§ [5TH ALLOTTED DAY.]
§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Sir DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]
§ CLAUSE 17.—(Establishment of Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee, and duties of Committee as respects Unemployment Fund.)
§ The following Amendments stood upon the Order Paper:
§ In page 14, line 10, leave out Sub-section (1).—[Mr. Maxton.]
In page 14, line 29, leave out Sub-section (3), and insert:
(3) The Committee shall from time to time review the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Acts and if, in their opinion, any anomaly has arisen to the prejudice of any insured contributor or class of insured contributors, or undue hardship is being imposed in consequence of the interpretation placed upon any provision in those Acts, they may make a report thereon to the Minister and such report shall contain recommendations for such amendment of the provisions of those Acts as they may deem necessary."—[Mr. A. Bevan.]
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On a point of Order. I should be glad, Sir Dennis, if you could give me a reason for not calling the Amendment which stands in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), myself, and my hon. Friend the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern)—in page 14, line 10, to leave out Sub-section (1). I should be glad if you would, if possible, reconsider your decision and call our Amendment, which asks for the deletion of the provision as to the appointment of a Statutory Committee. All further Amendments that may be brought forward in this connection will be Amendments based on the existence of the Statutory Committee, and I should like to ask whether it would not be better first to discuss whether there should be a Statutory Committee or not? I suggest that it would be much better if our Amendment could be called, so as to raise the whole question of principle whether there should or should not be a Statutory Committee.
§ The CHAIRMAN
On this particular occasion I do not think I can meet the hon. Member's wishes. The Amendment which he and his Friends have on the Paper amounts, in effect, as he will realise, to negativing the entire Clause——
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think I am right in putting it in these words: it amounts to saying that there shall be no such Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee as is proposed in the Clause. In the Committee stage it is the recognised practice to consider all Amendments on details of the Clause before considering whether the Clause in any or in what form should stand part of the Bill. That is completely different from the procedure on the Report stage, where it is necessary to put down a Motion to leave out a Clause if it is so desired. I cannot on this occasion go directly contrary to the long-established practice of the House in Committee.
§ Mr. MAXTON
May I make this representation to you? You say that you cannot accede to the request which has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), but may I point out that on a previous occasion when a similar situation arose, and you were unable to accede to the request, but told us that we should have an opportunity of raising the issue when the question of the Clause standing part was discussed, there was no discussion whatever on the Clause standing part; so that on that occasion the Committee accepted the principle of the Clause without having any opportunity of discussing anything but minor Amendments? I would also put this to you, that the Amendment which you are calling is similar to the one which we were proposing to move, in that it proposes to delete a Sub-section, just as our Amendment proposes to delete a Sub-section, and, if it were accepted by the Committee, it also would amount to a deletion of the Clause, because it would remove to all intents and purposes the reason for setting up a Statutory Committee. Therefore, the Ruling which you have given with reference to an Amendment to delete Sub-section (1) seems to me to apply with equal force to an Amendment to delete Sub-section (3). I would ask you, having regard to these two points—first, that on previous occa- 1599 sions in similar circumstances it has been impossible to get an opportunity to discuss the Clause at all, and that might quite easily be repeated to-day; and, secondly, that the Amendment which you are now calling is similar in magnitude and effect to the one which you are refusing—to reconsider the Ruling that you have given with a view to allowing the Committee to have an opportunity of discussing the important principle as to whether this Committee believes that the Minister needs to be reinforced in the administration of unemployment insurance by the setting up of an outside committee.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The answer to the hon. Member's first point is that it is a matter with which I have nothing to do whatever. As he knows quite well, we are now acting under an Order of the House. With regard to the second point, I would suggest that he is hardly doing himself justice by his contention, because he knows as well as anyone in the House the great difference that there is between the two Sub-sections in question. The Amendment which I have called, to leave out Sub-section (3), proposes to leave out a Sub-section which is subject to the main proposal for the establishment of the Statutory Committee; and, moreover, it proposes to substitute a Sub-section in place of the one to be left out. In the circumstances I have no doubt whatever in my mind that the two Amendments are entirely different, and that the Amendment which I have called is a proper Amendment to call.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I do not want to detain the Committee, but may I put this to you? I admit at once that the fact that the main principle of the Clause may not be given adequate discussion is a responsibility which the House must shoulder in view of the fact that it passed the timetable; but I would put it to you that that does not relieve the Chair of the responsibility of so calling Amendments as to provide for the most adequate discussion possible of the Clauses that are allotted to a particular period of time, and that in the past it has been found that that has not been the case. Recognising the limitations in the management of the discussion of this Bill that have been imposed upon by you by the timetable, we are urging you to see that as 1600 full discussion of the essential points should be given in the allotted time as possible, and we consider that it is necessary in this particular case that there should be a discussion on the main principle, which is raised by the first Amendment on the Paper.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I can assure the hon. Member that the very greatest care is exercised by the Deputy-Chairman and myself in the direction which he has indicated, of trying our best to select Amendments in such a manner as to cover all points as far as is possible within the time allotted for discussion. Of course, if the Committee were to take up the whole of the allotted time on the first Amendment called, it would be entirely out of our power to alter it. As the hon. Member will also know, we cannot do otherwise than call in the order in which they come such Amendments as we have decided to call. With regard to the other point, I must adhere to my decision that to select the Amendment which stands in the hon. Member's name and in those of his two hon. Friends would be contrary to the practice of the House. I would only add that, if the hon. Member is right in the contention which he put forward just now with regard to the deletion of Sub-section (3), he will presumably get the opportunity that he wants.
§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
I beg to move, in page 14, line 29 to leave out Sub-section (3), and to insert instead thereof:(3) The Committtee shall from time to time review the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Acts and if, in their opinion, any anomaly has arisen to the prejudice of any insured contributor or class of insured contributors, or undue hardship is being imposed in consequence of the interpretation placed upon any provision in those Acts, they may make a report thereon to the Minister and such report shall contain recommendations for such amendment of the provisions of those Acts as they may deem necessary.The purpose of the Amendment is that the functions of the Statutory Committee shall be mainly to look after the insured contributors, and not to look after the fund. As the Clause reads, the sole function of the Statutory Committee is to safeguard the solvency of the fund itself. They have no power to make recommendations to the Minister on their own initiative, because they consider that the unemployed person is being improperly treated. In other words, the Statutory 1601 Committee moves only on the initiative of the financial condition of the fund or on the initiative of the Minister, but cannot move on its own initiative at all if either of those two impulses is absent. Therefore, the value of the substitution that we are moving has both a negative and a positive aspect. Its first purpose is to strip the Statutory Committee of functions which we consider can properly be discharged by the Ministry of Labour and its staff. No case has been made out whatever for entrusting the Committee with functions of this sort.
Our past experience of the Department has proved to us that it is necessary that some watchdog be appointed to safeguard the interests of the insured contributor. It is difficult to tell when a Clause is being framed, what its administrative consequences are going to be. The whole history of unemployment insurance legislation is littered by Umpires' decisions and by administrative deviations from the intention of Parliament. Very often injustices have arisen against the unemployed person which Parliament never intended. That has perculiar application to the not genuinely seeking work formula, whose meaning was almost entirely built up by administrative practice, and at the end went very far from the intention of the House of Commons. Hardly a Member in any part of the House intended that that Clause should be interpreted in the way that it subsequently was. When the amending legislation was brought in, it was very belated. We believe that, if there was a body of persons to act as watchdogs for the unemployed man, keeping an eye on the administration, that is the only good purpose that this Statutory Advisory Committee could perform.
We do not consider that a Statutory Committee is necessary at all, but, if it is necessary, the best job they could do would be to protect the unemployed man against the abuses of administration. Functions of this kind should either be discharged by the House of Commons itself or by a committee entrusted with those powers, because there has been built up a body of case law in circumstances for which our constitution has not provided. The ordinary system of jurisprudence can be safely entrusted to interpret legislation, because it has been built up over many years. The judges are themselves persons of the highest re- 1602 pute and calibre, and they have before them eminent gentlemen who plead the causes and, when a decision is made, it is one that has been arrived at by the most meticulous examination and by expert information on what the Statutes meant. But when you have decisions made by Umpires, those decisions also interpret the intentions of the Statute. It is very rarely that the Umpire has before him, pleading on behalf of the applicant, persons of eminent legal standing. Very often those decisions are laid down without any expert legal guidance at all, and, in the absence of a system of jurisprudence which protects the House in the case of Unemployment Insurance like an ordinary Statute is protected, it might be said that a case is made out for a body of persons to watch that administration and that the case law built up by the Umpires does not depart severely from the intentions of the House of Commons in order that, when that takes place, recommendations can be made for an amendment of the law to bring it into line with the intentions of the House.
That is the positive aspect of the Amendment. Its negative aspect is of even greater value. I will read the Sub-section that I am proposing to omit.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I was merely going to read a portion of it. I will read none of it at all if that meets with your wishes, Sir. The committee will have power to make recommendations for the Amendment of the Unemployment Act:, being such amendments as, in the opinion of the Committee are required in order to make the fund, as the case may be, sufficient or no more than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities; and(b) an estimate of the effect which the amendments recommended will have on the financial condition of the fund;and, where the Committee report that the fund is and is likely to continue to be more than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities, the report may contain recommendations for the application of any sum towards the discharge of the liabilities mentioned in Sub-section (2) of the Section of this Act next following.Hon. Members will see that those recommendations are made only if there is a surplus or a deficit in the fund. In no circumstances whatsoever does the committee make a recommendation if, in their judgment, a wrong interpretation has 1603 been placed upon their previous recommendation. It may be that the committee will have made a recommendation to the Minister upon which an Order will be made, but in no circumstances can the committee, upon its own initiative, make a representation redressing a misunderstanding which has arisen. That, obviously, is a very important defect in the wording of the Clause, and I suggest to the Minister, that, even if he cannot see his way to accept this Amendment, he should, if the committee is still to stand—and I am not optimistic enough to believe that the Minister will make such a radical change in the Bill—he should enlarge the powers of the committee to include orders of recommendation upon its own initiative, as distinct from the financial aspect of the fund, and any wishes he himself may express.
§ Mr. HOLF0RD KNIGHT
Would the hon. Gentleman mind defining more closely, for the advantage of the Committee, the sort of deficiency he has in mind? Is that not covered by lines 35 to 38?
§ Mr. BEVAN
I was going to read that, but I was stopped by the Chairman:recommendations for the amendment, either generally or in relation to special classes of insured contributors, of the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Acts referred to in Part II of the Second Schedule to this Act or of the provisions of any previous Order made under this Section,I cannot see that the point is met. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will turn to the Second Schedule to the Bill, he will see that these are practically all the conditions that apply to unemployment insurance, but that they can deal with them only as means either of wiping out a deficit or of dealing with a surplus. If the hon. and learned Gentleman will read on, he will see that their powers to make recommendations are contingent upon that situation. These powers are very considerable, indeed. First of all, they can deal with statutory conditions for receipt of unemployment benefit, then disqualifications, special provisions with respect to discharged seamen, etc., increase of benefit in respect of dependants, meaning of "continuous period of unemployment," meaning of "unemployed," supplemental provisions relating to right to benefit, rates of contribution, rates of unemployment benefit, and so on. Indeed, 1604 the powers of the committee will cover the whole gamut of unemployment insurance, except the right to intervene if the unemployed man himself is in distress. That is astonishing.
I would like to ask the Minister whether he considers it necessary, in the discharge of his duties, to set up the Statutory Committee to advise him upon such simple matters? Why have we been discussing Part I of this Bill at all? Hon. Members have been cheated; the whole House has been cheated. Many of us have been foolishly enough congratulating ourselves upon winning concessions from the Minister. The irony of it is that if we had reached the Clause which we have not been able to reach, we might have dealt with the point, but the things which the right hon. Gentleman gives to-day he can take back by Order in a few months' time. I accuse the Minister of Labour of wasting the time of Parliament, of giving us a fictitious opportunity, of making unreal concessions, of making believe that the House of Commons has been properly treated, and that the Minister is a reasonable person, and yet every one of the concessions which we have had in Committee he can get back by a regulation and by Order after a Yes or No Debate. If the Minister were honest, if the Government had the slightest degree of honesty, and if their desire to set up the Statutory Committee is buttressed by substantial argument, Part I of the Bill should consist of nothing except the setting up of the committee.
That is the position, and yet the House of Commons has been led up the garden for the last few weeks to discuss Statutory conditions, rates, children's rates, not-genuinely-seeking-work even, and the Minister has promised to make a concession. Looking at the first of the provisions—"Statutory conditions for receipt of unemployment benefit." The whole of not-genuinely-seeking work can be put back by Order, even after our discussion in this Chamber, and if discussion is necessary to guide the Minister in this matter, will not discussion be even more necessary in the future? Of course, we know why the Minister is doing this. I mentioned in Debate the other day that this Bill has been drafted to suit the requirements of the employers. I have before me the evidence of the National Confederation of Employers' Organisa- 1605 tions. I have also got here the report of the Engineering and Allied Employers' National Federation. The Bill is drawn up precisely on the lines of these reports. For instance, take the National Confederation of Employers' Organisations representing thousands of millions of capital:The outstanding feature of the past 10 years has been the extent to which the whole subject of Unemployment Insurance, in principle and in detail, has been dominated by political considerations. We are, therefore, convinced that the first essential to any new scheme is that a Board of Trustees shall be appointed and charged with the responsibility of maintaining the solvency of the fund. These Trustees should be empowered to modify the amount of weekly benefit, and the 'Ratio' and 'Yearly Limit' rules to such extent as might be necessary to ensure the solvency of the fund, with a further power for that purpose of increasing the rates of contribution.We therefore suggest, that a Board of Trustees should be appointed charged with safeguarding the solvency of the fund.And faithfully to his master's voice, the Government bring forward a Bill embodying the wishes of the Employers' Confederation. Now the first part of this Bill setting up the Statutory Advisory Committee has never been adequately defended by the Minister. I have read over and over again his speech on the Second Reading. Why does he need the advice of the Committee for this purpose? Are there not experts in his own Department? What information can these gentlemen give him that is not available to him already? What source of knowledge or inspiration will they have that he has not already got? They can furnish him with no new statistics; indeed, he will have to furnish them with all their statistics. He will have to provide them with a staff. What can he give that he has not got now? I will tell him—a whipping boy, a means of escaping his responsibilities, a means of protecting the reactionary Member of Parliament from the consequences of his reactionary views.
Since the Government tasted blood in 1931, their appetite for blood has increased. They discovered then, to their astonishment, that they can put through this House by Order, after two or three days' Debate, powers to impose deductions in the standards of livelihood of millions of people. Nothing happened. They got their powers. They used their powers. Having tasted that amount of 1606 blood, they wanted more, and set up a tariff advisory committee, who have made recommendations, and, as far as my memory serves me, the House of Commons has not rejected one. Each one has been moved at that Box in a most perfunctory manner. The Minister merely says, "This is the advice of the Committee. The Committee were set up for this purpose. We must have confidence in the Committee. Therefore I recommend these proposals to the House." The same thing will happen here. This is a means of avoiding the responsibility for unemployment insurance legislation. It is a cowardly and miserable device, and the House of Commons ought to be ashamed of itself for permitting it to go through. I submit that this sort of Rake's Progress which the Government at the present time are making, will bring the constitution of Great Britain into disrepute and disfavour among decent citizens throughout the country.
I have been looking through these reports to see what they say about debts. This Confederation of Employers did make one recommendation which has not been accepted, and that was that the fund should start off free of debt. We know very well that the present Government are an employers' Government. But there is one class of employers to whom they are more slavishly attached than any other, and that is the money-lender. When the producer interest say, "We want this fund free of debt," and the bankers say that it must carry the debt, of course, the Government obey the bankers, and the fund, therefore, has to start off with this £115,000,000 of debt. Indeed the Sub-section to which I have referred says that if they have a surplus at their disposal, they need not necessarily devote the surplus to increase the benefit. Oh, no; they can increase the £5,500,000; they can pay off more of the debt. For fear that the Committee will not have sufficient power, for fear that the £5,500,000 is not enough, you give them power to pay off much more than £5,500,000 under this Sub-section.
I submit that no case has been made out for the setting up of this Committee. It is a piece of legislative redundancy. Its sole purpose is to short-circuit the Legislature. Its sole intention is to re- 1607 lieve the Minister of Labour of his embarrassments, and I submit to hon. Members on all sides of the House that if they tell their constituents frankly that from now on the main responsibility for looking after the unemployed man is to be entrusted to non-elected persons—if they will have the courage and decency to say that to their constituents, they will be telling nothing less than the truth. If they say it, we know what will happen to them. We shall make it our business that if hon. Gentlemen say it, we shall say it, and we shall fight this provision in the Bill until the very end. If the Bill is passed we shall make it known throughout the country that the setting up of this Committee is simply a means of relieving reactionary Members of Parliament of their proper obligations.
§ 4.16 p.m.
§ Mr. JAMES REID
The Committee must have been interested in hearing what the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) had to say. If I understood him aright, he prefers that the destinies of the unemployed should be left in the hands of the Minister rather than in the hands of the Committee.
§ Mr. REID
The result of this would be that the Minister would have complete charge of prospective Amendments or alterations, and I think it is a great tribute to the Minister coming from those benches that they prefer his arbitrament to that of an independent Committee. We know that when the Bill is passed the present Minister will continue to administer the Act for at least a period of years, and apparently the Opposition would prefer that the Minister should exercise his absolute discretion rather than that he should be advised by an independent Commitee. I am very glad to see that change of attitude on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and it is a well deserved tribute to the Minister. The Committee is to be set up for the purpose of creating an independent, non-political organisation. It was thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite might think that the recommendation of an independent Committee would be fairer perhaps.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I am very interested in what the hon. Member is putting to 1608 the Committee, but I want to ask you, Sir Dennis, if it is in order, since he has covered the precise ground covered by the Amendment which the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and I wished to move, and which you ruled out of order?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am listening very carefully, and I am loath to interrupt the Debate if I can help it. The hon. Member will remember that I specially reminded him that he might have an opportunity to some extent of putting forward his contention on this Amendment, and I do not see, in view of the form in which the Amendment was moved, that the hon. Member is now in a position to call attention to anything as being out of order at present.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Even in the circumstances which you indicate, is it not a courtesy to the Committee to attach the speech which is being made to the Amendment which is under discussion, rather than to proceed with the discussion of the Amendment which has been ruled out of order.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The point which I am making is that the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) has been talking now for some minutes and has made reference to the subject matter of the out-of-order Amendment but has made no reference so far to the subject matter of the Amendment which we are now discussing.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That may be a matter of opinion on which the opinion of the hon. Member and mine may differ, but at present he seems to be wasting time crying over spilt milk.
§ Mr. REID
I do not wish to pursue the matter at undue length. The object of the Government in framing the Bill in the way in which they have frame it, and to which the Amendment objects, is to create an independent authority which shall advise the Minister, and the idea was, I think, that hon. Members opposite might feel that their point of view would receive more attention from an independent authority than it would from the Minister himself. I am not so sure that we on this side of the Committee would not have been just as pleased that the 1609 Minister should have been in complete charge, but, in order to remove the whole question from the sphere of politics and put it into the sphere of economics, where it properly belongs, I think that the proposals of the Government are absolutely justified. We have approved of the principle of setting up a fund, and it is no use setting up a fund unless we make provision for the fund being solvent; otherwise, it would be a complete humbug to set up a fund and allow it to get into debt the very moment it started. The corollary of the fund is that we have Part II to deal with cases with which the fund is not in a position to deal. When we come to Part II, there will, no doubt, be a good deal of argument as to whether some settlement is to be made in particular cases. But here, after we have approved the principle of the fund, surely, it is our business to see that the best arrangements are made for keeping the fund solvent and not letting it get into debt.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is now discussing the Clause as a whole without the particular relation to the substituted words which the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) discussed.
§ Mr. REID
What I had in mind were the words which I understood were under discussion:Is likely to continue to be more than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities.It seems to me that in order to discuss those words it is necessary to say what follows, and the general principles which underlie them, but I certainly will not pursue the matter further. I believe that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale would be more relevant when we come to Sub-section (5) of Clause 19 because that Sub-section entitled the Minister to refer——
§ Mr. REID
It entitles the Minister to refer to the Committee all the questions which the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale has in mind. I see no particular reason why the Committee should not on their own initiative consider these questions if they so desire without waiting for a reference from the Minister. Surely, that is a question which will be much more relevant under Sub-section (5) of 1610 Clause 19 than it is at the present time. The whole substance of the Amendment therefore is not very relevant to a discussion on Clause 17. The substance of the Amendment of the hon. Member is really to leave out this part of Sub-section (3), and if we leave it out we shall wreck the whole scheme for having a solvent fund. Other hon. Members have detailed Amendments at a later stage on the Paper and it would not be in order to discuss them now. One can see that there is room for differences of opinion on the details as to how the principle of solvency should be applied, but the Amendment of the hon. Member strikes at the very root of that principle. For that reason, I would ask the Committee to deal with this Amendment fairly speedily so that we can get on to the principal function of the Committee stage, namely, the discussion of details of a principle which has already been accepted by this House. The hon. Member is really raising the matter of principle all over again, and I ask him, and those who sit opposite, whether it would not be more in accordance with the traditions of the House to let us get on with the detailed Amendments which are on the Paper, and which, I am sure, require detailed consideration.
§ 4 p.m.
§ Mr. KINGSLEY GRIFFITH
I do not think that the Amendment on the Paper is in any way contrary to the principles of this discussion. We have not at present accepted, except by the mere fact of passing the Second Reading, the principle involved in this Statutory Committee. We are entitled, if we get time and are in order, to discuss whether there should be such a committee at all. We are certainly entitled to discuss what its functions and purpose should be. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) tries to console us by a reference to Sub-section (5) of Clause 19, but it will be observed that that is a mere power to the Minister to refer matters to the committee. There is no power of initiative for the committee at all, except in the matter of cutting things down. If they are in an expansive mood they have to wait for the Minister to set them in action, but if they are in a restrictive mood they can act at once. The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk justified that on the 1611 ground of the necessity of keeping the fund solvent. Is the Minister incapable of deciding, with the aid of his own experts, whether the fund is becoming insolvent or not? I should have thought that he was capable of such a calculation. I am not sure whether I shall be in order, but I am only following the last speaker who suggested that it was desirable that we should have an independent, non-political organisation because the matter concerns economics. Therefore, of course, if it concerns economics the Members of this House would be ruled out automatically, and I have sometimes been tempted to think that that is so. But it is not according to the constitution of this country to imagine that the elected representatives of Parliament are incapable of dealing with those things which come home most to us and the people whom we represent. The economic questions are everything to us.
§ Mr. GRIFFITH
Yes, but the function of the House is restricted. We are not to consider whether we can make the recommendations of the Committee any better. That would be far too audacious for such humble people as ourselves. Sometimes in this House we are permitted to utter an expression of "Hear, hear," or sometimes even some remote indication of dissent. If these principles go on, I suggest that the only function of Parliament should be restricted to making these inarticulate noises, because that is all that we can do if we cannot deal with the matter in detail and treat it properly. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), I have no doubt from his speech, would not have this body at all, but being wise in his generation he thinks that, if we are to have it, we had better give it something useful to do. He has suggested a round of activity which would be very much more beneficial than that which is laid down for it here.
I cannot help but be impressed by the whole spirit of the body as laid down in the Amendment. It is all financial. The 1612 Orders which are to be laid, and the Amendments which the Minister may recommend have only one object. He can put forward Amendments if they have substantially the same effect on the financial condition of the Unemployment Fund. That is in paragraph (a) of Sub-section (5). The only thing they are to consider is the financial condition of the Unemployment Fund. I should have thought that that was just the matter which the Minister could easily decide for himself, whereas the matters which are suggested in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale are matters which can much more be considered by the private Members of this House, each in their individual capacity through the knowledge which they have formed of the effect of this legislation on their constituents. I would much rather go into a debate and make suggestions as to the kind of matters that would come under the Amendment than I would on the broad financial propositions which alone are left to the Committee in the Bill, and where the Treasury have enormous advantage in making out a case in their own interests as to whether or not the fund was solvent.
