§ DIETS IN POOR LAW CHILDREN'S HOMES.
§ The committee consists of seven members, and I do not think anyone will deny that they are people well qualified to deal with the subject. Their names are as follows:
§ Professor Major Greenwood, D.Sc, F.R.C.P., F.R.S. (Chairman.)
§ G. F. Buchan, Esq., M.D., M.R.C.P.
§ Professor E. P. Cathcart, C.B.E., M.D., D.Sc., F.R.S.
§ Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins, D.Sc., LL.D., F.R.C.P., P.R.S.
§ Miss Jessie Lindsay.
§ Professor E Mellanby, M.D., F.R.C.P., F.R.S.
§ Professor V. H. Mottram, M.A.
I have read their report with great care, and I should like to know whether the Ministry of Labour, in laying down the scales in these regulations, took into account the scales recommended by the Committee. Among other things the Committee point out that it is already provided, under the Public Assistance Order, 1930, that:
The Poor Law Authorities shall prescribe for children maintained in Children's Homes separate dietary tables for the different classes, or the maximum quantity of specified articles of food which may be issued in each week in respect of each child.
Then follows a very important statement:
Providing, nevertheless, that each child should be fed according to appetite.
There has been a disposition lately for the Government, in Bills submitted to this House, to say: "In future we are not going to have a scale which goes up and down; we are going to give a fixed amount, and you can do as you like with
it. If you spend more, you will have to find it yourself; if you do not, well and good." They are following this principle as regards the children of the unemployed. If the Government, instead of laying down a certain amount of money and telling people they must do the best they can with it, had adopted the phrase which I have just read:
Providing, nevertheless, that each child should be fed according to appetite,
we should not have had so much criticism to offer. I think that that was a very good start on the part of the Committee. Again, they say:
In the main the children"—
that is to say, those in the homes which they visited—
appeared bright and cheerful, with a good colour, and, although some of the visits took place in wintry weather chilblains and colds were not unduly prevalent. We do not doubt that in general the children were better fed than they would have been in ordinary homes of children of a like class.
That is not because, in the main, the parents of children in working-class homes do not know how to feed their children. They may not always do as well as they might do, but in the circumstances they do very well indeed. The fact observed by the Committee is due, in the main, to there being more money at hand to feed these children, and, if the same principle were applied to the children of unemployed people, there would be approximately the same result. In their recommendations the Committee say that:
(a) A pint of milk per day per head should be allowed"—
that is not a bad start—
and special care should be taken to secure that the full amount is, in fact, received by each child under 16. A note to this effect should appear on all diet sheets.
(b) All diet sheets should also contain a note to the following effect: 'It is most important that an ample supply of vegetables should be included in the diet daily…. As regards raw fruits, two apples or two oranges, preferably the latter, should be supplied weekly.'
I wonder how many apples or oranges will be allowed for in the scales that are now to be laid down? I wonder how many of the children affected by these scales will get their pint of milk per day, including the free milk that they are supposed to get in the schools? I think the Minister himself said that the British
Medical Association's scale was too high now, because it took into account a certain quantity of milk which the children are now getting at school.
One would imagine, from what is now going on, that there was a shortage of these things, including milk, which is the most necessary thing that there is for children; but there are abounding quantities of them at the present time—more, perhaps, than there has ever been in this country. Only yesterday, hon. Members who were in the House will have heard from supporters of the Government four questions relating to the milk business in Scotland, which suggested that there is such a huge surplus that it cannot be got rid of, and that the whole milk scheme is likely to burst up as a result; while only a month or two ago a question was asked as to what had been paid to account for the relations between the Milk Board of England and that of Scotland, and the reply was given that some hundreds of thousands of pounds had been spent by the English Distribution Board and given to the Scottish Distribution Board in order that Scottish milk should be kept out of England, the reason being, I suppose, that England had more milk than it could distribute. If you accept the pint of milk per head per day recommended in this latest scheme of the Ministry of Health, I think that, at any rate for a good while, you would overcome the difficulties of the surplus, and you would be giving to every child that which it needs in order to grow into a healthy human being. Is it beyond the capacity or imagination of the Ministry of Labour or of Members of the Government to find a solution of this problem in both its aspects—that of the child suffering physically because of the want of milk, and that of the farmers and producers who are suffering because they cannot get rid of the huge surplus which they have on their hands? I should like to know if the Government when arranging their scales had regard to the regulations in this report. The last recommendation of the committee says:
In a home containing about 200 children we estimate that the weekly cost, allowing one pint of milk per child daily, would be about 4s. 6.d. per head if all provisions were bought at contract prices.
I think I am right in suggesting that by buying at contract prices a saving of something like 20 per cent. might be
effected. If it be anywhere round about that figure, the amount that the ordinary father and mother would have to pay retail for the same diet, instead of being 4s. 6½d. per head, would probably be nearer 5s. 6d.
§ What have the Ministry done in this respect? They have laid down a scale of 4s. 6d. downwards, and if the number in the family is more than five, 1s. is deducted. I do not know whether I am quite correct in this, but my impression is that, if the family consists of the father, the mother and four children, the figure for the fourth child would be subject to a deduction of 1s. because it makes six in the family, and, therefore, the provision for that child would be only 2s. instead of 3s. I find that, if you reckon up these figures for a family with six children, the children will get about 19s. for the lot, and, dividing that by six, it comes to about 3s. 2d. per head. In a home with 200 children, the lowest cost of supplying the diet necessary fox-healthy life is 4s. 6½d. per head at contract prices, and it would probably be 5s. 6d. at the retail prices which parents would have to pay. If that be so, how can anyone expect that working-class parents, even with the extra money that is going to be paid in respect of the children, will be able to provide their children with sufficient food for a decent and healthy life?
§ Mr. PALING
I am assuming that the ages would be two, four, six, eight, ten and twelve, and I was careful to say that after the fourth child the amount received would be 2s. each instead of 3s., since in that case 1s. is taken off. But even if the other shilling were given, it would only make a difference of a copper or two, and the provision does not compare with what is laid down in the report of the Ministry of Health's own committee. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour whether he took into account the meals suggested by that committee. Will the House listen to this? I imagine that, if the children of any unemployed people had put before them a dietary like this, the mouths would literally water. The committee suggest, 1179 not only that sufficient food should be provided, but that there should be variety, and they lay great stress on variety. I will read their suggested menu for 200 children for one day:Breakfast.—Porridge (with milk and sugar), cocoa (with milk, water and sugar), baked fish roes, bread and margarine.They say in another place that the margarine should be of a very superior quality, equivalent to summer butter.Dinner.—Steamed steak (including carrots, turnips, onions, haricots), potatoes, steamed treacle pudding, custard sauce (milk).Tea.—Tea (with milk and sugar), bread and margarine, buns, watercress.And for supper of all things:Pomegranates.
§ Mr. PALING
They suggest fruit for the supper of these children all the week. When they were making these regulations, did they have any regard to this aspect of the case and to the last issue by the Ministry of Health on the question of nutrition?
I want to deal with the question of the reduction from 26s. to 24s. for a married couple. The Prime Minister, when he was tackled recently as to whether the amount of standard benefit was enough to maintain life decently, said that it was never intended that it should fulfil that obligation, the implication being that it was not sufficient to maintain life decently and properly. But that is not the opinion of the Minister of Labour and of the Government Bench generally. They are of opinion that 24s. is enough, assuming that the standard rent is 7s. 6d. I think the Minister himself made this excuse. He said, "We have been criticised because we have not given the British Medical Association scales to children, but we cannot be criticised on this account because the British Medical Association does not recommend any more than we have put down." I wonder if the Government are prepared to argue that 24s. is enough for a man and wife who have to pay rent and buy food to keep themselves in decent physical condition to allow them to tackle a job whenever a job is offered.
1180 I have a newspaper cutting here in which a lady visiting some of these depressed areas talks about the difficulty not only of finding food but of finding clothing, and underclothing in particular. Is it possible for a man and wife out of 24s. to pay rent and meet all the calls that come upon them and provide decent clothing and one of the things that they lack most because it cannot be seen—decent underclothing. I saw a picture in a newspaper of the Personal Service League packing up clothing to send to the depressed areas. I remember in 1926, when we had our dispute and were out for such a long time, our people got short of clothing and an appeal went out to charity. Clothing came in bundles, but with a relatively limited number like that and in a relatively short time the result of that appeal was entirely inadequate, and I do not think the Minister or the Under-Secretary would suggest for a moment that this question of clothing could be met from charitable funds. Miss Rosita Forbes, the well-known explorer, is making a tour of the industrial districts. At Gateshead she met a youth, who asked, "What can we do when there is just one street after another?" He told her that there was a club with a course of physical training and most of them wanted to keep fit, but it was a question of underclothing. Miss Forbes gathered that the youths of Gateshead did not care to reveal the absence of anything under their shabby clothes by stripping in the gymnasium. The "Times" yesterday said in its leader:The chronically unemployed are being maintained as with a pension but are being overtaken, nevertheless, by physical and spiritual decay.Even if you maintain that continued idleness tends to deteriorate men, I maintain that starvation and the anxiety of men and women, particularly where there is a family, as to how they can keep their children fit has a bigger deteriorating effect, and, if you cannot find them work and prevent deterioration in that way, at least you can do what you do for the upper classes who are idle and provide them with the means to keep themselves in a state of physical efficiency. I have here a circular from the Industrial Christian Fellowship. They say:The Fellowship is in frequent touch with clergy in many parts of the country, who have constant opportunities of observing 1181 over long periods of time exactly how unemployed families live and to what extent they suffer distress. The testimony of such clergy is definite. Physical distress is frequently to be observed among the families of the unemployed who depend upon unemployment benefit, transitional payment or public assistance.I wonder if the Minister is aware that we have in the mining districts what is known as a subsistence wage. This was paid to miners because it was thought that their wages were so low, even when working full time, that there was not sufficient to buy food in quality or quantity to maintain the physical efficiency necessary for work in the pit. I went to the dictionary to-day and I find that "subsist" means to continue to exist, to remain in being, and most people will agree that that is the general interpretation of the word. We have these scales to enable the miners to exist and to continue in being. In order to do it, we had to increase their wages from 3d. to a 1s. per day, but I can assure the Under-Secretary that the wages even before the subsistence allowance was put on were above the 24s. that he is going to give. Even the increase of 24s. which he allows was not thought sufficient by the people in the mining areas, and by the employers themselves, to keep men in physical efficiency. I ask the hon. Gentleman, in face of all these things, which can be gathered all over the country in a hundred different ways, is it not time to decide to take these regulations back and to deal in a more generous manner with this most necessary of all the classes in the country.
I now come to the question of rent. The Minister has been asked on a number of occasions what is going to be done in highly-rented places, and in London in particular. He gave some indication that this was being taken into consideration. I do not know whether he meant that it would take days or weeks, but I should like to ask whether he has any answer to give to the questions that have been asked him on this matter. The right hon. Gentleman laid down a policy which appeared to me rather curious, coming from a Tory Minister. He said:It is wrong that there should be no discriminating allowance for rent at all, and it is equally dangerous that there should be an automatic and inevitable payment of the exact rent. The knowledge that the State was standing behind the tenancy of such large numbers with an automatic increase of rent whatever it may be would 1182 be a direct incentive to profiteering by the landlord and would raise considerable dangers of collusion between landlord and tenant."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1934; col. 844, Vol. 296.]I have said some hard things about landlords in the past, and shall probably say a few more in the future, but I do not know that I have ever said anything that suggests more than this statement of the Minister. We are telling the unemployed man: "We recognise the difficulty of your increased rent, but it would not do for us to give it to you, because the probability is that the landlord would take it and, in order to prevent you being robbed by the greedy landlord, we are going to rob you first." In the West Riding a larger amount is given in rent than anything that can accrue under these regulations, and I have never heard any complaint about it. The Public Assistance Committee only give a man and wife 20s., but they give up to a maximum of 9s. in rent, so that they do not think the wicked landlord will purloin the extra amount from the unemployed man. What is more, they are more generous to the unemployed man or woman under the Poor Law to the extent of 4s. 6d. than the right hon. Gentleman.
The regulations say that the total amount payable to an applicant must not exceed his normal earnings, were he employed. I agree that there is a qualification Clause which says that the commissioners shall have discretion, but it is laid down definitely that they must not exceed the normal earnings when employed. This is the old Tory bogy that, if you give a man more money for being idle than for working, you will utterly demoralise him.
§ Mr. PALING
Then there must be a lot of demoralised people in the Noble Lady's class. I have never seen a man demoralised by being given more money than he could earn by working, but, if you want to settle this question, you will not settle it by starving people. The only way you can settle it is by offering them jobs, and you cannot do that. When the capitalist system has solved the question of offering jobs, it will solve the other question too. I remember a discussion in the House when I was portraying the woes of the miners and their low 1183 wages and poverty. Hon. Members on that side of the House got up and said, "They get more than the agricultural workers." That embodies the policy of the Tory party. That is the way they look at it. While there is somebody getting less the Tory party hold that they have no case about which to quarrel or grouse. I do not think that that is good policy. I heard the Postmaster-General say, in answer to a question in this House about a fortnight ago, that there were in his Department over 800 adult persons working for wages of round about 35s. a week. If one of those employés was the father or five or six children and he became unemployed and had to seek public assistance, he would receive, if he were given the money to which he was entitled, 41s. or 42s. In that case the man and his family would be denied 6s. or 7s. because the public assistance allowance would be that much in excess of his former wages. The fact that a man has been in a low-paid industry and has been receiving low wages means that he has had a pretty rotten and miserable time and has never been able to keep himself decently, and it is appalling that, because he has always been condemned to a low wage level, you should still maintain that it is good policy, when he has to go to the public assistance authorities or to the Unemployment Assistance Board, that he should continue on that low level. Is that the Tory doctrine and the attitude of hon. Members opposite in drawing up these regulations? It is absolutely unfair. It is brutal and not worthy of Members even on the Front Bench opposite. It is much worse than anything we expected of them.
This is an entirely new departure, and we on these benches desire that the Government and their supporters should view it in a broad and generous manner and display originality, and, if you like, magnanimity. They think that they have ideas and imagination, and yet the only thing they have done is to make a slight increase in respect of the first, second and third child, and a slight increase in repect of rent. In all other cases there is to be a serious reduction. How can hon. Members justify their attitude at this time of the day with the world teeming with wealth and with hundreds of millions of pounds lying idle and with 1184 milk and potatoes in such abundance. I read to-day that there is such a surplus supply of potatoes that an effort is to be made to see whether they cannot be sold cheaply in the distressed areas. There is a superabundance of coal, cotton, boots and everything the unemployed want, and all that the Government can do is to present us with this wretched Bill. The two young men who profess to be among the "Y.M.C.A." men on those benches, each of whom has criticised us for lack of vision and imagination, have been presented with an unparalleled opportunity to do things and with the Government behind them, the most that they can do is to present us with this set of wretched regulations.
§ 4.49 p.m.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
My hon. Friend the Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) will perhaps acquit me of intentional discourtesy if I do not attempt to follow him into the detailed examination of those aspects of the regulations which he has placed before the House with such force and sincerity. On whatever matters we may be at variance in connection with these regulations, we shall all be agreed that the regulations which are now before us are the most important piece of domestic legislation which this Parliament has passed. As the Debate over the last two days has developed, I have found myself confirmed in the belief to which I had come, and it has not sensibly been altered by the able speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Central Nottingham (Mr. O'Connor), which was couched in terms of qualified optimism. That belief is that the Unemployment Assistance Board and the regulations which emanate from it are not a suitable instrument for dealing with the intimate needs and conditions of life of the people of this country. That is the belief which I formed during our previous Debates, and which I still hold.
It is a lamentable thing that Parliament should have divested itself of, and voted away, or, if I may adopt the jargon of these days, adopted a policy of abdication or surrender of its rights of control and free and unfettered criticism over this matter concerning its traditional responsibility for the condition of the people. That is an important aspect of this matter of which we cannot lose 1185 sight. I oppose the board because it takes away the direct control of Parliament over its affairs and because Parliament should not divest itself of its direct responsibility for the national task of looking after the able-bodied unemployed. We preferred, and still prefer the responsibility of the Ministry of Labur. It is well within the capacity of the Ministry of Labour to carry out this task. The policy of setting up a great machine and duplicating the offices of the Ministry of Labour in most towns of the country is a defeatist policy. It only becomes intelligible if one assumes that we are to be faced with a large mass of unemployed able-bodied people indefinitely. That is a policy and a view of the future which I do not think that either this House or the country is willing to accept.
§ Mr. WHITE
It is very difficult to dissociate these regulations, which come from the Act, from the provisions of the Act itself, and my remarks were certainly devoted to criticising the regulations which I find myself at the moment unable to do without making some reference to the Act. It is a monstrous thing that Parliament should be asked to pass regulations dealing with most intimate matters of control of the daily lives of the people in which they cannot alter even one letter. I associate myself entirely with what the hon. and learned Member for Central Nottingham said about the task of the Unemployment Assistance Board. Within the limits prescribed by the Act, they did their best with a very difficult task. I do not think that there is any question with regard to that. Further—and this is what we would expect from a board presided over by Sir Henry Betterton whom we know so well in this House—I think that the regulations bear evidence, having regard again to the narrow limits prescribed, of a desire to give effect to the wishes which were pronounced in all quarters of the House during our discussions last year. 1186 Taking the whole of these regulations over the country, I do not think that it can be denied that they are an improvement on present practice. If they mean what they say, and if the financial forecasts set out in the Financial Memorandum are accurate, then £3,000,000 more is to be distributed, and that, in effect, must mean better conditions. I do not ignore the cases of special hardship to individuals or districts which have been laid before the House during the last two days, but, even if it be the case, and if things mean what they say, there must be some improvement in the conditions, if not of all people, of a considerable number.
I do not propose to say anything more about the children's allowances, of which we have heard so much during the past two days, except to say that it is a step in the right direction. They do not go far enough, especially in the case of the larger families, but it is a beginning, and it is a step in the right direction. The adjustment of rent is, again, an important improvement on the existing practice. The desire to establish uniformity as between district and district is also undoubtedly a step in the right direction, but one would regret and deplore that this should be brought about, as it must be brought about by reductions in respect of allowances in some districts which will be greater, as has been stated—and no one has contradicted it—than the original cuts made at the time of the emergency regulations in 1931. Uniformity is a desirable thing. We know over past years what distress and annoyance has been caused by different conditions prevailing in different parts of the country, and one may ask whether uniformity is not being bought at too great a price. The switching over of £5,000,000 from the rates to the national Exchequer is a move in the right direction, and will do something to reduce the incidence of a charge which was very unfairly laid. Even if these regulations were not open to criticism and did not enshrine the items and features of the means test which we sought to adjust or to remove last summer and failed, even if their provisions were reasonable in every respect, and if, for example, the conditions in the means test with regard to the application to investments and savings and the like were fair and reasonable, there is still another reason why 1187 we on this bench could not accept them unconditionally and without an undertaking that they should be reconsidered and brought back to this House again at an early date.
Everyone who has followed the development of unemployment insurance in this country over the last 10 years must be aware that Bills which have been debated with care and at length in this House, when they have reached the Statute Book and have passed into the sphere of practice, have very frequently, in translation into practice led to results which Parliament had never foreseen or intended. I cite as an example of that, the practice developed under the Anomalies Act with regard to seasonal workers, and a more serious example still was the notorious development of the not-genuinely-seeking-work clause. Such developments are inevitable in the application of regulations of this kind.
These regulations were described in the Memorandum as being elaborate. They certainly are. Member after Member has risen in his place and asked for an explanation of certain items to see whether the ideas which he himself had formed are accurate. When one contemplates what is likely to take place when this scheme comes into force, one must realise that there will be an enormous number of difficulties and administrative anomalies arising. For example, who is to define what is a lodger? There will be an immense number of cases of eligibility. Who will say whether a man is able-bodied? The case will be rendered more difficult because we have not here any co-ordinating authority as we have under the Unemployment Insurance Act. It is clear that in regard to administrative details alone there must be many matters which will turn out in practice very far from being what we consider the intention of Parliament.
Again, there will be the repercussion on the local authorities and the local services. There will be conflict between the local authorities and the public assistance committees over the bodies of many men in doubtful cases. There will be the effect of these proposals upon the unemployment scheme itself. I can picture what will happen in my own constituency. In cases of married men with families, with the exception of a married man with one child only, all applicants 1188 corresponding to conditions under the Unemployment Assistance Board will have a larger amount than those on unemployment benefit, rising in the case of a man who has five children to a difference of 6s. 9d. a week. I do not wish the House to think that I am complaining of this; I am not. I am only pointing out the extraordinary confusion which is likely to arise in the local administration of these proposals.
On the other hand, when we come to the operations of the public assistance committee—again I will go to my own constituency for an example—the only people who will derive a larger sum by way of allowance under normal conditions from the Unemployment Assistance Board will be the married couples with children. When we come to the single adults who are living as members of a household or on their own, they will be subject to considerable decreases. All these anomalies will develop as time goes on, and for all these reasons, even if these proposals were above criticism in other respects, we on these benches should be unable to accept them without the assurance asked for by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) and by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Central Nottingham that there should be a review by or a submission of these regulations to the House at no distant date, in view of the experience which will have been derived.
There have been many strange and unforeseen events which have happened as a result of the practice of unemployment insurance, but when I come to the application of the overriding condition in this case, I think it is Regulation 5 in regard to wages, the possibilities almost stagger one's imagination. When we apply that regulation to the case of shipyard workers, the causes of confusion seem to be almost unlimited. I can give an actual case. Take two labourers working in the same shipyard, one employed on repair work at 48s. gross per week, and the other receiving 41s. gross. How is the regulation to be applied to these men? It must be remembered that these jobs are interchangeable and that when the yard becomes a little slack a man may switch over into the new work from the old. There is constant oscillation going on between the different forms of occupation.
