HC Deb 05 July 1934 vol 291 cc2149-84

7.56 p.m.


I beg to move to leave out the Clause.

The Amendment is not a minor one, but one which joins issue with the general intentions and purposes of the Government in the introduction of the Measure. I do not want to repeat here what took place on the Debate which was carried through on an extended scale in Committee, but we who sit here do not wish the Measure to pass without registering our opposition to the proposals in this Clause. They are proposals for the setting up of training centres for persons who are the recipients of Poor Law relief, the establishment of work centres, and the application of test work for those who go before the public authority for assistance of one kind and another. We think that the whole attitude is completely wrong. It arises out of what is to a large extent a fad of the moment and a complete misconception of the people who are to be affected by the Measure when it becomes law. The assumption is that you are to deal with a collection of down-and-outers, and that in addition to relieving their necessities you have a responsibility for what has been called—it is a most objectionable word but it has been used very frequently—reconditioning. The right hon. Lady who was Minister of Labour in the late Labour Administration was perhaps the first to use the phrase in a debate in this House—the reconditioning of human beings. There is something wrong about the phrase. It is taken from shipbuilding phraseology. It has something to do with a ship, and we are applying it to human beings.

You will not be dealing with down-and-outers under this Measure in the ordinary sense of the word, persons who have fallen below moral par as it exists in the community as a whole. You are not going to deal primarily with persons who belong to the manual working-class, if I understand the future course of events in this country. Part II of the Insurance Act is to cover the major portion of manual workers who fall upon evil days if it operates as it is understood and expected to do. The majority of the persons who fall on evil days are to be met not by the Poor Law but by Part II of the Unemployment Insurance Act. It is not proposed to apply tests to those who come under the ordinary Poor Law, the sick poor and the aged poor. It is not proposed to send them to training centres to be taught domestic economy, which is so dear to the heart of the junior Member for Dundee (Miss Horsbrugh). She is not going to suggest that old grandmothers of over 70 years who have to end their days under the Poor Law should be taught cookery by some junior girl coming out of a domestic training centre.

Obviously, we are not thinking of training either the sick poor or the aged poor. We are thinking, in so far as we apply these provisions, of that section of the community who are not sick or aged. We are thinking of those who have been something other than members of the manual working classes, but who have fallen on evil days. We have them in my own community, in my own constituency, men in the fifties or sixties who have occupied superior positions, managerial positions, perhaps professional positions, or who have struggled on with small businesses. They get to that state of life where they are just beyond the point of setting out bodly on a new career. Indeed, they are not wanted in any new career. Their business, their ordinary economic and social developments are brought to ruin, they have no resources, because a large proportion of that type, particularly the small business man type, hang on while their resources diminish and disappear. Such a man sees his resources diminishing, but he is always hoping that things will take a turn for the better. Finally, he finds himself in desperate straits and goes to the Poor Law.

This Government, who know of this very widespread social phenomenon which is crushing the small man out of existence, come forward and say to that man of 50, 55, 60 or 65 years of age, who has spent a perfectly decent upright life, who has struggled hard to maintain himself in per- forming useful functions and has fallen on evil days, through no fault of his own: "Before we can give you anything you must agree to go to a training centre." I do not forget the Amendment which is proposed to be inserted, which will not make it compulsory to go into a training centre. Under that Amendment you would not compel a man and his wife to go to a training centre before you give them relief, but you would still give the tremendous power of moral pressure on that man by the local authority. Although it is not absolutely compulsory, they could still say: "We have a fine institution up the road where we are carrying on a number of training classes. You have been an engineer, or you have been running a grocery business, and we have some nice classes to teach you the elements of cabinet making, or hair dressing, and we think you ought to go there, and take up your time usefully."

Take up his time usefully in putting permanent waves into hair or in mending broken chairs. That is the conception, the whole idea of training, to turn a good engineer into a bad cabinet maker, or to turn a first-class shopkeeper into a bad barber. In regard to the ordinary man of whom we are thinking, a manual worker, a business man, or a professional man who has fallen on evil days, we hold the view very strongly that you should give him a reasonable income out of public resources and that he is quite capable of occupying his leisure time intelligently, usefully, sensibly and happily without even the Under-Secretary or myself telling him that he needs some more classes before he can become an intelligent citizen. He does not need classes; he needs an income, and it is our duty to see that he gets that income, with as few conditions attached to it as we can reasonably attach.

When the Amendment that will come subsequently is accepted, a training course will not be a condition of the receipt of benefit, but test work can be quite easily, under this Clause, made a condition of the receipt of benefit. I can think of a man and his wife who have had a good social standing in the community, who are absolutely up against it and have no resources but the Poor Law. It is impossible for the man to get a footing in any remunerative employment. He is as intelligent a man as I am, and I consider that that is a reasonable testimonial. Indeed, he is a better citizen than I am. He has no idea of overturning the social economy as it exists to-day. He is just a decent law-abiding citizen, a good father, a good husband and a good neighbour, a good housekeeper and an eminently respectable man, with intelligent hobbies, and this Clause that is proposed to be inserted in the Bill, says that there is nothing better to offer the man than the job of breaking up sticks. Is not that a shocking suggestion. We are not talking about imbeciles or moral degenerates. We are not talking about poor unfortunate members of the down-trodden submerged tenth, but respectable citizens who have fallen on evil days, and to-day the National Government say that breaking sticks or breaking stones is a suitable job for them. There are any number of people who are ready to break stones and chop firewood as an ordinary bit of labour, but they cannot get a job, although they are physically fit men. They are ready to break stones or chop firewood as a commercial proposition, but they cannot get employment, and yet it is suggested that before the old people to whom I have referred can get benefit, such test work should be applied.


Where does the hon. Member get the phrase "test work"? It was clearly stated by me in the Committee that the various provisions have been most carefully considered and the hon. Member must know that, first of all, the work is to be done under regulations which have to be laid upon the Table of this House. I should have thought that the hon. Member could find interesting observations to make on this Clause without describing it as test work.


Let me read a quotation from the Clause: Subject to any regulations which may be made by the Department. I admit that, but I want the Under-Secretary to recognise that regulations made by a Department in England or a Ministry in England, permit stone breaking and wood chopping, and the argument of the Under-Secretary earlier to-day has been that we must bring our Scottish legislation into as close harmony with English legislation as possible.


This matter was very fully discussed in Committee, but the hon. Member was not present.