We are here dealing with one of the danger points of the Bill. Clause 17 is a danger point, and we go on for another 17 Clauses and, by a remarkable coincidence, we get to Clause 34. In these two Clauses there is a barrier set up between Members of this House and the people for whom they ought to be responsible. The Minister, the local authorities and we are to escape blame, and this proposed authority is to be set up and used as a smoke screen. No further powers are given to that Committee unless we pass the Amendment. We are considering here a great deal more than the fortunes of this Bill, more even than the fortunes of the unemployed. We are considering a constitutional matter as to how far Parliament is to devolve its duties and what duties are proper to be devolved. That question is directly raised by the Amendment. If we are to devolve duties upon outside bodies, what kind of authorities are they to be? Every Member of the House has at times felt some uneasiness as to the adequateness of the Parliamentary machine to deal with all the details of our public life. Therefore, the question which we are now considering is one of enormous importance.
1613 Why should we devolve on an outside authority matters of this kind? What would hon. Members feel if it were proposed to devolve the future amendment of the criminal law upon His Majesty's judges. His Majesty s judges as a body are surely as capable of making as good recommendations as the proposed Statutory Committee, but this House would most jealously say that while the judges might administer the law they would not consent to a system under which the judges could make recommendations for the alteration of the criminal law, and that those alterations should came before the House of Commons merely for an "aye" or "no," without power of amendment. The matters which we are dealing with directly concern the lives of the people and are as important as matters which concern their liberty. There can be no liberty in people if they have not a certain amount of economic freedom. Although I distrust the proposal in the Clause and if the opportunity came, having regard to what I have learned in a description of the Committee's functions, I should be inclined to vote against it. I would rather, if we are to have it, that it had the powers suggested by the Amendment than those contained in the Bill.
§ 4.35 p.m.
§ Mr. TINKER
The hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) urged us to get clear of this Amendment and get on with the Clause. I know, however, that he and his friends have other Amendments down, and if we accepted his advice we might find ourselves discussing one of their Amendments, and they would take the opportunity of occupying Parliamentary time.
§ Mr. REID
I hope that I did not give the idea that that was my object. Surely, the right time to discuss this problem is on the Question, "That the Clause stand part." We could consider the detailed Amendments on the Order Paper and then we might have ample time to consider this particular matter on the Question, "That the Clause stand part."
§ Mr. TINKER
It is very seldom that we get an opportunity of dealing with a Clause properly. To-night we have to get rid of Clauses 17 and 18 by 7.30. It will be impossible to touch Clause 18, and we shall not have dealt adequately 1614 with Clause 17. Therefore, we had to consider what Amendments could best be discussed. If Parliament had wanted to deal with this matter properly it would not restrict discussion in the way it has. Again and again we are confronted with the position under the present procedure as to whether we shall get a point dealt with adequately or whether it will be dealt with at all. I submit that there is no need for Sub-section (3), and I endorse the point raised by the hon. Member for Middlesbrough, West (Mr. K. Griffith). Surely the Minister's officials will have cognisance as to when the fund is not paying its way. As the returns come into the Department it will be clear whether or not there is a greater drain on the fund than there ought to be, in which case the Minister could draw the attention of the House to the matter; but a body is to be set up to deal with that point, and we say that it is redundant. The Committee will be able to deal with the position if the position arises that there is a surplus, and they will have the power to recommend how that surplus shall be applied. A committee of this character will not know the real feelings of the unemployed and if a surplus should arise they may recommend that it be devoted to clearing off the debt and not to applying it to increasing the benefit of the unemployed. That is the fear that we have.
The committee might recommend that the surplus should be devoted to a purpose to which it ought not to be devoted, seeing that such committee would not be under the eye of Parliament. If this matter were kept under the eye of Parliament and there was a surplus, Parliament could direct the Minister as to the way the surplus ought to go. We should suggest that the surplus should be devoted to increasing the benefits to the unemployed. I object to the setting up of a statutory body of the kind proposed. There is no need for it. If there is to be a statutory body, we say that it should not deal with finance but that it should draw the attention of the Minister to the anomalies that may arise. I object to a Clause which seeks to take power out of the hands of Parliament and to place it in the hands of a committee which may not have sympathy with the unemployed.
§ Mr. GLUCKSTEIN
If the hon. Member will look at the Second Schedule, 1615 paragraph 4, he will see that it provides how the members of the committee are to be appointed. One is to be appointed after consultation with organisations representative of workers. Does not that make any difference to the hon. Member's view?
§ Mr. TINKER
The Chairman would not allow me to wander away from the point. I know that there will be a representative of the trade unions on the Committee, but he will only be one voice and he will be controlled by the majority. I hope the Committee will accept the Amendment.
§ 4.43 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I am sorry that the hon. Member who moved the Amendment is not in his place because I want to put a question to him, as civilly as I can. The first part of the Amendment says:The Committee shall from time to time review the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Acts and if, in their opinion, any anomaly has arisen to the prejudice of any insured contributor or class of insured contributors, etc.Under the reading of the Amendment the Committee would have the power to make a recommendation with regard to any anomaly that may arise. That anomaly may relate to someone drawing benefit and they desired that he should not draw benefit. This is a point which has arisen before. The Labour Government argued on the last occasion in regard to anomalies that certain insured persons drew benefit and thereby inflicted a form of hardship on other insured persons. I do not favour the first part of the Amendment in regard to the power that it would give to the Committee. The last part of the Amendment limits the power of the Committee to the question of hardship, but in my view the Amendment, taken as a whole, is capable of being read in a way that I should certainly not stand for. I should not favour such a power being left in the hands of the Committee. We are dealing with a fundamental issue. We have been told that one-third of the Committee will come from the workpeople and that therefore the rights of the workers will be safeguarded. That is a very strong argument, on the face of it, to 1616 those newly taking part in matters connected with unemployment insurance. In my early days I was attracted by that argument, but experience is against it. Under the Anomalies Act an official board was set up consisting of seven people, three from the workers, and three other representatives with a chairman. There is an analogy in the proposal in the Bill. What did that board do? The former Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) accused the board of not doing their job properly, and when one looks at the recommendations of that board, which included trade union representatives, it means, in effect, that to-day nobody can trust them on these boards.
Take, for example, the recommendations of the Advisory Board in connection with anomalies. The only criticism made by hon. Members below was the administration of it. The Act was good, they said, but the administration was bad. Who was responsible for that? The board was responsible by reason of the recommendations which they made, and yet those recommendations showed that they were incapable of having a trust of this kind handed over to them. My fears about this board are not modified because one of the members is to come from the trades union movement. Indeed, my fears are greater, for many reasons. There might be something to be said on behalf of that if the member was responsible to the trade union movement, but when he goes on to this board he is no longer responsible to the trade union movement, but becomes a servant of the board and a man who has a salary and terms of office that put him outside the touch of anybody. He is no longer responsible to any body, but is the servant of a board set up to do certain duties under the Act. He is not subject to recall or to reappointment. He remains there immune, and consequently that is no safeguard at all from any point of view. Worse than that, it may well become, in my view, a scourge to the trade union movement, because the presence of that man on the board may be made the excuse for doing all sorts of dastardly things and hiding behind him.
I cannot see the Government's case. The Minister has to take the responsibility for any deficit. He will have to 1617 come to the House and say he needs more money or less money. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has to do that now. Why cannot they continue like that? What access to information will this board have that it is not open to the Minister or to any Member of the House? The duties of the board are to find out the state of the fund, whether there is or is not an income sufficient to meet the demand. Why cannot the Minister do that without burdening himself with this expense? Every penny that the board costs will have to come out of the unemployed man's benefit, and when you are taking away from a man's benefit to keep this board you must show as a business proposition what duties the board is performing, which the Minister cannot do now. Any tenth-rate clerk in the Ministry of Labour given the figures can say whether the fund is paying or not. Any person to whom you are paying 15s. 3d. a week who has been a clerk could do so.
I cannot see any justification why you should need this board and a chairman with a salary of thousands a year. The real purpose behind this board is clear. It is to take unemployment insurance out of politics. The Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer with one clerk can do everything it is to do. But in order to take this vexed question out of the House of Commons, and to make it less of a storm centre at elections, they propose this board so that when elections come Cabinet Ministers of all parties can say, "It was not us who reduced benefits, it was the board; and on it there is a trade union representative and he has agreed." The trade union movement is going to be driven into defending the reduced benefits, a position in which, whatever faults they may have had, I hope they will not be put in future. I hope the Minister when he is replying will tell me what duties these men will have to perform, what need there is to set up this board which cannot be met by the Minister, and why we should involve ourselves in this extra expense when the Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer can find out the fact and figures simply. Before embarking on expenditure of this kind the Government ought at least to defend it as a business-like proposition. While my feeling is to vote for the Amendment, I certainly view with 1618 suspicion, as I have said, the first part of it.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I will explain again. Under this Amendment the Committee have power to go into any anomaly. There might well be an anomaly affecting one person drawing benefit on which the Committee might say that that person is prejudicing somebody else's benefit.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I think the hon. Member will agree that the words of Sub-section (3) are the words that force the Committee to adjust the rates and conditions of benefit to the financial condition of the fund. If these words are left out and this power taken away, he will not be able to argue that one person is prejudicing others. I would like to point out that the words, "Without prejudice to any insured contributor" do safeguard against the danger.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I only put that point in view of my own experience that one anomaly may well be set against another, and for that reason I view with suspicion the first part of the Amendment. The second part I believe is limiting. I trust the Government will give some explanation for this change being made.
§ Sir GEORGE GILLETT
I do not want to follow the hon. Member in the point he has raised about the position of trade union representatives on these committees. On some of the former committees their services have been exceedingly valuable and I should much regret if the hon. Member's speech to-day led to the withdrawal of any of those members.
§ Sir G. GILLETT
It was one of the smaller committees dealing with the question of unemployment, on which there were representatives of the trade unions, and that committee did exceedingly useful work.
§ Sir G. GILLETT
Oh no, I said they were only small committees. I thought the statement of the hon. Member on trade union members serving on committees was exceedingly sweeping. I 1619 would like to point out that this is an advisory committee to give advice and assistance. Many of the remarks of the hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) would have been quite applicable to the second part of the Bill, but I cannot follow how they apply to this advisory committee which is being set up under the Clause now before us. The question has been raised how this committee might have been of assistance not only to the Government but also to those who are insured under this scheme. I would like to point out one very important occasion in recent years when I think this committee might have had an exceedingly important bearing. When the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) was Chancellor of the Exchequer, we first reached the point when the fund became what might be termed insolvent. I believe the first amount of the debt which finally accumulated to £115,000,000 came into existence during his Chancellorship. What would have been the effect if you had had an influential and independent committee to step forward at that moment and to say, "We consider that it is not fair or not desirable that this fund should be financed by loans"? The position would have been different.
Then you come to a second point, when the purposes of the fund were extended and benefits were paid under various names to those who were technically not entitled to them. There again you would have had this independent committee bringing forward the question publicly. When Mr. Snowden brought in his Budget, if a committee of this kind had reported that a debt was accumulating to the extent of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 or more, and that no provision was being made for it, I very much doubt whether such a committee's report would not have had a very profound influence.
§ Mr. MAXTON
On a point of Order. I protest. I have been one of the few Members who have sat here from the beginning of this discussion and have kept absolutely silent so that I might have an opportunity of speaking on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," and I am now listening to an hon. Member who is being deliberately disorderly and neglecting the Ruling of the Chair on this matter.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am very happy to listen to any point of Order, but I have listened carefully to the hon. Member for Finsbury (Sir G. Gillett) and at the moment I cannot rule him out of order.
§ Mr. MAXTON
The hon. Member for Finsbury (Sir G. Gillett) has not been in order for one minute since he has been on his feet.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It is for the Chairman and not for the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) to decide what is or is not in order. I take it he raises the point whether the argument of the hon. Member for Finsbury is in order or not. As I have said, I have been listening to the hon. Member's speech very carefully, and I am inclined to think that he is in order; but I was about to say that he must not discuss the question whether this Advisory Committee could or could not do certain things which are outside Sub-section (3), which the Amendment proposes to omit. As I followed the hon. Member's argument he was suggesting that if this Sub-section had been in operation three or four years ago this Advisory Committee, acting under this Sub-section, could have made recommendations stating whether in their opinion the fund was sufficient and no more than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities, and so on. I have been listening to what the hon. Member has said very carefully, and for the reason I have stated I think he has been in order so far; but he must bear in mind what I have ruled, namely, that he must not go beyond Sub-section (3).
§ Mr. MAXTON
With all respect I submit to you, as one who accepts your ruling, that the hon. Member for Finsbury was called upon by you to discuss the Amendment that is before the Committee. He has not come within 100 miles of the Amendment. He has not made the faintest reference to it in any way. He is now discussing a statutory Commission and the value that it might be. I know that you have other duties and responsibilities, but I have paid the closest attention to the hon. Member and he has not dealt with the Amendment even indirectly.
§ Sir G. GILLETT
The hon. Member who raised the point of Order has missed one of my points. It is quite true that I have not referred to the Amendment, 1621 because I do not agree with what it proposes, but what I do say is that the Committee which is being proposed under this Clause——
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is now really doing himself an injustice and putting me in an awkward position. If he has not been referring to the Amendment he is out of order. The first part of the Amendment which we are discussing is to leave out Sub-section (3). I have said that I thought the hon. Member's speech was in order so far as it came within the proposal to leave out Sub-section (3). To that extent and to that extent alone would he be in order, but he must confine his remarks to that point.
§ Sir G. GILLETT
What I was going to say was that one of the chief advantages of this Advisory Committee would be that under this Sub-section they would make recommendations if they thought that the fund was in a condition that was insufficient to discharge the liabilities. I was referring to the position into which the fund got two or three years ago. Under this Sub-section the Committee would have been enabled then to report publicly on the condition of the fund, and that, I believe, would have been of very great importance to the country at that time.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is all right and in order. But the hon. Member should not have stated that he was not speaking to the Amendment. I understood he was speaking to the first part of the Amendment, and not the second.
§ Sir G. GILLETT
I entirely agree. I was anxious to ask the Minister a question in regard to paragraph (a) of Sub-section (3). It refers to Part 2 of the Second Schedule. Under that Second Schedule are included a number of recommendations that the Minister may or may not make. If this Sub-section is left in the Bill are we to understand that if this Advisory Committee does make recommendations they in any way tie the hands of the Minister? Does the Clause in any way give the Advisory Committee power not only to make recommendations that the benefit should be reduced, but also that it should be increased, and would the Minister's position be different in any way from what it is now? Suppose that the Advisory Committee sug- 1622 gested that the payment to children should be increased and suppose that the Minister did not want to do it. Is the Minister bound to take that recommendation, or can he simply report to the House that he does not approve of the proposal? On the other hand if the Advisory Committee recommended that the payment should be increased by 1s., would the Minister still have power to say, "No, I think the payment ought to be increased by 2s.?" That, to my mind, is the vital point about this Advisory Committee. I cannot help feeling that some of the speeches made already refer much more to the second part of the Bill and the new statutory body that is to be brought into existence, a body which may have some influence upon the powers of the Minister; but as far as I can see this Committee is to be a purely Advisory Committee and I shall be glad of an assurance to that effect.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
Where in this Sub-section can the Advisory Committee recommend any increase in benefit?
§ Sir G. GILLETT
I am not in the legal world, but I suggest that the hon. Member should look at the Schedule, where he will find the words "the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1927, Section 4, Rates of Unemployment benefit." There are mentioned one or two Acts which deal with the benefit. I believe that it would be a distinct advantage to have this Advisory Committee drawing the attention of the public to such things as happened two or three years ago, and it would not be a danger by any means to those who are receiving benefit, but would save them from having the whole of the debt finally imposed on their fund.
§ Mr. GLUCKSTEIN
On a point of Order. We are now discussing an Amendment which seeks to leave out the whole of Sub-section (3). There is an Amendment on the Paper later, which seeks to leave out a portion of that Sub-section. Would it be in order, in the discussion on the present Amendment, to refer to matters dealt with in lines 5 to 11, which in their turn refer to Clause 18, or are you proposing hereafter to call the later Amendment?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is perhaps not familiar with the practice of the Committee. When the question is put it is put in such a way as to 1623 save subsequent Amendments to later parts of the Clause. The hon. Member cannot discuss on this Amendment the later one to which he has referred.
§ 5.13 p.m.
§ Mr. COVE
As far as I can gather from the the speech of the hon. Member for Finsbury (Sir G. Gillett) we are opposing this Clause on the very grounds on which he supports it. He suggested that if we had had an advisory committee of this kind before, the fund would not have got into the parlous condition that it is in now. He suggested that an advisory committee, of this kind would have saved us from debt. It is interesting to notice that this advisory committee has extremely limited powers as far as the Chancellor of the Exchequer is concerned. If I am incorrect I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will put me right. I find in the official explanation of this Clause issued by the Government this statement:The Committee will have power to make recommendations about the rates of contribution, but not the provision for the Exchequer contribution, to be equal to half the aggregate of the employers' and workers' contributions.I take it that that means that the advisory committee will have far more power in recommending increased contributions from the workers and the employers than it will have as far as the contribution of the Exchequer is concerned. My hon. Friend seems to be very much in love with the Statutory Committee this afternoon. If this body merely had the powers which he has suggested, it would be perfectly harmless, but in fact the Statutory Committee which is now being set up is meant to be much more than a harmless thing. If it is to be harmless, why, indeed, set it up at all? The Minister can do everything with the advice of his Deparament, that the Statutory Committee in that case could possibly do. I notice that my hon. Friend addressed his questions on this matter to the Minister of Labour. He ought to have addressed them to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. COVE
As far as I could gather, most of my hon. Friend's references were 1624 to the Minister of Labour, but, in this connection, the man who is more important than anybody else, is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. His presence here is extremely significant. The Minister of Labour sinks into the background and the Chancellor comes to the front when we are considering this matter. Finance dominates this Clause. I remember that the Chancellor of the Exchequer graced our proceedings with his presence on a previous occasion. That was when we were discussing the Financial Resolution. Behind the Minister in regard to this Clause, undoubtedly, is the Chancellor of the Exchequer determined to get his pound of flesh.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that the hon. Members way is not my way. If he wants to have has way at all, he must keep within Sub-section (3).
§ Mr. COVE
I am endeavouring to keep within the scope of Sub-section (3), and I am sure Sir Dennis you would not seek to prevent me putting my point in my own way, so long as I am trying to confine myself to the question at issue. Sub-section (3) deals with the functions of the Statutory Committee, and I suggest that its main function is not to be concerned with the human interests of the beneficiaries under the fund. This Clause lays down that the over-riding consideration is to be the solvency of the fund. Hence I was remarking on the importance and significance of the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have here the dominance of finance in the whole of the administration of the fund. Sub-section (3) embodies another important principle. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) has often been accused of wanting a dictatorship. Here we are to have the dictatorship of this Statutory Committee. We are to have legislation by Order. Would hon. Members agree to have legislation of that type covering the whole field of our activities?
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
On a point of Order. The second Schedule, to which Sub-section (3) refers, contains enactments in relation to the whole range of benefit. Alterations can be made in these by Order, in pursuance of Sub-section (3) which we desire to leave out. Is it not, therefore, in order for the hon. Member to refer, not only to the functions of the Statutory Committee but to the manner in which its recommendations would be given legislative effect?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member of course would be quite in order, within certain limits, in referring to Part 2 of the Second Schedule, but he cannot refer to and discuss the method of making Orders, which comes under a subsequent Sub-section.
§ Mr. COVE
I shall endeavour, Sir Dennis, to keep within your Ruling. In a discussion of this kind on a narrow Amendment, and having in mind all the time that the guillotine is in operation, it is extremely difficult for the Opposition to put their case. I think, however, I am in order in emphasising that the Minister is determined that whatever else happens the fund shall be self-balancing and solvent, and that one of the first charges upon it shall be the repayment of debt. This Statutory Committee is to work an insurance fund. We are told that we are now going back to the principle of insurance. We are told that this Statutory Committee is to look round to see if there is enough money to pay the benefits accruing, and that, if not, the situation is to be reviewed at least once a year. That is an easy way of running an insurance fund. I myself, I believe, with the limited knowledge which I have could run an insurance fund if I had the power which the Statutory Committee presumably will have, of ignoring contractual obligations, and of saying, if there is not enough money in the fund, that the contributors must immediately pay more. I always understood that any person who took out an insurance policy did so with the idea that the premium to be paid, say in 1934, would be the premium normally payable over the whole period, until the insurance had 1626 fructified and the amount had been paid. This Statutory Committee is to have the power to say that they will raise contributions and lower benefits. That is the kind of insurance we are going to have—and we want experts from outside the Ministry of Labour for it. I think the real purpose of this Statutory Committee is to be found in the evidence of the Government Actuary to the Royal Commission. There we find these significant words:I go no further than to say I see no principle which would require the three parties each to pay the same. If present circumstances require the contribution to be put up, it does seem to me that, as the Exchequer is responsible for the whole cost of transitional benefit, there is a very strong argument for putting the additional contribution on one or both of the other two parties, and putting nothing further on the Exchequer.Therefore, the contribution of the workman or the contribution of the employer may be raised. The solvency of the fund is to be achieved at the expense, in the first place, of the unemployed. No human considerations are allowed to enter. Our Amendment endeavours under great difficulties to secure that some human consideration shall enter into the matter. The unemployed are to pay in increased contributions or lowered benefits for the solvency of the fund, and the repayment of debt. The whole business of discussing the details of the conditions of these people will be taken out of the hands of Parliament and handed over to the Statutory Committee. I cannot believe that anybody who believes in democratic government and has at heart the prestige of the House of Commons, will vote for such a proposal. It may be said that there will be some representation from the Labour side, and that some amelioration can be gained in that way. I, for one, will not support any oligarchy of this kind, whatever its composition, and I shall go into the Lobby with the greatest pleasure to vote for the Amendment and against the Government's proposals.
§ 5.25 p.m.
§ Captain Sir WILLIAM BRASS
The hon. Member who has just sat down seemed to be discussing the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," and not the Amendment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think it would be better, and would shorten the Debate, if these questions of order were, as far as possible, left to me.
§ Sir W. BRASS
I am sorry if I have offended you, Sir Dennis, but I was merely saying that that was how the hon. Member's argument appeared to me. I propose to return to the actual terms of this Amendment. The Amendment starts by proposing to leave out Sub-section (3). As far as that part of it is concerned, I disagree with the hon. Members who have supported it. I think we want to have Sub-section (3) in the Bill, and I agree that the fund ought to be kept self-supporting. But, as regards the second part of the Amendment, which proposes to insert certain words, I would urge my right hon. Friend the Minister to consider that proposal. I would like, if possible, to retain Sub-section (3) and to insert some words such as are proposed in the second part of the Amendment. I have found in my constituency a large number of hard cases which have arisen during the last few years. The Amendment proposes to insert words to the effect that this Statutory Committee is to review the operation of the Act and if in their opinion any undue hardships exist, then they can make certain recommendations to the Minister. I think the Statutory Committee ought to be able to do that.
Under Sub-section (5), Clause 19, the Minister may from time to time refer to the Statutory Committee, for consideration and advice, such questions relating to the operation of the Act as he thinks fit. I would not leave the matter there. I want the Statutory Committee to be forced to make recommendations, if certain things exist. I want "shall" instead of "may." If the Minister could accept the words proposed in this Amendment in addition to Sub-section (3) he would then be in a position, not only to get the fund solvent, but to be able to look into hard cases. We should not be in the position of being told by the Minister when we submit to him letters from our constituents, "I have no power to do this or that because of an Umpire's or referee's decision," and I do not want again to be placed in that position. I want this committee to have the power to be able to review these things, not because the Minister asks them to do it, 1628 but because they have a duty to perform under the Bill in looking into these things as well as keeping the fund solvent. Would it not be possible to have both these things in the Bill, to have the committee set up to keep the fund solvent and make recommendations where possible either to reduce contributions or to increase benefits, where there is a surplus in the fund, and also to adjust any hardship which may exist? I should like to have added at the end of the Amendment some such words as: "with an estimated cost of what those recommendations would result in."
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
If the Amendment were accepted, the same position would arise, because the committee would still be under an obligation to keep the fund solvent.