1189 It will be a matter of urgent necessity to bring these regulations back to the House again for further consideration, or in the form of new regulations, in the light of experience. We have possibly abandoned in these proposals Poor Law principles to some extent and we have abandoned to some extent Poor Law technique. We have made a step on to the plane of maintenance rather than the plane of subsistence, and having done that, it is unfortunate that the Unemployment Assistance Board have not carried the step to its logical conclusion, especially with regard to the case of the families.
§ Mr. ANEURIN BEVAN
I am sure that the hon. Member would not wish to misrepresent the position. Will he say in what respect these regulations have abandoned the Poor Law principle?
§ Mr. WHITE
My hon. Friend will have noticed that I did not make an unqualified statement. I said that we have possibly abandoned in these regulations a good deal of the Poor Law principle. I need not go over the various items to prove that statement. I do not put it higher than that. What I said was that having come away to some extent from Poor Law principles and Poor Law technique it is regrettable that the board have not carried the step to its logical conclusion in regard to the larger families. If we are to pass away from the policy of subsistence and to enter upon the plane of maintenance, it places much greater responsibility upon the board and also upon the Government to adopt a more active policy of stimulating work. It is clear that the policy of tariffs plus economy, plus an attitude of impeccable financial rectitude is recognised as being inadequate to meet the situation.
I should like to refer to a point raised by my hon. and learned Friend opposite in regard to the technique of this business. He went so far as to say that there would be a large number of other regulations that would have to be brought before the House in due course. I hope that will be the case, because while these regulations are perhaps the most important part of the functions of the board, it is clear that they are only a fraction of the duties which must be covered by regulations and rules. I should like to know definitely whether it 1190 is a fact that the Government do intend to carry out the rest of the policy by means of regulations to be brought before the House. If the policy is to be carried out, as it may be carried out, by a policy of secret instructions to the officials, I think the situation is likely to become difficult and serious. I do not defend these regulations nor have I any liking for this particular machinery but while it is in force I am anxious that it should work smoothly and for the benefit of those brought within its scope. That is a matter on which we are all agreed, whether we oppose or support the regulations. If the policy of bringing all these regulations and rules to the House is not carried out there will inevitably arise a feeling of widespread misunderstanding and complaint. We know from experience that if there are secret regulations or instructions and part of them is circulated by leakage, there is misunderstanding, misconstruction, suspicion and general dissatisfaction.
§ Mr. O'CONNOR
If the hon. Member will look at Section 52 of the principal Act he will find that the board have the duty imposed upon them of proceeding by regulations and of bringing those regulations before the Minister from time to time.
§ Mr. WHITE
I had Section 52 very much in my mind. If the Parliamentary Secretary will deal with this point when he replies, I have no doubt that he will be able to satisfy any uncertainties or anxieties which may be in the minds of hon. Members on this point. Even consideration of the type that we have been able to give to the regulations on this occasion will be better than none. No one can foresee what the outcome of these regulations will be. No one can say what will be the effect on the medical services and the remaining services of the local authorities. The question must arise in the minds of anybody who considers these matters whether they are in fact an instalment of a general policy of centralisation and whether the logical outcome, perhaps the inevitable outcome, will be that the Government will have to go a stage further and centralise the medical services as a whole.
The processes of social legislation which we have carried out in this House during the past 25 or 30 years have produced in 1191 this country the best social services in the world, but that should not make us complacent. We must realise that these services have not been brought about always as the result of carefully prepared plans. Only too often they have been forced upon Parliament by a sudden economic emergency or a sudden social stress, or something of that kind, and the result is that the whole field of social services—I cannot develop this, point in detail as it would be out of order—is littered with anomalies and in some cases with conflicting tendencies. In the institution of the Unemployment Assistance Board we have one of these disturbing factors, and the Government could do no better service to the country than by setting on foot some impartial, well-qualified body to investigate the field of operations of future policy in regard to all these different types of help which we give to those who are in need. I view some of the tendencies that are being set up in various directions with very grave misgiving.
I should like to ask one question, and that is in regard to the position of men who have been in receipt of Poor Law relief by way of loan. Under this new scheme they come under the Unemployment Assistance Board. What becomes of the liability for the loan? Will the man who is taken over by the board contract out of the liability for the loan? Will he be treated as a special case and be given an extra 5s. per week so that he may discharge his liability to the local public assistance committee, or will he by simply being taken over by the board avoid all further liability for that transaction, or does he become a client of the Unemployment Assistance Board for a year and then if he succeeds in getting work be liberated from the Unemployment Assistance Board for work where he will be obliged to discharge his liabilities to the public assistance committee? That is a matter which has been exercising the minds of some of us and we should like to have it cleared up.
I should like to have some information with regard to investments which bring in no yield. At the present time many small savings are in the form of war savings certificates, and I should like to know whether they are to be taken into account or to be disregarded. Is the owner expected to cash them and take 1192 into account the amount of the proceeds? I have tried to give some of the reasons why we do not like this procedure. I can only protest once more that important proposals are being brought forward, touching the lives and the well-being of great masses of the people, without Parliament having any opportunity of amending them.
§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
I am sorry to say that on the question now before the House I am somewhat at variance with some of my hon. Friends. I confess that I am not happy about the figures set out in the regulations. It is the duty of the Government to see that the unemployed and their families shall be free from malnutrition, that they shall have sufficient to provide the minimum needs of a man, his wife and family. One of our great difficulties in discussing this matter is the want of a proper scale of the cost of living. We have no such scale. Various scales have been put forward by different parties. There is the scale of the Advisory Committee on Nutrition of the Ministry of Health, which it is generally agreed is quite unsatisfactory. There was the scale drawn up by the Week-end Review of which Professor Bowley was Chairman, and a scale produced by the Economic Research Department of the Manchester University. There is also the report of the Sheffield Social Survey Committee. All these scales are at variance one with the other.
The most important of the scales is perhaps that of the Committee of the British Medical Association, which has been relied upon more than any other by the Government in the production of their own scales. To me it is an unsatisfactory scale. The British Medical Association stated that their scales were constructed on two sets of figures, one the average of prices over two years, in one town, Stockton-on-Tees, and, secondly, the average of the figures of seven medical officers of health during a fortnight in the summer of 1933. I express the opinion that this scale is highly unsatisfactory and insufficient, the districts being too few and the time too short. What we want is a thoroughly satisfactory scientific scale of the cost of living drawn up by experts. The hon. Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) asked the Minister how the scales 1193 had been produced; and all the information we had, until this morning, was contained in the speech made by the Minister on the first day's discussion:I want the House to realise that our scales are the result of a very careful survey by the board of the primary needs of the people for whom they have been responsible. There are, in addition, these various social surveys which have been carried out and which have produced some theoretical figures as to needs. All those the board have had within their purview."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th December, 1934; col. 840, Vol. 296.]That is not satisfactory. What we want, and what the Ministry ought to have worked out, is an authoritative scale of the cost of living drawn up by people who knew on the basis of undeniable facts. The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. White) has referred to the desirability of appointing a committee to go into the matter. I want to press that point. We do not want a committee like those mentioned by the hon. Member opposite from a document which none of us can get, but a committee composed of the wives of working men, shopkeepers, small tradesmen, with a certain number of sociologists, and members of trade unions and co-operative societies, who could give valuable information. From such a body we could get a satisfactory scale of the cost of living, and instead of blindly groping in the dark, as we are now, we should have something upon which we could rely to base our conclusions.
I am specially concerned about the children. Although the health of the country, considering everything, is remarkably satisfactory—in 1933 we had the second lowest infant death-rate in our history—there is no doubt that side by side with this satisfactory fact is the knowledge that there are in the large centres of population children who are suffering from malnutrition. The report of the Army for 1933 shows that 52 per cent. of the young men who applied for admission were rejected as unfit, and most of them were between the ages of 18 and 19 years. In the northern towns the figure was as high as 70 per cent. In many cases where malnutrition of the children is to some extent avoided it is due almost entirely to the sacrifices of the mothers. If the children do not suffer from malnutrition, their mothers do, and there is no doubt that the high death-rate in child birth among the working 1194 classes is largely due to the bad and unsatisfactory health of the mothers, owing to their having denied themselves for their children.
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
Does not the hon. Member know that maternal mortality is as high in the upper classes as it is in the lower classes?
§ Mr. LOVAT-FRASER
I do not accept that statement. The figures are to the contrary. We want a standard of malnutrition. At the present time the figures as to malnutrition among children vary in a most amazing way. Let me give some figures published by medical officers of health. In Leeds 31 per 1,000 of the children suffer from malnutrition; in Wigan, 9; in Twickenham, which we associate with villas and comfort, 70; in Kettering, 2; and in Bootle there is 12 times as much malnutrition among children as in Liverpool. This is a question which should be cleared up. We want a satisfactory standard of nutrition and of malnutrition. If we had a satisfactory inquiry many doubts would be cleared up. It is constantly said by certain types of people that the working-class mother does not bother about the food of her children and that she feeds them on tinned foods. As a matter of fact, investigation has shown that this is not true. According to a survey of the Merseyside the only tinned food which working-class mothers give in anything like quantities to their children is condensed milk. There is another matter which I will mention because it may interest hon. Members. Let me read a passage from the "Newcastle Journal" of the 27th of October:The extensive malnutrition that exists among juveniles on Tyneside is revealed in a comprehensive report dealing with junior instruction centres which has been prepared by Mr. Valentine A. Bell. Signs of underfeeding and malnutrition were obvious at Jarrow, Hepburn, South Shields, Sunder-land and Bishop Auckland, where Mr. Bell was struck by the pinched faces and undersized bodies of several of the boys. Lads had to be excused physical exercises because they were not strong enough to stand the strain.And then comes this remarkable sentence:Much of this infficiency in the opinion of the superintendents was due to too much cigarette smoking.1195 There is a matter which wants to be investigated. Most hon. Members know their Dickens and will remember the man in "Pickwick" who said that tobacco was meat and drink to him. Tobacco is unsatisfactory meat and drink to underfed juveniles. An exhaustive and careful inquiry would clear up these matters. I endorse the suggestion that there should be an early reconsideration of these scales. The right ton. Member for Wake-field (Mr. Greenwood) suggested that they should be reconsidered in three months time. Perhaps that is a rather short period, but at all events I would urge that the Government should ask such a committee as that to which I have referred to take these matters into consideration, and when they have received their report they can then reconsider the whole question and give the unemployed sufficient to enable them to live a healthy and efficient life.
§ 5.29 p.m.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
The hon. Member for Lichfield (Mr. Lovat-Fraser) has demonstrated that the regulations are futile to meet the situation. I am delighted that the party to which I belong decided, after great pressure was put upon them, to have nothing to do with appointing a representative on this Committee. I wish other parties had done likewise. I can see written large over these regulations an individual who has administered the Poor Law for many years, an individual who has no heart, no conscience at all, but simply administers it as if it was a machine. These regulations are drawn up on behalf of an unfortunate section of the people. One would think that they had been drawn up for criminals instead of for an unfortunate section of the working classes, those who are unemployed through no fault of their own. The Government and the head of the Government, in particular, have had experience in trying to find out whether the unemployed were a section of the community who had been dealt with unfairly or whether they were a section of the community that should be treated as criminals. Not only this Government, but several Governments have devised ways and means, or have tried to do so, for handling this unemployment problem so as to find work for the unemployed; in other words to find justification for giving them the where 1196 withal in order that they could have a comfortable life. In every attempt that Governments have made up to now they have miserably failed. There are not hundreds or thousands of our fellows, but millions who are denied the right to a comfortable life through no fault of their own.
Faced with that situation, the present Government, whose supporters are eternally twitting the Opposition with the accusation that Labour did no better—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—Hon. Members may say "Hear, hear," but the fact remains that the present Government appealed to the country because Labour did not do what supporters of the present Government said Labour would do. The country took the present Government at its word and gave it the most powerful majority that any Government in this country has ever had. There is nothing that this Government desires to do that it cannot put through the House. We may be few in numbers, but the fact that these regulations are produced, the fact that they come from a committee that is outwith the power of this House, is proof beyond a shadow of doubt that, small in numbers though we may be, we have used up every Labour Minister that the Government have put up against us. The last Labour Minister, a great, big, powerful fellow, mentally and physically, well equipped for the job, good-natured and willing to meet us as far as he could—even he was breaking down under the strain of the pressure that the Labour benches were putting on him. We come not from smug respectability but from the working class. We live among the folk among whom we have always lived. We keep ourselves entirely apart, or some of us do, systematically keep ourselves from having anything to do with the wealthy people of our own or any party. Therefore we all come fresh from our own folk without being trammelled with any of this bribing away, and always having before us the awful conditions under which our folk live, move and have their being—our own folk, our own kith and kin, and our own relations, as good men and women as any who are in this House, as able mentally and physically as any in this House, not excluding her Ladyship the Member for the Sutton Division (Viscountess Astor), who would not stand a ghost of a chance with the women of my class.
1197 Those individuals, upon whom the regulations will be imposed, are not criminals. Therefore they ought to be treated with justice and respect. But the regulations will not treat them with justice or respect. The Government are cutting things down to the very bone in these regulations. My colleagues on the front bench to-day gave figures and data, not from Socialist sources, but from the committees that have been set up by the Government. They were figures which showed that the Government had analysed how little it is possible for a child to live upon. That is the point from which the Government start—how little a child can live upon. This great and powerful Government, this great and powerful Empire that boasts it is the mightiest Empire the sun ever shone on, this wealthy Empire, starts with the children. The fathers and mothers may be anything you like to designate them, but what about the children? What harm have they done? Are they criminals? Why is it that in our day and generation we should start in such a callous and brutal fashion to analyse how little it is possible for these little children to live upon? The hon. Member for Lichfield was interrupted by the hon. Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle). The hon. Member for St. Albans is a doctor, and it always strikes me as very strange that his mental outlook is so perverted and different from what I would expect it to be, for he is educated and a medical man. Time and time again he interjects on the same lines. He said that the mortality amongst the children of the wealthy section of the community is as high as that amongst the poor.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
That is another question. It does not say very much for this powerful Government if the mortality of child-birth among the wealthy and among the poor is about as bad to-day as it was 20 years ago. It need not be so, and there is something seriously wrong. Let me turn to the city that I know best, my native city of Glasgow. The Glasgow School Board took a census of the different districts in Glasgow. The census covered Pollock, which the Home Secretary represents, and Kelvinside, which is represented by the present Minister of Agriculture, and also took 1198 part of the division of Bridgeton, the Calton district. What did they find? That boys and girls living in the single apartments of Calton, compared with the boys and girls in the other two constituencies I have named, excluding the working-class section of Kelvinside, were 2½ inches lower in height at 12 years of age. Apart from that the death-rate was absolutely alarming. In the Home Secretary's constituency the death-rate among children of one year and under is 24 per thousand. In the Bridgeton division among the working-class it is 113 per thousand. We are eternally hearing not only fro mTories but from so-called Socialists that there is no class struggle in society. Here it is with a vengeance. The mothers in the Home Secretary's constituency are no better than the mothers in Bridgeton. The working-class mothers are just as good as the mothers in any other section of the community, and it is damnable that that terrible death-rate should go on among my class.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
It is not a case of all classes. I have tried to show that the contention of the hon. Lady and of those who hold like opinions is erroneous. Here I am comparing a working-class district, which I know, with another district which is not of a working-class character and the death rate in the one is terrible as compared with the death rate in the other.
I am sure the hon. Member would not wish to do any injustice, and, if he will look into the statistics of maternal mortality, he will see that it is not something which concerns one section of the people alone.
§ Mr. KIRKWOOD
The two districts which I have mentioned to the House are within a penny tram ride of each other, and yet we have that terrible 1199 death rate among the children in the one compared with the other. I want the House to realise what that death rate means. It shows a terrible state of affairs, a state of affairs for which I consider I share some responsibility with other hon. Members. I feel that I would not be doing my duty if I did not, regardless of jeers and gibes, wherever they may come from, draw attention to what is going on at present, I consider that I would be failing in my duty if I did not stand up here to say that we are not playing fair in these matters. The unemployed are not getting a square deal.
I put it to any hon. Member. I speak as one who knows what it is to have a family of five children under 10 years of age and to have only 36s. a week. I was just as capable, just as physically fit, just as well-equipped mentally as the next individual, but that was all the money I could earn by working every hour that I could get. I know the struggle which my wife had in the circumstances. I can never forget it, but my earnings represented double what is going to be allowed under these regulations. We could not have afforded to pay 7s. 6d. a week in rent. I challenge any man or woman in Britain to say that it is possible to rear a hardy intelligent family on the amount of money that is to be paid out under these proposals. It could not be done, and I say to hon. Members, "You have no right to ask any other person to do what you know you could not do yourself." I have had to sit here time and time again and to hear the section of the community who suffer in this way, being traduced and told that they are not capable. Well, if they are not capable, that is a reason why they should get more and not less consideration. But I would like the House to consider this aspect of the matter. If a war were to break out, where would you get your soldiers? Where would the First Lord of the Admiralty get his navy men? From this very class, and no matter how you treat them if they were asked to go to war to-morrow they would go, because they believe in their innermost hearts that they have a country to fight for. But here they are to-day and they have nothing to fight for. They are offered these regulations which propose to hand out 24s. a week to a man and woman 1200 as their subsistence, when everybody knows that it is impossible for people to maintain themselves in decency on that sum. With regard to the 4s. for the child I have advocated repeatedly in this House and voted for an allowance of 5s. a week for a child and 30s. a week for a man and wife.
A remarkable feature of these regulations is the way in which one section of the community, the property-owners are to get a guarantee in respect of rent. In some way or other that I have not yet been able to fathom they have got that guarantee. Here are regulations which are to be applied to the folk who won that great War of which we have heard so much, and under those regulations, which give such scanty sums to those people, the property-owners, the individuals who own the homes—such as they are—of those people are to get a guarantee of their rent. They never had such a guarantee before. I have always instilled into my constituents this advice: "Never mind the rent. We can see about that later on, but feed your weans. Spend the money on food." Now apparently that is a thing of the past and the factors, as we call them in the West of Scotland, are to be guaranteed their rent in a manner never known before. A man and wife and child are to get 28s. a week but of that sum 7s. 6d. is to be docketed for rent, leaving the handsome sum of £1 0s. 6d. per week for that family. That is to say a man with all his faculties with his own ideas of life, with all the requirements of modern civilisation causing greater demands to be made upon him than were made 50 or 60 years ago—such a man has to provide for himself and his wife and child out of £1 0s. 6d. a week.
Most hon. Members upon Tuesday next will probably be joining in singing and doing honour to Christmas. It is hypocrisy under existing conditions and in face of such proposals as these, coming from a Government with all the power of the present Government. There can be no comparison with the Labour Government because the Labour Government never had a majority. But this Government have the power to put into practice what they preach, at Christmas at any rate. When we asked last week for an extra bag of coal the Prime Minister smiled and shook his head and said that it could not be done. All that this great 1201 powerful country and this great powerful Empire can do is to produce these regulations. There is not the least bit of humane kindness in them. There is no consideration whatever for the people affected. Yet on Christmas morning, hon. Members will probably be worshiping at the shrine of One who was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." If that is not hypocrisy, I do not know what is. Think of what happens here every day. We open the proceedings of this assembly with the Lord's Prayer. I need not repeat it, but after it all this is what we get—these regulations. All that this powerful Government can offer are these regulations which mean that on the Clydside—and of this I can speak authoritatively—men will suffer a reduction on what they are getting now.
As a result of what the Government have said to the effect that we are rounding the corner, other sections of the community are receiving increases. The Government have even decided to give back half the reduction imposed upon Members of Parliament. Practically every municipal authority in Britain has given back the cuts to its employés. There are very few who have not made good those reductions. Yet here the Government, with all their power, with all their supporters declaring that they have stabilised the whole financial situation of the country, with all their statements about the power of the Government and what they can do, instead of doing away with cuts on the unemployed produce these regulations. The Prime Minister used to be a great individual for making a gesture. We had a gesture on the introduction of the last Budget, for which I give credit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because I always appreciate anything, be it ever so little, from whatever quarter it may come, that is done for the unemployed. I know what it is to be unemployed, not to have any job, not to have a friend to put in a word for me for a job, to go to gate after gate asking if there is any chance of a job, and to be turned down.
The Government, instead of going on the general trend of to-day and increasing the purchasing power of the people, have done the opposite. There is a general atmosphere being created, and I am doing my very best to create it in my union, to get them to demand an increase 1202 in wages. I think the time is opportune, and if I can get them to go on strike and break up this peace in industry, you can take it from me that, with the way in which the Government are behaving, I will use all my influence in that direction. We have had too much peace in industry, and this is the price we are paying for it. It is possible that some will say, "It is a good thing you have not very much influence," but you will see. Here you had the opportunity to introduce regulations which could have given the unemployed an increase in their purchasing power. Every political economist to-day of any note, and politicians on all sides of the House, on the public platform, in the country, and when they are writing articles, all proclaim that this is the age of abundance and that the remedy is to distribute that abundance. Now there is no way given among men under present conditions to distribute that abundance other than by giving to folk the power to buy it back.
