HC Deb 05 February 1934 vol 285 cc889-931

I understand that the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) does not desire to move his Amendment—in page 13, line 29, to leave out Sub-section (2).

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

8.1 p.m.


I do not know whether it would be convenient to the Parliamentary Secretary to oblige the Committee by taking the, perhaps, unusual course in these Debates of explaining to us this rather intricate financial Clause. I myself, with my hon. Friends, have endeavoured to understand it, but I have found considerable difficulty, and it would be very convenient if, with your consent, captain Bourne, the Parliamentary Secretary would enlighten us on the provisions embodied in the Clause. Then we could probably debate it with more knowledge and effectiveness than we otherwise could. If we cannot be so enlightened, I shall have the painful duty of immediately opposing the Clause, but I would rather have some enlightenment from the Parliamentary Secretary, if he would be good enough to oblige us.

8.2 p.m.


I will gladly endeavour to comply with the task that has been proposed for me by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove). The subject is, as he says, rather complicated, and I must pray the indulgence of the Committee if I trespass upon their time unduly long in explaining it. Sub-section (1) provides that the Minister may, with the consent of the Treasury, make contributions towards the cost of junior instruction centres and training centres out of the Unemployment Fund. I do not know whether the Committee desire me to justify that, but I think it can be justified very briefly on the ground that these junior instruction centres and the training courses contribute to increase the employability or to maintain the employability of persons who would otherwise become a drain on the fund. It is desirable on all grounds of public policy that a man or a juvenile who requires the benefits of these courses should be put in the position of getting them rather than that he should remain permanently or for very long periods out of work, or out of work for longer periods than he would be if he attended a course. That is the justification for asking the Unemployment Fund to contribute towards the cost.

I should perhaps deal with the two classes of courses separately—the junior instruction centres and the training courses—in order to make the matter easier to understand. Under the law as it stands at present, in the case of training centres for men over 18 the whole of the expenditure is defrayed initially from the Exchequer, and, after that initial expenditure has been defrayed from the Exchequer, the Unemployment Fund contributes 50 per cent. of so much of the cost as is involved in the training of those persons under the age of 21 who are in receipt of benefit or transitional payments. In the case of juvenile instruction centres for persons under 18, the education authorities bear the whole cost in the first instance, and the Treasury make a grant to them of approximately 75 per cent. of the cost. Of that 75 per cent. paid by the Treasury, one-half comes from the Unemployment Fund, in respect of those persons over 16 who are insured or likely to be insured.

It will be observed that that is a very complicated arrangement. It is not so complicated in practice because, owing to the fact that the Act of 1930 only insists on the attendance at juvenile instruction centres of persons in receipt of benefit, the boys or girls who attend these centres are in fact, as to the great majority, persons who come within the definition of insured persons or persons who will normally be expected to take up insurable employment. But when the new Bill comes into operation that will no longer be the case. Then the juvenile instruction centres, especially, will be attended by persons who have had no work at all, and in respect of whom it is not at all necessarily certain that they will enter insurable employment.

The result, therefore, would be that, if the existing law remained as it is, at every single centre it would be necessary to keep complicated accounts, to show whether the child had been insured or was likely to enter into insurable employment, in which case 50 per cent. of the cost would come out of the Unemployment Fund, while with other children who had never been insured, and in respect of whom it would not be possible to say that they were going into insurable employment, the fund would not be called upon to bear any of the cost at all. It is clear that the amount of work involved would be tremendous, and we have thought it simpler to say that the Unemployment Fund shall bear 50 per cent. of whatever grant is made to the local authorities. In the case of training centres for persons over 18, they will include a large majority of persons who are in receipt of unemployment assistance, we think it fair that the fund should be asked to bear 75 per cent. of the cost in the case of those persons who attend the training courses who are actually in receipt of benefit as distinct from unemployment assistance. I stress that point.

Therefore, the net result will be that in future while the local education authorities will bear the initial cost of the junior instruction centres, towards this cost a grant will be made from the Treasury which will normally amount to 75 per cent. The Treasury will be reimbursed one-half of that 75 per cent. by the Unemployment Fund. In respect of training centres for adults the situation will be that the Treasury will bear the whole cost of the centres initially, and the Unemployment Fund will refund to the Treasury 75 per cent. of the cost in respect of those individuals attending the training centres who are entitled to benefit. The matter is rather complicated. I hope I have made clear to the Committee the change that will be involved, and I hope they will find it so reasonable that they will now give us the Clause and allow us to proceed.

8.15 p.m.


I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on the explanation he has given. I endeavoured to follow him, and it would not have been his fault if I had not understood him. There might be two other causes, one my own density and the other the complicated nature of the scheme. It reminded me of the de-rating days, when we had elaborate mathematical explanations, and the more mathematical explanations we had the duller Members became and the more impossible it was to understand the financial issues at stake. But I would not say that about to-night. I believe we are generally seized of the main financial propositions as expounded by the hon. Gentleman. Apart from the finances of tine scheme, I think the Committee ought to concern itself also with the principles that are involved here. There are to us on this side one or two exceptionally im- portant principles involved. A child leaves school, and those who are fortunate enough to secure employment will now become compulsorily insured. The gap has been bridged by the Government in such a way that the children who go into employment will have to pay 2d. per week and, as far as most of them are concerned, will get no direct insurance benefit. The Government say, "We know you are unemployed, but we will not give you benefit; we will provide you with junior instruction centres," a sort of policy of pumping knowledge into their heads without feeding their stomachs, ignoring altogether their physical needs and trying to deal with them purely in an educational manner. That, of course, is absolutely impossible and will be found in practice not to work out so well as is suggested.

They are going to pay 2d. per week. The employer will pay 2d. also and the State will pay 2d. That is calculated to amount to a figure of £760,000. The expenditure from the fund will he devoted in part to the maintenance of the junior instruction centres, and it is estimated that the Unemployment Fund will pay £425,000 in the first year of full operation, when the 100,000 juveniles will be in the juvenile instruction centres. We have protested more than once against the principle of dipping into the Insurance Fund in order to finance these junior instruction centres. It is not insurance. It is getting money under false pretences. The common folk, when they talk about insurance, say, "I am going to pay a premium for a cash benefit in the future." In this case they are thinking, "I will pay a premium of 2d. a week when I am in work because I hope and believe that, when I am unemployed, I shall get some monetary benefit." But it is not so. There is to be no monetary benefit between 14 and 16 accruing as a right of insurance to the child itself.

It is true that there is a dependant's benefit, but that is in another category. We think that it is a very vicious and bad principle, to take premiums—although it is only 2d. a week it is a lot to these children—with no insurance benefit directly accruing to that payment. We protested in educational Debates about fee-paying secondary school places. I remember very well the stern and prolonged struggle that we had about Circular 1421 when the Government said the fees of secondary schools must be increased. We on this side—I am sure the solitary representative of the National Labour party will still agree with us—said there should be free secondary education. If we demand free secondary education, what defence can there be for fee-paying junior instruction centres?

This payment can be said from one point of view to be payment made for providing education for a child when he is out of employment. We think that is wrong. We think that that ought to be a State responsibility and that the Exchequer ought to come in and bear the whole cost. There is no justification in insurance from the point of view of sound social policy in putting a financial burden of this sort on to the Insurance Fund, and I should imagine the Ministry would be able to find some way out of it. The income of £760,000 is to be divided between the State, the employer, and the worker. The child will pay £253,000 in the first year from 14 to 15, and a further £253,000 in the second year—we will say a total of roughly £500,000. As far as insurance benefits are concerned, the sum that the children will receive is £230,000 for increased insurance benefit, while paying in £500,000. If we take the scheme purely as an insurance scheme, as we ought to do, it is definitely shown that instead of the Government shouldering any of the liabilities of unemployment, they are making a profit out of the unemployed child. The unemployed child is paying the sum of £500,000 for a period of two years, and the unemployed child, leaving out of account the provisions we are now discussing in Clause 15, as an insurance benefit for the £500,000 paid in, will receive only the sum of £230,000. The other expenditure is made up by the provisions embodied in this Clause. They have weighted the expenditure with that of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Again I repeat—and I am going to repeat it until the Parliamentary Secretary is tired of hearing me saying it, and until the country realises what is being done—that it is iniquitous that the cost of the junior instruction centres should be put upon the Unemployment Insurance Fund, and it is even more iniquitous that the Government should make profits out of the contributions which are to be paid.