§ Sir W. BRASS
I agree that the duty of the Committee is to keep the fund solvent, and I think it should. I think the Committee should also recommend, as a first call on the fund, that if any hardships did exist, the fund should remedy them, and that it should not merely be left with the Minister to ask the Committee whether in fact there are these anomalies. I would ask the Minister to consider whether he could not accept that in addition to the Amendment.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ Sir GEOFFREY ELLIS
It is a pity that these two principles could not have been kept entirely separate, because it seems to me that the point of view taken in the Amendment in substitution would really have been better in addition. The recommendation for the financial committee to deal with hard cases is rather a large order in such a comprehensive Bill as this, and I should have thought that all hard cases—because they can never stop at a single hard case, but every case may have repercussions right through the Bill—ought to have been dealt with in any Amendment to the Bill, and I should object to this House giving up any of its functions, in the nature of a general amendment of the Bill, to a committee established primarily for financial purposes.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
That is what we are doing. If the hon. Member will look at the functions referred to in Sub-section 1629 (3), which we are proposing to leave out, and to the Schedule, he will see that it relates to all matters affecting unemployment insurance.
§ Sir G. ELLIS
I have read these Sub-sections and the Schedule, and I hope I understand the implications of both, and all I have to say is that if the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) would for the moment get his mind away from the Amendment and consider the two principles, namely, the financial side and the general political side, he would find that primarily this committee is concerned with finance and recommendations on finance. It is a very complicated Clause, and I want to ask that we might, I will not say be reassured, but have it explained to us what exactly this committee can do. I do not want the whole thing in detail, of course, but may I put a question in this way to make the point clear? I understand that if at any time the fund becomes what in the old days in the friendly society world we used to call unfinancial—and really the whole of this procedure in a sense has grown out of our friendly society finance—that this committee shall then have the duty to examine all the conditions under which insurance is made, both as to contributions and as to benefits, that it will then make a recommendation having all these factors in mind, and, having examined the different sets of contributions, to see whether one set of contributors was not getting a fair show in relation to others, so, having looked at the whole scale in regard to fairness one in relation to the other, recommend some variation either in contributions or in benefits.
That is one point—if there is any surplus, to arrange how that surplus should be dealt with; and there again you come directly into the question, not of contributions, I think this time, but the question only of extra benefits. I understand that that is primarily what this committee is set up for. If its duty is to go further than this, having regard to the fact, of course, that it will have to take into account to a large extent the nature of the work that is done by the people who contribute, is it to go into a question of general policy not primarily connected with contributions? I do not read it so, as some hon. Members do. It is important from the point of view of those of us who look at it from a finan- 1630 cial aspect alone, and that is the question which I wish, with all respect to put to the Government.
§ 5.38 p.m.
§ Mr. CHARLES BROWN
We do not object to what was said by the hon. Member who has just sat down when he called attention to the fact that the duties of this committee are purely financial, but we say, "What is the need for setting up this committee merely to deal with financial matters?" We propose, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) said, to leave out the Sub-section which makes the chief duty of this committee the business of keeping the fund solvent. The Minister has a very special regard for what he almost calls, at times, the sacredness of the insurance principle, and I can very well understand that he does not want to see the claims which have been made for this Bill falsified by subsequent events, because I imagine that every Minister who has brought in an Unemployment Insurance Bill has claimed that his scheme would remain actuarially sound, but every scheme propounded to the House so far has been falsified by events, not because the Minister for the time being had not at his disposal all the facts which were necessary to inform him of the actual condition of the fund. He has had any amount of information about the rise and fall of unemployment, seasonal fluctuations, and everything that he could desire, and he has known all the time what was happening to the fund and whether or not it was solvent at a given moment.
No new material of that kind is likely to come into the hands of this statutory Advisory Committee, and if I remember rightly the Parliamentary Secretary, in the Second Beading Debate, told the House of Commons that even in a bad year like 1932, when unemployment was very bad, 85 per cent. of the unemployed would be dealt with under Part I of this Bill. All the prophecies that Ministers have made when they have brought forward these Bills with a sound actuarial basis have been falsified by events. The deteriorating economic conditions have falsified all their prophecies. The Minister knows very well that he may be in the same position, if he is not very careful, in the future. So he comes along with a proposal to set up a statutory Advisory Committee, whose main 1631 business it is to maintain the fund solvent; that is to say, if economic conditions outside deteriorate more and more, the fund is still to be kept solvent by this committee. They will be able to do that, in view of deteriorating economic conditions, in only one way, and that is by putting increasing pressure upon the unemployed, either by reducing benefits or by increasing contributions. That is the only way in which they will be able to operate. I know we shall be told—it is a foregone conclusion—that this statutory committee is a piece of political wisdom. It is not. It is sheer political cowardice.
§ 5.42 p.m.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
In listening to the criticisms of hon. Members opposite, I cannot forget the attitude of mind which they have repeatedly expressed towards the whole idea of an unemployment insurance system. They do not believe in unemployment insurance. They would like to destroy the present system, and the Amendments which they put down on the Paper have always at the back of them the hope that in some way they may render the working of this unemployment insurance system impossible. It is perfectly true that the main function of the Statutory Advisory Committee is to act as a sort of automatic governor of the Unemployment Insurance Fund, to see that it neither accumulates a surplus far beyond what is necessary for its functioning nor, on the other hand, runs into a position of insolvency or deficiency which will lead to a repetition of that system of borrowing from the Treasury which was so largely responsible for the disastrous condition of affairs in 1931.
We are here dealing with an Amendment which is confined to a particular Sub-section of the Clause, and for that reason I do not propose to enter upon any general definition or description of the functions of this Committee or to make more than a passing allusion to other Sections or Clauses. I would, however, remind the Committee that the suggestion that this is a merely mechanical body, whose whole mind will be occupied with purely financial considerations, that no thought of what have sometimes been described as the human interests 1632 of the insured, employed or unemployed, will be relevant to their consideration, is founded on a complete misapprehension or misrepresentation—I am not quite certain which—of the actual terms of the Bill. It is true, of course, that the recommendations under Sub-section (3), and those only, can only be made in one of two events—in the event either of a continuing surplus or a continuing deficiency. But on either of these events arising, it will be for the Committee to make a recommendation either for meeting the deficiency or for the disposal of the surplus, and they have a very wide discretion given to them in both cases as to what recommendations they will make. If I correctly understood my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Sir G. Ellis), he thought that in the case of a surplus the Committee could only make recommendations for an increase of benefit——
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
Apparently, my hon. Friend is under the impression that they can deal only with benefits when there is a surplus. I see no such limitation in the Bill. On the contrary, the Bill says that they may make recommendations for the amendment of the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Acts referred to in Part II of the Second Schedule. If hon. Members will turn to Part II of the Second Schedule, they will see that the first one mentioned there isstatutory conditions for receipt of unemployment benefit.That or any other of the many subjects mentioned in that part of the Schedule could form the subject of the recommendations of the Committee for the dissolution of the surplus.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am confining myself to the Bill, and I say that any one of those subjects which are mentioned in Part II of that Schedule can be dealt with. I think that we are clear as to that. I need hardly point out that in the exercise of their discretion over that wide field there is every reason why the Committee should enter into all those human and varied interests of the different classes of contributors which their experience by that time would have fitted 1633 them to consider. It is entirely wrong, therefore, to suggest that those considerations are not germane to the duties of the Committee.
Let me deal with another point which has frequently been brought up in the discussion. Hon. Members have asked why it is necessary to set up any such body at all to take care of the finance of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) went so far as to say that all the salaries of the members of this Committee will come out of the fund and will to that extent diminish the benefits under the fund; and he said that there was therefore no reason why the Committee should be appointed. If the hon. Member will look at the Schedule he will see that the salaries do not come out of the fund, but are paid by the Minister, and therefore come out of voted money. He did not confine his argument mainly to that point, but I mention it because it is necessary to correct any misapprehensions which are expressed in the discussion.
I come back to the question why we want to appoint a Committee to find out what the Minister ought to be able to find out for himself. I wonder whether hon. Members have read the Report of the Royal Commission. If they have, they have not paid attention to the parts of it which seem to me relevant to this part of the Bill. I ask the Committee to turn to page 163 of the report. I will read one or two passages, because they show the considerations that were present to the mind of the Commission when it recommended the appointment of the Statutory Committee. They pointed out in paragraph 288 that there had been for a very long time on the Statute Book particular powers and duties of Ministers in respect of the solvency of the fund. They point out that in the Act of 1920 it is provided thatif it appears to the Treasury at any time that the Unemployment Fund is in all the circumstances of the case in danger of becoming insolvent, the Minister shall, if the Treasury so direct, by order, make such temporary modifications in any of the rates of contribution, or the rates or periods of unemployment benefit, and during such period, as the Minister thinks fit, and as will on the whole, in the opinion of the Treasury be sufficient to secure the solvency of the Unemployment Fund.That was in 1920, and we all know that after that year there must have been 1634 numerous occasions when one would have supposed that it would have appeared to the Treasury that the Unemployment Fund was in all the circumstances of the case in danger of becoming insolvent; and one would have expected, therefore, that they would have called upon the Minister to make an Order of the kind contemplated in the Act. As the Commission point out, no such powers were ever exercised, and they observe thatthe atrophy of these Ministerial powers may have come about because amending legislation was constantly needed on subjects other than finance, and it was the line of least resistance to include financial proposals within a Bill which was necessary in any case.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
On a point of Order. Are we to be permitted to follow the right hon. Gentleman in reply? Many of us could not buttress our arguments by quotation, because we would have been pulled up. Now the Chancellor is giving a general defence of the setting up of the Statutory Committee as such. I should like to ask your Ruling whether we shall be permitted to follow the right hon. Gentleman in replying to his arguments.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must confess that I was not following the Chancellor of the Exchequer, being busy considering another point arising, but, of course, hon. Members know there is nothing to prevent them continuing the discussion within the limits of the Guillotine. As the hon. Member has raised the point of Order, I will endeavour to follow the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I cannot admit that that is so. The right hon. Gentleman has defended the setting up of the committee for the purpose of showing what the effect would be if the Amendment were carried.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
It is not necessary for me to say any more in reply to the hon. Member's point after that observation. In the next paragraph of the report the Commission goes on to saythere is no guarantee that in future the principles of insurance will be maintained in the face of adverse conditions.1635 That is not a matter of any concern to hon. Members opposite. To those who believe in insurance principles it is of the first importance. The report goes on:The Government of the day and Parliament tend to adopt the course which is politically easiest. … Each successive Government has made changes in the scheme, which have been determined less by the need for the careful balancing of income and expenditure than by a desire to attract, or do as little as possible to repel, electoral support.They conclude the paragraph by saying:Insufficient attention has been given to the danger, created by this course of action, of causing fresh unemployment and placing impediments in the path of economic recovery and increased employment. On this ground alone, we have reached the conclusion that there is need for an impartial body outside the immediate political arena which has the duty of keeping the unemployment insurance scheme constantly under review, and of suggesting changes in the scheme which will maintain its finances upon a sound basis.That is the explanation and the justification for the setting up of the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee with the functions which are given to it under Sub-section (3). That Sub-section is, therefore, in our view, essential to maintain the financial solvency of the fund in future. I would point out to hon. Members who dwell very largely upon possible deficiencies, that it is equally important that we should deal, and deal quickly, with continuing surpluses. [Laughter.] I am puzzled to know what causes so much amusement.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am not talking about that part of the Sub-section, but the other part. The earlier part is the subject of a separate Amendment, and I will have the opportunity of saying something on that. I am merely thinking of the alterations in the basis, and it may be the rates, of contributions and benefits or of the benefits of dependants, and all this can be done rapidly under this procedure without requiring a new Act of Parliament. It seems to me to be very much in the interest of the unemployed, for they will be able to get more advantage from the surplus in this way 1636 than if there were to be a new Act of Parliament, in which case there would be considerable delay.
My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir W. Brass) thinks that there is some good in the Amendment which it is proposed to substitute for Sub-section (3), and he has suggested that possibly an improvement might be made if it were added. When I first saw the Amendment I looked at it with the same idea in my mind, and I tried to find whether there was something in it which it would be an advantage to add. But, after carefully considering it, I came to the conclusion that really this body is not equipped for the sort of purpose which is contemplated in the Amendment. It is not equipped to make a constant survey of all the operations of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. It has not the staff, and it would require a very large staff, not only a central staff but a regional staff, if it were to undertake any duties of that kind. When you come to think of it, it is not as if hardships, or anomalies or injustices were likely to remain hidden under a bushel. People generally are aware of the readiness of their representatives in this House to hear any complaints they may have, and to examine into them, and, if they think they are well-founded, to bring them to the Minister concerned. The Bill says in a later Clause—Clause 19 (5)—that the Minister, on receiving these complaints, may refer them to the Statutory Committee for advice.
The Committee, therefore, will have not only the whole situation before them, but the opportunity of considering the complaints, and of making recommendations to the Minister as to the best way of meeting them. I think it is important to remember that the initiative, so long as it is with the Minister, imposes a duty and a responsibility upon him. If we took the initiative from the Minister and gave it to the Statutory Committee, as is proposed, it might be open to the Minister to say of any particular complaint: "I am not going to listen to that, because I have had no representations made to me by the Committee." I suggest that it is wise that the responsibility should rest upon the Minister, who by a Sub-section of Clause 19, is given power to refer such matters to the Committee for their advice and assistance.
§ Sir W. BRASS
While thanking my right hon. Friend, may I ask him one question? In the Sub-section of Clause 19 to which he referred it says that the Minister may from time to time refer these matters to the Committee. Will the Minister consider the advisability of substituting the word "shall" for the word "may"?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that this Committee would be a charge on the Treasury and not on the fund. According to the Second Schedule, it says that the expenses of the Committee:to such an amount as may be approved by the Treasury (including such salaries or other remuneration paid to all or any of the members as the Minister with the consent of the Treasury may determine) …. shall be paid by the Minister.That is, paid by the Minister of Labour and not by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
It will come under the Ministry's Vote and will not be paid out of the Insurance Fund?
§ Mr. MAXTON
The point we are making is whether the language of the Schedule is specific. The amount is to be approved by the Treasury but paid by the Minister. Does that mean paid out of the Ministry of Labour Vote, or might it be paid out of the Unemployment Insurance Fund?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I apologise to the hon. Member. He is perfectly right. Although it says that it is to be paid by the Minister, I find that the amount is recoverable later from the fund.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I wanted to let the Committee have as much latitude as I could, in view of the amount of ground to be covered, but I have come to the definite conclusion that the questions which have been asked of the Minister and his replies go beyond this Amendment.
§ 6.4 p.m.
§ Mr. ARTHUR GREENWOOD
I will promise not to deal with any point raised by those questions, but I must ask to be allowed to reply to the points raised 1638 by the Chancellor in his speech. The real issue on this Amendment is a perfectly simple one. The Amendment is moved to leave out Sub-section (3) of Clause 17 and to substitute other words. The issue is whether financial considerations are to be dominant, or human considerations. The Chancellor said this body was not to be regarded as a mechanical body, but that it would have regard to human interests. It is a strange life we are living now, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is sent here to defend human interests as against money interests. The proof that Sub-section (3) of Clause 17 is primarily financial in its intentions is the fact that the Chancellor is here. We welcome him. It is the first day he has been with us in this Committee. He will not appear again until there are some more financial considerations, and then he will be here defending the Treasury. It is nonsense for hon. Members opposite to talk about human interests in connection with this particular Sub-section and the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
The real point to which we are drawing attention in this Amendment is this: The Statutory Committee have to report every year, but if it looks likely that the fund is becoming bankrupt they must report immediately. That means that finance is the overriding consideration. The right hon. Gentleman has spoken about balancing the fund, has spoken of it as insurance, has quoted the terms of the Royal Commission. Let me say, as I have said before, that this is not an insurance scheme at all. This may be bookkeeping and accountancy, but it is not insurance. What would be the position of the large insurance companies if they were to set up a commission and say: "We are very sorry, but those of you who insured in 1920 and with whom we have contractual relations as to benefits cannot go on enjoying those benefits because we really have not enough money in the bank"? That is what this scheme is for—to balance this fund. That is the right hon. Gentleman's immediate idea, though he may have another one two months from now, when his Budget is before us. To balance the fund may be bookkeeping, but it is not insurance. What the Statutory Committee will have to say to people who have been in insurance since unemployment insurance was first established will be: "Notwithstanding legislation, 1639 Acts of Parliament after Acts of Parliament, we must balance this fund, without regard to our original contractual obligations." That is not insurance, it is bookkeeping, and it is bookkeeping inspired by a desire to balance the fund.
It is clear from the words of the Clause that the primary duty of this Statutory Committee is not to care for the unemployed but to care for the Chancellor of the Exchequer. With all respect to him, he needs less caring for than the unemployed. If we have an unemployment insurance scheme under national auspices its primary duty ought to be to care for the unemployed, and not to have primarily in mind the right hon. Gentleman's Budget. It is of no use for him to point to the Report of the Royal Commission. He has been a sinner himself. He has been in office during a considerable part of the period during which the Treasury have not seen that the fund was kept solvent. Why? Because broad human considerations overrode the letter of the law. It is a very serious reflection on a National Government which is supposed to have regard to big national considerations that it should be trying to implement what has been the law of the land since 1920 as regards the balancing of the fund, although the Chancellor and his colleagues have time and time again cast that law aside. It is a serious reflection on a National Government that it should be prepared now to subordinate all human considerations in order to maintain the financial stability of a fund which is purely arbitrary in its nature. The Bill puts on this Committee the responsibility of making recommendations, not that the right hon. Gentleman should pay a little more to help to maintain the solvency of the fund but the responsibility of saying: "There may be a deficit; we recommend that it should be made up out of the unemployed in this, that or the other way."
That is the real problem with which we are faced on this Amendment. It is a question of whether financial considerations are to override human considerations. The fund has been in debt almost ever since it was started. The right hon. Gentleman has been a member of two or three Governments during the period when it has been in debt and he has acquiesced in its being in debt. He knew 1640 perfectly well that in the circumstances of the time there were more people than there were jobs, that, willy nilly, people were out of work, and that the basis of the fund was never an insurance scheme as properly understood. Its basis has been changed time and time again, and now, in what I am bound to regard as the narrowest financial interest, an attempt is being made to keep the fund solvent at any cost. We must remember the limitations within which the Statutory Committee will be working.
Suppose there were some great economic cataclysm either in the Far West or the Far East within the next six months, and that as a result, through no fault of the National Government, the number of unemployed in this country doubled within the next year. I should not blame the National Government, because it would be due to world economic causes. But what would be the responsibility of the Committee in those circumstances? The world may shake, civilisation may come down, the standard of life may be reduced by a half—but the fund must remain solvent. Contributions might be increased, benefits would have to be reduced. That is not a satisfactory situation with any national unemployment scheme. The right hon. Gentleman suggested, quoting from the Report, that unemployment insurance should be outside the political arena, and this method is suggested as a way of securing that object. You can never keep hunger, poverty and injustice outside the political arena. The idea that you can keep health insurance, unemployment insurance and all the big things which the State does or does not do which affect the everyday working life of the people out of politics is fantastic. It cannot be done.
Of course this is politics. It is the worst kind of politics. This Sub-section is a deliberate attempt on the part of the National Government to anchor down the present scale of benefit, and, if the fund is not paying its way, notwithstanding the economic circumstances or the poverty of the people, to enable the board to recommend to a Government which will accept their recommendation the reduction of unemployment benefit. That is political. Our answer to that is that this kind of power should not be in the hands of the board. The primary responsibility 1641 ought to rest with the Minister. With the last part of the speech of the Chancellor, made in answer to a question, I agree; I do not want to take the responsibility from the Minister of Labour, but to keep it there. I do not want people who are removed from public criticism, who have never to face public platforms and who never come to this House, to make recommendations to a weak Government who will accept those recommendations in order still further to penalise the unemployed. I want responsibility to rest where it should rest—upon the Minister of Labour.
That is why we put down this Amendment. It is only one of a series of Amendments that we could have put down in order to tranfer the bias from purely financial considerations to primarily human considerations. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said his word, but the
§ Minister of Labour has not spoken in this Debate because he is the handmaiden of the Treasury in this matter. He has not a soul to call his own, and he must say what the Treasury says on this question. He has had sufficient experience now to realise the hardships that there are in the homes of the unemployed, but when it comes to a question of money it is the Chancellor of the Exchequer who cracks the whip. The very fact that the Chancellor has graced the Committee with his presence to-day is sufficient justification for my hon. Friend's Amendment. What matters most is the question of money rather than the condition of the unemployed.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out, to the end of line 34, stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 292; Noes, 61.1643
|Division No. 97.]||AYES.||[6.20 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Colfox, Major William Philip||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Albery, Irving James||Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Graves, Marjorie|
|Alexander, Sir William||Conant, R. J. E.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Cooke, Douglas||Greene, William P. C.|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Cooper, A. D[...]||Grigg, Sir Edward|
|Apsley, Lord||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Grimston, R. V.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Craven-Ellis, William||Gritten, W. G. Howard|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Crooke, J. Smedley||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)|
|Balniel, Lord||Cross, R. H.||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Crossley, A. C.||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hartland, George A.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Davison, Sir William Henry||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Denville, Alfred||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Dickie, John P.||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Donner, P. W.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)|
|Blindell, James||Doran, Edward||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Drewe, Cedric||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Boulton, W. W.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Dunglass, Lord||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Eales, John Frederick||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Eden, Robert Anthony||Hors-Belisha, Lesile|
|Bracken, Brendan||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Hurd, Sir Percy|
|Burnett, John George||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romford)|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Flint, Abraham John||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Fox, Sir Gifford||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Carver, Major William H.||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Ganzonl, Sir John||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Glossop, C. W. H.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Birm., W)||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Goff, Sir Park||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Goldie, Noel B.||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Gower, Sir Robert||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Levy, Thomas||Percy, Lord Eustace||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Lewis, Oswald||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)||Petherick, M.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Stevenson, James|
|Mabane, William||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Stones, James|
|MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Storey, Samuel|
|MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|McKie, John Hamilton||Ramsbotham, Herwald||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|McLean, Major Sir Alan||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Macpherson Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Magnay, Thomas||Remer, John R.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Maitland, Adam||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Ropner, Colonel L.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Ross, Ronald D.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Martin, Thomas B.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Runge, Norah Cecil||Train, John|
|Meller, Sir Richard James||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Tree, Ronald|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Salt, Edward W.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Munro, Patrick||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Nunn, William||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-In-F.)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Patrick, Colin M.||Somervell, Sir Donald||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'oaks)|
|Peake, Captain Osbert||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Pearson, William G.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Penny, Sir George||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert|
|Ward and Lord Erskine.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Briant, Frank||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Groves, Thomas E.||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Grundy, Thomas W.||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cove, William G.||Harris, Sir Percy||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Holdsworth, Herbert||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Daggar, George||Janner, Barnett||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Johnstone, Harcourt (S. Shields)||Thorne, William James|
|Dobble, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Edwards, Charles||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||White, Henry Graham|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Kirkwood, David||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lawson, John James||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Logan, David Gilbert||Wilmot, John|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lunn, William||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Mr. John and Mr. G. Macdonald.|
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
Before I call on the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) to move the Amendment standing in his name and in the name of other hon. Members, I ought to warn him that I had very grave doubts as to whether his Amendment is in order. At the moment I am 1644 giving him the benefit of the doubt, but, if discussion proves that my doubts are well founded, I shall have to withdraw the Amendment.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I beg to move, in page 14, line 35, to leave out paragraph (a), and to insert instead thereof: 1645(a) recommendations for improvements of the benefits of the insured contributors and of the necessary additional contribution from the Treasury which would be necessary for providing such improvements and for the financial stability of the insurance fund.I do not wish to take up a long time on this Amendment, but I regard it as an Amendment of great importance. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a recent speech, said that the Statutory Committee had power to review the whole ramifications of the fund. The point about which hon. Members here feel concerned is not so much the right of the Statutory Committee to recommend increases; what they feel worried and distressed about is the fact that unemployment may rise, conditions may get worse, and in that case the Statutory Committee, backed by the Minister, have power to recommend a reduction as well as an increase, or, what is equivalent to a reduction, a tightening up of statutory conditions or a shortening of the period of insurance benefit. I have felt that at times in previous discussions the issue has not been made clear. At one moment it was thought that the Statutory Committee had the right only to recommend increases, while at the next moment it seemed as though they only had the right to recommend a decrease. I accept the view of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which I think is that the Committee have a right to recommend either an increase or a decrease, according to the condition in which they find the fund at a particular time.