The Under-Secretary knows that my failure to attend the Committee was not due to neglect of my Parliamentary duties, but to the fact that I was very heavily engaged in another Committee upstairs. I was, however, adequately represented in the Scottish Standing Committee, and I think I can speak with the complete support of my colleagues who were there. The Under-Secretary is "touchy" about the use of the words "test work." It is not the word that I am up against but it is the fact. The Clause says: Subject to any regulations which may he made by the Department, any able-bodied person applying for or in receipt of outdoor relief may, as a condition of receiving or continuing to receive such relief, be required by the local authority to perform work at a work centre.


Read on. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member, but a very important provision has been omitted in his reading, namely, the words: … if the authority consider it expedient so to require in the particular case.


That is not the point. That is removing responsibility from our shoulders on to the shoulders of the local authority. We are here as a Parliament expressing our view that a well-disposed right-minded local authority will make such arrangements in particular cases. We assume that it will not be an isolated individual but that there will be considerable numbers involved in this matter. The Clause provides for extensive expenditure in various directions. It is the old treadmill mind. We are to let people understand that they are getting something that they ought to feel glad to get, that they ought to be very lucky to be allowed to live at all, and that they should regard the thing in a proper spirit and perform the most un-genial and silly tasks that it is in the capacity of persons placed in authority over them to discover. It is most diabolical. I have sat in a cell making up old door mats hour after hour, and every 24 hours the warder walks in to weigh up and to make sure that you have done the proper minimum job. It is preposterous to do things which can be done by machinery in a tenth of the time, but because they are dull, irksome, uninteresting and futile, they make the stronger appeal to those with the type of mind who want to make their fellow human beings feel the humiliation of the situation. It is all wrong. The type of person of whom I am thinking, give him a reasonable income, let him work a little patch of garden, do odd jobs about the house, look after his grandchildren, if he is lucky let him play a game of golf on the local golf course or a game of bowls on the bowling green, far more intelligent things than chopping firewood or breaking stones, far nearer, if I may use the term without being misunderstood, to the eternal verities, far nearer to the truest humanities, than the sort of rubbish which is proposed here.

On the Second Reading of the Bill I described this sort of thing as Bumbledom. I said that many of us believed that Dickens and Charles Kingsley had killed this sort of thing for ever, but the mind is here yet to do the same kind of thing. It is all wrong, it is last century, pre-Victorian in relation to modern culture and ideas of progress, and while we admit that in many respects the Clause has been modified since the Bill received a Second Reading, and is to be further modified, we think the House will be doing the true, the courageous and the humane thing, if it does not give to local authorities direction and guidance along these lines. Let us cut them out altogether and tell local authorities that their job is not to start as educational experts, we have an educational service to do that, that we do not want special education for the very poor, we have a complete educational service for them if they want it; that if they want education and music let them go to a musical college, if they want education in literature let them go to a university, but do not start to develop a very cheap, nasty brand of so-called education and training for the very poor people.

Let us also tell them, when they are thinking in terms of finding work, to remember that this nation has tried, using the best brains it can command, for 12 years to find work for 2,000,000 people and has steadily and regularly failed, and that it is no use trying inside an institution to do a thing which cannot be done generally for the nation outside, because you will not find intelligent jobs inside an institution any more than you will find intelligent jobs outside. I should tell local authorities to put that sort of thing aside; that their job is to deal with the poor people in their community in the most generous way their resources will permit, and then trust the people, having got an income from public sources, to lead intelligent, decent lives, just as we expect to lead intelligent and decent lives when we have our income. Most of us do it. We try to live intelligently, humanely, happily and socially, and we are not essentially different from the people within the scope of this Measure. I ask the House to reject the Clause altogether as adding nothing to the general social structure but imposing on a large proportion of deserving individuals an irksome and disagreeable humiliation which nobody has any right to impose on their fellows.

8.21 p.m.


I beg to second the Amendment. I have no special complaint against the Under-Secretary of State who is presenting a Measure which we have to take as the Government's policy. It has been said that we are trying to bring it into harmony with the provisions of the Unemployment Act as applied to other sections of the able-bodied poor. I was rather at a loss to understand the objection of the Under-Secretary to the word "test," because it has always been applied to this work by Conservatives when it was allowed by a Labour Government and by a Labour Minister of Health. If it is test work under a Labour Government then it is test work under a National Government. A change of government does not affect in the slightest degree the tasks which are allotted to these people. I have tried to find out what is in the mind of the Under-Secretary when he talks about training and tasks which are to be allotted to people under this Clause. I think the Government have been very loose in their management of this Bill in not being able to give either the Committee or the House a definition of what is meant by the type of work which local authorities will have the power to impose.

The Under-Secretary at one stage said that they may be put to farm work. Will any hon. Member tell me that if local authorities buy land and put men to plough and sow and reap, and give them in return for that labour a certain amount of money in relief, it is not test work? I say that it is test work of a hard labour nature, similar to that which prisoners in Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow have to perform. It is just as much hard labour as that given to the ordinary prisoner who has to go out into the fields, there to be placed under overseers, with a driving force, with, if you like, guards inside or outside the institution. It is similar to the work given to prisoners who have committed some great criminal act. I cannot differentiate at all. I could understand the proposal if it was intended to give local authorities power to demand a certain amount of labour in return for the relief of certain types of individuals whom the authorities might designate as the criminal section of society, or the type of individuals who draw relief, walk away with it, and neglect their wives and families. I could understand that. But the local authorities have power to deal with such types already. They can send them to the local workhouse, as they do, and can there compel them to chop wood, to work in the fields in and around the grounds, and in a limited sense compel them to plough the fields in return for maintenance inside the institution. But we may take it that here the Government are not seeking for power to deal with the criminal type, or with the bad father who spends his relief on himself when it should go to his wife and family.

This proposal is not to apply only to a few; power is to be given to the local authorities to apply the system to every individual. The Under-Secretary said that there are certain safeguards. Yes there is a safeguard which places on the local authority the responsibility of being satisfied, upon medical evidence, that an individual who is allotted a task is physically fit to carry out the task. The Under-Secretary, when the Bill was before the Standing Committee, seemed to be at a complete dead-end. He has capacity and ability to present a case for training when he has such a case to present. Even if he has such a case tonight, he had not got it when the Bill was in Committee. Ministers are often satisfied to have in this House overwhelming support that will enable them to drive through a Measure, but even a limited opposition has the right to ask on this occasion what is meant by these training schemes. I know the type of mind to be found on the local authorities. You can hear the remark, "Look at them, unemployed men and women, going to the pictures in the afternoons, having 2d. or 3d. worth of films." They think it is outrageous that men and women should spend their time in that way or that the young men should be playing at football.