I will look at the finances a little further. An hon. Member this afternoon tried to make out a case to the effect that local authorities would not be burdened at all, and that there was very little in it, but the local authorities, as far as the finances of this scheme are concerned, will have to bear, I believe, a total burden of no less than £280,000, and they will be the authorities where there is chronic unemployment. There is the cotton industry in the Lancashire area. Anybody who has given any study to that industry will know that prospects there are not that the children will be absorbed into industry, but that there will be an increasing amount of unemployment. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) this afternoon mentioned Reading and Birmingham and gave figures from those places with regard to juvenile unemployment. The Birmingham area is one of the bright spots of Britain. It is by no means typical of what is happening in other large industrial areas. Birmingham is relatively fortunate. Take an area like Lancashire. Everybody who has given consideration to the problem knows that, without taking into account the increased number of children who will pour out of the schools in the next few years into industry, and even supposing that the level of the school population remains the same and that there is no increase at all in the number of children going into industry, it has been clearly demonstrated that in Lancashire there will be a growing mass of children who will be out of work. The very operation of the machine will do that.

One of the most significant and tragic things happening at the moment is that blind alley occupations, usually associated in our minds with the distributive trades, the errand boy and the van boy, has now reached the region of our staple industries. At one time when a boy obtained a job in the coal-mining industry—it was so when I worked underground as a lad—there was a general impression of security and that when he grew up he would still be able to find a job in the industry. That used to be so in Lancashire. When a lad was about to go into the cotton industry, he not merely looked forward to a job as a lad, but to a job as an adult. There is a large and ever increasing number of blind alley occupations in the cotton, coal, shipbuilding, and great staple industries of this country. Look at the burden that this will throw upon Lancashire, and upon the mining areas of South Wales, the depressed areas, where a penny rate makes a tremendous difference.

I gather from one source and another that the Parliamentary Secretary is particularly interested in the junior instruction centres and that he desires to see a great development of them. I suppose, taking into account his great personal interest, that one may assume that the provision for 100,000 juvenile instruction places will really be made, and not regard it as eye-wash. I sometimes wonder whether we shall really get the 100,000. But we will assume from the tremendous interest of the Parliamentary Secretary that we shall get not only the 100,000, but that there will be an expansion of the junior instruction system to meet the growing requirements of the increasing mass of unemployed young workers in this country owing to unemployment growing in Lancashire, to the operation of the machine cutting out labour and so on, to rationalisation in one form or another, and to the fact that you have large numbers tumbling out of the schools. The hon. Member for South Croydon this afternoon only mentioned those that were coming out this year. He did not carry us very far. If he will look at the figures, he will find that this year there will be 55,000 more between the ages of 14 and 18, but, when he gets on to 1937, he will find that there will be over 400,000 more children between the ages of 14 and 18 entering the industrial field than there are at present.

Therefore, the Minister, in order to meet the requirements of these youths, will have to find junior instruction places not only for 440,000 owing to the increase of population, but for an additional number owing to the effect of rationalisation in industry. I think that it is reasonable to assume that we shall have at least 500,000 unemployed juveniles in about three or four years' time for whom we shall have to make provision in the junior instruction centres, and that the incidence of this gigantic increase in juvenile unemployment will fall mainly, if not almost completely, on the depressed areas and industries, where there are huge aggregations of population and thousands of children, where a penny rate is generally low and brings in less than it does in other areas, in brief, where there are difficulties owing to large population and low rateable value. To those areas the Minister says: "You will have to bear the burden of training the unemployed youth in the junior instruction centres." We say that not only is it iniquitous that you are to take money from the children to finance their own education when they are unemployed, taking their twopences in order to give them clubs and so on, but that you are imposing on distressed areas this additional burden, which is an iniquitous proposal. Neither the children nor the local authority ought to bear this burden.

I could imagine there being a strong argument for the local authority contributing towards the cost of children in an ordinary educational system, but this is not the same sort of national service. It is the imposition by the Minister of Labour on the Insurance Fund of 50 per cent. of 75 per cent. That amount is to be borne by the Insurance Fund and 50 per cent. of 75 per cent. of the cost is to be borne by the Exchequer. The rest of this complex fraction will have to be borne by the local authority, which I understand will be 25 per cent. Some £425,000 will be found by the Exchequer, £425,000 by the Insurance Fund and £280,000 by the local authorities. That statement is in the Financial Memorandum by the Actuary. But that is not the end of the story. If there is to be a development commensurate with the development of the magnitude of the unemployment problem so far as youth is concerned, the financial burden will grow to a very large size. The bigger the unemployment of our youth the bigger the financial burden on the Insurance Fund and the local authorities.

We object to this financial arrangement. I cannot make out what justification there can be for such a proposal. The Parliamentary Secretary gave one or two reasons. He made a very clear statement as to the financial arrangements, but he has not given us any argument to convince us of the rightness and correctness of this form of finance. We shall oppose this Clause because we say that if the Government are going to face this unemployment problem of youth they ought to face it as a national responsibility. It is not the responsibility of the local authority that there are unemployed children. The education authority of Lancashire is not responsible for the fact that there is unemployment in Lancashire, and the local authorities in South Wales are not responsible for the unemployment that exists there. My local education authority has no responsibility for the unemployment in my area. It is a national responsibility. In some of these areas the responsibility can be traced to the policy of the Government.

I do not wish to be controversial or provocative, but I do say that unemployment is not the responsibility of the local education authority. It is not the responsibility of the county councils, which are Conservative almost to the last degree. We exonerate the Tory county councils from that responsibility. The responsibility is national, due to great worldwide movements over which the education authorities have no control. Why should they be made responsible for the unemployed youth in their areas, why should the mining areas in South Wales, which are suffering so much from tragic unemployment, make a contribution towards junior instruction centres? The Government are placing this financial burden unjustly upon the shoulders of the local authorities. If they want to meet the situation they ought to shoulder it as a national concern and ought not to take the money either from the Insurance Fund or the local authorities.

This is a very expensive way of using money. It is expected that the cost will be about £12 or £13 per head for each pupil attending the junior instruction centres. Articles have appeared in the educational papers analysing this £13 per head and pointing out that it is about the same as is spent on the education of a child in the ordinary elementary school. The money from local authorities, from the Insurance Fund and from the Exchequer, is calculated to work out at £13 per head for these instructional centres, and I must again emphasise the fact that for the same amount you could keep these children in school. If you estimate that 500,000 children will be unemployed in the next few years, the amount which the Government will spend on providing every child with instruction in these centres is equal to—probably greater than—the amount necessary to raise the school age and give a substantial number of children maintenance allowance.

It is said that this money is being spent to save the morale of the children. It is an amazing business that the Government should say to these children, "You shall go out into the morass of unemployment, face the dangers of demoralisation, and then we will charge you 2d. per week in order to save you from the demoralisation into which we have thrown you by our policy." It is not the business of the Ministry of Labour to bring forward schemes of this kind. It has nothing to do with the Ministry of Labour. Why should the Ministry of Labour be concerned with education in any of its phases, or dip into the Insurance Fund for the 2d. per week of the children in these juvenile centres? It is the business of the Ministry of Labour to find jobs for them. They should concentrate on finding work, not put forward a mean, paltry, and miserable scheme like this, which is unjust in its financial incidence and ineffective as far as any constructive proposal is concerned. The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) said that we were talking about a problem which did not exist, and that it was time to get down to realities.

