the people responsible duties which depend on the exercise of discretion; and they perform these duties instead of the Minister. This may have nothing to do with the Statutory Committee, but it is the same principle, because they, and not the Minister, will have to administer the Bill. They are given very wide powers. They will have to consider about nine Acts of Parliament, and may make recommendations in relation to about 30 different sections. They can recommend alterations to a whole range of things affecting large numbers of people, and these recommendations have to be brought before the House by the Minister. Hon. Members know that when a matter is brought before the House in the form of an Order, it does not always receive, to put it mildly, that consideration which it merits, and indeed is very often relegated to a discussion after 11 o'clock at night.

Hon. Members should seriously consider the various sections of the various Acts upon which the Statutory Committee are called upon to make recommendations. They can discuss and consider the statutory conditions for the receipt of unemployment benefit, and the disqualifications for unemployment benefit. They can also consider special provisions in respect of the discharge and treatment of marines, soldiers and airmen, and, indeed, there are about 30 different sections in nine different Acts of Parliament upon which they may make recommendations. We think that five years is too long a term for these powers to be exercised, and before the committee agrees to the proposal the matter should receive very careful attention. Unemployment insurance, since 1920, has, I think, been the subject of about 20 different Acts of Parliament; there are at least nine major Acts of Parliament. The scheme has been shaped and re-shaped. It has been one great experiment. A proposal which seemed quite certain has, in a month's or a year's time, been proved to be unsuccessful. The Committee will agree that three years is long enough as an experimental period in order to find out where we are in this respect. These are very great powers that are being given to this body. It is almost the first time in the history of the House of Commons that such powers have been delegated to a body of this character, and those powers, if not limited severely in action, ought at least to be limited in regard to the duration of time.

6.46 p.m.


I am prepared to admit that the question whether the members of the Statutory Committee should be appointed for five years or for three years is largely a matter of opinion and one upon which views may legitimately differ. My right hon. Friend has however given this matter long and careful consideration and has decided to suggest five years on the ground that it would not be easy to find persons of the standing whom we hope to appoint to the Statutory Committee, to undertake the work if the term of office were limited to three years. No one knows better than the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), with his long experience of the Department, how tremendously complicated and technical is this question of unemployment insurance and how long it takes one to become even acquainted with it. I do not profess to regard myself as a master of it but I think I have a nodding acquaintance with it and it has taken me at least two years to acquire that. This Statutory Committee will be asked to deal with a mass of technical questions and it is only reasonable if you are going to ask these men—and this woman—to learn up the subject, that they Should have the expectation of sufficient time in which to make use of knowledge that must be so painfully acquired.

The hon. Member may say that five years is too long because, if the members who are appointed in the first instance do not prove the proper persons for the work, it will be difficult or indeed impossible to change the personnel of the committee within a reasonable time. If hon. Members look at paragraph 5 of Part I of the Schedule they will find that the Minister has taken very full powers to dismiss any member of the Statutory Committee who, in his opinion, is unfit to continue in office or incapable of performing his duties. We think that that on the whole is a satisfactory safeguard and for those reasons, although as I say it is largely a matter of opinion, we consider that taking everything into consideration five years is the right period for which to appoint the members of the Statutory Committee.

6.49 p.m.


The Parliamentary Secretary has not given a good reason for rejecting this Amendment. He asks the Committee to believe that the Minister is going to appoint on the Statutory Committee people who have no knowledge of the Unemployment Insurance Acts. I think he is asking us to believe something which we know will not be the case. The members appointed to this body will undoubtedly be people who have had some experience of the working of the Acts.


Not necessarily.


Time will tell, but my experience is that the Government, when appointing a body of this kind, usually seek out those who have had experience of the work with which they will have to deal. Who can say that the representatives of the employers of this country have not some knowledge of unemployment insurance? The same remark applies to the workers side and the representatives of the Minister's Department will also be people who have had experience of this work. On the whole, I think the Parliamentary Secretary's reason is not sound. As has been said the setting up of this Statutory Committee is largely in the nature of an experiment. It is something new. It is to undertake duties which many of us believe should be retained in the House of Commons. As it is in the nature of an experiment, we consider that five years is too long and that three years ought to be substituted. In the changing political world many things may happen in three years. Some of us hope that before three years are over we shall have a different type of mind, even at the Ministry of Labour, dealing with unemployment insurance, and we certainly think that the Committee would be wise to accept this Amendment.

6.52 p.m.


I support this Amendment, and I am prepared to go into the Division Lobby in support of it. This is something more than a debating point. It has been said on many previous occasions that we are handing over to this Statutory Committee duties which have hitherto been regarded as legislative and administrative duties. We are giving this body tremendous power. In choosing the members of the committee the Minister, I have no doubt, will exercise the greatest wisdom and care but necessarily this must be largely a shot in the dark. Presumably the Minister will select people who have shown competence in other walks of life and in carrying out other duties but that consideration carries with it no certainty that those who are selected, when put into this new job and called upon to perform these new functions, will not make a hideous mess of it.

The Parliamentary Secretary says that it is desired to give the members of the Statutory Committee five years in which to learn their jobs. That seems to me to be a little long. It is more than any of us would be permitted in the manual trades. It is more than we would be permitted in the learned professions. It is more than we would be permitted in the Civil Service. If a man has not proved his competence inside a much shorter period, in any walk of life out he goes. Even a Government is only allowed five years as its maximum term, and few last that period. As a rule, long before a Government has reached the limit of its statutory existence, everybody is heartily sick of it—indeed Governments are generally heartily sick of themselves before the end of five years. Why then this very long period in the case of this Statutory Committee, particularly when we all recognise—at least I suppose we do—that if the members prove competent and do the work well their tenure of office is not a question of three years or five years? The tendency will be for these to become permanent appointments, and I am sure, in spite of the hint of the hon. Member for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith), that no question would ever be raised in the House of Commons of removing members of this committee on purely political grounds. It has never been customary in this country to do that sort of thing, and I do not suppose there is any indication that it will be done in the future. If members were removed it would be on the ground of incompetence. If they are to be removed on that ground, then I think a much earlier period than five years hence would be the appropriate time at which to do it.

The Parliamentary Secretary has referred to paragraph 5 of Part I of the Schedule under which the Minister has power to remove any of these members on the ground of unfitness to continue in office or incapacity to perform the duties. That perhaps demands too much of the Minister. It raises a tremendously difficult question. Anyone who has ever been responsible for looking after the work of individuals knows the difficulty. Any half-decent human being who is trying a person on a job will hesitate to come forward and say, "This person is incapable or is unfit to continue in office," unless some grave moral delinquency, some serious physical or mental incapacity or some grave and obvious dereliction of duty is involved. The ordinary, decent-minded man will not brand a person as unfit or incompetent unless he has glaring and obvious grounds for doing so. Yet the same man who would not dream of branding a fellow human being as incapable and unfit, may know that a certain person is not performing a certain job with a reasonable degree of efficiency. There is a tremendous gap between stating that a man is net doing a job efficiently and stating that he is incapable or unfit. Therefore, I do not think that paragraph 5 is a satisfactory alternative to the Amendment.

We had the case of another board which was not performing functions as important or serious as those to be entrusted to the Statutory Committee. I refer to the British Broadcasting Corporation executive or trustees or whatever they are termed. At any rate, two vacancies arose on that body on the expiration of a term of office. There was, presumably, no charge of unfitness or incapacity but the Government in its wisdom took the first opportunity that presented itself of removing the two members whose turn it was to retire and appointed two others in their place.


Of course that was not political.


Well, I do not know the inner history of the matter and if I did I would not go into it now. That does not arise on the argument which I am making here. My argument is that no one would have made a charge of incapacity or unfitness against the two persons concerned but the earliest opportunity that presented itself was taken to drop those two persons and appoint two others in their places.




I wish my hon. Friend would not ask me to go into details which do not arise on this particular matter. The Parliamentary Secretary indicated that the choice of five years, rather than three, was largely a matter of chance and that there was no serious or strong view in the Minister's mind in favour of five rather than three. I hope that he will, therefore, consider the representations which have been made here this evening and agree to the shorter period.

6.59 p.m.


I have come to the same conclusion as the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), and I came to that conclusion after comparing the power which the Minister takes in paragraph 5 of the Schedule with the term of office which is proposed in the Schedule. You appoint a man or a woman to serve on the Statutory Committee for five years. The term of office must run to five years unless the person becomes, in the opinion of the Minister, either unfit to continue in office or incapable of performing the duties. Now the Minister must act in a judicial capacity. He has not the right of a private employer. The private employer may say, "I do not care for the way in which you are doing your work, and I mean to make a change." The Minister has to act in a judicial capacity, and he has not only to know that the person is unfit or incapable, but also to convince public opinion of that fact—a very difficult thing. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Bridgeton; we all admit that a man may be unable to carry on the work he is supposed to carry on, and yet we cannot say that he is unfit or incapable. Considering especially that these duties are novel, it is a long time to give the Statutory Committee unless you have power to change them. If five years is to stand, does not my hon. Friend think that he ought to have a greater power to change? This whole experiment of the Statutory Committee all depends on the personality and the ability of its members. Here he may be fixed up with one, two or more members who he knows are not doing the work as he would like to see it done, and yet he has no power to change them.

May I, finally, point out that even if the term were reduced to three years, under paragraph 2 of the Second Schedule he has power to reappoint members, and so he can get that continuity of office which I quite agree is valuable. With that power to reappoint, however, does he not think that five years is rather a long time? I pray him to increase his powers so as to get rid of the man who, he thinks, is not doing the work as it ought to be done and who yet cannot be dubbed unfit or incapable.

7.3 p.m.


I said at the beginning of this discussion, in answer to the hon. Member, that this was very largely a matter of opinion. I cannot, on my own authority, accept the Amendment, but I will certainly discuss it with my right hon. Friend between now and the Report stage, tell him what hon. Members think, and see if he considers that a change should be made. With that assurance, would the hon. Member ask leave to withdraw the Amendment?


I am not very inclined to withdraw the Amendment unless this matter is to receive serious attention. A large number of matters which have been promised consideration during the passage of this Bill will, I am sure, be swamped, so that they will receive no reconsideration on the Report stage. Nevertheless, on the understanding that the hon. Member has given a very definite promise of reconsideration, I will withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

7.5 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 57, line 43, at the end, to insert: 8. There may be paid as part of the expenses of the Committee to persons attending meetings at the request of the Committee such travelling and other allowances (including compensation for loss of remunerative time) as the Minister may, with the consent of the Treasury, determine. It is fairly clear that it will be necessary from time to time for the Statutory Committee to ask various persons to give evidence before it. We think that it would be only fair, and in accordance with precedent, that such persons should have their expenses paid, and that any loss of remunerative time should be compensated.


It is a good thing that the Minister has seen this before the Bill comes into operation.

Amendment agreed to.

7.6 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 57, line 45, at the end, to insert: (6) To assist them in specific investigations the committee may appoint persons who are not members of the committee to act on sub-committees. I move the Amendment in the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman). Its object is to enable the Statutory Committee to obtain the assistance of persons who are not members of it to act on sub-committees. In view of the extremely complicated nature of the duties that are assigned to the committee, it is clear that it will have to make a large number of expert and detailed inquiries, and will probably also need to travel to different parts of the country in pursuit of its inquiries. Take any one of the headings, such as the question of the regulations applied to special people—I was turning a few minutes ago to the Anomalies Act—such as the part-time worker and the share fisherman; they all involve very technical consideration and inquiry in great detail. It will be one of the duties of the committee to see how the appeal tribunals are working and how the regulations in regard to the conditions of benefit are applied. There is a vast amount of technical work before the committee, and the membership may perhaps be only four or five persons, with a maximum of six, including the chairman. It is clear that the committee will need assistance from outside itself.

It may be said that that assistance can be rendered by the Ministry of Labour, but if the committee is to do its work as expeditiously and thoroughly as possible, it is desirable that it should have the assistance not only of the officials at the Ministry, but also of persons who have expert knowledge of the particular subjects which come within the committee's terms of reference. Those persons ought to be added to the sub-committees of the committee for purposes of advice. I have some notion that the hon. Gentleman may be about to say that this Amendment is unnecessary because the committee already has power to appoint sub-committees, including persons who are not members. In that case, of course, I should withdraw the Amendment, but otherwise I hope that he will consider it, especially at first, when all the members are to be quite new.

We ask the Minister to consider the Amendment so that the committee, faced with this quite new and exceedingly difficult job, may have the expert assistance of persons who have made a special study of some particular problem, such as the conditions of women's work, share fishermen, the working of the appeal tribunals, and the rates of benefit and contributions, and who may be able in that way to put their assistance at the disposal of the committee in the easiest and simplest way. This would give such persons a limited amount of authority through acting as members of a sub-committee, and would considerably relieve the strain both on the committee itself and on the officials of the Ministry of Labour who, unless this Amendment is accepted, will be the only persons normally available and accredited to come to the assistance of the committee in its difficult work.

7.11 p.m.


This Amendment has been put down under a slight misapprehension as to the way in which the Committee, as we anticipate, will work. The hon. Members who put their names to it are under the impression, I think, that the Committee will have a large staff of its own for carrying out these investigations. That is not what we had in contemplation, but that the whole of the work of securing the information for the Committee should be discharged by the existing staff of the Ministry of Labour, and that all that the Committee would be asked to do would be to consider the information provided for them. In the Amendment which this Committee of the House has just accepted, we have provided that the Statutory Committee can call any witnesses they wish to call and that the expenses of those witnesses shall be paid. We think that all the requiremens of this Amendment are covered in the Bill as it stands. The permanent staff will do all the detailed work for the Committee, and the Amendment is therefore not required.

Amendment negatived.

7.13 p.m.

Captain PEAKE

I beg to move, in page 58, line 8, at the end, to insert:

"The Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920 Sub-sections (2) and (4) of section five Employers' contributions."
The object of this Amendment is to enable the new Statutory Committee to take into its consideration important questions of principle connected with the contributions paid by employers to the fund, and the effect of the payment of these contributions upon the volume of unemployment. The subject was shortly outlined by my Noble Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) in a speech which he delivered towards the close of the proceedings last night, and his speech was welcomed by my hon. Friend opposite, the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), who said that he regretted that there was no more time for this important subject to be discussed. I, therefore, make no apology to the Committee for opening it again this afternoon. It is not so much my intention to deal with the heavy burden which these contributions place upon the employers of labour, nor to complain—though there is justifiable cause for complaint—that these contributions, alone of all the impositions and cuts made in 1921, have not been touched by the Budget which the Chancellor introduced last week.