Having regard to these facts, my Friends and I have put down the present Amendment, which says that the Statutory Committee shall definitely have no power to recommend a decrease in any of the benefits outlined in the Bill. At present, the Statutory Committee would have the power to recommend that the allowance for a child should be reduced; they would have the power to recommend that the amount of a man's or woman's benefit should be reduced; they would have the power to curtail the amount of standard benefit that shall be received. The Amendment says in effect that the Statutory Committee shall not have the power to recommend a decrease, but only to recommend an increase. We think that the House of Commons ought to say that the present rates of benefit are low enough, without giving power to 1646 a Committee to recommend less. Surely, after the Debate the other night, when it was argued that 2s. was not enough for a child, we cannot hand over to a Committee the right to lessen that benefit, or recommend that it be lessened. We say that the present rates of benefit are the absolute minimum upon which the unemployed can live, and that the only duty of the Statutory Committee, so far as benefits and conditions of benefits are concerned, should be to recommend an improvement. There are other points with regard to the Treasury's expenses, but the main principle that we raise—it has been raised already, but not as clearly as we are doing now—is that the House of Commons ought not to allow the Statutory Committee to have power to recommend a decrease in benefit.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer said that human considerations would come within the purview of the Committee, but to recommend a decrease in the amount now received would in itself mean that the Committee would be lacking in human consideration, and if the Chancellor of the Exchequer is right, and human considerations have to be taken into account, they cannot be taken into account if a decrease is recommended. No body, however important it may be, should be given the power to recommend that a child should have to live upon less than 2s. a week, that a woman should have to live on less than 13s. 6d., that a man should have to live on less than 15s. 3d., or that a man should have to keep himself, his wife and two children on 27s. 3d. a week. No committee in this country is good enough to possess such powers. It may contain a representative of the Trades Union Congress General Council; I care not; even if it included the whole General Council I would not give the Committee that power. It is too great a power for any body outside the House of Commons to possess. This power of life and death ought only to be vested in one body, and that is the House of Commons. The Statutory Committee should have no power to interfere with these minimum rates now established. Whatever rights may be given to the Statutory Committee, do not give them the right to interfere with what are already shockingly low standards. To hand over such a right to anyone else would be a shocking dereliction of our duty.
§ 6.38 p.m.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
On a point of Order. The hon. Member has not really dealt with the second line of his Amendment, which is the line on which I should imagine the question of Order would arise. I submit to you, Sir, that we ought to know what he means by that second line before we proceed any further with the discussion. If it means, as it appears to mean, that any additional expense put upon the fund by recommendations for the improvement of the benefits of insured contributors should be provided by the Treasury, and by the Treasury alone, then I should submit that that is out of order.
§ 6.39 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On that point, it will be noted that we do not say in our Amendment that these recommendations should come into operation at once. We say that the committee shall have the power to make recommendations to increase benefits. It will be for the committee to make a recommendation to that effect. If the Treasury think that the recommendation is correct, it will be for the Treasury then to introduce a Financial Resolution. We do not say in the Amendment, because it would be out of order to say, that a Treasury grant shall be made. What we say is that the power shall be vested in the committee to recommend a Treasury grant. If the Treasury feel that that is correct, then it is for the Treasury to introduce the appropriate Financial Resolution. We should accept your Ruling that we should have been out of order if we had said that a Treasury grant should be made, but what we say is that the committee shall have power to recommend a Treasury grant. It will be within the power of the Statutory Committee to recommend an increase in contributions, and, if the contributions are raised, the Treasury's contribution is automatically raised, so that already the committee have the power to recommend that the Treasury contribution be raised. All that we ask is that the same principle should be extended to the benefits.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that the hon. Member has not quite appreciated the effect of his Amendment. If it were solely an Amendment giving power to make a recommendation which would afterwards have 1648 to be implemented by legislation, his statement would be correct, but, if he will look at Sub-sections (5) and (6) of the Clause, he will observe that it is provided that a recommendation made by the Statutory Committee shall be laid before Parliament by the Minister. If I understand the hon. Member rightly, he proposes in his Amendment that any extra cost should be borne by the Treasury; in other words, he desires that the Minister shall lay on the Table of the House a draft Order putting an additional charge on the Treasury. I think that in that the hon. Member is overlooking the effect of sub-paragraph (b) of paragraph (2) of the Financial Resolution, which clearly lays down that under the Bill no Amendment can be moved which would enable the balance between the rate of the Treasury contribution and the rate of contribution of employers and employed to be altered. At the present moment the Treasury contribution will amount to one-half of the joint contribution of employers and employed. When I gave the hon. Member the benefit of the doubt, I was not certain whether he was proposing to raise all the contributions, from employers and employed and from the Treasury, or whether he was proposing merely to raise the contribution from the Treasury, but it seems to me now that he is proposing to raise the Treasury contribution only, and in that case his Amendment would be out of order.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
On that point of Order. We take the view that, if it were possible, the whole increase should come from the Treasury, but, sooner than see the standards of the unemployed lowered, sooner than see, for instance, the children's allowance of 2s. reduced to 1s. 9d., we would agree to another method. In order to safeguard the point that the Statutory Committee should have no right to recommend a decrease, but only an increase, we are prepared to let that point go. Already it will be possible under the Financial Resolution to increase the Treasury contribution, and we cannot see the difference. The principle that we value is that the Statutory Committee should have no power to recommend a decrease, but only power to recommend an increase, even if it has to come from all three sources, and we should like that principle to be tested by a vote here.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that, as the hon. Member's Amendment has been called from the Chair, I cannot now take it in an altered form, but, the more I listen to the hon. Member, the more I am convinced that the Amendment would place an increased charge on the Treasury. That is specifically not provided for under that part of the Financial Resolution, which provides for the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament of:any increase attributable to Part I of the said Act in the sum payable out of moneys provided by Parliament by virtue of Sub-section (3) of Section five of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920"—that is the one that lays down that the State shall contribute as well as the employers and the employed. Then it goes on to say:as amended by Section 1 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1929.That is the Section that lays down definite proportions between the three contributories. If the committee made a recommendation that the rates of benefit were to be raised both on the employer and the employed, and that in itself necessitated a higher grant from the Treasury, that is covered by the Resolution. An Amendment which proposes that any higher contribution shall be made only from the Treasury is outside the scope of the Resolution, and I am afraid I must rule the Amendment out of order.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
May I ask you, Captain Bourne, to consider it for a moment longer? You have already ruled in order an increase of benefit from 2s. to 3s. for the children. All that we are asking here is that the committee shall have power to recommend increases. We are not saying that the committee shall not, at the same time, recommend an increase on the fund.
§ Mr. TINKER
I take it that the Statutory Committee has the power to recommend an increase in the three contributions from the employer, the employé and the State and, if so, I submit that the Amendment is in order.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Unfortunately, that is not the effect of the Amendment. If the hon. Member had put that on the Paper, it would have been in order but, as I read it, the effect of the Amendment, if carried, 1650 would be that the Committee must recommend that any sum necessary to make up a deficiency in the fund will have to come out of the Exchequer, and that is precisely the power which under the Financial Resolution this Committee cannot give. I am afraid I must rule the Amendment out of order.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. JAMES REID
I beg to move, in page 15, line 5, to leave out from "fund," to the end of the Sub-section.
The position under the Bill, as I understand it, is this: It is a definite charge on the fund that it shall pay £5,500,000 annually towards interest and redemption of debt. If the fund is able to pay that and has a surplus, it is in the discretion of the Committee how the surplus is to be disposed of, and one of the methods open to them is to recommend that the whole or a part of it shall be paid, in addition to the £5,500,000, towards the redemption of the debt. On the other hand, if there is a deficit, the fund has to make it up in future years and, accordingly, it may be that the Treasury have it both ways. If there is a surplus, they get more than the £5,500,000, but, if there is a deficit, they cannot get less. If the Committee have a surplus in hand, unless they can dispose of the whole of it before the end of the financial year they have no option that I can see except to pay it away to the Treasury, because the Chancellor of the Exchequer told us earlier that there was no provision in the Bill for the creation of any reserve fund in the hands of the Committee. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to tell us whether there is any provision in the Bill under which the Committee can carry for ward any surplus from one year to another. It seems to me that it should be made plain if there is included in the Bill any provision under which the Committee can carry forward a surplus.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think the hon. and learned Gentleman is now anticipating an Amendment which is to come on very shortly.
§ Mr. REID
I thought it necessary to say that because, if I am stopping up one method of disposing of a surplus, it seemed to me that it was necessary to indicate what, in my view, was an alternative method. I shall not proceed 1651 with that. Let us see what the Committee can do with a surplus. Suppose they have a surplus of £2,500,000, and suppose it costs £2,000,000 to give a certain increase of benefit, and they give that increase, what are they going to do with the other £500,000? As I read the Bill, the only thing that they can do, under this provision which I seek to have left out, is to pay it in to the Treasury at the end of the year. It may be that the Statutory Committee will be put in a very serious difficulty if this provision stands in the Bill. Suppose they have £1,500,000 in hand at the end of the year and the first thing they want to do, to increase the children's benefit from 2s. to 3s., will cost £2,000,000. They may say: "We cannot finance that which in our opinion ought to be the first increase of benefit this year, but, if we can carry forward this £1,500,000, we shall be able to finance it next year. If we have to dispose of the £2,500,000 this year, and pay it away to the Exchequer, we are left with empty coffers again at the beginning of the next year, and shall have to build up the whole £2,000,000 all over again."
I should very much like a statement from the Chancellor that the Bill as it stands, and particularly the part that I am seeking to leave out, will not prejudice an increase of benefit in the way I have suggested. If the right hon. Gentleman is getting the whole £5,500,000, he is getting a great deal more than the Royal Commission thought he ought to get. Is it right to ask for even the possibility of getting something more than the £5,500,000? Is it not right that any money over and above that £5,500,000 should be used exclusively for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the fund? I would ask the Chancellor whether he will not make a claim that, having got his £5,500,000, he is not in any circumstances going to ask for any more. If he cannot go quite as far as that, can he say that until benefits have been put up to the 1931 level, and until his contributions have been put down to the 1931 level, he will not seek an extra halfpenny over and above the £5,500,000 for which he is asking in the next Clause?
§ 6.55 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I am glad to say that we can give this Amendment our complete support. I am also very pleased to 1652 find that there is one Member on the Government side who is emphasising what we have pointed out to be the dangers of this Clause all along. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has said more than once that it is possible to increase the benefits if there is a surplus. That is true, but it is much more true to say that there is in every line of this Clause and the next a deliberate incitement to the Committee to use surpluses for Treasury purposes, and I should think that is the case of the hon. Member who has moved the Amendment. The words that he proposes to exclude are:and, where the Committee report that the fund is and is likely to continue to be more than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities, the report may contain recommendations for the application of any sum towards the discharge of the liabilities mentioned in Subsection (2) of the Section of this Act next following.That is the Sub-section which deals with the payment of the £5,500,000 interest, but there is a proviso in the same Sub-section which deals with the £500,000, which, I say, is deliberately put there to emphasise upon the committee the need, if there are surpluses, not only to pay the £5,500,000, but to give serious consideration to the payment of any extra surplus towards the relief of the principal of the debt. After stating that the £5,500,000 interest has to be paid annually, they say:Provided that nothing in this Sub-section shall be construed as preventing the application, on the recommendation of the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee, of sums out of the fund towards the discharge of the said liabilities in addition to the instalments therein mentioned.It is true that there is nothing to stop the Statutory Committee suggesting an increase of benefits, but it is also true that there is an incitement to use a surplus for the benefit of the Exchequer rather than for the benefit of the beneficiaries. I am very glad the hon. Member has drawn attention once more to the fact, so that we may be able to hear what defence the Chancellor has, instead of merely charging us with making a party point. The Statutory Committee has not merely the power to keep the fund solvent, but I emphasise the fact, and I think it is emphasised by the danger that the hon. Member sees in the Clause, that the apparent intention of the Bill is to use surpluses for the benefit of the Exchequer rather than of the people who are to benefit from the fund. The unem- 1653 ployed have been punished sufficiently already. If there is any surplus, I am sure the whole of the citizens of the country will agree that the first people who should be considered, in view of their sufferings, are the unemployed, who have submitted to so much during the past few years.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Miss HORSBRUGH
Many of us have thought it perhaps a very hard addition to what has been a great deal discussed, the annual payment of the £5,500,000, if over and above that sum these contributions are to be paid year by year to the Treasury. My hon. Friend pointed out that the fact of their not being able to carry on any surplus might give them very little chance of using a smaller surplus. I do not disapprove of the £5,500,000 of debt being repaid. I realise that the programme is not recommended by the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission recommended—a recommendation which I am thankful has not been taken up by the Government—that benefits should be paid for a shorter time and that benefits should be reduced. If they had to choose between the two, I am very glad they chose to put the debt on to the fund and not to reduce the benefits. But if that has been done—and I think it is what one might call a hard case—I hope that the Chancellor will meet us on this occasion, because I think we can prove, and he will agree that it is a logical conclusion, that a fund working as a fund should be able to build up that surplus, and not of necessity be compelled to hand it over when such a large sum is already being handed over.
§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I am sorry to intervene in the Debate, but I imagine that some hon. Members want to get on to another Amendment. I think, however, that some hon. Members are making, if I may say so without disrespect, unnecessarily heavy weather of this provision. They seem to regard it as something which is put in by the Treasury, out of its general grasping, greedy nature, in order to try to extract from the fund sums which might otherwise be given for the improvement of benefits. I can assure them that that is not the purpose of this provision. If any sums were employed on the recommendation of the Committee in the 1654 manner suggested, they would not help the Treasury to-day; they would merely cut off some of the years during which the repayment goes on, and instead of the debt being repaid in 40 years it might be paid in, say, 39 or 38 years. My hon. Friends will therefore see that the present occupant of the Treasury Bench has no personal interest in any extra sum for the repayment of the debt by this method.
There is, however, another point, and I think this was the error into which the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) fell. He spoke about a surplus of £2,000,000 at the disposal of the Committee on which they might recommend certain improvements, but said that if they had to give part of it to the Treasury, they would then have to build up a fund again in the following year in order to be able to make that recommendation. Those are not at all the circumstances in which the Committee will be able to make recommendations for the improvement of the benefits. If hon. Members look at the Sub-section which we have just been discussing, they will see that the circumstances in which these recommendations are made do not contemplate only a surplus at the moment but a continuing surplus.(3) If the Committee at any time report that the Unemployment Fund is or is likely to become, and is likely to continue to be, more than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities"—It is not a question, therefore, of a sum which they have in the till and which might be used for benefits. They must see the prospect of a continuing surplus year by year—I do not say, of course, for ever, but for a reasonable time—before they can make recommendations which will mean a continuing expenditure from the fund.
§ Mr. J. REID
Obviously the Statutory Committee cannot know exactly what is going to happen, and if they have £2,000,000 in their pockets they have an insurance against their anticipations not being fully realised. If they have nothing in their pocket, they have to go much more warily, because if they recommend any increase in benefits when they have no reserve in their hands, and things do not turn out quite so favourably as they expected, they have a deficit. Otherwise they would have a 1655 reserve out of which to make up for any material slackness of trade.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I think it may be taken that the Committee would not desire to make constant changes backwards and forwards in the conditions of the benefits, contributions and other circumstances of the fund. They will no doubt have to make recommendations for changes from time to time, but I think that in making those recommendations they would have regard to the general trend of affairs, and their recommendations would be intended to take effect and last for a considerable period of time.
Another point raised by my hon. Friend was the question of a reserve fund. He alluded to some statement which I made on a a previous occasion when I intimated that in my view the Committee are not given power under the Bill as it stands to establish a reserve fund. That is still my view, but that does not mean that they cannot establish what one might call a working balance. The words is the Bill are:More than reasonably sufficient to discharge its liabilities.But I take it that that word "reasonably" does not mean that at the end of a year they must not carry anything forward. Clearly they can carry forward a reasonable amount as a working balance. In fact, I do not think that they could possibly carry out their duties unless they did. Perhaps that meets the point which the hon. Member made.
Let me put this to him. If that be so, and if this Committee agrees that the Statutory Committee ought not to be given power to set up a reserve fund; then, if they did not have this power, they might have a surplus which grew very quickly without any certainty that it would recur, and thus have a sum of money in their hands which might be considered more than reasonably sufficient. Then, as they could not set up a reserve fund, the hon. Member could not see what they would do with the money if they are not able to make recommendations for the improvement of the benefit at the time. All they could use for the improvement of benefit would be the interest on that sum, and that interest would be at the present time at 1656 the rate of 1 per cent., whereas they would be paying very much more than that on the debt. It might therefore be in the interests of the fund that they should offer some part of that sum as repayment of the debt. I put that forward as a possible contingency, but my general view is that it is advisable in these cases not to tie the committee up but to allow as much latitude as you reasonably can. All sorts of conditions may arise which we cannot consider at the moment but which may have to be dealt with by the committee in the light of existing circumstances.
§ Mr. J. REID
I want to ask one question: Would the Chancellor consider a sum of the nature of £5,000,000 or £6,000,000 a reasonable sum such as could be carried forward from one year to another?
§ 7.9 p.m.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
The speech just delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was one of great importance, particularly in relation to the whole idea of an insurance fund. Surely the purpose of an insurance fund for unemployment is to build up in good times a reserve which can be drawn upon in bad times. That was the intention of the insurance fund when it was originally established 20 years ago by the Government of which I had the honour at the time to be a member. That is the essence of insurance: that you should spread your risks. To-day, however, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us that that must not be done, and that if the committee have anything more than a working balance they must dispose of it, and if they do not feel inclined to dispose of it in the way of giving increased benefits or reducing contributions, they must pay it over to the Treasury in order to meet the sum of £115,000,000 by which they are indebted to the Exchequer. That is a very serious matter. The Chancellor contends that the committee would not wish to put contributions up and down and continually to make changes. But that is exactly what they would have to do, because whenever bad times come, if they have not any reserve fund, they will have to put up contributions or put down 1657 benefit, and that upsets the whole idea of insurance. I would urge upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if that is the basis of the Bill, then the basis of the Bill is an extremely bad one, and its finances are utterly unsound.
With regard to the point raised by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, we have had no definite reply to it. He asked whether these words, the omission of which he has moved, are intended to be a direction to the committee that, if they have a surplus and if they see that the liabilities—that means the present liabilities—of the fund can be discharged now and in the immediate future, then they may pay over the surplus to the Treasury in liquidation of part of the debt. "Liabilities" clearly means the present liabilities. The Chancellor of the Exchequer assents to that. But suppose that the committee have in view that it would be very desirable to restore the cuts. That was the point made by the hon. Member: they have not money enough to do it, but they look forward in a year or two, if conditions in the country generally improve and unemployment does not get worse, to being able to get a balance which would enable them to restore the cuts. But under this Clause, is it a direction to them or is it not, that they may pay over to the Exchequer that surplus if the fund is sufficient to meet its present liabilities, the liabilities at the time which we are now considering? Does "may" mean "shall" in that case?
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
If it does not mean "shall," at all events it gives them the option to do that. The question, therefore, arises whether in this Committee we think it desirable that that option should be given; in other words, whether we think it right that this debt should be paid off more rapidly even than is contemplated in Clause 18. I ask your Ruling, Captain Bourne, whether I may on this point raise the question whether this debt ought to be repaid or not—that is specifically dealt with in Clause 18—and if not all the debt, then part of the debt? It is now a quarter-past seven o'clock, and at half-past seven the Guillotine falls. We are in the middle of Clause 17, and at 7.30 Clauses 17 and 18 must be put to the Committee. That means that this House of Commons will 1658 have no opportunity of expressing any view at all as to the propriety of repaying the debt of £115,000,000, as to the propriety of rejecting the specific recommendation of the Royal Commission that only one-third of this debt is properly chargeable to the fund. The Vote that is given this evening, with or without discussion on Clause 18, may decide whether or not the cuts can be restored in the immediate future. If the fund is charged with £5,500,000 a year, that is almost exactly the amount that would be required to restore the cuts. If it is to be paid to the Exchequer, those cuts cannot be restored until money is available from some other source.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I understand the right hon. Gentleman to ask me whether we can discuss the principle of Clause 18 on this Amendment. I am very much afraid that we cannot. We are bound by the Rules of the House, and if hon. Members of the Committee have chosen to spend the time in discussing something else, it is their business.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
Should I be in order under the Guillotine Motion in moving to report Progress, in order that the matter may be given further consideration?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am prohibited from accepting that Motion unless it were moved by a Member of the Government.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
Then I gather that there is no means whatever by which any hon. Member of the Committee can express his views on this stage of the Bill as to the propriety of charging this £115,000,000 to the fund?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Member is not quite exact in that statement. He will have an opportunity of voting on Clause 18.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
Of voting against the Clause, but not of discussing it. There is a widespread feeling that at least the report and recommendation of the Royal Commission should be adopted, and that this is essential if, in the near future, the cuts are to be restored. No Member of the Committee is at liberty, either now or at any future time, until we reach the Report stage, to express his views. At all events, I think that the Committee ought to protest against what is really a scandal in Parliamentary procedure.
§ 7.16 p.m.
§ Mr. DENMAN
I rise merely to make a plea to the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he will realise the very difficult position in which we find ourselves. A great number of us feel strongly that the imposition of the whole of this debt upon the fund is a real hardship and a financial mistake. I admit freely that, granting that the particular Sub-section which we are now discussing is a good Sub-section, it is worth having the power to pay off more debt if you are going to pay off debt at all in that way. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give us on the Report stage ample time to discuss this most important question, because there are many points of principle and of detail on Clause 18 which we ought not to omit.
§ 7.17 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I desire on the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) to add my protest to that which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) and other Members of the Committee. The Government ought to bring here the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House to hear the complaint of the Committee. Bereft of any possible way or maintaining our rights, not only are we not to have an opportunity of discussing the question of debt, but we are not having an opportunity of discussing the setting up of a statutory commission. We are limited to minor Amendments. The only opportunity of discussing whether there is to be a statutory commission which puts legislative powers into the hands of a body outwith this House is that which has been surreptitiously taken by hon. Members to bring it in in a more or less disorderly fashion. I do not know what are the ordinary means of getting redress for the Committee on this matter.
§ 7.18 p.m.
§ Mr. MACMILLAN
I think that the technique of the Guillotine has now become rather complicated, and that it would be true to say that there is a sufficient combination between the two Front Benches, both of which are equally interested in a kind of obstruction, because they have objected equally with both eyes on the clock. The Opposition 1660 will be able to say to the country, "What a scandal it is that a great Clause like Clause 18 was never discussed," and the Government feel rather glad that it never will be discussed. An hon. Gentleman says that we have an opportunity to vote, and we should use it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) said that it was not possible to discuss the question underlying Clause 18 on the Amendment, and I quite understand your Ruling, Captain Bourne. Perhaps it may be possible to make some indirect reference to it. The Amendment would take away from the Committee the power to repay a greater amount of the debt than is laid down by half-yearly payments. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was speaking quite correctly when he said that it would not help the Treasury to receive more. Indeed, no. Considering that the Treasury is exacting rates of interest varying from 5¼ per cent. on £24,000,000 of this debt and from 4⅜ths to 4 4/8ths per cent. on £77,000,000 of the debt, I agree that it would not be particularly beneficial to the Exchequer to get very rapid repayments.
I am not sure that I shall not find myself up against my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment. I am not so sure that the fund would not be much beter off if it could get authority to pay off the whole of the debt, and float it on to the market. It would get a beter rate of interest than that which the Treasury is now charging. I believe that it would be to the advantage of the whole fund to repay the whole amount. The Clause to which my hon. Friend objects is the late repentance of Shylock. He realises that these rates of interest are exorbitant and, therefore it is reasonable that the fund should have authority to repay more rapidly. It would pay the fund to put the money on to the private market at a rate better than that which is being exacted by the monstrous conditions of the Clause which we are not allowed to discuss and which some of us will vote against.
§ 7.21 p.m.
§ Sir W. BRASS
I should like to make an appeal to my right hon. Friend, and to address myself to the Amendment. My hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) who moved the Amendment pointed out that if there 1661 was a surplus it would automatically go to the Treasury, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer agreed with that.
§ Sir W. BRASS
I should like to ask my right hon. Friend if he could devise some way by which, if there was a surplus over from one year, it could be used to reduce the amount of £5,500,000 which has to be deducted every year in the following year. If that could take place we might be able to build up a surplus quicker than we should be able to do if that amount automatically disappeared, and the contributions to the Unemployment Insurance Fund were not allocated as I have said.
