Amendment proposed [13th February]: In page 29, line 7, after "Board," to insert:
each member of which shall be appointed by the Commons House of Parliament for a period not exceeding three years."—[Mr. Lawson.]
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ 3.26 p.m.
§ Mr. ANEURIN BEVAN
The purpose of this Clause is to set up machinery to give permanent form to a reduction which was secured in 1931 in the course of the financial crisis. The distinction in the financial treatment of transitional payment recipients and recipients of unemployment benefit proper started under the Economy Act, 1931. That distinction was secured because it was felt that the unemployed as well as other categories should make their contribution to the recovery of the national finances. The Clause which we are now considering gives permanency to what the nation was promised was a temporary situation. In 1931 the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer promised the country that when the finances of the nation were restored the cuts imposed would also be restored. The part of the Bill now under consideration in setting up the Unemployment Assistance Board makes the cuts for the worst-treated section of the unemployed a permanent feature of our treatment of the unemployed. It is against that intention that the party to which I have the honour to belong wishes to register its first complaint.
We say that it is dishonorable, and I should like to hear from the Minister of Labor some reply to the charge, to give permanent effect to what was said to be a temporary expedient. Under the Economy Act of 1931 millions of pounds have been saved and millions of pounds were saved by the application of the means test, 30 which was not imposed because it was then argued that the means test ought to be a part of the general scheme. It was imposed for purely financial considerations, and it is being continued for other reasons. I listened to the Debate last Tuesday night when we were treated to two speeches defending this part of the Bill by the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) and the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. K. Lindsay). The last mentioned hon. Member expressed his admiration of the way in which the Noble Lord addressed the Committee. The Noble Lord defended the setting up of this board on the ground that it was necessary to set up a board of this description because there had crept into the public life of this country what he described as the patronage of the elected person. Consequently it was necessary to remove a problem of this kind out of politics. That is the first candid admission we have had of the intention, that it was necessary to remove this feature out of politics because public assistance authorities had been improperly influenced by the recipients of public assistance.
If I may be allowed to put those pedantic phrases more crudely, I would say they mean that at the present time the recipient of public assistance is allowed to say to his local councillor, "If you do not increase my allowance, I will not vote for you." The Noble Lord regards that as an undesirable state of affairs, and I gather from the Government and from the Government supporters that they also regard it as an undesirable state of affairs. They say it is undesirable that a recipient of public assistance should be able to withhold his vote if he considers that he is being improperly treated. That is the contention advanced. For years the Income Tax payers of the country have been in the habit of telling their Members of Parliament, "If you do not reduce the Income Tax, we shall not vote for you." I understand that that is not a corruption of democracy; that when well-to-do members of the community threaten to withhold their votes because they think they are improperly treated it is high ethics and high morality, but when the poor threaten to withhold their votes because they think they are improperly treated, it is corrupt democracy.
31 The Noble Lord went on to defend his position by pointing out that this growing corruption of democracy was a state of affairs with which the House would have to deal. There are two ways of dealing with it. One way, of course, is to make is unnecessary for people to secure the assistance of the State, and to do that by ending poverty. But the Government and capitalism, finding it impossible to end poverty, seek to end liberty. The proposition now before the Committee is that a poor person cannot be permitted to exercise his political liberty in such a way as to redress his poverty. I would like some equally plain spoken Conservative Members to get up and defend that position, which is the position taken up by the Government under this Clause. It is a process which, if carried to its logical conclusion, would destroy Parliamentary democracy in this country. For what reason is political liberty conferred upon the people? It is conferred upon them in order that it may be exercised for the purpose of bringing about social reform, and so that that reform may be brought about as quickly as is desirable, and that those in authority may not be deaf to the pleas of those who are in distress, it is desirable that political liberty should be exercised by those who are the worst treated in the community.
If progress is to be made and political liberty is to be taken away from anyone, it should be taken away from those who are better off, because they have least to gain by progress. But the proposition now before the Committee is that those members of the community who are the unfortunate victims of a system over which they have no control are to be rendered most helpless under the law of the land. I am putting in other language what the Noble Lord himself defended. The Noble Lord is perfectly prepared to defend the patronage of the private person. He would prefer to see a poor person dependent upon the caprice of personal generosity. What would be generosity, however, on the part of the rich would be servile dependency on the part of the poor. But the Noble Lord regards that as desirable.
§ Mr. BEVAN
If hon. Members on the Labour Benches replied only to those Conservatives who were present we would make no speeches at all, because usually Conservatives come in and make their speeches and then run away. The position which we are taking up is that unemployment assistance should be regarded not merely as an obligation undertaken by the State, but as a right to be claimed by the citizen. This part of the Bill deprives the citizen of that right. In no Clause is unemployment assistance given to the citizen as a right, because if he had a right he could exercise that right under Parliamentary government only by being permitted to call upon the advocacy of his elected representative. It is precisely that which is taken away from him. On the Second Reading of the Bill the Minister of Labour said specifically that he was divesting himself of the responsibility for the treatment of individual cases, and by so divesting himself of his responsibility he deprives the unemployed man of his right.
I wish to emphasise that, because it is a matter of cardinal importance. There can be no civic right unless exercised by civic status, and if the unemployed man cannot appeal to his elected representative he cannot claim that right as a citizen. Indeed, the powers conferred upon the board permit them to withhold an allowance from an unemployed man, and to withhold from him the right of appeal against their decision. An hon. Member opposite shakes his head. If he looks at the language of the Bill, he will find that an aggrieved applicant for unemployment assistance can make his appeal only by the permission of the chairman of the tribunal, so that there is no prima facie right to an unemployment assistance allowance. I urge hon. Members opposite to realise this fact because this is going to be the foremost problem in British political life for some time to come. [An HON. MEMBER: "You will take care about that!"] Yes, we shall take care about that. If there were a right of appeal, not merely to a non-elected person, but to an elected person, then it could be said that a man had the right to the unemployment allowance. By withholding the right to that allowance in these circumstances, you are depriving the individual of the right to subsistence.
33 I think hon. Members opposite ought to drop the argument heard so often in these debates that we shall have some power in this matter, because the regulations are to come before the House of Commons. Anyone who was present on Thursday night must realise how low the House of Commons has fallen under the dominance of the Government majority. Then, we had before us an Import Duty Order of first-class importance which was opposed in the Division Lobby by both Oppositions. Yet such a contempt has this Government for the House of Commons that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade did not even reply to the debate—the first time I have known that to happen since I have been a Member of Parliament. It is no use for hon. Members to say that we shall have any effective control over this board merely because the regulations which the board makes will have to come before this Chamber. In the next place it is not the regulation itself that is of vital importance. It is the application of the regulation to the individual case. The essence of a means test is that the amount of unemployment assistance shall vary from family to family in accordance with the need of the family. If the individual is deprived of the right of appeal, then this House is divesting itself of a responsibility which no elected chamber should ever divest itself of, namely, the responsibility for dealing with the conditions of life and the maintenance of life of 5,000,000 citizens.
It may be impossible for me or the party to which I belong to persuade the Committee to change its mind now at the last moment. But we cannot relieve ourselves of the responsibility of pointing out to the Committee the implications of what it is doing here. The hon. Member for Kilmarnock has a power of idealising this sort of legislation which I very much envy. He said that the need test was a step forward, that it was a marked improvement on the existing situation—and that applicants would be better treated under it than they are being treated now. Indeed, he suggested that they might be better treated under it than they are under Unemployment Insurance because their need will be taken into consideration. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is in the Bill."] Yes, it is in the Bill but it will not be in the administration. Really the hon. Member is too ingenuous. The pur- 34 pose of this part of the Bill is to make the condition of the applicant for unemployment assistance worse than that of the insured person. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Then I would like to hear the Minister's reply to this point. Do we understand now that a man who receives benefit in respect of contributions may be worse off than a man who has exhausted his benefit? Is that the assumption? If so, hon. Members opposite seem to be harbouring designs even more subversive of the Constitution than the suggestions of anybody here.
The insurance principle has been defended in all parts of the Committee precisely on the ground that a man who has not exhausted his benefit, should not be subject to the disabilities of the man who has exhausted it. What is that disability? It is a financial disability. What does that mean? It means that he may have less and not more. Hon. Members opposite may shake their heads but it is very difficult indeed for them to convince me. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) has pointed out that in Durham where the public assistance committee has been set aside by the Minister of Health and the needs test is being administered by a commissioner, £300,000 has been saved in one year. Is that giving more favourable treatment to the poor than they were receiving previously, or are we to understand that the commissioner in Durham is treating the poor more harshly than the Government intend the Unemployment Assistance Board to treat them? If that is so, why do not the Government interfere in Durham? The Government are not interfering, because they contend that the public assistance committee there was too generous in assessing the need of applicants. I am prepared to prophesy that the Government will save millions a year more under these proposals than they are saving now under the public assistance committee. If they have saved £300,000 at Durham what do they hope to save in Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire which are administered by Labour authorities?
I frankly confess that I am alarmed by the prospect of what may happen in South Wales when these unemployment assistance allowance officers set to work. If Durham is to be taken as a pattern 35 the situation in South Wales will be desperate and I suggest to hon. Members that there is a limit to what men will put up with—a definite limit. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] There will be desperation there. We are almost approaching it now. I do not wish to answer the flippant interjections of hon. Members opposite because this is, for us, a very serious thing. To those who have brothers, fathers, and sons unemployed in South Wales, with no prospect of getting any employment, it is a very serious question indeed what fate is going to befall those people. As far as we can gather from the Government, and judging from our own experience, you are going to deprive the unemployed people in South Wales, on the Clyde, in Lancashire, of money which they are at present able to obtain. That is the purpose of the Bill. It is mealy-mouthed cant for any hon. Member to say that there is any other purpose behind it. If there is any other purpose behind it, withdraw your commissioner from Durham. If there is any other purpose behind it, why in the course of the last two years have you brought pressure after pressure to bear on public assistance committees to reduce their assessments?
Hon. Members wanted to go into the Lobby to increase the allowance for the child from 2s. to 3s. If you pass this Clause in its present form, you will be depriving yourself of the right to defend the child, under this Part of the Act, who may have less than 2s. a week. If the House divests itself of the right to intervene in the individual case, then as these men are to be assessed in accordance with need, and the other unemployed persons are not subjected to that test, a child may have less than 2s., and you will not be able to raise the matter in any way. That is what I am impressing upon hon. Members. No public assistance committee, no Member of Parliament, no elected person of any sort will be able to intervene with these paid officials of the Unemployment Assistance Board. Anyone who has had any experience of Poor Law administration knows very well that you can never trust a permanent official to treat the poor decently. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"] I am not withdrawing that. I speak from personal experience. The permanent official keeps 36 his eye on the regulations, and as I have said before in this Debate, that fact lay behind the administration of the Poor Law for centuries.
§ Mr. BOOTHBY
Would the hon. Member apply this doctrine in the case of the nationalisation of industry, for example?
§ Mr. DICKIE
Prior to the appointment of the commissioners in the county of Durham, the very point that the hon. Member is making now is the thing that we pointed out to those who refused to administer the law.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I admit that. In other words, if they behaved like the commissioner, the commissioner would not have been put in. We know that very well. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), in the case of nationally-owned industries the veto lies here, but in the case of this Bill the veto is being taken away from here. That is the whole point.
§ Mr. HANNON
Does the hon. Member seriously suggest to this Committee that the public officials of this country charged with the administration of the laws of this country on behalf of the poor have not done their best in every single circumstance to help the poor?
§ Mr. BEVAN
And which is now being taken away from him. That is precisely what is happening under this Clause. Hon. Members have swallowed this Bill in a gulp, and they have not realised what it means. I am quite sure that if they did, they would not face it with such complacency. They are making a complete revolution of the relationship between the poor person and the State, and they are making it at a most dangerous time in the history of this country and of Europe. They are making it at a time when democratic practice ought to be strengthened, not weakened, 37 and I would urge hon. Members in all parts of the House to insist that the Minister should shift from his present position, because hon. Members must really understand that there will be nothing left for unemployed persons between elections if this goes through, except organised rebellion against the State. If you close the avenues of appeal between the citizen and the State in between elections, then you must realise that human beings are not going to have the patience to sit down in resignation for five years until they have another chance at the ballot.
§ The FIRST COMMISSIONER of WORKS (Mr. Ormsby-Gore)
I understood that a large number of the Opposition wished to make it seven years or longer.
§ Mr. ORMSBY-GORE
Then do I understand that if the Labour Government ever come into power again, they will suspend Parliament and carry on?
§ Mr. BEVAN
What the Labour party would do if they came into power would be to maintain the reality of democracy and not sacrifice the reality of democracy to the form. You are engaged in sapping the content out of democracy, because you are taking away the very essence of democracy, which lies in the right of the citizen to make his poverty politically articulate.
§ Mr. HANNON
Has the hon. Member spoken after consultation with the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps)?
§ Mr. BEVAN
I have no quarrel and never had any quarrel with what the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol has said. The position that is taken up on this side of the House is perfectly clear in this matter. We would use political liberty for the purpose of winning economic liberty. You take away political liberty because you are afraid the workers will use it to gain economic liberty.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
I understand that the hon. Member's complaint is that the aggrieved citizen is completely 38 severed from any means of bringing his grievance before Parliament. A man may be aggrieved by this new authority, but under this Bill how is he being prevented from bringing that complaint before his representative, and what hindrance is being put upon that representative to bring that complaint before the Minister?
§ Mr. BEVAN
Perhaps the hon. and learned Member will permit me to continue. The Minister of Labour has said that this Clause makes it legal that this board is not to be put on Supply, but on the Consolidated Fund. That means that we cannot question the Minister about its day-to-day administration. If the hon. and learned Member would point out by what procedure in this House a Member could raise an individual grievance, I would be with him. But the Minister has said, "It is undesirable that I should be held responsible for the individual ascertainment."
§ Mr. KNIGHT
It would be clearly undesirable for thousands of individual cases to be raised on the Floor of this House. I am meeting the complaint that the aggrieved citizen will have no means of having his complaint investigated. I say that he can bring it before his Member of Parliament, who can carry it to the Minister.