Here is a section of the community that is starving for every necessary of life, not only food, but clothing and furniture. Go into the unemployed man's home to-day. I do not care how industrious he is, I do not care if, like myself, he neither smokes nor drinks, I do not care if he spends nothing on luxuries but lives a simple life and has few wants—he can go to the kirk every Sunday if he likes and stay there all day on Sunday—let him be as good living as it is humanly possible to be—I say that you can go into that man's home, and you will find bare walls, no furniture, no bedding, no clothing, and the man glad to get the cast-offs of anybody. Men whom I know, who would not accept anything through charity, who would refuse, and have refused, to take a coat to shelter themselves from the cold blasts of my native land, I have seen reduced to accepting charity for their children. That is the type that is dealt with here. That is what these regulations have to meet. Will they supply the need? Will that 24s. to that man and wife supply the bare necessaries of life, when we take the 7s. 6d. off for rent? Everybody in the country knows that it is an utter impossibility. The most able man in this House—I do not care how able he is, how well equipped he is, mentally and physically—neither he nor all the women in this House put together could main- 1203 tain a home in decency on that allowance. It cannot be done.
The Government had a wonderful opportunity of setting the wheels of industry going if they had issued regulations which would have given the unemployed the right to go and buy the food, clothing, furniture, and shelter, that they are desperately in need of. If they had issued regulations along those lines, then they would have done something. It would have been possible to justify the idea of taking away from this House the power, which is the inalienable right of the Members of this House, to have the Minister of Labour here before us, to criticise him, and to put him through it, as we have been in the habit of doing. I would even have sacrificed that if regulations had been issued as a result of a dictatorship that was determined to put into force noble, humane ideas, with a human spark, that would meet the situation and give the unemployed a chance in life which they have never had. Until either this Government or some Government tackles this unemployment question along the lines which we Socialists have indicated, the unemployment question will tumble every Government that comes before the country.
§ 6.11 p.m.
It is very difficult to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood). He spoke about jeers and gibes, but he is the last person in the world whom anyone would jeer at. He told of times when he had no friends, but he has never been short of friends since he got among what he calls his class enemies here. We may be what he calls in a different class, but I think nobody approves of that particular class of which he speaks so bitterly, and I feel sure that in spite of his words he realises the great difficulties with which the Government have been faced. The hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling) lashed himself into a passion, and I know he feels deeply about the unemployed, as we all do. Anybody who has been in the devastated areas must do, and you do not need to go there; you have unemployed men and women in your own constituency, and you know how pathetic and how appalling is their plight. But I do not think the case of the unemployed has been made better by making it a political issue, and when I 1204 hear hon. Members above the Gangway here, much as I admire and like them individually, talking about humbug, well, it gives me to think. I think they forget. They are like the Bourbons. They have forgotten nothing and learned nothing when they talk about what the National Government have done.
One hon. Member asked if the Government thought these regulations were a return ticket for the House of Commons, but the Government did not come in on a return ticket. They came in as a salvage corps. They came in to clear up the mess made by hon. Members above the Gangway, who went all over the country making speeches like those we have heard in this House during the last three days. You had people believing in them when they read "Labour and the Nation," and that is why they got the country in a mess. They told the country what they were going to do if they were returned to power. I heard the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) lashing himself into a passion about the Poor Law. Has he forgotten the guardians of Chester-le-Street and what happened there? It is because of that sort of thing that the National Government are trying to take this thing out of politics and to put it on a proper basis, and nobody will be more grateful than the Labour Members, when they come in if they ever do. I can prove it to them in a minute.
I think it is a very remarkable thing for a Government to have done to have dealt with this question of the insured and uninsured unemployed in the way they have done. It was only three short years ago that, because of the hon. Members above the Gangway and their wonderful promises, the country was paying £1,000,000 a week towards the insurance scheme.
You would have had no social services at all if you had gone on. That is why the country turned you out. Members below me here know all about it; they know what a mess we got into. I remember having to fight an election when the first Insurance Act came along, and it gave 1s. a week for a child. We said that it was not enough, but that we were grateful for it, and Members above the Gangway and their party said, all over the country, that 1205 the Tories were saying that 1s. a week was enough for a child. We never said it, but we said that it was better than nothing. The Labour people came in shouting and yelling promises, and what did they do for the children? They gave 2s. a week, but we never said that they held it was enough. We knew that it was all they could do. Here is the National Government giving to the child of the uninsured unemployed man more than the Labour party gave to the child of the insured man. What the Government have done is something astounding, and it amazes the whole world. I am grateful to them because they have kept our social services going. There are now unemployed men and women under public assistance who will live at a higher rate than employed men and women all over Europe to-day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shame!"] It may be a shame, but it is true, and nobody knows it better than hon. Members on the Opposition Benches. Then they come here and make a hullabaloo about a heartless Government without any feeling for the poor.
Hon. Members of the Labour party have made a great point about the younger men having to contribute to the family. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman who is one of my great favourites in the party—[Laughter.] We can all have different political views, but that does not mean that we have not respect for one another or that there is any personal bitterness. That is the beauty of British politics. It is only when people become class conscious that they become bitter, and instead of belonging to one class they belong to no class. They are un-classed. Here is what the Labour party brought forward: That it shall be the duty of a father, grandfather, mother, grandmother, husband or child of a poor person, if possessed of sufficient means, to relieve and maintain that person. The Labour party brought that in in 1930. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] Perhaps they have forgotten it, but they cannot get away from it. Not only did the boy in work have to contribute, but the grandfather, grandmother and everybody else had to do so. Hon. Members may have forgotten it, but we have not forgotten it, and I do not believe that the country has forgotten it. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are a mother."] I am a grandmother, too, and that makes me all the wiser. Really, let us be honest about 1206 these things. Let us give credit where credit is due.
I agree that these regulations are not perfect, but there is nothing more difficult than distributing public assistance. It is the most difficult thing in the world. Hon. Members opposite have been talking for years about making the relief of the unemployed a national charge. Now that the Government have done it, can hon. Members suggest a better way than that which the Government are proposing? We have not had a constructive suggestion so far from them. We do not expect any, for if they had any ideas they would have done it years ago. They criticised for years and years when they were in Opposition, and then they came in with the promise of work for all or full maintenance grants for the unemployed, and pensions for all widows, but while they were in office they had not an idea in their heads. We ought to be very grateful to the National Government for reorganising our insurance system. It was the dream of Mr. Sidney Webb, who said that some time some Government ought to do it. He did not think they would, but the National Government have done it. I do not think the scheme is perfect. The hon. Member for West Willesden (Mrs. Tate) made a good point about women and rent, and perhaps the Government can do something about it. Although it is not perfect, it is far more perfect than most people thought it would be. It is a remarkable performance and a great credit to those younger men who have brought it about, and a great credit to the older men to have accepted it.
I am perfectly ready to criticise the National Government and any other Government when I think they need it, but I am not prepared to listen to the most humbugging speeches I have ever heard in my life. Hon. Members talk as though they were the only guardians of the poor, but there would have been nothing but poor if they were their only guardians. I quite agree with some of the Members who want to bring down the capitalist system; they are perfectly right——
I wonder what the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has got to say about bureaucratising the Poor Law, 1207 which an hon. Member said that these regulations meant. I have a little quotation here from the hon. and learned Member, the gist of which is that they could not have legislation delayed by debating it in the House of Commons. These great saviours of society would brook no delay. When the Government use experts to look into social questions they are called bureaucrats, but when the other side want to do it they are called saviours of society. The Labour party will have to use a number of experts when they get in next time. The Government have done a remarkable thing. They have entirely reorganised our Poor Law. That process began in 1929, and this is not the end. It is a further step forward and thousands of people in the country will be grateful. The Government may have to fight about it, but it will not be a very hard fight. People are making great sacrifices to support the uninsured unemployed, but it is not to be expected that they can be supported at the same figure as employed men receive. No country in the world has done that. Not even that paradise Russia would think of doing it. Hon. Members know that if they got into power to-morrow they would not do it. Some day they will be very grateful to the National Government for clearing up things so far as to make them fool-proof for Governments which come after.
§ 6.23 p.m.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
The Noble Lady showed a remarkable facility for ringing the changes, and I do not propose to follow her in all her observations. Perhaps the most incredible of all her statements was her announcement that she is a grandmother. We congratulate her. I have heard the present Government described by many terms, but this is the first occasion on which I have heard them described as a salvage corps. They may regard themselves as a body comparable to a salvage corps, but what should we think of a corps which itself gave the alarm of fire and, when they got to the seat of the supposed fire, found that no fire existed and they remained on the spot, just standing around? That is the origin of this salvage corps, and we are now examining some of the so-called salvage Work which they have been trying to carry out. The Minister 1208 of Labour in his speech on these regulations made a comprehensive survey of the work of providing unemployment insurance over the last 20 years. He said there had been many improvements and he referred in detail to the changes that had taken place. No one on this side of the House will deny that there has been an improvement in insurange against unemployment. We began it a couple of years before the War, and in 1920 a great addition to the scheme was brought into existence. Since then two or three times every year we have paid attention to unemployment insurance legislation, until to-day there is a great improvement over the conditions in which we commenced the system about 20 years ago.
Despite the improvement which we have witnessed and in which we have all participated, it cannot be denied that the plight of the unemployed to-day is worse than it has been for a considerable time. It is much worse than it was in those days, of which we are so frequently reminded, when a Labour Government was in office. By 1931 a considerable improvement had been achieved. Large numbers of people retained their rights to benefit, and full benefit was paid regardless of other considerations. It was this National Government, this salvage corps, that brought about the change, the degradation and the disadvantages which we witnessed in the Economy Act, 1931. It is well that we should remember what took place in 1931. This later chapter of the story of unemployment insurance began with the Economy Act, 1931. We had, it is true, a very large body of unemployed and we were paying benefit to the unemployed and their dependants to the extent of over £100,000,000 a year. Their scale of benefit was fixed at 17s. for an unemployed man, 9s. for his wife or dependant, and 2s. for each dependent child.
I have taken out figures which show that the average rate of benefit per applicant was just in excess of £1 per week. In the county of Glamorgan the payment made to each applicant averaged £1 1s. 8d. In the neighbouring county of Monmouth the average statutory benefit—without deduction owing to extraneous conditions—was £1 1s. 3d. a week. It will thus be seen that this Unemployment Fund, which in 1931 cost £100,000,000 a year, provided only just over £50 a year 1209 for every recipient of benefit, not a very large sum of money having regard to the fact that the £50 had to meet the needs of the families and dependants of applicants where families and dependants existed. In 1931 the whole basis of insurance was changed, because of the alleged burden of debt on the Unemployment Fund, which was due to false actuarial assumptions in previous years and to the recommendations of the experts of various Governments, adequate provision was not being made to meet the services of the fund. The first thing the Government did was to raise the contributions from each of the three contributing parties. That may be regarded as a great improvement, but at any rate it did not introduce any new principle into the scheme of insurance.
Under the Economy Act an addition of 33⅓ per cent. was made to contributions. Additional contributions were claimed from the employed workers, from their employers and from the State in various proportions. The larger proportionate increase was demanded from the workers in employment. Their contributions were increased from 7d. per person per week to 10d., an increase of 42 per cent. The contributions of the employers and the State, were, therefore, less than 33⅓ per cent. respectively. The effect of these increases was to raise the total contribution in respect of every person employed from 1s. 10½d. per week to 2s. 6d. Those increases brought an enormous additional revenue to the fund, an addition of about £16,000,000 or £17,000,000 a year. That did not show any ingenuity, or statesmanship, or special capacity on the part of the "salvage corps." Anybody could have done that. Anybody can make any fund solvent by raising the contributions sufficiently high. There is the first explanation of what is regarded as the improvement in the insurance conditions of the people.
Not content with raising the contributions by £16,000,000 or £17,000,000 a year, the Government, in the same Economy Act, introduced changes in the rates of benefit. There was a universal cut of 10 per cent. in standard benefit and the imposition of the means test, and these together meant a reduction of well over £25,000,000 in benefits. By the acquisition of increased contributions amounting to £16,000,000 or £17,000,000, and the 1210 reduction of £25,000,000 in benefits, £42,000,000 a year was taken from one side of the balance sheet of the Unemployment Fund and put on to the other side. The Government now take credit for doing that. They say that shows their capacity in contrast with that of the Labour Government. I do not think the "salvage corps" ought to take credit for having destroyed the property which they were set up to save. After all, the object of the insurance scheme was to maintain the human property of the State in a fit working condition, in which it could render service to the State, and when the Government claim credit for having reduced the standard of efficiency and of comfort of those citizens who came under this scheme, we charge them with having been false to the idea of insurance and lacking in the discharge of their responsibilities to the people.
The Minister also claims credit for having in Part I of the Act established a definite scheme of insurance based on sound principles. I cannot see that there is any sound principle; indeed, I make this allegation, that in 1931 the principle of insurance was destroyed. Not since 1931 has the principle of insurance been operating under Part I. The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee were set up and entrusted with all kinds of responsibilities, given the power to make all kinds of alterations in the conditions of insurability. We find now that there is no settled scheme of insurance at all. There is no insurance policy that any responsible client would look at if it were offered to him by an insurance company. There can be variations in contributions on the instructions of the Statutory Committee, and also variations in benefits. Contributions may be changed without the consent of the insured person, and so may the benefits. The value of the policy may be changed without consulting the insured person, who as a contributor, even if not as a citizen, ought to be consulted.
I will come now to Part II. I should have said that even under the scale of statutory benefits the condition of the unemployed has been worsening and worsening in direct proportion to the length of time they have been unemployed. They have got deeper and deeper into poverty, and their plight has become more desperate. Part II lays it down 1211 that all able-bodied persons insured or insurable are to be dealt with in accordance with the needs of themselves and the people with whom they are associated in life. The working man who has been unemployed for a long time is to have these regulations applied to him; he is to live under these regulations. The regulations have been put before the House and explained in great detail by representatives of the Government, and they have been examined by Members in all parts of the House, and instances and illustrations of their working in a variety of cases have been submitted, but the House is not to adjudicate upon the regulations. It would be wrong to assume that the House can exercise the slightest influence upon the regulations. The House is told to take the regulations, or to reject them. Hon. Members opposite, pledged to support the National Government dare not defy the Government. I will not believe that everybody sitting on the benches opposite, where there are representatives of all sorts of constituencies, is so little acquainted with the conditions of the people as to say that these regulations represent the best the country can do for the unemployed. But those Members are behind the National Government and they will vote for the Government, although in giving their support to the National Government I am sure they are not pronouncing their real feelings about these regulations.
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) was in a Very inquisitive mood yesterday. I do not find fault with that, because I think even the most learned Member has a right to ask questions, but before he comes to the House to put forward those questions he ought to make as many private inquiries as he can on the subject; and I lay this charge against the hon. Member, that before coming down to the House to make that speech he had not played his part by a previous study of the subject. The hon. Member raised so many questions that I shall not deal with more than two. One point he raised was the connection between the rate of benefit to be paid under Part II and the rate of wages payable to certain classes of people. He warned the House against the danger of paying benefits under Part II which were greater than the sums received in wages by certain classes of 1212 people. I do not think this House ought to pay any attention to that warning. We have been told that after inquiries and investigations, after the appointment of a special board and the appointment of I do not know how many committees, scales have been drawn up which represent the needs of individuals and of families. But the hon. Member says, "Oh, but if you pay people under these scales, based on the elementary needs of family life, you may find that you do an injustice—not to the person who is to receive that measure of satisfaction, but to his neighbour who is receiving a smaller wage."
There are a large number of people, I think between 2,000,000 and 3,000,000 people, earning no more than 25s. a week. Here I would throw out a suggestion to the Lord President of the Council and the Members of the Government. Now that we have embarked on this kind of legislation they would confer a service on the House by furnishing more statistics of wages paid in this country than are available at present. We do not know what wages are being paid. We do not know what number of people are receiving 20s. or 21s. a week. We are assured, however, that about 3,000,000 people in the country earn not more than 25s. a week. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk says "Be careful. Do not commit an injustice against these people by paying a neighbour who lives next door a scale of unemployment benefit which is higher than the other man's wages." No regard is to be paid to the fact that the plight of this low paid wage earner has gone unheeded for year after year. The only sympathy to be shown towards him is not by giving him more but by giving his neighbour less. I have never heard a more ridiculous argument from a learned person. The longer I sit in this House, the better able I am to judge the value of the title "learned."
The hon. Member said something else which was equally fantastic, that the rent allowances will be an encouragement to working people to move to better houses. It is suggested that the working man who now pays 9s. a week because he cannot get a cheaper house will, by reason of the rent allowances—paltry, I call them—in these regulations be tempted to move into a new council house or privately-built house at a rent of 15s., 16s. or 17s. a week. The argument is too ridiculous, 1213 and I do not think that I should be asked to pursue it at any length. I make this allegation: the application of the means test in the area best known to me has been very largely responsible for the curtailing of building operations and for diminishing the supply of houses which would have meant cheaper rents for our people. I could give the House the benefit of figures.
I would make a suggestion to the hon. Member who was so concerned with the working people who are badly paid in this country. I would advise him to associate for one week with the working people in the town which he represents, and I suggest that he starts next week. Christmas Day is an ordinary day in Scotland, so I suggest that he starts next Monday and associates for a whole week with the working people. Let him have a night out every night in the week. Let the first night out be with a navvy, the second with a miner, the third with a bricklayer, the fourth with a mechanic, the fifth with a railwayman and Saturday night with a road man. Then the hon. Member can go to Church on Sunday to learn about his duty to all his fellow-men. I am sure that he will learn very much more if he follows my suggestion than he has learned for a very considerable time on some of the subject matters which are laid before the House.
We object to the principle of the means test, but on this occasion we cannot go fully into that principle. Our Amendment says that we are opposed to the scales because they are inadequate. I challenge the whole thing; I am opposed altogether to the means test, as I have been from the commencement, and I stand unrepentant to-day, with very much less learning than some hon. Members and very much less sophistry, and say that I could make a convincing case to the majority of the people of this country. These scales are based upon previous scales. I ask the House not to attach too much importance to this rigid mathematical assessment of people's needs. We have heard of the British Medical Association's scales, of the Ministry of Health scales and lots of other scales, and we are asked to decide whether 3,500 calories or 3,000 calories are an appropriate meal for a navvy or a navvy's wife. I express very strongly a definite opinion on the subject of calories, and that is if 1214 I want a reliable opinion I will ask the navvy about them. I am sure his reply would be much more intelligent and more to the point than many of the reports which we have had on the subject.
These scales of transitional payments are put forward ostensibly as increases in the rate of benefit, but let hon. Members mark that the first change to be found is the reduction of benefit to a man and his wife. The statutory benefit paid to man and wile is 26s. per week, but under this scale there will be a reduction of 2s. The provisional assessment provides for 24s. a week. What a travesty of justice and sympathy all this is. A few weeks ago we were invited to throw our hats into the air because the Government had restored the 10 per cent. cuts in standard benefits and, at a later date, to the persons receiving transitional benefit. What do we find to-day? The 10 per cent. is almost entirely taken off. Ten per cent. was put on last July and 8 per cent. of it is taken off in January in respect of a married man and his wife. That is taking off with one hand what the Government have professed to give with the other. The Government claim that they are giving more to the people who have come down from 26s. to 24s. because of the children's allowances, but the average number in a family is less than two, and therefore for the average family there is not one penny piece of advantage to the man, wife and children.
I can give the House what I regard as a very hard case the like of which has not been mentioned before in the House, and which, I think, illustrates the final argument of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) and the lot of those people who reside in industrial districts. I will ask the House to examine with me what would happen to a family of seven persons in which the father is unemployed, a son, aged 26 years of age, who by great encouragement and wise direction has learned to be sufficiently efficient as an electrician—I am speaking of a case I know—earns £4 a week, the next son 24 years of age is unemployed, the next son 22 years of age is unemployed and there are two young children, one seven years of age and the other four years of age. The rent is 9s. per week. Apply these scales to the family. The father and mother receive the provisional allowance of £1 4s. per week, the eldest 1215 son 10s., the second son 8s., the third son 8s., the elder of the two children 3s. 6d. and the other 3s. To that we have to add one-third of the first £ of the earnings of the young man of 26 and one-quarter of his three remaining pounds. The young man is earning wages which are higher than those generally current in the industry, and he gets the 6s. 8d. on the first £ as his personal allowance and 5s. for each succeeding £, making 1s. 1s. 8d. I add the provisional assessment for the father and mother, brothers and sisters and the personal allowance for the young man, and find that the total is £3 18s. 2d. This young person of 26 years of age, earning £4 a week, is condemned to keep all the family himself, and not one penny piece comes in in respect of the unemployment of the father or the other brothers.
I know something about working-class life, and a good deal more than any of the experts, and I submit to the Minister and to the experts who work with him that you cannot feed that family of seven on less than 50s. a week, that is seven persons for seven days per week at 1s. per person per day. I am putting it at the very lowest. I add 9s. rent to that. Fuel and lighting I put at 6s., which is a very low figure. Clubs and insurance I put at 4s. Anybody who knows anything about working-class life knows that that is very low also. In regard to trade unions, there is only one member of the family working, and he pays 1s. per week. Household utensils and soap are 4s., medical attendance and occasional medical provision are 3s. and 'bus fares 3s. I find that I have spent every penny of the money provided by the one wage-earner in the family; I have not left one penny for clothing, newspapers, books, tobacco, cigarettes or beer, and the family have nothing but the plainest of food and the barest of necessities. I invite the Parliamentary Secretary or any hon. Member to say whether they defend a condition of that kind. It is a scandalous condition of affairs, because it is condemning that young man to the repudiation of all the reasonable sentiments and ambitions of life, and compelling him to sacrifice his life to the needs of the family. Talk about the principles of insurance: that is putting the burden of all insurance 1216 upon the back of that young man, and upon the community to which he belongs.