§ 7.22 p.m.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
The Government are put in as embarrassing a position by the action of the Guillotine as any back bencher Member, and, although I agree with my hon. Friend that there is an evident purpose in delaying discussion on minor Amendments in order to go to the country——
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
On a point of Order. Is the right hon. Gentleman permitted to accuse the Opposition of deliberate obstruction in the course of the Debate? Hon. Members know very well that in the course of this Debate the speeches have been short and directed specifically to the Amendment before the Committee. That has been the experience throughout the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Hon. Members who say "No" say it because they have not been in the House. I must ask you for a Ruling, Captain Bourne. Is the right hon. Gentleman allowed to make that statement, or is he going to withdraw?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I did not take the right hon. Gentleman to make any accusation of obstruction. I think the right hon. Gentleman said that certain Amendments had led to a rather unnecessarily long discussion, but that is 1662 not the same thing as causing an obstruction. The Committee under the Guillotine are free voluntarily to curtail their discussions, and I would remind hon. Members that I have known it to be done.
§ Mr. LAWSON
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will ask the Minister of Labour or any Ministers who have been here during the whole of the Debate. If so, he will find common agreement among all Members as well as Ministers that there has not been a moment's obstruction during the whole of this Bill.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The inference of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was that Members of the Opposition were purposely delaying the proceedings. We submitted an Amendment at the beginning which would have allowed a discussion on the Statutory Committee to have taken place right away, and the Chair insisted on our discussing small Amendments, although we had raised the much larger question. May I ask if there is no protection from even the Chancellor of the Exchequer slandering us.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
May I say to the hon. Member that I never had the slightest intention in my mind of attributing anything in the nature of obstruction to him. I recognise that in all this Debate he has been thoroughly to the point. I never had him in my mind at all. For the rest, I was merely repeating what had been said by the hon. Member for Stockton (Mr. Macmillan).
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I want to say on the claim that some alteration will have to be made—[Interruption].
I understand that the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby) is rising to a point of Order, as far as I can hear.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
On a point of Order. This Committee has now been asked for about the third or fourth time to pass a Clause in this Bill of absolutely vital importance without discussion at all. It does not matter what are the tactics of the Opposition or anybody else. These are the facts. I ask for your Ruling on this point. Has this House or Committee 1663 no remedy against an offence of this character?
§ Mr. LAWSON
I wish to draw attention to the fact that both the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) and ourselves, and other hon. Members have asked the Prime Minister continually if he would take the facts into consideration. All that the Prime Minister says is that it is the usual conduct in respect of the Guillotine. I venture to say that the oldest Member of this House has never seen the Guillotine put to such uses as it has been on this Bill. This Clause is in essence Part I of the Bill. There is no sense in the Guillotine at all. Is there any means of redress. If not we will take this matter into our own hands.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that there are no means of redress which I can suggest to the hon. Member at this moment.
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I recognise that these words require some alteration. I cannot say now exactly what I am prepared to do, but I will consider the matter before the Report stage and perhaps consult with my hon. Friend the Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) and others and see whether I can do anything to meet them.
§ It being Half-past Seven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 19th December, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 288; Noes, 78.1665
|Division No. 98.]||AYES.||[7.30 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (P'rtsm'th, S.)||Fuller, Captain A. G.|
|Agnew, Lleut.-Com. P. G.||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Ganzoni, Sir John|
|Albery, Irving James||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Blrm., W.)||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton|
|Alexander, Sir William||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Gillett, Sir George Masterman|
|Allan, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, s.)||Glossop, C. W. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Clarke, Frank||Gluckstein, Louis Halle|
|Apsley, Lord||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Colfox, Major William Philip||Goff, Sir Park|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Colville, Lleut.-Colonel J.||Goldie, Noel B.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Conant, R. J. E.||Gower, Sir Robert|
|Bailey, Eric Alfrad George||Cooke, Douglas||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Cooper, A. Duff||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Graves, Marjorie|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Craven-Ellis, William||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Greene, William P. C.|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Crooke, J. Smedley||Grlmston, R. V.|
|Balnlel, Lord||Crookthank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Gluten, W. G. Howard|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Croom-Johnton, R. P.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cross, R. H.||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Gunston, Captain D. W.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Davison, Sir William Henry||Hamilton, Sir George (llford)|
|Bernays, Robert||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hanbury, Cecil|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Bllndell, James||Denville, Alfred||Harbord, Arthur|
|Borodale, Viscount||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Hartland, George A.|
|Bottom, A. C.||Donner, P. W.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Doran, Edward||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Drewe, Cedric||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Bower, Lleut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Headlam. Lleut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Dunglass, Lord||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Bralthwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Eales, John Frederick||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford).|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Eastwood, John Francis||Heneage, Lleut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'ld., Hexham)||Elmley, Viscount||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Emrys-Evant, P. V.||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybrldge)|
|Burnett, John George||Entwlstle, Cyril Fullard||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Ersklne, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Hornby, Frank|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Ersklne-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Howltt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Everard, W. Lindsay||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Fermoy, Lord||Hume, Sir George Hopwood|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Flelden, Edward Brocklehurst||Hurd, Sir Percy|
|Cassels, James Dale||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Insklp, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Fox, Sir Gifford||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Jamleson, Douglas|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Peters'fld)||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Nunn, William||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Johnston, J. W (Clackmannan)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Pearson, William G.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Kerr, Lleut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Petherick, M.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Qulnton||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bllst'n)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Stevenson, James|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Stones, James|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Pybus, Sir Percy John||Storey, Samuel|
|Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Ralkes, Henry V. A. M.||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Levy, Thomas||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Lewis, Oswald||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Lloyd, Geoffrey||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Locker-Lampion, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. Gr'n)||Reld, Capt. A. Cunningham-||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)||Reld, David D. (County Down)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Reld, James S. C. (Stirling)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Remer, John R.||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|MacAndrew, Lt.-Col. C. G. (Partlck)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)||Ropner, Colonel L.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|McKle, John Hamilton||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbrldge)||Todd, A. L. S. (Klngswlnford)|
|McLean, Major Sir Alan||Ruggles-Brlse, Colonel E. A.||Train, John|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Runge, Norah Cecil||Tree, Ronald|
|Maltland, Adam||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Maklns, Brigadier-General Ernest||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Meller, Sir Richard James||Salt, Edward W.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Mills, Malor J. D. (New Forest)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chisw'k)||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Watt, Captain Georgle Steven H.|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Muirhead, Lleut.-Colonel A. J.||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Windsor-Clive, Lleut-Colonel George|
|Munro, Patrick||Smiles, Lleut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H||Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Klnc'dine, C.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Somervell, Sir Donald||Sir George Penny and Mr. Womersley.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James.|
|Banfield, John William||Griffith, F. Klngsley (Mlddlesbro', W.)||Milner, Major James|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Batey, Joseph||Grigg, Sir Edward||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Paling, Wilfred|
|Brlant, Frank||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Buchanan, George||Harris, Sir Percy||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Cape, Thomas||Hicks, Ernest George||Price, Gabriel|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Holdsworth, Herbert||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Cove, William G.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Janner, Barnett||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Curry, A. C.||John, William||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Dickle, John P.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Thorne, William James|
|Dobble, William||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Edwards, Charles||Leonard, William||White, Henry Graham|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lunn, William||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Wilmot, John|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mallalleu, Edward Lancelot||Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. Groves.|
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN then proceeded successively to put forthwith the Questions necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at Half-past Seven of the Clock at this day's Sitting.1666
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 300; Noes, 72.1669
|Division No. 99.]||AYES.||[7.41 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Donner, P. W.||Levy, Thomas|
|Agnew, Lleut.-Com. P. G.||Doran, Edward||Lewis, Oswald|
|Albery, Irving James||Drewe, Cedrlc||Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kllm'rnock)|
|Alexander, Sir William||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd. G'n)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Eales, John Frederick||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Eastwood, John Francis||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Apsley, Lord||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Loder, Captain J. de Vers|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Astor, viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Entwlstle, Cyril Fullard||MacAndrew, Lleut.-Col. C. G. (Partlck)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Ersklne-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||MacDonald, Rt. Hn. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Evans, Capt Arthur (Cardiff, S.)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Everard, W. Lindsay||McKle, John Hamilton|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Fermoy, Lord||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Flelden, Edward Brocklehurst||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Balnlel, Lord||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Fox, Sir Gifford||Maltland, Adam|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar||Ganzonl, Sir John||Mannlngham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Gault, Lleut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Glossop, C. W. H.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Glucksteln, Louis Halle||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Bernays, Robert||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Meller, Sir Richard James|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Goff, Sir Park||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Goldle, Noel B.||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)|
|Blrchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Gower, Sir Robert||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Bllndell, James||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Borodale, Viscount||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Bossom, A. C.||Graves, Marjorle||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Boulton, W. W.||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Greene, William P. C.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Bower, Lleut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Grigg, Sir Edward||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Grlmston, R. V.||Mulrhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Braithwaite. J. G. (Hillsborough)||Grltten, W. G. Howard||Munro, Patrick|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Nunn, William|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hamilton, Sir George (llford)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Burnett, John George||Hanbury, Cecil||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Hannon. Patrick Joseph Henry||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Harbord, Arthur||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Hartland, George A.||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Petherick, M.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bllston)|
|Cassels, James Dale||Headlam, Lleut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Powell, Lleut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Pybus, Sir Percy John|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Hills. Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Blrm., W)||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Clarke, Frank||Hornby, Frank||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Horsbrugh, Florence||Reld, David D. (County Down)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Howltt, Dr. Alfred B.||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Remer, John R.|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hurd, Sir Percy||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Insklp, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Jamleson, Douglas||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Crooks, J. Smedley||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tslde)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Russell, R. J. (Eddlsbury)|
|Cross, R. H.||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Crossley, A. C.||Ker, J. Campbell||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Llverp'l)|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Kerr, Lleut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Davles, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Salt, Edward W.|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Lamb, Sir Joseph Qulnton||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Denman, Hon. R D.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Denville, Alfred||Law, Sir Alfred||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Dlxey, Arthur C. N.||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)||Strauss, Edward A.||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Skelton, Archibald Noel||Strickland, Captain W. F.||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Smiles, Lleut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Smith, R. W. (Ab'rd'n & Klnc'dlne, C.)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Somervell, Sir Donald||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)||Tate, Mavis Constance||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E.A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Templeton, William P.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L||Thompson, Sir Luke||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Thorp, Linton Theodore||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Spens, William Patrick||Todd, A. L. S. (Klngswlnford)||Windsor-Clive, Lleut.-Colonel George|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Train, John||Womersley, Walter James|
|Steel-Maltland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Tree, Ronald||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaka)|
|Stevenson, James||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Stones, James||Turton, Robert Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Storey, Samuel||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)||Captain Sir George Bowyer and Sir George Penny.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Maxton, James|
|Banfield, John William||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Milner, Major James|
|Batey, Joseph||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Nathan, Major H. L.|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Griffith, F. Klngsley (Mlddlesbro', W).||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Paling, Wilfred|
|Brlant, Frank||Grundy, Thomas W.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Buchanan, George||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Price, Gabriel|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Sir Percy||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hicks, Ernest George||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cove, William G.||Holdsworth, Herbert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Janner, Barnett||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Curry, A. C.||John, William||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Daggar, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Thome, William James|
|Davles, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kirkwood, David||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dickie, Jonn P.||Lawson, John James||White, Henry Graham|
|Dobble, William||Leonard, William||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Edwards, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lunn, William||Wilmot, John|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Mallalleu, Edward Lancelot||Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. Groves.|
§ CLAUSE 18.—(Treasury advances to Unemployment Fund.)
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."1670
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 251; Noes, 104.1673
|Division No. 100.]||AYES.||[7.52 p.m.|
|Albery, Irving James||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Crooke, J. Smedley|
|Alexander, Sir William||Browne, Captain A. C.||Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Croom-Johnson, R. P.|
|Apsley, Lord||Burnett, John George||Cross, R. H.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Butler, Richard Austen||Culverwell, Cyril Tom|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Dawson, Sir Philip|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Denville, Alfred|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Cassels, James Dale||Dlxey, Arthur C. N.|
|Balnlel, Lord||Castlereagh, Viscount||Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Donner, P. W.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Doran, Edward|
|Barrle, Sir Charles Coupar||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Drewe, Cedrlc|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A. (Blrm., W)||Dunglass, Lord|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Eales, John Frederick|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Eastwood, John Francis|
|Bevan, Stuart James (Holborn)||Clarke, Frank||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey|
|Blrchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Cobb, Sir Cyril||Emrys-Evans, P. V.|
|Bllndell, James||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Ersklne, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Borodale, viscount||Colfox, Major William Philip||Ersklne-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Colville, Lleut.-Colonel J.||Evans, Capt. Arthur (Cardiff, S.)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Conant, R. J. E.||Everard, W. Lindsay|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Cooke, Douglas||Fermoy, Lord|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Cooper, A. Duff||Flelden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Fleming, Edward Lasceiles|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Craven-Ellis, William||Ford, Sir Patrick J.|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Fox, Sir Gifford|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Lewis, Oswald||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hun. G. (Wd. G'n)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (H'ndsw'th)||Salt, Edward W.|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Goff Sir Park||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partlck)||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Goldie, Noel B.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||McKle, John Hamilton||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Graves, Marjorle||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Greene, William P. C.||Maltland, Adam||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Grlmston, R. V.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. O. R.||Somervllle, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Somervllle, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Meller, Sir Richard James||Spender-Clay, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Spens, William Patrick|
|Hamilton, Sir George (llford)||Mitchell, Harold P. (Br'tf'd & Chlsw'k)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Hanbury, Cecil||Mitchell, Sir w. Lane (Streatham)||Steel-Maltland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Mitcheson, G. G.||Stevenson, James|
|Harbord, Arthur||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Stones, James|
|Hartland, George A.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Thomas C. R. (Ayr)||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Moreing, Adrian C.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Moss, Captain H. J.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Munro, Patrick||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsford)||Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Templeton, William P.|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Nunn, William||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Hore-Bellsha, Leslie||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Hornby, Frank||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Thorp, Linton Theodora|
|Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Penny, Sir George||Train, John|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Tree, Ronald|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Petherick, M.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Peto, Geoffrey K.(W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Hurd, Sir Percy||Pybus, Sir Percy John||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S|
|Insklp, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Ramsden, Sir Eugene||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Jamleson, Douglas||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Reid, David D. (County Down)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Ross, Ronald D.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ker, J. Campbell||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Womersley, Walter James|
|Knox, Sir Alfred||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Law, Sir Alfred||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Leech, Dr. J. W.||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Captain Sir George Bowyer and|
|Levy, Thomas||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)||Major George Davies.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Curry, A. C.||Hicks, Ernest George|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Daggar, George||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Holdsworth, Herbert|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Dickie, John P.||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Dobbie, William||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Edwards, Charles||Janner, Barnett|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Kirkwood, David|
|Banfield, John William||Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)|
|Batey, Joseph||Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Lawson, John James|
|Bernays, Robert||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Leonard, William|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||George, Megan A. Lloyd (Angiesea)||Logan, David Gilbert|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Lunn, William|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mabane, William|
|Briant, Frank||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Buchanan, George||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro'.W.)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Cape, Thomas||Grigg, Sir Edward||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Cove, William G.||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvll)||Mallalleu, Edward Lancelot|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hamilton, Sir R. W.(Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Harris, Sir Percy||Martin, Thomas B.|
|Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)||Price, Gabriel||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Maxton, James||Rathbone, Eleanor||Todd, A. L. S. (Klngswlntord)|
|Milner, Major James||Rea, Walter Russell||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)||White, Henry Graham|
|Nathan, Major H. L.||Ropner, Colonel L.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Nicholson, Godfrey (Morpeth)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Owen, Major Goronwy||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A.(C'thness)||Wilmot, John|
|Paling, Wilfred||Smith, Tom (Normanton)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzle (Banff)|
|Parkinson, John Allen||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.|
|Peake, Captain Osbert||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Percy, Lord Eustace||Storey, Samuel||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Pickering, Ernest H.||Thorne, William James|
§ CLAUSE 19.—(Duties of Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee as respects regulations and advice.)
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The first Amendment on the Paper, in the name of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan)—in page 19, line 28, at the end, to insert:(5) The Committee shall from time to time review the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Acts and if, in their opinion, any anomaly has arisen to the prejudice of any insured contributor or class of insured contributors, or undue hardship is being imposed in consequence of the interpretation placed upon any provision in those Acts, they may make a report thereon to the Minister and such report shall contain recommendations for such amendment of the provisions of those Acts as they may deem necessary,"——has already been covered by the discussion on Clause 17. The next Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson)—in page 19, line 33, at the end, to add:or extending their application),"——appears to be unnecessary.
§ 8.1 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I wish to raise a point of Order. I want to ask you whether this Committee can be adjourned for any other reason than that of very grave disorder, so that we may have an opportunity of considering the position in which the Committee has been placed by the fact that we have been compelled now to pass a Motion disposing of something like £115,000,000 without it being possible to give one minute's discussion to the matter? I do not know, but surely the procedure of the House is not so rigid that it will not permit the Prime Minister or the Lord President of the Council to make some statement which will allay the very grave feelings that have been aroused by the fact that the two principles that were involved in the two Clauses we have just passed have had absolutely no chance of discussion at all.
1674 Can you assist the Committee to get, in some orderly way, a statement from the Government as to whether it is their deliberate intention that this important Measure, and particularly these two important principles that we are supposed to have dealt with in the last four hours, are to be pushed through without receiving proper and legitimate parliamentary discussion? I ask particularly that this point shall be considered. I am not raising now the question whether it was appropriate to impose a Guillotine or not. I am merely raising the point which has been proved in our experience, that the present time-table is leaving most important issues without our having the opportunity of discussing them. I ask you to give some ruling as to how, in an orderly way, the Committee can bring its real grievance forward for discussion.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
In reply to the hon. Member, I do not quite see what action can be taken. If the hon. Member will look at the time-table Motion under which the Committee is now operating, he will find towards the end of the second page the following words:On a day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order, no dilatory Motion with respect to proceedings on the Bill or under this Order, nor Motion that the Chairman do Report Progress or do leave the Chair. … shall be received, unless moved by the Government, and the question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any Debate.The hon. Member will see, therefore, that even if the Government move such a Motion, I have no option but to call a Division straightaway, and could not permit a discussion.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I ask you whether that Order precludes a statement being made on behalf of the Government by the person who moves that Motion, with reference to the future proceedings on the Bill, and then for the Motion to be 1675 withdrawn. You tell me that the Government may move a Motion. My intention was not to move any dilatory Motion, but some Motion that would expedite and facilitate decent business. I want to ask you, on your Ruling, whether the Prime Minister cannot be permitted, under that procedure, to make a statement as to future intentions?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member will, of course, realise that if a Motion of that sort is once moved it must be put forthwith and cannot be withdrawn, but I think it is open to a Member of the Government to postpone moving that I report Progress until the end of his Motion. In that case, I have to put it forthwith.
§ 8.7 p.m.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
Would the Prime Minister make such a statement? I put it to the Committee that there is a good deal of dissatisfaction in all quarters of the House because of the fact that, however well we try to work the Guillotine—the Government have imposed it on us and we have accepted it—the fact is that hon. Members everywhere know that the Guillotine has not worked well. We know moreover that during one period of four hours on the Bill the Government took up three hours with a manuscript Amendment, and that that manuscript Amendment was not on the Paper and Members had no knowledge of it. I submit that if the Government impose a Guillotine two things follow: First, that the Government ought not to waste the time of the Committee with a manuscript Amendment; and, secondly, there ought to be a self-denying ordinance on the part of the Government and they ought not to spend the time of the Committee. We have had, as the Prime Minister knows if he looks at the OFFICIAL REPORT, very important Amendments that have not been discussed at all.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
Is the right hon. Gentleman addressing me on a point of Order, or is he trying to make a speech when there is no Motion before the Committee?
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I am putting a point to you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, and through you to the Prime Minister, suggesting that the Government might move 1676 a Motion which it would be out of order for anyone on this side to move. I am suggesting to the Prime Minister that, in view of the fact that the Guillotine has worked badly, the right hon. Gentleman might think it fair to move a Motion either for the extension of the period or for some new arrangement which would ensure that substantial parts of the Bill receive proper consideration by Members of the Committee. It is perfectly true, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, that we have in fact dealt with the fortunes of £115,000,000 without the Committee being in a position to argue about it.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman now seems to be making a speech. However willing the Government might be to extend the allotted time, they could not possibly do it at this moment in Committee.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
There is the point of the whole future time for the Bill. We have already taken grave decisions without discussion, and we shall during the rest of this evening and to-morrow take further grave decisions without due consideration. It is due to the Committee that the Prime Minister should at this stage make further and better arrangements for the discussion of questions of principle.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Ramsay MacDonald)
I am sure the Committee will have understood that I have come in in order to try to facilitate the work of the Committee. Everyone who knows the working of committees in this House knows that the Prime Minister, as a rule, does not attend, for very obvious reasons. But on the point of Order I can only repeat what has been said over and over again by my right hon. Friend and myself on previous occasions. I do not think it is quite fair to say that the Guillotine has been imposed. The Government did their best to come to what seemed to them to be a fair allocation of block times. The Government went back to previous occasions when Guillotines have been moved, and tried to ascertain what would be a fair allocation of block time. Fourteen days was proposed. There was a certain amount of coming and going. On these occasions the Opposition, quite rightly, never allowed that any results of these conversations amounted to a com- 1677 mittal—certainly not, and I do not want to say that to-day. But I do say, in explaining the Order to the House, that on this occasion more than usual care was taken to consult the various parties in the House, without implicating them in a bargain. We tried to find how best to suit their convenience, under the Guillotine. That is the nature of the case. Then we were so well aware of the fact that this Guillotine might present special difficulties in its application, that we did not resort to the usual method of allocating also the block time given for the Report stage. That is still open.
We have made it perfectly clear that at the end of the Committee stage all the incidents of the Committee stage will be reviewed. The Bill will be specially considered from the point of view of providing that further consideration during Report stage will cover as many important points as possible that have not been adequately discussed in Committee. I think that with good will—I do not see why it should not be given—we can carry on the business of this Committee and then allow the Government to propose to the House later what the arrangements for the Report stage will be. I can say no more than that. As you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, said, it is quite impossible for the Government to move Amendments to the Guillotine now. It would surely be far more businesslike and better to go on carrying out the time-table Motion which is the Motion of the House of Commons, and then to see at the end of the Committee stage how the Business of the House stands.
§ 8.13 p.m.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I am afraid that the Prime Minister, like myself and others, has been disorderly. I gather that he has not moved a Motion. I gather, after five days of Committee, at the end of every one of which there has been grave dissatisfaction in all quarters of the House, that the Government are not prepared to introduce a Motion. We cannot move to Report Progress, but I am bound to say, after all that has happened, that we shall intensify our opposition to the Bill from these benches.
§ 8.14 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
On the point of Order. I ask the Prime Minister to move a Motion. I ask him to apply his mind to this consideration. There was very big 1678 opposition to the Government on the Clause that we have just disposed of, opposition which was swelled by individuals who normally support the Government. From the remarks which I heard I believe that they opposed it, not on the question of the Bill itself, but because we had had no adequate explanation and no adequate opportunity of putting points with reference to the disposal of the debt on the fund. We are now told that that is to be made up to us by an opportunity on the Report stage. But unless the difficulties of individual Members have been put on the Committee stage, there is no opportunity for the preparation of the appropriate type of Amendment for the Report stage. That type of Amendment is produced usually by the Government and is the result of discussion in the Committee stage. According to the suggestion just made we should come to the Report stage of this Bill in the position in which we normally come to the Committee stage of a Bill. We should be faced with the Government's Bill as drafted, without having had an opportunity either of discussion in Committee, or of the private discussions which frequently take place in connection with the Committee stage. I ask you, therefore, Captain Bourne, because the matter is in your power rather than in the Prime Minister's, whether we cannot stop at this stage of the discussion and devise some procedure for going back on the last two Clauses which the Committee have been considering.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Surely there is some procedure by which we can go back at least on the last Clause, in regard to which there has not been a word of discussion. I ask the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury to consider how they can give the Committee the rights which it ought to have. I am not making any complaint about the Guillotine or attempting to deny the small share of responsibility which the Prime Minister attributed to Opposition elements for the laying down of this timetable. I am merely asking whether, in practice, it has not been proved to be working unsatisfactorily. In these circumstances surely intelligent men can rescue themselves from the bad effects of 1679 previous mistakes. Is it not possible for this Committee to cease the discussion of the Bill now, in order to consider the point I have just raised? I know that in Committee upstairs we can rise at any time to move a Motion to this effect.