§ Mr. BEVAN
The hon. and learned Member in this matter is not learned, because the Minister would inform him that in no circumstances under this Bill could he be held responsible for individual cases. That is the position, so that the hon. and learned Member is wrong. There are only two cases in which an appeal can be made. One is where a man has been put in the category of cases of special difficulty, when he has a right of appeal. The other case is where he disagrees with the ascertainment of his needs, and then he can appeal only if he is permitted by the chairman; so that in that case there is no right.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
I am not suggesting that any Vote can be put down on which an 39 individual case can be raised. I am suggesting that there is the ordinary machinery of Parliamentary representative government, which will still be available to aggrieved persons under this Bill.
§ Mr. BEVAN
It is obvious that courtesy is being abused, because the hon. and learned Member falls back upon empty generalisation. The position is as I have described it, and I want hon. Members to face up to the implications of the position, with their eyes open. Why is this being done? It is being done, of course, because this is not a Government representing the people of Great Britain. It represents the federation of British industries. I have here a publication issued by the Engineering and Allied Employers' National Federation informing His Majesty's Government what they think ought to be done with this question of unemployment. They say:If it were possible to segregate such persons as have lost their productive power or who are too old or who are physically unfit for industrial employment, it might be possible to devise a scheme for their support which does not fall directly upon the shoulders of industry.There you have clearly the producer who says, "I ought not to carry them; it should be the Income Tax payer, the rentier." Then we have the National Confederation of Employers' Organisations informing the Government what they ought to do, and the Government obediently do it.The Statutory Commission, as part of its duties, should be charged with laying down the principles to govern the scales of relief, and in that connection we suggest that these scales should follow the principle of being such as will not tempt the individual to improvidence while he is at work, or tempt him to prefer relief to work when he is unemployed, or be such as to interfere with the mobility of labour or create and maintain rigidity of wage rates and of costs of production.How does this organisation of employers in Great Britain propose that these things are to be secured? By the setting up of a Statutory Commission which shall be outside the governance of the House of Commons. I ask the Minister to face the naked horror of that position. This is a machine of the kind that the employers want, because it will bring about the set of circumstances which they think desirable. I have quoted from the evidence of the National Confederation of Employers' Organisations given before 40 the Royal Commission and circulated to all Members of Parliament. The position that is being taken up is, that if you can take out of politics, and out of the daily administration of the House of Commons, such a matter as this, if you charge a Statutory Committee with this work, you may rest assured that the conditions will be less favourable because, as the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) pointed out on Tuesday, if the conditions under Part II of the scheme are more favourable than under Part I, the Statutory Advisory Committee will complain that they are being embarrassed by the Unemployment Assistance Board. The Unemployment Assistance Board, in order not to embarrass the sister committee, will have to keep down the standards.
A more sinister aspect is that the operation of this Clause will depress the standards of public assistance, because there will be tendency on the part of persons chargeable to the board to get themselves transferred as sick persons to public assistance rates, if the local assistance committee is more favourable to them than the board. The local relief committee, to protect itself against men becoming chargeable to the local rates, will depress their own scales of relief, in order to get men back on the board. So here you have an instrument which not only segregates certain of the unemployed, but also is used as a lever to reduce the social services of the country as a whole. I beg hon. Members, if they pass this Clause, not to pass it complacently, but to pass it with a full realisation of all the implications involved. It is going to do more to undermine the confidence of the people of this country in representative institutions than anything else which could be done.
I do not think hon. Members want privately to reassure themselves that they need not worry because the Socialist forces in the world have been so heavily defeated that they will not be able to take advantage of circumstances of this kind. I profoundly believe that there exists in this country a great upsurge of feeling for democratic institutions. I believe that the consequence of what has recently happened in Austria has been to make Englishmen rally more and more to their own institutions. This strikes a heavy blow at them. I do not 41 want to warn hon. Members at all, because at this moment we have not the power. I merely want to point out that the road upon which they have set their feet may lead to a less desirable goal than the one they have in mind. I believe that this is a very bad mistake on the part of the Government. It is always dangerous to drive men to resentment. It will wake up in places where you least expect it, and I implore the Committee, before it parts with these powers which have been entrusted to elected people in this country for centuries, to consider the matter very carefully, and to bear in mind what may be the fruits of their action.
§ 4.12 p.m.
§ Sir ARTHUR STEEL-MAITLAND
I am going to try to comply with the advice given by Mr. Speaker, so as not to take up the time of the House unduly, as there are other Members wanting to speak. Therefore, the hon. Member opposite will forgive me if I do not follow him into some of the ramifications with which he has dealt this afternoon. There are two quite clear impressions which he has left on my mind. One is that he is the champion of political liberty and freedom, and of the traditions of Parliamentary liberty; at the same time, he has no quarrel with the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps), and, indeed, that their views largely coincide. The other is that he has given us as the test of political liberty in that there should not be institutions for government which are remote, and not subject to day-to-day questions in this House. It is the more strange to have that exhortation when we remember that the London Transport Board was introduced, in the first place, by the Socialist Minister of Transport, Mr. Herbert Morrison, and that that Board is less subject to Parliamentary criticism, less liable to be dealt with by questions from day to day in this House than this proposed procedure, which he criticises.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
There are thousands of people employed under the Transport Board, and, of course, the principle in question applies to them.
§ Mr. W. THORNE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the trade unions have their right in that case to go to the board?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am quite ready to deal with that when the occasion arises. Then the hon. Member said that it is contrary to a solemn pledge to give permanence to a temporary arrangement by bringing in Part II of this Bill. Anyone who is familiar with the history of unemployment insurance must realise that for several years it has been perfectly obvious that if this country were to continue—I do not think there is more than a handful of people who would not wish it to continue—with a proper system of unemployment insurance, a three-decker system with some kind of administration in between the unemployment insurance administration and the Poor Law has become inevitable. It has been increasingly clear for the last 10 years. The proposal here is not to give permanence to a temporary arrangement; it follows the evolution of the unemployment insurance system. In order not to take too long, I will not go into the needs test for it will come up in Committee on a later Clause. We have to deal with another question here.
Part II is the most striking part of the Bill. I agree at once with the hon. Member on that. The question we have to deal with is the authority that shall act under this Part. When I first read the Bill I rubbed my eyes with some surprise to see that the suggested authority was different in composition and nature from the authority that was suggested by either the Majority Report of the commission or the Minority Report. I was not attracted by it in the least. What I did was this. I say it with all humility before the hon. Member who has told us that we on this side of the House, deal with these things with too great complacency and without taking the trouble to read the Bill. I studied both the reports and the Bill on this question with great care. In considering the proposed board, I took the points that were really of importance in this connection which were suggested in the Majority and Minority Reports. I tested the composition of this body to see how it satisfied these points. The first is the discretionary power of the Minister and its application, use and control. I 43 am amazed at the whirligig of opinion on the benches opposite. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) is to-day saying that we should restore the discretion of the Minister——
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Then I wonder what the hon. Member did say. I do not want to misrepresent him.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Then I am not misrepresenting the hon. Member. What he said was, "You are taking away from the ordinary person the right to have a decision made either by an elective authority locally or, if the authority is transferred to the centre, by the Minister, who can be questioned." That meant nothing else, if you are to have Part II at all, than restoring the ministerial discretion. The hon. Member attacks the fact that the ultimate decision upon the degree of the allowance that might be given would rest upon the local appeal tribunal. I have listened to the whole of the hon. Member's speech, and I stand to be challenged by anyone who studies his speech carefully and draws his conclusions from it. The whole of the former attitude of the party opposite was that they did not want to have the ministerial discretion. They wanted this question to be decided by a tribunal of a judicial character. I am not talking about the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton).
§ Mr. MAXTON
At the time my hon. Friends and I expressed our dissent we were Members of the party above the Gangway. A considerable proportion of the Labour party objected to the ministerial discretion.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
The majority of the party were for the removal of the ministerial discretion. They wanted a right to what was then called extended benefit, and they wanted the exercise of that right to be decided by a tribunal of a judicial character. That was 44 their attitude. To-day the wheel has turned a full circle so far as we can judge from the speeches to which we listened in the last Debate and the speech of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale to-day. I hope to goodness the Minister will never be saddled with the discretion again. I had to exercise that discretion. If it is to be exercised and is not to be a sham it puts an intolerable burden on the Minister, and if he tries to exercise it properly the burden is so great that the rest of his work suffers.
Let me give a case to show the sort of thing that used to happen. I remember an old Member of Parliament on those benches, for whom I had a great liking and respect—Mr. Robert Smillie—was talking with me in my room about the matter one day, when another Member, Mr. Willie Adamson, came in and said, "We must get you to look into this point for the use of your discretion." It was a question whether a miner had made a real attempt to get employment. Mr. Adamson grew heated about it and when Mr. Smillie chaffed him he had left the room. I turned to Mr. Smillie and said, "He seems really convinced about that man." Mr. Smillie said, "I am sure Adamson would not put that case before you in that way unless he was convinced." I took the case up, had correspondence with the mine manager, and went into the whole thing. In the end I gave the man benefit. It turned out to be justified and we got the man a job at the same mine. If that kind of thing is to come up in a large number of cases it cannot be done by the Minister within the limits of human endurance, and it means that the rest of his work must suffer. In days when industrial troubles exist and a lot of the Minister's time ought to be taken up with them, he ought not to have that burden placed on him. It does no good to the men whose cases are involved. These cases would really be settled with just as much justice to them if they came before an impartial body. I do not believe in the least that in the end it would be a greater benefit to these men to have their cases decided by the Minister. I consider that after the trouble I took in that particular case and in a large number of others they were no better off than they would have been by really impartial people considering their cases.
45 I have said that I did not at first sight like the proposal in Part II of this Bill, and I wanted to see whether the men would be fairly protected. We have to divide the whole problem into two parts. The first is the general principles which are to be applied, and the second is whether proper care and consideration will be taken in individual cases. The general principles are contained in regulations which have to be brought before this House before they can be applied. There is not much opportunity of a dictatorship by this body in view of that fact. Even the general rules of working of this body, although they do not have to be approved by this House, have to be brought before the House so that it is cognisant of them. If it is a case of less or more in the matter of the allowances granted, there is an appeal to a local body on which, of the three people who have to be appointed according to the Sixth Schedule, there has to be a member representing the workers, who will undoubtedly be a member of a trade union.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am subject to correction, but I think I am right. I am talking from memory, but I think it is in the Sixth Schedule. When it comes to a question of less or more in the matter of allowances, the chairman of the appeal board has to give his permission for an appeal to be made, but when it comes to the more serious decision under Clause 39 as to whether a man passes out of the system into the Poor Law system, he can have his appeal whether permission is given by the chairman or not. There is no question of his power of appeal in that case. Truly, in these circumstances, to say that this Unemployment Board is a body that will exercise dictatorial powers is a misuse of language. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, with all his eloquence, has not perhaps taken that care in reading the Schedules and the other parts of the Bill which he commended to Members of this side of the Committee.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
The right hon. Gentleman knows very well that membership of the board secures no protection for individual persons.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
What was asked for by the Labour party in the old days was the right of appeal. My predecessor, Mr. Tom Shaw, fought in the old days for a legal right and a power to appeal to a court of a judicial character. That is exactly what we have got here.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Excuse me. He has a legal right provided that he has certain qualifications, and has not disqualified himself. The degree of exercise of the right is to be determined by a court which is judicial in character—which is the appeal court. That is, in principle, precisely what hon. Members opposite used to ask for in those days, though the hon. Member is now objecting to it.
I pass to the other tests which the proposed Board should satisfy. One thing for which both parties on the Commission were anxious was that there should really be uniformity. To the Commission uniformity meant not a deadly, dull, mechanical uniformity in every detail, but rather what I should call latitude in minor matters and similarity on general lines. I have read both the majority and minority reports of the Royal Commission, and I think the minority have a great deal of sympathy with that point of view. It is said that if we were to try, from the centre, to put Regulations for action before a large number of different local bodies it would be difficult to get anything like the uniformity which both sides of the Commission want. Anyone who read the majority report will see that doubts were in their minds when they made their own recommendation about it.
It is not easy for the Minister of Health, even though he is dealing with local authorities day by day in respect of many matters, to get from them uniformity of action when they all have different ideas and different methods. If it is difficult for a Minister who deals with them day by day, it would be infinitely harder for the Minister of Labour, who is not dealing with them habitually, to get uniformity of action. Both sides of the Commission thought it would be advisable to have uniformity of principles in the administration, and I think that on the whole they will get it better through a body such as is set up by this Clause.
47 Another point to remember is that a system of this kind is a difficult proposition from an administrative point of view. It has on one side of it an unemployment insurance system, with which it has close connection, and on the other side the Poor Law authority; it is itself an intermediate organisation between the two. The majority report proposed a dual series of committees of the local authorities separate from and distinct from one another. That has advantages of some kind, but a great many disadvantages from the point of view of uniformity. The proposal has a further disadvantage in another respect, from the point of view of Members opposite themselves.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
In this case what I have to say has nothing to do with the means test, but with this question of having the Poor Law committee and an Assistance committee side by side. If we are to have an organisation in between unemployment insurance and the local authority we should also take into account the problem of placing and training men and getting them back into industry. That will always have to be done by the Ministry of Labour. The hon. Member himself referred to miners in his constituency who, he says, will never get work in the pits again. No doubt it is of great importance to them to get assistance or unemployment benefit, but what is of far greater importance is that they should be replaced in industry. Therefore, the closer the new authority under Part II of the Bill can be to the Ministry of Labour the better it will be, because it is the Employment Exchanges of the Ministry of Labour which are primarily concerned with placing the men in work. The fact that this board, which is appointed by the Ministry of Labour, will be in closer touch with the Ministry ought to prove of more advantage in the task of getting the men back to work than the proposal of the Royal Commission.
48 There were one or two other points which I was going to put forward, but I do not wish to take up more time, and I would only say that it was my misfortune, but not my fault, that I was not present when the Bill was first brought in. I should have liked to compliment the Government on at least trying to deal with this question as an organic whole, and I should like, if they will permit it, to compliment both my old friend the Minister of Labour and the Parliamentary Secretary on the way they presented the Measure. I started with a prejudice against the board as outlined in Clause 34, but after working through the whole question as carefully as I could I came to the conclusion that it was an extraordinarily difficult thing to devise a good authority to work Part II, and that, if we are to have such a system as Part II provides, then unquestionably the proposal in this Bill was more likely to serve the purpose than the suggestions of either the majority or the minority reports. It seems to me, on the whole, a very good way out, and a very good solution of an extraordinarily difficult question of administration.
§ 4.38 p.m.