My object is more to try to show to the Committee that the method by which this money is taken from industry is itself a prime cause of unemployment and to express my disappointment that the Government, in introducing the Bill, have not been able to consider any practical alternative methods of charging industry with its share of the burdens of unemployment insurance. For 16 years since the War every Government has been baffled and beaten by the unemployment problem. If we have not had a trade crisis or a slump with 2,000,000 unemployed, we have had that refractory million to which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) used to refer as being the hard core of the unemployment problem. We have tried transference, subsidised migration, and public works, and we are now trying tariffs. Some of these measures are obviously better than others, but the stark fact remains that ever since the War we have been putting a tax upon employment. To-day we tax employers of labour 86s. a year for every man that they take into employment in respect of the combined contribution which they have to pay for unemployment and health insurance. The capitalised value of an annual payment of 86s. is at the present time in the neighbourhood of £100. It follows, therefore, that the State is imposing a fine of £100 upon every employer who takes on an extra man in his works, and is giving a premium of £100 to every employer who puts a man on the streets.

A good many of us are concerned with the problem of the man versus the machine. We have to consider as practical business men the installation of machinery which will displace labour. It is not an easy problem. You have to consider the advantages and disadvantages, and the whole thing is very often a matter of a nice balance between the two. Here, however, the State steps in and throws 86s. a year into the balance against the man and in favour of the machine. I could quote instances, if I were not afraid of detaining the Committee too long, where the capitalised value of the contributions saved by discharged labour actually exceeds the initial cost of the machinery installed to displace it.

The Committee might think that I am arguing against any contributions by employers. I wish to make it clear that that is not my intention. I think that there is an absolutely unanswerable case for the employers contributing to unemployment insurance. As an employer of labour, I think it fair to say that the employers gain enormously by the existence of our social services and not least—I should think most—by the existence of our system of unemployment insurance. Having said that, I contend that the method by which the money is taken from industry is the worst possible method that could be devised.

It is said that there are no practical alternatives, and that it is a simple method to charge every employer with a flat rate for every man whom he employs. I have been into this matter very closely from the point of view of the only industry of which I have any close knowledge. It is humbug to say that, so far as the coal industry is concerned, there is no practical alternative. There is a very simple, practical alternative with which anyone who has connections with the coal industry will agree. Assume that the proper contributions for the employers in the coal industry to make to the Unemployment Insurance Fund is in the neighbourhood of £1,500,000 a year. That is about what they pay to-day. Nothing would be simpler, as my hon. Friends opposite know, than to take that sum out of the industry by a levy upon output. Levies upon the output of coal are the commonest things in the industry. The Miners' Welfare Fund is raised by a levy on output, and practically the whole of the expense of workmen's compensation is raised in the same way, as are various other objects like the expenses of the schemes under the Coal Mines Act and the funds of the coalowners' associations. Therefore, so far as the coal industry is concerned, it would be perfectly simple for the new Statutory Committee to make an arrangement with the industry to assess their obligations at £1,500,000 a year and to tell them to raise that money by a levy on output. In that way, you would take away the tremendous inducement which exists for every colliery manager to introduce every possible machine and to turn every possible man on to the streets. It may be somewhat difficult as regards other industries, but I can well imagine that with the steel industry, organised as it will be—


Is it the hon. and gallant Member's intention that the levy per ton should cover both employers' and workmen's contributions?

Captain PEAKE

No, I do not envisage the compounding of the workmen's contributions in the tonnage levy. I think it fair that the man's contribution should be paid by him if he is employed and not paid by him if he is not. I can well imagine that in the steel industry a perfectly reasonable scheme could be worked out, on similar lines to the one I have suggested, for a levy upon the output of steel. I have outlined for one industry, at any rate, a feasible alternative to the present system.

I want to express my disappointment when I first saw the Bill that, after all these months and years of inquiry and report and consideration by Royal Commissions and Governments, no practical alternative seems to have been devised to the old simple easy method of putting a penalty upon employers for putting more men on, and giving them a premium for putting men on the streets. My Amendment is of a simple nature. The Government have been unable to incorporate in the Bill any measure which does away with this admitted evil of the poll tax upon employment. All that we suggest is that this should be one of the subjects which the new Statutory Committee should be empowered to consider and on which they should be empowered to make recommendations to the Minister which might eventually result in some alteration of the law. This is a small and reasonable Amendment, and I hope that the Minister will be able to see his way to accept it.

7.55 p.m.


The hon. and gallant Member has made a profound study of this question, and he and I have been in correspondence about it, but I would like to point out to him that the Amendment of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) last night specifically instructed the Statutory Committee to consider the question of employers' contributions in the light of their incidence as a burden on industry. It was the object of the Amendment to secure a consideration of the question from that point of view. The present Amendment does not enable the Statutory Committee to do that, because it merely includes employers' contributions in Part II of this Schedule; and the only light in which the Statutory Committee can consider the various subjects enumerated in that Schedule is in the light of their effect upon a surplus or a deficiency in the fund when that surplus or deficiency arises. Therefore, the Statutory Committee would not be able to say, "We think that this or the other alteration of employers' contributions is desirable with the object of altering the incidence of the burden on industry." This Amendment would not enable them to do that, and I suggest to the hon. and gallant Member that much the best course is to do what I suggested last night, and to accept my statement that it will be open to the Minister at any time to suggest to the Statutory Committee that this is a subject that ought to be considered by them and on which he would appreciate their advice. The committee would then be free to examine the matter and to give the Minister what advice they thought fit.

The hon. and gallant Member said that he was disappointed when he saw the Bill not to find that, as a result of so many years' consideration, some alteration had been made. All of us who have studied this matter have had various ideas of what we would like to see done, but unfortunately most of those ideas, when we came to submit them to the test of practical experience, proved not to be feasible. Although it may have been disappointing to the hon. and gallant Member to find that no alteration had been made, the Royal Commission examined this matter for two years and considered innumerable schemes for altering the incidence of the contributions. The hon. Member would realise if he had read the evidence put before the Commission, as I have, that every kind of alternative was put before the Commission, and the mere fact that the Commission did not find any of them acceptable and continued the present system is a proof that the existing system, on the whole, is not too bad. I do not want to enter into an argument on that particular point. I want to assure the hon. and gallant Member that this Amendment would not enable the Committee to do what he wants them to do. I will certainly give him the assurance that later on the Committee will be fully at liberty to go into this question on the remission of the question to the Committee by the Minister.


On a point of Order. Are we to understand that the Statutory Committee is prohibited from going into the method—


That is not a point of Order.

7.30 p.m.


When I heard the hon. and gallant Member move the Amendment I wondered whether I had read the Schedule correctly. In the Schedule the Statutory Committee is given power to deal with the rates of contribution. As the hon. and gallant Member went on to explain his case, it seemed that all he was asking for was that the employers' contributions should be lowered. He did not mention anything about the workmen's contributions being lowered.

Captain PEAKE

I made it clear that I was not complaining of the burden of the contribution on the employer but was complaining of the incidence of that contribution.


There was no mention of any reduction of the workmen's contribution. The Statutory Committee can deal with it one way or the other when they get to work. If the hon. and gallant Member had made it clear to the Committee that he meant a reduction of the workmen's contribution as well as of the employers' contribution, I could have agreed with him. But he did not make that clear to me. When contributions were increased in October last, the workmen were harder hit than the employers. Their contribution was raised from 7d. to 10d. and that of the employers from 8d. to 10d. The hon. and gallant Member mentioned 86s. a year being paid by the employer. I understand that the figure is £2 3s. 4d. But the workmen have to pay that also.


Do not let us proceed further with any misunderstanding. The Statutory Committee under this Schedule already has power to consider rates of contribution, and we are only endeavouring by the Amendment to give them power to consider not only the rates but the method of assessment of the employers' contribution.


Again, we come back to the point of the employers' contribution. I want to put the matter straight to hon. Members. Do they mean that if the employers' contribution is lowered the workmen's contribution shall fall in the same way?


The hon. Member will see that the Amendment refers to Sub-sections (2) and (4) of Section 5 of the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1920. I have not the Act before me, but I think I am right in saying that the Section deals with the question of the method or machinery by which the contribution is raised, and not with the amount of the contribution.


I quite agree. I thought that was the meaning behind the Amendment, but neither last night on the Amendment of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), nor to-day on this Amendment, have we heard that an equitable reduction of contributions was aimed at.


The Amendment does not touch it.


If the Amendment meant that, I should support it. The Labour party has claimed all along that the charge for the Unemployment Fund ought to be borne by the State alone, without any contribution from employers or workmen. It should be solely a State payment and all benefits should be paid from that fund. The hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) said the adoption of the Amendment would probably mean that in the coal industry more men would be employed. I do not know whether he has gone into the figures, but if he has he has found that as the employers have increased their output they have reduced the number of their workmen.

Captain PEAKE

The hon. Member is now making my point for me. At present there is an enormous premium placed upon the installation of machinery, because of the incidence of the employers' contribution.


The installation goes into the pits, the output increases and fewer workers are required. That has been the position in the coal industry all along. To go further on those lines would probably mean that the employers would be in a better position to instal more machinery and to reduce the number of workmen still further. I fail to accept this gesture of benevolence to the workmen if certain things are given to the employers, as proposed. The employers have not displayed anything of the kind in the coal industry up to now. The figures year after year have shown that as the output increased a smaller number of men was required. But my main point is that the workmen are bearing a greater burden than they ought to bear, and that if there is any reduction of contribution it should apply to the workmen as well as to the employers, and not go to one party only.

7.37 p.m.


We have listened to a very interesting speech from the hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake). He has raised a question that is well worth consideration. As to the incidence of this particular charge, while I agree that it is well worth consideration, I do not agree that the Statutory Committee should be asked to consider it. It is an item of major policy affecting the whole question of employment and unemployment, and I think it is the Government's particular task to study the question. So far as I understand the duties of the Statutory Committee they relate particularly to the finances of the fund, its solvency or otherwise; but the question raised by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) last night, and by the hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds to-day, relates to a different subject. This is not the body to deal with that question. It is a major question that a Government ought to decide. Whilst not opposing anything that would result in serious consideration being given to this matter, I suggest that it would be foolish to accept an Amendment which would shift from Parliament the duty of considering the matter.

7.38 p.m.


Surely if this question did go before the Statutory Committee and they made a recommendation, that recommendation would have to come back to Parliament for an affirmative Resolution?


Yes, but I am very doubtful about any resolution getting adequate Debate in that particular way.


It has always struck me as an extraordinary anomaly that employers should have to pay this poll tax, a tax directly not upon the proceeds of industry but upon the overhead charges of industry, a tax falling just as hardly upon a cotton mill at Leigh that is struggling to make ends meet, as upon, let us say, a rationalised chemical works in the south employing very few men because it has installed extremely up-to-date plant. What we are all aiming at is the employment of as many people as possible. Therefore, surely, the method of raising the employers' contribution—it is not a question of reducing it at all—should be as convenient to industry as is possible. It is an old principle of taxation that the more convenient it is to pay a tax the less onerous that tax is upon the people. Of course, all taxation is essentially bad.


Am I to take it that the bon. Member agrees that these contributions ought to be a State charge, that the whole of the Unemployment Insurance Fund should be provided by the State?


No, I do not agree, because I do not believe that that is possible in modern circumstances and modern finance. I think you will have to get at least two-thirds of your contributions raised from the employers and the employes. It is clear that the workmen should pay their share, because they receive the benefits of the scheme. While I agree that employers should pay their contribution also, I think that the method of assessing that contribution is the worst possible method. It is a tax of £21,000,000 a year—that is including National Health Insurance—directly upon the overhead charges of industries that are often struggling to reduce their export prices. Frequently the export prices of our industrial products are raised because this is a charge which goes into the sum total of the overhead charges of industry. For that reason I want someone to take on the task of making an inquiry into the matter. The Royal Commission has been cited. I think it is possible that the Royal Commission shelved a decision on this particular point because it would have-delayed their report. Surely no one could be more suited to study this question than a body of six people with special knowledge of the subject of statutory insurance. I hope that some further guarantee will be given on the point

7.44 p.m.


I appreciate what the Mover of this Amendment wants to do. He says that the employer shall continue to pay the same amount as now to the Unemployment Insurance Fund. In relation to the mining industries he says that at the moment payment is made for each person employed, whereas if so much per ton of coal produced was paid, that would be an incentive to employ more people, and that the present method is an incentive to instal machinery and displace workmen. I have a great deal of sympathy with that idea. But this question has been considered by various bodies and not one has yet recommended the course suggested. It is said, "Hand it over to the small Statutory Committee set up by the Bill and let them consider it." We feel that that is a major question of policy which ought not to be handed over to so small a body.

This is a question which the Government should consider themselves. We do not think this very important question should be considered by the Statutory Committee and that their recommendation, which would carry great weight in this House, should decide the course of policy. It is not that we oppose any change of method; I do not think we should quibble at a change of method, but take the mining industry. We are told by the hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) that this insurance means so much per head of persons employed, but in all the ascertainments that means a certain amount per ton, and he says, "We will continue paying that amount per ton as an industry, though the personnel may be reduced or increased." Let me tell him that since this Government took office, what they have done to the mining industry is to reduce the numbers engaged in it by 70,000, and he will realise then that he is proposing to keep our contributions the same, though the personnel may be continually reduced. We have no objection to this question being considered by the right type of body, but we have a very strong objection to its being considered by this body, which we do not think is a competent body to make recommendations on so major a question of policy. Therefore, we cannot support the Amendment.

7.47 p.m.


I was very much interested in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake), and I was glad to hear the Minister say that this is a point into which he can ask the Statutory Committee to look. All that I want to say now is that the case for the Amendment would become Very much stronger if the Statutory Committee decided, as they are empowered to do under the Bill, to recommend the inclusion of agricultural labourers and foresters in the ordinary scope of unemployment insurance. As the Committee is aware, the wages of agricultural labourers are deplorably low, and many farmers are under the temptation either to put their land under grass or, if they keep it as arable land, to use more mechanised methods and so to reduce the number of men employed on the land. If agricultural workers were brought under the insurance scheme and the burden of a contribution per head were placed on the employer, it would not only hinder our desire to increase the number of workers on the land, but would perhaps delay the time when the low wages of agricultural workers could be raised. With regard to foresters, many people do not find it necessary to give them continuous employment, and if they were insured, it might result in wholesale dismissals. The Statutory Committee have the duty of considering whether these industries should be brought under insurance, and it is doubly important therefore that the Statutory Committee should be asked to consider any amendment of the amount of contributions.

7.50 p.m.