In public life women are worse than men when they get power. They come along and say, "If this is allowed to extend, drawing money without giving something in return, after a time they will think they have as good a right as we have to live the lives of gentlemen and ladies of leisure, and they will want a greater income to cater for their needs. There is no saying what will happen. We must drive them back to the old idea that before they can draw a single penny of benefit they must render some service." We are all in favour of rendering service, but the duty of the Government is to provide reasonable employment at trade union rates of wages for every individual in the country, and, failing that, to make provision whereby family life can be maintained. Many a man who to-day is in a fine position is there only because of the failure of other human beings, and many a man who is brilliant is down in the gutter, while a third is thanking God for his ability when it has been the inability and failings of his neighbour to which he owes his position.

The Government should give us a clear definition of what they intend in this matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) talked about the treadmill. If it is not the treadmill, what is it? Whatever we say it is, we are told it is not that. But what is it? Is it proposed to build ships? What are the Government going to do? The Under-Secretary mentioned farming. Let him tell us whether or not he means farming. Is the idea to send people into the workhouse? In Glasgow we had men who were denied relief and were sent into the workhouse. There they chopped wood. In some cases they actually went out on lorries wearing their moleskins and workhouse shirts and jackets, so that everyone knew them. They went down as far as Helensburgh competing with ordinary commercial firms in the sale of firewood. There were men who went into the back courts calling up to the windows trying to sell their firewood. Is that the kind of degrading job that the Government will tell the local authorities to give to poor persons?

In this Clause the Government have started with the wrong attitude of mind. I remember a Member of this House saying once during the War, "It is far better having the working classes watching Charlie Chaplin at the pictures than listening to anti-War speeches at the street corner." The Government now think it is a bad thing to have men going to the pictures or the bowling green or the golf course. I see some of these men going around their allotments watching the development of their plants and vegetables, cutting the grass or trimming the hedges of their gardens. Apparently we expect these men, instead of attending to their personal wants, and the necessities of their families and the brightening of their homes, to engage in some form of hard labour either in the fields or in the institutions under this Clause.

The Under-Secretary has met us in a fairly reasonable way on this Bill, but there are still objectionable features in it, and the proposal about test work is about the most objectionable. The Government have been prepared to grant concessions on many points, and, while they have given certain modifications and safeguards in connection with test work, the power will still be in the hands of local authorities to apply that system to the poor. There are authorities who will not take advantage of it but there are others of the anti-progressive type who will deem it their duty to extract the last ounce of energy from the poor people who come before them in return for very meagre sums of money. Those authorities will have this power, and they will exercise it to the full. In areas like Glasgow where the force of public opinion is strong and where we are likely to get a more progressive type of local government, the driving force of the united working-class movement will prevent any undue licence being exercised under this Clause. But in other areas and especially in the north there are local authorities with minds which properly belong to the Dark Ages, and for whom, even the powers contained in this Clause, will not be extreme enough. Those are the authorities to whom I am afraid of entrusting this power and that is why I support the proposal that this Clause should be cut out of the Bill because its provisions would put back the working class of this country for a generation.

8.37 p.m.


I suppose there are members of public bodies of the reactionary type mentioned by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern) who would look upon all poor people as having themselves to blame for their condition and who would insist upon exercising the most severe control over them. But I submit that it is unfair for hon. Members opposite to take that kind of person as typical or to take the old Scottish couple mentioned by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) as being typical of the sort of person who is going to be the subject of these proposals. The hon. Member went back to the time of Dickens. He ought to have gone back to Lewis Caroll for he has given us a version not of "Alice in Wonderland," but of "Maxton in Wonderland." He was building up a case which experience shows to be unreal. He takes one side of the picture, one aspect of the conditions, builds up a case upon that and claims that it is a typical case. He spoke of an admirable Scottish couple. But in his anxiety for those people the hon. Member has been forestalled by those who have drafted this Measure because it expressly provides that people like them will not be asked to do this kind of work. The Clause says: Provided that such work shall be suited to the person's age, sex, strength and aptitude. Unless we are to assume that the local authorities are collections of nincompoops, I cannot imagine any local authority asking such a couple as the hon. Member has described to do this kind of work.


I was talking about the things that they are doing now.


But the hon. Member must talk about the things that they will have to do under this Bill. That is what we are discussing.


But this Bill is extending to the able-bodied poor the treatment that is presently handed out in the poor-houses of Scotland to the other poor. It is not imaginary. It is there.


I am not saying that the hon. Member has been imagining it, but I ask him to look at what is in the Bill. When these tasks, if you like to call them so, are extended it is provided that they are not to be extended to those persons who are too old or too weak or who have not the aptitude for them—precisely the sort of people mentioned by him. I hope I can understand the meaning of a Clause as well as my hon. Friends and that is my reading of it. There may be another reading, and the hon. Member is entitled to read what he likes into it, but he is not entitled to assume that everybody takes the same view as he does. The hon. Member for Shettleston made some remarks about agricultural work, and I think he suggested that these poor people were to be compelled to plough and harrow and reap. He surely does not suggest that the Minister said so.


Yes, in Committee he said it.


Work on farms was mentioned.


With great deference, I do not think the hon. Gentleman mentioned either ploughing or harrowing or reaping. Hon. Members speak as though anybody could be turned into an agricultural worker at short notice. I would point out that this is highly skilled work, and I cannot imagine that it has ever been suggested by the Government that specialised work of that kind should be done by these people. That is another example of the manner in which hon. Members opposite construct a case on conditions which do not exist. The hon. Member also spoke about work centres surrounded by guards. I almost expected him to add rifles and guns. I do not know whether he has been reading the accounts in the popular Press of what has been happening in Germany but I suggest that his picture is a fantastic one. I beg of hon. Members opposite to realise that there is another side to the picture. There are, unfortunately, a few people in all classes of society who may be described as "scallywags." This Bill is intended to deal with that kind of person and I submit that that kind of person must be treated differently from the admirable people described by the hon. Member for Bridgeton. To say either that such persons do not exist or that, if they do exist, you must treat them in the same way as other people, is to talk nonsense. Therefore, while looking at the Amendment with as much sympathy as my hon. Friend and with as much desire to do what is just, I contend that this Clause is needed and desirable and indeed may well be beneficent for these very poor people.