§ Mr. MALLALIEU
After having discussed this matter for more than one-and-half days I think Members of the Committee will certainly realise the immense importance of Clause 34. It sets up a board which will have to deal with the fortunes of some 5,000,000 people, counting in the dependants as well as those who will actually be clients of the board. The board will loom tremendously in the lives of each one of those 5,000,000 individuals. It will be just about the last thing in the world against which the clients of the board will have to match their wits in an attempt to better their conditions. Nearly every material thing which they will have will come from that board either directly or indirectly. I am afraid I have not reached that peace of mind regarding the board which the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) seems to have arrived at—after some turmoil, I gather. However humanely the board seeks to go about its work it cannot but appear to those with whom it will deal as otherwise than some sort of machine for keeping together a rather wasted body with an attenuated soul, and I think the real danger is that 49 it will appear in a very much less favourable light even than that. However humanely the work of the board may be discharged, it seems to me that it will figure in the minds of those who come under it as a machine set up by their rulers just to keep life together, as it were, for cannon fodder at some future time. I do not think that view would be justifiable—not one little bit—but I am afraid, having regard to the sources of information which so many people now have, that that may grow to be the opinion which they come to have of the board.
This gigantic possibility for evil, as I can see it, is being placed in the hands of a board which really has not a chance, from the nature of the circumstances and the necessary limitations placed upon it, of appearing really in a humane light. It is being put right outside the effective day-to-day control of this House. I am aware, of course, of what has been said about the control which the House will have over the board. My hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) has referred to the procedure for the control of Orders made by outside bodies, and we have been told that on four or five occasions in the year the House can discuss the conduct of this board, but if there is any hon. Member who is apt to be impressed by such statements—I do not use the word offensively—who is apt to consider that they are really effective as a means of control, I would ask him to consider the statement frankly made by the Minister that the whole of this Bill is really an attempt to put this subject outside politics. The right hon. Gentleman the Minister seems to dissent from that statement, but I think I do not misrepresent him. It seems to me that he has said that the effect will be to put the day-to-day control of the affairs of these 5,000,000 people to whom I have referred outside the control of Parliament. That appears to be the whole object of the Bill; if it does not mean that these matters are to be outside the control of the elected representatives of the people, I am afraid. I do not understand what that phrase does mean.
The Government have had very obvious reasons, which have weighed heavily with them, in coming to this decision. First of all I suppose there 50 was the desire to prevent a recurrence of "Poplarism," in the very widest sense of that word. I have not any doubt myself that that was behind the Government in the production of these plans. Further, there has been, no doubt, a desire to eliminate from political contests the corrupt feature of candidates bidding one against the other for the favours of the least fortunate sections of the community by something which may appear little less than bribes. I admit that there are real dangers along those lines, such is human frailty, and I should be the very last to advocate that a scheme permitting such dangers should be allowed to remain were it not for the fear that their elimination by the methods here proposed may possibly lead to very much graver danger.
If actual responsibility for the administration of the means test did not rest with the Minister, nevertheless political responsibility was there, through locally elected bodies, and that fact has had a powerful effect, to my mind, on the tempers of those who have had to submit to the means test. They have refrained in a most remarkable degree from acts of violence because, as I submit, they have felt that their representatives could, in some way or other, bring influence to bear upon the officials who they felt had given them cause for grievance. I know how angry I myself become when I feel that an official—person or body—is acting unreasonably about a complaint about which I feel acutely, and Heaven knows it has never been a question of daily bread with me, but usually some little matter of an open postal packet or a triviality such as that. How much more difficult must it be for an unemployed man who is right up against the wall, when he comes up against an official who, he feels, is not doing justice to his case. His grievance will be with him always, day and night, and he will not be allowed to forget it. If his own stomach is not reminding him, it will be his friends, who will be asking him to come along and have some innocent enjoyment which he will not be able to afford. It may be that his own children will have a pinched appearance. Whatever it is, his grievance will be with him day and night, and it is not at all hard to imagine the rancour with which such a man will regard the official of the 51 bureaucracy which, he imagines, is doing him wrong. On this point, I should like to read to the Committee four lines from a book about the unemployed man, describing the feelings of the unemployed towards the official in the Employment Exchange. Through no serious fault on the part of the official, the unemployed man feels a resentment against him, and for the moment imagines that he cannot control it. He says:And the bloody blokes wouldn't have their jobs if it wasn't for us men out of a job either. That's what gets me about their holding their noses up.They treat you like a lump of dirt, they do. I see a navvy reach across the counter and shake one of them by the collar the other day. The rest of us felt like cheering. Of course, he lost his benefit over it; I don't know what they got him on. But they did. But the clerk deserved it for his sassy way.Even though there is not a real grievance, if the man is up against an official the grievance, real or imaginary, is magnified out of all proportion. It is proposed to hand these vital matters over to a bureaucratic body, in respect of which this House will have no effective control. Even under the present system, the safety valve of political control has only just been sufficient to prevent major acts of violence, but now it is proposed to remove that safety valve. I entirely agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Tamworth that there are other safeguards, such as the appeal tribunal and so forth, but the safeguard to which I refer is to be removed. Although the result may not be very great in normal times, if there should be an abnormal stress it may lead to irretrievable collapse. I see the political advantages to hon. Members and to the Government in adopting the scheme which is proposed. Hon. Members will be rid of a very tiresome source of friction between themselves and their constituents. I do not suppose that one of us would not desire to be rid of that if we thought we could safely be rid of it. The prospect of being rid of that tiresome source of friction is so dazzling to some hon. Members that I fear we may have been overlooking a vital principle which underlies the whole matter, which is: Is this House to hold the scales between the individual subject 52 and the bureaucracy, or are we to hand over the vital interests of 5,000,000 of our constituents to a bureaucratic body over which we have not effective day-to-day control? That is the principle which is of such vital importance.
If we throw off our responsibilities in this vital matter, I see no reason why people should look in future to this House for protection, or to individual Members of it for leadership. We ought not to do such a thing unless we are absolutely convinced of it for other reasons than those of convenience to ourselves and electoral convenience for the Government. Bureaucracy, from its very nature, cannot be as responsive to currents of opinion in the minds of the people whose affairs are administered, can politicians. It is the business of politicians to find out those currents and to see how far they should be given attention. I am not saying one word against the individuals who will compose the Unemployment Assistance Board, or against the officers who will work under them. Bureaucracy, from its very nature, has characteristics which do not apply to the individuals who make it up. The business of those individuals is to administer, but it is almost impossible for a bureaucracy to administer properly and to give real and human attention to the men whose affairs they administer. If we hand over these affairs to a bureaucratic board, there may very well be repercussions upon this House which nobody who cares for what it stands for will view with equanimity. Henceforth, an unelected body will be dealing with matters which are looming inordinately in the minds of so many of our people, while we, their elected representatives, will seem to have no control over the matter at all.
Most people in this country thoroughly believe in Parliament. I am pretty certain that nearly all the people want to believe in it. I am anxious that by this Clause we should not do anything to add to the number of those who merely want to believe in Parliament but who have become disillusioned after seeing this House apparently laying on one side, or handing over to bureaucratic bodies, matters which should properly remain in the control of the freely-elected House of Commons.
§ 4.52 p.m.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
I have had an opportunity since last Tuesday of studying the arguments in support of and in opposition to this Clause. They fall into three main categories. The first objection that has been raised is to the dangerous effect of Part II of the Bill upon the insurance scheme outlined in Part I. The second objection is that which the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Mallalieu) has raised, in regard to the removal of the administration of unemployment assistance from Parliamentary control. The third objection is the duplication of the machinery of relief—I must apologise to the Committee for a beastly cold.
The first objection was put most clearly by the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) when he said that Part II of the Bill "knocked insurance simply silly." I wholly dissent from that view. We have an expression in my constituency, "I was playing me a week." It means that after, say, three weeks' work at a mill, which has been closed by reason of the order book not being filled and stocks being low, the man went on to benefit. The people under Part I of the Bill are those who are in and out of employment. They have other resources. Part II of the Bill deals with people who are in a totally different category. They are people whose clothes are worn out and whose boots are worn through. Their need is definitely greater than that of the people under Part I. I am grateful that the Government have recognised that a man who has been out of employment for six months or more is in need of more relief than the people under Part I of the Bill. The most cruel results of the administration of the last two years has been the setting of a limit, as a result of which no man might receive more than the amount payable under Insurance benefit.
§ Mr. CROSSLEY
Under Part II of the Bill, the money that a man receives under Part I, as insurance as of right, may be supplemented, if his needs necessitate. For that reason, I should have thought that this was the actual maintenance for which hon. Members of the Opposition have been asking for such a very long 54 time. If total maintenance is not needed in a particular case, supplementary assistance is given to bridge the gap between the maintenance level—or his maintenance level, in the case of a particular man—and his resources, even though the resources be in the insurance money payable under Part I of the Bill.
The second objection raised by hon. Members has been in regard to the taking away of parliamentary control. If it is true that parliamentary control and interference in individual cases have been taken away, it is certainly not true that parliamentary supervision of general principles of administration has been taken away. I welcome this delegation of powers. I believe that the present system is the more dangerous in which a Member of Parliament has a certain amount of right of patronage; but when he puts up a case definitely and invariably the Minister says, "I have no power to alter this provision." In the Debate last Tuesday, an analogy was suggested with the Minister of Pensions. I thought that that was a bad analogy, because although the Minister of Pensions has a real power, he has always had the most absolute discretion. If it had not been for his great personality it is probable that at one time his job would have become intolerable. Owing to his imposing the most rigid discretion on his servants he is able to say, to those who bring up a pension case, that unless there is fresh evidence there is no hope for the case which is being brought up. That strikes me as a bad analogy of direct, individual Ministerial responsibility over individual cases. In any case, the patronage of a Member of Parliament presupposes the right, in the last instance, of the Minister to reverse a determination. To vest that right in the Minister, is going—to borrow the words of the hon. Member for East Birkenhead—to "knock discretion perfectly silly." I believe the hon. Member believes in the principles of discretion in the administration of relief.
We then come to the question of what machinery ought to be adopted. I am very grateful again to the Government for it, because I have asked for some time for the adoption of such machinery as this against the Poor Law and its very real stigma. The hon. Member for Colne Valley will know, as I know, what the thrifty people in our district think of the Poor Law. The proposal of the Royal 55 Commission savoured too much of the Poor Law, in fact, I do not see how it is possible to set up such a local committee as the commission recommended without the committee being elected; and directly you have an elected committee there are three probable difficulties. In the first place, if one thing is worse than the personal patronage of a Member of Parliament it is the personal patronage of a town councillor. You have also the difficulty that the committee are administering moneys for which they have no financial responsibility, and, in the next place, the crucial difficulty, the lack of uniformity in administration as between district and district. I do not see how you can get uniformity of administration under local administration if you do not include in the Bill hard and fast regulations and actual scales of benefit. But that again knocks out discretion. Therefore, a tripartite machinery was necessary because there are three categories of men in need of some assistance, those in need of insurance, those in need of unemployment industrial relief, and those who are not really industrial cases, but Poor Law cases, and nobody knows the distinction between the last two categories better than a good trade unionist.
I congratulate the Minister of Labour particularly on the wider functions of this board. The Government at least have seen the necessity for a real collaborative body in unemployment administration, and when we get the self-government which some of us want—it may be held up for two or three years, but it will come in the end—we shall have in existence a body with which the industries of the country can collaborate so that unemployment and employment can be dovetailed better than at present, to the infinite advantage of the unemployed man. May I end with a quotation from Burke:In other Governments every question of expense is only a question of economy; with ours, in every question of expense there is always a mixture of constitutional consideration.I believe that the Government have solved the constitutional considerations imposed upon them by the creation of this body and have satisfied the supervision and rights of this House as well as the dignity and cleanliness of local government.
§ 5.5 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I wish to add my criticism to those already made against the setting up of this Assistance Board. The right hon. Gentleman for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland) with some degree of justification chaffed the official Opposition for its enthusiasm for the setting up of this particular kind of detached body. I do not think that Members of the official Opposition have anything to gain by denying that in their ranks there is a large body of opinion which believes that industrial and commercial controls, as well as other controls, are more fitly taken in hand by bodies outside Parliamentary interference than by Government Departments directly. That point of view has been strongly propagated in the ranks of labour, and is being propagated just now. I have found during my period in Parliament that in prospect all these boards are hailed with great enthusiasm by Members of the House but in retrospect are damned with equal unanimity by all Members of the House. They look awfully good and detached, responsible and careful, until you have them, but when you have got them you find that they are a tremendous nuisance, a constant interference with fair play and common sense.
As a Member of Parliament I refuse to accept my share of the Vote of Censure that is implied in every proposal of this description; that a Member of Parliament is not a fit and proper person to act in an honourable, honest and intelligent way. In every one of these proposals the conception is implicit that a Member of Parliament has a morale inferior to that of the average available in the community, and that there are to be found at any given moment detached persons—probably of whom we have never heard before—who in a moral capacity, in administrative ability and in political wisdom, are miles above the ordinary person elected to this House. It is fantastic, it is romanticism, it is nonsense. There is one thing which can be said in favour of Members in this House and that is that they compare favourably, and no better, with people outside. The idea that you can get giants of finer clay than there are here to run jobs which are a little bit irksome and difficult is a conception which has no foundation in fact; and it is a conception which gives rise to dictatorships. The idea that here is some great saviour who is going to shoulder all 57 our troubles, do all our thinking, carry all our responsibilities, and make so perfect a state of society that none of us need bother about anything, is just a lot of arrant rubbish. That is this Clause in a concentrated form.
The right hon. Member for Tamworth accused the Opposition of arguing for the restoration of ministerial discretion, but I think he confuses the difference between discretion and responsibility. I would try to reduce the discretion of the Minister to the smallest point, but I would carry his responsibilities to the maximum. We are not asking the Minister to shoulder the detail work of investigating individual cases. The right hon. Member for Tamworth tried, pathetically, I will not say glibly, to rack our hearts about the overwrought Minister, although it is extraordinary that on every occasion there are tremendous numbers in the queues for these overwrought positions. We are not asking that the Minister shall investigate personally every case under Part II; all we are asking is that in the House of Commons the Minister shall be responsible to the House of Commons, and that he will not be able to push his responsibilities on one side and say, as Ministers do confidentially say to Members, as we all know when we go to them about a case privately, "There is nothing I would like better than to oblige you in this matter. I think it is a hard case, and that you have justice on your side; but it is the board, and I can do absolutely nothing." We do not want that. That is irresponsibility.