I have always noticed in this House that if there is any proposition which is difficult and possibly dangerous, but which has quite clear merits, those who are frightened of it always argue, not that the proposal should not be considered, but that it should not be considered in the precise way that is proposed—"Oh no, this is not quite the right way; this is not quite the right body." I want to get this question considered. I should be happier about the hon. Member's statement that the Minister can always refer it to the Statutory Committee for consideration if he did not say in the same breath that because no Royal Commission has proposed it in the past, doubtless there were good reasons for that fact, land it is not worth while considering now. That sort of argument, which was used, I think, by the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Mac-donald), leaves me absolutely cold. We all know that the very last body to propose anything which involves a far-reaching change in the existing system is a Royal Commission, especially a Royal Commission which wants to get a unanimous report, and my experience is that you are more likely to get a difficult question of this kind really tackled if you ask the administrator who has to bear the administrative consequences of present defects whether he cannot suggest at least partial solutions as he goes along. More reforms are, as a matter of fact, carried out by the responsible administrator than are ever carried out by irresponsible advisers like Royal Commissions.

If my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary will allow me to say so, I never knew an old Parliamentary gambit used in so shameless a way as he used it. He opposed the new Clause which I moved last night and when I withdrew that Clause, I said I would rest on the Amendment which was coming forward to-day. The Parliamentary Secretary, who opposed my new Clause last night, says to-day, "Of course, there was something to be said for the new Clause, but this Amendment will not attain its object"; and in order to show that this Amendment would not attain its object, he said that the Statutory Committee could only consider this question, not with reference to the burden on industry, but with reference to the finance of the fund, if and when either a surplus or a deficit had arisen—very fine official language—but may I suggest that at any given moment either a surplus or a deficit will have arisen, and if there is one point of view from which this problem ought to be considered, and primarily considered, it is the point of view of the finance of the fund?

Our contention is that by the levy of this poll tax you are continually tending to force men out of employment, with the consequence that the liability of the fund is growing and that the contributions which the fund is receiving from this poll tax are constantly tending to be insufficient to cover the liabilities arising under the operation of that same tax. If there is one body which ought to consider that question, it is the Statutory Committee, and it is an extraordinary thing that this one factor, which has admittedly—it has been admitted on all hands—a most serious effect on the finance of the fund, is the one question which the Statutory Committee may not consider in considering how the fund may be put in a better financial position. That seems to me to be the great argument for this being the body to consider it, though not, of course, the only body.

The fact that we say that the Statutory Committee should be empowered to take this factor, as well as other factors, into consideration does not mean that we absolve the Government from considering the question too. We, of course, expect the Government to consider the question, but I am afraid that some of the arguments from those benches, to the effect that this is not the right body to consider it, arise from the fear that possibly this body might find a more workable form of contributory insurance and, therefore, weaken the case of hon. Members opposite for a completely non-contributory system.


You had the same case from the Government spokesman, and he is not in favour of a non-contributory scheme.


I know, but I thought that was mere blindness on the part of my hon. Friend, whereas it is astuteness that I attribute to hon. Members opposite. The truth of the matter is that the Parliamentary Secretary says, "No, leave it to the Government, which can consider such big issues as non-contributory insurance. Do not leave it to the Statutory Committee, which could consider this thing within the ambit of a contributory scheme in the course of the administration of that scheme." May I say one word on the question of non-contributory insurance? The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) last night, and the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) to-day, both raised that question. I would only point out that you do not get away from a tax on employment by throwing the whole burden on the Income Tax payer, because at the present moment labour in this country is being employed, roughly speaking, by two great blocks of capital—capital employed, roughly speaking, in corporate industry, which is exposed to this poll tax that you are protesting, and capital in private hands, which is being taxed to Income Tax without any relief in respect of the employment of that income for the purpose of employing labour and paying wages. By throwing the whole of the finance of unemployment on to Income Tax, you are merely increasing the tax which the private employer at present bears, and I believe that that taxation of employers has probably in the last 25 years been responsible for more unemployment than any other single factor in this country.


If we accept the Noble Lord's proposition, it would spread it over the whole of industry more evenly than it is now.


Yes. I want the contribution of industry still to be paid, but I want it to be paid on a basis which is not a direct taxation on the workmen employed. If I could see any hope, if I could be given any sort of assurance, that this problem was in the Government's mind, that they intended to consider this problem, which they do not want to hand over for the consideration of the Statutory Committee, I should not attach any very great importance to this Amendment, but it is the same old thing over and over again. We ask for the consideration of far-reaching changes in the nature of reconstruction, but always we are told, "Well, this is not the occasion on which to consider that." The Royal Commission—and the Labour Government were quite as bad as any other Government in this matter; there has never been so reactionary and mindless a Government as the last Labour Government—did not recommend it. The Royal Commission, may I remind my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary, may have heard a great deal of evidence on this subject, but they never referred to or examined any alternative scheme in their report. They left it entirely on one side, and it is the fear that the Government considered the problem so insoluble that it is better not to approach it, that it is better to acknowledge the evil and leave it there, which makes us move this Amendment. I hope that before the Debate ends we may have some assurance that there is some mental process on this subject going on in the Government.

8.1 p.m.


I congratulate the Noble Lord on proposing an Amendment to which nobody has raised any objection. I think it is almost the first Amendment that we have had to-day to which nobody has raised any serious objection. One or two hon. Members opposite did not get the point of it at the beginning, but having got the point and having realised that it was not on the straight lines of more contribution or less contribution, but rather a different method of contribution, they are prepared to consider it and give it a trial. The whole idea of contributory insurance is in the probationary period. It is very new in this country. Between 1911 and 1925 we suddenly had a spurt and went off into insurance for health, unemployment, widows and orphans, and old age. During the last few years some of these schemes have been coming on the dole. They are not flourishing as well as we thought they might have done, and I think the time has come for a re-examination.

It is not true to say, as the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) said, that thousands of commissions and committees have reported on this subject. They have not. This subject, the whole problem of the social services and the relation between insurance of industry and the insurance of basic services, has not been examined since 1909, and the time has now arrived for re-examination. I strongly agree with the Noble Lord that if this is nobody's duty, it will not be done. Therefore, if we can only get this little innocent Amendment inserted in the Schedule we might get some fresh consideration. The present method is a tax on wages and on employment. I remember, years ago in America, that Professor Collins made this point, that, assuming that it is the capitalist system you are trying to work, the State and the worker are passive. The person who is active—I do not mean aggressively active—but the person who provides the work by going out and getting it is, under this system, the employer or the company. If you put a direct tax on that initiative you thereby to that extent penalise employment and put a poll tax on wages.

I think it is very satisfactory that we have had this half-hour of Debate free from the ordinary discussion on the Bill. Every now and then somebody brings in a suggestion, as did the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir T. Rosbotham) last night which would introduce something a little constructive into the Bill. There are other things that could be introduced. The trouble is to create the new machinery. It is no good having cast-iron minds. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) welcomed the proposal last night. He has had experience of unemployment insurance. We are going through a time when a complete revolution is going on in industry and it is no good sitting down with the old insurance scheme and not trying new ideas. The late Lord Melchett, Mr. Comyns Carr and others outside the House have put forward schemes. Many schemes put forward are impracticable. The hon. and gallant Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) has made a suggestion to-night in regard to the coalmining industry.

Any suggestion coming from practical-minded persons is well worth consideration. I would ask hon. Members opposite not to try always to read into a suggestion something which is not there, but try to see in it some new hope. We cannot go on with two million unemployed. It is no good saying: "Raise the school-leaving age." That will not solve the problem, although it might help. We are still up against the problem. I have never in my brief experience of the House heard one really practical suggestion for tackling this problem. To-night, however, we have an idea that has met with complete agreement, and I congratulate the Noble Lord in bringing it forward and hope the Government will accept it.

8.6 p.m.


I have listened very attentively to all that has been said in support of the Amendment, and I am at a loss to find its practical value. I say that quite honestly. I had not the pleasure of hearing the Noble Lord last night, but nothing has been said by the speakers to-day to convince me that such a scheme would alleviate the unemployment problem. The discussion is purely a negative one. There is no element of construction in it. There may be some room at this stage to reconsider the whole question of social insurance. That is a matter of policy and well worth consideration, but I cannot see the merit of the present proposal. The Mover of the Amendment made reference to the mining industry. He, like myself, perhaps knows more about that industry than any other. What does the proposition mean? I understand that there is no desire on the part of the Mover of the Amendment to reduce the total contributions of employers to insurance. If there is no desire whatsoever to reduce the total amount that is now contributed by employers to the fund, it simply means that some employers who are now obliged to pay a certain sum will be relieved of a portion of their contributions and other employers who may be escaping what is considered to be their fair share of burden may be obliged to pay more. In other words it is just a redistribution of the burden among the employers of labour. That would have no effect upon the total of unemployment or employment.

The cause of unemployment is not the 10d. per week per person that has to be contributed by employers to the fund. Rationalisation is taking place. Science and technique have been introduced into industry and it is very questionable whether it would be possible for any new industry or industries that might be devised by the Government to absorb the persons who are now being displaced by the introduction of machinery. In the mining industry we have had the introduction of coal cutting machinery and conveyors over a period of ten years or more, and in that time while we have been able to increase the output per person employed by 20 to 25 per cent., we have reduced the personnel of the industry by a like percentage. If the demand for coal is not more than, say, 200,000,000 tons per year, and in round figures that is what it is, and you have an industry that can produce now, without increasing its complement by one single man, 300,000,000 tons a year, of what help would this Amendment be to the mining industry? It would merely mean that if you place the charge on the tonnage you would get, say, 8d., 9d., or 10d. a ton on 200,000,000 tons.

Captain PEAKE

It would be 1£d.


It means that the industry would carry the same total capital burden. If you capitalised it at £100 per annum it would mean that single pits here and there which are passing through depression would be relieved, while others where the undertaking has been rationalised by the introduction of coal cutting machinery and conveyors and other appliances would on a tonnage basis carry the heavier burden. From the industry generally the total contribution you would get would be of the same capital value as to-day. How is that going to solve the unemployment problem?

We have a National Government which came in to introduce tariffs. The ostensible reason for the tariffs was because the markets for goods in this country were taken from employers in this country by foreigners. The solution for unemployment that this Government came into being to effect was the introduction of tariffs, quotas, prohibition and the like. They have applied tariffs and having done so to prevent goods coming into the country, it is now assumed by the supporters of this Amendment that it is possible to solve the unemployment problem by a redistribution between capitalism itself in regard to the incidence of employment and unemployment.


Nobody has said that it is a solution. We say that it would be a step toward that end.


I should like to believe that were possible. I believe, frankly, that this proposal would place a heavier burden upon the employés.


If the same total sum is paid in contributions by the employers, how is it going to increase the burden placed upon the employés?


I think there is something behind this proposal that is not on the surface. If the State requires a sum of money to meet the burden which is falling upon its shoulders, it must have the revenue from somewhere, either from the employers, the employes or the State itself. If representative employers in this House say: "We have no desire whatsoever to reduce the burden that falls upon capital in general," what is the purpose of the Amendment?


The purpose is perfectly simple. The hon. Member's fundamental argument is wrong. There is all the difference in the world between a tax on a company which is earning big profits and employs few men and a tax on a company which is earning little or perhaps nothing and which employs many men. We want to take the basis of the tax off the number of men employed and to arrange it in some other way. That is why we have moved the Amendment.


In short, the rich capitalist must maintain the poor capitalist. Is that it?


The output in industry should be the basis of assessment rather than the number of men employed, because we want as many men to be employed as is possible.


I am afraid the hon. Member fails to see the essence of the problem. It is a marketing problem. The market is contracting from year to year. That applies to the goods in all the staple industries; I could give the actual figures for coal. I would put to the hon. Member who moved the Amendment a point of which he will have practical knowledge. He will know that whereas in pre-war years 90 per cent. of the power of the world was supplied by coal, last year not more than 72 per cent. was produced by coal. He will know that in the case of the boilers producing steam at his own colliery one pound of coal to-day produces as much steam as three pounds in pre-war years. He will know that increased engineering skill and the production of power by electricity, by gas and by oil are leading to a contraction of the world market for coal, and contraction, also, in the national demand for coal, and concurrently with these factors we have the introduction of machine-mining. Collieries are trying to live by introducing coal-cutting appliances in order to compete more effectually not against the foreigner but against their internal competitors.

Captain PEAKE

The reason why mechanisation is going on so fast in the coal industry is that there is a tax upon every miner who is employed, but there is no tax on the machine.


Mechanisation is going on in places where there is no taxation in this form.

Captain PEAKE

It is accelerated by the fact that there is this tax upon the men.


In America machinery is being introduced at a far more rapid rate than here. The urge to the introduction of machinery is to be able to produce goods at a cheap rate to be sold in a contracting market. The urge is competition. We are faced with a contracting market not only for coal but for steel and cotton. The world market is contracting because countries which were once our best customers now compete against us. The urge to mechanisation is increasing year by year and, quite frankly, this question has now become one of policy. We do not believe in tinkering with things in the way suggested. I am amazed at the last speaker, who some time ago believed in the principles of Socialism, supporting a proposal of this kind for the stabilisation of capitalism, which is cracking before his very eyes. He will know that the only way to solve the marketing problem, which is the essence of the problem, is to give the people adequate wages with which to buy goods, to purchase the three elementary necessaries of life: food, clothing and shelter. If the people have the means they will purchase all that machinery and man can produce, but until they are furnished with adequate purchasing capacity, we shall have an ever contracting market, because with mechanisation supply is overrunning demand, and no tinkering of this kind will help to solve this great industrial and social problem.

8.20 p.m.


I should not have risen to speak had not my name been referred to so often with reference to the statement I made last night, I make the same statement now, that I welcome a discussion of this question of the incidence of the taxation in the matter of unemployment insurance as I would welcome a discussion about health insurance contributions, because it is a fact that in our modern industry the weight of taxation of this kind is in inverse ratio to the ability of an industry to bear it. Some of the industries which are experiencing very difficult times are finding this a heavy burden. But what is true of this tax in regard to employers is also true of the workers in those industries. The workers in the great staple industries feel the weight of this kind of tax more than the workers in many of the lighter industries. Since the War some industries have turned the tables upon industries in which the workers were most prosperous pre-War. In industry after industry the status, almost, of the worker has been changed by the changed conditions of modern industry. The hon. Member has put forward a suggestion, which was not made by our side at all, under which particular industries will be relieved of the incidence of this taxation but I think the tendency there will be to push the weight of that taxation back upon the worker. If we are not to have a non-contributory system, whereby the weight of these charges would fall upon the whole of the community instead of upon the respective industries, somebody would have to take the weight of that proportion of the charge which now comes upon the employers.