8.45 p.m.


I wish to associate myself with the effort that is now being made to delete this Clause, and I find myself in a quandary at the attitude adopted by the Government in their declared desire to see a duplication of training machinery. I have paid some attention to speeches from the Government and other benches as to the desire to plan out the national economy, and I think they should endeavour to make their machinery to meet the needs of industry national in its character, but I understand that it will give the right to local authorities to indulge in expenditure in the erection of machinery or institutions to direct training to those who come in contact with the Poor Law organisation. I suggest that these institutions will not be competent authorities to give guidance as to what type of training should be given. I was hopeful that the pressure as to some satisfaction with regard to the type of training to be given would have come out in Committee, but I am not very hopeful now, because I remember pressure being put upon the Minister of Labour in association with the Bill that he was piloting through this House to deal with the same point, and notwithstanding all the machinery at his disposal and the intimacy of all the managers of exchanges throughout the length and breadth of the country, the only specific thing that he could mention as displaying an opening for newly trained men was the erection of neon signs. I do not know what will take place after the country is covered with these neon signs advertising goods that, apparently, nobody could buy.

With regard to the training that will be applied in those institutions, might I very sincerely say, with the knowledge of men who have had to receive training in organisations similar, I suppose, to what is visualised here, that when those people go into the workshops they are entirely at a loss to understand workshop technique. As a matter of fact, they are at a loss because the kind of training they have received has not been such as to fit them for the conditions of their work. Reference has been made to the possibility of pressure being brought to bear There may be means of pressure that might be exerted not very consciously upon applicants to go to these training centres. Once you create an institution, you create a vested interest that will keep going as long as it can, and I can see the possibility of that feature displaying itself in this organisation that is visualised here. As I said in Committee upstairs, I have never expressed myself as against the opportunity for training being given to young people, but not only is this giving persons an opportunity to receive training to fit them for their employment, but it is also giving an opportunity to make them able to return to employment, and, as I said upstairs, that widens out the age field. Therefore, I think we are entitled to ask that this Clause, in so far as they are concerned, should be departed from.

I very much regret the attitude of compulsion that has been displayed in some of the speeches that I have heard, not in this House perhaps, but elsewhere. I admit that the attitude of compulsion might have been understandable when the field of employment was an open field within which persons desirous of earning a living could have a reasonable chance of securing employment, but the position is entirely changed, as that field is practically closed to thousands upon thousands of men in this country, and the compulsory side of this question gives it an entirely different aspect and makes it much more important, because of the restriction that would ultimately bear upon many decent men of the type that will come in contact with the Poor Law authorities. I have had experiences in Glasgow of men who have occupied positions deemed to be a little above that of the ordinary individual working at manual labour, who have come to me from time to time, as a representative on the City Council, asking for help. Many of them may in the future be subject to pressure to display their bona fides as men desirous of working for their livelihood. It might be said, and I would not deny it, that among the officials who will determine those cases there may be a great number willing to take the most lenient and humane view, but mistakes will be made, and for all that will be saved I think we had better not run the risk of having mistakes at all.

If you are going to do a thing like this and you desire to be fair, you have got to have machinery adequate for what you think the problem will be. I do not think the problem is a great one. I am not prepared to think that there are many malingerers among that section of the community that will ultimately appeal to the Poor Law authorities, but I remember that the Under-Secretary talked about local authorities possibly requiring a third string to their bow. I do not think any further strings need be added to the Scottish Poor Law authorities' bow, but your machinery must be adequate to deal with the persons who come forward, and if, as the Under-Secretary fears, there is a considerable number of local authorities needing a third string to their bow, you will be creating a machine which, once created, will require men to be sent there in order to prove their willingness to work. The officials who are working that machine will continue to make demands upon the Poor Law authorities to send them raw material that will keep them functioning. I look upon that as a very important point. There is no doubt that, humanity and all such things apart, once you have created a machine for the purpose of imposing a task, that becomes an integral part of the Poor Law machine of that locality. The authorities will move heaven and earth to keep it going. There will be a tendency to have at least another look round to see if there is somebody they can send into the machine so that it will work to capacity.

I regret, as the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) did, that I had to attend another Committee when this Bill was being considered, and I note that there has been an Amendment laying it down that the task which these men will be expected to perform will be in connection with any institution carried on by the local authority, provided that such work shall be suited to the person's capacity, and so on. I agree that makes the provision a little better, but I would prefer to have any work necessary to meet the requirements of an institution done in the normal way through the ordinary avenues of labour. There is no difficulty in getting the ordinary institutional requirements attended to without compulsion. Most of the people who go into the institution want something to do, and they ought to be able to do the little tasks that are necessary. That is all that should be expected. There has been some doubt as to the type of task or work that may be given.

The Under-Secretary made reference in Committee to the re-conditioning of land as perhaps one of the activities that might provide opportunities to give men work. I want to ask him if he considers that work associated with the re-conditioning of land will be work suitable for the type of man who will be left to the Poor Law authorities to deal with. Men who have occupied the high positions in industry and commerce have come to me and other members of the Glasgow Corporation for help. They have been left high and dry and are more pitiable even than the ordinary worker who depends on his hands. I cannot see that that type of man will be suitable to go on any work associated with the reconditioning of land. The type we have to deal with, now that the other big machine on the unemployment side has taken so many of the ordinary workers, will not be so adaptable as those who were previously associated with relief work. I would like to have some guidance from the Minister as to how he will deal with this class of men if he thinks they are of a malingering type.

I am pleased the hon. Gentleman got angry at the introduction of the word "task." It is a good thing that we should be angry at things like that. The hon. Gentleman must remember that, notwithstanding all his impressions in the matter, these things have to be administered, and it is in the administration that all the change takes place. No matter how humane you may make it in this Bill, once the administrators have to get the thing running it will be just as much a "task" to them as if any other word were associated with it. Therefore, I suggest that the conditions of the task and the type of man are important points about which the hon. Gentleman should give us some satisfac- tion. He has promised that the regulations will, be submitted to the Scottish Members. That is asking us to wait too long. The time allotted to the consideration of these things is not always adequate, and I hope that before disposing of this Clause we shall receive one or two points of guidance from the hon. Gentlemen

9.0 p.m.