I will now speak of the area in which I live. Let us consider two industrial counties, Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire. In Glamorganshire there are at the present time 75,000 people receiving transitional payments and in Monmouthshire, 26,000 people. On the authority of those most competent to offer information it is stated that the loss to those people in Monmouthshire under the proposed scales will be no less than £250,000 and in Glamorganshire between £500,000 and £750,000 per year. I make the prediction that if these scales—these laws of the Medes and Persians—are applied to the payment of public assistance, the whole of the depressed areas of South Wales will lose not less than £1,000,000 per year. What is the use of sending a commissioner down to South Wales with only a fraction of £2,000,000 to spend when not less than £1,000,000 a year is taken away from the same district? Unemployment benefit is paid at the rate of £20,000,000 a year less than was paid in 1921.
I make no apology for what I am saying as the representative of the distressed areas of South Wales. People suggest that we are dependent on the rest of the community and that the distressed areas of South Wales are taking money from the Treasury and from the taxpayers of this country. It is true that we have to be supported from outside sources to the extent of £10,000,000 a year, but I invite the House to put a proper valuation upon the services given by the limited number of men who are employed in the area and upon the quantity of coal which is produced in South Wales. On that, we can hold our heads erect and face this House and the country without an acknowledgment of debt on our part, but owing to our living in a condition of things in which wages, salaries and obligations are assessed on all kinds of flimsy bases, we are supposed to be drawing a contribution. We shall insist upon a higher measure of contribution being given to us in the circumstances, and we shall protest most strongly against its reduction. The National Government have a duty to the people of the country. I do not look upon the Government as a National Government, because they certainly are not, but they have chosen to 1217 wear the name and they must accept responsibility. Their responsibility is to every individual; not to some mythical taxpayer who pays all the money, but to all the people in the country who find the money by the exchange of goods and services and the contributions they make from time to time. The Government have a personal responsibility to the community.
I stand here as one who has known poverty. I am not ashamed. I do not lack filial respect. I suffer from pride. I have great family pride. I remember the parents responsible for my upbringing, and remember the conditions then. I left school at 11 years of age, not to prepare a way to come here, for I never had any intention of coming here. But I have come here, and I never forget my responsibility to the people who are under similar conditions to-day. They are quite as good as any people in any part of this House. I deny superiority to any class of people in this country. We are reducing our people to a dead level of destitution from which there is no escape. The Government should put a placard over the doorway of every unemployed man's house, "Abandon hope all ye who enter here." We escaped from poverty by the contributions of my brothers and myself. When I came to 21 years of age, my parents insisted that I should prepare for my own responsibility in life. Responsibility should be placed on the heads of families—and long may the family reign with those family virtues we all respect. But under this Bill the Government are endangering the family. While you put responsibility on young people to maintain their family, you must give them the opportunity before their wedding day of preparing for marriage, otherwise you are taking from the pockets of young men the key to their new homes to which they will bring their bride and where they will rear their brood. You are denying to young men a decent community life.
It is for that reason, and many other reasons, that I support the Amendment. I ask the Minister and the Lord President of the Council whether they will give a promise that the narrow, hard, rigorous and rigid scale embodied in this scheme shall not operate beyond a time limit of three months, and that when the predictions that we have foreshadowed 1218 follow, there will be another opportunity of pronouncing upon it?
§ 7.4 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. R. S. Hudson)
We are approaching the close of the third day which has been devoted to the discussion of these regulations. Last week we devoted three days to the future political condition of 350,000,000 people in India. This week we have devoted three days to what, I believe, the House will agree is no less an important question, the material conditions of some 17,000,000 of our own people. The question we are really discussing to-day is, Do these regulations carry out the task that was laid upon the Unemployment Assistance Board by Parliament in the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1934, the task of providing for the needs of applicants? The scales that are contained in these regulations are not statutory sums to which the applicant is entitled as a right, but represent the sort of general standard that the board believe to be reasonable as a general average. But they do not in any way override or remove the primary duty of the board, its officers, and the Appeals Tribunals to relieve need. These scales have been criticised from many quarters.
Let me deal first with one preliminary point. Some hon. Members have suggested that the scales should have been such that in no circumstance would any man suffer monetarily through the change-over from the public assistance authority to the board. My right hon. Friend the Minister dealt with that, and showed that if you really wanted such a system the board would have to go through every scale in the country and take out the highest figure and incorporate it in one scale, with a result that would have no relation whatever to ordinary circumstances to-day. The board have proceeded on a much sounder line, setting out to see whether there was any general line or standard adequate to provide the average family with healthy subsistence. It so happens that there have been recently a large number of detailed inquiries. I do not propose to bore hon. Members by going through details. It serves for my purpose to point out that, so far as food is concerned, the general conclusion of these inquiries is that the amount required for the healthy subsistence of an adult male lies between 1219 5s. and 6s., and for the healthy subsistence of a female somewhere between 4s. and 5s. That, incidentally, is an answer to the hon. Member for West Willesden (Mrs. Tate), who last night queried why the scale for women should be less than for men. The cost for children varies according to age upwards of 2s.
I said that these scales had been criticised on the grounds of inadequacy. One of the most striking points about the surveys is that they show that food represents much less than a half of the expenditure to be provided for in a British working man's household, the other requirements being shelter, clothing, fuel and light. There are definite scientific standards for food. No such scientific standards can be found for rent, which varies infinitely in different parts of the country as between different households. But it has these common characteristics, first, that it has to be paid, and, secondly, that it is difficult or impossible to find alternative or cheaper accommodation. Therefore, the board, rightly I believe, provided that there should be a general provision for the payment of rent. The hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling), I think, said, "Why do you not say that in every case the rent actually being paid could be reimbursed to the applicant?" The answer is perfectly clear. If you have an automatic, strict rule in the regulations that the actual rent paid should be reimbursed to the applicant, you would encourage the danger of profiteering, but by not having such a rule you do not inflict any hardship on the applicant. If the actual rent is higher than the average, it becomes a matter of discretion for the board's officer to pay it wherever reasonable. What is left? Two other items—that for clothing, and that for fuel and light. The item for clothing depends very largely on conventional standard, which varies from generation to generation. The amount required for fuel, again, varies in different parts of the country. Neither is susceptible to exact mathematical calculations. The hon. Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell), who made a speech we all admired, begged that there should be no rigid mathematical assessment of men's needs. I entirely agree with him. The proposal is to avoid that rigid assessment of need. 1220 That is why we have put this wide discretion in the hands of the board's officers and the Appeals Tribunal.
The scales published are, in the board's opinion, the rates which in the average case will provide the heads of families with sufficient, after they have provided for food, for rent, and an adequate margin for clothing, fuel and other incidentals in the ordinary weekly needs. These scales have been criticised by various persons, in particular by what is known as the Children's Minimum Committee. The hon. Lady for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone), when she spoke yesterday, admitted that these scales represented a big increase on anything that had gone before for smaller families, but she took exception to what she alleged to be their inadequacy where families were larger. I started off by saying that these scales represent, in our view, the average conditions in the country. We have made complete provision, we believe, for discretion where there is not sufficient to meet needs.
Let me give the House one or two figures. I apologise for giving so many figures, but we have been criticised in detail. In July of this year, the total number of men in receipt of transitional benefit was 760,000–480,000 men with dependants, 455,000 wives and 770,000 children. The average family in this count had 1½ children. The biggest group of all was that of parents with one child, which numbered 120,000. The next-biggest—those with two children—numbered 90,000. There were 155,000 married couples without any children, and the number of families in receipt of transitional payment with seven and eight children represent a completely negligible proportion. The biggest single group is that of married couples with one child, and that is precisely why the board put in the figure of 4s. for one child, which, I venture to think, astonished everyone, not least of all hon. Members opposite. We recognise that, when young people get married and have their first child, that obviously involves them in increased expense, and, therefore, the board was fully justified in providing, where there is only one child, that that child, irrespective of its age, shall receive not less than 4s. Let me point out incidentally, as the British Medical Association's scale has been 1221 quoted by hon. Members opposite in support of their allegations, that the allowance for the married man without children and the allowance for the married man with one child are both equal to or in excess of what are regarded by the British Medical Association as the minimum requirements.
Taking the case of the family with two children—the next biggest group—the allowances there for the man, his wife and two children are actually in excess of the present rates of benefit. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), in the course of the Debate in this House on the Bill, said that hon. Members were perfectly entitled to assume that under Part II the board would not treat an unemployed man as well as an unemployed man was treated under Part I. I have said on many occasions that that assumption was not justified, and we can now say that we are right, and that the hon. Member was not justified in saying that the board would not treat men under Part II as generously as they are treated under Part I.
While I am on this question, let me say a word about a document that has been circulated to hon. Members by the Children's Minimum Committee. In the first place, the figure quoted for the typical family of a man, his wife and three children, in the green document circulated by that committee some little time ago, does not correspond with the figure given in the British Medical Association's scale. The British Medical Association's figure was 20s., and the figure quoted in the document was 21s. 8d. I see that yet another different figure is quoted, for the same sized family, in the document that was circulated to hon. Members this week. There is also a further misstatement. It is suggested that an inquiry by my Department has shown that only 2 per cent. of the adult males in the industries mentioned were drawing wages of 45s. or less. The calculation of that figure of 2 per cent. was based on the quite false assumption that, if an industry has an average wage of 45s., there are no people in that industry who are drawing less than 45s. The actual figure is not 2 per cent., but 20 per cent. The document goes on to assume that the wages stop Clause would operate in accordance with the average wages paid to the men in the 1222 district. There is not a word about that in the regulations. The regulations say that the wages stop Clause shall merely have regard to what the man himself and the earning members of his family would earn if they were at work. Finally, there is a suggestion that free milk and meals should be disregarded, implying, possibly, that they were not going to be disregarded. If any member of that committee had taken the trouble to ask anyone in my Department in general, on any day last week, they would have found that free milk and meals are going to be disregarded.
Let me now turn to the allegation made by hon. Members opposite that there was no justification for the scale for a single man living at home being 10s. instead of 17s., and I will deal at the same time with the allegation that it was unfair that, in areas where high assessments were being given at present, those assessments should be reduced. I think the brief answer on the question of the adequacy of the figure of 10s. is that, in a very large number of areas to-day which are under the administration of the party to which hon. Members opposite belong, the figure actually is 10s., and is regarded by the Labour parties in those areas as sufficient. In particular, in London, which is at present under the administration of a Labour county council, the actual figure for a single man living at home is, not 10s, but 9s.
§ Mr. G. R. STRAUSS
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the rent is added to that, and that actually, in the average case, it comes to about 17s. or 17s. 6d., and is very much more than is going to be allowed under these regulations?
§ Mr. HUDSON
That may be so in the case of a single man who is not living at home, but in the case of a single man living at home it is 9s. I took the trouble to have that checked before I came into the Blouse. I will quote another case—I have plenty of alternatives. I will quote the case of Sheffield, where the figure is 10s. In Manchester it is below 10s., and I can quote innumerable cases all over the country in which it is generally recognised—as, indeed, it was in many areas in South Wales up to June of this year—that 10s., or something less than 10s., was adequate in that case.
1223 Let me deal with the other point, that it is unfair and wrong that assessments at present given at high rates in South Wales and other areas where Labour parties are in power ought not to be reduced. I have here a number of cases in which a family was in receipt of transitional payments at a high rate of assessment, and, having for one reason or another ceased to be entitled to transitional payments, has had to go to the Poor Law; and, without any change of circumstances whatever, except that now they are a charge on local money instead of having Government money distributed to them, the assessments of those families have been substantially reduced. I can quote cases in South Wales in which, living in the same family, there is an unemployed son in receipt of transitional payments, his needs being assessed by the public assistance committee, and a brother who is not entitled to transitional payments, but is dependent on the Poor Law. Their needs are assessed by the same committee, but the one man is drawing 17s. because he is being paid out of Government money, while the other is drawing 13s. because he is being paid out of the rates. In the face of evidence like that, how can hon. Members say that in no circumstances should the present high assessments be reduced? The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale asks, "Why not?" Because his own public assistance committee in South Wales considers that a smaller sum is sufficient.
I will now deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar) about the regulations. Several hon. Members have criticised us for bringing in regulations which could only be approved or rejected, and are not subject to amendment. The Solicitor-General dealt with that point very fully yesterday, and pointed out that it is the usual practice to submit regulations to this House which have to lie on the Table and can only be rejected if a Motion for their rejection is put down. We have gone further, and said that these regulations were so important that the House of Commons should have a full opportunity of discussing them in detail before they were finally either approved or rejected. The hon. Member for Abertillery compared these regulations with the Anomalies Regulations, and said that we might say what we liked about 1224 the Anomalies Regulations, but at all events they had been before an independent committee. So, equally, have these. The hon. Member said that the Anomalies Regulations only affected 1,000 persons—I think that was a slip of the tongue—while these affected 4,000,000, and that therefore these were more important than the Anomalies Regulations. But the Anomalies Regulations were introduced under an Act which was brought in and passed by hon. Members opposite. Let the House compare the results of the two sets of regulations. The Anomalies Regulations threw 250,000 off unemployment insurance and deprived them of benefit, while we are distributing £3,000,000 among the existing recipients of transitional payments.
Finally, I will deal with one or two detailed points that have been put to me. The hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) asked me what would happen in the case of persons transferred from public assistance to the board who had outstanding against them sums which had been granted to them on loan. The answer is that those sums will remain outstanding against them until they get work. Public assistance committees to-day do not grant extra money to applicants in order to enable them to pay off loans to themselves, nor do the board, and the situation will remain exactly as it is to-day. Some hon. Members have asked me what would happen to War Savings. War Savings producing no interest will be regarded as not having any value as far as income is concerned, and they will be disregarded. When they belong to the applicant or his wife or father or mother, they will be taken into consideration just as any other savings are; when they belong to someone other than the applicant, his wife or father or mother they will be treated as I have indicated, within the limits. I was also asked what would happen to the money received by persons who get maternity benefit, or who get money grants for extra nourishment from the tuberculosis services, and similar sums of that sort. They will all be disregarded, because they will be looked upon as being necessary to meet the extra needs of the applicant.
I was asked what would happen to the excess over £1 in the case of disability pensions. The whole of the first £1, as hon. Members know, will be disregarded. 1225 Any sums over that will be treated as resources, except in any cases where, owing to the special nature of the disability, extra need arises which would make an inroad on the first £1. All school meals which are provided on doctors' orders as the result of definite physiological need will be disregarded; and free milk, the provision of cod liver oil, and services of that kind, will also be disregarded.
Hon. Members opposite were particularly anxious to know what would be done in the case of customary deductions from wages. The broad rule will be, especially in the mining areas, that the sum shown on the miner's ticket will be accepted as his net wages, and the board will agree to all the ordinary deductions in accordance with the custom of the industry—deductions for insurance contributions, hospital, check weighing, with regard to which I was asked particularly, and so on. Travelling expenses will be allowed as a personal requirement, because they are not normally deducted by the employer. Trade union subscriptions are not normally deducted by the employer, but even where they are they will not be accepted as deductions from wages. The sharpening of tools will certainly be regarded as a legitimate deduction.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
It is not merely a question of the sharpening of tools. There is the renewal of tools, which has to be paid for out of earnings. Under Income Tax that is allowed.
§ Mr. HUDSON
It is very difficult to answer questions like that categorically without notice, but we may be quite sure that the officers of the board will treat that sort of thing reasonably and, whatever the views of the officer of the board are, the man will always be entitled to appeal.
There is a final point to which I should like to reply. It was put by the hon. Member for Gower and refers to the family of seven persons. That brings me back to what I said earlier, that these regulations and scales are meant to deal with average cases. Hon. Members opposite will forgive me for pointing out that, in order seriously to challenge them, they have had to go into the highways 1226 and byways of their personal experience, and, when I point out that of the present recipients of transitional payment after July—760,000 of them—the overwhelming majority have families of an average of one and a-half children, to suggest that a family of seven persons or, as was suggested yesterday, a family with five unemployed sons is the average, or is even common, is, of course, absurd. Such a case is entirely exceptional and will be dealt with as an exceptional case subject to the overriding duty of the board to meet need.
The hon. Members for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) and Leigh (Mr. Tinker) yesterday raised two points. One was as to what would happen in the case of a widow with a dependant's pension for her son killed in the War and what would happen to the 7s. 6d. allowance given to a man over 65. In the case of widows' pensions generally a calculation will be made, and she will be allowed the amount of her scale allowance under these regulations with that of the children, and anything left over will be disregarded as being for her personal requirements. In other cases she will be regarded as entitled to her scale allowance, a third of the difference between her scale allowance and the pension will be allowed for her personal requirements, and the remainder will be taken into account. As regards the pension, I think I am, safe in saying that, subject to the over-riding discretion about need, normally a man will be allowed to keep a third of the pension for his own personal requirements and the remainder will be regarded as the available reserve for the household. I understood from hon. Members opposite that the most convenient course would be if I were to answer the details of the Debate now and reserve any more general remarks about the regulations for the Amendment that is to be moved by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). I hope I have satisfied the House that as far as this Amendment is concerned, they can safely reject it.
§ Question put, "That the word 'be' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 286; Noes. 75.1157
|Division No. 25.]||AYES.||[3.32 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Glossop, C. W. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Albery, Irving James||Goff, Sir Park||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd. N.)||Peake, Osbert|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Pearson, William G.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Graves, Marjorle||Petherick, M.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Greene, William P. C.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Apsley, Lord||Grimston, R. V.||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Assheton, Ralph||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Balniel, Lord||Harbord, Arthur||Radford, E. A.|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Harris, Sir Percy||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th. C.)||Hartington, Marquess of||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Benn, Sir Arthur Shirley||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Bernays, Robert||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham|
|Blindell, James||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Horsbrugh, Florence||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Howard, Tom Forrest||Ruggies-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hurd, Sir Percy||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Salt, Edward W.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Ker, J. Campbell||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Burnett, John George||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Knight, Holford||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Law, Sir Alfred||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Levy, Thomas||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Liddall, Walter S.||Soper, Richard|
|Christie, James Archibald||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Stones, James|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Mabane, William||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Cooper, A. Duff||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Copeland, Ida||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Croom, Johnson, R. P.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Cross, R. H.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Crossley, A. C.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Curry, A. C.||Magnay, Thomas||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Maitland, Adam||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Drewe, Cedric||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||White, Henry Graham|
|Eady, George H.||Miffs Major J. D. (New Forest)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Milne, Charles||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Elmley, Viscount||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Moreing, Adrian C.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelies||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Kingsley|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Fox, Sir Gifford||Munro, Patrick||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||North, Edward T.||Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Nunn, William||George Penny.|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||O'Connor, Terence James|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Batey, Joseph||Cape, Thomas|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Cocks, Frederick Seymour|
|Banfield, John William||Buchanan, George||Cove, William G.|
|Daggar, George||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Thorne, William James|
|Dobble, William||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Leonard, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, Major James|
|Division No. 26.]||AYES.||[7.37 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Albery, Irving James||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Alexander, Sir William||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l, W.)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Magnay, Thomas|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Fermoy, Lord||Maitland, Adam|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Fox, Sir Gifford||Mason, Col. Glye K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Apsley, Lord||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick Wolfe||Galbralth, James Francis Wallace||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Gibson, Charles Granville||Milne, Charles|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Molson, A. Hugh Eisdale|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Gledhill, Gilbert||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks., Aylesbury)||Glucksteln, Louis Halle||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Goldie, Noel B.||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Blindell, James||Gower, Sir Robert||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'tles)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Graves, Marjorle||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Munro, Patrick|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Greene, William P. C.||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Grenfell, E. C. (City of London)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Grigg, Sir Edward||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid|
|Bracken, Brendan||Grimston, R. V.||North, Edward T.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Nunn, William|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||O'Connor, Terence James|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Gunston, Captain D. W.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Ormsby-Gore, Rt Hon. William G. A.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Buchan, John||Harbord, Arthur||Peake, Osbert|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Pearson, William G.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hastam, Henry (Horncastle)||Peat, Charles U.|
|Burghley, Lord||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Burnett, John George||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Petherick, M.|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Hepworth, Joseph||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Carver, Major William H.||Horobin, Ian M.||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Cassels, James Dale||Horsbrugh, Florence||Pybus, Sir John|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Radford, E. A.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Hurd, Sir Percy||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hurst, Sir Gerald B.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Jennings, Roland||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Christie, James Archibald||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Ker, J. Campbell||Repner, Colonel L.|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Kirkpatrick, William M.||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cooke, Douglas||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Copeland, Ida||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Salt, Edward W.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Craven, Ellis, William||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Sanderson, Sir Frank Barnard|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Levy, Thomas||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Galnsb'ro)||Liddall, Walter S.||Scone, Lord|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock)||Selley, Harry R.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunllffe||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Loftus, Pierce C.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Dickie, John P.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Donner, P. W.||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Smithers, Sir Waldron|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Mabane, William||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)|
|Edmondson, Major Sir James||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Soper, Richard|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Elmley, Viscount||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L|
|Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)||Wells, Sidney Richard|
|Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Touche, Gordon Cosmo||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Spens, William Patrick||Train, John||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Tree, Ronald||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Stones, James||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Strauss, Edward A.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Cammander R. L.||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.||Turton, Robert Hugh||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Sutcliffe, Harold||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Tate, Mavis Constance||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Templeton, William P.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.||Sir George Penny and Lieut.|
|Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Waterhouse, Captain Charles||Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward.|
|Thorp, Linton Theodore||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Maxton, James|
|Batey, Joseph||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Milner, Major James|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Groves, Thomas E.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Buchanan, George||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rothschild, James A. de|
|Cape, Thomas||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Harris, Sir Percy||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Cove, William G.||Hicks, Ernest George||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Holdsworth, Herbert||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Curry, A. C.||John, William||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Daggar, George||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Thorne, William James|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||West, F. R.|
|Dobble, William||Lawson, John James||White, Henry Graham|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Leonard, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Wilmot, John|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McEntee, Valentine L.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Carn'v'n)||McGovern, John|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Mr. Paling and Mr. D. Graham.|
§ 7.45 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I beg to move, in line 5, to leave out "approved," and to add instead thereof:disapproved inasmuch as they should be subject to the following modifications, namely:In Regulation IV. 1, Part I.,—'30s.' should be inserted for '24s.''24s.' should be inserted for '16s.''20s.' should be inserted for '14s.';and'if under the age of 14 years 5s.' should be substituted for all the words from 'if,' to the end of paragraph (d) and in many other respects they will be inadequate to ensure the maintenance of unemployed persons and their dependants in health and physical efficiency.My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) and my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) and I had no intention, when we put down this Amendment, to cut across my hon. Friends the Members of the official Opposition. We were rather timid about the position, but we thought that, seeing that the Amendment incorporated many of the ideas of my hon. Friends, they 1230 might have taken it over as their own Amendment. I am not much concerned as to who moves an Amendment provided the object is achieved. I do not intend to go over the feuds of the days of the Labour Government or to speak of the wrongs and the misfortunes except to say that everyone realises the battle of words which took place on those occasions. My hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston said that he was very anxious to know the future attitude of the Labour movement in relation to these things. I am not keen on raking up the past if I can avoid it. But decent men and women are wondering whether the figures which the Labour party are supporting will represent Labour policy in the future. Are those the figures which men and women will have the right to expect when, after the next election, the Labour party will, I believe, be the Government of the country? Hon. Members may laugh and sneer, but I am convinced that a Labour Government is inevitable, and that no force can keep it back. Some people, looking at the position from different angles, may either 1231 deplore or welcome the prospect, but that Labour will come into power I do not think there is any doubt. Are these scales to be a part of the policy of Labour in the future, as they are now that the party is in opposition. There is no doubt that the regulations under the Anomalies Act affected many people. It does not matter how many people were affected, whether they were few or many. An injustice is wrong whether it affects five or 5,000,000. Regulations cannot be defended on the score of numbers.