The hon. Member suggests a system of payment based on tonnage. How would that work out? In the case of the mining industry there might be such an addition to the costs of production that the charge indirectly would affect the wage standards, because costs in that industry do affect the wages agreements. If, under the present tripartite system, the employer is to be relieved, then either the State or the worker has to bear the extra charge. I only rose to say that I am pleased this matter has been debated, because it is high time that serious consideration was given to the question of this being made a social charge. Other great services are run for the benefit of the nation and we think that this should be borne in the same way, being spread over the whole of the nation instead of being worked as it is at the present time.

This might appear to be an academic Debate, since the Parliamentary Secretary gave a definite refusal to accept the proposal in its present form, but it is probably more than academic in its ultimate results, and it is possible that we shall hear more of the suggestion. All that I rose to say is that we welcome a discussion upon a rearrangement of the weight of the burden of unemployment insurance, as we also would in regard to health insurance. We stand for making it a national charge, and we resist any proposal of the kind for the simple reason that, if the employers are not bearing the weight, the workers will have to bear it, as olng as there is a tripartite system.

8.27 p.m.


This is one of the most interesting and fruitful discussions that we have had on this part of the Bill. It is more than 15 years since I began to point out to an inattentive world some of the economic unsoundness of the employers' contribution, although from a rather different point of view from that which has been raised by the promoters of this proposal. I believe that this is a point which ought to be seriously and immediately considered, but not by the Statutory Committee. Consider all the things which the Statutory Committee have to do, the immediate day-to-day questions about the rates of benefit and so on. They are in a new job; how can we expect that these six men will settle down to the consideration of an exceedingly complex question introducing a totally new principle in our system of contributory insurance? This is not the only fundamentally important and urgently needed reconstructive change that ought to be thoroughly considered and gone into. There are the questions of whether we should not replace the unscientific system of the flat-rate contribution and flat-rate benefit with graded rates of contribution, whether insurance ought to be extended to the black-coated workers, and what is to be done about the own-employer class. All those questions confront the Statutory Committee. I am not surprised that the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) is impatient of having them relegated to a Royal Commission which over a certain number of months is desperately anxious to produce a unanimous report and then to dissolve.

This all points to the very urgent need, in relation to this and other questions, for a body of economic experts with a core of permanent members with a continually changing circumference of ad hoc members added for particular purposes. If we had a body like that to which questions such as this could be referred, whose business it was to consider all these reconstructive changes and bring up reports to the Government, something might be done. The Noble Lord the Member for Hastings looks impatient at the idea of not getting this proposal to add to the duties of the Statutory Committee. I should like to see him try to plan out a time-table of work for the Statutory Committee during its first six months' operations, in order to see whether he would find time for this very important but necessarily long-view change. It is not a question for the Statutory Committee, but it ought to be dealt with soon by another kind of body.

Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and negatived.

8.33 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 58, columns 2 and 3, to leave out lines 9 to 11.

The purpose of this Amendment is to take away from the Statutory Committee the power to alter conditions in respect to unemployment benefit. We feel a very great measure of doubt about the functions which will fall upon this committee of five persons who are to be appointed for five years to assume responsibility for the administration of the insurance fund. The committee are to determine the conditions of insurability for all those people who fall within the insurance scheme. We question very much whether the references made to the committee this afternoon do not arise from a general apprehension that this ad hoc body, without previous experience, will find it exceedingly difficult to master the very important responsibilities that are to be put upon them by this Schedule. In this connection, we express the view from this side of the House that, whether we approved of this or of previous Bills which are now Acts of Parliament, we have never questioned the capability, experience and great administrative capacity of those who advise the Minister in his Department.


If the hon. Member will forgive me for interrupting him—perhaps I ought to have said this before I called the Amendment—I understand that the Opposition, out of the large mass of Amendments to the Schedule that they have on the Paper, would like to take a rather wide Debate on this one and that there are three others which they would like to move. It seems to me that it might be for the convenience of the Committee if on this Amendment we took a somewhat wide Debate on the general powers of the Statutory Committee, with, of course, the right to divide on the other Amendments provided that they are reached before 11 o'clock.


That would certainly suit my convenience, because it is very difficult to examine this Amendment without having regard to the whole scope of the duties to be carried out by the Committee. We feel that this Committee, new to its responsibilities, without experience, without the day-to-day knowledge of administration which is possessed by the Minister's advisees, will find it exceedingly difficult to master the intricacies of present legislation during the time when it has to carry out she important duties which are now to be given to it. We feel that the great drawback of the Committee is that it is to be given a kind of independent administrate authority. I do not know whether it will have the advantage of a close liaison with the advisers of the Minister, or whether it is to employ its own staff of technical advisers, or whether it is to have closer communication with the Minister himself in its day-to-day duties.

The Committee comes into existence under Clause 17 of the Bill, and the nature of its duties is more clearly defined in the Second Schedule, to which I am now referring. We find that it is to have control over the whole of the operations of the fund, and its range of responsibility is to be exceedingly wide; its powers are to be almost omnipotent. It is to be detached and remote from the work of the House of Commons, and it is to carry its very onerous responsibilities, with the possibility of all kinds of error and mistake, entirely on its own shoulders, without, as far as we know, the assistance of anybody who might be able to guide it and prevent it from making the errors that would be expected from a body of this kind in its initial stages. This new dispensation of five persons, whom we do not know, causes a great deal of apprehenson in the minds of all Members of the House. We find that the Committee is to have complete charge of the fund. I will read Subsection (3) of Clause 17, which deals with this point: If the Committee at any time report that the Unemployment Fund is or is likely to become, and is likely to continue to be, insufficient to discharge its liabilities, or is and is likely to continue to be more than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities, the report shall contain—

  1. (a) recommendations for the amendment, either generally or in relation to special classes of insured contributors, of the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Acts referred to in Part II of the Second Schedule to this Act or of the provisions of any previous order made under this Section, being such amendments as, in the opinion of the Committee are required in order to make the fund, as the case may be, sufficient or no more than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities."
These people are to operate a fund the character of which is not due to them and the contributions to which are to be determined by the House of Commons. They are to administer the fund so as to provide unemployment benefit for the number of persons that the fund will maintain under conditions to be determined by them. There is no fixed volume of contributions, there is no fixed income, and there is no fixed expenditure. All these factors in the problem the responsibility for which is to be placed on this committee are uncertain factors, and the responsibility of maintaining the fund is thrown upon these people even though they have no control over the many factors which affect that responsibility. We find that all kinds of fresh problems are to be presented to this body of people, who are to start with no experience at all. No body of people in this country, nor even the Minister himself, has had the special kind of experience required for the carrying out of the responsibilities of this committee. It is true that the Minister has at his service men who have had years of experience of administration and who have an almost unlimited knowledge of the extent, distribution and character of unemployment in this country; but nobody in the Department or outside it has had any previous experience of the administration of unemployment within such circumscribed limits as those within which these people will have to operate.

They are to have regard to a fund the contributions to which at the present time consist of 2s. 6d. per week for each employed person—10d. paid by the employed person himself, 10d. paid by his employer, and 10d. paid by the State. Every year £6 10s. is to be put into the fund in respect of each individual workman, but the amount to be paid out is indeterminate. No one knows the number of people who are to draw benefit at any given time—there are no prophets even in the Ministry of Labour. It will be necessary to rely to some extent on past experience and the capacity to forecast trade possibilities in order to determine whether at any time the fund will be sufficient to carry its responsibilities; and the control of all that is to be taken away from the House of Commons. No longer will the Minister, sympathetic as he is, no longer will the Parliamentary Secretary or the experts who assist them have any direct responsibility in this matter; the responsibility will fall upon this unknown and possibly inexperienced Statutory Committee, which is to be appointed for five years. Its members are not to be removed for five years unless they are proved to be utterly, and perhaps scandalously, incapable of carrying out their duties.

We feel that this is a very important power, and we ask in this Amendment that the power to amend the Statutory conditions for the receipt of unemployment benefit shall not be given to this Committee. The Committee will have the power of supervision, the power of balancing the claims upon and the income of the fund. We cannot in one Amendment take that responsibility away from them, but we strongly protest against the provision in the Schedule giving these people the power to alter the statutory conditions, to alter the very basis of the insurance scheme—the kind of contracts which are to form the basis of the whole insurance scheme, the undertaking given as far back as the commencement of the Act to the insured persons that they should under certain conditions be entitled to draw from time to time the benefit stated in the Act.

The Statutory Committee is to be given the power to alter those conditions, and to change, in effect, from the workmen's point of view, the whole insurance basis of the scheme. We protest very strongly against that power being given. The Statutory Committee is to be given this power in Clause 17. By the time the Bill becomes an Act, the third and fifth statutory conditions will have been amended and the Minister will hand over the power to the Statutory Committee, and say: "You can undo the work of Parliament if you like. Clauses 5 and 6 need not stand." Although Parliament has laid it down that those changes are to be made, the Statutory Committee is to be told, "You can undo Clauses 6 and 6 and change the conditions if you like." All that is done because the Minister said these people have to balance the fund and the deciding factor in all these changes is to be the state of the fund.

Our apprehension is added to by the kind of speeches to which we have listened. An Amendment was moved by the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) and supported by a coalowner. Already they make the demand that the Statutory Committee shall be given not only the authority to change the statutory conditions upon which the workpeople are entitled to benefit, but, without the consent of the House, the right to relieve the owners of any part or the whole of their contributions to the fund. It is a preposterous proposal. If we hand over the authority of Parliament, we shall find pressure of this kind being brought to bear upon the Statutory Committee. The fund, built up on contributions, must have its income assured, and there will be all kinds of temptations. These people, being placed in charge of the fund, with no opportunity except in a very limited sense for borrowing from any source, will be charged from month to month and from year to year with the solvency of the fund. They will be very sorely tempted. Let us assume that the kind of cry that we have heard to-day is responded to by the Statutory Committee.

The hon. Member made the most ridiculous suggestion that I have heard. It is unworkable, and it will not be accepted by the industry, but the Committee may be tempted. Suppose they find themselves with a little surplus in the fund, they will say, "We shall have a surplus of £5,000,000 or £10,000,000 on the next year's working. We can afford now to lessen the contributions into the fund." They will make concessions to colliery owners and the income of the fund will be reduced. Suppose that, having reduced the contributions, under the favourable conditions, if you like, operating in 1934 or 1935, in the next year there is a great rise in the unemployment figures and the fund finds itself without income to meet the increasing volume of unemployment, they will be urged to change the statutory conditions in order that a lesser number of workpeople shall receive benefit.


The hon. Member is misrepresenting the whole subject of the Amendment to which he is referring. The hon. Member for North Leeds (Captain Peake) did not suggest that there should be any reduction in the total contributed by the coal industry or by the owners. He suggested a different method of raising the total sum, and, although I did not support his Amendment, it is only just to him that that should be stated.


Those who know the coal industry know that it would be unfair to charge the same tonnage levy on coal that is 20s. at the pit-head and on coal that is 9s. at the pit-head. The hon. Member does not represent anybody. He is trying to make a debating point in order to prepare the way for concessions to the employers at some later period. The point that I was making is that the fund must be maintained solvent. If the income is not sufficient to carry the burden of unemployment, there must either be a larger income, or a reduction in the benefits, or a tightening up of the conditions under which benefits are to be paid. We are very anxious on this side that power should not be given to the Statutory Committee to alter those conditions.

Let hon. Members remember how long and how strenuously we debated in the last Padliament the question of not genuinely seeking work, which was a nightmare to hundreds of thousands of unemployed workmen. It was removed by the will of the House, and it is now possible for a man to receive his unemployment benefit without having to stand up, with his hand on his heart and taking the oath, and reply to large numbers of irrelevant questions by people who treated him as an object of inquisition in order to find an opportunity of taking his unemployment benefit away from him. We very strongly resent any suggestion to return to that test. We are very anxious that no change in the statutory conditions should take place without previous Debate in the House. We feel sure that this House, a fair-minded assembly, would under any financial conditions come down strongly and definitely against the reimposition of that test.

The Statutory Committee has no responsibility at all to the unemployed and no discretion in regard to their treatment. If they can maintain the solvency of the fund, they can adjust the benefits and also this condition and that, but, if unemployment grows, the income remains stationary and the fund becomes insolvent. They will show no sympathy and no generosity. We protest very strongly against the suggestion that these people should be subjected to any kind of pressure which might lead to the reintroduction of that miserable test of not genuinely seeking work. We hope that the Minister will be able to give the committee some assurance that there is no danger that the statutory conditions will be worsened, and that he and this House will, whatever recommendation is made by the committee in respect of this or similar matters, exercise the power, and will retain the power for any subsequent Minister representing his Department, of bringing a question to a final decision in this House before any such change takes place.

8.56 p.m.


I rise to support the Amendment which has been moved so very well by the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell), who has put his case, in my view, in a manner which is almost unanswerable. I would ask the Minister, who has been spending such a considerable amount of time in discussing the various provisions contained in the Bill, why from time to time we have been permitted to deal with the various matters which are contained in this particular Schedule if we were ultimately to place in the hands of the Statutory Committee the power of reversing decisions made in this House. I hope that the Minister will be able to explain how the contention which we are raising in respect of these Amendments is wrong? If one looks at Part II of the Schedule one sees that it relates to: provisions of Unemployment Insurance Acts of which Amendments may be recommended by the committee. I agree that the word "recommended" is used, but we have to remember that once we have recommendations coming from this committee we shall find ourselves in the position that, to a considerable extent, if not entirely, the possibility of voting against or of upsetting those recommendations will be denied to the House. If we want to make recommendations there are enough Members in this House who have sufficient knowledge of what is happening to be able to move at some later date, or to introduce, or to persuade the Government, if possible, to introduce, such measures as may be necessary to deal with the matter. As I see it, at present the Statutory Committee is going to be a bulwark as far as Amendments are concerned to which the Government will look, and will be the only source from which recommendations will be accepted. The intention of the Schedule is so comprehensive that the point which we are putting forward must be correct.

I ask hon. Members to look at the Schedule and to see what it says with regard to this Act which we are discussing, and over which we have spent a considerable amount of time. It says: Sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section one, Section three, Section four, Section five, Section six, Section seven, Section eight, Section nine, Section ten. In fact the main portions of these Sections are covered by this particular provision, which is going to be placed in the hands of the Statutory Committee. If we are so uncertain about all these Sections, we should consider them on the Report stage and come to a decision which should last for some time, and not make it incumbent upon the Statutory Committee—and I put this clearly and bluntly—to waste its time trying to upset what we in this Committee and in this House have decided prior to the foundation of the Statutory Committee itself. It means plainly that, if we are not satisfied with our own decisions, we must submit them to this Statutory Committee which will have sufficient work with which to carry on. If it performs its duties properly, it will be engaged very fully, and will have sufficient to occupy its time without delving and probing into so many Sections of one Act alone which we have spent so much time in discussing in this House. I suggest seriously that the Minister should reconsider the position with regard to this Schedule, and tell us that here is an outstanding part of the Bill which, by virtue of its peculiarities, ought to be considered by the Committee at some stage, either soon or late.