The reality about the juvenile instruction centre is that it cannot and will not meet the problem confronting these children. You must not look at the best centres where this money will be spent, you must look at some of the rotten, miserable buildings which are being used. That is the reality. Where are the playing fields? My own lad goes to a secondary school where there are 47 or 48 acres of playing fields, and all the necessary facilities for sport, and for physical and intellectual improvement. Where are you going to get it here? Shoddy finance—shoddy education. In my own Division the building is a disused condemned church school, and anybody who knows anything about schools that are condemned knows how badly it must get before it is condemned. The Ministry of Labour comes proudly along and puts these children into a condemned church school, which the Board of Education has thrown over, a dirty, insanitary, filthy building. This is good enough for your juvenile instruction centre. That is the reality behind this finance. The financial arrangements are unjust in their incidence. If the Minister of Labour is going to get any real constructive and fruitful results, on educational or social lines, out of this expenditure, he must see that the centres are centres of light and joy, that the physical amenities are there; that the opportunities for intellectual, social and physical improvement are there. The scheme in my view is unjust on its financial side and will not bear fruit on the educational side. Therefore, we shall with every justification walk into the Lobby against this Clause.

8.53 p.m.


The explanation given by the Parliamentary Secretary was clear, but it made it certain that I should go into the Lobby against the Clause. It means that a certain amount of money is to be deducted from the sum which ought to go to the unemployed. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has only budgeted for a certain amount of money for the unemployed, and the Minister of Labour has to work on it. The Clause means that to that extent they are going to rob the unemployed. If it was going to be beneficial in any way, it would not be so bad. This, however, is the method by which the Government have approached the gigantic problem, the serious problem, of finding an outlet for the greatest asset this country has—its youth. It is deplorable that we have to rationalise this great asset, to curtail it, and that we are not to make it as valuable and efficient as possible. Instead of the youth of Britain being made as fit citizens as possible, instead of our giving them the best to fit them to take their place in civilisation, this powerful Government, this Government which could do whatever is asked of it, goes on in this haphazard fashion and puts these youths into training centres—


I must remind the hon. Member that the Committee has already decided about the training centres. The question before us now is how much the Government should pay towards their maintenance.


Surely I have a right to speak on the training centres and show where the money is going?


The hon. Member cannot discuss the question whether or not there should be training centres, as that has been decided. He is entitled to discuss how much money should go to them.


Are we not entitled also to discuss the nature of the training centres and what we are to get for the money?


The hon. Member must be very careful in discussing that question, but he is perfectly entitled to discuss what money should be spent on them in order to make the best of them.


I do not want to fall foul of the Chair in any way, but surely you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, listened to the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) describing the centres, what the buildings were like, what took place in those buildings, and what kind of education was given. The hon. Member told us that the centres could not find employment for the children. Surely, as you allowed him to go on that line, I am perfectly entitled to take the same line, only in another manner?


The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) went very close to that line of order, but he got back to the question whether the money to be spent would be sufficient.


You did not let me get started before you stopped me. As to that, I leave the Committee to be my judge. If you do not allow me to go on the line that I was pursuing, which I prefer to do, then I cannot proceed along the line that I had prepared, which is that the training centres are not suitable to meet the needs. I have just come from a discussion with three of the biggest employers in the shipbuilding industry. They tell me that we will have to look for another outlet for our young men, and that we cannot, as formerly, in the great shipbuilding centres send them to be apprenticed as engineers, etc. That is the case in shipbuilding and engineering, and it is the same in every one of our key industries. The development that has taken place in machinery has displaced labour, as has the reorganisation and re-equipment of works. Work that was formerly available for men is now being done by machinery.

My contention is that, instead of sending youths to these training centres which are not equipped as they should be, these youths ought to be placed under the guidance of the best type of teacher that we can get. The rich folk in this country will not send their children to training centres; they send them to the universities. I hope that the time is coming when the children of the working class who wish to be prepared for going to the universities will be so prepared. We have to train the youth of the working classes to know how to enjoy leisure, just as the youth of the well-off classes enjoy it.


If the Ion. Member will relate his arguments to the contention that the financial provision under this Clause is insufficient for the purpose, he will be in order.


I was trying to show that it is insufficient, but you were not listening to me. I said distinctly that the Government were dealing with this question in a haphazard, undirected way, that the problem was a big problem that had to be faced boldly, and not in this patchy drifting way. The youth of to-day and the youth of to-morrow will have to be handled differently from the youth of my day. They are going to demand better things, and we are going to demand more for them. Will the Members of this House send their children to training centres of this description? They certainly will not. Yet Members of this House expect an A1 population. They can have an A1 population. What do we find happening in the Army? The representative of the War Office told us only a fortnight ago that 75 per cent., or some staggering percentage of the recruits for the Army, were rejected.

Surely the Government are trying to get down to this question and deal with it. Indeed the very fact that this Bill is before us is evidence, not only of economic pressure outside but of a desire on the part of the Ministry to contribute something beneficial to their country in their day and generation. But I submit that in regard to this matter they have missed their opportunity entirely. The amount of money indicated in Clause 15 is quite insufficient to meet the situation. What are the facts? From the mothers of the boys of this country at the present time there goes up the cry which well-nigh reaches to heaven, "What are we to do with our boys?" There is no place in the sun for these boys and that applies not only to the sons of artisans and labourers but to the sons of men in good positions. I could give innumerable instances of mothers whose husbands are in good positions pleading with me as to openings for their boys.

Principal Sir James Irvine of St. Andrew's University last year said that parents and guardians were going to the school-masters and school-mistresses of Scotland asking what profession they would recommend boys and girls to adopt and the school-masters and school-mistresses could only say, "We do not know, because every profession is packed out in this country." Sir James Irvine further said that this was causing discontent among a class of citizens in Scotland who formerly were very contented and that unless the matter were handled immediately and effectively an ugly situation such as we have not seen in Scotland in our lifetime, was likely to develop. That is the position which I would ask the Minister to face. Let the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary go to the Government with those representations which we are making to them. That is their duty. That is why they sit here and listen to what we have to say.

I know that many Members pour contempt on what we say but we have had contempt poured upon us by such people all our lives and it makes no difference to us. We are quite satisfied within ourselves that we are doing what is right and we can take our own part with anybody, on anything, in the House of Commons if necessary. It is only with mobs that hon. Members opposite can crush us. Singly they could not do it. We want the Parliamentary Secretary to let the Government know what we on these benches think about the part they are playing in regard to this question. We are anything but satisfied with these proposals. It should not need all the great brains which the Cabinet is supposed to contain, to produce a Bill of this kind. This Bill and particularly Clause 15 will not touch even the fringe of the awful problem with which we are faced and for those reasons I propose to vote against the Clause.

9.12 p.m.


As I read the Clause, the Minister will have power, with the sanction of the Treasury, to open two classes of buildings for two distinct purposes. Buildings of one class are to be equipped for the training of young persons between the school-leaving age and 18 years, and buildings of the other class are to be for the training of those unemployed persons over 18 years who may be sent there or who may volunteer to go there. If this system is to be effective it will be necessary to have reasonably good buildings, reasonably well-equipped and staffed with efficient teachers. These centres are to be entirely under the control of the Minister and are to be paid for partly from the Unemployment Fund and partly by the local authorities. All the regulations governing them are to be drawn up by the Minister and all the instruction given in them is to be under his control. Apparently the local authorities are only to have the privilege of paying. They are not to have any control in regard to the construction or equipment of buildings, the appointment of teachers or the nature of the instruction or training to be given. I think most hon. Members if asked for an individual opinion on the imposition of such conditions on local authorities in ordinary circumstances, would agree that it was grossly unfair, and I am sure the considered opinion of all the local authorities who will be called upon to pay under this Clause, will be to that effect.


Will the hon. Member indicate where, in this Clause, there is a reference to payment by the local authorities?


I do not see in the Clause itself any definite statement that the local authorities are to pay, but I think it is the intention of the Government that they shall pay part of the cost of the instruction. If they do not pay, then obviously as the Clause stands, this instruction and training would only be paid for in part and could not go on for very long. I understand that the balance, after the Government contribution has been made, is to be paid by the local authorities. That is the generally accepted view among local authorities, in the Press, and among the public. My objection to the Clause is that if that statement be true, the local authorities are quite justified in stating, as some of them have stated, that the whole incidence of the Clause is unfair to them. It used to be said, in the old days, particularly by the party below the Gangway here, that taxation without representation is unfair, and all of us remember the fights that some of them put up, when the party was stronger and more effective than it is now, for the right of those who were taxed to have some say in the expenditure of the money collected from them.