For 12 years the House of Commons has debated unemployment insurance. It is difficult to find anything new on this subject as we have hammered at it and have raised it almost week in and week out. For three days we have debated almost every possible point, and it is difficult to find a new point. We are now discussing a Measure which seeks, first of all, to take the care and maintenance of the unemployed outside politics. Whatever else is sought to be accomplished, whether high scales or low scales, the first thing about these regulations is that they are an attempt by the Government to lift the issue of the care of the unemployed out of the political struggle. This is not the first Government who have attempted this sort of thing. Ever since I have been in the House it has been the object of almost every Government. The Blanesburgh Commission was set up, minute evidence was taken, their report received the sanction of this House, and a Bill was passed, and it was thought by the sponsors of that Measure that the putting of unemployment insurance on to a proper basis would mean that party politics would know the subject no longer. When future Governments appointed commissions there was the same idea.
When dealing with unemployment insurance, I am not much concerned with party play about what has been done in London and what has been done elsewhere. When we discuss what has been done and what has not been done, we have to remember the human beings who are affected. We are not really discussing unemployment insurance or unemployment assistance, but life in every aspect. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite mean to tell me that we can dismiss the lives of 2,000,000 unemployed from party politics? Do they think that 6,000,000 1232 people can be taken out of politics and placed outside party warfare? Are they not as much entitled to come to party meetings and ask how their home is to be kept going as a Tory is entitled to ask how his country is to be defended by arms? Have they not as much right to discuss their little but and ben as hon. Members have the right to discuss Imperial policy? They may have their reports and all the commissions they like, but this is the only live issue in British politics to-day for the mass of the people. It is said by some that they cannot be bothered with unemployment insurance and that it is only a patched up and temporary solution and that they want to plan for work. That is the usual sort of thing. During the 12 years I have been here every Government has planned for work, but the unemployed have remained, their numbers sometimes mounting up and sometimes coining down. It is no answer to say that you are planning for work. These people are human, and they demand their needs to be met. The Act is the biggest attempt yet made to try and lift them out of the political arena.
I want to deal with the proposals from another aspect. I am not going to argue whether the claim of the British Medical Association is right or wrong. I have a liking for doctors in their professional capacity, but when they start to tell me how to live they are no better informed than I am. Although I have a brother a doctor, and, in spite of the regard I have for him, if I wanted to know how to live I should prefer the opinion of my wife or of my mother who know much more about it. I do not accept the standards of the British Medical Association as being other than a contribution to a consideration of the problem. When we have discussed these Bills we have been told that we were not discussing the question of maintaining the unemployed. It was always said that the scales were never regarded as being sufficient to maintain them, and that 24s. was not enough to keep a man and his wife, but was a contribution of the State to help. We have now departed from that position. Hundreds of thousands of these men will never work again. This allowance will be their income or wages, and the only thing they will ever get. It is not a temporary situation. The Government are deter- 1233 mining that 24s. a week is to be the wage or income for two adults for the rest of their days. That is what they are doing. This is not a temporary thing to tide them over a certain period. It is a permanent thing. You are creating what is sometimes called in Socialist jargon a definite proletariat, a definite class outside the ranks of the workers. Every unemployed man has been an unemployed worker, but to-day you acre putting large classes of men outside the category of an unemployed worker. They are not in competition with others.
What is the defence for the difference between standard benefit and this benefit? May I take it that the defence is that one is paid for and the other is not? We have heard that the man who comes out of work will get 26s. for his wife and himself. The 24s. a week man has no resources, because we are talking about him not at the beginning of the industrial depression but 12 years afterwards. What is the justification for the difference to which I have referred? A man comes out of work and is to get 26s., but at the end of 12 months' unemployment, when his resources have gone, he is to get 24s. Is there any justification for that? On what kind of basis is it calculated? If he needs 26s. when he comes out at first, how is it to be justified that he needs only 24s. when he has been out of work 12 months? There is only one reason for this difference of treatment, and that is that the 26s. a week man is a definite unit in the industrial population. He is out of work temporarily and has to be kept fit. He has to be re-equipped to enter employment again, to enter the capitalist army. The 24s. a week man has not to be kept fit. He can do with a lower standard. He is not to enter the industrial battle again.
Can anyone defend the 24s.? Leaving aside the play about the London County Council and the Labour party, leaving aside the play about the commissioner's reports, let us take the consideration that is before us to-day. The one question to be answered is whether or not 24s. is enough. Who can say that a man and woman can live on 24s. a week, paying their rent and meeting their liabilities? Can it be done? Are there two people, with the best will in the world, clean and industrious, who can do it? I claim no advantage over any soul in this House, 1234 but I say that it cannot be done in human decency.
Has any hon. Member ever sat at an Employment Exchange or on a Poor Law authority, and watched these men come in after two, three and four years' unemployment? You can tell that they are not living. Look at their sunken jaws, look at their teeth, look at every mark on them, and it is hell, not life. That is what happens now, even when the allowance is 26s. The sum of 2s. is to be taken from them. I am not going into the talk about the extra allowance for a child. The fact is that 2s. is being taken from the 26s. That reduction means misery to these people beyond anything contemplated by most of us here. The Government seek to defend themselves. They say: "We are giving £3,000,000 more." The "Daily Herald" talks as if something a little more generous is being given.
What did the Government spokesman say yesterday? In this House I have often feelings of passion, but I can say truthfully that afterwards I have very seldom had ill-will towards any hon. Member, but yesterday I felt positive hatred of a man, almost for the first time in my life. I have been in more scenes possibly than most men and usually I am much more sorry about them than the man I have attacked, but yesterday when the Solicitor-General spoke, I felt real hatred. I felt like rising from my seat, getting hold of him and almost squeezing the life out of him. I do not know whether any other hon. Members have felt like that, but I felt it yesterday. I watched him in his smug, complacent fashion talking about figures and how the thing was to be done. He gave a little explanation here and there, and I looked at him, a man who perhaps had not been in an Exchange, playing about with human beings as though they were figures on a draughtboard. It was not nice. The Government might have got somebody to do it who knew what these things mean to the people.
In my callow Parliamentary days I was taken in by every Government, because I believed them. I am now a cynic. I have little belief in anything. I have not much faith even in human life itself, but in my early days I believed in things. I remember particularly the "not-genuinely-seeking-work" provision. I sat with 1235 Campbell Stephen, who was the hon. Member for Camlachie at that time, and for a whole day we battled about it. We were told, as the Solicitor-General told us yesterday, how it was to work, and how every objection would be met. The Solicitor-General said: "Surely to goodness you are not in favour of giving benefit to anybody who is not genuine? We only disqualify the non-genuine." In language he was unanswerable. The Government were right in language then, and to-day they are possibly right in language. But I am right in practice. They may play about by telling me how the courts of appeal are going to work. They may tell me that there are to be exemptions. But how are these regulations to be interpreted? What was responsible for the not-genuinely-seeking-work Clause? The boards constituted much the same as these.
We are told that we must have uniformity, but the boards will interpret things as they want to do. What guarantee is there even about the figures? We have no guarantee. What guarantee is there even about the scales laid down? I remember an Act which was passed in 1924, the Health Insurance Act, when the right hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury) occupied a very honourable place on the back benches and fought along with us. The question that played a prominent part in that discussion was the 7s. 6d. allowance. How has that provision worked? Some people talk about the distinguished services of this board. I am under no illusion about that. I pay the board no compliments. I have nothing but contempt for the board. I do not believe that it is a good board. There is one man on the board who was the head of a great Poor Law authority, and when I went to see him to ask him to carry out the law he said: "I am not carrying out the law. Who are you to tell me to carry out the law? I am not carrying it out." It took seven years after the passing of the Act before Mr. Reynard granted us the 7s. 6d. in Glasgow. True, it was the present Government that made him do it.
We are told that a sum of £3,000,000 more is being granted. Is that true? I do not think that it is true. It is the same kind of argument that the Parliamentary Secretary uses about seasonal 1236 workers. It is only half the truth. He says that the seasonal workers get so much benefit out of the fund, but he never tells us that when the seasonal workers go to work there is a saving on the fund. The figure is worked out on a basis which Whitehall alone knows. On that basis they say that £3,000,000 more is to be given. Let us take that statement to be true. What are the facts? Suppose these regulations had not been introduced and the Act had been carried on as it was. Last November, for good or ill, the composition of large numbers of town councils was altered, and the composition of the public assistance committees was altered. They turned from being Tory to Labour. Hull is a notable example, and to its credit the first thing it did was to increase the scales of benefit. If there had been no regulations in force, what would have happened is that with the change in the composition of town councils the Government would have been lucky if they had got off with £6,000,000. To-day, not merely labour town councils but tory town councils, like Liverpool, see the writing on the wall, and are a little more generous. In fact, the Government are not giving us £3,000,000 more. If they had not introduced these regulations, it would have cost them much more than £3,000,000 with the change in the composition of borough councils up and down the country.
May I be permitted a word on the scales in regard to young folk. I wonder if hon. Members have realised what 14s. a week means to a single woman. I do not want to harrow the feelings of hon. Members, and things may not be so bad, but no one can have read the recent criminal trial at Brighton without a feeling of revulsion. An allowance of 14s. per week cannot keep a woman. In my view, a woman who is unemployed needs much more than a man—That is my experience. I have seen them going to look for work. They have to be well dressed. The two things in which I have noticed the most advance during my life are the care of children and the improvement in women. In my youth they used to go to the mills and factories clad in shawls and bad boots, but to-day you can see them in the Bridgeton division beautifully dressed. You cannot walk through a Glasgow factory without noticing that the women are well dressed and well shod. The 1237 shoes must be good, and the coat must be good. This standard of living cannot be maintained on 14s. per week.
It is proposed to bring in a Bill dealing with overcrowding. What do the present regulations mean? They mean that women, in order to live, will have to herd together. While in one Bill we are seeking to stop overcrowding, with another Measure we are driving them together, like herds of cattle. Overcrowding is not so much a housing problem as it is a problem of income. If their income comes down, they go into one room instead of two. It means one fire instead of two, and one light instead of two; they have to herd together in order to live cheaply. These proposals from every point of view are wrong. The method of approach to the problem is wrong. The Government do not consider how much they can give, but how little they can give. They make mathematical calculations as to how much they shall have when they are working and how much when they are idle. It is said that those who are in work will not stand for a man who is idle getting more than those who are at work. This is a new doctrine. In Glasgow they pay high scales of Poor Law relief, but I have never met anybody in work who grudged them one single penny they got. I have spent possibly more time at the Employment Exchange than most hon. Members, and I have never heard a man at work talk about those who are idle drawing unemployment pay. These regulations are supposed to be the draftsmanship of brains. They say:No applicant shall be assessed at a sum which is equal to or greater than the amount which would ordinarily be available by way of earnings for the support of the household.It is a play upon words. You do not know the people who have to administer these things. I know them. In my own division there is a big iron works, the Dickson Works, in which the wages are 35s. per week. I have never met any one in those works who cried out if someone else got more than himself. I have sometimes felt a little annoyed with the Labour movement, but there is at least this to be said for hon. Members of the Labour party. They have fought for the teachers, people with incomes higher than most of my constituents, but my constituents have never grumbled. There was a great display the other day, and 1238 we gave a couple £27,000. I have no ambition myself for wealth; my only ambition is to keep my present house and the amount I am getting now. I do not envy the man with millions, as long as I have enough to live upon. I do not envy the rich. And I have never heard working people complain that the Government can find the money for them. Do not think that I am going to discuss Republicanism. That is not my job. But it is £27,000 for two and 24s. for another two. I shall be told that there are reasons. You will find an excuse. There is no genuine excuse that can be found.
The hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) asked who formed the Army. There is no Army apart from that great mass of the population. Who join the Army? Go to Hamilton barracks or to the barracks at Perth. Who are in the Army? Not the sons of the school teacher and the doctor, but the sons of the poor, who have been driven there by a force greater even than conscription—starvation. They are the Army, they are the defenders of your nation. People say, "You spend millions of the nation's money in its defence. Why cannot you spend something also on the human beings of the nation, the men and women and children?" I have never heard it argued that the nation is too poor to do it. There is no crisis to-day. There is money available. We give millions to Clydeside to build a millionaires' ship that will take millionaires across the ocean a day more quickly. We vote millions to people for beet and for tramp shipping. We pour out millions and no one can say that we are poor to-day. Then why are not millions given to the human beings that make up the nation? The only reason is that you do not think our people are as good as your people. It is not that they do not need it. It is not that they are a wasteful class. You think that they are not as good as you.
I would tear up these regulations; I would scatter them and the men who made them, both in the Government and out of it. It is horrible, it is shocking to think that a Prime Minister who could never have been where he is if he had not climbed to office by attacking the things that we are now attacking, is head of a Government which brings in these regulations. I know that later a clever speech will be made telling us how some 1239 one else did it. Let Ministers play with words. All that I know is that in my Division and throughout the country poor people will be made poorer on 7th January. They do not curse the Government; they are too kindly to do that. But they will be annoyed. The Government is to punish them. I hope that the Cabinet, with all my hatred of them, will never be punished in the way that they are punishing the poor.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. LOFTUS
I feel a great deal of diffidence in speaking after the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). If he will not think it impertinent of me, I will say that he spoke with even more eloquence and force than we habitually expect from him. He said that when these regulations come into force they will increase poverty. Speaking for myself, I confess that since I had the honour of being elected to the House, I have had no moment that gave me greater satisfaction than when I read these regulations for the first time. The senior Member for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot) said that naturally Members would judge by the effect of the regulations on their own constituency. Naturally I judge them accordingly. It is true that in my constituency and in my county the scales are low.
One hon. Gentleman stated yesterday that the scales would be low in consequence of the lack of political energy. I do not think that such an easy explanation suffices. There are many complicated factors in the matter. In my area of East Suffolk the causes of our low scales are partly historical and partly physical, due to the nature of the territory itself. It is an area where the land is either light or very heavy and where the agriculture must be arable and practically the whole country is dependent on agriculture and fishing. Even a few years ago when the grassland farmers of the rest of England were, if not prosperous, at any rate able to carry on, in Suffolk because of the nature of the soil and the impossibility of carrying on grassland farming there, we had a desperate position. The result was that we had the lowest agricultural wages in England, namely, 28s. a week. That figure 1240 has now been raised by 2s. Combined with that intense depression in agriculture three or four years ago, when 80 per cent. of our farmers were rapidly losing their capital we have had an equally bad state of affairs in the fishing industry. These are some of the factors which account for the low scales in that area.
I have gone into the effect of these regulations in my constituency—and I may mention that both before and since my election I frequently communicated with my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health on the many hard cases which arose in connection with these matters. I find that an ordinary family of husband, wife and one child gets 20s. or 20s. 6d. under the existing public assistance scale. It is true that there are certain supplemental items such as boots, extra food and so forth which are generally given under medical orders but the ordinary figure is what I have mentioned. Under the new scale in that case, if the rent is 10s.—which is the normal rent—they will get 30s. 6d. If the rent is 7s. 6d. they will get 28s. as against 20s. 6d. A man, wife and three children to-day would get 24s. 6d.—again with the supplemental items which I have already indicated. Under the new regulations if the rent is 7s. 6d. they will get 34s. and if the rent is 10s. they go up to 37s.
§ Mr. LOFTUS
If the hon. Member will wait I am coming to that point. Our main industries being agriculture and shipping these men do not come under transitional payments. The figures which I have given are subject to Regulation VI about average earnings—and here is a point of which I gave notice to the Minister. Regulation VI states:No applicant shall be assessed at a sum which is equal to or greater than the amount which would ordinarily be available by way of earnings" etc.I particularly want to bring before the Minister the case of the share fisherman. The Solicitor-General yesterday said that he could not deal with particular cases, but this is not a particular case because it affects thousands of men. He also said that short time would not be taken into account but would be ruled out altogether. Again, this is not a case of short time. It is a peculiar case. The 1241 share fisherman is paid a kind of advance of 20s. a week and he then shares in the profits of the boat. In an ordinary year he gets at the end of the fishing a sum which varies according to the fortunes of the boat. It might amount to £80. But many of the boats made no profit at all this year or last year. The men, however, have had the advance which I have mentioned as a kind of payment on account, and, therefore, their average earnings have been only 20s. a week for two years. Naturally they would not undertake the hazardous work of fishing—and five men have lost their lives at it within the last few weeks—unless there was a chance of a return to better times. I trust that that point will be dealt with before the close of this discussion.
There is one other point. As I say, the conditions in my area will be immensely improved, and naturally I am filled with the keenest desire to have that improvement made as soon as possible. I realise that it is practically impossible to bring in these scales until March. I realise the mass of work which is involved, and the point which I would put to the Minister is this. Suppose that in view of these scales now published the county council were to raise their present standard, approximately to the level of these scales—the children's standards in any case—I take it that such action would not meet with any objection from the Ministry of Health. I want to bridge the gap which is represented by the six or seven weeks of January and February. Those are the hardest weeks of the year. The fishermen then will just be coming back from what has been, on the whole, a disastrous fishing, and some additional help during that period would be intensely welcome.
There were some other matters with which I wished to deal but I gather from certain murmurs I hear that I have already exceeded my allotted time for the day. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] There is one matter to which I shall refer as shortly as possible. The hon. Member for Gorbals said that hundreds of thousands of men who are out of employment to-day are permanently out of employment. I do not agree with that view for two reasons. If the hon. Member means that the chances are that if our civilisation continues to progress, machinery will become more and more 1242 efficient and will displace more and more men I would agree, but we have had the examples taken from the Austin Motor Works and elsewhere to prove——
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Does the hon. Member really think that any man of over 57 years of age in an industrial district who is unemployed to-day has a cat's chance of getting a job?
§ Mr. LOFTUS
I would agree that labour-saving machinery will become more and more efficient, if our civilisation progresses, if we do not smash it up by a war or by social experiments, or by a disbelief in the value of life itself. But I feel that if we could get the whole productive machinery of the nation at work 90 to 100 per cent., there would be very little unemployment. There is a vast amount of work to be done, but to get the productive machinery of the nation working to anything like full capacity we should have to raise the consumptive power of the nation. It would be out of order to go into that question to-night, but I would say that the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, in that intensely valuable report of his, in one paragraph with which he concluded it, has given a very useful indication of the lines on which we must approach that problem, and in a speech recently made, not in this House, he again gave a still clearer indication of the lines on which the problem must be solved.
§ 8.46 p.m.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
The hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) will not think me discourteous, I am sure, if I do not follow him in the particular line which he took. I know little or nothing about share fishermen, and I never like to say anything in this House about which I do not at least understand something. I was rather interested, when listening to the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), to hear him make one remark which I think was disproved by the whole of his subsequent remarks. He told the House that he had become a cynic, that he had lost faith in human nature, and then he made what I consider to be one of the most passionate and eloquent speeches on behalf of human nature that it has ever been my privilege to hear. He does himself less than justice when he claims to be a cynic. That would never be a creditable thing to be, and I am certain that nobody will 1243 believe it of the hon. Member for Gorbals. There was one thing that I think permeated the whole of his speech, and that was the desire to see that every man, woman, and child in this country should be afforded an adequate standard of living. I cannot imagine anyone in this House challenging that desire, but we do hear different views on what is an adequate standard of living.
I was rather interested to listen to the Parliamentary Secretary's very clever debating speech, which he began by saying that last week we were discussing what was to happen with regard to the constitution of India for 350,000,000 inhabitants of that great Continent, and then he went on to say that during the last three days we had been discussing a subject equally important. That understates the importance of what we have been discussing in the last few days. The working men and women of this country are far more interested, whether we like it or not, in these regulations than in the Indian question, and I believe that the Division which took place about an hour ago was probably the most important Division that has taken place in this Parliament, so far as the ordinary men and women of this country are concerned. Speaking for myself, I can truthfully say that I have given more serious consideration to these regulations than I have given to any subject which we have previously discussed in this Parliament. I think it is right to say that these scales will have a tremendous influence. One good thing about them is that they have laid down at least that this is a minimum amount to cover existence, and consequently it must be the minimum wage that will have to be paid in this country in the future. I think these scales will have a remarkable influence from that point of view.