I hope the Under-Secretary will accept the Amendment. We discussed this Clause at some length in Committee, and I will dwell now not so much on the old men and women, as on the young men, because this Bill affects them, and it was because of them that it was introduced. A new situation arose, as a result of which the Bill was brought in, and this Clause is at the very heart of it. It is where two phases of thought in this House conflict—the Socialist thought and the Government thought. It is where the Socialist comes out and where the non-Socialist is discovered, no matter on what side of the House he sits. The Clause states that persons are to be trained with a view to rendering them fit for entry into or return to regular employment. I remember when that principle was instituted in this House, and my whole being at that time revolted against it, because I had had practical experience of men being out of employment, not for months but for years, and who were quite capable of returning to work without any of this reconditioning. The individuals who invented that idea did not imagine that they themselves required to be reconditioned. It is always the poor worker who requires to be reconditioned and reformed and regenerated. All these "re's" apply to the poor worker.

The men who worked on the Cunard liner were off work for two-and-a-half years. They are back at work now, many of them not having done any work in the meantime. They have been back only a few months, and the Cunarder is already a week ahead of time. There has been no difficulty in their returning to work and giving a good account of themselves. That is what the workers can do. They do not want this reconditioning. I have had actual experience with reference to the elderly workers. There were some big works where I worked for years which are now derelict. Thousands of men who are now my age, over 60 years, have been turned adrift. There is no pension for them, and that is the kind of man to whom this Clause applies. There are other men retired from the Post Office, police and school teachers, who are having pensions, and they are not a whit better than the ordinary workers. All those civil servants and others who will get pensions are being carried on the backs of the worker. He is the individual who has made it possible for all the civil servants to get pensions, or to get any pay at all. And this is the way we are going to treat him.

The workers are to have tests. I am astonished that the Under-Secretary was so touchy—he really was touchy—but I excuse him, because he had a difficult task; but he was a wee bit touchy. Call it by any other name—"a rose by any other name would smell as sweet"—but it is test work. If they do not do it they will be "up against it." The hon. Gentleman told us in Committee that these men would not be required to do this work in order to get relief, but they do not know all that, they do not know that there will be a way of getting round it. They would resent having to chop wood and do innumerable other humiliating jobs. Up to the present none of the jobs these people have been called upon to do have been of an elevating character. No man will be as proud of his job as if he could say, "I am working on the Cunarder," or "I am building such-and-such a house," or "I am working for such-and-such a fellow." No, those men will be ashamed to say they are working in such places. It will be a disgrace, and their families will share it. There was a time when the people of my race regarded it as a disgrace that any member of the family should have to apply to the Poor Law. Here we are humbling the Scottish race in no uncertain fashion, reducing them to the lowest of the low.

When Beardmore's closed down at Parkhead the men refused to go to the Employment Exchange—men of the type I am speaking of who will be affected by this law. They thought it was a disgrace. But they were left idle for years, and at last they were glad to go to the Employment Exchange. And they are as good men as the Secretary of State for Scotland or the Under-Secretary, In the end those men were forced to go to the Poor Law; and some of them have had to go to the poor-house. They are derelict. We are dealing here with derelict men, derelict through no fault of their own. We have no right to let the Government "get away with this business." The Government say they are not responsible for the unemployment, that unemployment was worse when the Labour Government were in office, but the fact remains that they are the Government, and they are responsible for the condition of the country while they are the Government. They have been long enough in power to make an impression on things, and we ought to have something different from this Bill. When the Poor Law was set up in Scotland in 1845 it was a new thing there. Before that time it was the Church which systematically dispensed charity. There was a poor box outside the church door. In Nether Bow churchyard, in the High Street of Edinburgh, there is one of the last remaining poor boxes. In 1845, however, it was decided that the time had arrived to deal with the poor of Scotland. The poor in those days were very different from the poor who will come under this Bill. The Poor Law of 1845 was to deal with: Yonder poor o'er labour'd wight, So abject, mean and vile, Who begs a brother of the earth, To give him leave to toil. That was the type dealt with then—those who were old, who were broken. But this Bill deals with the able-bodied. They are poor and they are unemployed through no fault of their own. Every Government has been faced with the problem of how to deal with this body of unemployed. The returns given out by the Scottish Office show that thousands find each year that there is no work for them. What kind of work are the Government going to give to these able-bodied men for whom employers can find no work? If employers could find work for them they would be only too happy to engage them, because employers, who are human beings, do not employ them because they like them but because they can make a profit out of them. Unless they can make a profit out of them they will not employ them. Those who have the power and the honour of employing the workpeople of Scotland have no work for the workpeople to do.

Our plea to the Government is not to allow the unemployed to go down, not to treat them as if they were criminals, as this Bill will do. The unemployed are unemployed through no fault of their own, and it is the duty of the Government to treat them, with justice and respect. Only last week I ask the Lord President of the Council what work the Economic Advisory Council had produced to assist with the problem of the unemployed. He evaded the question. He said they had put forward many suggestions. It also came out that this body, which it is true was appointed by the Labour Government, had cost £5,000. The individuals with whom we are dealing in this Bill are victims of the system, and they ought not to be treated in this fashion. I put it to the Government upstairs in Committee that here is an opportunity for the Scottish Office to do something; if they do not do it, it will be done by some future Government. In putting these individuals to work at the training centres, what are the Government going to train them to do? They will be handy men, spurned in the workshop, because foremen and workmen will not have anything to do with them. Some individual who has power forces them into the shipyards against those who are actually responsible for production in the workshops. They are being put in there with a view of introducing cheap labour. Anyone can deny it until he is black in the face, but that is what they are being put in for. Instead of putting men into that humiliating position, why should not the Secretary of State for Scotland give the world a lead? Let Scotland give the world a lead, as it has done in many things before, instead of putting those men in work centres and having them thrown on the street in any case, with nothing definite to do. Satan finds some mischief still For idle hands to do. These men are idle through no fault of their own. The Scottish Office could step in now, and every man who was willing and capable of taking the higher form of education could be given the opportunity. We are rich enough, and we could well afford to give all the young men in our country a higher form of education. Until now, a university education has not been possible for such men in our country, generally speaking, although here and there a son of poor parents has been educated entirely out of his class, but invariably he forgets the class from which he has sprung. That need not be so now. An opportunity presents itself to the Scottish Office to give all the youth of Scotland a chance of going through our universities. Let the Scottish Office give them the higher education which so far has been the preserve of the rich. Owing to the economic conditions, and to man's ingenuity having tapped the sources of nature and made nature do man's work, we are the heirs of all the ages, in this machine age which enables our country to give our unemployed a better education than anyone in the working class has ever had before.