§ 8.18 p.m.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am bound to remind the Committee that in the Resolution under which the Committee is now operating it is laid down that no dilatory Motion, nor Motion to report Progress, shall be received unless moved by the Government. I have allowed a great deal of latitude to hon. Members because I realised that there was a grievance on all sides of the Committee but I must point out that we cannot debate this subject because there is no question before the Committee. Such a discussion in ordinary circumstances would be regular on a Motion to report Progress but, as it is, I am under orders not to accept such a Motion, except from the Government, and then to put it forthwith.
§ Sir H. SAMUEL
On a point of Order. With reference to what has just fallen from the Prime Minister, is it not the case that under the procedure of the House, the discussion of a financial Clause is much more restricted on the Report stage than on the Committee stage and that on a Clause such as that which has just been closured, it would be impossible on the Report stage to move Amendments which would be in order on the Committee stage?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The right hon. Gentleman of course realises that there is a well-known Rule of the House that there are certain Amendments which cannot be moved when Mr. Speaker is in the Chair. What Mr. Speaker may rule as to any Amendment which appears on the Paper is a matter for him and one which I cannot prejudge.
§ Mr. DENMAN
Is there anything in the Resolution of the House to prevent the recommittal of certain Clauses at the end of the Committee stage?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
A Motion for recommittal can only be moved by the Government. I cannot see that there is anything to prevent it being moved by them.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
Can we not have some statement from the Government on that particular point which is a point of real importance? The Prime Minister said that what had not been discussed in Committee could be discussed on Report, but that is not so. We have just disposed of £115,000,000 without a word of discussion——
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I think we are now getting into a Debate which is not regular, and that any further question on this matter had better be addressed to the Prime Minister in the ordinary way at Question Time.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Can the Prime Minister not move the Adjournment of the Committee with a view to the discussion through usual channels of some arrangement that would respond more accurately to what is obviously the will of a large section of the Committee than the present arrangement?
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Can I ask the Prime Minister, through you, Captain Bourne, whether he will not make a statement that he proposes to recommit these important Clauses which have not been discussed at all?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have made a statement that as soon as the Committee gets through this stage of the Bill, we will consider all these matters, but to give a pledge now on a matter like that is quite impossible. It would be very foolish. I make no promise at all, but this question will be considered in relation to the Report stage of the Bill.
§ 8.20 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
May I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the fact that on the Report stage we are supposed to be discussing matters which have already been overhauled in Committee? What the right hon. Gentleman is offering us is the possible opportunity of discussing on the Report stage, something which we have never had an opportunity of discussing in Committee. Can he not give us an opportunity of discussing these matters in Committee by means of a recommittal Motion? I think the right hon. Gentleman ought to consider it because one of the chief Clauses——
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman is now getting into a debate. I must again point out that we cannot go on with a discussion of this kind.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I put the right hon. Gentleman a question and I was just about to supplement it. It is not upon these two Clauses alone that this has happened. It has been going on all through the Committee stage. In one case, particularly, we were robbed of the first half of the evening's Debate on an important Clause, because the Government tabled a manuscript Amendment which took up all our time. Will the right hon. Gentleman, in view of those facts, give us a guarantee that he will move to recommit these two Clauses at the end of the Committee stage?
§ 8.22 p.m.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman a specific question? I understand that he has given an undertaking—true, it has been given before—to reconsider everything on Report stage.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I understood that the Report stage was open as regards the number of days. The issue now is this. Certain Clauses have not been discussed at all and certain further Clauses certainly will not be discussed at all. Will the right hon. Gentleman now give a pledge that, as regards the Clauses upon which there has been no discussion, he will have a recommittal Motion at the end of the Committee stage and ensure a Committee stage discussion on those Clauses which have been passed over?
§ 8.23 p.m.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I want to be perfectly fair with the Committee, and I will do everything I can to get it out of any difficulty in which it finds itself, but nobody knows better than the right hon. Gentleman how foolish I would be to give him, now, a pledge that every Clause that has not been discussed during the Committee stage will be discussed during the Report stage. I am perfectly certain I need not give my reason for that observation to any hon. Member. I have, I believe, been perfectly fair. The statement I have made is as far as it is possible for me to go at the present moment, and I believe that the dis- 1682 cussion of the Bill would be facilitated very much by the Committee going on, on the understanding which I have given.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
May I narrow down the question? I withdraw my request for a discussion of all the Clauses that have not been discussed up to the present and I confine it to Clauses 17 and 18 dealing with financial provisions. Will the right hon. Gentleman give us the opportunity, by a recommittal Motion, for a Committee stage discussion of those two Clauses?
§ 8.25 p.m.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan)—in page 19, line 28, at the end, to insert a new Sub-section (5)—has been dealt with. The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson)—in page 19, line 33, at the end, to add, "or extending their application"—appears to me to be unnecessary.
§ Mr. LAWSON
On a point of Order. I understand that you ruled my Amendment out of order on the ground that it is unnecessary.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I ruled it unnecessary on the ground that the words contained in the Sub-section must obviously cover both the restriction and extension of the Acts. I do not think these words add anything to the words drafted, but, if the hon. Member has any strong opinion on the subject, I shall be glad to hear him. It is purely a matter of interpretation.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I think I will put the point on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 8.27 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I think the Minister may facilitate business on the next dozen 1683 Clauses, if he likes, by giving us some explanation on this Clause. We on this side have been blamed for holding back business, but I want to be frank and to say that I am not keen on handing over powers to the Minister of Labour without knowing what powers I am handing over. Sub-section (1) of this Clause reads as follows:Before making any regulations under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, except regulations made under the provisions of this Part of this Act relating to instruction and training, the Minister shall submit to the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee a draft of the regulations and the Committee shall forthwith consider the draft and report thereon to the Minister, and the Minister shall consider the report of the Committee and may then make the regulations either in the form of the draft or with such amendments as he thinks fit.It seems to me that this committee has power to make certain recommendations, which the Minister can change, but we were told from the Chair that the Minister has no power, at least in regard to finance, and that therefore our powers were limited. I want to know exactly what the Minister means in regard to powers. Sub-section (2) says in part:and special orders required or authorised to be made thereunder by the Minister shall be construed as references to regulations, and any such orders or special orders made before the commencement of this Part of this Act under the provisions of the said Acts (with the exceptions aforesaid) may be revoked, varied or amended in the same manner as if they had been regulations.I must confess that all these words are almost bewildering. They seem to be words without any real meaning, and I defy any hon. Member to understand what is meant by all these words. My purpose is to get from the Minister a statement of what is really contained in this Clause.
§ 8.31 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I think there is real force in the point put, that this Clause is so wordy and so abstract and mysterious to the average Member that there is need for a simple explanation. I gather that the Chairman has ruled that there is no need for my Amendment to add the words "or extending their application," and I will take this opportunity of asking the opinion of the Parliamentary Secretary 1684 on that Amendment. The Committee will understand that Sub-section (5) states:The Minister may from time to time refer to the Committee for consideration and advice such questions relating to the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Acts as he thinks fit (including questions as to the advisability of amending those Acts).My object in putting down the Amendment was that the Minister might have power to ask the Committee to consider, for instance, the raising of the income limit, so that a whole lot of people who now want to be in, but are excluded by the income limit, may have their cases referred by the Minister to this Committee. One thing that has surprised me in all the public discussions about this Bill has been the strong force of opinion among professional classes in favour of increasing the limit possible, so that professionals who are now excluded from the operations of the Act can be brought within it. Indeed, there is to be some discussion in this House about this matter some time this week. I have heard people in the last few weeks, people who have even as much as £1,000 a year income, but who are subject to the uncertainties of these days, say that if they had the opportunity, they themselves would pay their contributions towards the Unemployment Insurance Fund, in order that they might benefit when trouble came to them.
It is a well-known fact that people who had very high salaries a few years ago are now practically subject to the operation of the Poor Law. The Government themselves have recognised that fact, and they say that people of this description who come to grief through unemployment and the bankruptcy or breaking down of their business can come under the operation of Part II of the Bill and be subject to transitional conditions, but these people say that they do not want to be in that position, but that they want to be regular beneficiaries under Part I of the Bill, as regular contributors. I do not want to stress this point, but everyone knows that banks to-day have all kinds of machines operating to do work which it was impossible for machines to do some little time ago, and the whole range of the extension of machinery in these days is so magical that there is no man or 1685 woman who knows just when it might reach them, however complicated, difficult, or delicate their task might be. Then there is the question of the share fishermen. That question is raising very great feeling, and Members who represent parts of the country where this system operates have already on Second Reading expressed their desire that these fishermen should be included within the limits of the Bill. The question is whether that power under this Clause to make a scheme——
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think that the hon. Member is getting beyond this Clause, because on Clause 20, which deals with the bringing in of another class, namely, persons employed in agriculture, there are Amendments down, and I think the hon. Member had better postpone the question of the share fishermen until Clause 20 is reached.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Before you came into the Chair, your predecessor ruled that the Amendment I wanted to rule on this particular point was unnecessary because he said that it was possible already under the Bill, and I want to submit——
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Deputy-Chairman's Ruling was that the hon. Member's proposal to insert the words "or extending their application" was unnecessary because the words already in the Bill covered that Amendment.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I agree that the agricultural industry is to be considered by the Statutory Committee, but do I take it from your Ruling that there is nothing in this Clause which will enable the Minister to include share fishermen in his recommendations of matters to be considered by this Committee? Sub-section (5) says:The Minister may from time to time refer to the Committee for consideration and advice such questions relating to the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Acts as he thinks fit (including questions as to the advisabilty of amending those Acts).
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is so, but my Ruling is confined to the fact that the next Clause deals with the bringing in of a special class of persons at present outside, namely, agricultural labourers, and on that Clause there are Amendments down to include two other classes. Obviously, I cannot 1686 permit that question to be raised on this Clause if I am to call those Amendments and allow a discussion on them.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. R. S. Hudson)
May I submit that there is a slight distinction between the two Clauses. Clause 20 lays on the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee the definite task of seeing whether they can produce certain proposals that seem to them practicable in the case of agriculture. There are Amendments down to include also an instruction to this Committee to consider the case of share fishermen but the point on which the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) is concerned is a slightly different one. It is the question whether the Minister has power under Clause 19 to ask the advice of the Statutory Committee on practically any class of persons that he likes. Subject to your Ruling, our intention is that this should be a very wide Clause and that the Minister should have power under the existing wording to ask the advice of the Statutory Committee on the particular matters to which the hon. Member has referred. It does not go as far as Clause 20, which lays a statutory duty on the Committee to consider particular points at once.
§ 8.40 p.m.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I appreciate that point, but it is at least arguable that Clause 19 would allow of questions being submitted to this Committee with regard to other classes of workers. The point of my Ruling is that there are Amendments down to the subsequent Clause to make it compulsory to send particular subjects to the Committee for their consideration, and in the interests of the discussion, which we are all trying to limit as much as possible to important points, I cannot allow a discussion on the particular position of share fishermen now and then allow that discussion to be repeated on the next Clause. My point in interrupting the hon. Member is that if he discusses it now he will bar discussion on what I venture to think is a more appropriate place, namely, Clause 20.
§ 8.41 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I appreciate the reason for your Ruling, and I will not pursue the matter any further, particularly in view of the suggestion that the Parliamentary Secretary has made. All I want to say is that I also appreciate the fact that the Parliamentary Secretary is willing to make some explanation for this Clause such as was suggested by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), and I think that it would have been much better for the understanding of this Bill if it had been possible for many of the Clauses which have been passed over to have had some explanation.
§ 8.42 p.m.
§ Mr. HUDSON
May I deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) first? The intention of the Government in Clause 19 is to treat the Clause as being of the widest possible application and as enabling us to refer to the Statutory Committee anything dealing with the operation of the Unemployment Insurance Acts in the widest sense of that term. It would, I think, definitely include the possibility of asking the Committee's advice as to whether or not the income limit ought to be raised. It will not be in order for me to discuss the merits of the raising of the income limit at the present moment, but I may say, in passing, that I recently saw an influential deputation from the Professional Workers' Association who wished to raise the limit to £350. I ventured to suggest to them that it was possible that hardship might arise in the cases of persons enjoying incomes of £500 greater even than that in the case of persons receiving £350 and that it was eminently a matter that ought to be subsequently investigated. If occasion should arise, I think this Clause is wide enough to enable us to refer it to the Statutory Committee. It covers also the cases of the share fishermen and of persons covered by the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for West Fulham (Sir C. Cobb) dealing with persons in special schemes. It will be quite open to the Minister under this Clause to refer the position of special schemes generally to the Statutory Committee, although it will not be possible to bring members of those schemes inside the ambit of this Bill without bringing in a fresh Measure.
1688 Having said that I will deal with the point raised by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). Clause 19 does four things. In the first place, it imposes certain duties on the Statutory Advisory Committee. In the second place, it abolishes the differences between what are now known as Special Orders, Orders and Regulations. In the third place, it imposes on the Minister the duty of laying certain draft Regulations before the Statutory Committee; and in the Schedule which goes with this Clause the manner in which those draft Regulations are to be dealt with is set out. Finally, the Clause gives the Minister the power to make certain rules. The hon. Member for Gorbals said that he could not understand the difference between Orders, Special Orders and Regulations, and I confess that they are complicated, and I can well realise that he and other hon. Members may not understand them. The Act of 1920 allowed certain industries to contract out of the scheme. Only two industries, banking and insurance, took advantage of it before the permission was revoked by the Act of 1921. In the case of those two industries special schemes have been drawn up governing the industries, and those schemes can be altered only by Order or what is known as a Special Order.
In the case of a Special Order it may be necessary to appoint a person to hold a public inquiry, hear evidence on oath and report the result to the Minister, who then makes an Order, a Special Order, which lies on the Table of the House for 20 days before it comes into force. There are certain minor amendments of those special schemes which can be made by Order, and in that case the Minister consults the persons in the special scheme. He makes an Order and it lies on the Table of the House, does not require an affirmative resolution, and remains in operation if no adverse resolution has been passed by the House in 20 days. The same kind of thing holds true of certain supplementary schemes which were envisaged by the Act of 1920. None of those supplementary schemes has actually been brought into operation, because they were dependent on the agreement and motion of joint industrial councils. We have not given up hope that the powers under that Section of the Act will eventually be applied, and therefore we 1689 have covered in this Clause the Orders which would be required to bring such schemes into operation.
Now there are the Regulations. Under the Act of 1920 the Minister had power to issue Regulations governing a whole series of subjects. If hon. Members will turn to the end of the Royal Commission's Report they will find, somewhere about page 510, a list of the various things which the Minister can at present do by Regulations. The list covers no fewer than ten pages of that report. In practically all those cases the Minister can do those things without taking anyone's advice at all. All he has to do is to make a Regulation, which comes forthwith into operation, lay it on the Table of the House, and it becomes valid for all time unless a Prayer is moved and the Regulation is negatived. I do not know, speaking from memory, of any case since 1920 in which a Regulation has been negatived, and the Royal Commission and my right hon. Friend both came to the conclusion that an unrestricted, uncontrolled power of that kind was undesirable. The Royal Commission went further, and said that even if they had not recommended an Advisory Committee for dealing with matters of finance, at all events they would have recommended the setting up of an Advisory Committee to consider those Regulations.
The Clause which we are discussing sets up a new procedure for the issue of Regulations, and it amalgamates all these various things like Special Orders, Orders and Regulations into a uniform procedure, with the solitary exception of matters dealing with the finance of the scheme, the particular method for which has already been passed by the House in Clause 17. Clause 17 provides that where the Statutory Committee recommend financial Regulations the Minister shall lay their report on the Table of the House, with a draft order, if he approves their suggestions, and the Order can only come into operation after an affirmative resolution of the House. Apart from this, the other alterations in the scheme from day to day and month to month will be made by Regulation. The Minister will in the first place submit draft Regulations to the Committee. Hon. Members will see the procedure set forth in the Third Schedule. The Committee is compelled to publish the Regulations, to state where they can be seen, and to pro- 1690 vide for a certain length of time within which objections can be put in by any persons who regard themselves as affected by the Regulations. The Committee will then consider those suggestions and return the draft Regulations, with such alterations as they consider desirable, to the Minister. The Minister will consider them and will lay them before the House, with the report from the Committee, and an explanatory memorandum setting forth the reasons, if any, why he has not made any alterations in the draft Regulations which the Committee suggested.
We think, and I hope hon. Members will agree, that that procedure gets over the difficulties which have occurred in the past of the Minister having these semi-autocratic powers. We think the procedure will give adequate opportunity for all the persons who may be affected by these Regulations to have an opportunity of putting forward their case. The Committee will consider them, the Minister will consider them, they will then be laid on the Table and the House will have an opportunity of discussing them. We think that that is a much more democratic method. There is one exception provided for in the Clause with which I ought to deal, and that is in the case of Regulations dealing with training and especially the training of juveniles. These Regulations will deal with persons between 14 and 18. The Advisory Committee will only be concerned with those from 16 upwards. There are already in existence, in the shape of the Juvenile Advisory Council for England, and the separate one for Scotland, bodies fully acquainted with the principal problems we shall be concerned with in this connection, and bodies perhaps more appropriate for considering and discussing the Regulations in respect of this particular type of person than the Statutory Advisory Committee. My right hon. Friend has authorised me to say that, although it is not included in the Bill, substantially wherever any Regulations may be necessary dealing with instruction for juveniles he will consult the two juvenile advisory bodies of England and Scotland, upon which bodies, as this Committee knows, all the education authorities of the country are adequately represented. I have tried in the short time at 1691 my disposal to make a rather complicated Clause clear, and I hope that the Committee will now allow us to have it.
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 202; Noes, 60.1693
|Division No. 101.]||AYES.||[8.57 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Munro, Patrick|
|Albery, Irving James||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Nail-Cain, Hon. Ronald|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Greene, William P. C.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Grimston, R. V.||Nunn, William|
|Apsley, Lord||Gritten, W. G. Howard||Pearson, William G.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Percy, Lord Eustace|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Petherick, M.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J.||Hanbury, Cecil||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Hanley, Dennis A.||Pybus Sir Percy John|
|Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Raikes, Henry V. A. M.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Harbord, Arthur||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Barton, Capt. Basil Kelsey||Hartland, George A.||Ramsbotham, Herwald|
|Beaumont, Hon. R.E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Blindell, James||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Henderson, Sir Vivian L. (Chelmsf'd)||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Hornby, Frank||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E. A.|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Horne, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert S.||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd, Hexham)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Russell, Albert (Kirkcaldy)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Hurd, Sir Percy||Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury)|
|Burnett, John George||Hutchison, W. D. (Essex, Romf'd)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Burton, Colonel Henry Walter||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Jamleson, Douglas||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Cassels, James Dale||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Sinclair, Col T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Clarke, Frank||Knox, Sir Alfred||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Smith, Sir J. Walker (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Law, Sir Alfred||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S.W.)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Lees-Jones, John||Spencer, Captain Richard A.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Spens, William Patrick|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle)||Levy, Thomas||Stevenson, James|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Lewis, Oswald||Stones, James|
|Cross, R. H.||Lindsay, Kenneth Martin (Kilm'rnock)||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Templeton, William P.|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Mabane, William||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||McEwen, Captain J. H. F.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Dickie, John P.||McKie, John Hamilton||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Wallace, John (Dunfermline)|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Doran, Edward||Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Magnay, Thomas||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Eales, John Frederick||Maitland, Adam||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Erskine-Boist, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Martin, Thomas B.||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Mavhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Withers, Sir John James|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||Meller, Sir Richard James||Womersley, Walter James|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Ganzonl, Sir John||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A Hamilton||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Moreing, Adrian C.||Sir George Penny and Captain|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Austin Hudson.|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Banfield, John William||Briant, Frank|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Batey, Joseph||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Buchanan, George|
|Cape, Thomas||Grithffis, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mason, David M. (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Groves, Thomas E.||Maxton, James|
|Cove, William G.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Milner, Major James|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Curry, A. C.||Harris, Sir Percy||Paling, Wilfred|
|Daggar, George||Hicks, Ernest George||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Holdsworth, Herbert||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Dobbie, William||John, William||Price, Gabriel|
|Edwards, Charles||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Kirkwood, David||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lawson, John James||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Evans, R. T. (Carmarthen)||Leonard, William||Thorne, William James|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Logan, David Gilbert||Tinker, John Joseph|
|George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Lunn, William||White, Henry Graham|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Mr. G. Macdonald and Mr. D. Graham.|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ CLAUSE 20.—(Duty of Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee as to insurance of persons employed in agriculture.)
§ 9.4 p.m.
§ Mr. TURTON
I beg to move, in page 19, line 35, to leave out from "shall," to the end of the Sub-section, and to insert:forthwith explore the possibility of devising a special scheme of insurance against unemployment for persons employed in the agricultural industry, and shall make a report to the Minister containing any proposals or recommendations which, in the opinion of the committee, would be in the interests of the agricultural industry and would secure the co-operation of those engaged therein, and the report shall be laid before Parliament.In moving this Amendment, I wish first to remind the Committee of the different commissions which have studied the question of agricultural labourers' insurance in the past. In 1921, the Rew Committee was appointed to consider the question. Their conclusions, as published in their report, are worth bringing to the notice of this Committee to-night. They were, first:That there is general opposition both by employers and workers to the inclusion of agriculture under the general provisions of the Unemployment Act, 1920.Secondly:That there is no evidence that a special scheme for agriculture under the Act would be acceptable to both employers and workers, and that in any case the information at present available as to the incidence of unemployment in agriculture is insufficient for the preparation of such a scheme.Finally:That there is no evidence of such general agreement as would be necessary for the consideration of a voluntary scheme of insurance against unemployment outside the Act and independent of State aid.1694 That was the report of the Rew Committee in 1921. Although there have been great changes in agriculture and in the position of employment in agriculture since 1921, I believe that the same recommendations and criticisms would apply to-day—that there is no desire for the inclusion of agriculture in the general scheme, and that a voluntary scheme without State aid would not meet with the approval of the agricultural industry.
The Gregory Committee also considered this question of agricultural insurance with very great care, and, if I may, I will read their conclusions on this subject. They said:In view of the above considerations, we do not recommend the inclusion of agriculture in the State insurance scheme. We consider, however, that a statutory commission should forthwith explore, with representatives of the industry and the Government Departments concerned, the possibility of providing a special scheme of insurance for agriculture which will secure the co-operation of those engaged in the industry and overcome the difficulties to which we have drawn attention.The attitude of both these Committees was that the bringing of agriculture into a general scheme of insurance would not be in the interests of the agricultural industry, and that it is quite impossible for agriculture to provide a voluntary scheme without State assistance. That brought the possibilities of agricultural insurance down to the problem of a special scheme. In moving this Amendment, I do not want to enter into the merits or demerits of agricultural insurance; what I am objecting to in the Clause is the machinery that the Minister is setting up, purporting to carry out the recommendations which I have read.
There are three main differences between the Amendment and the Clause. The first is that, whereas in the Clause 1695 the Minister would leave it to the Statutory Committee to make any proposal, whether for introducing agriculture into a general scheme or into a special scheme, the Amendment would limit the Statutory Committee to the conclusion arrived at by the Gregory Committee, that agriculture should only be put into a special scheme of insurance, and not into a general scheme. I do not see how this Committee can adopt any other view unless a better case is made out, because the Gregory Committee considered this problem for two years, and anyone who has read the preceding paragraphs of their report cannot but be struck by the care with which they went into the question, and the fact that they turned down any possibility of agriculture being put into a general scheme of insurance. I should like to ask the Minister this question: Supposing that the Committee investigating this matter were to recommend, if the Minister would allow them to recommend, that agriculture be put into a general scheme of insurance, what line is Parliament to take then? Is a proposal which has been twice rejected by committees set up by different Governments to be thrust down the throat of agriculture, although it is a proposal which no farmer and no agricultural labourer in this country would voluntarily vote for or involuntarily tolerate? It is my earnest desire to get inserted in the Clause words which will clearly and definitely include a special scheme of insurance.