I am not arguing whether or not they are adequate, but I think all Members of the House must have given serious consideration to these scales, and from several points of view. One had to give consideration to the cost involved in these scales. I know that hon. Members above the Gangway will not agree with me when I say that we had to have regard to what happened in 1931. I believe also that there was the consideration of what I call the balance of justice between employed and unemployed, but I think the 1244 paramount thing that we had to consider was the giving of adequate maintenance to those unfortunate members of the community who will draw these allowances. I cannot take the attitude of the Labour party. I was interested yesterday to turn up the Debates on the Unemployment Insurance (No. 2) Bill which took place in this House in December, 1929, and to compare with the Amendment moved on that occasion, and resisted by the Labour party of that year, the Whips put on to defeat an increase of a woman's allowance from 9s. to 10s. and an increase of a child's allowance from 2s. to 5s. I believe that from that date began that sort of ostracism of that particular section of the Labour party who felt that they really meant what they said when they were addressing public meetings in this country, I cannot help but feel—I do not use these words in any offensive way——
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
The Liberal party have not put down the scales which are now on the Order Paper as an Amendment.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
Some did, and some did not. The scale suggested by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), who made an impassioned and offensive speech, is absolutely in contradiction to the vote he gave in December, 1929, and I want to repeat to the Labour party the question put to them in a very kindly way—more kindly than I anticipated would come from the hon. Member for Gorbals—Are you going at an election to suggest that if you come into power, which I believe you will inevitably do some day, you are prepared to see that these will be the scales that you will give? That kind of scale is very useful as an election stunt, but I believe that the party that seems at the moment to offer the only alternative Government to the present Government ought to remember that the electors will expect that the pledge which they have now given will be redeemed, if they come into power. I want to put that question seriously to them. I do not believe it is the thing to kid the electorate, as we say in Yorkshire. A man who puts his 1245 name to this Amendment must take up the attitude that when they are in office they will be carried out, but I have not the slightest doubt that they have not been put down for that purpose. They have been put down for the simple purpose of attracting votes at the next election.
I hesitated a long time before coming to a decision about my own vote on these regulations. I felt that I was placed in an impossible position. I agree with some of the provisions and not with others, and what can one do in those circumstances? I do not think I could vote for the regulations if I thought that they gave justice to some and created injustice for others. Most of the scales are more generous than those now being paid in Bradford and some are slightly worse, but very few. The scales for a family with a large number of children are slightly worse than they are in Bradford. The Parliamentary Secretary put up the case that if that be an injustice it affects only a few. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] He did not use those words, but he said that we have to deal with the average case. In other words, what is the use of worrying about the abnormal case?
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
That does not relate to the question of families with a large number of children. In any case, it does not affect my argument, which is that if there be so few cases of families with a large number of children, why was not this scale made adequate? If there be so few families like that, it would have meant a very small increase in cost. I can see no justification for taking off 1s. for a child above three; that is what the scale amounts to. My chief objection is to the adult personal allowances, and I hope that whoever replies for the Government will deal with that question more adequately. I should not be in order in discussing whether we ought to have a means test or not. The fact is that a means test is in existence, and the average decent-minded person does not so much mind the test as the way in which it is administered. The case I have in mind is that of a man and wife with two adult children, a male and a 1246 female. The man and wife will get an allowance of 24s., the male 10s., and the female 7s., a total of 41s. Take the case where the adult male member of the household earns £2 a week and the young lady 35s. a week, making a total income of 75s. The regulations give 11s. 8d. to the adult male as his personal allowance, and 9s. 2d. to the young lady, and there is no allowance to the applicant if he is the householder.
Some cases in Bradford have been brought to my notice of young men and women leaving home because of the harsh administration of the means test. I feel sometimes as if many hon. Members have not the slightest idea how ordinary people live or how ordinary family life is run. In Yorkshire, when an adult reaches 21 he arranges with his mother to pay so much a week for his board and lodgings. Out of the remainder of his wages he purchases his clothes, and he has what he has left for his personal expenses. The same applies to the girl adult. What would be a reasonable amount for a man at home to pay for his board and lodging? I do not think I shall exaggerate it one way or the other if I suggest that £1 per week would be a reasonable amount for him to pay, and 15s. for the girl to pay. In that household, therefore, there would be 35s. a week going to the mother, and out of that she would have to provide rent, clothes for herself and husband, and for any little pleasure they may get, in addition to keeping four adult persons.
I am not suggesting that the adult members of the family should not be asked to contribute towards the upkeep of their parents if the father is unemployed. The hon. Member for East Newcastle (Sir R. Aske) made a certain suggestion, but I do not think I should be prepared to go quite so far. I think, however, that if you had taken that £1 a week and said to the lad, "If you were in lodgings you would have to pay £1 a week"; if then you had taken the allowance under the regulations of an adult male member which is 10s.—I cannot understand how an adult male member of a Yorkshire family is going to be kept for 10s. or a girl for 7s.—and had taken it from the £1, and said to his mother, "That is the profit which you are making on this boy's food"; if you had taken the 7s. from the 15s. that the 1247 girl gives, and said, "You are making a profit of 8s." then the two sums together, 18s., could be deducted from the 24s., and a grant of 6s. a week could be given. That would be performing a greater measure of justice than is done in these regulations. I have always agreed with the means test, and I disagree with some of my friends that it should be a mere personal test. A son and daughter have every duty, when their father is out of work, to contribute towards his maintenance, just as the father has a duty to contribute towards the maintenance of his son and daughter if they are out of work. The son and daughter have also got rights, and surely it is not to be suggested that if an adult male goes to work you are allowing him too much if you allow him to keep £1 out of the £2 of his wages.
The idea of these regulations is that these people shall be able to keep themselves in such a way that they do not lose their desire and ability for work. If we say to them that £1 is too much as spending money, or for clothes, or for providing for a home, what sociological effect is that going to have? Surely every one in this House desires that a young man should be thrifty enough to provide himself with a respectable home when he takes a young lady to be his wife. The same consideration applies to the girl. Am I to be told that 15s. a week would be too much for a girl? I think the hon. Member for Gorbals was quite correct. Take the changed position of women in the matter of dress. When I was a young fellow the girls used to be seen leaving the textile mills in Yorkshire with baskets in their hands and shawls on their heads. To-day you cannot find a girl with a shawl or a pair of clogs. They look almost as well dressed—in fact, they do look as well dressed—as any teacher or any girl in a profession; and the girls go to Woolworth's and buy bags, instead of the old basket, in which to take their food. There is a wonderful pride among people of that class. How concerned they are to be as well dressed as the next-door neighbour. I suggest that these people have rights which ought to be considered.
The last point I have to make is that I object to the discrimination shown in these scales between males and females. We listened last night to a very able 1248 speech from the hon. Member for West Willesden (Mrs. Tate) and she made that point. In Bradford the allowance for the householder, if an individual, is more in the case of a female than in the case of a male, because there they have always taken the view that the dress allowance needed by a girl or a woman is far greater than that of a man; and I think every married man in this House will agree that that is true. I know that the Undersecretary quoted the British Medical Association scale which allowed more for a man than for a woman. There may be some truth in that if they are all living together, but there is less truth in it when they are living as individuals, and I cannot see why there should be any discrimination between the male and the female. After I had given serious consideration to the scales as I previously mentioned, I came to the conclusion that, although there are some of them for which I would willingly have voted, I am put in the impossible position that I have either got to accept the scale or reject it. I believe that the regulations could have been far more generous, particularly as regards the question of personal allowances.
§ 9.10 p.m.
§ Mr. LEONARD
I will endeavour to confine my remarks to as few minutes as possible, because, like the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) I wish only to show the relationship of the present proposals to the actual facts in my own district. In this case Glasgow. Before I do that may I express regret that the authorities concerned with the administration of this matter were not furnished with adequate details before the Press had them. I am informed by the city council of Glasgow that in the initial stages they had to pick up what information they wanted from the Press, and I feel that they ought to have been given the details as quickly as possible. I have no desire to belittle the efforts that any person may make in order to relieve the anxieties and the hardships which affect so many people in Great Britain, but I do not look upon this effort as one that has given due weight to known factors. I have listened to what has been said about the figures supplied by the British Medical Association and the Ministry of Health, and I agree heartily with the statement of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) 1249 that other persons might be taken as a guide. He mentioned his mother and wife. If such evidence were regarded as being too prejudiced I would suggest an impartial investigator such as Mr. Seebohm Rowntree, who has been intimately associated with the conditions of working people and has from time to time placed facts before us which make us feel anything but proud of the position of this country. Another thing which has caused me regret is that a scrutiny of these regulations shows that many of the expectations which were created during the Debates on the Unemployment Act have not materialised.
I would like to deal with the position in Glasgow, which has gone to the trouble of giving us its views on this matter. In the case of a man and wife the regulations provide for an allowance of 24s. a week, and presume that a rent of 7s. 6d. a week has to be paid. In Glasgow at present the allowance is 26s., and that also covers rent, but it has been calculated that 75 per cent. of the able-bodied applicants in Glasgow pay less than 7s. 6d. in rent. Therefore, under the new regulations there will be a direct reduction of 2s. in the allowance to a man and wife, and having regard to the latitude that is allowed under the regulations it is possible, that that sum may be further reduced in view of the lower rents in Glasgow. After a careful survey, the city council of Glasgow and the town clerk say there is a possibility of a man and wife receiving only 23s. as their allowance under these regulations.
Reference has been made to the family resources in the assessment of means. The savings of the people used to be regarded as money put by, in the main, to provide for their declining years, but by the application of the means test those savings have now to be used to keep together the family, who, although willing to work, are unable to obtain work. The board's attitude in that respect will bear very harshly upon many families in this country. Glasgow's scale compares very favourably with the proposed scale in respect of family resources. Each case is taken on its merits. During the Debates a point has been made with regard to the preparation for marriage and in our opinion sufficient latitude is not allowed for that purpose.
1250 The proposal of the board is that the first 5s. of earnings are to be retained in respect of a man and wife. Glasgow went into this matter very carefully. Competent persons who have been trained in assessing the requirements of families such as are affected by the present proposals came to the conclusion that that was a fair assessment of needs. Where not more than three shifts are worked per week, the deductions from the allowance are, for the first shift, one-sixth of the weekly allowance under the scale, for the second and third shifts all amounts in excess of 25 per cent. of earnings, and in spare-time occupations all sums in excess of 33⅓ per cent. of earnings. Where the father of an applicant is a householder and working, 30s. is disregarded, and 50 per cent. over the 30s. is also disregarded. In the case of an adult member of a family with the father unemployed, the first member retains 20s. plus 50 per cent. of anything in excess of 20s., and the second and subsequent adults retain the first 15s. or 50 per cent. of the whole, whichever is the greater.
A comparison has been supplied to me by the public assistance department showing the difference between the present scale and the proposed scale of the Unemployment Assistance Board. Take a household of father, mother and son where the father is earning 40s. and the son is idle. The personal allowance by the public assistance department is 35s.; that of the board will be 29s. The deduction from the allowance of the idle member is only 5s., but under the proposals of the board 11s. will be deducted. Take another case of father, mother and son where the son is earning 40s. per week and the father is idle. The public assistance department give an allowance of 30s., but the board drop that to 21s. 8d. The deduction from the allowance of the idle member is 10s., but under the board it will be 18s. 4d. The next illustration is that of a family consisting of father, mother and daughter, the daughter earning 25s. and the father idle. The public assistance department give an allowance of 22s. 6d., but the board will only allow 15s. lid. The deduction from the allowance of the idle member is 2s. 6d., but under the board it will be 9s. 1d. Those cases give justification for the attitude which has been adopted in the city of Glasgow, and not only by those 1251 who are in the majority upon the corporation. I came to London with one of the truest Tories of the corporation, and she was coming down to interview Members of the Conservative party in this House to ask them to do their very best for those who are protesting at the reduction.
Let me take the case of the adolescents—and it will be my last illustration. This concerns members of a family who are over 16 years of age. In Glasgow, boys and girls between 16 and 17 receive 5s. 6d.; those between 17 and 18, 8s. Under the new proposals they will all receive 6s. Males and females over 18 receive 10s., but under the new scale that figure will not be reached until they are over 21 years of age. The first male will receive 10s. and the first female 8s. Subsequently males will receive 8s. and females 7s. I am endeavouring to place on record the actual facts in relation to Glasgow, and I think that what I have stated shows quite clearly that we are entitled to protest against the proposals of the board.
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) and an hon. Member upon the Liberal benches made certain charges against the Labour Government. They must not forget that when the Labour Government were in office the people who dominated the situation were those who were in the middle of the see-saw, namely, the Liberal party. They cannot get off as easily as that. Let me add a personal appeal to what was said by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), who made a most moving appeal with which I entirely associate myself. We must remember that this is not a meanwhile problem, but that we are legislating for the future. We have to know what the effect will be. The authorities who have been inquiring into the health of the people have performed a useful service, and I wish to quote from an official report which says that in 1933In England and Wales there were about 3,000,000 people who were suffering so badly from some form of neurosis as to need definite treatment. The amount of human suffering was clearly appalling, and the inefficiency caused by such illness was a serious national problem. Three million people are treated for nervous troubles in Great Britain at a cost of £40,000,000 1252 annually, and, in spite of this costly treatment, there are 16 suicides in Great Britain every 24 hours.It is the case that in this and other countries there has been advance made in the forms of life. It is also true, as one hon. Member has stated, that men and women going to their work are better dressed and that they have cinemas to go to for enjoyment, but they have one thing to-day which they did not have in earlier days, and that is anxiety and worry continually attending upon them. The result is displayed in the facts and figures which I have given. I trust that the matter will not rest where it is proposed to leave it, and that the House will come to a speedy realisation of what the proposals of the board mean before they are put into action.
§ 9.24 p.m.
§ Major MILNER
I rise only to put two questions. I cannot refrain, however, from commenting upon the speech to which we listened a few minutes ago from the hon. Member for South Bradford (Mr. Holdsworth). It is clear that he was not in the Parliament of 1929–31. When I put a question to him, upon his raising the point as to why the Labour Government did not put forward higher rates, and asked him what the Liberals did, he said that some voted one way and some another. That was precisely the position. One could never rely in those days, any more than to-day, upon the Liberal party doing anything as a whole. Some always voted one way and some another.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
If they did anything else they would cease to be Liberals. The hon. and gallant Member has missed the point that I was making which was, are they going to carry out these schemes when they come into power?
§ Major MILNER
The hon. Member is running away. He endeavoured to blame the Labour party for something for which the Liberal party were to blame not only in that but in many other matters. I doubt very much whether my hon. Friend's constituents will think much of his Yorkshire forthrightness in noting that nine-tenths of his speech was of a commendatory character, while in his last few words, in which all of us imagined he was going to say he would vote for the Government, he came down on the other side of the fence, and said he would vote against them.
1253 The two matters I want to raise quite shortly are, first, whether the Government do not think it very desirable and essential to give some definition of the word "household." I have just taken considerable trouble to count the number of times the word "household" appears in the regulations, and it totals 15. Yet no definition is given, though the term is used in "household means," "household resources" and "members of a household." One knows that committees often have great difficulty because of the lack of any such definition. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to say that a definition or instruction will be issued to show what the word "household" ought to mean. The second question I want to raise is in regard to the allowance of the first £1 a week of any wounds or disability pension, which, under Part II of the regulations, on page 6, paragraph (I, b), is to be disregarded. On the other hand, in page 7, under paragraph VI, it is stated:No applicant shall be assessed at a sum which is equal to or greater than the amount which would ordinarily be available by way of earnings for the support of the household if he and other members of the household whose needs have been taken into account were following the occupations normally followed by them.The point I wish to put is that, suppose a man with a disability of £1, and with a wife and two children and a rent of 7s. 6d. applies for an allowance. Normally the Unemployment Assistance Board would presumably allow the rates in the table totalling 32s. 6d. Will he get that full 32s. 6d., which, with the £1 disability pension, makes a total of £2 12s. 6d., if he is a labourer whose normal earnings are £2 5s.?
§ Major MILNER
I am very grateful to the hon. Member, because there has been a good deal of confusion in regard to that. It has been the practice in the past, even where the wage has been less than the total amount of the pension and the scale combined, that the full amount is paid. I am quite sure that all concerned will be grateful to the hon. Gentleman for making that quite clear.
§ 9.30 p.m.
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
I am glad to have an opportunity, from the point of view of the medical profession and 1254 medical officers of health especially, of saying that despite the partisan views held and given voice to for and against these regulations, there is no question that this is a very great Measure dealing with a very great problem. We are glad to say, particularly from the point of view of the medical officers of health, that a direct attack is being made by a general scheme, which does not simply try to do it, as so often happens, by a vague general solution. The scientific method of setting out an analysis with the different factors provides a machine capable of very great development for the future. There is far more elastic machinery in this than in any other of our social services hitherto. I think it is very remarkable that it should come into force in this year 1934, an exact century after what was considered the greatest reform in its time, the Poor Law Reform Act, 1834, though this will have to undergo, I expect, as long a series of changes as that did.
Many of those who have addressed us from the opposite side of the House have brought their passions to a white heat on the subject of their sympathies with hard cases with which they are cognisant. I think all of those who have dealt intimately with this class—the distressed class—at one time or another, as doctors have to do also, will echo those feelings as intensely. Many of us would have loved to indulge in the luxury of pure sympathy with the hard cases. But that is not our object in Parliament; it is not the duty of Parliament. We have committed to us the stewardship of national assets in England. We have got to see that Measures which are laid down and undertaken are fair to those who work and pay, as well as those in the unfortunate position of not being able to pay or work. It is not enough to give sympathy to hard cases: cold thought should be given to the question as to where the money is to come from and who pays it. We know that we have got to be businesslike in this world, and the more businesslike these schemes of social reform are the better. They may not get you headlines in the paper the next day, but the fact is you have got to have warm hearts and yet keep cool heads and be businesslike in these proposals.
I was surprised to hear speeches such as those from the hon. Members for East Fulham (Mr. Wilmot) and Chester-le- 1255 Street (Mr. Lawson). They ask for detailed rules to be laid down, though it is recognised that detailed rules would mean a system of rigidity—the worst form of bureaucracy. The elasticity in this scheme may work well or badly, but it is one thing you do want if you are to have an organisation run by officials; otherwise it would become extremely hard and burdensome, and not responsive to the needs of the case. With regard to the question asked yesterday by the hon. Member for West Willesden (Mrs. Tate) and by the hon. Member for Whitechapel (Mr. Janner) as to why the scale is less for a woman than a man, everybody knows that, wherever you have to compare costs as between men and women, you have to allow more for a normal man than for the average woman——
§ Mr. JANNER
Would the hon. Gentleman carry that argument a step further, and say how he would deal with the case of a man with dependants, one of whom is a young woman and the other a young man, on the question of their accommodation?
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
There are many other cases, but, taking the question of cost of food alone, unquestionably there is this difference. Constant references have been made to the scale of the British Medical Association and other scales, and the Parliamentary Secretary gave general figures, which are from 5s. to 6s. for a man and from 4s. to 5s. for a woman, according to the particular scale adopted. As regards the other points of difference between men and women, we have to remember that we are not dealing with the particular kind of developments that are usual in working-class families, but are dealing particularly with those who are able-bodied and unemployed, and whose necessary requirements which have to be taken into consideration are not the same as would be the case if they were in full occupation. I do not want to go into the details, but it seems to me that there is reason for this discrimination, certainly as regards food costs.
As regards growing children, the regulations make a difference, but I think that that is a case where really a little further elaboration is needed. This is one of the most difficult points that was 1256 raised by the British Medical Association, and it is one about which the medical officers of health feel very strongly. I was at the meeting of the Council for Health Education to which reference was made by an hon. Member on the Front Bench opposite, and at which Professor Nixon, who was misquoted by an hon. Member opposite, gave a very important and instructive, address on this question of nutrition. It was surprising to learn what a very large amount of food is required by infants in comparison with their weight. In the ordinary way, the actual requirement of an infant is 20 calories per pound of body weight, while the adult requires only 50. The actual amount allowed in the scale for cost of food is 2s. 6d. for the infant, or only about half as much as is provided for the child between 12 and 14, namely 4s. 6d. The growing child's requirement is really heavy, and it is a serious question whether the scale, if it were rigidly followed, would provide a sufficient allowance for the children. As regards cost of food, I do not think it is sufficient, but there are other overhead expenses which do not reach anything like the same amount in the case of a child.
One cannot generalise on the subject, but the criticism that is generally made by those who have gone into this question from the point of view of the British Medical Association and the medical officers of health is that, while the scale which has been laid down is on the whole a generous scale, and meets the case of a family consisting of a man, his wife and two children, yet, when there are more children that that, it tends to be rather below the standard that is required, according to the British Medical Association. There are, of course, different standards. The hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities spoke specially for the Children's Minimum Committee, who have done such splendid work in this direction, but their report does not mention the scale laid down by the equally, and perhaps more, efficient Advisory Committee on Nutrition appointed by the Minister of Health. The advisory committee's scale was dealt with by the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Paling), but not adequately. The hon. Member suggested that the Minister had hurriedly appointed that committee 1257 after the committee of the British Medical Association had reported, but as a matter of fact the advisory committee was originally appointed in 1931 to deal with the whole question of food and nutrition. It is a standing advisory committee. That committee put forward a lower scale considering that 3,000 calories were enough for a man as compared with the British Association's figure of 3,400. There being this discrepancy, the two committees met, and the result of their conference is shown clearly in the report of the chief medical officer of the Ministry of Health last year. These two bodies of men, who were colleagues, knowing one another well and respecting each other's opinions, discussed the difference between their findings, and decided that the all-round average requirement for the entire population, or for large mixed groups of people, at the present time, was about 3,000 calories per day, as against the British Medical Association's figure of 3,400, and this figure, they said, could be safely employed for the calculation of mass requirements, but would not necessarily be applicable to individuals or single families, whose condition might require separate treatment.