9.1 p.m.


I confess that I am a good deal puzzled by the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) who moved the Amendment, because he is usually so careful and accurate in the presentations he makes to the House. If what he said were true, and if it were the fact that we were handing over to the Statutory Committee duties which should properly be exercised by this House, then his description that this was a preposterous proposal would be a correct one. We have taken the greatest safeguards—as I will show in a moment—to secure that that will not happen, and he has misconceived the purpose, object and power of the Committee. The particular Amendment deals with "Statutory conditions for receipt of unemployment benefit." If it were the fact that the Committee could make Orders binding on this House without any opportunity or power of this House to interfere, I should be the very first to say that his contention is well founded, and I should certainly not put any such proposal in the Bill. He read, in the course of his speech, the first part of Clause 17, which deals with the setting up of the Committee, but he did not call the attention of the Committee—I am sure inadvertently—to the fact that, after a report has been received, the first duty of the Minister is to lay the report before Parliament as is provided in Sub-section (5) of Clause 17, and in a case where the report contains recommendations for the Amendment of the Unemployment Insurance Acts or of any previons Order made under this Section, shall after consultation with the Treasury, lay before Parliament. —the proposals which he desires to make.

A safeguard is deliberately inserted in order to avoid the very contingency which the hon. Gentleman has raised, because in Sub-section (6) it says: If each House resolves that the draft of an Order laid before it under this Section be approved, the Minister shall make an Order.


Will it be possible for this House to amend any Order which the Minister may lay before it?


It can be fully debated and discussed, and the Order may either be approved or not. If the House disapproves of it, then the Order will not be made. The fullest rights of this House are preserved, and, I hope, rightly preserved.


Would it be possible for any of us to move an Amendment to any Order which the Minister may lay before this House under this Section?


I think it would not. I want to point out that all these contingencies have been provided against in the most explicit way by the provision that both Houses of Parliament must, by affirmative Resolution, approve the recommendations of the Committee. If they do not like them they can say so.


Has the right hon. Gentleman reserved to himself in this Bill the right not to present to the House a recommendation made by the Statutory Committee? Suppose they brought in a recommendation that the statutory conditions should be altered in order to maintain the fund has the Minister reserved to himself the right to bring such a recommendation before the House?


Yes. Let me put the other side. Yesterday the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirk-wood) raised a discussion on the waiting period, which he thought should be abolished. That is a matter which can be referred to by the Statutory Committee. The waiting period is six days, but if under existing legislation I wanted or the House wanted to alter it an Amendment could only be made by legislation. As hon. Members know legislation takes a long time. It means the introduction of a Bill and all the procedure which is necessary to get it through the House of Commons. Under this new procedure, if the Statutory Committee recommended that the waiting period be altered or abolished or lengthened or shortened they would make such a recommendation to the Minister, and the Minister then, instead of having to go through all the complicated and long procedure of an Act of Parliament, can place the proposal before the House and the House can vote Aye or No as to whether the waiting period should be abolished or not. The Bill introduces a simpler procedure on the various questions raised in the Schedule. I can assure the Committee that the Statutory Committee is not intended to take away any right from Parliament but to make more easy alterations where they are found to be necessary.

Throughout the discussions we have had 10 or 12 points which hon. Members have raised. If Parliament wished to do any one of them—they may be good for all I know, I say this entirely without prejudice as to the merits—without some procedure such as this it would mean that you would have to bring in a special Bill to alter the law. I want to expedite the procedure and make it more easy for the House to express its views on these important points by the proposal in the Bill. Nothing is further from my thoughts than to take away from Parliament a right which it should have, and I would be no party to any proposal to take away the right of Parliament to express its views by affirmative Resolution on any point which may be submitted by the Minister on a recommendation by the Statutory Committee.

If the Statutory Committee performs its other duties as I feel sure it will, I believe it will be a tremendous instrument for good in the hands of any Minister to whatever party he may belong. At the present time, over and over again, you get recommendations that this course or the other course should be taken, and yon wait until you have an accumulation of suggestions, just as we had before the Royal Commission was appointed. When you have a sufficient accumulation of suggestions which appeal to the Government or to the House you appoint a Royal Commission which goes into the whole lot and then after prolonged examination of a hundred and one different points they produce a report and in due course a Bill is introduced into the House. I look upon the procedure proposed in Clause 19 (5) as something which will be of real use and advantage to the House. If I thought that the committee was going to detract or derogate from the power, authority and rights of this House I should be the last man to propose it. Quite honestly I think the hon. Member for Gower is under a misconception, but I am glad he has moved his Amendment as it has enabled me to give an explanation of a procedure which, I think, when properly understood, will commend itself to every part of the Committee.

9.13 p.m.


In the course of these Debates the Minister seems to have suggested that he takes great pride in having introduced this Bill, but there are moments when he seems to be seriously disturbed in regard to certain criticisms brought against it, and most disturbed when it is suggested that he is transferring to bodies outside Parliament powers which Parliament has previously exercised. He was very disturbed by the speech of the hon. Member for Gower (Mr. Grenfell). The answer he has just given is entirely unconvincing so far as the major criticism of my hon. Friend is concerned. The Minister relies a great deal on authority outside Parliament. He quoted the Royal Commission and two other Committees and said that as the Royal Commission and two other Committees had recommended a certain procedure it was good enough for him. He did not give any reasons why a change should be made; sufficient for him that three outside bodies had made the recommendation. I imagine that for the right hon. Gentleman, or a Minister with similar ideas, the Statutory Committee is going to be a very useful body. It looks as though its functions in the immediate future are going to be pleasant, it is going to have a surplus to handle, and it will not have any necessarily disagreeable tasks to perform. The scheme of the Minister appears to be actuarially sound and is likely to show a surplus, therefore, the work of the Statutory Committee will be pleasant. But can we be quite certain that the economic conditions which prevail at the moment will not get worse in the future.


Not until a Socialist Government comes in.


That is the sort of interjection to which we are accustomed. At the moment things are getting better in spite of and not because of the Government. There would be no difficulty in proving that statement were I in order in doing so. I merely call attention to the fact, however, that the Statutory Committee at some future date may have disagreeable tasks to perform. It may have to do things which will hit very hardly sections of workers or perhaps all insured workers. It may have to reduce benefits or impose more stringent restrictions on benefit. How convenient it will be for the Minister of Labour then to come to the House of Commons and say, "Here is a report made by the Statutory Committee and on the basis of that report I have made an Order." He will defend what he has done on the ground that the Statutory Committee has made its recommendation. This is only a device for shifting responsibility on to a body outside the House of Commons.

What is there, among all the things which the Minister has mentioned, that this Statutory Committee can do or can suggest in the future that the Ministry of Labour could not do or suggest at the present time? What material, what data in regard to unemployment insurance, can the Statutory Committee have which is not now at the disposal of the Department? Under the procedure suggested by the Minister, Parliament will have no adequate chance of discussing the matters which will come before us in such circumstances as I have indicated. The Statutory Committee's task at first may be pleasant; its task in the future may be disagreeable. Some hon. Members have suggested that it should be given further powers. We on this side would gladly deprive it of some of the powers which the Minister is conferring upon it. We hold that the Minister of Labour in any Government should carry the responsibility for these matters himself.

9.20 p.m.


I was interested in the Minister's reply. In his charming way the right hon. Gentleman told us that we had no reason to be afraid as regards this Schedule or indeed anything in the Bill. All he seeks to do, he tells us, is to put into the hands of the Statutory Committee machinery which will allow that body to do certain things—the more pleasant things—much quicker than they could be done if left to the antiquated machinery of the House of Commons. How nice it would be, he suggested, if, for instance, the Statutory Committee had power to recommend a shorter waiting period and if that recommendation could be put into operation through the machinery now proposed in a relatively short time where otherwise months would be occupied in doing so. Of course, if the proposal worked like it it would be very nice. But our experience of the right hon. Gentleman's party tends in the opposite direction. The history of the Tory party— now supported by a few stragglers and calling itself a National Government—has not been in the direction of reducing waiting periods or increasing benefits or making things better for the unemployed. No, their connection with unemployment insurance legislation has tended to make things more severe for the unemployed, to impose more hardships on the unemployed.

So far from this Statutory Committee being put into operation to make things pleasanter for the unemployed and the House of Commons we think, having regard to the history of the Tory party in these matters, that the intention is that this committee should have power to do unpleasant things in as quick a manner as possible. The Minister was shocked at the suggestion that he was taking away the power of the House of Commons. But is he not doing so? Scarcely any Measure which comes before the House of Commons for debate and discussion reaches a Third Reading stage in the form in which it is presented for Second Reading. In the course of discussion weaknesses are discovered and scores, perhaps hundreds of alterations are made, though not always as many as the Opposition would like. Perfect as the Government may consider a Measure to be on its introduction, all sorts of inaccuracies and weaknesses are liable to be discovered in the course of Debate and alterations are made accordingly. That will not be the case with these recommendations. That power of revising details is to be taken from the House. Whatever the Statutory Committee recommends, whether pleasant or unpleasant, will be presented to the House and all the House can do will be to say "Yes" or "No." They will not have the power to alter it by as much as a single comma. That is what we resent.

If there is any legislation which the House of Commons has passed since the War and which has been proved to be necessary, it is the legislation connected with unemployment. Yet it is legislation of that important character which is to be taken out of the hands of the House of Commons and made subject to a mere "yea" or "nay"—a thing much to be deplored. It has been said that in the future the duties of the Statutory Committee will be relatively pleasant. I am not so sure. The committee is to be bound by certain principles which will not make all its duties pleasant. First it has to keep the fund solvent and on a sound and stable financial basis, which means that if there is an alteration in the number of unemployed and the figure approaches 2,500,000 or 2,750,000, the committee will find itself faced with the necessity of doing some most unpleasant things. I can imagine that it would suit the Minister in that case if all he had to do was to lay on the Table the committee's suggestion and say, "Take it or leave it." He might prefer that attitude to the things which he has had to do in the past.

There is another thing. The Statutory Committee not only has to keep the fund solvent, but it also has laid on it the necessity for providing a certain amount of money per year to wipe off the debt. I think I am right in saying that that sum is £5,500,000. In view of all these considerations, with that lump sum coming out of it for a start, and with the possibility—although it is very remote and I hope, as we all do, that it does not occur—of a rise in the figures, and with the necessity of keeping the fund solvent whatever happens, the Statutory Committee may be faced with some very important decisions, decisions so important that even hon. Members on that side of the House will regret having parted with the powers which the House has had up to the present time. It is because of the harsh conditions which are now laid down for the carrying out of the fund, and because of what may happen in future, and because the committee may find itself having to be more harsh with the Unemployment Fund than has been necessary during the last year or two, that we resent parting with these powers. We say that it is utterly wrong that the House should not keep these powers. In this extremely important matter of the care of the unemployed, we ought to reserve for ourselves every scrap of power we have had in the past, so that, whatever may happen in the future, the unemployed may be sure of having justice done to them.

9.27 p.m.


I was very nearly convinced by the persuasive speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour, and I appreciate, as he said, that this is a highly convenient procedure from the point of view of the Minister from the point of view of people concerned in this Act, and even, in certain respects, from the point of view of this House. He made very clearly the point that the Statutory Committee was to be a sort of permanent Royal Commission, and that, instead of having sporadic legislation on this subject, we should have this permanent commission in session and be able to meet the needs of the time as they arise. I agree that there are some very definite advantages to be derived from a procedure of that kind, but it seemed to me that the speech of the Minister nevertheless failed to meet the two principal criticisms directed against this Schedule. As I understood the Minister, his intention is that, instead of having sporadic legislation on this subject, we shall have continuous recommendations from the Statutory Committee. That means, surely, that legislation is to be replaced, and that Orders which are to be made on the recommendation and initiative of this committee are to take the place of Acts of Parliament. If that be so, surely very great importance must attach to the point that has been made by a number of speakers about power to amend. If, instead of proceeding by legislation, we are to proceed by means of Orders, then the loss of the power to amend means in fact a derogation from the rights and powers of this House.

Secondly, what the Minister said about the convenience of the procedure would be perfectly true if the initiative in these matters remained with the Minister and with this House. But, as I read the Bill, I think it is fair to say that, at all events in the great majority of cases, the initiative will rest with the Statutory Committee. If the committee were a body to which the Minister, or to which this House, might refer these various matters for its opinion from time to time, then the argument of the Minister would be a valid one. When, however, we set up a committee and say that we propose to act not only on the advice of that committee but also on the initiative of that committee, then it will be very difficult in future to obtain any alteration in our unemployment insurance legislation unless it is first of all recommended by this Statutory Committee. For those reasons, I do not think that the arguments advanced by the Minister were valid arguments, and I for one propose to go into the Lobby in support of these Amendments.

9.31 p.m.


The Minister, in his speech referring to these powers, thought that he was not doing anything unusual. He said that if he thought that this Statutory Committee would make Orders that were binding upon the House, then he would never think of giving it such powers. Although the Statutory Committee does not make any Orders that are binding upon the House, yet in effect they are, because the House will not have the opportunity, when the Orders come before it, of discussing and amending them. A3 has been said again and again, the House will have either to accept or to reject the Order. That is curtailing the power of the House to such an extent that I venture to say that the Minister does not realise the revolutionary change that he is making. In the past there has scarcely been a year in which the House has not been faced with an Unemployment Bill. So far as the Unemployment Fund was concerned, nothing could be done, no change could be made, unless the Minister of Labour—whoever he was—came to the House and brought in a Bill making provision for that change. That system has had the advantage that, with Unemployment Bills coming before the House so often, year after year, it has kept hon. Members in touch with the fund and made them bear in mind so many things in connection with the fund—kept them, in fact, always up to date in their knowledge of the fund.

Now the Minister is making a change which hon. Members, on the other side side do not yet realise. Instead of the Minister coming to the House with a Bill when any change has to be made in the rates of benefit or of contribution, or in any of the powers which are given in this Schedule, after this Bill is passed and these powers are given to the Statutory Committee, hon. Members of this House will not see another Unemployment Bill for long years. They will lose touch with the fund. It will not be necessary, in view of the enormous powers given to this Statutory Committee, for the Minister to come to the House with another Unemployment Insurance Bill. Hon. Members opposite do not realise the implication of this change. This Government will not always be in power, and the present Minister of Labour will not always hold that office. It may be that these powers will be in force when the next Government comes into office. Let us suppose for a moment that in two years' time the Labour Government comes into power. That is a possibility. A Labour Minister will be sitting there. When the Statutory Committee makes a recommendation to him he will not bring it before the House if he does not agree with it, but when the Statutory Committee makes a recommendation that meets with his approval he will bring an Order before the House.