The Minister of Labour will remember that in the days of the last Conservative Government of blessed memory, during the halcyon years between 1924–29, when everything went so well in this country, when everybody was happy, when there was no unemployment except a million or two and no trade disturbances except the General Strike, the Government during that period brought before the House a Bill called The Reorganisation of Offices (Scotland) Bill. Over a long period of time, indeed, ever since the union, there had grown up in Scotland a whole collection of Boards of Agriculture, Boards of Education, Commissions for Prisons and commissions for this and that. When these various boards and commissions were set up the poor boobs—I think that is 58 the term—who sat in this House in those days believed that it was a way of bringing to bear outstanding talent available outside Parliament for the administration of a particular sphere of work. During the centuries Scottish political administration had become cluttered up with commissions and commissioners and bodies of various kinds. During the Parliament of 1924–29 the Reorganisation of Offices (Scotland) Bill was introduced to sweep clean away every single one of these boards and commissions, which had taken centuries to build up, and we were told by Members of the Conservative party in so many words that it had been proved that these independent detached persons were only a nuisance and that most of them were doing at high salaries jobs which could be done more efficiently by a junior civil servant at a lower salary. At one swoop all these boards were swept away. We got rid of the litter of centuries in Scotland. The same men, because many of those who were in the Conservative Government in those days are in the present Government, are now starting to impose another collection of these old men of the sea round the necks of the decent politicians of this country.
I want the Minister of Labour and the Committee to realise that we shall not get rid of the troubles in this way. If the idea is to rid us of worrying about the unemployed it will not work. It should not work. There is not one of us here but should have the unemployed man with us day and night until such time as he no longer exists. Our task and that of the Government—and the people have chosen us to face it, not to dodge it—is to set ourselves to abolish the unemployed man, but at the same time, while he exists, to see that he is treated decently, humanely, and in a way that can be defended by intelligent people. We have no right to try to shift that on to anybody else; that is dodging a responsibility.
The question of patronage has been slung about very freely—the ability of a Member of Parliament to get a shilling or two extra for one of his constituents. I have never, in my time in the House, handling thousands of unemployment insurance cases, known a case in which I got a shilling or two more for any constituent of mine than he was entitled to under the Statute. I have on many occa- 59 sions got for a man his legal rights, which he might have been done out of if I had not been there to raise them for him, but never did I get for a man more than he was entitled to—never once. If there is a suggestion that that has been done in some quarters politically, I would like to hear about it, because I thought I was as alert on behalf of my constituents as anyone. If other people have been getting for their unemployed constituents more than their just rights, I have only been getting the bare minimum, and I feel that I have been ill used, and that the patronage has not been outside the House, but inside—that certain Members of the House have been getting favours that have not been available to all.
The Minister knows perfectly well that there has been no patronage in connection with this Act in any sense of the term, and, if there were, is it not just about time that political patronage, which has existed since the beginning of time, should begin to percolate down to the poorest section of the community? Political patronage that can yet your uncle or your cousin made into an admiral, or an archbishop, or a lord chief justice, or that can secure that your land is taken for some purpose rather than the other fellow's—all these patronages have been quiet, clean and decent; but if now, in these days, political patronage is used for the sake of getting sixpence extra out of the public funds for a starving man, there is something that is not right there; and it might influence votes. My one regret is that these concerns have not influenced votes among working people to the extent that they should have influenced votes. The hon. Gentleman who acts as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister has not yet fully learned that, when he takes on that responsible position, he has to give up certain of the rights and liberties that are available to ordinary Members of the House. He has assumed responsibilities and dignities, and it is hardly in keeping with the dignity of those who sit in that position to mutter and laugh at their own jokes while a Member on his feet is trying to address the Minister.
I say that the patronage, as it is called, has never been patronage in the sense of the term in which it has been used in the past. I have just as much right 60 to stand here and argue about the unemployed man's money as I have to argue about an ordinary citizen's education. It is as much a matter of public policy, and my constituents have a perfect right to weigh up and judge me on my record of votes, including what I do or what I do not do for the unemployed. As far as I have seen, the defence of the unemployed man in season and out of season has not always been the most electorally advantageous thing that a Member of the House of Commons can do. If one wanted to curry favour, if one wanted political influence, one would espouse the cause of more powerful people than those who are the unfortunate and the outcasts of society. Therefore, I place these things on one side; the patronage argument has no weight with me. The argument that the men who will be on this board are superior in quality and capacity and knowledge to the average man who sits in the House of Commons I put aside as merely matter for jest. The effect of the working of these boards in the past has, as I have said, been indicated by a previous House in wiping out all these boards from Scottish administration.
I would put this further point, that a cost of £12,000 per annum is being imposed here for the establishment of a board of five or six men, when every one of us knows that in practice there will be one official who will do the work of that board. There will be one capable civil servant to do the real work. He will listen to their talk, he will go home, and he will draft out what they are going to do. He will come back to the next meeting—which will occur as seldom as possible—and he will say, "This is a summary of what you decided at the last meeting; I ask you to endorse it." They will say, "Yes, it seems quite reasonable and moderate. It is getting on for lunch-time. Yes, we will endorse it." The Noble Lady behind me questions whether that would be done——
§ Mr. MAXTON
It is a very long time since I have been at a Labour meeting, but I can assure the Noble Lady that when my party meets we are bright, brief and brotherly, and to the point. I may be caricaturing the position. I have no doubt that for the first few 61 months, when we are all watching them, they will be much more assiduous and energetic than that; but that is what it will come to; it is what all their predecessors came to. There will be one official doing the job, thanking his stars that he has such a soft job; and he will have five or six members of this Committee whom he can just manipulate as he pleases, because he is on the job all the time, and knows the job, while they are only on the job occasionally, and do not know it and are not dependent on it. The Government are asking for the right to spend £12,000 of public money for the carrying out of a job which a civil servant would be glad to do competently for £1,000 a year. He, having done it, would have a real, genuine responsibility to his Minister, and his Minister would have a real, genuine responsibility to the House of Commons. On these grounds I urge the Minister not to take what looks like an easy road out of what is a very grave political difficulty, but to let the House of Commons know steadily and from day to day what the difficulties of the unemployed are, and let us shoulder them ourselves.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Captain HAROLD BALFOUR
I shall not detain the Committee for more than two or three minutes, but I do not think the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has quite justified himself in his speech this afternoon, for, while it was charming and delightful in its wording, it failed lamentably in logical argument. I do not think that the hon. Member really did justice to Scotland. He takes a particular instance in Scottish legislation in order to draw a general conclusion on British legislation. He takes the Scottish Office and says, "Look how badly we in Scotland have managed these boards; we had to admit failure"; and then he tries to put an equal failure on the English Parliament in English legislation. I should have thought he was a more loyal Scotsman than to let his own country down in order to try to prove a case. Again, he said that it did not always pay to defend the interests of the unemployed, and that had he, perhaps, pursued other courses, his political success could have been achieved in an easier manner——
§ Captain BALFOUR
It is for the community to defend their unemployed. The hon. Member may mean that other things would be more profitable politically; but it may be that the eclipses which have fallen upon our party have been just because we have been seeking the genuine interest of the unemployed, and not the opportunity of the moment.
The point with which I want to deal is one that was made by the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White), and also by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan)—a point about which there seems to me to be a certain amount of misunderstanding among the electors and also in the House of Commons. It is as to the lack of attraction of Part I of the Bill because of the attractions which exist for men who are out of employment in Part II of the Bill. That is the general condemnation. I would submit that under Part I of the Bill there are certain aspects which must appeal, and which therefore do away to some extent with that lack of balance between the two about which complaint is made. In the first place, under this Clause in Part II of the Bill, the unemployed man cannot draw benefit as of right; he has to pass a means test; and the very Members who complain of the lack of similarity between Part I and Part II are the same Members who complain of the existence of a means test. It seems to me that they cannot have it both ways—they cannot complain of a means test on the one hand and then say on the other hand that there is no difference as regards drawing benefit between Part I and Part II, which is a contradiction in itself. Secondly, benefits under Part I accumulate to a man according to his industrial record, but under Part II his industrial record is of no avail to him. Under Part II he draws according to his need. Under Part I he draws according to his need and to his history. Finally, under Part I there are three contributors, the State, the employer and the employé, but only one person gets the benefit of any surplus, that is the contributor, whereas under Part II the man draws according to his need, and has no participation in the surplus. Therefore, this 63 complaint of the unattractiveness of Part I as against Part II is not borne out, firstly on the ground of no means test in Part I, secondly, no benefits according to a man's record in Part II, and thirdly, because the disposable assets of a solvent, self-sufficient fund go to the participants in that fund under Part I, and cannot do so under Part II. Therefore, I whole-heartedly support this differentiation between Part I and Part II, and I do not think there is any real gravamen in the complaint of Members who make this point.
§ 5.32 p.m.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Henry Betterton)
I think it has been to the general satisfaction and convenience of the Committee that your predecessor in the Chair, Sir, decided to allow the discussion to cover the whole purpose of this very important Clause, and in the result we have had, last week and to-day, one of the most important and, I think, interesting discussions that the Bill has produced since it was first introduced. I wish I could agree with the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) that the Bill, when it passes, will make the road easy for the Minister of Labour. I am under no such delusion. The road of the Minister of Labour is never an easy one and I do not think it will be any more easy when the Bill is passed than it was before. The hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Mallalieu), and others who spoke from Liberal benches last week, seemed to think that the result of the Bill would be to rid Members of Parliament of personal responsibility. So far from that, I believe it will increase the responsibility of individual Members to a far greater extent than at present, and perhaps it will enable hon. Members to show whether they are really willing and prepared to face up to the responsibilities which will be cast upon them by the Bill.
The first great point that has been raised in this discussion—it is the question which has occupied most of the proceedings to-day—is the general point as to whether we are right or wrong in taking away from local authorities duties which they now perform. Those duties have been with local authorities for something like 300 years, and I agree that it needs a strong case to satisfy the Committee that they should be taken from 64 them and transferred to someone else. I will explain the reasons which prompted us to come to the very grave decision. It was done in furtherance of the principle to which I referred in my Second Reading speech, that the State should accept general responsibility for all the industrial able-bodied unemployed outside insurance within the limits of a practical definition.
I will pay my tribute to the work which local authorities as a whole have done during the last three years. There was cast upon them in 1931 an immense accession of duties which were very often distasteful, unpopular and very difficult, but local authorities on the whole faced up to the difficulties, and the State as a whole is under a great debt of obligation to them. We asked them to deal with that very large number of persons who were then on transitional benefit. Before 1931 the numbers of persons with whom local authorities dealt were far fewer than those with whom they were asked to deal in 1931. In that year they were suddenly faced with the problem of organising a service for people in many cases quite indistinguishable, both in status and in character, from those who were actually in employment. There was this further difficulty. Unemployment is very largely concentrated in certain trades and in certain districts, and the difficulties of those local authorities in those areas was enormously increased by this fact.
It seems to me and to the Government that, if the State is to accept a general responsibility for the industrial unemployed, and to find the money for this purpose, the machinery can be no longer local but must be central. For long past there has been a demand, which has been growing in all parties, in all parts of the House, and in the country, that this should be a national responsibility. To that demand we have acceded except to an infinitesimal extent. The figure that the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave the other day was that 95 per cent. of this financial responsibility is now to be undertaken by the Exchequer. If you accede to the demand that this is a national responsibility, as an inevitable corrollary you must admit that the administration must be organised centrally and not locally.
When this immense duty was thrown upon the local authorities—I say this as 65 a matter of history, without criticism or comment; I merely state the facts—a few threw in their hands. Some sub-committees of local authorities refused to carry out their duties, and special committees were appointed in their place. In other areas members of one political party said they would have nothing to do with it, and they left the odium of carrying on the duties to others. In many areas the local authorities made it clear that they were only content to carry on at all because they were given to understand that the job was a temporary one, and they made it equally clear that, if they thought that it was to be anything like a permanent duty, they, too, would have something to say about it.
We had representations from very influential bodies dealing with this very point. The County Councils Association on 15th December, 1932, passed a resolution that, "with a view to preserving the purity of local government, it is undesirable that elected members of local authorities should be charged with distributing to individuals by way of unemployment assistance large sums of money mainly drawn from the national Exchequer." On 11th January, 1933, they passed a resolution in which they said that they were "generally in favour of the recommendations of the Committee on Local Expenditure that the relief of the able-bodied unemployed, whether now receiving transitional payments or public assistance should cease to be administered by local authorities as at present, and should be transferred to independent persons to be specially appointed for the purpose. This proposal, as the Committee on Local Expenditure points out, is directed to the removal from the sphere of national and local politics of the disbursement of local funds for the relief of the unemployed." The Association of Municipal Corporations, while saying they were prepared in certain conditions to carry on, added that they believed it would be "desirable that the administration of unemployment assistance should, so far as possible consistently with administrative efficiency and considerations of economy, be removed from the sphere of local party politics." We had to consider these facts, but whatever view you may take as to whether the County Councils Association were right or wrong, we have also to consider that by far the largest part of the cost is borne by the Exchequer.
66 I do not think that either this or any other Government could possibly approve, as a permanent arrangement, a system whereby a locally elected authority administered transitional payments on behalf of the central Government without any financial interest themselves in the expenditure. Such a system involves either the danger of abuse or else such a stringent control over local authorities that they become merely the agents of the central Government. For these reasons it seemed to us, having accepted the view that this liability should be a national one, that it followed as a necessary corollary that it could no longer be administered locally. My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham (Mr. Crossley) raised a point which has not been sufficiently stressed in the course of this discussion. The functions of the board will not be, and are not intended to be, limited entirely to the payment of cash assistance. The functions of the board are to link up where it can unemployment with employment, to help men to get into employment, and in the meantime to give them such assistance as their needs require. If hon. Members regard this problem, as I do, as an industrial problem and not merely one of relief, and as a national problem and not a local problem, clearly local authorities, with their limited areas of jurisdiction, are not the appropriate bodies to administer the scheme. So much for the point as to the reason why we take it away from the local authorities.