§ Miss RATHBONE
Is it not the case that the unemployed household in which the man is actively seeking work is rather in the position contemplated by the scale of the British Medical Association than that contemplated by the advisory committee? Was it not explained at the conference that there was no real difference between them, but that the British Medical Association's scale was more apposite to the unemployed man who was seeking work?
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
I think their actual conclusion was that the advisory committee's figure of 3,000 calories was right for a man who was not engaged in work at the time, and that the British Medical Association's figure of 3,400 was right for those who were actually employed. That is roughly the division between them as it was summed up at the conference. Anyhow, the scale which we are now discussing is within the general requirements for the population. It may need revision in certain directions, especially as regards the children of larger families. The larger families are a small part of the problem, but that is no reason why they should not be dealt 1258 with, and I hope we shall hear from the Government spokesmen as regards the possibility or probability of revision of these regulations. It is left vague in Section 52 of the Act. Apparently the board is to report to the Minister from time to time. How soon is the first time going to be? I hope hon. Members will not expect it to be as soon as has been suggested. Three months would be absurd, because there is not time to get settled down, but within a certain time we ought to be able to have some idea as to how the scales are working. We can only agree to these being proper scales with which to begin if we recognise that, in the first place, they are going to be adjusted in accordance with special circumstances and, in the second place, that they will be open to revision. In those conditions it seems a proper experiment to make.
Another point that the British Medical Association particularly want to have recognised is the provision in the regulations to meet large families in the economic sense of making a reduction for quantity in payment per head. It is reasonable to make some such suggestion. When the family is large there should be a reduction in the allowance per head when the family is living within its income, but, if the family is living on the absolute minimum, there is very little reduction possible. After all, these are cases which, to a large extent, are living a very small margin, so the reduction per head for quantity is a very serious difficulty with them. At the same time, we rest on the assurance that there is to be adjustment in special cases.
I must ask hon. Members not to rely so very closely upon these actual determinations of food values in calories. At the conference that has been referred to one of the professors who spoke poured cold water on the whole question of calories, and showed how little you could trust to them. We know that a great deal depends on the quality of the food and on digestion and so on, and it is difficult to lay down actual figures. I suspect these standard diets, but it is the only way in which you can arrive at some systematic arrangement for feeding people. But you must recognise how very open to criticism they are, and how very little they meet the realities. We know that the value of food depends very 1259 largely on a mysterious essence called vitamins, and lots of these foods would be perfectly useless if they had not a sufficient amount of vitamins. If you have good digestion and fresh food you can get on with a good deal less than the standard as laid down. What you must have all the way through in carrying out these regulations is the human touch. If we are going to have elasticity in administration, we are going to have that human touch. If we have it, all may be well, and I believe all will be well, but it will require to be watched.
I am not going to mention the question of rent. We all recognise the immense possibilities for good, and also for bad if it is not properly worked out, which lie in laying down a definite standard of rent with all the adaptations which will be possible. What actual co-operation is there going to be between the Board of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Unemployment Assistance Board in the actual working out of these tests? There are various ways in which one Government Department can help another. For instance, if you are really looking about for cases of malnutrition in an early stage you want the medical officers of the Board of Education to advise the officials of the Unemployment Assistance Board of families which seem to them to require assistance. In the same way, are the officials of the Employment Exchanges going to be asked to draw the attention of the board to cases which seem to them to require need? I only make that suggestion as being a later development. If we compare the conditions in this country with those in any other, and the advance made in this country with conditions in the past, we have every reason to feel that we are doing the right thing. We are leading the world in this experiment. We have gone ahead greatly in the last 20 years, and I think we shall go ahead still more on the lines of these regulations.
§ 9.53 p.m.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
One of the most remarkable features of this Debate has been the extraordinary emptiness of the Government Benches almost throughout the three days. On Monday the Government were reduced to such a pass that they dare not even have a Division, because they had so few people in the House. Anyone who witnessed the 1260 excursions and incursions of the Whips about that period of time must have realised that boxing entertainments and cinematograph entertainments for which free tickets had been issued to Members were more attractive than a Debate on this subject.
§ Sir F. FREMANTLE
On Monday evening, when a Count was called, the party opposite stayed outside and tried to have the House counted out.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
That is a common practice, in which the hon. Baronet, like everyone else, has indulged, in order to try to get enough Government Members in the House. It is very often the only way that the Opposition can get an audience. The practice that has arisen of people trooping out of the House immedately an Opposition speaker gets up must have been noticed often enough not to need comment. Another remarkable feature of the Debate is that nearly everyone who has spoken has had some criticism to make of these regulations. Even the hon. Baronet, who started off in such flowery terms of praise that one thought nothing would be good enough for the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary, became rather a doubting Thomas when he arrived at the children's allowances. We were glad to hear him, with his great scientific knowledge, tell us at least that all this calories stuff was nonsense, and that we could disregard it, because it really was not reliable and was not worth discussing, and I think that in that we agree with him. An hon. Member below the Gangway said that by far the better people to test this question are the mothers and wives in the working-class houses and not the doctors in Harley Street. That is why we have always insisted on the importance of the maintenance of some measure of democratic control over the administration of schemes such as this one.
I should like to answer the question which was put by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), very justifiably and very courteously, as regards the intentions of the party to which I belong concerning the figures which are common to his Amendment and the one which was put on the Order Paper by us. These figures are put forward as being the considered figures of the united Labour Movement as part of a programme of Socialism, and that programme will only 1261 be possible if the party which attempts to carry it out has a majority in this House, and as far as I am concerned I should be absolutely against any attempt to take on the Government without that majority in the House. So I think that the answer is that those are firm figures to which the party expresses its complete adherence.
Certain general considerations arise from the result of these regulations to which it is worth drawing the attention of the House. The hon. Baronet the Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) mentioned that we were at the hundredth anniversary of what was called the New Poor Law in 1834. During those 100 years we have learnt to improve the technique of production in quite an unrecognisable manner. If any one who was in that Parliament in 1834 could walk about our streets and factories to-day he would probably die of an apoplectic fit through fright because of the speed and efficiency of the machinery which is used to-day. And yet the tragedy is that now, 100 years later, we are meeting to consider a far worse problem of poverty than that which they were meeting to consider 100 years ago. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Hon. Members say "No," but look at the figures and see whether the numbers we are considering as able-bodied poor to-day are not infinitely in excess of the figures that they were considering in 1834. Of course they are. Hon. Members may say there has been a big growth of population. So there has, but the problem has grown. The enormity of the problem is exampled by the mass of legislation with which this House has had to cope since the War dealing with the problem of unemployment in one way or another, and in spite of all the advance in 100 years of the technique of production, we find ourselves to-day obliged to maintain these millions of people idle while other people want the products that they might be producing. I would like to quote the words which were spoken in this House 100 years ago by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in introducing the Poor Law Bill—words which might well have been spoken from this Box, and almost words spoken from this Box but a few days ago.He confidently anticipated that the Bill would have the effect to restore the British labourer to that degree of independence for 1262 which he was once proverbial, and to raise him from the condition of a pauperised slave…. It had been said that poverty ought not to be visited as a crime"—I seem to remember that argument in quite recent times.In that sentiment he most entirely agreed; but it was impossible to prevent it as a misfortune.Precisely the same attitude is taken by His Majesty's Government to-day, that it is impossible to prevent the misfortune of unemployment. In our view, unemployment, as long as you have the imposition of such things as a means test, is still treated as a crime, and people who are subject to it are segregated in a different class of society in this country, for whom special provisions are made, to whom special rules are applied, whose diet is considered in term of calories, as though they were machines, and as though you were contemplating the tons of coal that a machine, requires to consume to give out so much power. Other portions of the population can dine in the hotels and restaurants in the West End of London, and are not told that they should require only so many calories when they go into a restaurant, and need not have any more than that because it is not good for them.
As long as the Government insist upon clinging to this outworn economic system, so long, of course, will they be faced with this problem of unemployment. But even admitting that they, at least, must maintain this system, why is it that we are bound to attempt—and I want the hon. Gentleman, if he will, to answer this question—to pension the young able-bodied man and let the old man go on working in his place? Why are we bound to attempt to give these partial educational courses to young people who are thrown out of industry and yet are unable to complete the education of the children? Why cannot we tackle this problem from the two ends, and not from the centre? All that we are doing by these regulations is to set up a pension system for the able-bodied, many in the very prime of life, and many of them young fellows who are anxious to work, while we allow the older portion of the population to linger on in industry when their efficiency is not as great as that of the younger men. Why cannot we pension them off and allow the younger men to take their place in industry? If we 1263 were to do that, clearly we should be beginning with a sensible solution of this problem even under capitalism, granting that you must have unemployment, as, of course, you must, within that system.
There is another extremely painful consideration which arises out of the examination of these regulations, and that is the acknowledgment on the, face of the regulations, that at this period of our industrial history wage levels in this country are below the level of subsistence. There are the safeguards that these regulations, which only purport to provide a bare subsistence level, should not be allowed to compete with wages which do not provide a bare subsistence level. Surely that, in itself, is a sufficient criticism of the society in which such things can take place, that you are forced to admit in your legislation that the full-time wage levels in portions of our industry and agriculture are to be lower than what you calculate is the minimum subsistence level which you have to give to the unemployed man. If that is not so, then let us delete this paragraph from the regulations. It has no meaning. Its operation shows the state of affairs that exists in some of the sweated trades and the agriculture of this country to-day.
Let me draw attention to one further point which is worth bearing in mind. We have had many discussions upon the rates of pay under the Poor Law and under unemployment regulations in the last two or three years, and hon. Members from the Government side have strenuously resisted the argument that those rates have been such as to bring hundreds and thousands of people below the starvation level. Here, at last, we have a complete admission that all those accusations were justly and truly made. Hon. Member after hon. Member coming from backward areas in this country to-day have given instances of the grossly underestimated amounts which have been distributed by the Poor Law authorities in those areas, amounts which the Minister of Health has never criticised.
The hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) this evening spoke of a family, a man, his wife and one child in his district where there is a payment of 20s. 6d. a week, of which 10s. a week goes for rent, leaving 10s. 6d. a week for the man, wife and child to live upon. Naturally, the 1264 hon. Member is delighted with the proposed scale, and I should be delighted if I were in his place; but what a criticism it is that for three years the Government have allowed that to go on in Lowestoft. It is worth bearing in mind that although these standards are clearly improvements on the standards which we get in such areas as those, they are not-improvements upon the standards in more enlightened areas. In fact, where you have industrial organisations upon which political consciousness has been built you have had the people asserting their democratic rights and forcing the local authorities to give fair payments to those who are so unfortunate as to be able-bodied unemployed. It is just these very people who under these regulations are going to bear the brunt of the suffering.
We are told by the hon. Member how advisable it is to reduce these things to a level, to even them up. He says that it is so much fairer. I think he used the phrase: "We want to take a mean." A very good description of these regulations. "Mean" is a word which applies to them splendidly. What is the good of telling a man in South Wales who is going to get 5s. or 10s. a week less, that he need not worry about it, because some half-starved person in Lowestoft is going to get 10s. more. You cannot treat human problems by the average. You have to deal with human problems as problems which have to be tackled as individual problems. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that this is how Socialism deals with them. It is not. When he is in the position of one of the people who have to come under these regulations under a Socialist Government, we shall give him individual treatment.
The truth is that in these widely flung areas which have been called "distressed" or "depressed" areas—I am not now referring to the Government Front Bench—you will find in almost every case that these proposed standards are very much lower than the standards at present applying. Indeed, it is not only so by comparison with the public assistance standards in those areas. We are entitled to compare them with such things as the unemployment benefit it self. The Parliamentary Secretary stated in the speech which he made at 7.30 tonight that we had been taking, as it were, exceptional tests, abnormal cases. He has not yet nswered the question put 1265 to him by the hon. Lady the Member for Willesden, West (Mrs. Tate) whether it is now considered abnormal in this country to have daughters and not sons. He has not yet said whether that is an abnormal case. Let me take a very normal case, that of two people, man and wife. Let me remind him of what the Prime Minister said in a broadcast message:Unemployment benefit is not a living wage. It was never meant to be that.If we take the 26s. for a man and wife it is to be reduced under these regulations to 24s. in a normal case. What conceivable justification is there for reducing a figure which is admittedly not a living wage, to use the Prime Minister's own words, by 2s.? The hon. Gentleman says: "But when the first child comes, they get 4s. Then they will be as well off as before." He knows as well as I do that perhaps the most important period in the life of that family is the nine months before the first child is born. We have heard enough about maternal mortality in recent years to know the importance of that period. Anybody who reads the Chief Medical Officer's description of the diet which the young mother should have before the child is born will know how far 24s. will go towards providing that diet. The hon. Gentleman cannot get out of it by saying that that is an exceptional case. It is one of the most ordinary and usual cases, a normal case. How can he justify in that normal case the reduction of 2s. which is brought about by these regulations? That is what he has to justify.
It is no good his saying, as I think he said, that a family of seven was a large family, an abnormal case. In that he was supported by the hon. and learned Member opposite. Will the hon. Member tell me what he means by an abnormal case? If he looks at the regulations he will find that in a normal case they provide for a number of children up to any number. They actually go so far as to say that when there are more than five members there shall be a reduction of the amount allowed. The hon. and learned Member suggested that they will get more when there is a family of seven, because that is an abnormal case. If I may say so with respect, it is complete nonsense to talk about that as being an abnormal case. It is a normal case for a family of seven, and if you want to have 1266 some special circumstances you have to find a family of seven which is unlike other families of seven, because in a normal case you have in your regulations laid it down what you will do with a normal family of seven.
A great deal has been said by the hon. Member on the question of flexibility. He said that under this scheme it does not really matter what you find here, and that it is just amusing for Parliament to discuss it, because nobody is going to pay attention to it. They are only going to pay attention to the needs, irrespective of these regulations. That is not what this document says, and this document is going to be the law of the land. It is not some loose document sent round as a circular by his Department. This document will have the same force as an Act of Parliament. What is the scheme of these regulations? They deal with two matters, with normal cases and special cases, and lay down procedure for both. There is no variation in a normal case at all, absolutely no variation. The only variation possible in a normal case is in paragraph 3, a case where in arriving at a provisional determination you can say: "This sum does not differ substantially from what the man would get under the scale, and therefore we shall disregard the difference, whether it be more or less." That in itself is an extremely dangerous thing. If these scales were so high that no one could doubt their generosity then a little more or less does not matter, but when they are the bare minimum a little less makes all the difference. In paragraph (3) you have these delightfully vague words:Unless the amount by which they are so less or greater is substantial when considered in relation to all the circumstances of the case.That is the only latitude which disregards a small difference. No other latitude is given in paragraph (3). In paragraph (7) you get another latitude:where special circumstances exist.That is the non normal case. That does not operate in normal cases at all, and, similarly, when you come to the paragraph upon which the Solicitor-General relied which says:A final concession may in any case where special circumstances exist, be adjusted by way of increase or reduction.1267 In the normal case it is not permitted; and it also says:A final assessment may be increased to provide for needs of an exceptional character by such amount as is reasonable.Not in the normal case. There is absolutely nothing in these regulations which entitles anybody in a normal case to do otherwise than what is laid down. Therefore, the dilemma which the hon. and gallant Member for St. Albans tried to raise is a dilemma for the Government not for the Opposition. You are tied down in the normal case, and it is only in special circumstances, or exceptional cases, that you are given any latitude at all. In our view that might conceivably be a perfectly proper thing to do if the scales were right, provided there was some form of democratic control. But when you have regulations like these, which are removed from the control of any local authority or the Government, when one sees the breeding of the animal got by Socialism out of bureaucracy, one begins to doubt whether the C.O.S. will not be the administrators. One or two hon. Members have commented on the fact that these regulations have been laid before the House without the possibility of amendment. That has been justified because it was done in the case of the Anomalies Act. I think it was just as wrong to do it with the Anomalies Act as it is in this case. It is no excuse for a bad system of democratic government that it has existed for a long time.
§ Sir S. CRIPPS
I regret to say that I was not responsible for the constitution of this country. If I had it would not be what it is now. I am delighted that hon. Members realise the necessity for a change, and, speaking seriously on this matter, I should like to take this opporunity of appealing to the Lord President of the Council. Obviously, this form of legislation by Orders in Council which cannot be amended is highly unsatisfactory for everybody. Is it not possible to try an experiment in Parliamentary procedure by which these Orders in Council would come before some regular Committee in the course of drafting, where all parties would have an opportunity of proposing constructive or other Amendments, and then have a final stage before the House when they are passed without 1268 Amendment. That would enable the House, without having to spend three days in discussing them, to keep a control over the legislation of Ministers. I believe that if democracy is to be made to work in this country it is absolutely and vitally necessary to develop some new and more efficient means of carrying it through. That, however, is perhaps a little outside the scope of the discussion in which we are engaged.
If I may, I would draw attention to one or two matters in the regulations themselves. First of all as to the definition of "net earnings." The learned Solicitor-General told us that the word "net" contained the authority to make all the necessary deductions, and the Parliamentary Secretary has told us the sort of classes of deductions that are being made. But this document is the document which the unemployed man has got as his only charter. Surely in those circumstances such matters ought to be mentioned in it at least. How is the unemployed man to know? Of course he has no rights. He cannot claim anything. He cannot sue anyone for anything. He is at the mercy of the board in that sense. How is he to know what his rights are? I think I can say with complete accuracy that there is not an hon. Member who would define what comes into or out of net earnings. Certainly I could not, and I do not think hon. Members as a whole could. They can say what they think may happen, but they cannot say what their rights would be under the expression "net earnings." I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary will at least see that there is issued some document which gives an authoritative interpretation which is to be used.
I think it was in connection with that subject that the Solicitor-General opened a most appalling prospect with regard to these regulations. He said that there would be built up a body of case law under them. What a position for the unemployed man trying to wade his way through a mass of case law to know to what he is entitled at the end of the week. I hope that there is not going to be an attempt to build up a body of case law under these provisions. Let me come to the question of the regulations on page 7, paragraph 5, sub-paragraph (4). It has been suggested that as regards this paragraph—this again was suggested by the learned Solicitor-General—that in classes 1269 of people such as, I think it was the black-coated workers, it would be possible to make an extra allowance because special circumstances would exist in their cases. I certainly do not so read this provision. This is in connection with a person's employment, not with a class of persons' employment, and this is dealing with special circumstances in an individual case just as all the other special circumstances apply in individual cases. I suggest that it would be impossible to prove in an area where they are largely black-coated workers and where similar circumstances apply to all—it would be impossible for an applicant to prove that there were special circumstances in connection with his employment because he was a black-coated worker.
If it is going to be said that this is to be interpreted to mean in the case of classes of people, then I hope too that either a new regulation will be issued making that clear, or that the Minister will make it clear beyond any possibility of doubt to-night that this paragraph is intended to refer to classes of people and not only to individuals. If this only refers to individuals within a class, it does not meet any of the eases which we were told it would meet.
Then we come to Regulation VI, paragraph (1). This is an entirely new provision in the Poor Law of England. Never before, as far as I know, has there been a provision which has limited the amount of money which can be given in a normal case to the amount of wages which the man would normally earn in his occupation. This is not to be read, as the Solicitor-General suggested, as if the three paragraphs in the proviso followed one after the other in point of time. It is a well known criterion of construction that in such a case these three paragraphs must be read together. You have to make them all effective together. The mere accident that one is printed before the other has nothing to do with it. Therefore the question is, when you read all these together, what is their net effect? It is clear that in the normal case there is an absolute prohibition against exceeding a sum which is equal to or greater than the amount which would ordinarily be available by way of earnings. I am sure that the hon. and learned Gentleman cannot deny that proposition of construction, taking the normal case, with no special 1270 circumstances and no needs of an exceptional character.
I want to ask the Parliamentary Secretary what this really means. Take the case of a seasonal worker. Take, for example, the case of a waitress at Blackpool. Suppose that she is out of employment in the autumn for a period of time which brings her under these regulations. What is the amount which would ordinarily be available by way of earnings in her case? Take the common case of a jobbing gardener who does four gardens a week at 7s. a day but is capable of doing six. Are his normal earnings 28s. or 42s.? What is the ceiling up to which, without special circumstances, his allowance can be raised? Take the very common case of the normal agricultural labourer. In almost every case where he has a family of any size—and some of them have families of considerable size—he will find that this is a limitation, because in many places his maximum will be 29s. 11d. Where then does like treatment arise here? You are not going to treat everybody alike. It will depend on what trade the people concerned are in what treatment they will get. If they are in a highly-paid trade—and therefore likely to suffer less, because they may have periods of employment at decent wages—they will get the highest payments since there will be nothing to limit them. But the man who has been in a sweated trade or in agriculture will be limited by this paragraph. Obviously, that is its purpose, because to-day, as everybody knows, within this system, you are bound to create a large labour market or else you find your costs running up dangerously.
Let me put two more cases which I want the Minister to deal with. We have not to rise at 11 o'clock because the Rule has been suspended. [HON, MEMBERS: "Not for this!"] I would direct attention to paragraph 2 (b) on page 6 dealing with the case of a lodger. As I understand it, the position will be this: Suppose there is a lodger between 18 and 21 years of age with an unemployed family, and that lodger is paying 20s. a week, which we have heard is the ordinary thing. I understand that 4s. of that is to be counted towards the family's income. In other words, unless they are going to starve, under these regulations they must take 4s. of his 1271 money to pay for their food, and not for his. He has contracted with them to supply him with 20s. worth of food and accommodation, and is not the result of this that you are forcing those people to fail to supply that which they have promised the lodger to supply, that is, the full value of the food and lodging, and in fact you are taking the money from the lodger, not from the family at all? Surely it has never been the intention of regulations such as these to deprive the lodger of part of his income.