However, I am concerned with the children of the class to which I myself belong, the working class. Those children will come out of school in the normal way, and they may or may not obtain employment. If they obtain temporary employment, they may, before they reach the age of 18, be unemployed, and in those circumstances presumably all of them will be compelled to attend instruction centres. The term "instruction centre" leads one to believe that they will get a form of instruction that will be of some value to them, and it is generally admitted in the school life of our country if instruction is to be given, that a certain standard is laid down of the type of building in which the instruction should be given, the nature of the instruction itself, the equipment of the building in which it is given, and certain minimum standards are laid down for the teachers who are to give that instruction. I think the Committee has a right to ask the Minister for some information as to just what that term "instruction" means, and on his reply to this question we ought to be able to give our considered judgment as to whether the estimated amount that the right hon. Gentleman is likely to be able to expend in the way in which the Clause says the money shall be expended is sufficient to give a reasonably good instruction.

I want to say emphatically that it appears to me that the whole thing, from beginning to end, is a shoddy attempt to instruct these young people. In the first place, the buildings are not available in most counties and county boroughs throughout the country. Therefore, the Minister presumably is going to put up new buildings. If he is not, let me say that if he thinks what some of his predecessors did in regard to some of the temporary instruction that was given in the past to young persons, it would be far better if it were left undone. I have been in some of those school buildings, old, worn-out school buildings, referred to by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) earlier in the evening, and the Minister and his Parliamentary Secretary know that many of those buildings, if they are to be used under this Clause, will be injurious to the health of the young persons and will not give a reasonable opportunity to the teachers to get any good results from their efforts. I think we should have some information as to the nature of the instruction and of the equipment that is to be provided for the teachers, if they are expected to get any good results from their efforts in teaching these young persons. We have had no information at all, and, frankly, I cannot help believing that no really serious consideration has been given to this question.

I heard some figures quoted by the hon. Member for Aberavon, although personally I have no information as to their accuracy, and he said that the cost per child would be £13. I presume he meant £13 per head in the centres per annum. That is a fairly heavy expenditure on instruction if that instruction is not going to be useful and efficient, and I do not think Parliament ought to be asked to sanction a scheme of this character unless we have some well-thought-out information in regard to the scheme of instruction. The adults, those over 18 years of age, are to receive training presumably, but training in what? Is it to be just going in and playing games, with a little physical exercise given by more or less efficient instructors? Are they to be taught some trade or partly taught some trade, and, if so, what trade or trades? What is to be the nature of the training? I have had several letters, as no doubt have other Members of the Committee, in regard to these training centres. There is a great deal of strong feeling among adults, many of them 20, 30, 40, and even 50 years of age, on this question. I had a letter only a few days ago from someone who tells me that he is bordering on 50, and he wants to know if he will be compelled to go to a training centre.


I must point out to the hon. Member that this Clause deals only with people under 18.


On a point of Order. May I refer you, Captain Bourne, to paragraph (b) of Sub-section (2), which, I think, refers to those over 18?


I think the hon. Member has overlooked the provisions of Sub-section (1), which reads: Subject to the provisions of this Section the Minister may, with the consent of the Treasury, authorise the payment out of the Unemployment Fund of grants towards expenses incurred by the Minister in respect of the attendance at authorised courses of persons who have no attained the age of eighteen years and of"— Oh yes, I beg the hon. Member's pardon. I had missed the last words. I apologise.


I thought you had overlooked that paragraph, Captain Bourne. It refers to attendance at training courses, which are, of course, very different from instructional centres. Over 18 years of age would include anybody over that age who was still in insurance, and I think we have a right to know just what is the nature of those training centres on which we are asked to expend public money. We have not had the slightest information except that there are to be training centres. What is a training centre?


That question arose in Clause 13 and was decided by the Committee. The only question that arises on this Clause is who is to pay; the extent to which the Unemployment Fund is to pay for these training courses. The setting up of the training courses and what they are to he has already been decided.


Strictly speaking, the hon. Gentleman is correct. The question of whether there are to be training courses and whether the Minister shall provide funds to deal with them has already been decided by the Committee. It is possible under the operations of the time-table that hon. Members did not have an opportunity of raising points on that subject that they would have liked to raise, but that is their misfortune. The question before the Committee now is whether the Unemployment Fund should contribute to these courses, and, if so, how much; and whether the Treasury should contribute, and, if so, how much. If the hon. Member will keep to those topics, he will be in order.


That was the information that I was trying to get from the Parliamentary Secretary. The operation of the time-table has prevented hon. Members from discussing fully the nature of the centres. We all know that the principle has been passed and that we are going to have these instruction courses and training centres; but, having passed it, we have now come to the stage when Parliament is going to vote money for the carrying on of those classes and training centres. Surely we have a right to ask the Parliamentary Secretary to give us some information on how that money is to be expended. We have not had the slightest information in that regard.


The Committee has already sanctioned the expenditure from the Exchequer of the necessary money to run these training centres under Clause 13. The only point now is whether any contribution towards the expenditure shall be made from the fund. The total money required for the courses has already been provided for by the Committee.


The hon. Gentleman is quite correct about that. The question is whether any charge should come on the Unemployment Fund, and if so, how much. Presumably, if this Clause were left out, the liability for these training courses would fall between the local authorities and the Exchequer; the moneys would be provided by Parliament and no charge would come on the Unemployment Fund. I agree with the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) that our present circumstances make it somewhat difficult to follow what points have been covered and what have not.


I am perfectly aware that the question of what training centres and classes shall be established has been determined already, but the question of the cost of these centres is now under discussion, and the question arises: are we to decide that a part of that cost shall be paid out of money provided by the children themselves and by adults, which goes into the general central fund? Surely I am entitled to ask the Parliamentary Secretary, before we decide that these children shall pay for their education, what is to be the nature of the education which they are going to get.


I am sorry to insist on this point. We have spent a considerable time this afternoon discussing that very matter on Clause 13, and my right hon. Friend the Minister referred hon. Members in some detail to the report of the National Advisory Council for Juvenile Employment, which dealt specifically with the point that the hon. Member is now trying to raise again.


The advisory council gave advice, but it does not follow that the Minister is going to accept it. I should be very glad now if the Parliamentary Secretary would give me a specific answer to this question: Do the Government propose to follow that advice, and, if not, what is the nature of the instruction that they are going to give? The Parliamentary Secretary will not answer that question.


That point is not going to be determined by this Clause. The question is: who is going to pay for it; not the amount that is going to be paid, but whether the Unemployment Fund should or should not take any part. The hon. Member might be in order in asking that the contributions provided shall be so small that they shall not be put on the Unemployment Fund.


All I wanted to ask was who is going to pay and for what, but apparently the Parliamentary Secretary will not tell us what is to be paid for, and consequently we have to assume that something undefined has to be paid for, something that the Parliamentary Secretary will not tell us anything about. We are therefore entitled to be very hesitant about granting the Minister the opportunity of spending money from the Unemployment Fund for things that are undefinable.


The hon. Member must not say that I am unwilling to give the information. I should be wholly out of order in giving it. It is information that should have been asked for at the time.


I am sure that if the Parliamentary Secretary had had the desire and had made an attempt to give the information, he would not have been stopped. However, he will not give the information, and that settles it. The point I am raising is that we cannot get any information at all as to how this money is to be spent. Whatever is to be spent, it does not appear to me to be fair that the Minister himself is to have the control of the spending. The Minister is to determine the policy, the Minister is responsible in every way for the whole management of the scheme, and he is able to determine up to a certain point what amount shall be expended from this fund. Neither the employers nor the workmen, are to have any say at all in the amount that is to be expended. It is to be subscribed in three separate sets: in part by the Minister, in part by the insured persons, and in part by the employer, but the insured persons are to have no say in the expenditure of it through any public representative; the employers are to have no say in the expenditure of it, and it is to be controlled entirely by the Minister. I want to say emphatically to the Parliamentary Secretary that many of us in many parts of the country, of all shades of political opinion, have no faith in his judgment in this matter and think that if control is to be exercised by him it is grossly unfair to the other contributors to the Insurance Fund. Further than that, the remaining part of it will have to be paid by the local authorities, and if this Clause is passed we have a right to say that the local authorities are gravely dissatisfied with the arrangements that have been made by Parliament. We are therefore asking the Government not to make those arrangements and not to give that very unfair power to the Minister.