Does the hon. Member suggest that a Minister of Labour would not be honest?


No, but a Labour Minister will have different views on unemployment insurance from the present Minister. Hon. Members on the other side think that they are tying up the present Opposition in giving these vast powers to the Statutory Committee, and they imagine that the Committee will use those powers in keeping with the views of the present Minister of Labour who can make an Order and bring it before the House; but in two years' time another Minister of Labour with different views may be in office and the Orders may be altogether different from the Orders which will be brought in by the present Minister. Hon. Members should see the implications that are in the Schedule. We may complain at the moment that while we can discuss the Orders we cannot amend them, but when hon. Members opposite are in Opposition they will find themselves in the same position.

I cannot understand why the Minister of Labour wants to give these enormous powers to the Statutory Committee. What will the Ministry of Labour do in future when the Minister has shed his powers and conferred them on the Statutory Committee? A few years ago hon. Members, when they were dissatisfied with decisions on unemployment cases, could send the cases to the Minister of Labour and put questions on the Order Paper about them. They cannot do that to-day. The Minister has rid himself of that responsibility, and Members have been robbed of this privilege.


Will the hon. Member point out how the Minister is relieved of this duty in connection with the Statutory Committee, and will he indicate how a Member will be deprived under this new system of the opportunity of bringing matters and complaints before the Minister?


I was rather speaking of the practice to-day compared with the practice a few years ago when Members could bring unemployment cases before the Minister. I have got the Minister of Labour to send cases back to the Umpire. Members have not got these privileges to-day. We never see on the Order Paper now questions about unemployment cases and complaints of decisions that have been given in regard to benefit and other matters. I suggest that the Minister is endeavouring to get clear of more of the things that now rest upon his shoulders by putting the responsibility on the Statutory Committee.

In 1925, when the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) was Chancellor of the Exchequer and full of economy, he told the House that it was proposed to abolish three Departments in the interest of economy, and he selected what he thought were the three weakest Departments, namely, Mines, Transport and Pensions. If the right hon. Gentleman were Chancellor when this Bill comes into operation, I can imagine him looking upon the Ministry of Labour and saying, "That is the weakest Department, for all the work is now done by the Statutory Committee and all the power rests with that committee." The Statutory Committee will have to keep in touch with the fund, the contributions, the benefits and the number of people on the fund, and I can imagine the Chancellor saying that as the Ministry of Labour has shed all these powers and handed them over to the Statutory Committee the Ministry should be abolished. I would like the Minister to tell us what will remain to justify a Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary when the powers contained in this Schedule are given to the Statutory Committee.

The Minister said that there had been an accumulation of proposals and suggested alterations to the fund, and that because of those accumulations of proposals it had not been possible to deal with them. The present proposals, he said, would be an easy and quick way of dealing with any accumulation of proposals with regard to the fund. It may be a quick way, but it will not be a good way. Any way that prevents the Members of the House from thoroughly debating any alteration in the Unemployment Insurance Fund may be a quick way, but it will not be a satisfactory way. We had far better have the longer way and do the thing as a majority of the House thinks it should be done. The Minister said that it will be possible to deal with the question of the waiting period, or domestic service or the black-coated workers. Suppose the Statutory Committee reports as to whether the waiting period should be six days or be abolished. Suppose the Minister accepts their report and places an Order before the House. If he came before the House with a Bill instead of an Order-in-Council, hon. Members would be entitled to put down amendments to the proposal. I wish that the Noble Lady the Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) would leave the Minister of Labour alone. I want the right hon. Gentleman to listen to me. If the Minister were to bring a Bill before the House it would be possible for hon. Members to move an Amendment that would make the waiting period three days, assuming that the Minister did not agree to the abolition of the waiting period. Under an Order the House would have no such opportunity; it would be a question either of the period being abolished or of retaining the six days. I submit that that is an injustice. On all these things hon. Members ought to have an opportunity of submitting Amendments to the proposals.

I wonder whether hon. Members have read this Schedule. It is well worth serious attention. The Statutory Committee can deal with everything in connection with the fund. It can completely alter the fund. As a matter of fact the House has been spending a lot of time discussing Clause after Clause dealing with the fund. It was not necessary to consider any of the Clauses dealing with the fund, because this Statutory Committee has sufficient power under the Schedule to deal with everything that we have been discussing. It can make recommendations on all the Clauses that we have discussed. But I think it is a much better way for the House to spend its time discussing Clause after Clause that affects the fund. It is better for the fund and better for the people who receive benefit from the fund. The Statutory Committee has power to deal with the rates of contributions and the rates of benefit. We have been saying that the position of the fund at the moment would warrant something being done with the rates of contribution. There is no guarantee that the Statutory Committee will make recommendations to decrease the contributions. Once this Statutory Committee is set up it will always have its eye upon keeping the fund as strong financially as possible; it will always want to have as big a balance as possible. The members of the committee would not be men if they did not.


There are two other speakers.


If there are two other speakers I will stop. I was rather filling in time, but I will sit down.

9.49 p.m.


I cannot help thinking that the real purpose of this Amendment lies rather deeper than has yet been expressed. Surely the fundamental reason for this and subsequent Amendments which have the effect of taking away some of the advisory powers that we seek to give to the Statutory Committee, lies in the genuine difference of opinion between the Opposition and the Government as to the value of an insurance scheme. Rightly or wrongly the Opposition think that an insurance scheme is useless. The Government believe that it is valuable to the people of this country. A second reason, which my right hon. Friend the Minister did not mention, for which this Committee is being set up, is to ensure that the insurance scheme shall be maintained in a solvent condition. We have seen in the past that when the management of insurance has been left entirely in the hands of this House, and all the details and all the initiative have come from this House, in practice the scheme has lost tall its appearance of solvency. It is only natural that that should happen, because the Government of the day, whoever they may be, naturally take an optimistic view of the effect of their own policy. They say, "Our policy is going to reduce unemployment," and they miscalculate the basis of the fund.

During the period of office of the last Government and partly during the period of office of the previous Conservative Government, that has resulted in a continuous increase in the debt of the fund, until we found, when the present Government came into office, a debt of something like £115,000,000. It is in order that the fund may be maintained in solvency, and

in order that the insurance principle may be maintained, that it is necessary that powers of an advisory character should be given to this Statutory Committee, and that the initiative of recommending changes and taking a view which is not definitely the view of the Government should rest with the Statutory Committee. I feel, therefore, that in resisting this Amendment the Minister is taking the wise course land is supporting the real insurance principle.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Schedule."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 258; Noes, 63.

Division No. 205.] AYES. [9.55 p.m.
Aeland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Denman, Hon. R. D. Joel, Dudley J. Barnato
Albery, Irving James Dickie, John P. Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Drewe, Cedrie Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C. Kerr, Hamilton W.
Aske, Sir Robert William Duckworth, George A. V. Knight, Holford
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Knox, Sir Alfred
Atholl, Duchess of Duggan, Hubert John Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Latham, Sir Herbert Paul
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Dunglass, Lord Law Sir Alfred
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Edmondson, Major A. J. Leckle. J. A.
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Elliston, Captain George Sampson Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Lewis, Oswald
Bateman, A. L. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Liddall, Walter S.
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Lindsay, Noel Ker
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th. C.) Everard, W. Lindsay Little, Graham, Sir Ernest
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B Ford, Sir Patrick J. Llewellin, Major John J
Blindell, James Fox, Sir Gilford Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Borodale, Viscount Fuller, Captain A. G. Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Bossom, A. C. Ganzonl, Sir John Loftus, Pierce C.
Boulton, W. W. Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Gillett, Sir George Masterman Lyons, Abraham Montagu
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Glossop, C. W. H. Mac Andrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Gluckstein, Louls Halle Mac Andrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)
Broadbent, Colonel John Goff, Sir Park McConnell, Sir Joseph
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Goodman, Colonel Albert W. McCorquodale, M. S.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Gower, Sir Robert McKie, John Hamilton
Browne, Captain A. C. Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Greene, William P. C. McLean, Major Sir Alan
Burghley, Lord Grimston, R. V. McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)
Burnett, John George Gritten, W. G. Howard Macmillan, Maurice Harold
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Guinness. Thomas L. E. B. Magnay, Thomas
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Gunston, Captain D. W. Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.
Carver, Major William H. Guy, J. C. Morrison Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Castlereagh, Viscount Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Martin, Thomas B.
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Hales, Harold K. Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington,. E.) Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John
Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chlppenham) Hammersley, Samuel S. Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Hanbury, Cecll Milne, Charles
Christie, James Archibald Hartland, George A. Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)
Clayton, Sir Christopher Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Cobb, Sir Cyril Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Mitcheson,G. G.
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale
Colfox, Major William Philip Heilgers, Captsln F. F. A. Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres
Colville, Lieut-Colonel J. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)
Conant, R. J. E. Hepworth, Joseph Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.)
Cooke, Douglas Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Hornby, Frank Morrison, William Shepherd
Crooke, J. Smedley Horsbrugh, Florence Munro, Patrick
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro) Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)
Cross, R. H. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid
Crossley, A. C. Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Nunn, William
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Jackson, J. C. (Heywood & Radcliffe) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hn. William G. A.
Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery) James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Palmer, Francis Noel
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Jamleson, Douglas Patrick, Colin M.
Dawson, Sir Philip Jetton, Major Thomas E. Peake, Captain Osbert
Pearson, William G. Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside) Strickland, Captain W. F.
Peat, Charles U. Rutherford, John (Edmonton) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
Penny, Sir George Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l) Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Percy, Lord Eustace Salmon, Sir Isldore Tata, Mavis Constance
Perkins, Walter R. D. Salt, Edward W. Templeton, William P.
Petherick, M. Samuel, Samuel (W'deworth, Putney) Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n,Bllst'n) Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Thompson, Sir Luke
Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Savery, Samuel Servington Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Pownall, Sir Assheton Scone, Lord Thorp, Linton Theodore
Radford, E. A. Selley, Harry R. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Ralkes, Henry V. A. M. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Rankin, Robert Slmmonds, Oliver Edwin Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Rathbone, Eleanor Skelton, Archibald Noel Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Rawson, Sir Cooper Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Klnc'dine, C.) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour
Reid, David D. (County Down) Somerset, Thomas Wells, Sydney Richard
Reid, James S. C. (Stirling) Somervell, Sir Donald Weymouth, Viscount
Renter, John R. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U. Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Soper, Richard Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Ropner, Colonel L. Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Ross, Ronald D. Spencer, Captain Richard A. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Spens, William Patrick Wise, Alfred R.
Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Runge, Norah Cecil Stanley, Hon. O. F. C. (Westmorland) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy) Stevenson, James Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward and Mr. Womersley.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyke George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) McEntee, Valentine L.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Attlee, Clement Richard Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Banfield, John William Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Maxton, James
Batey, Joseph Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Owen, Major Goronwy
Bernays, Robert Groves, Thomas E. Paling, Wilfred
Bevan, Aneurln (Ebbw Vale) Grundy, Thomas W. Parkinson, John Allen
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Pickering, Ernest H.
Buchanan, George Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Ztl'nd) Rea, Walter Russell
Cape, Thomas Harris, Sir Percy Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Holdsworth, Herbert Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cove, William G. Janner, Barnett Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jenkins, Sir William Thorns, William James
Daggar, George Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) White, Henry Graham
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Dobbie, William Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Edwards, Charles Kirkwood, David Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanslly)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Lawson, John James Wilmot, John
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Leonard, William
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Logan, David Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmln) Lunn, William Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.

10.2 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 58, columns 2 and 3, to leave out lines 33 and 34.

This is a very narrow Amendment, and I shall confine myself strictly within its terms. I do so explicitly, for one particular reason, and that is that there may be no confusion in the minds of the Committee in regard to where the powers of the Statutory Committee are likely to lead us. We have heard very much in this House in regard to the questions of dictatorship and of constitution, and in fact some Members have been so anxious to give publicity to their faults that they have been asking publicly, "Whither are we going?" Quo Vadis? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad that at last there is a mentality in the Committee that is able to appreciate the meaning of a word, because it brings me face to face with a conscious House of Commons which up to the present moment I was unaware I was in. What are we dealing with? Ministers and Members of the National Government are shirking their responsibilities by removing the prerogatives of the House of Commons into the hands of a Statutory Committee. It may be that the question of dictatorship at the present time, with an overbearing majority of a national party—


The question about the Statutory Committee has been dealt with, and the hon. Member must deal only with the definition of suitable employment in the terms of his Amendment.


The definition of suitable employment brings me down to a narrow point, and I think there are very few Members of the Committee who are strictly in order when they are confined to one particular definition. I take umbrage—[Laughter.] If hon. Members do not know the meaning of the word, I will give them a Chamber's Dictionary. I take umbrage at the terms of the Government's proposal. [Laughter.] The Scotland Division does not worry me nor does the laughter of hon. Members opposite. Let me deal with a definition of suitable employment. Is it to be said that we are to leave to the Statutory Committee the obligation of defining what is suitable employment, when Members of the House of Commons have not yet been able to determine it, and many injustices have been committed?

What is this particular body that is to be set up? I am within my rights in mentioning one power that may be vested in this particular body. The term "suitable employment" must be determined by this body. They are given the power to deal with a definition of the term, and I contend—as I would in an ordinary Parliamentary debating society, and I do not think that this House is anything greater than that, from the point of view of debate—that it is not competent to define the term. What are their powers? Is it to be said that plenary powers are to be handed over to a body of whom we know naught, and who will be able to exercise rights which Members of this House ought to exercise. [Laughter.] I do not know why there should be any laughter.


Perhaps I can save the hon. Member from it by asking him not to discuss any more something which we have already discussed, namely, the suitability or otherwise of this body.


With all due respect, I am amenable to your Ruling, and I am anxious to conform to the constitutional rules of the House, but I am bound to point out that the question of suitable employment within the terms of my Amendment is a definition that must be dealt with by this body, the Statutory Unemployment Committee.


Yes, that is quite right, but it is not relevant to the hon. Member's Amendment. It was agreed that there should be a very wide discussion on Amendments that we have already dealt with, and that that discussion should range generally over the powers to be conferred upon this body, but that on subsequent Amendments the discussion should be limited strictly to the particular powers proposed to be dealt with by those Amendments.