Along those lines I am satisfied that, instead of leaving our youth to walk the streets with no object in life because there is no room for them, you would rear a race the like of which we have never yet produced. We have no idea of the heights to which the youth of Scotland might attain, and the possibility of realising that attainment is in the hands of the Scottish Office if they accept the suggestion that Clause 7 be deleted, and that what we are suggesting is put in its place.

9.20 p.m.


We have had a very interesting Debate on this Clause, and I have no complaint to make at all against the emphasis with which the deletion has been pressed. Far from being touchy on the subject, I have listened with great interest to all the speeches, with the exception of one very short speech, and I fully appreciate the observation of the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) that this is a point in the Bill upon which there is a cleavage of opinion. If I may say so without any attempt at patronage, the opinion of the other side has been most clearly put this afternoon.

I am not going to say very much about the first provision with regard to training, because it is admitted that that is a condition of relief that is voluntary. We are putting in a provision which refers to people over 18 years of age. The emphasis is not upon training, but upon the other class of work where it is thought expedient. I quite appreciate the point of the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) that provision should be made for their training. I hold no brief for the word "conditioning" or "reconditioning." Like a great deal of our technical and semi-technical language it is a shorthand phrase. What is meant is something more important than the language. It means that men who are out of employment should have an opportunity, if they desire it, of organised training, not of a highly technical or scientific sort, because that is more a matter for the Ministry of Labour, but that some effort should be made to keep them going and give them something that will take them out of the rut of unemployment with which we are all so familiar. I do not think that if the provision in this Clause referred only to voluntary training the emphasis which has been directed against it would be so pronounced.

Let me come to the sub-section relating to the provision of work and that work should be a condition of relief in cases where the local authority regard it as expedient. I have no complaint to make from a debating point of view of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) who, with his usual Parliamentary skill, exploited the full possibilities of that phraseology. It was only when I thought that he was rather misrepresenting the point of view I had tried to put at an earlier stage, that I intervened. I had appreciated long before he sat down that we should hear some phrase such as "Bumble." The opportunity of making use of such language in dealing with a Clause of this sort is irresistible, but it has very little relevance to the provisions of the Clause or the thoughts that were in our minds in drafting them. I will take this opportunity of saying that there are few characters with whom I feel less closely associated than Bumble. I never have felt very Bumble-ish, and I do not think that I would put into a Bill for which I have any responsibility a Clause which seems to represent that psychology. I beg my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton to believe that we had other ideas in our heads than ideas of the great Bumble when we put this Clause into the Bill.

First of all, under this Clause—here I do not expect agreement, but I wish to make the statement—as in every other Clause of the Bill, we have rightly or wrongly kept primarly before our eyes the interests of the man who is receiving poor relief. I believe, and we believe, that there are cases where it is to the benefit of the able-bodied man himself that in return for relief he should do a job of work. Under the Scottish Poor Law as it stands without this Clause, you can give a man indoor relief if you think that he is not a suitable person to whom to give unconditional outdoor relief. There is, however, a large gap between unconditional outdoor relief and the sending of an able-bodied man to a poor-house. My object and the object of the Government in including this Clause is to fill the gap in every case between unconditional outdoor relief and the poor-house.

I agree that when you put into the law a new provision such as this, its full scope, usefulness and value can to some extent only be learnt by putting it into operation. This Clause is therefore drawn in broad terms. The House will not, however, forget that this work will be done under regulations laid down by the Department, a task which this House would not wish to undertake. I believe that we can so frame these regulations that it will be clear that the cases in which the provision is to be applied are all cases in which it is in the interests of the man himself. The work to be done is useful—not the breaking of stones and' the cutting of wood which might exist under the Bumble motif which my hon. Friend has so ably expounded. The hon. Member for St. Rollox may well ask me to be more explicit on the subject. I do not think it is easy at the present stage to be explicit, but by the time we come to make regulations it will be much easier.




Because then the draft Regulations will be thrashed out with the local authorities and with Members of Parliament, and after the Bill is passed we shall be in a position to explore the whole subject with the authorities concerned. The House and my hon. Friends must acknowledge that the underlying motive of this provision is the interest of the people themselves, and that regulations are perfectly capable of being framed so as to exclude the element of Bumbledom, dislike of which my hon. Friend shares with me.


If the Under-Secretary would not mind my intervening, I am somewhat interested in regard to the English Poor Law—


We are discussing the Scottish Poor Law.


That is true, but I want to see whether Scotland is getting preferential treatment. I understand that what is now being done in Scotland is applicable also to England; am I to understand that, if a man refuses the test work, he can still go to gaol just as he can under the English law?


Far be it from me to deprecate the intervention of the hon. Gentleman in the Debate. I am delighted that he should take part. Nevertheless, I must point out to him that the general structure of the two Poor Laws are quite different. In particular, the reference to going to gaol which he made has no statutory foundation at all in Scotland. I look to some of his hon. Friends who are better instructed in the matter to give him a terse lecture on the difference between the Scottish and the English Poor Laws. On the whole, I submit to the House that there is a gap to be filled, and that we must be careful that we do not rope in numbers of people unnecessarily under this provision.


Is it not possible and likely that once the institution or work centre has been created to cope with 50 people and there are only 25 in it, there will be a tendency on the part of the local authority to look for 25 more to go in?


I do not think there will be such a tendency, for this reason. They have to assure themselves in each particular case that it is expedient that this provision should be put into operation. I do not think that there will be this immediate outcrop of work centres. I expect rather that proper provision will be made for suitable work to be done, and that is a matter for regulation by the central authority. I do not feel that the provision has made a very great difference. This power is regulated by the words in the Bill and will be regulated by the regulations themselves. I appreciate the objections that have been made to it, and I agree that its success will depend on its administration, but I think that it conforms to the tone of Parliament on the subject of Poor Law and to the modern point of view that exists so widely alike locally, in Parliament, and politically. I am certain that this is a safe power to put into our Bill and that there are cases in which it is in the interest of the individual that it should be put in.

9.33 p.m.