The amount to be paid by local authorities is an undefined standard. Nobody knows, even approximately, what the amount is to be. The local authority will therefore have to pay a considerable share—that is all we can say of it—for the building, equipment and staffing of these centres, and they cannot exercise the slightest power or even the slightest influence over the expenditure or the nature of the instruction to be given. They will not be asked to judge, and they will not have any opportunity of judging whether in fact the instruction is even worth the money that they will be asked to pay, quite apart from the amount that will be spent from moneys subscribed by employers, by the children and by the Minister himself. The whole thing is extremely unfair, and I am very surprised to see that the Minister is endeavouring to exercise such power over funds that the Government are not providing entirely from the Treasury. This money ought to have been provided by the Treasury, for the Government are responsible for policy and the local authorities are not to be responsible at all for the unemployment that causes the need for these training centres. The whole proposal is so grossly unfair that I hope the Committee will not vote in favour of it.

9.36 p.m.


I rise only to ask a question for purposes of information. The Committee has already passed the Clause which provides for certain instructional courses being given and have agreed that certain sums should be expended. We are now dealing only with the allocation of the expenditure from the various sources from which it can be obtained. I have been much impressed by what was said by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) and the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee) about the desirability of putting burdens upon the local authorities. I am very sensitive on that point, because I am in touch with a local authority that has had very large burdens to bear for unemployment for a great many years. I want to be clear about what would happen to the local authorities if we were to reject this Clause as we are invited to do. If I thought that by rejecting the Clause the local authorities might thereby be relieved, I should be tempted to support its rejection. As far as I can see, however, if we knock out the third source of contribution, that is to say the Unemployment Fund—and, after all, the children who contribute are in one manner or another getting some benefit from these instructional courses—if we knock out that contribution, would not the effect be to leave a larger contribution to be divided between the Minister and the local authorities, and therefore probably leave the local authorities to find the greater amount? That is what is troubling me, and I should be glad if the Parliamentary Secretary could inform me on that subject.

9.38 p.m.


With regard to the way in which the shares of the expenditure are to be borne by the various sources, I think I have some understanding, though not a complete one, as to how the current expenditure is to be borne, but I am in the dark when it comes to capital expenditure. It would allay the apprehensions of some local authorities if the Parliamentary Secretary could see his way to explain how capital expenditure is to be met. Considerable sums may have to be paid for buildings and the adaptation of existing buildings. Is that money to come as a charge on the local authorities or on the fund, or in the year in which it is spent, or will only the loan charges count as expenditure during the year on these various sources of contribution? How is capital expenditure to be worked out?

9.39 p.m.


I would like to impress upon the Parliamentary Secretary the importance of getting qualified instructors for these authorised courses. In my constituency the local education authority, which has a juvenile instruction course, has had the greatest difficulty in getting the best qualified instructors. The reason was that no arrangements had been made between the Ministry of Labour and the Minister of Education, and there were several qualified handicraft teachers who would have been willing to take on the work, but they were told that if they took it on and worked under the Minister of Labour, the time they spent in the work would not qualify for superannuation.


I am afraid the hon. Member is too late to raise that point. It should have come on Clause 13.


That is the point I wanted to make, and I will not pursue it.

9.41 p.m.


I want to thank the Parliamentary Secretary for the information he gave me, but there is one point which he did not make clear. I refer to paragraph (b) of Sub-section (2), which refers to grants in respect of attendance at authorised training courses not exceeding 75 per cent. I have looked through the Bill, and I cannot find anything to tell us what that cost would be. The Financial Memorandum states that a grant not exceeding 75 per cent. of the cost in respect of the attendance at such courses of persons in receipt of benefit may be made out of the Unemployment Fund. I do not know whether the Ministry have not been able to ascertain the figure. I canont find anything in the Bill dealing with it. As to the grant for authorised courses of instruction, which is not to exceed 50 per cent., our objection to that is that too much money is being taken out of the fund for this purpose. So far as I can see, the cost of these courses will be £850,000 and the Treasury will meet half of that, and half will come out of the Unemployment Fund. The total paid to the Unemployment Fund by the juveniles will be £500,000, and we are going to take out of that £425,000, so that we are spending practically the whole of the contributions for the courses of instruction. That is entirely wrong. This money ought not to come out of the Unemployment Fund at all, but ought to be borne by the Treasury. I agree that the courses of instruction are necessary if we cannot get the school age raised, but the burden ought not to fall on the Unemployment Fund. We cannot see any way of increasing benefits to the unemployed later while so many calls are being made upon them. This is an excessive call, and I hope that the Committee will realise what is means before they vote on it.

9.44 p.m.


There is a point I want to make in view of the statement of the hon. Member for West Walthamstow (Mr. McEntee). As far as I can see, the reason for putting the charge upon the local authorities is that they are to be responsible for running these classes. From Clause 13 I understand that the local bodies have to prepare schemes for dealing with the young people between 14 and 18. If the Minister is not satisfied with a scheme that is prepared, he can draw up a scheme and compel a local body to start these classes. If it is a fact that it is the local authorities which are going to make the final arrangements—I agree, under the supervision of the Minister—and to carry on the classes, it seems obvious to me that a portion of the expense must be borne by those local bodies, as the only, shall I say, corrective against extravagance is to throw a certain responsibility for finding the money spent upon the bodies which will have the final control in the appointment of teachers and other matters of that kind. If that be so, the money asked from the local bodies is not excessive, and I do not quite understand why hon. Members opposite are raising opposition to the proposal. A considerable sum of money is coming from the Exchequer, and a certain amount from the Insurance Fund, and the amount finally thrown on the local authorities is the minimum that could be asked for, unless we are to take the responsibility entirely out of their hands.

I do not gather that hon. Members opposite have any objection to the local bodies having some control of these classes. The hon. Member for West Walthamstow informed the House that they had no control whatever, but I cannot see how he reconciles that statement with the provisions of Clause 13, which to my mind cannot bear any other interpretation than that the local authorities will have a very large say in the matter of these classes. I cannot help thinking that in much of the Debate this afternoon the ultimate advantage of these classes to these young persons has been, perhaps, rather exaggerated. It does not seem to be fully realised that we shall be dealing with an ever-changing body of young persons. They will not always be attending for a month or three months consecutively. At any moment one of these young persons may find employment and pass out of a class.


Is not the hon. Member aware that there are hundreds of thousands of children in the country who have been out of work for two or three years, and that in many districts they are not likely to have any work for years to come?


If the hon. Member had listened to certain figures given at Question Time he would know that his statement that there were hundreds of thousands of young people out of employment for years was not in accordance with the facts. Such experiences are limited to certain special districts. In the case of the adult unemployed, the number who remain entirely unemployed for one year, as shown by an investigation made a year or two ago by the Ministry of Labour, is an excessively small percentage. The vast mass of the men and women out of employment is constantly changing. In London the number of young persons of from 14 to 18 who are out of employment is all the time decreasing very rapidly. In my own Division the Employment Exchanges have told me that the problem is enormously reduced, and the number of young people out of employment in Central London is—well, the figure given for London was 1 per cent. There may be other places where the figure is very much higher, but I am talking especially of the parts I know; and in various parts of the country we shall be dealing with a shifting population of young people most of whom will go to the classes for only a very short time, and they will be exceedingly difficult classes to carry on. What we are going to provide is not instruction in the ordinary sense of the word; we are trying to find some healthy employment of an athletic or instructional nature for a longer or shorter period. This is to be done by the local authorities, and therefore a certain proportion of the charge is thrown upon them, as the only sound method of carrying on any such organisation.

9.51 p.m.


I wish to take up with the hon. Member for Finsbury (Sir G. Gillett) the point he has just made. He is one of the few Members who has heard this discussion from start to finish, and he will remember the speech of the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), who went very closely into the question just raised. I am not so much concerned as to whether the incidence of the cost of these centres should fall upon the Exchequer or the local authorities, I am concerned that it should not fall on the Insurance Fund. When the financial proposals of the. Bill were introduced, and the local authorities found they were asked to shoulder 40 per cent. of the cost under Part II of the Bill, there was a tremendous outcry from them, particularly from distressed areas, and the case was made out, and accepted by the House and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the local authorities with the largest proportion of unemployed were not in a position to bear such charges. Now we ask them to shoulder an additional charge for the maintenance of these instructional centres, which again tends to throw the cost of maintaining the unemployed most heavily on to those districts which have the largest number of unemployed.