I do not wish to differ from your Ruling. I am trying to make my own case and not the case of those who titter. With all due respect, this is an Amendment which stands on its own. I admit that it was agreed that a comprehensive discussion should take place on three Amendments, but this Amendment is specific and deals with the question of suitable employment, and such definition must be determined by the Statutory Unemployment Committee. Within that point as to the power vested in the committee in regard to the question of suitable employment, I am dealing with the Amendment, and I am compelled to complain that that is a power which is being taken out of the House of Commons. Hon. Members have no right to delegate to any other body the powers that are vested in the Members of this House as a legislative assembly. I have chosen the question of suitable employment which is to be referred to the Statutory Committee as one of many reasons why we should not delegate to this particular body the right to deal with the question of definition. That should be the duty of the Minister. If legislation is essential he ought to introduce it on a matter of such vital importance. I am not here to represent the national point of view, but to represent the point of view of those people who feel that injustice is being done. I believe it is a dangerous precedent to create. I do not think that this power ought to be vested in any outside body. I believe in the honesty, sincerity and common sense of a British House of Commons to be able to debate essential points which are fundamental.


We are working at the present time under a special Order of the House, and therefore I do not wish to interfere more than I can help with whatever line of discussion the official Opposition choose to take, but I must point out to the hon. Member that during the whole of his speech he has gone entirely outside the arrangement which was arrived at that a discussion as to the suitability of delegating powers to this particular body was to be taken on an Amendment with which we have already dealt, and was not to be discussed on this or subsequent Amendments. Therefore, it is for the hon. Member to decide whether he chooses to adhere to that Parliamentary arrangement or not.


I am as anxious as any other Member to conform to the Ruling of the Chair, but I am also anxious, if it be possible, and I believe it is, to put a point of view. However, I am not going outside your Ruling. I am not so dense as not to understand the Ruling. I have made my point, and that is all that it is essential for me to do. I have tried to point put that in leaving it to this body to define suitable employment we are creating a very dangerous precedent, because I feel that the determination of such a vital point is one for this House. I am not one of those who are anxious to see the constitutional rights of this House disappear, and some other authority come along with proposals, perhaps, of a more revolutionary character. I have moved my Amendment because I feel thoroughly convinced that if we depart from that line of procedure we shall regret it in the future.

10.18 p.m.


I think we really ought to have an answer to the case which has been put up. Wide powers are given to this Statutory Committee, and one of them is to recommend a definition of "suitable employment." The Minister, like everyone else who has taken part in the administration of this legislation, will know that that is one of the most delicate subjects which can be handled by anyone, even by those who are most experienced in unemployment insurance. There are a large number of Umpire's decisions on this point, and it would have been possible for us to bring some of those decisions with us had we not thought originally that we should be discussing each one of these particular powers to be given to the Statutory Committee and would be fully occupied in dealing with the different Sections of the Acts under which the recommendations of the Committee can be made.

Not only are there large numbers of Umpire's decisions on this question of what is suitable employment, there are, in fact, a volume or two of decisions. The Umpire, who has wide experience, has in the past found himself up against the problem of a man coming from the Yorkshire, the Scottish, or the Durham coalfield, where there are shallow mines, where the men work under cold and wet conditions, being suddenly asked to go to a coalfield where there are deep and hot pits. There have been cases of this description. Such cases cannot be decided off-hand, and the umpire has had very great difficulty in dealing with them. Section 4 of the Act of 1930, says that it is not a question of offering a suitable job but that the claimant has without good cause refused or failed to apply for such situation, or refused to accept such situation, when offered to him by an Employment Exchange. There also comes into this a question of wages, where a man who has, perhaps, been a craftsman, is offered a post which may carry a merely nominal fee. There are a number of craftsmen now whose craft is practically non-existent, and who are sent to the South of England, sometimes to apply for posts as attendants, or to be trained as waiters. The question which the Umpire has to decide is whether those posts are suitable or not. There is a whole range of these things which might be offered. We do not want to defend a man at all who refuses a post that is in any way suitable, but the point we want to drive home is that it has been sufficiently difficult for the Umpire and courts of referees to decide in the past, even with their great experience. Representatives are now to be appointed to the Statutory Committee, and this Committee does not know who they are, but they have not even elementary experience of this kind of thing. They will have a mass of other duties thrust upon them, in addition to administration, and there are about 30 definitions and possibilities of recommendations. The point has been put that we are giving duties to the Statutory Committee for which they will not only not have time but will not be fit. When it comes to the very fine and delicate matter of deciding what is suitable employment, it would be a mistake for the Committee to agree that the matter should go absolutely into their hands for recommendation.

The Parliamentary Secretary will say that, even if the recommendation were accepted by the Minister, it would be submitted in an order to the House. That would be so. The theory is that we would have an opportunity of discussing it, but that is only theory. I have had to put down Resolutions and Prayers asking that certain things should be discussed, and have had the experience of their being discussed after 11 o'clock. We say that it is an impossible time, particularly for discussing matters of this kind. If orders are to be put down containing such recommendations, the method of discussing them does not count for practical purposes. We hope that the Committee will not readily give the Minister a provision of this kind to give this power of making recommendations which is, in effect, not only the power to upset the Umpire's decisions, but practically to make laws upon matters which have been within the province of the House of Commons in the past. I ask the Minister to give serious consideration to this matter and to omit it and if he cannot omit it all, to omit this particular item. I ask the Committee to refuse to give such powers to the Statutory Committee as are proposed in this Schedule.

10.25 p.m.


I rise to support this Amendment, because it appears to me that the question of suitable employment is of such material importance that it should not be biased by any decision that is bound to be made in advance and is bound to be supported by the Minister after it has been made. I do not think any more need be said as to the reasons why the question of suitable employment is so important in itself, but we have not yet been given an answer on the important point that the Statutory Committee will be appointed by the Government. The Government are not going to be so foolish as to admit that a recommendation of the committee which they themselves have appointed is not one that they are prepared to back at a later stage, and, in consequence, the Minister himself, when he gets the recommendation, will of necessity, in my view, almost invariably accept it and bring it to the House, he will put behind the Resolution the Government Whips, and the result will be that, whether we have the right to discuss it or not, we shall be placed in the position of having to accept the recommendation. While it is clear that the House still has the power, in practice the House will not have much power, and in these circumstances, I submit, we ought to be careful in what we do about an important question of this kind, and, when we are considering the question of suitable or unsuitable employment, we should not take the risk of leaving it to these five people, but should make it a matter on which the House itself will not only have the final word, but will have an unfettered right of discussing the whole matter and coming to its own conclusions. In these circumstances I think the Committee ought to accept the Amendment.

10.28 p.m.


There is a special reason why the Statutory Committee ought not to be allowed to have this power. I do not know whether it is within the recollection of hon. Members, but one evening we had a heated argument about cases of special difficulty under Part II of the Bill. Clause 39 of the Bill, in the second paragraph, says: Provided that an application shall not be so dealt with by reason only that the applicant has not accepted an offer of employment which would not, in relation to a claim for benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, have been held to be suitable employment. Therefore, the range of persons whose cases will be declared to be cases of special difficulty under Part II will be affected by whatever definition of suitable employment is in future laid down by the Statutory Committee. I do not know whether hon. Members quite follow the importance of the point. When a man is classified as a case of special difficulty under Part II, he loses the most elementary rights of citizenship, including the rights over the disposal of his own body, because he may be sent to a training camp, he may be sent to a workhouse, he may be incarcerated in a concentration camp for an indefinite period; he loses his right to receive his payments in cash, and the money can be handed over to the public assistance committee for his maintenance in a local institution. He loses all those valuable rights.

The one protection that we have at the moment is that, if he loses an offer of employment, they cannot classify him as a case of special difficulty unless it is a kind of employment for which he would have been refused benefit under Part I. But, if the Statutory Committee alters the definition of suitable employment, will the definition at that time be the definition for Clause 39 or the definition as it exists now? In other words will the Statutory Committee be able to widen the definition and make all those men subject to the penalties of cases of special difficulty, or are we to assume that the definition of cases of special difficulty is that contained in the existing law?

I have very great anxiety about these cases of special difficulty, because it is under this Clause that the National Government are being charged with depriving ordinary British citizens of their elementary rights. At the moment a man can refuse to accept a job. He loses his benefit for six weeks, then comes back on insurable benefit, and at the end of it, if the job is still repugnant to him and he refuses it a second time, he can receive assistance from the public assistance committee. Under this Clause that will not be the position. In the future, if he refuses the job, he will not only abandon his right to benefit, he will not only forfeit his right to public assistance, but at the same time he will forfeit his right to remain outside the workhouse and outside the camp. He will forfeit all those rights merely because he refuses a job, and we shall not even have the right to decide whether the job is suitable or not. That will be decided by the Statutory Committee, over which the House will have no control at all. Would the Parliamentary Secretary reply to that question, because it is one to which we attach considerable importance, and, if the definition is that which may exist at the time as laid down by the Statutory Committee, will he on Report put in an Amendment to the effect that the definition of suitable employment to govern cases of special difficulty in Clause 39 shall be the definition that exists at the moment, and not the definition that the Statutory Committee may make it in the future?

10.29 p.m.


I do not know whether we are to assume that in discussing this matter hon. Members opposite think that the present definition of suitable employment in their Act of 1930 is satisfactory. I assume that they do and that they consider that no amendment is necessary. But, if that is the basis of their argument now, it does not quite square with the argument that they advanced last night, when we spent a considerable time in discussing a new Clause that they moved to alter the definition. Evidently, they do not think that the present definition is satisfactory. The arguments of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) did not tally with those of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan). The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is distinctly under the impression that the House of Commons at present has some control over what is or is not decided in a particular case to be suitable employment, but the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street, in his speech, called attention to the fact that a very large body of case law had been built up over which the House of Commons has no present control. I am merely giving this illustration to show the hopeless disunity of hon. Members opposite on this particular question.


I merely stated that in order to show the hopelessness of the Government's proposal.


I do not want to transgress the Chairman's Ruling, but it has been decided by the House that, instead of the House of Commons being asked year after year to consider one at least and often two separate Unemployment Insurance Bills altering this, that and the other thing, a shorter, quicker and simpler machinery should be adopted, namely, that a Statutory Committee should be set up to consider practical matters impartially and report to the Minister, and that it should be for the House of Commons to say "Yes" or "No." That having been decided, it merely remains whether or not this is a suitable subject for decision, or for inclusion in the list to be decided, by the Statutory Committee. I think that hon. Members opposite showed in the new Clause which they put down that the present definition of suitable employment was not, in their opinion, an entirely satisfactory one, and indeed the Amendment is sufficient evidence of their desire to amend this particular definition. If you are going to admit the necessity for an Amendment, there is no alternative, the House having decided on the principle, but to include it in the Schedule.


May I have an answer to my question? I put a specific question to the hon. Gentleman. I asked him to refer to Clause 39, and to tell us whether the definition of "suitable employment" which is to govern cases of special difficulty is the existing definition, or the definition as it may be made by the Statutory Committee. If it is the latter, we are indeed permitting a non-statutory body to take away from unemployed persons their statutory rights. Will the hon. Member answer which of the two it is? If it is the former, it is a most serious matter.


No, Sir, I am afraid that I cannot agree in the slightest with the contention of the hon. Member. Any recommendation made by the committee, after it has been submitted by the Minister of Labour to this House and has passed this House, will have statutory authority. Therefore, it will not be open to the hon. Member to say that anything has been done to take away the statutory rights of any individual. The statutory rights will be governed by the then existing Statutes.


The hon. Gentleman really is not replying to my question, which is a matter of the gravest possible importance. We know in Part II of the Bill the persons who are to be regarded as persons of special difficulty, and who, being so classified, will be deprived of valuable rights. We know that at the moment, but we shall not know it in the future, because the Statutory Committee will be able to alter the conditions of classification. The important point about the condition as to suitable employment is the language in which it is phrased. You must be able to put down amendments if you are to have an intelligent discussion. If the Statutory Committee are to be able to alter the definition of "suitable employment," then hundreds and thousands of men will be affected without the House having any control over the matter. That is a point of substantial importance.


It appears to me, from such portions of the Debate as I have heard, that hon. Members opposite are labouring under a misconception. They keep talking about the Statutory Committee as though it was going to have administrative functions. The Statutory Committee will have no executive or administrative functions whatever. It will be purely an advisory body, and until its advice has been incorporated by Parliament in the necessary Resolution and this has become a Statute, it will have no power whatever. Once this has been done, the Resolution will become law, like every other provision which is approved by Parliament. There is no question of the Statutory Committee having any arbitrary power.

10.45 p.m.


Nobody has claimed that the Statutory Committee is to have executive powers, but we claim that it will have the power to say that classes of persons shall or shall not come within the Insurance Acts. They may recommend that certain classes should not be included as being in suitable employment. That is a power which the committee has. I presume, however, that power will still remain with the High Court in England and with the Court of Sessions in Scotland where difficulty arises to decide the matter, as the High Court did the other week in the case of football players, that they were outside the law. The Statutory Committee under this Bill have the power to say that mining is not a suitable employment; they will have the power to recommend that miners are not suitable to be included. In fact, they have the power to say what is suitable employment. They may include five or six categories of labour, and it may be that some hon. Members will agree that one class should be taken out, or they may say that another class should remain in. But Parliament will have to reject the lot, or include the lot. This matter of who is to be insurable and who is not is a question for the House of Commons. At the present time the law is that doubtful cases are decided by the courts. We had the recent case in which the High Court decided against footballers earning over £5 a week coming within the Act. Take the case of agricultural workers. Certain men employed in public parks are defined as being outside the Act and others as being inside the Act. The courts now decide these questions. But this Statutory Committee is to be given the power to say, "We have gone into this question and we think that a certain class of workers is costing the Government too much," and on the recommendation, of the committee that class might be cut out.


Is the hon. Member not under a misapprehension as to what this Amendment deals with?


No. It is the question of defining suitable employment.


I thought the hon. Member was speaking about classes of workers. I do not think that comes within the scope of the Amendment as to "suitable employment." It is suitable employment for a particular applicant.


I think the hon. Member is really labouring under a misapprehension. Not merely has what he said nothing to do with the Amendment, but the committee has not the power to recommend the inclusion or the exclusion of any class of persons. When I say they have not the power, I mean that their recommendation cannot be given effect to by a Resolution of the House of Commons as to the exclusion or inclusion of those persons. It is true that the committee has power to advise as to whether certain classes can be excluded or not—


No, the hon. Gentleman is wrong.


They could recommend a definition.


Yes, one that would cut out a class.


That recommendation might be accepted by the House of Commons which would cover the whole of the case laws.


I must give my own Ruling on the point. The case to which the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) referred, that of the footballers, is quite definitely one which would not be affected by the words dealt with in this Amendment, namely, the definition of "suitable employment" under Section 4 of the Act of 1930. Therefore any argument based upon that case or any parallel case, is entirely outside the Amendment.


The point is that they can say that certain employment is not suitable for an individual, but that decision then becomes the standard for a group just as when the Umpire to-day gives a decision on an individual, his decision becomes a standard decision for whole classes and groups.