The hon. Member who spoke last made a new and valuable point. In reply to the hon. Member for East Fife (Mr. H. Stewart) let us examine what the position will be. I am not going to debate the Bill, nor do I agree with the remarks made on all sides. The real kernel of this Bill is in this Clause and the use we are going to make of it. We are going to deal under it with 10 per cent. of the unemployed of Scotland. The provision is confined to the able-bodied, and therefore 10 per cent. of the total unemployed will be covered by it. It is as well to restate that this section of the unemployed are those who are not covered by insurance. The Unemployment Insurance Act lays down that a young person who may never have worked is none the less covered; he only needs to belong to that grade which is likely to have worked at insurable employment. That Act covers even those who have been eight, nine, and 10 years out of employment, so that you are left with a residue of two or three categories. There are the professional classes, who, as the hon. Member for St. Rollox (Mr. Leonard) rightly says, deserve more pity than almost any other section when they become down and out. Then there are the small shopkeepers, and, to a certain extent, there is the hawker class. Those are all that you have left.

What is the defence for this Clause? The hon. Member for East Fife says that they are undesirable people, but let us bear in mind that the Scottish Poor Law has carried on for all these years with at least 10 times the number of unemployed, and, therefore, 10 times the number of undesirables, without this power, and no difficulty has been found in dealing with that condition of affairs. The section involved here are practically speaking all middle-aged and elderly people. Every one of them has been through long years of some form of business. I am told by people who know that one-third of the people affected by this Bill will come from the City of Glasgow. Who are they? If I go down, as one is entitled to do, either to the Exchange or to the Poor Law office, I find that those who are refused as not coming within the category of insured workers are all people of middle age.

The hon. Member for St. Rollox made a point which I think is important. When you have created a machine for this purpose, the person who runs the machine has a vested interest in seeing that human material is supplied for it. To that point there is no answer. Once the machine is created, its appetite has to be supplied. The hon. Member for East Fife suggests one centre for the bad people. He is a man of capacity; let me put this point to him. He is going to congregate all the bad people together; that is the scheme; he is going to have them in buildings, planned. But what would happen in practice if all the so-called bad people of Glasgow were gathered together? There, in a communal centre, you would have gathered together the bad for them to become worse, because they would pool their badness and learn it better when they were together. As a matter of fact, from the social point of view, it is 50 times better not to gather them together in these centres at all, but to keep them as they are now. What is proposed here? To acquire buildings, to acquire land, to acquire an institution, so that the bad people, who are now isolated, shall be gathered together under one roof, where their badness is pooled. The hon. Member says "No," but let him read the Clause. It says: A local authority shall have power to provide and maintain work centres … including power to acquire land, to construct buildings, to provide and maintain plant and equipment ….


The hon. Member does not give me the credit of distinguishing between training centres and the arrangement by which local authorities are to require work to be done in return for payments. I was referring to the latter.


I am not dealing with the work centres. The hon. Member says that you cannot group them together, but you cannot call it a centre unless there is a group there. The thing is that they are brought there. The hon. Member says, give the local authorities credit that they will not do wrong. I do not know where he gets his experience from, but my experience seems to run counter to that suggestion. What about all the correspondence that the hon. Gentleman and I had, and all the discussions and deputations? Test work is illegal now in Scotland. Many authorities applied it, until the Under-Secretary intervened in the most frigid fashion and stopped them. He cannot deny that.


A perfectly illegal act was being done, as my hon. Friend knows.


Such an illegal act was done by Montrose in compelling men to do test work. Now they have the power of this Clause—to do what? To establish work centres for any persons whom they think undesirable. To my mind, everybody to-day who does not work for his money is undesirable. The Under-Secretary, in reply to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool (Mr. Logan), who was nearer the truth than the hon. Gentleman gave him credit for, said that there is no gaol. Is he so sure about that? Let us reason out what happens. A man is sent to a centre. He says: "I am not going; I refuse." What does that act mean? That deliberate act of his means depriving his wife and family of the necessities of life, and it could be construed to mean that he is causing distress to those dependent upon him. That is the point, and it is not so easily dismissed as the hon. Gentleman set out to dismiss it.

He says that he cannot tell us now what will happen, that he will tell us afterwards, but I would like to ask him, what is the kind of job that is to be given to those men? We are told that it is not to reap, it is not to plough, it is not to carry on such occupations as that. I accept that. It is not to be engineering. That is highly skilled. It is not to be cabinet making. That is highly skilled. What is it to be? An hon. Member says there are plenty of jobs in the pits, but we cannot bring the pits up and put them on the land. I am afraid it is not going to be the mines. What kind of training are they to get? I know of nothing. There used to be a market not so many years ago for training footballers, who made considerable money out of the English. That avenue is largely closed. For one thing the English have learned how to spend their money. There is no training left and the Under-Secretary knows it.

The Glasgow Corporation have tried training, and Montrose tried it, and it broke down. They would give a man £10 and send him out selling silk stockings and shoes at the doors of houses. But while they were putting that man off the Poor Law they were putting on to the Poor Law the man who was earning his living legitimately in that way. Glasgow tried the training of girls and men, and they found there was only one market, and that was a limited one. They sent them out to work on farms. But even there it is only the very young who can go. You cannot send a man with a wife and children to work on a farm. I wish I could get hon. Members opposite to grasp the problem, because I am sure they do not. There may have been some need for this years ago when the Poor Law authorities dealt with the whole of unemployment, but to-day they are left with only the small residue of it belonging in the main to the middle aged and the old aged.

The dangers of this Clause are immense. The Under-Secretary has given way on a great many things, but on this Clause he has been immovable. I feel that behind it there is a sinister purpose. There is a power given to men which in my view is too great to allow to any group. I trust that the House will reject the Clause in its entirety. We have to have regard to the point of view not only of the unemployed man but of the employed man as well. If you send any one of these men to work at any job, he immediately becomes a menace in some way to those who are at work.

There seems to he a common impression that farming is understaffed and can do with a lot more labourers, but I do not see the slightest evidence of it. Neither do I see a terrible shortage in domestic service. Let the normal channels of domestic service give the normal woman who wants work decent conditions and there will be no shortage. There is one reason for the shortage of domestic servants. No attraction is offered nor are decent conditions offered. A man who is considered a bad man in a small district is not regarded as a bad man in Glasgow. In the little towns in Fife or Forfar a fellow is bad because he has winked at a girl two or three times. The badness there is not the City badness. In my division there is no one bad, because everyone is really bad. Everyone in my district, including myself, has a Jot more faults and failings than good points. In the country and in small towns there is talk and scandal, and life is different from what it is in the cities. The fellow in the small town who says, "I do not believe in your particular view of political economy, or this or that," is in a different position entirely from those in the big towns.