If the Minister, while allowing the Committee a wide latitude as between a general scheme and a special scheme, had, by his criterion or test which was to guide the Committee, made it impossible for them to recommend a general scheme of insurance, I could understand that my argument would not be of so much importance; but it happens that the Minister's criterion is as to whether a scheme is practicable, and that, I submit, would be a very dangerous criterion in this case. The Minister is well aware that by Section 11 of the Act of 1920 the possibility of his initiating a special scheme has been taken away by Parliament, and, if the Committee are to consider in the first place the question of mere practicability, they would reject any proposal to put agriculture into a special scheme, and would confine their 1696 attention to putting agriculture into a general scheme of insurance. The next difference between the Amendment and the present Clause is in regard to the test. The Minister's test for the Statutory Committee is that they shall:as soon as may be after the passing of this Act make such proposals as may seem to them practicable for the insurance against unemployment of persons engaged in employment in agriculture.The test there is practicability, and I have taken the trouble to see what legal connotation might be given to the word "practicability." It is, in my submission, merely that the Committee have to recommend any scheme that is a sound actuarial proposition—not a scheme that would necessarily be in the interests of agriculture; not a scheme that would necessarily ensure the co-operation of those engaged in agriculture. Hon. Members will find, if they consult that encyclopedia of knowledge, Murray's English Dictionary, that the definition of the word "practicable" is "capable of being put into practice." Is it not a practicable scheme that a farm labourer should pay 10d. a week and receive a benefit of 15s. 3d. a week if he falls out of employment? It is a practicable scheme, but it is not a scheme that is in the interests of the industry, and it would not secure the co-operation of anybody engaged in the industry. I would ask the Minister, however he views this Amendment from other aspects, to lay down as his criterion in Clause 20 that the scheme shall be one that would be in the interests of the agricultural industry and would secure the co-operation of those engaged therein. Surely, if you are adopting a new scheme of unemployment insurance, you have to consider those on whom the burden of contribution is to be put. We ought to see, not whether they will be good lives, but whether it will be to the advantage of those men to bring them into the sphere of insurance. I remember Miss Bondfield introducing an Unemployment Insurance Bill, and her words in dealing with agriculture were:It is my own personal desire to include all agricultural workers and other good lives into the scheme of unemployment insurance.Is that the desire of the Minister? Is the reason for the possibility of agriculture being introduced that they are good 1697 lives which may help to buttress up the fund, which unfortunately is now insolvent. There is no body of workers more skilled in employment and more patient in unemployment than the agricultural workers, and it would be monstrous to bring them in merely to buttress up an insolvent fund. I remember that Abraham, when apprehensive of the fate of his son, found a ram in a thicket. Does the Minister hope that, when he is apprehensive as to the fate of his fund, agriculture will again provide a sacrificial substitute? All committees and commissions which have enquired into the subject have recommended that there should be a special scheme. Let the criterion be whether it is in the interest of agriculture.
The third difference between my Amendment and the Clause is that the Minister has made it mandatory on the Committee to produce the best scheme that is practicable. I ask that they shall be allowed to explore the question. I am the last to want delay. The hon. Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) has an Amendment to put the recommendation off for six months, I hope that will not be accepted. What we want is something immediate. They are immediately to explore the question. If an unemployment insurance scheme would work, it would be monstrous to delay it for six months. Our Amendment goes one better than that of the hon. Member. He believes in the policy of gradualness. We believe in something immediate. We shall immediately explore the problem, and, if they find that a special scheme is in the interests of the industry, they are to devise the most advantageous special scheme. I am not bound by the words of the Amendment. They are the words of the Gregory Commission in paragraph 360 of their conclusions. I am only asking the Minister to go back to the report of the Royal Commission and to carry out what they ask for. I am somewhat assisted in that plea by the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on the Second Reading of the Bill, said:If hon. Members will observe the terms in which this subject is dealt with in the Bill, they will see that the provision betokens not merely a fishing enquiry as to whether such a scheme can be found or not, but is a direction to find the best scheme that can be made suitable to the particular conditions of the industry."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th December, 1933; col. 1350, Vol. 283.]1698 I admit that the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not suggest that we should explore. He told the House that the Clause was in the best interests of the industry, and when we come to the Clause, we find that it does not carry out what he stated. May I also call attention to the speech of the Minister on the Second Reading? He said:It seems to me, therefore, that there is everything to be said for adopting the Royal Commission's recommendations that the Statutory Committee should explore the position in consultation with the two parties and make such proposals as may seem practicable for the insurance of agriculture in this country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1933; col. 1083, Vol. 283.]What I am really asking the Committee to do is to merge those two speeches, and the result will be to ask the Committee forthwith to explore the question and to put forward a scheme which is in the interests of the agricultural industry. It is a very serious matter. To put agriculture into the general scheme of insurance would arouse the resentment of those in the countryside. No one in agriculture wants to be in the general scheme. As the Minister explained on the Second Reading, the conditions are entirely different. Unfortunately, owing to the long era of Free Trade and a Socialist Government, the wages paid in the industry are not such as to permit of the heavy contributions under the Unemployment Insurance scheme.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Sir IAN MACPHERSON
This is a peculiarly difficult question. The speech that we have just heard appeared to me to be in the nature of what was ruled out earlier in the day—a dilatory Motion. It is true that Commissions have sat on this question as long ago as 1920, and that the finding of that particular Commission was dead against the inclusion of the agricultural labourer in any insurance scheme, general or special. But in any case I feel bound to suggest that hon. Members representing agricultural constituencies will agree that the conditions obtaining in those days were entirely different. In those days—and I speak for a highly agricultural constituency—there was not a single unemployed person in the industry. There were good and reasonable wages and there was a feeling, if not of complete contentment, at any rate of some 1699 satisfaction at the constant work and, in the mind of the working-man at least, at the fairly good wages. To-day there is unemployment even in the highly agricultural districts, where agriculture is the main industry, has been the main industry for centuries and looks as though it would continue to be the main industry. In my own constituency there are many able-bodied men out of work. A great many conditions conduced to this. We are usually told that it is due to the world economic blizzard, but in any case unemployment can be found in agricultural constituencies in Scotland.
The conditions of the agricultural labourer on farms in Scotland are entirely different from those in England. In this country I understand that the agricultural wages are paid weekly. In Scotland the farm servant is employed for six months and is paid at the end of six months. Sometimes you will find an old farm where the same families of servants have been employed for generations, and the servant is engaged by the year.
§ Sir I. MACPHERSON
Paid twice a year, and the houses in which they live are in the main attached to the farm. Recently, not only has unemployment been rife but wages have not been so satisfactory. It is not the farmer's fault; the farmer will tell you quite plainly that nothing would give him greater pleasure than to be in a position to pay good wages to his men, for he understands perfectly well that if good wages are paid he will get good work; his horses are turned out to plough in much finer condition; his harness is burnished up, and there is a spring in the step which one does not find when wages are miserable and a disgrace to civilisation as was the case in England.
It is true that in Part II of this Act the farm servants have some consideration shown to them. The question arises whether it might not be better for the farm servant to remain as he is and take the conditions which are available to him under Part II of this Act. I was, however, very much struck by the findings of what is called the Gregory Commission, which went very fully into the whole question of agriculture. There has been, off and on, during this last decade 1700 a feeling that the agricultural labourer should be included, but the balance of opinion in the mind both of the farmer and of the agricultural labourer has been against it. My view, however, is that nowadays the balance of opinion so far as the farm servant is concerned is in favour of his inclusion in a scheme of insurance. It is perfectly true, of course, that the scheme of insurance suggested by the Gregory Commission was a specialist one, not a scheme of general insurance such as obtains in all the other industries under the Insurance Acts.
I have no doubt that the Government have carefully considered the question, and I am prepared to see farm servants included in an insurance scheme at once. Under this Clause a special committee is to be instructed to formulate a scheme. The sooner some such scheme is formulated the better. The farm servants in Scotland are very strongly represented in their unions all over the country, and my information is that they do not want any dilatoriness; they have a full sense of responsibility for what they are now asking this Committee to give them. The farmers, so far as I can consult them, have the same view. They feel that agriculture, not only in Scotland but also in England, must act as an industry all together, and if it is going to be to the satisfaction of the servants that they should be included in this insurance scheme, the farmers will in no way attempt to oppose their inclusion. The farmer desires, conditioned as he is, better prices for his produce; he realises that if he gets better prices it will pay him to produce and, in the long run, those people who are dependent upon the farming industry will be guaranteed better wages and conditions. If farm servants in England and Scotland receive what they want, namely, inclusion in a scheme of insurance, it will be to the satisfaction of all, and the sooner some fair and reasonable scheme is formulated by this expert committee, the sooner the agricultural industry in this country will be satisfied.
§ 9.33 p.m.
§ Mr. T. SMITH
Usually, when we on this side of the House have spoken on Amendments moved by supporters of the Government, we have been in a position to support them. With regard to this Amendment moved by the hon. Member 1701 for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), I think I am right in saying that we cannot support it. The hon. Member started off by saying that there appeared to be no reliable statistics in existence showing the number of farm workers out of work. I can assure you that, while there may not be reliable statistics, yet anybody who cares to visit the countryside will find plenty of farm workers out of work for reasons over which they have had no control. As the Committee knows, when a farm worker is thrown out of work the only place to which he can apply for relief is the Poor Law, the public assistance committee, and the benefits distributed out to farm workers in some of the rural districts are far less than the amount paid to people under the Poor Law system of some of our larger towns.
I hope that the Committee will not be led away by the plea made by the hon. Member. He began by saying that we must be careful not to do anything that would impose a burden on agriculture, and he wound up by saying that he wanted immediate action—action so quick that even the Amendment down in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. T. Williams) appeared to be a very slow-moving Amendment indeed. The only complaint I have to make against the Government is that they have not seen fit to bring the agricultural workers into unemployment insurance before this. A scheme has already been prepared, and both sides have discussed it with the Minister. It is a scheme which has the support of the Agricultural Workers' Union, and some of the farmers are prepared to support it. Clause 20 of the Bill lays down that:The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee shall as soon as may be after the passing of the Act make such proposals as may seem to them practicable for the insurance against unemployment of persons engaged in employment in agriculture.The mere fact of the Clause being worded in that way suggests that the Government are aware of the unemployment in the countryside, and have put it down in order to get a scheme to meet such unemployment. If I had my way I would urge the Minister to accept the later Amendment in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley and my hon. Friend the Member for Gower (Mr. D. Grenfell) which——
§ Mr. SMITH
I beg your pardon, Sir Dennis, but the point I was trying to make was that, while I am opposed to the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), I am satisfied that the Government realise that there is a problem to be faced. I was complaining that there is no definite date in Clause 20 by which we could expect a report with regard to this matter. I was suggesting that it might be a good thing if the Committee were to accept the principle in the later Amendment.
§ 9.38 p.m.
§ Sir JOSEPH LAMB
As my name appears on the Amendment, I should like to have the opportunity of supporting what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). I frankly admit that one of the reasons why I put my name to the Amendment was that I wish to have a definite statement from the Minister as to whether the Clause is a mandatory Clause or not. There are a number of people who on reading Clause 20 will get the impression that it is to be the duty of the Statutory Committee to bring forward a scheme, and they are supported in that view by the slight variation in the two speeches made at an earlier stage of the proceedings of this Committee by the Minister and by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. They did not quite tally. The Amendment asks that there shall be a duty placed upon the Committee to explore the situation, but we do not want to lay down a rule that they must bring forward a scheme whether they feel it is one which is likely to be practicable and in the interests of the industry or not.
It is clear, I think, that most people are of the opinion that it would be inadvisable and unjust that the agricultural labourer should be brought into the general scheme of insurance. We have had three or four commissions and committees, each one of which has ruled 1703 against such a proposition. Even the present report says that there should be a special scheme. By a special scheme is meant something which no one has yet seen. We have knowledge of the general unemployment scheme and perhaps have some idea as to whether it would be applicable to agricultural labourers, but a special scheme means one which has not at present been prepared, and consequently it would be very unwise for any section of the industry definitely to say that they were in favour of such a scheme until they knew the terms of it. The object we have in view is that there should be an inquiry into the possibilities of preparing a special scheme which could be laid not only before this House but before the agricultural community as a whole, so as to see whether it was likely to be of advantage to the industry.
The difficulty in preparing a special scheme is that we in this House, and also people outside, always make the mistake of referring to agriculture as being an industry. It is more true to say that it is a collection of industries combined into one great industry. The interest of the separate sections of the agricultural industry are often diametrically opposed to each other. It would be the same with regard to insurance. Speaking generally, farmers engaged in grass farming do not consider it is necessary that they should have a scheme of unemployment insurance, and I am confident that the men themselves have that feeling. In the grass districts it is more a question of stock-keeping, and anybody who knows anything about agriculture will realise that where stock is kept, employment is more regular and generally permanent. In the arable districts that is not the case. They employ a great deal more of the so-called casual and seasonal labour, and it is true that recently there has been an increase of unemployment in those districts because of the conditions of arable farming. It is possible that the farmer himself, if there were an insurance scheme, might be able to avail himself of its operation for the purpose of turning off his men oftener than is the case at the present time. This would be highly undesirable both from the agricultural point of view and the interests of the workers themselves. Stability of employment is a greater desideratum 1704 than to have employment temporary or sporadically at higher wages.
With regard to casual labour, it has been stated here to-day that there was an increase in unemployment, but the report makes it plain that unemployment among casual labour has not increased. Unemployment in casual labour has decreased by no less than 39 per cent. from the years 1921 to 1930. That is in the report. I cannot give any particulars with regard to seasonal labour. As a rule the payment made for seasonal labour is higher than that for regular work. It would be very unfair that a man in regular employment should be expected to pay a contribution towards an unemployment scheme from which the seasonal labourer was to draw, although he was a more highly paid man than the man making the contribution. That is another of the difficulties. I do not think that this is the time or place to discuss whether there should be a scheme or not, but I am pleading that the Minister should state categorically whether the Clause is mandatory or not, and that there should be an instruction to the Committee to make a full inquiry into the whole question with regard to a special scheme. After such a scheme had been drafted would be the time to consider whether it was one which could be made applicable to the agricultural industry in the interests of all concerned, and not of one section. There is a danger that the worker might be tempted to make a statement that he would be in favour of an unemployment scheme simply because he might imagine that, on the face of it, he was to get something during unemployment. The time will come when he will have that scheme placed before him and he will see the contribution that he will have to make, and that may possibly alter his views in the matter. I ask for a statement from the Minister that the Clause is not mandatory but one that will ensure full and complete inquiry before a scheme is brought to the House.
§ 9.46 p.m.
§ Sir ERNEST SHEPPERSON
My name is not in the list of those who are supporting the Amendment, but I would like to say to my hon. Friends who are supporting it that I thoroughly agree with the principle raised in the wording of the Amendment as to the desirability of an 1705 inquiry. The reason why I am not supporting the Amendment is that the Clause, as drafted, meets the point. It very clearly states that:The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee shall as soon as may be after the passing of this Act make such proposals as may seem to them practicable for the insurance against unemployment of persons engaged in employment in agriculture.That enables an inquiry to be made, and we shall then have full knowledge of the result of the inquiry brought before Parliament. Therefore, I do not think the Amendment is absolutely necessary. What agriculture desires is to be brought within the scope of unemployment insurance. The agricultural worker, very justly and very rightly, desires insurance equality with his fellow industrial workers. Why should the agricultural labourer when he becomes unemployed have to suffer the stigma of receiving Poor Law or public assistance, whereas the industrial worker claims the right of benefit from his insurance fund? We admire the spirit of the agricultural worker and we desire, certainly I desire, to see him brought within some insurance scheme and put on an equal footing with the industrial worker.
In emphasising that desire, and it is in particular my desire, I must also emphasise the fact that the agriculturist cannot at the present time bear any additional burden in order to supplement the insurance fund of the industrial worker. By agriculturist I mean the agricultural labourer as well as the farmer, because the agricultural labourer is equally entitled to call himself an agriculturist. The agriculturist cannot afford to have any additional burdens placed upon him to supplement the industrial insurance fund. If the agricultural worker is brought into a general insurance fund he would be subsidising that fund, because in agriculture the amount of unemployment is far less than in the industrial occupations of the towns. Therefore, if an agricultural labourer had to pay the same amount per week as the industrial worker he would not be, at the end of any period, withdrawing from the fund the amount that he had paid in.
An inquiry by the Statutory Committee would enable that committee to make proposals and make possible a special scheme into which the agricultural worker 1706 could be brought. In making the inquiries I suggest that the Committee should consider three points. In the first place, agriculture as an industry cannot, in its present condition, afford to subsidise the insurance fund of the ordinary industrialist in the town. In the second place, if there is unemployment in agriculture the agricultural worker has to depend upon public assistance money, which comes out of the rates. If, however, agriculture was brought within an insurance scheme the rates would, to that extent, be relieved from paying for the unemployed agricultural worker. Therefore the Committee ought to consider that the scheme would be justified in seeking additional support out of the rates and taxes towards the financial solvency of the scheme, and by that way reduce the amount payable by the agricultural workers.
They might also take into consideration the point raised by the hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) that the agricultural worker exists in two separate classes. There is the class of the permanently employed man, who works through the year and is never unemployed, at a low rate of wages, and there is the casual worker who works at harvest time, on sugar beet, etc., and receives a high rates of wages. Are the permanent workmen to pay a weekly sum in order that the more highly paid body of men should receive benefit at their cost when they are unemployed in the winter time? The problem is difficult, but is by no means insurmountable. My desire is that the Committee shall, and I believe they will, be able to overcome the difficulties and present a scheme to the House for the insurance of the agricultural worker which is just to the worker and to the employer alike. I feel sure that the Committee will be able to make such a report and that we shall be able to satisfy the proper desire of the agricultural labourer that he shall be brought within the scope of an insurance scheme.
§ 9.55 p.m.
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
I do not wish to delay the Committee by making a speech. I rise only to ask my right hon. Friend if he will give us some enlightenment on a point which is exercising the minds of many of us in connection with this particular Amendment and other Amendments relating to other classes of 1707 workers. The hon. Member for Leominster (Sir E. Shepperson) has told the Committee that the agricultural worker is anxious to come into a scheme and that he supports him in that view. The hon. Member went on further to say that the agricultural worker did not want to go under the Poor Law, because he would thereby have the stigma which is supposed to attach to the Poor Law. The hon. Member appears to have overlooked the fact that under Part 2 of the Bill there is no stigma; it has been removed. What attraction therefore can there be to an agricultural worker or to any other worker who may be entitled to come under Part 2, to come under a fixed benefit scheme, because as soon as Part 2 comes into operation the Unemployment Assistance Board, in pursuance of its duties, as the Parliamentary Secretary said, will grant benefits freely above the level of those accorded to beneficiaries under the present Unemployment Insurance scheme. From that moment it seems to me that there can be no attraction for an agricultural labourer or any other worker to come into a fixed benefit scheme such as we have had up to the present time. That is a point causing great anxiety to many of us, when we consider that of Part II of this Bill, a great deal has been said and a great deal will be said, but all that may be said at the moment is that it does constitute the greatest threat to the continuation of the contributory scheme we have had at any time since the contributory scheme was introduced.
§ 9.56 p.m.
§ Colonel RUGGLES-BRISE
I should like to take up one point made by the hon. Member for Leominster (Sir E. Shepperson) in regard to this Amendment. The hon. Member for Stone (Sir J. Lamb) placed clearly before the Committee that this Clause as it stands makes it mandatory on the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee to produce a plan. In the view of many hon. Members who represent agricultural constituencies this is rather unwise, and it would be far better to use the words of the Amendment and charge the Statutory Committee to explore the whole situation, to see whether it is possible to produce a reasonable and practical plan. That is the main difference between the Clause 1708 and the first part of the Amendment. The Clause goes on to say that in addition to producing a plan, the Statutory Committee may also make recommendations to the Minister. This curious situation may arise. Owing to the fact that this Clause is mandatory, you may have the Statutory Committee discharging its duty under the Bill, and producing to the Minister a plan in which it does not believe, and it may further make use of its power to make recommendations to add a rider to its own plan to say that it does not think that plan would be necessarily workable, or would be in the best interest of the agricultural workers themselves. That would be a waste of time. The Amendment says, therefore, that the Statutory Committee shall be charged with the duty of exploring all the possibilities of the situation, and for that reason I think it would be better that the Amendment should be accepted.
The other point around which discussion has taken place is whether or not, if any scheme is devised, it should be a special scheme, or whether the agricultural worker should be brought into the general scheme. I think it is clear that if the agricultural worker is to be brought into the general scheme he would probably be brought in on the same terms of contribution as workers in other industries. That contribution is a higher one than he will be able to afford, but if he is brought in at a lesser contribution he will presumably have to receive a lower scale of benefit. We do not think it would be right that there should be that differentiation if it could possibly be avoided. For that reason, among others, it would be far better to devise a special scheme, outside the general scheme, in which the agricultural worker by paying a contribution suited to his case, might draw benefits suitable to his mode of life.
It should be remembered, as regards the question whether or not there is likely to be any large agricultural unemployment in future, that during the last three generations there has been a large decline in the number of agricultural workers in this country. I believe the number of agricultural employés has now fallen to the very basic level, if not below it—that is to say, below the reasonable requirements of the industry. Most of the farmers in the country would wish they were in a position immediately to 1709 increase their labour bill by employing more men were the economic position one which would justify that course. I do not think, therefore, that we need anticipate a large further increase in agricultural unemployment during the next few years. When the agricultural policy of this Government has had time to fructify the industry will be entering upon a new phase of prosperity, and if that happens it is certain there will be a growing and increasing demand for agricultural labour. The Committee should bear that in mind when considering this matter. That is another reason why I think that any scheme should be a special one.
There is a further reason. We have to remember that in areas where stock-keeping is the principal item, and in the arable districts too large quantities of stock are kept, especially on many large arable farms where there are a large number of horses, there are a large number of key men. It is not likely, as far as one can reasonably forecast the future, that these key men will be out of employment in the coming years. That being so, we have to consider their position, vis-a-vis the casual and seasonal workers. It is to these classes of workers undoubtedly that an insurance scheme offers the most attraction. We have to remember, in connection with the whole of this very difficult question, that the farm does not shut down like the factory, and because of that we have to model any scheme for agricultural workers on lines which must of necessity be somewhat different from those adaptable to urban industries. For these reasons, I think a case has been made out for not making this duty mandatory on the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee, and consequently, if that Committee is able to produce a scheme for agricultural workers, that scheme should be of a special nature adapted to agricultural needs.
§ 10.5 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Henry Betterton)
It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I rise at once to deal with this proposal. This very interesting Debate illustrates the great difficulties which surround the whole of this problem. Let me remind the Committee in a word or two what is the history of this question, because it is very relevant to the conclusion to which 1710 we have come. In 1920, which was the date of the big Act, this question of insuring agricultural workers was very carefully considered, and at that time neither the employers nor the employed nor anyone else wanted agriculture within the scheme of the 1920 Act, and agriculture was not included. As far as I know there was no demand from anyone for it. As the right hon. Member for Ross and Cromarty (Sir I. Macpherson) has said, there has been a change since that time. After the 1920 Act was passed there was an inquiry, under the chairmanship of Sir Henry Rew and his committee found that there was no evidence of such general agreement as would be necessary to warrant a scheme for agriculture. It was found that there was general opposition to including agriculture in the existing scheme, and accordingly the committee was unanimous against it.
The matter was again considered in 1926, also by a committee of which Sir Henry Rew was chairman. Between 1920 and 1926 there was clearly a change in the opinion of those who came before that committee. The 1926 committee was not unanimous and it issued two reports. The majority report represented only a small majority of the committee. It recommended that agriculture was a suitable industry for insurance, but both reports said that unemployment insurance should not be applied to agriculture in Scotland, because unemployment was much less there than in England, and both employers and workmen were against insurance in Scotland. The majority report recommended a special scheme for England and Wales, while the minority report found there was still no case for it. That was in 1926. In 1927 the Blanesburgh Committee in their report recommended no change in the existing position.