If the hon. Member dealt with a case in which the Umpire gave a decision that coal-mining was not suitable employment for a man who had hitherto been engaged in totally different work, then he would be in order. But when it comes to a definition of what is insurable employment, the hon. Member's argument is out of order.


My point is that a decision on an individual case becomes a decision for a class or a group.


Certainly not. I apologise for contradicting the hon. Member, but really he is wrong. The Umpire does not decide questions of insurability.


I admit that the High Court does not give a decision on insurance, but once they decide the individual case it becomes the law for a class. Similarly, when the Umpire decides whether a certain man is entitled to benefit of a certain kind, he lays down the law for a class. I know that the committee cannot possibly say that they will cut out miners as a class, but they can recommend that particular people shall be outside the benefit, and because of the Resolution their decision will govern a larger class than that to which it originally refers.


I must definitely rule that the hon. Member is out of Order. "Suitable employment" here means employment which is suitable for a particular man. I agree that that may cover a class, but it is a question of whether it is suitable alternative employment to what he has been doing in the past. It is not a question of whether it is employment which is insurable employment or not.


I much regret that I cannot give way on this question, and I feel, Sir Dennis, with great respect, that you are absolutely wrong. As a matter of interpretation, at the present time suitable employment is defined first of all by courts of referees, and then by Umpires. This, however, is a proposal to remit to a Statutory Committee the right to define what is suitable employment. Reading the Schedule, I think that the committee have a right to say, '"We have come to the conclusion that we define that this class should be outside the Act." I will admit that the point is involved, but I am perfectly clear on it. The committee have the power to say, "We have gone into the matter and we find that this class is outside the Act and recommend accordingly." I may be wrong, as one sometimes is, but in any ease it is most important that such a question should not go to the committee at all. There should be no mistake about that; it is a thing which ought to be retained in the House of Commons.

The Parliamentary Secretary says that the Labour party are inconsistent. He says that hon. Members last night tried to include a class, and now the Government are taking the power away from the Statutory Committee to exclude a class. Surely, if the Committee can include a class, it can exclude a class. He said that this Committee could include the pithead workers if they wanted to; therefore, by the same process of argument, it can exclude a class from the scope of the Act. If I am wrong, I submit that I have been led wrongly by the hon. Gentleman. The Government said last night that they would like this class included, and that they might accept such an Amendment. If they said that this Committee had power to include but no power to exclude, as they say now, this body has not merely the power of defining to bring in, but also the power of defining to put out.


For the satisfaction of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), I can now refer him to the Section referred to in the Schedule. If he will look at it, he will see that I am perfectly right. This Amendment is confined to that Section, which is Section 4 of the Act of 1930, and it deals entirely with the claimant who after a situation in any employment which is suitable in his case has been notified to him by an Employment Exchange…has without good cause refused or failed to apply for such a situation, and so on. Therefore, it is not in any case a question of whether one man or

one class of men is or is not insurable under the Act. It is simply a question of the definition in the case of each particular man, according to what his employment has been, whether the employment that is offered to him is suitable or not.


In that case, the Parliamentary Secretary must have been completely wrong when he talked about the Amendment last night in relation to pithead workers.


I was talking about a different Amendment which dealt with men refusing a job with an employer who had not an agreement with their union.


I must accept your Ruling, Sir Dennis, but I adhere to my point that it affects a class alone, because the umpire and the courts of referees have to decide in individual cases.

10.58 p.m.


We have had no reply from the Parliamentary Secretary to the point of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan). His case is one that ought to be answered. Our point in this Amendment is that the umpire, the industrial court, and the courts of referees are far more competent to define what is suitable employment than people who have had no experience in the administration of this law. Hon. Members, like myself and others who have had experience in industrial courts, will know that the umpire is a competent person. For many years he has been defining these things, and with all his experience he will know much more about this matter than any board can hope to know. We think the Minister is taking this matter out of the hands of more competent people and putting it in the hands of people who are inexperienced and inefficient.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, stand part of the Schedule."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 268; Noes, 62.

Division No. 206.] AYES. [10.59 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-colonel Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Button) Banke, Sir Reginald Mitchell
Albery, Irving James Atholl, Duchess of Barclay-Harvey, C. M.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Llverp'l, W.) Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey
Allan, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Bateman, A. L.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell
Aske, Sir Robert William Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)
Bernays, Robert Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Sevan, Stuart James (Holborn) Hellgers, Captain F. F. A. Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Blindell, James Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Rankin, Robes
Borodale, Viscount Hepworth, Joseph Rathbone, Eleanor
Bossom, A. C. Hornby, Frank Rawson, Sir Cooper
Boulton, W. W. Horsbrugh, Florence Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Howard, Tom Forrest Reid, David D. (County Down)
Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Howltt, Dr. Alfred B. Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Remer, John R.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Hume, Sir George Hopwood Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesail)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Ropner, Colonel L.
Browne, Captain A. C. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Rosbotham, Sir Thomas
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Inskip, Rt Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Ross, Ronald D.
Burghley, Lord James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H. Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Burnett, John George Jamleson, Douglas Runge, Norah Cecil
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Jesson, Major Thomas E. Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Caporn, Arthur Cecll Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West) Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Carver, Major William H. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Castlereagh, Viscount Kerr, Hamilton W. Salmon, Sir Isldore
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Koyes, Admiral Sir Roger Salt, Edward W.
Gazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Knox, Sir Alfred Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Savery, Samuel Servington
Christie, James Archibald Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Selley, Harry R.
Clayton, Sir Christopher Law Sir Alfred Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.) Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Leckle, J. A. Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Colfox, Major William Philip Leighton, Major B. E. P. Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock) Simmonds, Oliver Edwin
Conant, R. J. E. Lindsay, Noel Ker Skelton, Archibald Noel
Cooke, Douglas Little, Graham, Sir Ernest Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.
Cooper, A. Duff Llewellin. Major John J. Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Klnc'dine, C.)
Courthope, Colonel Sir George L. Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Somerset, Thomas
Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Loder, Captain J. de Vere Somervell, Sir Donald
Crooks, J. Smedley Loftus, Plerce C. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Soper, Richard
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gatnsb'ro) Lyons, Abraham Montagu Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Cross, R. H. Mabane, William Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Crossley, A. C. MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick) Spens, William Patrick
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard MacAndraw, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom McConnell, Sir Joseph Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) McCorquodale, M. S. Stevenson, James
Dawson, Sir Philip McKie, John Hamilton Storey, Samuel
Dlckie, John P. McLean, Major Sir Alan Strickland, Captain W. F.
Drewe, Cedrlc McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C. Macmillan, Maurice Harold Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Duckworth, George A. V. Magnay, Thomas Sutcliffe, Harold
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Mannlngham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Tate, Mavis Constance
Duggan, Hubert John Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Templeton, William P.
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Martin, Thomas B. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Dunglass, Lord Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Thompson, Sir Luke
Edmondson, Major A. J. Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Thorp, Linton Theodore
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Milne, Charles Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare) Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k) Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Ford, Sir Patrick J. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Train, John
Fox, Sir Gilford Mitcheson, G. G. Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Fraser, Captain Ian Molson, A. Hugh Eisdale Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Fremantle, Sir Francis Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Fuller, Captain A. G. Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr) Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Ganzonl, Sir John Moreing, Adrian C. Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Gault. Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.) Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Gillett, Sir George Masterman Morrison, William Shepherd Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Glossop, C. W. H. Munro, Patrick Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Gluckstein, Louis Halls Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Goff, Sir Park Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Normand, Rt. Hon. Wlifrid Wells, Sydney Richard
Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.) North, Edward T. Weymouth, Viscount
Graves, Marjorie Nunn, William Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Greene, William P. C. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon. S.)
Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Palmer, Francis Noel Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Grimston, R. V. Patrick, Colin M. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Gritten, W. G. Howard Peake, Captain Osbert Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Pearson, William G. Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Gunston, Captain D. W. Peat, Charles U. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Guy, J. C. Morrison Penny, Sir George Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Perkins, Walter R. D. Wise, Alfred R.
Hales, Harold K. Petherick, M. Womersley, Walter James
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bllston)
Hammersley, Samuel S. Pike, Cecil F. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Hanbury Cecil Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Commander Southby and Dr. Morris-Jones.
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Pownall, Sir Assheton
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Radford, E. A.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Sir Francis Dyka George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Attlee, Clement Richard Grenfell, David Rest (Glamorgan) Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Banfield, John William Groves, Thomas E. Maxton, James
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Owen, Major Goronwy
Bevan, Aneurln (Ebbw Vale) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Paling, Wilfred
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) Parkinson, John Allen
Buchanan, George Harris, Sir Percy Pickering, Ernest H.
Cape, Thomas Holdsworth, Herbert Rea, Walter Russell
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Janner, Barnett Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cove, William G. Jenkins, Sir William Salter, Dr. Alfred
Cripps, Sir Stafford Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Daggar, George Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown) White, Henry Graham
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Dobble, William Kirkwood, David Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Edwards, Charles Lawson, John James Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Leonard, William Wilmot, John
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Logan, David Gilbert
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lunn, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Mr. John and Mr. D. Grah
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) McEntee, Valentine L.

It being after Eleven of the Clock, The CHAIBMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 19th December, successively to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at Eleven of the Clock at this day's sitting.

Question put, "That this Schedule, as amended, be the Second Schedule to the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 266; Noes, 61.

Division No. 207.] AYES. [11.10 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.
Albery, Irving James Conant, R. J. E. Hales, Harold K.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.) Cooke, Douglas Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Cooper, A. Duff Hammersley, Samuel S.
Anstruther-Gray, W. J. Courthope, Colonel Sir George L Hanbury, Cecil
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)
Atholl, Duchess of Crooke, J. Smedley Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Cross, R. H. Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.
Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Crossley, A. C. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Hepworth, Joseph
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Culverwell, Cyril Tom Hornby, Frank
Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Horsbrugh, Florence
Bateman, A. L. Dawson, Sir Philip Howard, Tom Forrest
Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Dlckie, John P. Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.
Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Drewe, Codrle Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)
Bernays, Robert Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C. Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)
Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Duckworth, George A. V. Hume, Sir George Hopwood
Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn) Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg)
Blindell, James Duggan, Hubert John Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer
Borodale, Viscount Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.
Bossom, A. C. Dung lass, Lord James, Wing-Corn. A. W. H.
Boulton, W. W. Edmondson, Major A. J. Jamleson, Douglas
Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Elliston, Captain George Sampson Jesson, Major Thomas E.
Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Emrys-Evane, P. V. Joel, Dudley J. Barnato
Brown, Col D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Ford, Sir Patrick J. Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Fox, Sir Gilford Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charies (Montrose)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y) Fraser, Captain Ian Kerr, Hamilton W.
Browne, Captain A. C. Fremantle, Sir Francis Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger
Buchan, Hepburn, P. G. T. Fuller, Captain A. G. Knox, Sir Alfred
Burghley, Lord Ganzonl, Sir John Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton
Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Latham, Sir Herbert Paul
Burnett, John George Gillett, Sir George Masterman Law, Sir Alfred
Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly) Glossop, C. W. H. Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)
Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm Gluckstein, Louis Halle Leckie, J. A.
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Goff, Sir Park Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Carver, Major William H. Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)
Castlereagh, viscount Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rt'd. N.) Lindsay, Noel Ker
Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.) Graves, Marjorle Little, Graham, Sir Ernest
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Greene, William P. C. Llewellin, Major John J.
Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Grenfell, E. C. (City of London) Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)
Christie, James Archibald Grimston, R. V. Loder, Captain J. de Vere
Clayton, Sir Christopher Gritten, W. G. Howard Loftus, Pierce C.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Gunston, Captain D. W. Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.
Colfox, Major William Philip Guy, J. C. Morrison Lyons, Abraham Montagu
Mabane, William Pownall, Sir Assheton Spens, William Patrick
MacAndrew. Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick) Radford, E. A. Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)
MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich) Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
McConnell, Sir Joseph Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian) Stevenson, James
McCorqnodale, M. S. Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles) Storey, Samuel
MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Rankin, Robert Strickland, Captain W. F.
McKie, John Hamilton Rathbone, Eleanor Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
McLean, Major Sir Alan Rawson, Sir Cooper Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham. Suteliffe, Harold
Macmillan, Maurice Harold Reid, David D. (County Down) Tate, Mavls Constance
Magnay, Thomas Reid, James S. C. (Stirling) Templeton, William P.
Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Reid, William Allan (Derby) Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. H. Remar, John R. Thompson, Sir Luke
Martin, Thomas B. Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall) Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Ropner, Colonel L. Thorp, Linton Theodore
May hew, Lieut.-Colonel John Rosbotham, Sir Thomas Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Ross, Ronald D. Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Milne, Charles Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge) Train, John
Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Runge, Norah Cecil Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy) Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)
Mitcheson, G. G. Russell, Hamer Field (Shef'ld, B'tside) Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Rutherford, John (Edmonton) Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l) Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Moreing, Adrian C. Salmon, Sir Isldore Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)
Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Salt, Edward W. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Morrison, William Shepherd Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart Watt, Captain George Steven H.
Munro, Patrick Savery, Samuel Servington Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour
Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Selley, Harry R. Wells, Sydney Richard
Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H. Weymouth, Viscount
North, Edward T. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell) Whiteside, Borras Noel H.
Nunn, William Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar) Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon. S.)
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Shepperson, Sir Ernest W. Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Palmer, Francis Noel Slmmonds, Oliver Edwin Wills, Wilfrid D.
Patrick, Colin M. Skelton, Archibald Noel Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Peake, Captain Osbert Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D. Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)
Pearson, William G. Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Klnc'dine, C.) Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Peat, Charles U. Somerset, Thomas Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Penny, Sir George Somervell, Sir Donald Wise, Alfred R.
Perkins, Walter R. D. Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor) Womersley, Walter James
Petherick, M Soper, Richard
Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bllston) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Pike, Cecil F. Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L. Captain Sir George Bowyer and Lord Erskine.
Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Lunn, William
Aske, Sir Robert William George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea) McEntee, Valentine L.
Attlee, Clement Richard Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Banfield, John William Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot
Batey, Joseph Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Mander, Geoffrey le M.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Groves, Thomas E. Maxton, James
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Grundy, Thomas W. Owen, Major Goronwy
Buchanan, George Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll) Paling, Wilfred
Cape, Thomas Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney S Zetl'nd) Pickering, Ernest H.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Harris, Sir Percy Rea, Walter Russell
Cove, William G. Holdsworth, Herbert Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cripps, Sir Stafford Janner, Barnett Salter, Dr. Alfred
Daggar, George Jenkins, Sir William Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields) Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) White, Henry Graham
Dobble, William Jones, J. J. (West Ham. Silvertown) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Edwards, Charles Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Kirkwood, David Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)
Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen) Lawson, John James Wilmot, John
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Leonard, William
Foot, lsaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Logan, David Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. John and Mr. C. Macdonald.

Third Schedule (Provisions as to publication of Draft Regulations and Objections thereto) and Fourth Schedule (Minor amendments agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

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