The matter is so involved that one cannot square it out by one act, but certainly on every occasion where it is possible the burden of unemployment should be spread as far as possible over the whole nation and not concentrated in particular localities or on the working-classes. If training centres for those over 18 are agreed to by the House, there may be a case for putting those centres on to the Insurance Fund, because it may be argued—though I do not accept the view—that the specialised training of those men may relieve the fund of some of its burdens. Therefore the training centres may be regarded as a legitimate charge on the fund, but the instructional centres ought not to be a charge on it, because there the problem is an educational and a social problem, and the cost should be borne by the Treasury. The hon. Member for Finsbury said that, taking the nation as a whole, this was not a very large problem, but he is looking at it very much through the eyes of a Londoner—and through the eyes of a Londoner who does not represent one of the most distressed areas. We are generally inclined to think of London as one whole, but it is not. When one considers the matter from the point of view of a city like that which I share in representing in this House, it is a very big problem indeed. If it be a small problem for the nation as a whole, if the cost of maintaining the instructional centres be such a trivial thing, our argument for putting the problem on to the Exchequer becomes all the stronger. The Treasury can shoulder this burden without any undue strain on its resources.

Discussion is going on in different quarters of the country as to how the Budget surplus is to be distributed. Income Tax-payers are on the job, and so are civil servants, and policemen, and the Prime Minister was making a plea for himself in Seaham. There are cries from the various sections, about their pressing need for a share of the Chancellor's anticipated surplus. I am afraid that I am not helping the Chancellor to any serious extent to get rid of his surplus, but I want to make a small suggestion to help him. I suggest that the National Exchequer should shoulder the full responsibility for these instructional centres, and in no niggardly fashion, so that the centres may be really bright, enjoyable places for the unemployed to go to. The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith), whose speech I regret I did not hear, was, I understand, pointing out that if this Amendment and the Clause were rejected, the question of where the responsibility lies would be left rather in the air. My answer to that is that I do not think that it is necessarily the duty of an Opposition during a Committee discussion to put forward an Amendment that sets up the practical operative way of dealing with a particular Clause. If the Opposition make the case that the Government's proposal is not an acceptable one, and if the Committee reject the Government's proposal, it is for the Government to insert in their Measure a Clause that will place the incidence of cost upon the proper shoulders.

I want to say again to the hon. Member for Finsbury, who made the point that you cannot have local responsibility for the running of the centres unless the locality is to bear a share of the cost, that I know that that used to be a well-established principle which was generally observed in administration in this country, but has not that gone very much by the board? I think that it has. The administration of transitional payments during the past two years has neglected that principle entirely. Public assistance committees administer, and the central fund pays. In Part II of this Bill, the converse proposition is operating; the local authorities pay and the central authority administers. I would further point out to him—I am speaking here from very defective knowledge—that the juvenile instruction centres in existence to-day are—the Minister will correct me if I am wrong—in nearly every case controlled by the local authority, while the proportion of the expense borne by local authorities varies from district to district. In some places the local authority bears no financial responsibility at all. In the City of Glasgow until very recently, although the education authority was responsible for starting a centre and providing accommodation and so on, the Ministry of Labour shouldered 100 per cent. of the cost.

My strongest argument against this Clause being operated is a very simple and direct one. As I said in the discussion upon the previous Clause, I have no use for these faddy instructional centres. I do not see boys going down to Hell unless they go to some instructional centre for 50 hours a week, to be looked after by kindly, interfering, patronising people. I do not see boys of this country going that way at all. Leave a gang of boys with a few coppers in their pockets, and they will make their own recreational centres and debating societies. I am talking now about my own job. I have listened with all due humility to experts on a dozen different subjects in this House, and have felt how much I would like to be an expert in the things in which all the other fellows are experts. I am an expert on this; I spent most of my active teaching life dealing with boys of this type, mostly perfectly intelligent and perfectly capable. The best thing that a good teacher could do for them was to keep out of their road as much as he could. [Interruption.] An hon. Member scores a debating point over me by saying that it depends upon the teacher. There are very few teachers who have the capacity to efface themselves completely, and to allow youngsters liberty.

My fundamental reason for opposing this Clause is simple. There will be no improvement in the general conditions of relief paid to the unemployed until the fund is solvent and is showing a balance. I want to take every possible charge off the Insurance Fund which it had no right to bear, so that the fund may become solvent at the earliest possible date, and that the cuts may be restored to the fathers, mothers and dependent children. If you allow the working classes somethink like an interest, even if it is the miserable income that they had before the cuts were imposed, you can rely upon them to use that income intelligently, thriftily and to the advantage and progress of themselves and their children, without all sorts of pettifogging interferences in one direction or another. We have heard all the fine phrases about the sterling work of the British people. There are 12,000,000 of them, and a very large proportion of the adult population are in this Insurance Fund. If it is not so much hot air, when we pat ourselves on the back about the sterling qualities of our people, we should for once in a while, allow those sterling qualities to have free play. Look after their income, and let them look after their own morals.

10.5 p.m.


I am going to oppose this Clause. The Minister, in introducing the Bill, described it as social progress, and he based that description on two grounds. One was that he was putting the fund on an insurance basis, and the other was that he was providing instructional courses for juveniles. It is all very well, when introducing a Bill, for the Minister to obtain cheers by saying that the Government are doing something for the juveniles; everyone agrees that it is wise to make provision for juveniles. It is easy on the platform to obtain cheers by saying that we are going to provide instructional courses for children, so that, when they are out of employment, they will be looked after and trained. But in this Clause we come to the question as to who shall pay, and we find the real policy of the Government to be that anybody can pay, but not the Government. That has been our complaint of the Government throughout all the unemployment administration. In the case of adults, the Government say, let the family keep the unemployed. When we come to the juveniles the Government say, let the Unemployment Fund pay, Nay, worse, the Government say, let the juveniles pay. They are really asking the juveniles to pay for their instruction at the instructional centres. In the White Paper there is this statement, which clinches that argument: The estimated income being"— that is from the children's contributions— £750,000, a net sum of £65,000 remains as the estimated sum to be charged against the Unemployment Fund in respect of these classes. Therefore, they are taking the 2d. per week which the children are paying in order to pay for these instructional centres. When we were discussing the earlier Clauses of the Bill, we wondered why children were being asked to pay 2d. per week for two years and receive no benefit. We see it now. The Government decided upon that policy so that the money could be used in order to pay for these instructional centres.

I am opposed to asking the juveniles to pay for their instruction, or to asking the Unemployment Fund to bear 50 per cent. of the expense. It is said that the total charge on the fund will be only £425,000, and that the total expenditure on the instructional courses will only be £850,000 a year; but does anyone in the House believe that the expenditure on these courses will remain at £850,000 a year? That may be the expenditure at the commencement, but one cannot imagine that two or three years hence it will remain at anything like £850,000. The Government will be bound to enter into a building scheme, and the expenditure upon buildings will increase as the years go by. They will find that they will not be able to utilise old buildings, as they are doing at the moment, but that even the pressure from the House of Commons of complaints about some of the buildings that are being used at the present time will compel them to enter into a big building programme, and, instead of the expenditure on these centres being £850,000, within a very few years we shall see it running into millions.

The Minister is restricting expenditure from the fund in other directions in order to ask the fund to pay for these juvenile instruction centres, and one also sees that for the adult training centres the fund will be called upon to pay 75 per cent. The fund will not remain for long on an insurance basis if, on the one hand, it has to pay 50 per cent. of the expenditure on the juvenile centres, and, on the other hand, 75 per cent. of the expenditure on the adult training centres. Some Members of the House were asking only a day or two ago that there should be paid out of the fund 3s. for each child instead of 2s. The Minister opposed that proposal. He would, however, have been much more justified in spending money out of the fund on increasing the children's allowances than on either juvenile centres or adult training centres. Again, the Minister has restricted the payment of benefit out of the fund to 26 weeks; it will be extremely difficult for a man to get benefit for more than 26 weeks. That is being done in order to keep the fund on an insurance basis.