The next point to which I want to refer is one which has been made on more than one occasion, namely, the opinion that we are handing this matter over to a body outside Parliamentary control. This seems to show a complete misapprehension as to what is in the Bill, and I am surprised that it has been stated in quarters where I should not have expected it. The hon. Member for Birkenhead, East (Mr. White) went so far as to say that we are reproducing the action of 1834. He must indeed have a poor opinion of the Minister of Labour if he thinks that in 1934 I am going to reproduce a system which I know as well as he knows broke down. What happened in 1834 which he says is the analogy and example which we are following? In 1834 a Board of Commissioners was set up entirely independent of Parliament and was placed in the charge of, I suppose, 67 one of the ablest administrators this country has ever produced, Sir George Lewis. The experiment failed because this country would not tolerate an outlying department which was not subject to Parliamentary control, and they were right. It lasted 13 years, and then failed. If the country would not stand it then, believe me, they will not stand it now. I entirely agree with what the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) said when he remarked, "You cannot take, and you ought not to take, the problem of unemployment out of politics." You cannot do it, and this Bill will not do it. I do not think that I need proceed further to show how false is that analogy.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
This Bill provides precisely the opposite principle. It gives this House a greater control over the expenditure of money on relief than it has ever had before. The way in which Parliament faces up to these responsibilities will be a very great test of our democratic institutions. I will explain what the Bill does. It provides that the needs of an applicant shall be assessed in accordance with Regulations made under the Act. It further provides that the Minister shall submit those Regulations to this House. He may either do it as recommended by the board, or he may do it with variations, but the Regulations will not be operative, under the terms of the Bill, until they have been affirmed and approved by a substantive Resolution of this House. The Committee may remember that the other day, when we were discussing the Anomalies Regulations, I amended the Anomalies Act of the late Labour Government by including among the Regulations which had to receive an affirmative Resolution of this House a Regulation made under the Anomalies Act.
That is not all. It is not only upon Regulations that this House will be in a position to express its voice by affirmative Resolution. Throughout the Bill you will find that Rules have to be made which have to be affirmed by the Minister. Those Rules have to be laid on the Table of this House, and the Minister is responsible for them. The opportunities of discussing the Minister's conduct will be exactly the same as they are now. They 68 can be discussed on the Minister's Vote, on the salaries of the boards officers, and on the presentation of the board's annual report. On every one of those occasions the House will have the fullest opportunity of expressing its views upon the actions of the board.
The third point to which I wish to refer is the charge that the individual applicant has in some way lost his rights, that his right to approach Members of Parliament has been altered. It has not been altered in the very least. It is exactly the same now as it was before. At present an applicant for transitional payments has to show that he is free from certain disqualifications and has fulfilled certain conditions of the insurance scheme. The question whether those conditions are fulfilled or whether disqualification has taken place is, as the Committee know, a matter for the statutory authorities, that is, the court of referees and the Umpire. When I am asked, as I am constantly, whether I will look into this case or the other, my answer invariably is—and the answer of every Minister of Labour has been, and must be—that it is a matter for the statutory authorities over which I have no control.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
The right hon. Gentleman is slurring over the main issue. The applicant for benefit has control over the body which assesses his transitional payment. I think that the Minister should deal with that point.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
If the claim of an applicant is challenged owing to certain alleged disqualifications, or owing to a charge that certain conditions have not been fulfilled, his case goes to the statutory authorities, over whom I have no more control than the hon. Gentleman who interrupted me. In the case of the individual assessment, the amount is assessed by the local authority. Their decision is final as far the Minister is concerned. If I am asked whether I agree with this assessment or the other, I say with perfect truth, that I have no power, nor indeed has the Minister of Health, to issue any directions or to give any orders to the local authorities.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
As the hon. Gentleman has raised the question of the Act of 1834, I should like to give him a considered answer. I should like time to think it over.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will tell me afterwards. The present position, therefore, is that these questions are entirely outside the control of Members of Parliament. Under the Bill the applicant will have the same rights as he has now, and his position is not being prejudiced in the least. At the present time any Member can raise any question of principle upon the application of an insured person, and his position under the Bill will be exactly the same. He can raise questions of principle in this House in the future, as has been done in the past. I shall not be responsible for individual decisions in future any more than I am now.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
The hon. Member goes back a very long way. I do not remember to what period he is referring.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
It was certainly so during the time of the Labour administration.
I wish to deal with the second Sub-section of this Clause to which reference was made last week, but about which nothing has been said this afternoon. It deals with the advisory committees. There was misapprehension in the minds of some hon. Gentlemen as to what were to be the duties of the advisory committees, and what it was contemplated they should do. My right hon. Friend the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) seemed to think that the advisory committees had some separate function. I do not in the least agree. The object of including the advisory committees is, if possible, to bring within the machinery the assistance of non-official persons. The advisory committees will be established throughout the country, and will continuously bring to bear upon the work of the board the knowledge of persons who have had very long experience of these problems. Their general functions will include advice on the appropriate 70 local and general differentiation of scales in their area, for instance, the differentiation of scales between, say, certain urban areas and certain rural areas. They will advise on local differentiation and on certain local factors, such as the influence of rent on need. They will be a link between State assistance and local assistance and voluntary organisations in the area. They will assist the board upon the various specialised services which are available in the locality, both public and private.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Sir Dennis Herbert)
I did not interrupt the right hon. Gentleman before, because I was not present during the earlier part of this Debate, but he now seems to be getting rather beyond the Amendment.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I am referring to this matter and answering the point because it was one of the points made when the question of the usefulness of these committees which are set out in the third Sub-section was referred to. I thought that I might be allowed to deal with this case, which was referred to at some length last week.
§ The CHAIRMAN
It was definitely in my mind that the right hon. Gentleman might be dealing with something debated while I was not here, and I agree. That is the reason why I made the remark I did when I first interrupted the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I am much obliged. My only reason for doing it is that I thought it would be fair to the Committee, as the point was raised, to give my views as to what those committees will do. I think that this Clause will turn out to be one of the most useful in the whole of the Bill, because these committees will give most valuable help to the officers of the board in carrying out their duties. They will be useful in securing co-ordination between a number of other services in the area, such as child welfare, work in connection with tuberculosis, the blind, hospital assistance, and so on. In addition to these general services the committee will have certain special services to perform, including the giving of advice to the local officers of the board on difficult individual cases. That is a most important thing when the board have to 71 deal with difficult individual cases. There will be households, as hon. Members who have had experience of these things will know, where some specialised remedial treatment is what the applicant wants, and that treatment is outside the province of the board, as such. I think the committees will perform very valuable services in enlisting local effort in cases of this kind. Therefore, the inclusion of the Sub-section was an attempt well worth making. Under it we hope to retain the services and experience of very many men and women up and down the country who have devoted their lives to this kind of work and whose services I am determined shall not be lost in the future.
§ Mr. DINGLE FOOT
Can the right hon. Gentleman give the Committee some idea as to how large the committees will be and as to the kind of area in which they will function? Will it be the Employment Exchange area or the regional area?
§ Miss RATHBONE
Is it suggested that all the cases that are assessed will go before the Advisory Committees or only cases of special difficulty? The right hon. Gentleman referred to cases where special remedial action was necessary, which seemed to imply that the committees will have to deal with individual cases. Will they have to pass all cases or will they deal only with cases specially referred to them?
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
They will not pass all cases. The function of these committees will be to advise the board in such cases as I have indicated where their advice is likely to be useful to the board. The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. D. Foot) asked me how large they will be. That, again, is entirely a question for the board, but I should anticipate that there will be large area committees, with sub-committees in different places. That is how I contemplate the system will work. My object is to put at the disposal of the board the experience of the many thousands of people who can help the board in its work.
§ 6.5 p.m.
§ Mr. ARTHUR GREENWOOD
When the Debate was resumed this afternoon we had a speech from the hon. Member 72 for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevon). To that speech we have had no reply from the Minister. My hon. Friend put the case which we have against the statutory body which is being set up under Part II of the Bill. The Government have chosen to deal with the problem by appointing an Unemployment Assistance Board to deal with a certain category of the unemployed. The very fact that the right hon. Gentleman is differentiating between certain classes of unemployed persons, allowing some of them for a limited period to enjoy certain statutory rights without let or hindrance and segregating the rest, appears to us to mean that those who come under Part II are not going to receive as generous treatment as the people who come under Part I. I think it is clear that that is so.
If the Government had desired to treat all the unemployed alike there would have been no need for this Unemployment Assistance Board and the vast machinery which is to be set up. They could have been dealt with under unemployment insurance. The right hon. Gentleman referred to the Poor Law of 1834. The Poor Law Board of 1834 broke down after a few years, and in 1934 the right hon. Gentleman is perpetuating the Poor Law Board of 1934 in a very pernicious and even more intensified form. The implication is that if a person is out of work in a given year for more than 26 weeks there is something wrong with that person. We take the view that unemployment to-day is not a problem of individual failings but a problem of industry and the economic system. It is a matter of accident which men are out of work for four months and which men are out of work for four years. This Bill draws that distinction, for the one reason that after that limited period of 26 weeks it seeks to introduce less eligible conditions, more onerous conditions, partly for the purpose of economy and in order to make a distinction between those who are newly out of work and those who have been out of work a long time and, no doubt, with the object of driving them back into some kind of employment. That is not a new policy.
The last Conservative Government took power to abolish boards of guardians, not where they were unduly mean towards the poor, but because in the opinion of the Minister of Health at that time they were a little too generous to the poor. 73 It was not, perhaps, astonishing that that power was never used to force reactionary boards of guardians who were paying a scandalously low rate of relief to the destitute, to raise their rates. The power was used only against certain boards of guardians, Labour boards of guardians, whose political complexion and whose care for the poor the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, then Minister of Health, did not like. In the last two years we have seen two local authorities superseded by commissioners, one in Rotherham and the other in the County of Durham, not because they were bringing down the standard of relief to the unemployed, but because they were too generous for the present Minister of Labour.
We are getting now a generalised system of commissioners all over the country for the people who come under Part II. Instead of having commissioners in Rotherham and Durham, we are to have a board of commissioners sitting in London, with vast machinery and officers up and down the country and a large number of advisory committees, about which the right hon. Gentleman seems to know very little at the moment. They are to be a great commission for the nation, in order to impose upon the people who are not under Part I of the Act conditions which are less favourable than the conditions under Part I. In other words, the whole purpose of Part II is to bring down the level of maintenance of those who have been unemployed for a considerable period. The Government are going to hand over to a new bureaucracy the care of the most unfortunate victims of the economic system. That is what makes the personnel, the powers and the responsibilities of the board important.
We have heard arguments about the wickedness of this question being a matter of politics. As I have said before, you cannot keep poverty, hunger and destitution out of politics. It was such questions that brought the Labour party into existence. The question of unemployment and all that follows unemployment go down to the very roots of our national problem. It is all very well for the Government to say that they want to take this question out of politics. They would take everything out of politics 74 if they could, because politics are becoming far more real than they were in the days of the Tories and the Whigs. Everything was in politics then, but now when we get particularly thorny questions which bring members of the old orthodox parties up against the realities of life, they want to take them out of politics. They want to take this question out of politics by the appointment of a board of this kind. The Government may think, and hon. Members who support the Government may think, that by doing that they are getting themselves out of an awkward difficulty, but they are not.
This kind of Fascist dictatorship applied to a section of the unemployed is bound to create its reactions. I never believed in the old Poor Law system. I believe, what the right hon. Gentleman was at pains to point out, no doubt to convince his own followers and not us, that unemployment ought to be a national responsibility. I have always believed that. But I have never believed that you can remove from this House the responsibilities of the Members of this House. That is what the Bill in effect seeks to do. Nor do I think you ought in any circumstances to remove from a body of citizens the right to appeal to their own elected representatives. That is what is done under Part II. This is a form of dictatorship. It is no use the right hon. Gentleman talking about regulations coming to this House and being approved by the House, and about rules being confirmed by him and he being responsible for them to this House, where discussion can take place. The point is that we shall have no more right to put a question at the Table on the action of any member of the board than we have to put a question on the action of a High Court Judge. We are removing these people, who will be dealing day by day with the lives of the poor, entirely outside the control of elected persons. We may have academic discussions from time to time, but they will be like the academic discussions about the British Broadcasting Corporation. In those discussions we have not been able to deal with the realities of the problem, because the British Broadcasting Corporation has its powers under a Charter.
What are these people to be? They are to be appointed by Royal Warrant, as independent of this House and of the 75 Minister as judges of the High Court. They are not to interpret law; they are not to deliver judgment as between disputants, however important the question may be. They are to determine the kind of life that unemployed persons shall live. That is a big power which ought never to be vested in a body of people who are completely outside public control and responsible public criticism. In these circumstances hon. Members opposite ought to consider the wisdom of pursuing this kind of policy. What is it? When on the Second Reading of the Bill I said that this perpetuated the Poor Law system, that it bureaucratised the Poor Law system, I was met with the jeers of hon. Members opposite. But my statement was true. You will have a small body of people in London given the powers that the Commissioners are enjoying to-day in Durham and Rotherham, and indeed increased powers, not making them completely responsible, but in a way that is new to me—I am not a lawyer—giving the officers of the board certain powers, and not even making the board itself responsible for the actions of its own officers. In other words it is extending the dictatorship and bureaucracy into the country, setting up Commissars in every area, where there is to be an advisory committee, and appointing advisory committees which may or may not be used. If they are likely to be amenable to the board they will be used, but in counties like Durham, where they are not likely to be amenable, the advisory committees will not be used.
§ Mr. MOLSON
Why does the right hon. Gentleman say that the board will not be responsible for the actions of its own officers?
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
There are Clauses in the Bill under which certain definite responsibilities and obligations are placed on the officers of the board. They are obligations which in normal legislation would have been vested in the board, and not in its officers, and the board would have been responsible for the actions of its officers. In certain later Clauses definite responsibilities are put on the officers. The officers are not to be the instruments of the board acting for the board. There is no local authority to protect the applicant. It may be 76 that there is an advisory committee, which may or may not be used, but it will be used for difficult cases in what I may call easy areas from the point of view of the Government. In effect it will be a vast bureacracy all over the country. That is a form of dictatorship. My hon. Friend who spoke on this subject was perfectly right.