Then we come to the examination of this question by the Royal Commission. The Royal Commission went into the matter very carefully, and in their conclusions, on page 197, they state:There are strong arguments for the extension of unemployment insurance to agriculture.They then pointed out five of the difficulties which occurred to them and to which at that time they could find no practical solution. These five difficulties were: 1711
I understand that the Scottish system of half-yearly hiring prevails to a very small extent in England.
- "1. The difficulty of estimating the average rate of unemployment on which to base the finance of the scheme.
- 2. The different conditions between Scotland on the one hand and England and Wales on the other."
I am not sure that this last is not the most difficult question of all.
- "3. The new organisation which would have to be devised to deal with unemployment in scattered rural areas.
- 4. The special difficulty of dealing with workers employed in agriculture in casual or seasonal occupations.
- 5. The position of smallholders and of members of the same family working together on a holding."
It is a matter of historical interest, although of course it is not binding on us, that it was the last difficulty which was one factor in inducing Germany to abandon the scheme of insurance for agricultural workers. The Germans first of all put agricultural workers into their scheme, and then took them out partly because of the difficulty of dealing with members of a family working on one small farm. These are illustrations of the difficulties which surround the question. The Royal Commission in their conclusion said:In view of the above considerations we do not recommend the inclusion of agriculture in the State insurance scheme. We consider, however, that the Statutory Commission should forthwith explore, with representatives of the industry and the Governments Departments concerned, the possibility of devising a special scheme of insurance for agriculture which will secure the co-operation of those engaged in the industry and overcome the difficulties to which we have drawn attention.The words of the Bill exactly carry out those recommendations of the Royal Commission. Let me read the words in the Clause:The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee shall as soon as may be after the passing of this Act make such proposals as may seem to them practicable for the insurance against unemployment of persons engaged in employment in agriculture, and shall make a report to the Minister continuing the proposals and any recommendations of the Committee with respect thereto and the report shall be laid before Parliament.That means that the Statutory Committee shall examine this question and shall also examine these practical difficulties, and if they can find an answer to these diffi- 1712 culties they will make their recommendations accordingly. If on the other hand they can find no answer to the practical difficulties they will say so. In any case they will make "any recommendations with respect thereto." Therefore, we are dealing with this matter in the only way in which it can be dealt with. It would be idle merely to put agriculture into an insurance scheme unless we saw our way to the solving of those very practical difficulties which the Royal Commission mentioned.
My hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Molton (Mr. Turton) said that in any case, if there is a scheme to include agriculture, it must be a special scheme. Speaking, I hope, entirely without prejudice, I do not think it is conceivable that you can ask any agricultural labourer with his rate of wages to pay the amount of contribution which the ordinary insured person is asked to pay under the insurance scheme. I should like to point out that a "Special scheme" is a very technical term. But the Committee might recommend the inclusion of agriculture in the general scheme with modifications with regard to contributions and benefit, or, on the other hand, having considered these various difficulties, they might recommend a scheme which would be confined solely to agriculture. Another possibility is that they might recommend a scheme of voluntary insurance. All those courses are open to them and, having considered all these difficulties, no doubt they will make the recommendations which seem to them appropriate.
§ Earl WINTERTON
It is still not clear to some of us, whether the words "such proposals as seem to them practicable" are to be taken as including both the affirmative and negative. Is it open to this body to say that no scheme is practicable?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I cannot conceive that the Statutory Committee would put forward proposals which were impracticable. I would draw attention to the last words of the Sub-section under which any recommendations of the Committee are to be laid before Parliament. It is not to be expected that this body would think fit to recommend impracticable proposals.
§ Earl WINTERTON
But are they bound to propose a scheme for the insurance of unemployed agricultural workers? That is the point.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I should have thought that the point was covered by the last words of the Sub-section.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I should have thought that the words of the Clause covered the point raised by the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) and that they would also allay the doubts of the Noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton).
§ Earl WINTERTON
My doubts are shared by a great many hon. Members. Cannot the Minister make the matter plain by putting in the words "if any"?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I have pointed out that the recommendations of the Committee will be laid before Parliament and we shall see what those recommendations are. If the Committee cannot see any possibility of a practicable scheme, it is to be assumed that they will state so. This afternoon we had a discussion on the powers of the Statutory Committee and it was suggested by some hon. Members that it was being given powers which were in derogation of the rights of Parliament. But no scheme for agriculture can be brought into operation until it has been incorporated in a Bill which will be presented to this House and passed in the usual way. Therefore, any point upon which any hon. Member may feel doubt will be an appropriate subject for discussion in connection with such a Bill.
§ Mr. DAVID GRENFELL
Is it not the case that the Clause requires the Committee to present recommendations to the Minister and the Minister to lay those recommendations before Parliament? Is there not a direct obligation first on the Committee to make recom- 1714 mendations and secondly for the Minister to report them to Parliament?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
There is an obligation on the Committee to make a report but there is also an obligation on the Committee to make "such proposals as may seem to them practicable."
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
One hon. Member said he did not see any advantage in agriculture coming into the scheme at all owing to the operation of Part II. Of course that is a criticism against the whole of Part II and it is a criticism which would apply not only to agriculture but to every other industry. I have always understood that there were certain disadvantages attaching to those who got unemployment assistance under Part II, which were extremely unpopular in the country as I have been told. There is the advantage of obtaining a fixed amount without any inquiry into means or resources of any kind. The position here, in an insurance scheme, is totally different from that of the recipient of unemployment assistance, and I cannot see any justification any longer for treating agricultural labourers differently from men who are now getting transitional payment. In my own village we can have two cottages side by side, in one of which there may be a man on transitional payment and in the other an agricultural labourer out of work. The first man has certain advantages because he has been insured although he is no longer in insurance, but the agricultural labourer is at the present time in a wholly different position, and if he is out of work his only recourse is to the Poor Law. The point that I put very strongly is that there is no justification for that differentiation. I hope I have given a clear explanation of the Clause, and I hope my hon. Friend will therefore not press his Amendment.
§ Mr. TURTON
Can my right hon. Friend say whether the words "such proposals as may seem to them practicable" mean practicable as regards the operation of the scheme or practicable in the interests of the agricultural labourer?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
They mean practicable in the sense of meeting in a practical and satisfactory manner the serious difficulties pointed out by the Royal Commission. When the committee sit, they 1715 will hear representations from all those engaged in the industry, who will, on the one hand, point out the difficulties, while others may suggest how they may be overcome, but all that will be considered by the committee itself.
§ 10.23 p.m.
§ Mr. LAWSON
I had not intended to speak on this matter, but I must point out what I think is a weakness in the interpretation of this Clause by the right hon. Gentleman. I have not the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Second Reading Debate by me, but my impression of it was that the right hon. Gentleman's statement was to the effect that the Committee were not to inquire into the possibility of a scheme, but into what kind of scheme it should be. That was my understanding, and I think the Clause bears out that interpretation. The Clause states:The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee shall as soon as may be after the passing of this Act make such proposals as may seem to them practicable for the insurance against unemployment"—not as to whether there will be a scheme or not, but proposals for insurance; and it goes on:and shall make a report to the Minister containing the proposals"—for insurance. I am sorry if the right hon. Gentleman gives countenance to the words "if any" in this connection. The general impression throughout the country is that there has been very great satisfaction that there is to be a scheme, and it is recognised that it may be a special scheme, but not special in the terms of the ordinary special scheme. It may be a scheme with particular contributions and particular benefits, but that there is to be a scheme, with some contributions and some benefits, is the general impression, I am sure, that the House must have got and that this Clause has given. I hope I misunderstood the right hon. Gentleman, because I was sorry to get the impression that he was rather weakening in the matter.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
The reason for my interpretation of this Clause is that the words, "make such proposal" are followed by the words, "as may seem to them practicable." If the Committee can devise a scheme which is practicable having regard to the difficulties which they know confront them, they will do so and, 1716 having done so, they may make what recommendations they like.
§ 10.26 p.m.
§ Sir PATRICK FORD
The form of words suggests that the Committee have to find something by any means that they consider practicable. The form of words is practically an injunction to them to produce a scheme. If the Minister means that, we take it on its merits; and if he means that it is purely permissive, we take that on its merits. But we want to know what the form of words means and how it would be interpreted by a court, which makes no reference to Minister's speeches, but only to the words in the Act.
§ 10.27 p.m.
§ Mr. PETHERICK
Surely the paraphrase of Sub-section (1) o fthis Clause would read like this: "The Committee shall make practical proposals and shall make a report." ThatI think, is how a great many hon. Members read this Clause. What many of us object to is ordering a committee to come out with a scheme of some kind or another. The word "practicable" does not mean anything really. It means, in fact, that it has to be a scheme which can be worked, but it may be a very bad scheme. That is the point we have been trying to urge, and I hope my right hon. Friend will, between now and the Report stage, consider with his advisers what this Clause does mean.
§ 10.28 p.m.
§ Mr. CROOM-JOHNSON
The first question we want to consider here is what the Clause in its present form means, as there seems to be the gravest doubt as to what it does mean. Perhaps even behind that is another question, namely: what do the Government intend that their Clause should mean? If they intend one thing, have they got that into the language of the Clause? When I read the Clause for the first time, I looked at the word "shall," and I thought that meant that the duty was to be cast upon the Statutory Committee of framing whatever scheme they thought was practicable. I now understand from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that the Government visualise the possibility of the Statutory Committee saying, "We had a look at it, but we cannot find anything that is practicable, and therefore we recommend no scheme." It seems to me 1717 that we really do want some enlightenment on this before we can even discuss the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton). We are in doubt about this. Some of us on this side think that the time has arrived when some scheme ought to be produced, and some of us do not. I myself am in two minds about it at the present moment, but do let us at least get this clarified so that we can understand what the Government are proposing to put upon the Statute Book by the words which are there at the moment. If it is what the Minister has just said, then, in my respectful submission, that is not in the Clause.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Captain McEWEN
If this proposal is, as I read the Clause, that there is an obligation on the Committee to submit a scheme, I would resist the Amendment and support the Clause as it stands. I entirely agree with the remarks made earlier by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ross and Cromarty (Mr. I. Macpherson) that, whatever the case may have been in the past, undoubtedly, as far as my information goes, and I have been at some pains to ascertain the facts, in Scotland they are anxious to be included in this scheme in some form or another. Because I regard this Clause as binding the Committee I resist the Amendment.
§ 10.31 p.m.
§ Mr. R. W. SMITH
Reference was made to the findings of the Royal Commission in connection with this Clause, but I would point out that there is nothing in the Clause which connects with the Royal Commission's report. It seems to me that everything hinges on the word "practicable." It is not impracticable for farm servants to pay the ordinary contributions, that is to say, it is not impossible for them to do so, but it might be unreasonable to ask them to do so. Though it may be unreasonable to ask them to pay contributions, because these would be too high, their wages are large enough in themselves to cover such contributions, and therefore it could not be said that it was impracticable for them to pay contributions. Therefore, it would be practicable to bring them under the Bill. Further, it does not seem to me that it would be impracticable to ask for contributions from their employers, that is the farmers. I would suggest that the 1718 word ought to be "reasonable" instead of "practicable."
§ 10.32 p.m.
§ Sir STAFFORD CRIPPS
May we ask the Solicitor-General to assist the Committee in the interpretation of this Clause, as he is now present? It seems to me that it is essential that we should have the advice of a Law Officer upon the point we are discussing. Clearly two views are taken in the Committee, one by the Minister and the other by, apparently, most of the other hon. Members. It would seem, looking at the Clause, that there is an obligation upon the Statutory Committee to make a report containing a proposal, and that proposal must be one for the insurance against unemployment of persons engaged in the employment of agriculture. If it does not mean that, or is not intended to mean that, we might have the views of a Law Officer upon it.
§ 10.33 p.m.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Donald Somervell)
As I understand this Clause it certainly directs the Committee to do something. Whether it directs them to inquire into the matter is not said. The words are:make such proposals as may seem to them practicable.I should have thought it was really clear that not even an Act of Parliament can compel a body to make proposals within those words if, after examination, there are no proposals which seem to them practicable—clearly. I think it is also true to say, reading the Clause, that they have got to make every effort, and they would see they have to make every effort, to find where are the difficulties which have arisen. But is a matter of direction that if, after having examined the matter, they do not come to the conclusion that there are any proposals which they can make which are proper to be put into practice, they must say so. Further, there are the words, to which the Minister drew attention giving them the further right, assuming proposals are made which they think proper to be put forward, to accompany those proposals with any recommendations with respect to them, which gives them a further opportunity for comment.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE
May I ask the hon. Gentleman if it is 1719 not clear that, under this Clause, the committee are instructed to bring forward any proposals that they consider practicable? It is quite possible that, although a scheme may be practicable, or it other words, workable, it may be very bad. It does not matter how bad a scheme may be, but if it is practicable it must be produced. If this is the correct meaning of the Clause it ought to be amended.
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
Referring to what has just been said by the Law Officer, might I ask how the committee can make a report containing a proposal if they have not a proposal? It must be an obligation upon them to have a proposal of some sort.
§ Mr. TURTON
May I ask the Minister if he will consider the wording of this Clause before the Report stage, and make any further necessary Amendment?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I think the words as they stand represent the intention of the Government. My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General has put the matter in almost the same language, and has produced exactly the same conclusion.
§ 10.37 p.m.
§ Mr. HERBERT WILLIAMS
I have listened to several speeches on this subject, and, as far as I can make out, it is a matter of complete indifference whether we have the Amendment or the Clause, because neither of them will ever have any effect whatsoever. For the first time for 10 years the number of agricultural labourers in employment last year in this country increased, and, unless I completely misread the prospects, the number of agricultural labourers will continue to increase. There is no unemployment in agricultural districts, except in those periods when employment is rapidly diminishing and the people cannot move with sufficient rapidity with the times. That process has been reversed, and therefore a year after this there may be no serious unemployment in the country districts. In those circumstances I am perfectly satisfied—I am only saying what is familiar to anyone who is familiar with country districts—no agricultural labourer will be willing to pay one penny into this scheme, and no farmer will pay into it.
1720 Therefore, why worry? I am perfectly satisfied that the reasons which animated the right hon. Gentleman's predecessor when the Act of 1920 was passed, and when agriculture was left out of the scheme, are much stronger to-day than they were even in those difficult days. You could not persuade the agricultural community to consent to a system of unemployment insurance. You have obviously to reduce the contribution to much lower than it is in other forms of industry, and the rates of benefit will be much lower. There are no immediate prospects of any scheme that will convince the agricultural community that they ought to subscribe to something which will not pay them anything adequate in relation to their contributions. In Part II of the Bill we shall, in effect, provide the agricultural labourer who is insured under the Pensions Act, 1925, with all the assistance that he is likely to need, completely divorced from the Poor Law. I think that the Committee is wasting its time in discussing whether the Amendment or the Clause should come into operation, because I am convinced that we shall never hear any more of them in the future.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
Unemployment is bad in agriculture, first among casual labourers, and then among regular employés and among those who ought to have a fixed tenure of employment because they have been foremen, etc. Our hope was to get this matter fixed, but now I am a little doubtful as to whether we are going to get the scheme. In North Lincolnshire, both farmers and agricultural labourers have been perfectly willing to face a scheme; but to enact merely that the Committee shall make such proposals as may seem to them practicable would seem likely to give the Committee an idea that if a scheme were not practicable possibly the Government would not welcome it, and for that reason they may not produce a scheme. I think hon. Members will be aware that a scheme has been put forward by a Departmental Committee whereby, for an annual payment of 3d. an acre, a perfectly substantial agricultural insurance scheme can be put into operation. Under such a scheme a farmer who farmed 250 acres and 1721 employed 10 men would only pay about £3 in all, taking a normal year in which one per 100 is unemployed. I hope that my hon. Friend who moved this Amendment will withdraw it. We have had a very useful discussion, but I should like it to be impressed on the Government that there are certain members of the Conservative party who think that the time has now come when, owing to the amount of unemployment that there has been in agriculture, this matter should be settled, and the agricultural labourers given their chance of getting an unemployment insurance scheme.
§ 10.42 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I do not want to prolong this rather hair-splitting discussion, but I want to put in a caveat against what seems to me to be a possible result of the various objections which have been made to the wording of the Clause. I think it ought to be made perfectly clear that, if the Minister does think of rewording the Clause, we want a report from the Committee as to the desirability of including agriculture, whether their conclusion is negative or positive. If some of the suggestions which have been made were adopted, we should have this result, that the Committee would only have power to report if they had a practicable proposal to bring forward; but it is just as important that the Committee should report if they cannot make practicable proposals, because the House has as much right to discuss and differ from a negative conclusion as it has in the case of a positive conclusion. Therefore, I hope it will be made perfectly clear that the Statutory Committee is to report, whether it considers the inclusion of agriculture to be practicable or impracticable.
§ Mr. TURTON
On the assurance that has been given to the Committee by the Solicitor-General, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 10.44 p.m.
§ Mr. D. GRENFELL
I beg to move, in page 19, line 35, after the word "be," to insert "but not later than six months."
When we put down this Amendment, we were under the impression that the Clause was an obligatory Clause, and we were not at the time anxious to create any difficulty for the Minister, but simply wanted to be certain that the Statutory 1722 Committee would carry out the instructions given to them by the Minister and by the House; and, in order that the Committee might proceed, we desired that they should make a report not later than six months after the passing of the Act. The industry which we are now discussing, and which happens for the moment to be outside the scope of unemployment insurance, is the oldest and largest of our national industries. While it is true that there are diverse conditions of employment in the industry, conditions are changing, and the industry is not immune from the changes which have come upon other industries one by one from time to time. It is an undoubted fact that there is a tendency to displacement of labour in this industry, and it is a growing tendency.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The Amendment merely raises the point whether the time should be limited or not limited in which a report can be made.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
I was coming to the point that it is really a matter of urgency. The hon. Member who last addressed the House on the previous Amendment declared that both labourers and employers in Lincolnshire, for example, were very anxious that something should be done. I am not suggesting that any special scheme should be adopted, and I am not questioning the right of the Committee to draw up a special scheme. We are not advocating that any finding of the commission of inquiry should be adopted. We say that six months is ample time to make inquiry and that the recommendations should be made within that time and that, if possible, the House should be given the privilege of considering that report and of adopting whatever practical proposals may come from it. Evidence has been produced that unemployment is heavier in winter than in summer. It is, in fact, seasonal unemployment, and we are very anxious that this volume of seasonal unemployment should be provided for. This winter is passing. It is too late to do anything for those who have experienced unemployment this winter, but we are providing ample time and we consider the nature of this task well within the scope of the Committee.
The hon. Member for South Croydon (Mr. H. Williams) suggested that there 1723 would be no more unemployment in the agricultural industry. We have heard that about other industries. All the hon. Member's predictions and those of the super-optimists have been falsified. The unemployment figures are not going down rapidly in any industry, and there is no solid ground for the opinion that unemployment in agriculture will be any better next winter than this winter. We have been rather dismayed by the suggestion from the Minister, and by the very definite opinion of the Solicitor-General, that this may simply be a formality to be undergone to comply with the Bill, and that, when the formality is over, no provision is to be made for the agricultural labourer. We protest very strongly against the suggestion that the agricultural labourer may be left out altogether.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
I am afraid that, if the Amendment were adopted, it would not necessitate the inclusion of agriculture. All that it provides is that a report shall be made within six months of the passing of the Act.
§ Mr. GRENFELL
We are anxious that this point shall be tested and that the agricultural industry shall be inquired into at once. The agricultural labourer is being brought within the Bill for the first time. It is true that for the moment he is to be brought willy nilly into Part II as an able-bodied unemployed person. We are very anxious that he should be dealt with under Part I. We want him to keep his self-respect as long as he can, and we want him to be able to draw benefit as any other worker in the country who becomes out of employment. It has been well said that the labourer is worthy of his hire. The labourer is equally worthy of his unemployment insurance benefits, and we desire to ensure that the exclusion of the agricultural worker shall be brought to an end at the earliest possible date. We move this Amendment in order that the Committee may be given definite instructions that they may present their report whatever its nature may be. The Amendment if accepted will close this question, remove these doubts from the minds of agricultural labourers, and, if possible, bring them within the scope of this Bill, so that next winter at the 1724 latest they shall be on the same footing as other workers.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I was going to give the hon. Member an assurance that I would ask the Committee to inquire into this matter forthwith, but I would say to him that to accept the Amendment on the Paper might defeat the very object which he has in view. If the investigation of the practical difficulties to which I have referred requires consideration by the Committee for longer than six months, the insertion of these words would make it impossible for the Committee, after six months, to produce any report at all. It is not therefore in the interests of what the hon. Member wishes.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 10.52 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I beg to move, in page 19, line 38, after "agriculture," to insertand of persons whose salaries exceed two hundred and fifty pounds per annum.The Amendment I have to move in the name of myself and some other hon. Members, all representing University constituencies, is far more modest and goes much less far than many of us would like to go. It represents what appears to be the only improvement that can be made at this stage of the Bill in a position which at the present moment is really intolerable to the class which it affects.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Lady will forgive me for one moment: I warned her personally, but I think that I ought also to warn the Committee, that we have been in a little doubt about this Amendment. I understand that the effect of the Amendment, if carried, would be that the report of the Committee would require fresh legislation.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
If that is correct, the hon. Lady is in order, but I think I ought to warn the Committee, even though I have warned her personally.
§ Miss RATHBONE
The view of those associated with me is that the wording of the Amendment would bring it within the scope of order; that is to say, we contemplated that it would require legislation to carry out the inclusion of persons earning over £250 in the Bill. Nevertheless, we have put this down because it is the only way which seems practicable by way of Amendment to meet the position of those who are in receipt of salaries over £250 and are therefore, as the Bill now stands, excluded from both Part I and Part II. It is curious how very little attention this anomaly has attracted in the country. I represent some 25,000 university graduates, and the number is going up by leaps and bounds, of the men and women who began their education in the elementary schools of the country. I believe that much the same applies to constituencies of other universities. These students do not belong to a very wealthy class of the community, and both they and members of the exempted grades, because they have been earning over £250, are excluded from unemployment insurance. It seems extraordinary that they should be placed in the position which they occupy under this Bill.
We have been hearing during the last three hours very convincing speeches from Members who have represented the hardship to agricultural labourers of being excluded from Unemployment Insurance, but if an agricultural labourer falls out of employment he can, at least, under this Bill, appeal for assistance from the new Unemployment Assistance Board. Many of us think that the position of those who have to apply to that board might be quite as good as those who pay for their insurance, but what is the position of the University graduate or professional man if he falls out of employment? The only thing that is left to him to do, if he has no personal resources, is to go to the Poor Law. A man who belongs to exactly the same class or grade of occupation as a man earning £50 less, and who, either by superior ability or industry has achieved a rather higher rate of salary than that of some of his fellows, is ipso facto cut out of the whole scope of public provision for unemployment, and is left to the Poor Law.
1726 It is an extraordinary hardship, and the only way in which it appears that we can deal with it under the Bill is by the Amendment we have placed upon the Paper. Under the Financial Resolution we cannot ask that persons who have been earning over £250 a year should be eligible for application to the Unemployment Assistance Board. We cannot even ask that they should be put directly under Part I and made insured persons. All that the form of the Financial Resolution appears to make possible is what we are doing in this Amendment. That is to say, that the case of this class of person, like agricultural labourers, shall be investigated by the proposed new body, and that a report should be brought to this House which should have an opportunity of considering it. It is a reasonable request, and I can hardly believe that the Minister of Labour can refuse it. May I point out to the Committee how the matter was dealt with by the Unemployment Insurance Commission? As in the case of the agricultural labourers, they considered the non-manual worker earning over £250 a year, and this is what they said about him:We have received evidence from associations claiming to represent non-manual workers earning more than £250 a year, and their submission is that the income limit should be raised. The arguments in favour of raising the income limit are based upon the increased risk of unemployment to which non-manual workers earning more than £250 a year are now subject, and the greater difficulty of obtaining re-employment in the case of non-manual than of manual workers. It was further urged that the present limit of £250 a year stands at a peculiarly critical and troublesome point in that in many cases non-manual workers found themselves sometimes above and sometimes below the limit; and it was claimed that to increase the limit to £500 a year would eliminate the difficulty.The Commission proceeded to recommend that the limit should be raised not to £500 but to £350. I suggest that by the Commission's own showing it would be very much better not to include any money limit at all. I cannot see why a man who may have received £1,000 or £2,000 a year——
§ It being Eleven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.