Here, on the other hand, we are going to spend millions of money out of the fund, which will destroy the basis of the fund. Some of us in years gone by have complained year after year of the huge sums of money paid out of the Unemploy- ment Insurance Fund for one purpose and another, and the House cannot be too careful, in commencing these new instructional centres and training courses, in restricting the expenditure out of the fund for these purposes. Therefore, I am strongly opposed to the adult training courses. I was rather inclined to support the training courses for juveniles, but, as the Debates have gone on, and one sees the policy of the Government, I find myself opposed to these courses both for adults and for juveniles. If any money is to be spent upon juvenile centres or adult training courses, the Government should find the money. They should not ask the Unemployment Fund to find it, and they should not ask the local authorities to bear part of the cost. If they are going to boast of what they are going to do in providing these juvenile instructional centres, they should be prepared to pay the bill.

10.15 p.m.


The Minister will probably be able to explain what we are actually being asked to do, but I cannot see bow this Clause will bring us to a definite decision. There is a vague provision to the effect that, the Treasury is to be called upon to pay some portion of the amount necessary to provide for these courses, but I see nothing giving an indication what the local authorities are to be called upon to pay and, apart from the estimates given in the pamphlet which has been issued, I see nothing indicating what proportion the Treasury is going to be called upon to pay. What I see is that the Clause says that 50 per cent. of what the Treasury is to be called upon to pay in one instance and 75 per cent. in another is being authorised by us. That may be any figure. It is impossible to say what that amount will be in any particular year or for any particular period. We do not know what the full amount is going to be, we do not know how much the Treasury is going to allot itself of that full amount, we do not know how much the local authorities are to be called upon to pay, and we do not know how much the Unemployment Fund is to be called upon to pay.

No one can deny the force of one argument of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), that we are all anxious to see the restoration of certain cuts, and we cannot see that coming forward until we have a clear indication as to when the Insurance Fund will be free from debt. One of the points that militate against the possibility of this being realised is that which we are now considering, and we ought to consider very seriously before we agree to an indefinite Clause of this nature. Even those who agree that some portion of the Unemployment Fund might be used for this purpose cannot feel justified in voting for the Clause. Unless a very much more satisfactory explanation is given than I can find in reading the Clause, in conjunction with others, I cannot see how anyone can vote for it as it stands.

10.20 p.m.


Before we part with the Clause, perhaps the Minister will clear up one important point. Clause 14 makes provision for the attendance at these training courses not only of insured persons but of persons who are not insured. If there is a large number of uninsured persons, it is obviously unfair to saddle the Insurance Fund with a considerable percentage of the cost. That is a point that must be made clear before we agree to the Clause.

10.21 p.m.


I think that those hon. Members—there were not very many—who had the misfortune to sit through the earlier part of the Debate, will realise that the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) will have no justification in future for arguing that insufficient time has been provided in the timetable for the discussion of important Amendments. Hon. Members spent the earlier part of this evening, from 8 o'clock onwards, in long speeches, which were alleged to deal with the particular Clause, but which really had hardly any bearing upon it at all.


Is not that a reflection upon the Chairman?


No, I think not. As far as my experience goes, it is quite possible that speeches may not have much bearing on a subject and yet not be altogether out of order.


Your predecessor would no doubt bear you out in that opinion.


That is not fair. It is not many moments since I spoke, but I want to ask you, Sir Dennis, whether I was not in order?


The hon. Member may rest assured that the fact that I did not interrupt him shows that he was in order.


I specifically stated that it was in the early part of the Debate.


Any insult is good enough to be thrown at this side.


The fact that the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove), after asking me to reply in detail to a number of points which he raised, had not the courtesy to remain in the House more than a few minutes after he sat down, absolves me from any necessity of having to deal with the points which he made. I may, perhaps, be allowed, as this is rather a complicated subject, to repeat—


The hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) has spent, on the average, more time here than perhaps any hon. Member sitting in the House at the present time.


He asked for a specific answer to his question, and he disappeared almost immediately after he had sat down. Hon. Members will perhaps allow me to repeat the explanation of the effect of this Clause, because it is rather complicated. Now that the hon. Member for Aberavon is back in his place, perhaps he will allow me to reply to one or two of the points which he raised. He repeated a statement which I have heard before, that one of the grounds for objecting to this Clause was that contributions were being taken from the children, and that no return was being given to them for those contributions. The facts of the matter are that full return is being given to the children for those contributions. I have already stated, in connection with an earlier Clause, that we have proceeded on the general principle that it is undesirable to allow children between the ages of 14 and 16 to draw benefit and that the contributions between the ages of 14 and 16 should be regarded as building up a fund from which they will subsequently be able to obtain benefits in the event of their becoming unemployed. The concession made by which a child will be able to draw benefit at 16 instead of at the age of 16 and 30 weeks alone absorbs £230,000 out of the £250,000 a year which the children contribute to the fund.

That is not the end of what they become entitled to, because in the event of a child becoming unemployed after it has been in insurance for five years, by virtue of the contributions which it has paid between the ages of 14 and 16 it will become entitled to additional benefit which will fully exhaust, and more than exhaust, the contributions paid in the years from 14 to 16. There is, therefore, no shadow of excuse for the statement of the hon. Member that we are taking contributions from the children and not giving them anything in return. On the contrary, as far as the children's contributions are concerned they will get all, and more than all, they have paid in, without taking any account of the cost of the junior instruction centres that we are dealing with in this Clause. I hope that I have made that point clear to the Committee. The cost of the junior instruction centres can be justified on their own merits, quite apart from any question of a return for the children's contributions, and it is purely a coincidence that the cost for the two sides of the balance sheet should have appeared together in the report on the financial effect of the Bill. The two things are not connected. The children will get full return for their contributions, quite apart from the question of the junior instruction centres.

Let me come to the change in the law. I would preface what I have to say by remarking that hon. Members opposite who have professed such indignation at the idea that any contribution should be asked for from the Unemployment Fund towards the cost of providing the junior instruction centres, would have been better advised to have addressed their argument to their own Government, because we are merely continuing the principle which was fully adopted and approved by their own Government in the existing Acts. What the present law provides is that out of the Unemployment Fund there is to be paid as a contribution 50 per cent. of the cost to the Exchequer of the junior instruction and training centres in respect of persons be- tween the ages of 16 and 21 who are in receipt of benefit or transitional payments, or in the case of juveniles, who have been insured or are likely to follow insurable employment.

Under the existing system by which junior instruction centres are attended, as to a huge majority, by children who are entitled to benefit, no difficulty arises under the existing provisions of the law, but if we applied the existing provisions of the law to the new centres, which will be filled by large numbers of children who are unemployed and have never been insured, it is clear that the bookkeeping problem would be frightfully complicated, it having to be decided, in the case of each child, first of all, whether it was insured or not and, secondly, in the case of a child who had not paid anything at all, whether it was likely to be insured. We have therefore decided to make a change in the existing law, according to the provisions of the present Clause, by which the fund will be asked to pay 50 per cent. of the whole cost to the Exchequer.

The hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) asked me about the 75 per cent. of the cost to be paid out of the Unemployment Fund for adults attending training courses. The present law is that adults between 18 and 21, if they are in receipt of benefit or transitional payment, attract a grant from the Unemployment Fund to the Exchequer of 50 per cent. of the cost of their training. In the past these training courses have been filled almost entirely with men who have been in receipt of benefit or transitional payments, but that will no longer be the case in the future. The authorised courses will be filled as to the majority by persons in receipt of unemployment assistance but as to the minority, by persons entitled to benefit, and it has therefore been thought fairer that the Insurance Fund should be asked to contribute 75 per cent. of the cost of these training courses only in respect of those men actually in receipt of benefit. The net result of Sub-section (2, b) will be that the cost to the fund will be decreased as compared with the cost as it exists under the present law. The hon. Member for Middlesbrough West (Mr. K. Griffith) asked what would be the result if Clause 15 were not passed. The Clause only makes half the change. If the hon. Member will look at Schedule 8 he will find that the existing law is repealed. If Clause 15 is not passed then I presume the Schedule would not be passed, and we should revert to the existing law, with all the complications I have explained.