Only a week or two ago I read an article on how local government would work under Fascism, and I gathered that the Fascists would dispense with the Manchester City Council and let the Members of Parliament for the city act as the Commissars of the Government. This is precisely on all fours with this proposal, except in one respect, that at least the Members of Parliament are elected. But the board sitting in London, and the officers whom they appoint, and the advisory committee whom they appoint, will not be responsible to the public either locally or nationally. I think that the proposal is fraught with the gravest danger. The attempt that the Minister has made to defend it has completely failed. I know that we shall be beaten in the Divisional Lobby, but hon. Members opposite will repent the day when they voted for this Bill.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. JAMES REID
I would like to deal with the line of attack which has been summed up by the right hon. Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood). His attack divides itself into two parts. His main attack is not directed to this Clause at all, but is directed at what he thinks lies behind the Clause. It seems to me that he depends on what may or may not turn out to be an intelligent prophecy, because his attack is not directed to anything in the Bill, but to what he anticipates the regulations will be and how those regulations will be administered. His attack on the Clause itself is purely subsidiary. His speech was entirely coloured by the view that this part of the Bill is to be used in order to lower the standard of the present administration of transitional payments. He seems to think that nothing more can ever be given, but that a great deal less will be given. There is nothing whatever in the Bill to lend any colour to the assertion. What will happen of course, is, that certain people who have means of their own will not get so much as the people under Part I, and that other people who 77 have no means of their own, whose clothes or boots, it may be, have worn out, will require more than the people under Part I, and there is provision in the Bill by which they can get it. I have not the least doubt that in those cases, more will be given that under Part I.
It is entirely premature and wrong to start criticising this Clause from the point of view that in no circumstances will anyone get more than the Part I benefit. Part I benefit is not even adjusted on the basis of need; it is adjusted, as it should be, on the basis of what a certain fund can pay, while remaining solvent. It has nothing whatever to do with means, but with obligations of a contractual nature. Suppose that the situation gets worse and Part I benefits have to be reduced. Obviously, it will be necessary in many cases to supplement Part I benefits out of Part II. Suppose that the situation gets much better, and that Part I benefits are increased. The necessity to supplement will disappear.
Even the minority report of the Royal Commission looks towards nothing except the restoration of the 1931 cuts. Once those cuts are restored, as we all hope they will be very shortly when things get better, the necessity for supplementing will be completely gone. At the present time there may be in certain cases a necessity for supplementing Part I out of Part II, and there is ample provision in the Bill for that to be done. I do not propose to detain the Committee in arguing further on the main charge brought by the right hon. Gentleman, namely that the standard of the unemployed is to be dragged down under this Bill. We must wait and see in order to determine whether that prophecy is or is not accurate. It is useless to discuss now what may happen in a few months' time. My view is that a very different picture will then be presented.
Let me come to the second part of the right hon. Gentleman's attack, the attack on the Clause itself. It is said that this and the following Clauses will have the effect of taking this question out of politics. It will not have anything of the kind. If it did, I would not support it. But it will take the question out of local politics. But I always understood it was a cardinal principle of the Labour party that this should be a national matter. I am sure that no one, even in despair in the search for arguments with 78 which to beat the Government would use the argument that the whole charge is to be put on the nation, but that the whole of the administration is to be put into the hands of locally-elected representatives. Not even the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) would say that. He came near it, but I do not think he meant it. I am glad to see he shakes his head. That being so, we are all agreed that this matter ought to be taken out of the hands of locally-elected representatives.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
The hon. Member should address himself to the arguments we advanced. The position we take up is simple. You transfer the obligation from the local authority to the State, but the local authority has an obligation to the local elector. You should transfer the right of the local elector at the same time as you would transfer the obligation.
§ Mr. REID
I am trying to go step by step. The first step is that we are all agreed that the locally-elected person, the town councillor, should not have responsibility because the matter should be a national charge and the responsibility should be national. Then comes the question, who is to be responsible from the centre; is it to be this House as a body, is it to be the Minister, is it to be someone immediately subject to the Minister, or is it to be this board? I look at the board to see whether its functions as described in the Bill are such as hon. Members opposite think, and whether the powers are so divorced from the Minister and this House as hon. Members suggest. What are the functions of the Board? How far are they controlled?
The first function of the board is to frame the regulations under which the whole of this procedure is to be carried out. Those regulations have to be submitted to the Minister, and the Minister has full power to amend them in any way he likes. Accordingly the Government have full power over every jot and tittle of the regulations. It is true that this House has not got the actual power of amendment. Personally, if I had the preference, I think we might have a little more power in that way. But let us look at the essentials and not the form. The essence of the matter is that the Minister holds his office at the will of the House. 79 If this House does not like the way in which the Minister has amended the regulations, this House can not only throw out the regulations, but the Minister in effect. Accordingly it seems to me that in the present circumstances this is really much more a matter of form than of substance. As far as the form is concerned, I would rather have a wider power directly given to the House of Commons, but when we come to the substance below the form, I do not think there is a great deal in it.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
If this Bill were framed in accordance with the sort of procedure which the hon. Member is defending we would not have the privilege of listening to the speech which he is now making.
§ Mr. REID
If we were dealing with Committee points in Committee we certainly would not have a speech like this, but, as the hon. Member well knows, we are really having a Second Reading Debate. The procedure of the House of Commons is sufficiently elastic to meet any emergency and it will be elastic enough to deal with the Minister, if he does not do what the House of Commons desires. Accordingly, before the regulations become operative there is absolute control by the House of Commons. The regulations may require to be amended as time goes on because, if hard cases develop as the machinery grows, the right way of dealing with them is not to deal with each hard case individually but to amend the regulations so that hard cases shall cease.
There is a small point here which might, I respectfully suggest, be considered by the Government. At present, amendment of the regulations can only be proposed by the Board, but once the Board do propose any amendments, the Minister may make any alternative suggestion he thinks fit. Considering that power is in the Minister's hands to that extent, I do not understand why he should not recommend to the Board such regulations as he would like to see and get the Board's report on them just as he can do under Part I of the Bill. I think there is room for a slight change in that respect. Again, the new regulations must be approved by the Minister and they must be approved by the House of Commons before they can come into operation. So much for the regula- 80 tions. They are completely under the control of the House.
Let us now come to the individual case which is just as much dependent on how the regulations are administered as on the terms of the regulations themselves. We want in administering regulations, not a body susceptible to pressure from electors, but a body which is going to administer impartial justice. By all means place the framing of the regulations in the hands of persons susceptible to pressure from electors. That is a legislative function, and legislative functions ought to be carried out by people who are responsible to their constituents. But when it comes to the administration, under the regulations, of particular cases, that is a judicial function. We in this country know, from hundreds of years of history, that one reason why our system of Government has proved so permanent is that the judiciary has been entirely out of the control of the politician. I hope that hon. Members opposite will reconsider their attitude on this point. I know that they want complete control over the regulations, and I think that we ought to have it. Whichever side has a majority will get such regulations as they want. But once the regulations are established, do they think that different measures of justice ought to be given to different people, because one man can pull the strings and another man cannot?
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
The hon. Member makes the astounding suggestion that the unemployment assistance officer, who is remote from control by anyone at all, will be perfectly impartial in his treatment of his neighbours, whereas the public man, after years of public-spirited work, will not be so impartial?
§ Mr. REID
I am trying to go step by step. Unless I completely misunderstood what he said earlier, the hon. Member wanted control of this matter left in the hands of elected persons in order that the man who came up for a judicial determination of his claim should be able to bring pressure on the judge to decide in his favour.
§ Mr. REID
I was about to say that he finds it a little difficult to follow the argument because of the strength of his prejudices, but if he will give me his attention for one moment I shall try to make it plain to him. He has raised the question of the 3s. Now there are two points involved there. The first question which arises is: Is the general scale to be 3s. or not? That is the general question on which the House of Commons ought to give its opinion. That is a question of legislation and the House must determine whether the figure of 3s. or 2s., or some other method of assessment, is to go into the regulations. But, when it comes to the assessment of a particular case, assuming that 3s. is in the regulations, the question arises whether the child in the circumstances of that particular household requires 3s. or a smaller sum. Those circumstances have to be evaluated in terms of the regulations, and I say that that ought to be done by an impartial person who is not subject to the pressure of the parent's vote.
§ Mr. BEVAN
May I point out to the hon. Member that it is that portion of the electorate which has the greatest power and the greatest knowledge of its own self-interest that gets its majority here to look after its interests, and all democratic representation is a tug-of-war, where coat-tail pulling goes on, either by the poor or by the Income Tax payer? That is the whole meaning of democracy.
§ Mr. REID
I shall pass from that if I may, and try to develop my argument. I submit to the Committee that the right way of dealing with this matter is to appoint an impartial person—I do not mind if you say a judicial person—who is not responsible to anybody. These people in the first instance are the officers of the board. I think hon. Members opposite are making a great mistake when they say that the board is responsible as far as individual cases are concerned. From first to last, the board does not deal with any individual case. An individual case cannot come before the board and all the bother that has been raised as to the board oppressing the individual is beside the point. The first person who deals with the individual case is an officer of the board. His salary is on the Votes. We are entitled to question in any way we choose. The board it is true are on the Consolidated Fund—why I do not understand—but that does not affect the individual case at all.
If the individual is dissatisfied with the boards officer, he goes to the appeal tribunal. It is true that the appeal tribunal has a certain say, perhaps too much, 83 before they allow an appeal to be taken, but the tribunal is not responsible to the board and it is not the creature of the board. The board's representative on the appeal tribunal is in a minority. The appeal tribunal consists of three. The chairman is directly appointed by the Minister—the Minister is responsible for who is appointed and in a general way for how the chairman behaves himself. Secondly there is a person appointed as the representative of the workers from a panel settled by the Minister. The board it is true select out of the panel, but they cannot put on anybody of their own volition. They have to take such representatives of the workers as the Minister puts on the panel. There is only one person out of three members of the tribunal directly appointed by the board. The chairman who has the important function of determining which appeals shall be allowed and which shall not, has nothing to do with the board at all. He is the appointee of the Minister; his salary is on the Votes and the board have no more to do with him than I have. To say that the board is in any measure responsible for meting out justice to the individual, shows a complete misapprehension of the case. I should have thought if anybody was going to be on the Consolidated Fund it would be the appeal tribunal because they are carrying out judicial functions but for obvious reasons that has not been done.
§ Mr. REID
In hearing appeals they are carrying out functions of a judicial character because they have to determine, first, whether the terms of the regulations have been observed and, secondly, whether there are special circumstances in the particular case before them. The first is a purely judicial function; the second, I agree, is quasi-administrative.
§ Mr. REID
No, it will not be, in the technical sense, a judicial body. It is not on the Consolidated Fund for one 84 thing. It will be, in the technical sense, administrative, but it is nevertheless, a body which is carrying out judicial functions, and it ought to be regarded from that point of view.
§ Mr. REID
I should have thought that the safeguard desired by the hon. Member would be to have the salary on the Votes and not on the Consolidated Fund. From his point of view I should think that was a safeguard, and it is one which he would not have in the case of the ordinary judiciary. Accordingly, the individual case is really at the mercy of the appeal tribunal. That is a body which is composed, so far as the majority are concerned, of nominees of the Minister. It is true that once the Minister has appointed them they have a certain security of tenure, but I do not think anyone would object to that. The Minister is responsible for whom he appoints, for the policy which he pursues in appointing members to this panel, and it seems to me that there is ample Parliamentary control over the detailed administration from day to day of these appeals. Therefore, I think that this Bill as framed, though I have suggested one or two points on which I think it might be framed slightly differently from the technical point of view, which would not make much difference in substance, retains complete control in the hands of this House both of the regulations and, though not quite so directly, of the individual case.
I know of no administration where the individual case receives any more complete control in fact from this House than the House can exercise under this Bill. It is the exception rather than the rule for an ex-service pension to be mentioned on the Floor of this House. The real control of the ex-service pension is not the right to put down a question on the Paper or the right to move a Motion on the Adjournment; the real control is on the Vote for the Minister's salary, and that is when the Debate, if there is to be a Debate, would naturally occur. You have a similar control here on the salary of the Minister of Labour, and when one looks at the substance behind this Bill—perhaps it does not appear so clearly on the surface—it seems to me that this House has the fullest 85 possible control, and I think the House should insist on that control and that it has got it.
§ 6.48 p.m.
§ Mr. COVE
The hon. Member who has just sat down, if he has succeeded in anything at all, has succeeded in displaying the fact that he does not understand this Bill, and further he has left the main principles and tried to divert the attention of the Committee, if I may say so with respect, to fiddling little points which even he himself did not understand. I do not propose to follow him, except incidentally, in the course of my remarks, but I want, first, to say a word or two about the Minister. I thought that to-night we had from him a more perfunctory reply than we have usually had. It was obvious from his speech that his heart was not in his job, and he gave the impression that he did not believe a great deal of what he said. Anyone who has studied the provisions of this Bill is bound to have been struck, in the first place, by the profound pessimism that is embodied in it.
We have in this Bill two main proposals. The first is that there shall be an insurance scheme, or what is called an insurance scheme, but what is, after all, a merely empirical insurance scheme. Secondly, we have, as a counterpart of that, Part II, in order to try to bolster up Part I. We have Part II because it is evident, from a study of the evidence given before the Royal Commission, that the Government themselves have come to the conclusion that the period of cycles in trade revivals has gone. Anyone who has read the evidence will realise that in the past they have said "Good years might pay for bad years. The fund might get in debt for a period of time, but we look forward to a revival of trade, and during that period of revival we shall be able to wipe off the debt that was incurred." The Governments of all kinds which incurred the £115,000,000 debt had more faith in the industrial revival and future of this country than the present Government have.
§ The CHAIRMAN
We have allowed a very wide discussion of Part II on this Clause, but I am afraid the hon. Member in his remarks is almost developing into a Second Reading speech dealing largely with Part I.
§ Mr. COVE
I understood that we were to have a very wide Debate, but I want to emphasise the point that Part II of the Bill has behind it the recognition by the Government that there is a vast mass of our people who will never be able to have sufficient employment to bring them on to the insurance side of the scheme. They have abandoned hope for them, and, therefore, we have a scheme of this kind devised. It is quite clear from the speeches that we have had to-day that hon. Members are prepared to allow the board that is being set up to administer this side of the scheme because they themselves would not like to do it. There is no doubt that this board is an escape for hon. Members from the duties and obligations that they ought to carry in this House. The whole structure of Part II depends on the principle and the administration of the needs test. One would have thought, by listening to some of the speeches that we have heard to-day, that under Part II it would be possible and practicable for applicants to get more in relief than under Part I. Does anyone really believe that? The hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. James Reid) shakes his head, but he is much too innocent. Does anyone really believe that under Part II of this Bill applicants will be able to get more than under Part I?