I have one other question. What is the position where mortgage interest is paid instead of rent? I cannot find any reference at all in this document to mortgage interest being counted as the equivalent of rent, as clearly it ought to be, and, as I read it, there will be no allowance at all for mortgage interest. It will not come into the 7s. 6d. or into any larger sum, and, therefore, a person who has part bought his house will be in a far worse position than a person who has rented his house. I should be glad if the hon. Gentleman would give us his explanation on that point.
We object to these regulations for the general reasons that I have given, and we believe moreover that, so long as you preserve the present system, you will be obliged to try compromises of this kind. You will try them, and it will depend upon the administration as to how great the hardship will be. The experience of such places as Durham leads us to believe that the hardship will be intense, because the administration will be unsympathetic, and we believe that when these scales are operated in the country, the effect will be to make the workers of this country realise that, so long as they keep the present outworn system, they are bound to continue to suffer as they do to-day.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ Mr. HUDSON
The hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has asked me a large number of questions, which I will do my best to answer, and I had perhaps better start in the reverse order. He asked about mortgage interest and said he could not find any mention of it in the regulations. If he will look at the top of page 3, he will see that there is specific provision for mortgage interest, among other things. He asked 1272 what was to happen about lodgers who paid 20s. I have yet, and I imagine every hon. Member in this House has yet, to meet the landlady who takes in a lodger for 20s. with the intention of giving him the full 20s. worth of board. Obviously when a man pays 20s. for board and lodging the landlady expects to make something out of him, otherwise she would not take him in. Then the hon. and learned Member asked about net earnings. I think the questions that have been put to me about net earnings in the course of this three days' Debate provide him with the answer. When the board were originally considering the wording of this provision, they were inclined to use the words "customary deductions," but the infinite variety of deductions in the industries of this country made it clear, when we looked into it, that it was better to use some word like "net," which everyone understood, rather than endeavour to use words——
§ Mr. HUDSON
I meant the board, but these are our regulations for the moment. They are the Ministry of Labour's regulations until the House passes them, when they become the board's. They were the board's originally, and are now ours.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
May I ask a question about earnings? In the City of Glasgow the normal thing is that everybody stops work for a fortnight, when there are no wages. Am I to understand that for that fortnight there will be no income allowed as in that period there can be no normal earnings coming in?
§ Mr. HUDSON
If they were not working for that fortnight, there would be sufficient stamps on their cards to entitle them to benefit.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
They will have no wages for those two weeks because the 1273 places are shut down. Am I to understand that they cannot get any unemployment allowances because they would thus be getting more than at normal times?
§ Mr. HUDSON
That illustrates the point which I made in my earlier speech that the overriding duty of the board is to relieve need. Obviously, there would be the need of the people to exist in those weeks, and it would be the duty of the board, whatever a man's normal earnings, to make an allowance. The hon. and learned Gentleman asked some pertinent questions about the position of normal earnings. Again, that will be ultimately a matter for decision by the Appeal Tribunal in the light of all the local circumstances and customs. He tried to urge that the result of these regulations would be injustice to the farm labourer, because, he said, the allowance of the farm labourer woud come up to the wages stop Clause at an early stage. In the overwhelming majority of cases the farm labourer, when he is out of work, does not pay any rent, so that he will have a 7s. 6d. margin. If he does pay rent, he does not often pay more than 3s., so that he will have a margin of 4s. 6d. If there were a case in an agricultural village where it was obvious that the need of the man was in excess of the wages he would normally get, it would be the duty of the Appeal Tribunal to meet his needs and give him an allowance in excess of the normal agricultural wages.
The hon. and learned Member also asked about pensions, and asked why we did not try to solve some of the difficulties of unemployment by getting men in the older age group to retire so that the younger men could take their places in industry. The hon. Member for one of the Newcastle Divisions put a question to me on this very subject to-day, and asked if it were possible to form any estimate of the number of persons who would be absorbed into industry if all those over 60 were withdrawn. I replied that it was impossible to form any estimate. The only thing that could be said with any degree of certainty was that the number of younger people who would find jobs would be substantially less than the number of older people withdrawn. Therefore, that is no solution at all. The hon. and learned Member for Central Nottingham 1274 (Mr. O'Connor) asked me about the review of the regulations. The duty laid on the board by the Act is to keep the whole matter constantly under review, because they have to provide an annual report, which will be published. There will be a further opportunity, when we have to submit Estimates, for hon. Members to criticise the administration.
One hon. Member asked if we would give a promise to call for a report at the end of three months on the working of these regulations. That would not be practicable, for the simple reason that it will only be on the 1st March that we shall have finished taking over the transitional payments class, and then we take over those who are able-bodied but now in receipt of Poor Law relief; but I have no doubt whatever that we shall be able to arrange at a reasonable date for some form of report to be issued, and certainly the board will naturally keep the whole matter under constant review. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) suggested that one of the great difficulties in the City of Glasgow of accepting the figure of 24s. for a man and a wife was that the great majority—I think he suggested all—of the recipients of transitional payments were to-day without resources, owing to the very long period they have been out of work. I am sure that he and the House will be relieved to know that one of the most encouraging results of a special inquiry we made to see how these regulations would affect Glasgow was that it showed that in spite of the depression, in spite of the length of time so many persons had been out of work, far more than half the recipients of transitional payments were also possessed of resources.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
May I ask the hon. Gentleman who made the inquiry? Who were the persons who were interviewed? Were they unemployed? Why was not I asked? I think I know something about it. Why not come to me? Why not go to the unemployed? I do not think they have ever been to an unemployed person. What kind of inquiry was it? Why have this secret document?
§ Mr. HUDSON
There is no secret document at all. The whole of the information is available at the offices of the Public Assistance Committee in Glasgow, who are investigating the cases week by 1275 week and have the information in their case papers. It was only necessary to take a sample inquiry in the offices of the Public Assistance Committee.
§ Mr. HUDSON
The hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) suggested that the allowances were insufficient, or that great hardship would be caused, because, according to him 75 per cent. of the present recipients of transitional payments in Glasgow paid rents lower than 7s. 6d. I do not know where he got his information, but the information I have from the public assistance committee of Glasgow does not bear that out at all. It may possibly be true of present recipients of Poor Law relief, but only 40 per cent. of the recipients of transitional payments pay rents below 7s. 6d., and 60 per cent. pay 7s. 6d. or over; and the number of people in receipt of transitional payments is six times as great as the number of persons in receipt of Poor Law relief in Glasgow. I think the hon. Member got mixed up between the recipients of Poor Law relief and transitional payments.
§ Mr. LEONARD
The document I quoted stated that no special allowance was made for rent in the corporartion scale, but that 75 per cent. of the able-bodied unemployed relieved in Glasgow paid less than 7s. 6d. in rent.
§ Mr. HUDSON
It is mixing up transitional payments and Poor Law relief. Perhaps I might deal with the point about earnings which was raised by the hon. Member for St. Rollox. He suggested that because the figure in Glasgow was higher than we suggest, therefore ours was wrong. The Solicitor-General yesterday gave particulars of Scotland. The amount allowed for personal requirements to a man earning 40s. per. week varies from 7s. to 33s.; the amount that is taken for household purposes varies from 10s. to 30s. In the face of those wide discrepancies, allowing a man to get 21s. 8d., I think that on the whole we have struck a fair average. The hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Loftus) wanted to know whether the 20s. advance given to fishermen is to be regarded as their normal earnings. I was sorry I was not here to hear the hon. Member, but I gathered 1276 that that was his question. The fishermen hope to share in normal times in the proceeds of the catch. In a case like that, 20s. would not be regarded as the normal earnings.
I think I have dealt with most of the individual questions. One or two general matters have been raised, especially the question of democratic control. The same question was raised during the Debates on the Bill by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) who indulged in rather violent language, if I remember rightly. This is what he said:No public assistance committee, no Member of Parliament, no elected person of any sort will be able to intervene with these paid officials of the Unemployment Assistance Board. Anyone who has had any experience of Poor Law administration knows very well that you can never trust a permanent official to treat the poor decently."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th February, 1934; col. 35, Vol. 286.]In the course of some researches that I was carrying out the other day I happened to have to read again the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission of 1909, which was signed, among other people, by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. I commend that document to hon. Members. They will find it a treasure-house of information. This is what the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues said:If the administration is to be democratic in its nature and if the will of the people is to prevail it is absolutely necessary that the application to individual cases of the rules laid down by the board should be determined evenly, impartially and exactly according to instructions, by a salaried officer appointed for this purpose.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) made a speech two days ago when he was listened to by the House. The least thing he can do is to allow the Minister to reply.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I think, considering the importance of the discussion that we are carrying on, that the speeches made have on the whole not been provocative, each hon. Member having tried to put his case fairly though some hon. Members have their characteristics. Many hon. Members have referred to the wages stop Clause. The scale suggested in the regulation comes very closely to, and, indeed, in the case of families with numbers of children and high rents, may exceed the lower level of wages in this country. No one standing at this box would say that people prefer idleness to work. I believe that 999 out of 1,000 people are anxious to get work. But it is useless to shut our eyes to the danger you have if workpeople can get as much for being idle as for working, which would inevitably result in the main incentive to work disappearing.
The right hon. Gentleman for Wakefield (Mr. A. Greenwood) suggested in the Second Reading Debate that this Bill is going to reduce working people to the level of Greek slaves. According to the hon. Member for Gorbals we should run a great risk of doing that. The House will remember that the Commission on Unemployment Insurance examined this question closely and decided that if you were going to promise the people of any country maintenance on a full standard living in return for no work, that could only be done where the State had complete control of industry and was prepared to control not only the industry but also the workers, and decide their level of wages and conditions of work. That, indeed, would be reducing the 1278 workpeople of this country to the level of slaves. Whether hon. Members like it or not, the margin that exceeds and should exceed the level of wages over relief is the price paid by British workmen for the right to select their own employer and have a decisive voice in the wages they accept.
Hon. Members have suggested that the scales under the regulations will kill insurance. There is a risk, but I believe it can be exaggerated. The British working man has a great pride, but he knows that when receiving unemployment benefit he is receiving that for which he has paid and to which he has an inalienable right. We have removed the stigma of the Poor Law from Part II, but we might just as well realise that the allowances paid under Part II come directly out of the Exchequer in return for no previous contribution, and partake of the nature of a discretionary grant. I believe that the British working man would sooner be independent, would sooner retain his initiative and responsibility, and would sooner have something for which he has paid, even though it might be lower than something that he can get as a mere pensioner of the State. The hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) smiles, but in doing so he does less than justice to the working man.
I would also beg the House to remember that this service which we are discussing to-day cannot be treated in isolation. It is the newest part of the whole scheme of social services of this country. Hon. Members opposite have criticised us because under a capitalist system there are still 2,000,000 people unemployed, and there are still large numbers of people earning but low wages. The State has always recognised its responsibility; it recognises those conditions; but, instead of subsidising in cash the lower wages paid in certain industries, it has preferred to put at the disposal of persons engaged in those industries, and suffering these disabilities, a whole range of social services, the great majority of them free. On the Third Reading of the Bill I reminded the House that the cost of those services has grown from some £30,000,000 in 1900 to £490,000,000 last year. We have seen the rates of unemployment benefit grow from 7s. for a man and nothing for his wife or child in 1911, to 28s. for a man, his wife and one child 1279 to-day. We have seen the State contribution increased from 1¾d. in 1911 to 10d. to-day. In the case of Poor Law relief, the difference is even more striking. When the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition wrote that report in 1909, the Poor Law rate for a man, his wife and one child was in the neighbourhood of 8s. 4d. In 1914 a committee was set up under the chairmanship of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel), of which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Clay Cross (Mr. A. Henderson) and the present Prime Minister were members. That committee laid down a scale, for a man, wife and one child, of 13s. 6d., a figure which is worth to-day something between 18s. and 19s. at present-day prices. Compare that with the figure of 28s. for the same family which is included in these regulations.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I do not want it to go on record that I wrote the minority report. I signed it, but I want to pay tribute to the Webbs, who were its authors.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman who made that remark and had not the courage to repeat it.
§ Mr. HARTLAND
I have no hesitation in saying that what I said then I meant. The right hon. Gentleman has been criticising the Government in a perfectly reasonable way, and I think Government supporters are perfectly reasonable in criticising him. All I said was that he has never done anything. If I have been offensive to the House, I shall be most willing to apologise, but I think I have said nothing more than I was entitled to say.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
I have no intention of asking the hon. Gentleman to withdraw his opinion. He is entitled to it.
§ Mr. HUDSON
I was giving the right hon. Gentleman credit for that very excellent work, which I greatly appreciate. I am going to pay him the compliment of reading two more extracts, if the House will bear with me: 1280The saddest feature of all is that no small proportion of the 234,000 children whom in the United Kingdom the destitution authority elects to bring up upon outdoor relief—in the course of a year probably as many as 600,000 children—are today, without any interference by those authorities, chronically underfed, insufficiently clothed, badly housed, and, in literally thousands of cases, actually being brought up at the public expense in drunken and dissolute homes.I am prepared to admit that that is a correct picture of those days, but, if you compare it with conditions in London, where in a total school population of over 500,000 only 29 children were found to be physically mal-nourished, and you find that in 1933 the number of undernourished children was the lowest on record, I think the criticism of the ex-Solicitor-General is not justified. We have spent the best part of three days in discussing the provision of cash allowances, but the provision of cash allowances is only part of the duty of the board. They were entrusted under the Act with the duty of helping unemployed people to be fit for entry into or return to regular employment. One of their first duties was to get the machinery going to appoint 6,000 officers throughout the country, to set up appeal tribunals and to draft these regulations and the necessary rules. But the most important part of their task still remains to be done. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) last night painted the results, as he saw them, of unemployment, not merely poverty but the corroding influence on men's minds and characters of having nothing to do. That most important task still lies before the board, and is one which I believe they are now setting their hands to perform. The House will perhaps allow me two more quotations from the OFFICIAL REPORT. During the debates on the Bill the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) said:The hon. Member said that he was sorry he voted for 3s. because he thinks 3s. is too little and that under Part II more can be given. Hon. Members in all parts of the House have said that under Part II it will be possible to give more. Of course; but there is nothing more improbable."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th May, 1934; col. 1565, Vol. 289.]The House will observe that in the case of a single child the allowance is not 3s. but 4s. Now a personal quotation. I said on 20th February: 1281I assume, without giving any guarantee, that when the board comes to draw up its regulations, which will be submitted to the House, it will make provision for assessing the needs of a child of 15 at a different rate from that of the child of two years." The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) interjected:That is an assumption. What right have you to say that?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th February, 1934; col. 278, Vol. 286.] The board have adopted a sliding-scale ranging from 3s., not to 5s., but to 8s.
§ The board have justified our confidence in their first test. It is in the belief that they will continue to justify that confidence in the future that I commend these regulations to this House.
§ Question put, "That the word 'approved' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 260; Noes, 47.1283
|Division No. 27.]||AYES.||[11.6 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Knight, Holford|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Cross, R. H.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Crossley, A. C.||Leckle, J. A.|
|Albery, Irving James||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Davison, Sir William Henry||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe|
|Apsley, Lord||Dickie, John P.||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Assheton, Ralph||Duggan, Hubert John||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Edmondson, Major Sir James||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter||Loftus, Pierce C.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Elmtey, Viscount||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Mabane, William|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Bernays, Robert||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Blindell, James||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Boulton, W. W.||Fox, Sir Gifford||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Fremantle, Sir Francis||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Magnay, Thomas|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Ganzonl, Sir John||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Gibson, Charles Granville||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Gledhill, Gilbert||Meller, Sir Richard James|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l' d., Hexham)||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Goldie, Noel B.||Milne, Charles|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Buchan, John||Gower, Sir Robert||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Graves, Marjorle||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Burghley, Lord||Grimston, R. V.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Burnett, John George||Gulnness, Thomas L. E. B.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'tles)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Harbord, Arthur||Mulrhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Munro, Patrick|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Nail, Sir Joseph|
|Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid|
|Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Hepworth, Joseph||O'Donovan, Dr. William James|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Orr Ewing, I. L.|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Palmer, Francis Noel|
|Christle, James Archibald||Horobin, Ian M.||Peake, Osbert|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Horsbrugh, Florence||Pearson, William G.|
|Clayton, Sir Christopher||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Peat, Charles U.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Penny, Sir George|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Petherick, M.|
|Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hurd, Sir Percy||Pike, Cecil F.|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Iveagh, Countess of||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Radford, E. A.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Jennings, Roland||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Copeland, Ida||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)|
|Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Ramsay T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Ker, J. Campbell||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Rankin, Robert|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Ratcliffe, Arthur|
|Read, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Somervell, Sir Donald||Tree, Ronald|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Soper, Richard||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Robinson, John Roland||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Spens, William Patrick||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Whyte, Jardlne Bell|
|Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Stones, James||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Salt, Edward W.||Strauss, Edward A.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Scone, Lord||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Selley, Harry R.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Sutcliffe, Harold||Womersley, Sir Waiter|
|Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Skelton, Archibald Noel||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Thorp, Linton Theodore||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||and Dr. Morris-Jones.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Groves, Thomas E.||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Paling, Wilfred|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cape, Thomas||Hicks, Ernest George||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||John, William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Cove, William G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Kirkwood, David||West, F. R.|
|Daggar, George||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Leonard, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Dobbic, William||Lunn, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McEntee, Valentine L.||Mr. McGovern and Mr. Buchanan.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
§ Main Question put.1284
§ The House divided: Ayes, 258; Noes, 61.1285
|Division No. 28.]||AYES.||[11.16 pm.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Burghley, Lord||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Burnett, John George||Davison, Sir William Henry|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Butt, Sir Alfred||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Albery, Irving James||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Dickle, John P.|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Duggan, Hubert John|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh)||Carver, Major William H.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Edmondson, Major Sir James|
|Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K.||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Apsley, Lord||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Assheton, Ralph||Cazalet, Capt. V. A. (Chippenham)||Eimley, Viscount|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Chapman, Col. R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Christle, James Archibald||Fleming, Edward Lascelles|
|Bateman, A. L.||Clarry, Reginald George||Ford, Sir Patrick J.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Clayton, Sir Christopher||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Fremantle, Sir Francis|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Bernays, Robert||Colfox, Major William Philip||Ganzonl, Sir John|
|Blindell, James||Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey||Gibson, Charles Granville|
|Bossom, A. C.||Colman, N. C. D.||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Boulton, W. W.||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Bower, Commander Robert Tatton||Conant, R. J. E.||Gledhill, Gilbert|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cooke, Douglas||Gluckstein, Louls Halle|
|Boyce, H. Leslie||Copeland, Ida||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Courthope, Colonel Sir George L.||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.|
|Briscoe, Capt. Richard George||Craven-Ellis, William||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Graves, Marjorle|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Crooke, J. Smedley||Grimston, R. V.|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Cross, R. H.||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen.H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)||Crossley, A. C.||Guy, J. C. Morrison|
|Buchan, John||Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)|
|Harbord, Arthur||Meller, Sir Richard James||Selley, Harry R.|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n)||Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Milne, Charles||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Mitcheson, G. G.||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dine, C.)|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Moreing, Adrian C.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Morgan, Robert H.||Soper, Richard|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'tles)||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Munro, Patrick||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Hurd, Sir Percy||Nail, Sir Joseph||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Jveagh, Countess of||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Jennings, Roland||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Stones, James|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Orr Ewing, I. L.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Palmer, Francis Noel||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Peake, Osbert||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Pearson, William G.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Peat, Charles U.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Keyes, Admiral Sir Roger||Penny, Sir George||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Percy, Lord Eustace||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Leckie, J. A.||Petherick, M.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Pike, Cecil F.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Todd, Lt.-Col. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Liddall, Walter S.||Radford, E. A.||Tree, Ronald|
|Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Cunliffe||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Ramsay, Alexander (W. Bromwich)||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Loftus, Pierce C.||Rankin, Robert||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander||Ratcliffe, Arthur||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Read, Arthur C. (Exetar)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Mabane, William||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Wells, Sidney Richard|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|McCorquodale, M. S.||Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Robinson, John Roland||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|McLean, Major Sir Alan||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Womersley, Sir Walter|
|Magnay, Thomas||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Salt, Edward W.|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Scone, Lord||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward|
|and Dr. Morris-Jones.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Banfield, John William||Griffiths, George A. (Yorks, W. Riding)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Batey, Joseph||Groves, Thomas E.||Maxton, James|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, Major James|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Buchanan, Georga||Harris, Sir Percy||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Cape, Thomas||Hicks, Ernest George||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Holdsworth, Herbert||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cove, William G.||Janner, Barnett||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||John, William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Curry, A. C.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, North)|
|Dagger, George||Kirkwood, David||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||West, F. R.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Davies, Stephen Owen||Leonard, William||Williams, Edward John (Ogmore)|
|Dobble, William||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Dr. John H. (Lianelly)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Lunn, William||Wilmot, John|
|Fool, Dingle (Dundee)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Gardner, Benjamin Walter||McGovern, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. D. Graham and Mr. Paling.|
Bill read the Third time, and passed.
That the draft Unemployment Assistance (Determination of Need and Assessment of Needs) Regulations, 1934, dated the 11th
day of December, 1934, made by the Minister of Labour, under the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1934, a copy of which was presented to this House on the said 11th day of December, be approved.