Hon. Members have urged that by the provisions we are making we are inflicting a certain amount of hardship on local authorities in distressed areas. When the House gave a Second Reading to the Bill they agreed to the principle of making the local authorities partners with the State in the provision of these junior instruction centres, and there can be no doubt that local authorities stand to gain very materially by the provision of these centres, and by the results which will accrue to their inhabitants from the starting of these organisations by giving boys and girls of 14 to 16 years of age instruction instead of allowing them to play on the streets. Therefore, if we made no grant at all I still maintain, and I hope the Committee will agree with me, that the provision is on the whole a fair one, But, of course, we are giving 75 per cent. as the standard grant and there is power to make a special grant in exceptional circumstances. It may be that in rare cases we shall make a grant of less than 75 per cent., but there are certainly cases of distressed areas where we shall make a grant in excess of the 75 per cent. At all events, the 75 per cent. is in no sense a hard and fast rule. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) asked what would be the position of capital expenditure. In the future, as in the past, this will rank for grant like other expenditure; with this important exception that where the expenditure has resulted in a permanent improvement in the local authority's premises, the grant may be less than the normal full rate. This consideration will apply in the future, as it has in the past.


How does the Parliamentary Secretary explain Sub-section (2, b)? "shall not exceed 75 per cent." in regard to distressed areas.


I explained in my earlier speech that under this proposal, in the ease of juvenile instruction centres, the whole cost in the first place will be borne by the local authority, and the Exchequer will make a grant to the local authority at a particular rate, say, 75 per cent. That 75 per cent. will be made up, as to not more than 50 per cent. out of the Unemployment Fund, and as to the remainder, out of the Exchequer. In the same way, in regard to authorised courses for adults, the whole charge falls in the first place on the Exchequer, and a grant-in-aid to the Exchequer will be made out of the Unemployment Fund up to a sum not exceeding 75 per cent. of the cost in respect of those members of the insured population who are in the centre and drawing benefit. I think I have answered most of the questions that have been put to me.


I would ask one further question. The Parliamentary Secretary spoke of £250,000 as being the product of what the children were to pay. Did he mean that to apply only to the children's twopences or did it include the employers' and State contributions?


No, the total contribution from the three bodies will amount to £760,000. The point made was as to the children's contribution, and was in reply to an hon. Member who asked about it.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 284; Noes, 55.

Division No. 89.] AYES. [10.38 p m.
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.) Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Bracken, Brendan
Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G. Balfour, George (Hampstead) Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)
Albery, Irving James Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet) Brass, Captain Sir William
Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd.) Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Broadbent, Colonel John
Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent) Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Bateman, A. L. Brown, Ernest (Leith)
Apsley, Lord Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.) Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.
Aske, Sir Robert William Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B. Burghley, Lord
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Boothby, Robert John Graham Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie
Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton) Borodale, Viscount Burnett, John George
Atholl, Duchess of Boulton, W. W. Cadogan, Hon. Edward
Bailey, Eric Alfred George Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm
Caporn, Arthur Cecil Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport) Raikes, Henry V. A. M.
Carver, Major William H. Hume, Sir George Hopwood Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)
Castlereagh, Viscount Hunter, Capt. M. J. (Brigg) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)
Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City) Hurd, Sir Percy Ramsbotham, Herwald
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Jamieson, Douglas Reid, David D. (County Down)
Clarke, Frank Jesson, Major Thomas E. Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Clarry, Reginald George Joel, Dudley J. Barnato Reid, William Allan (Derby)
Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan) Remer, John R.
Colfox, Major William Philip Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Colman, N. C. D. Ker, J. Campbell Rickards, George William
Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J. Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Conant, R. J. E. Kerr, Hamilton W. Ross, Ronald D.
Cook, Thomas A. Knight, Holford Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Cooke, Douglas Knox, Sir Alfred Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.
Cooper, A. Duff Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton Runge, Norah Cecil
Copeland, Ida Latham, Sir Herbert Paul Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Cranborne, Viscount Law, Sir Alfred Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Craven-Ellis, William Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.) Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)
Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H. Leckie, J. A. Salmon, Sir Isidore
Crooke, J. Smedley Lees-Jones, John Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Croom-Johnson, R. P. Levy, Thomas Savery, Samuel Servington
Cross, R. H. Lewis, Oswald Selley, Harry R.
Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard Lindsay, Noel Ker Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Culverwell, Cyril Tom Liewellin, Major John J. Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n) Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.
Dawson, Sir Philip Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.) Shute, Colonel J. J.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Loder, Captain J. de Vere Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John
Dickle, John P. Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander Skelton, Archibald Noel
Drewe, Cedric Mabane, William Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick) Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Dunglass, Lord McCorquodale, M. S. Somerset, Thomas
Eastwood, John Francis MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Somervell, Sir Donald
Edmondson, Major A. J. Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey McKie, John Hamilton Soper, Richard
Elmley, Viscount McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Emmott, Charles E. G. C. Macmillan, Maurice Harold Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Macquisten, Frederick Alexander Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.
Entwistle, Cyril Fullard Maitland, Adam Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool) Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M. Spens, William Patrick
Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.) Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)
Everard, W. Lindsay Marsden, Commander Arthur Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Stevenson, James
Fleming, Edward Lascelles Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)
Flint, Abraham John Meller, Sir Richard James Stones, James
Fox, Sir Gifford Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest) Stourton, Hon. John J.
Fuller, Captain A. G. Milne, Charles Strauss, Edward A.
Ganzonl, Sir John Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k) Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-
Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Mitcheson, G. G. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.
Gillett, Sir George Masterman Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Sutcliffe, Harold
Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C. Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr) Templeton, William P.
Gower, Sir Robert Moreing, Adrian C. Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)
Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.) Morgan, Robert H. Thompson, Sir Luke
Greene, William P. C. Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.) Thorp, Linton Theodore
Grimston, R. V. Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.) Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Gritten, W. G. Howard Moss, Captain H. J. Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)
Guinness, Thomas L. E. B. Munro, Patrick Touche, Gordon Cosmo
Gunston, Captain D. W. Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald Train, John
Guy, J. C. Morrison Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Tree, Ronald
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Hammersley, Samuel S. Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid Turton, Robert Hugh
Hanbury, Cecil North, Edward T. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Hanley, Dennis A. Nunn, William Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry O'Donovan, Dr. William James Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Harbord, Arthur O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Hartland, George A. Patrick, Colin M. Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-
Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) Peake, Captain Osbert Wells, Sydney Richard
Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Pearson, William G. Weymouth, Viscount
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) Peat, Charles U. Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Haslam, Sir John (Bolton) Penny, Sir George Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M. Percy, Lord Eustace Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Perkins, Walter R. D. Wills, Wilfrid D.
Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford) Petherick, M. Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)
Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n) Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Hepworth, Joseph Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Pike, Cecil F. Wise, Alfred R.
Hornby, Frank Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H. Womersley, Waiter James
Horobin, Ian M. Pownall, Sir Assheton
Horsbrugh, Florence Procter, Major Henry Adam TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Howitt, Dr. Alfred B. Pybus, Sir Percy John Sir Frederick Thomson and Lord
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Radford, E. A. Erskine.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Maxton, James
Attlee, Clement Richard Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.) Milner, Major James
Banfield, John William Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Owen, Major Goronwy
Batey, Joseph Grundy, Thomas W. Paling, Wilfred
Berneys, Robert Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Parkinson, John Allen
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zeti'nd) Pickering, Ernest H.
Buchanan, George Harris, Sir Percy Rathbone, Eleanor
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Holdsworth, Herbert Rea, Walter Russell
Cove, William G. Janner, Barnett Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)
Cripps, Sir Stafford John, William Salter, Dr. Alfred
Curry, A. C. Kirkwood, David Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Dagger, George Lawson, John James Tinker, John Joseph
Edwards, Charles Leonard, William Wallhead, Richard C.
Evans, David Owen (Cardigan) Logan, David Gilbert White, Henry Graham
Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.) Lunn, William Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) McEntee, Valentine L. Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) Mainwaring, William Henry TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Mander, Geoffrey le M. Mr. Groves and Mr. G. Macdonald.

Question, "That the word 'may' stand part of the Clause", put, agreed to.