I seem to have divined a confusion in the minds of hon. Members as to what the needs test really is, and I have the impression that hon. Members have been thinking like this: Here is a certain person or family whose needs are so and so, and, therefore, under this Part of the Bill, the human needs of these people will be met, because this is a judicial body. That is not the principle, and that will not be the practice. The principle of need here is not the principle of human need, of how much it needs to feed and clothe people, but how much and in what manner the State can escape its obligation for the maintenance of these people. The needs test under Part II is an income test, a family income test, and the right hon. Gentleman in this Bill is in effect saying, "How much can the National Exchequer escape of its obligation to pay these people sufficient money in order to maintain them?" The whole scheme of Part II is devised to throw upon the household 87 —the lodgers, the children, the husband, the wife—the obligation which the State ought to bear.
The effect will be that millions of our people will be plunged in poverty and pessimism of the direst kind. Millions of our people will be depressed. Part II is designed to push millions of people as near the verge of destitution as possible. There is no conception or desire in Part II to meet the real human needs of these people. Its whole conception is to drive them as near as possible to the edge of destitution, without any redress. "A judicial body," said the hon. Member, "will consider their cases." This board has no semblance of being a judicial body. There is none of the apparatus of a judicial body about it. Where is the right of the unemployed man or woman to have representation before this board, to plead his or her case? There is no such right provided. The board is to be completely away from both the human needs of the individual and the pressure and control of public opinion, and of Parliament in particular.
This is the modern form of dictatorship devised by the right hon. Gentleman the Minister, or rather, perhaps more truly, devised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We are throwing millions of people down into the abyss of poverty and hopelessness, and there is no intention except to save money out of this machinery. We shall, therefore, walk into the Lobby against these proposals, because they are inhuman and anti-democratic, and because they are the modern form of dictatorship in this country. You are depriving these people of all access to local and Parliamentary influence, and you are throwing them back to brood and to feel hopeless. I do not know what other hon. Members may think, but a vast mass of people like this, without hope, without being able to feel that they can redress their grievances, without any human touch—because this board will not have any human touch, and every individual case will be merely a case with a number to it. It will be remote from the needs of these people, and it will be divorced from Parliamentary and public control. For all these reasons I shall walk into the Lobby very pleased indeed to vote against such a proposal.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. DINGLE FOOT
I would like to make one or two observations on the last two speeches that we have heard from the other side of the House. First, there was the speech of the hon. Member for Stirling (Mr. J. Reid), who succeeded in stating in his opening remarks one of my principal objections to the Bill. He said that we must wait and see if the standard of the unemployed is to be dragged down. I took down his words at the time. Speaking for myself, one of my principal reasons for voting against this Bill on the Second Reading was, that it was impossible to tell from its terms whether the standard of the people coming under Part II was to be dragged down or not.
§ Mr. J. REID
May I ask my hon. Friend whether he considers, with those who sit on this bench, that a complete scale ought to be embodied in this Bill?
§ Mr. FOOT
Yes; a scale has been embodied in legislation before, and if it is not being embodied in the Bill we ought to have some assurance of what this scale will be. Every hon. Member is entitled to apply to every Measure that comes forward the test of how it will affect his own constituents. Those who represent constituencies are absolutely unable to tell whether their people on transitional benefit are to be better off or worse off under the regulations in Part II of the Bill. The hon. Member then went on to say that regulations should be carried out by judicial bodies, but that they should be framed by legislative bodies. Here the process is being reversed. The regulations will not, in the first place, be framed by a legislative body, and, in any case, where is your judicial body? The officers of the Unemployment Assistance Board are certainly not to be judicial persons. The appeal tribunal is not a judicial body. We may take the analogy of the court of referees; there is no sort of a guarantee that it will behave in a judicial manner. The fact is that, just like the function of the officers who at present administer unemployment insurance, this is an administrative function carried out by administrative bodies.
The hon. Member said that the function of this House should not be to administer the law in particular cases. I quite agree, but I suggest to him that it is the function of this House constantly 89 to review the administration of the law. Our objection to this Bill is that it makes it very difficult for us to review the administration of the law under Part II. The Minister told us in his speech that this Measure would give greater control over unemployment relief than this House has ever had before. That is perfectly obvious, because up till now the House has had no control whatever over unemployment relief, that is to say, over transitional payments. I say that the Minister was simply evading the point which has been made by hon. Members in this House in many speeches, that he is taking the control away from one elected authority without properly vesting it in another elected authority. He said that there were to be regulations, affirmed by this House. Those will be of little value if we are not allowed to amend them. There are a very large number of Members of this House who would not be prepared to take the responsibility of voting for the rejection for the whole of the regulations, though they might perfectly well be prepared to vote for an amendment to those regulations.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there were three occasions upon which these matters might be raised; the Vote on the Minister's salary, the Vote on the salary of the officers, and the board's annual report. I want to put this to the Minister. Suppose, say, in the month of November some individual coming under Part II of the Bill has a grievance against a determination by one of the officers of the board, and that the board's annual report is not coming out till February or March. The Vote on the Minister's salary is not likely to come up until about then, and suppose that a question is put down by the individual's Member of Parliament dealing with his particular case, will that Member not be told that he must wait until one of these occasions, the Vote on the Minister's salary or the annual report of the board, before he can raise this case? In other words, it might be months before he could get any answer from any Minister speaking from that Front Bench. The analogy was given of the case of pensions. At any rate we can put down a question and get an answer from the responsible Minister as to why a pension has been withheld in a particular case. The Minister is simply evading the preferment of the charge against this Bill, 90 and he himself admitted that he had no control over the statutory authority. I consider that the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) was absolutely justified when he said that the Government were taking these matters out of adequate Parliamentary control. Our most valuable function in this House is not simply to review politics from time to time; and that is what will be done when the annual report of the board is produced. Our most valuable function is our raising of individual grievances.
May I remind the Committee of something that will be within the recollection of every hon. Member present—the case of Flying Officer Fitzpatrick? There you have an individual citizen who has been, or is alleged to have been, maltreated by the police. The work of this House was held up while the matter was raised by an hon. Member, and the Home Secretary had to come down, explain what had been done and promise that the matter should be looked into by his Department. The unemployed man will not be in the same position under Part II of this Bill. I referred to this matter because it shows the value that still remains in our Parliamentary institutions. When the case of Flying Officer Fitzpatrick was being discussed, people in Germany were being mutilated, murdered or crowded into concentration camps, and there was nobody able to raise a word of protest. In this country the whole work of the House of Commons was held up for something like two hours because one citizen had been maltreated. That seems to me to show something of the value of Parliament and how great a safeguard this House still provides over the rights and liberties of the individual citizen. It is because you are removing something of this safeguard under Part II; because, though we may be able to review policy from time to time and to review matters on two or three fixed occasions in the year, we shall not be able to get an answer on the grievances of individual citizens, that some of us are against this Bill.
§ 7.8 p.m.
§ Mr. HOROBIN
I wish to put one particular consideration to the Minister. I hope that, if I give it briefly, he will perhaps give it attention in inverse ration to the length of my speech. It arises naturally out of the extraordinarily interesting speech which the hon. Member 91 for Stirling (Mr. J. Reid) made a little time ago. I should not like to be thought in disagreement with the hon. Member, but he somewhat misled the Committee—and, far more important, his view of the matter might mislead the administration under Part II—by importing the word "judicial." There is no comparison in practice between the kind of decisions which will have to be taken by the officers of this board and judicial decisions. I sincerely hope that that conception of their duties will not be allowed to rise. Many hon. Members in the Committee and in the House—some for constitutional reasons, others because they are endeavouring to ensure larger payments to the unemployed, and some for various other reasons—seem to be pinning their faith to very elaborate and detailed regulations including facts and figures, and, if it is not too much to say so, to an automatic administration, at any rate to an almost automatic administration, by unskilled persons, just as, quite properly, payments are made under Part I at the present time. That opens up a terrible prospect. I am one of those who, like the right hon. Member for Tamworth (Sir A. Steel-Maitland), regrets Part II of this Bill in that it meekly abandons the very well-considered proposals of the Royal Commission. The Minister has made out a very good case, and there are obviously strong reasons for doing so. They could be answered, but it would be wasting the time of the Committee to do so now that the die is cast.
The right hon. Gentleman will, however, agree with me that, although he has set aside the recommendations of the Royal Commission; although he has set up this new machinery, there are lessons which we cannot afford to ignore written into the history of this country over some centuries. Whatever may be said of the other duties of the board, with regard to the payment of money, their duties are, in fact, a Poor Law problem. They are, in effect, out-relief for the able-bodied poor. All history shows that this is the Achilles' heel of the Poor Law. It may break down—or the shoe may pinch, if I may change my metaphor—through too harsh an administration. It may equally lead to most terrible results by a lax administration, which—this is the point that I particularly wish to put to the Minister—nearly always begins by a well-meaning 92 and humane desire to apply, quickly and fairly and automatically, a scale or a regulation which has been laid down, and by turning away, either for reasons of administrative convenience or for many other reasons, from the only possible real principle of the administration of public moneys on a non-contractual basis, that is, the individual case.
I beg of the Minister not to change his mind. This does not require an Amendment, but I confess that I have been anxious every time he has risen to his feet, from his Second Reading speech until now, and I still am anxious until we get safely through Part II, that he will commit himself further than he has done in the text of the Bill as to what these regulations are to contain and as to how far he will limit the powers of the board, and thus to increase the necessary and inevitable dangers of the task to which he has put himself by his general decision upon Part II. I beg of him not, in answer to anyone, to limit the discretion of his board, or to promise or commit himself to putting, in regulations which come before this House, anything more than is in effect the statutory duty which is already embodied in the terms of this Bill, the statutory duty which has been the duty of Poor Law authorities ever since Queen Elizabeth—to relieve need.
Do not let him go further than that. Let him put the best people whom he can find to administer the Act. If they cannot do it properly, no rules or regulations administered by rule of thumb all over the country by clerks at £2 a week will do it for him. That may be the correct way of administering contractual payments settled in a judicial spirit; that is Part I. It is a totally wrong analogy, I submit to the Committee and the Minister, to apply to Part II. He has been compelled, in short, to run the risk of assimilating this Measure to the most dangerous form of Poor Law that you can have—a centralised national Poor Law. He has done so for very good reasons, which he has explained very candidly. Let him at least bear in mind the lessons and experience which are, after all, primarily lessons which have been drilled into the Department which has handed this baby to him, the Ministry of Health. Do not fetter either his or his board's decision one inch further than he can help in answer to any of the appeals or claims, constitutional 93 or otherwise, of this Committee or this House to lay down cast-iron rules and regulations covering every conceivable detail and then trust to an automatic judicial or semi-judicial administration of them to get him or us out of trouble.
§ 7.14 p.m.
§ Miss RATHBONE
I am one of those who see both good and bad in Part II of the Bill. I see some good qualities and some serious dangers, and I should like in a few words to summarise what the good and the bad points seem to me to be. On the good side of Part II the first point is that it does away with the entirely indefensible differences of scale all over the country. Nobody can defend the system under which persons who are being relieved out of national funds are dealt with on different scales according to the whim or political colour of local bodies in different parts of the country. Secondly, it does set up for the unemployed or the people who are not in insurance a body which is not as distasteful to their public sentiment as the public assistance authorities. I have not much sympathy with the feeling that it is a degradation to go to the Poor Law. If I were unemployed and if I were a ratepayer, I should feel that it was as dignified to go to a local authority as to any other form of assistance, but it is no use ignoring the fact that large numbers of persons who are not getting ordinary benefit, or are not qualified for it, will not go to the Poor Law because of what is called its stigma. The Bill sets up a body to which they can go without feeling that they are incurring that stigma.
A third good point, to which I attach great importance and about which little has been heard in the Debate, is that we are to have a body set up to deal with persons who have fallen out of insurance, or who are not subject to insurance, about which there is no rule laid down that it cannot grant more than the rates of ordinary benefit. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Greenwood) assumed that the scales laid down under Part II would be lower than the ordinary benefit under Part I. I cannot see any justification for that in the terms of the Bill, or in anything that has been said by the Minister. It seems to me that we cannot tell until we know what the regulations are. Everything 94 depends on them, but it ought to be possible for a person who is getting benefit under Part I, when he has no other resources, and cannot maintain a decent standard of life under Part I, to be able to go to the Assistance Board and get his ordinary benefit supplemented, and a person who is not on ordinary benefit, if he has no other resources, ought to be able to obtain a scale of assistance from the board that is considerably in excess of the scales of ordinary benefit. Under transitional payments it was laid down that no one should get more than the amount of ordinary benefit. That has been got rid of now. This Clause has, therefore, three great advantages. It creates greater uniformity all over the country; it gets rid of the so-called stigma of the Poor Law; and it makes for greater elasticity which will, if the regulations are good, enable something to be established under Part II which is really like what the Labour party have always asked for, namely, a standard [...]f real maintenance based on the physiological needs of healthy citizens.
The weak point in the Clause seems to be the point made by other speakers, namely, that the measure of Parliamentary control is altogether too vague. The Minister has told us that we shall have several opportunities of exercising some control over the operations of the board. The regulations have to be laid before the House, and we shall be able to raise the question of the regulations on the salaries of the Minister and of the members of the Public Assistance Board. Am I right in assuming that all that we shall be able to do is to accept or reject the regulations in toto? We shall not, I gather, be able to amend them. I suggest to the Minister that he would to a large extent meet the reasonable criticisms that have been made if he would definitely concede the right to this House to amend the regulations.
Again, we are told that regulations are to be made, but the word "regulations" is in itself a vague and question-begging word. What sort of regulations are to be made? Most people have assumed that regulations will lay down certain scales, perhaps not rigid scales, but limits within which the amount of assistance given by the board will fall. We ought to be certain about that, because regulations that are in merely vague terms will not be of 95 very much use. I would like the Minister to give us an assurance that the regulations will be definite as to scales of assistance, subject to some limits under which the need will be assessed. If he can give us an assurance on this point and concede the right to the House to amend the regulations, he will very much relieve the minds of some of us who are doubtful whether we should welcome or reject this part of the Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I hardly think that I can allow a question of that sort to be answered on this particular Amendment.
§ 7.23 p.m.
It does not look as if we shall get to the Amendment which I have on the Paper. Will the Minister, therefore, assure us that one-quarter of the members of the committees set up by the board will be women? He has made out such a good case for these committees and has said that they will have to know household conditions and local needs that I am certain the Minister means that the board should contain women. There is a prejudice against women in some localities, and I am sure it would be the wish of the House if he will assure us that one-quarter of the committees will be women.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think that is a question which can be discussed now. It would be a more appropriate subject for the Schedules.
§ 7.24 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I would not have intervened but for the speech of the hon. Member for Stirling and Falkirk (Mr. J. Reid) and the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone). Both took the view that under this Bill the board would have the power to give increased allowances to the unemployed in addition to that which is allowed under Part I, and that the board were likely to use that power. The real objection to this proposal is that we do not know whether the board will increase or decrease the allowances. One of my basic objections to it is that we have no right to hand over a million human beings to a board with power to reduce the already
§ low scales. It is true, as the hon. Lady says, that the board can increase them, but they can also decrease them. The House has no right to hand over to four or five men and women, be they as good as good can be, the right of determining the lives of over a million of our fellow citizens. The point is not whether the board can increase or decrease; the power is given to them to fix any scale they like.
§ Miss RATHBONE
Would not that be met if it is in the power of the House to amend the regulations which establish the scales?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The power may be vested in them to fix the scales; but the point is that the scales are not even fixed under the regulations and they are subject to a great number of other circumstances which will make the regulations almost ineffective unless they are to be debated in the same way as a Bill is. Under transitional payments, which are more or less analogous to the payments under Part II of the Bill, the Minister took the precaution of saying to every Poor Law authority, "You shall not pay more than is allowed under Part I." He does not need to say that to this board because the board will not do it. He does not use the parish councils or the Poor Law authorities; he uses a board which will do what he wants them to do and which will more or less fix the scales according to Part I. Anything that is argued contrary is against the facts of the case. If the Minister wants to sweep away at least half the opposition to this Bill let him fix higher scales for Part II now. It is because there is no intention of paying higher scales that no scale is laid down in the Bill. This small body will fit into the work as the Minister wants them to fit in and as the design of the Bill shows that they are to be fitted in, and because it will lower the standard of scales I think the Clause ought to be rejected.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 69; Noes, 324.99
|Division No. 109.]||AYES.||[7.29 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Cove, William G.|
|Aske, Sir Robert William||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Cripps, Sir Stafford|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Buchanan, George||Curry, A. C.|
|Banfield, John William||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Dagger, George|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Janner, Barnett||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Jenkins, Sir William||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Dobble, William||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Price, Gabriel|
|Edwards, Charles||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Kirkwood, David||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Lawson, John James||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Leonard, William||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Logan, David Gilbert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Lunn, William||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||McEntee, Valentine L.||Thorne, William James|
|Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)||White, Henry Graham|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Mainwaring, William Henry||Williams, Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Wilmot, John|
|Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Wood, Sir Murdoch Mckenzie (Banff)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Maxton, James.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Harris, Sir Percy||Milner, Major James|
|Hicks, Ernest George||Owen, Major Goronwy||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Holdsworth, Herbert||Paling, Wilfred||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Cross, R. H.||Harbord, Arthur|
|Allen, Lt.-Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Crossley, A. C.||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Cruddas, Lieut-Colonel Bernard||Hartland, George A.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenn'gt'n)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Davison, Sir William Henry||Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Dickle, John P.||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Hepworth, Joseph|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Doran, Edward||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Drewe, Cedric||Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Hornby, Frank|
|Beaumont, Hn. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Duggan, Hubert John||Horobin, Ian M.|
|Belt, Sir Alfred L.||Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Horsbrugh, Florence|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Dunglass, Lord||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.|
|Blindell, James||Eales, John Frederick||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Borodale, Viscount.||Eastwood, John Francis||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)|
|Boulton, W. W.||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)|
|Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Iveagh, Countess of|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Elmley, Viscount||James, Wing-Com. A. W. H.|
|Bracken, Brendan||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato|
|Brass, Captain Sir William||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Everard, W. Lindsay||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Fermoy, Lord||Ker, J. Campbell|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Kerr, Hamilton W.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Knight, Holford|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Ford, Sir Patrick J.||Knox, Sir Alfred|
|Burnett, John George||Fraser, Captain Ian||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Butler, Richard Austen||Fremantle, Sir Francis||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George|
|Cadogan, Hon. Edward||Fuller, Captain A. G.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Ganzonl, Sir John||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Carver, Major William H.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Lees-Jones, John|
|Cassels, James Dale||Gledhill, Gilbert||Levy, Thomas|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Glossop, C. W. H.||Lewis, Oswald|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Liddall, Walter S.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Goff, Sir Park||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Goldie, Noel B.||Llewellin, Major John J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Lloyd, Geoffrey|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Gower, Sir Robert||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd, Gr'n)|
|Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Clarke, Frank||Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Loder, Captain J. de Vere|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Graves, Marjorie||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Lyons, Abraham Montagu|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Mabane, William|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Grimston, R. V.||MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick)|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Gritten, W. G. Howard||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||McCorquodale, M. S.|
|Cooke, Douglas||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Gunston, Captain D. W.||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)|
|Copeland, Ida||Guy, J. C. Morrison||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||McLean, Major Sir Alan|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Macpherson, Rt. Hon. Sir Ian||Renwick, Major Gustav A.||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Magnay, Thomas||Rickards, George William||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Maitland, Adam||Robinson, John Roland||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Ropner, Colonel L.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Ross, Ronald D.||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Marsden, Commander Arthur||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Martin, Thomas B.||Runge, Norah Cecil||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)||Templeton, William P.|
|Meller, Sir Richard James||Rutherford John (Edmonton)||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.)||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Salmon, Sir Isidore||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Salt, Edward W.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Mitcheson, G. G.||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Tree, Ronald|
|Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Moreing, Adrian C.||Savery, Samuel Servington||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Morgan, Robert H.||Scone, Lord||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Selley, Harry R.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Moss, Captain H. J.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Wallace, John (Dunfermilne)|
|Munro, Patrick||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Nal, Sir Joseph||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid||Skelton, Archibald Noel||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|O'Connor, Terence James||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Smith, Sir J. Walker (Barrow-in-F.)||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Pearson, William G.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Peat, Charles U.||Smithers, Waldron||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Percy, Lord Eustace||Somervell, Sir Donald||Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)|
|Perkins, Walter R. D.||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Petherick, M.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)|
|Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilst'n)||Soper, Richard||Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)|
|Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George|
|Procter, Major Henry Adam||Spens, William Patrick||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Pybus, Sir Percy John||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Withers, Sir John James|
|Ramsbotham, Herwald||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-||Stones, James||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Storey, Samuel|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Stourton, Hon. John J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Remer, John R.||Strauss, Edward A.||Sir George Penny and Mr. Womersley.|
§ It being after Half-past Seven of the Clock, The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of 19th December, successively to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment moved by the Government of which notice had been given, and the Question necessary to dispose of the business to be concluded at Half-past Seven of the Clock at this day's sitting.100
§ Amendment made: In page 29, line 25, after "committees," insert "throughout Great Britain to act."—[Sir H. Betterton.]
§ Question put, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 324; Noes, 68.101
|Cooper, A. Duff||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Rathbone, Eleanor|
|Copeland, Ida||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)|
|Craddock, Sir Reginald Henry||Hunter, Dr. Joseph (Dumfries)||Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham-|
|Craven-Ellis, William||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Iveagh, Countess of||Reid, William Allan (Derby)|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||James, Wing.-Com. A. W. H.||Remer, John R.|
|Cross, R. H.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Renwick, Major Gustav A.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Rickards, George William|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Johnston, J. W. (Clackmannan)||Robinson, John Roland|
|Culverwell, Cyril Tom||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Davies, Edward C. (Montgomery)||Jones, Lewis (Swansea, West)||Rosbotham, Sir Thomas|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Ker, J. Campbell||Ross, Ronald D.|
|Davison, Sir William Henry||Kerr, Hamilton W.||Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)|
|Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Runge, Norah Cecil|
|Dickle, John P.||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Dixey, Arthur C. N.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George||Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)|
|Dixon, Rt. Hon. Herbert||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul||Rutherford, John (Edmonton)|
|Doran, Edward||Law, Sir Alfred||Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)|
|Dower, Captain A. V. G.||Law, Richard K. (Hull, S. W.)||Salmon, Sir Isidore|
|Drewe, Cedric||Leech, Dr. J. W.||Salt, Edward W.|
|Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Lees-Jones, John||Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)|
|Duggan, Hubert John||Levy, Thomas||Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart|
|Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.)||Lewis, Oswald||Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Liddall, Walter S.||Savery, Samuel Servington|
|Eales, John Frederick||Lindsay, Noel Ker||Scone, Lord|
|Eastwood, John Francis||Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest||Selley, Harry R.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Llewellin, Major John J.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.|
|Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Lloyd, Geoffrey||Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)|
|Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G. (Wd, Gr'n)||Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)|
|Elmley, Viscount||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)||Shepperson, Sir Ernest W.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Loder, Captain J. de Vere||Simmonds, Oliver Edwin|
|Entwistle, Cyril Fullard||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.||Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's Unv., Belfast)|
|Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Lyons, Abraham Montagu||Skelton, Archibald Noel|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Mabane, William||Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D.|
|Fermoy, Lord||MacAndrew, Lt. Col C. G. (Partick)||Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr)||Smith, Sir J. Walker- (Barrow-in-F.)|
|Fleming, Edward Lascelles||McCorquodale, M. S.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Ford, Sir Patrick J.||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Smithers, Waldron|
|Fraser, Captain Ian||MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw)||Somervell, Sir Donald|
|Fremantle, Sir Francis||McKie, John Hamilton||Somerville, Annesley A (Windsor)|
|Fuller, Captain A. G.||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||McLean, Major Sir Alan||Soper, Richard|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.|
|Gillett, Sir George Masterman||Macmillan, Maurice Harold||Southby, Commander Archibald R. J.|
|Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Magnay, Thomas||Spens, William Patrick|
|Gledhill, Gilbert||Maitland, Adam||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fylde)|
|Glossop, C. W. H.||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)|
|Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Manningham-Buller, Lt.-Col. Sir M.||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)|
|Goff, Sir Park||Marsden, Commander Arthur||Stones, James|
|Goldie, Noel B.||Martin, Thomas B.||Storey, Samuel|
|Goodman, Colonel Albert W.||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)||Stourton, Hon. John J.|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John||Strauss, Edward A.|
|Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N.)||Meller, Sir Richard James||Strickland, Captain W. F.|
|Grattan-Doyle, Sir Nicholas||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Graves, Marjorie||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-|
|Greaves-Lord, Sir Walter||Mitcheson, G. G.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir Murray F.|
|Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart|
|Grimston, R. V.||Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres||Summersby, Charles H.|
|Gritten, W. G. Howard||Moreing, Adrian C.||Sutcliffe, Harold|
|Guest, Capt. Rt. Hon. F. E.||Morgan, Robert H.||Tate, Mavis Constance|
|Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Taylor, Vice-Admiral E. A. (P'dd'gt'n, S.)|
|Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moss, Captain H. J.||Templeton, William P.|
|Guy, J. C. Morrison||Munro, Patrick||Thomas, James P. L. (Hereford)|
|Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Nall, Sir Joseph||Thompson, Sir Luke|
|Hall, Capt. W. D'Arcy (Brecon)||Nall-Cain, Hon. Ronald||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles|
|Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford)||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Nicholson, Rt. Hn. W. G. (Petersf'ld)||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Harbord, Arthur||Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid||Tree, Ronald|
|Hartington, Marquess of||O'Connor, Terence James||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Hartland, George A.||O'Donovan, Dr. William James||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Pearson, William G.||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Peat, Charles U.||Wallace, John (Dunfermilne)|
|Haslam, Sir John (Bolton)||Penny, Sir George||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Percy, Lord Eustace||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Perkins, Walter R. D.||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Hepworth, Joseph||Petherick, M.||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir John S.|
|Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Bilston)||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Hope, Sydney (Chester, Stalybridge)||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Hornby, Frank||Procter, Major Henry Adam||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour-|
|Horobin, Ian M.||Pybus, Sir Percy John||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Horsbrugh, Florence||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Ramsbotham, Herwale||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Williams, Herbert G. (Croydon, S.)||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Worthington, Dr. John V.|
|Willoughby de Eresby, Lord||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir Arnold (Hertf'd)||Wise, Alfred R.|
|Wilson, Clyde T. (West Toxteth)||Withers, Sir John James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount||Mr. Womersley and Lord Erskine.|
|Division No. 110.]||AYES.||[7.41 p.m.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Blindell, James||Caporn, Arthur Cecil|
|Agnew, Lieut. Com. P. G.||Borodale, Viscount||Carver, Major William H.|
|Albery, Irving James||Boulton, W. W.||Cassels, James Dale|
|Allen, Lt. Col. J. Sandeman (B'k'nh'd)||Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Cautley, Sir Henry S.|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Cayzer, Sir Charles (Chester, City)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Bracken, Brendan||Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)|
|Balley, Eric Alfred George||Brass, Captain Sir William||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)|
|Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M.||Broadbent, Colonel John||Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Chorlton, Alan Ernest Leofric|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Clarke, Frank|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Clarry, Reginald George|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Cobb, Sir Cyril|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.|
|Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell||Burnett, John George||Colfox, Major William Philip|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Butler, Richard Austen||Conant, R. J. E.|
|Beit, Sir Alfred L.||Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Cook, Thomas A.|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Cooke, Douglas|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Maxton, James|
|Asks, Sir Robert William||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro', W.)||Milner, Major James|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Giffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Owen, Major Goronwy|
|Banfield, John William||Grundy, Thomas W.||Paling, Wilfred|
|Batey, Joseph||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd)||Pickering, Ernest H.|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield)||Harris, Sir Percy||Price, Gabriel|
|Buchanan, George||Hicks, Ernest George||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Holdsworth, Herbert||Roberts, Aled (Wrexham)|
|Cove, William G.||Janner, Barnett||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jenkins, Sir William||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Curry, A. C.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)|
|Dagger, George||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Tom (Normanton)|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Kirkwood, David||Thorne, William James|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Lawson, John James||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Dobbie, William||Leonard, William||White, Henry Graham|
|Edwards, Charles||Logan, David Gilbert||Williams Dr. John H. (Llanelly)|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Lunn, William||Wilmot, John|
|Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univ.)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||McEntee, Valentine L.||Young, Ernest J. (Middlesbrough, E.)|
|Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)|
|George, Megan A. Lloyd (Anglesea)||Mainwaring, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mallalieu, Edward Lancelot||Mr. John and Mr. Groves.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mander, Geoffrey le M.|