The handing over of these powers is too great a risk. If Parliament has made up its mind to embark upon this matter, let Parliament do it. Do not hand over these powers to groups of people because, however well intentioned they may be, they are far too great even for them to possess. If the House of Commons wants

Parliament to take over those responsibilities, let the Government think out the next steps. I have lived all my life with the people who are supposed to be bad. I have met and mixed with them. They are of my stock, and none of them are half as bad as they are constantly said to be. If given decent conditions, decent homes and an opportunity of earning their livelihood there is not one of them who could not rise to the same decent level as the rest of us. I trust that the House will reject the Clause, the provisions of which are being imposed upon the poorest section of the population

Question put, "That the words to 'with' in lines 36, stand part of the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 167; Noes, 34.

Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles Warrender, Sir Victor A. G. Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.) White, Henry Graham
Wallace, John (Dunfermline) Whyte, Jardine Bell TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull) Wise, Alfred R. Captain Sir George Bowyer and
Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend) Womersley, Sir Walter Major George Davies.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton) McEntee, valentine L.
Banfield, John William Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)
Batey, Joseph Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Mainwaring, William Henry
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Maxton, James
Cape, Thomas Jenkins, Sir William Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Cripps, Sir Stafford John, William Thorne, William James
Daggar, George Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Tinker, John Joseph
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Kirkwood, David Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Dobbie, William Leonard, William Williams, Dr. John H, (Llanelly)
Edwards, Charles Logan, David Gilbert Wilmot, John
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) Lunn, William
Gardner, Benjamin Walter Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Mr. McGovern and Mr. Buchanan.

10.5 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 4, line 36, after "afforded" to insert: and who are of the age of eighteen years or upwards. This Amendment is to provide that the training in Sub-section (1) shall only be given to those over 18 years of age. The question was raised in Committee and it was felt that it would be for the Unemployment Board to deal with the juniors under 18, and that it would make the point plainer if these words were put into the Bill.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendment made: in page 4, line 37, leave out "them," and insert "such persons."—[Mr. Skelton.]


I beg to move, in page 4, line 42, at the end, to insert: but it shall not be lawful for a local authority to make attendance at any such centre a condition of the receipt of relief. This Amendment is to make good a pledge which I gave in Committee that if there was any way in which it could be made more clear that the training was voluntary and not a condition of relief, I would put in words.

Amendment agreed to.

Division No. 323.] AYES. [10.10 p.m
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Beauchamp, Sir Brograve Campbell Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks., Newb'y)
Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, w.) Beaumont, M. W. (Bucks, Aylesbury) Buchan, John
Applin, Lieut.-Col. Reginald V. K. Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'th, C.) Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.
Aske, Sir Robert William Bossom, A. C. Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie
Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover) Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W. Burnett, John George
Baillie, Sir Adrian W. M. Boyd-Carpenter, Sir Archibald Caine, G. R. Hall.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley Bracken, Brendan Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)
Baldwin-Webb, Colonel J. Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough) Caporn, Arthur Cecil
Banks, Sir Reginald Mitchell Brocklebank, C. E. R. Christie, James Archibald
Barclay-Harvey, C. M. Brown, Ernest (Leith) Clarry, Reginald George

10.8 p.m.


I beg to move in page 5, line 3, to leave out from "may," to the first "work," in line 5, and to insert, "be offered by the local authority."

The object of this Amendment is to provide that the performance of work at a centre shall not be a condition of receiving or continuing to receive relief. The point has been dealt with in debate, and I will not enlarge upon it.


I beg to second the Amendment.

10.9 p.m.


I appreciate the brevity with which my hon. Friend moved the Amendment. He is right in saying that the substance of the matter has been dealt with in a very full debate on the question that the Clause be omitted. I realise that in moving the Amendment my hon. Friend feels that the House has decided the main question and that we might well curtail debate, seeing that the full Debate will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT and that a Division can be taken to emphasise their view.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 164; Noes, 32.

Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D. Kerr, Hamilton W. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Collins, Rt. Hon. Sir Godfrey Kimball, Lawrence Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)
Conant, R. J. E. Leech, Dr. J. W. Remer, John R.
Cooke, Douglas Lindsay, Kenneth (Kilmarnock) Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.
Courtauld, Major John Sewell Llewellin, Major John J. Rickards, George William
Critchley, Brig.-General A. C. Loder, Captain J. de Vera Robinson, John Roland
Crooke, J. Smedley Loftus, Pierce C. Ropner, Colonel L.
Crookshank, Col. C. de Windt (Bootle) Lumley, Captain Lawrence R. Ross, Ronald D.
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro) Mabane, William Ross Taylor, Walter (Woodbridge)
Cross, R. H. MacAndrew, Lieut.-Col. C. G. (Partick) Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Drummond-Wolff, H. M. C. MacAndrew, Capt. J. O. (Ayr) Russell, Hamer Field (Sheffield, B'tside)
Duncan, James A. L. (Kensington, N.) McCorquodale, M. S. Rutherford, John (Edmonton)
Dunglass, Lord Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Salmon, Sir Isldore
Edmondson, Major Sir James McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston) Samuel, Sir Arthur Michael (F'nham)
Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey Mander, Geoffrey le M. Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart
Elliston, Captain George Sampson Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.) Shaw, Captain William T. (Forfar)
Essenhigh, Reginald Clare Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John Sinclair, Maj. Rt. Hn. Sir A. (C'thness)
Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin) Mills, Sir Frederick (Leyton, E.) Skelton, Archibald Noel
Ford, Sir Patrick J. Milne, Charles Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Fremantle, Sir Francis Monsell, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres Smith, Sir Robert (Ab'd'n & K'dlne, C.)
Gluckstein, Louis Halle Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T. C. Somervell, Sir Donald
Goff, Sir Park Morris, John Patrick (Salford, N.) Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.
Goodman, Colonel Albert W. Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univer'ties) Southby, Commander Archibald R. J
Grimston, R. V. Morrison, William Shepherd Spencer, Captain Richard A.
Gunston, Captain D. W. Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J. Spens, William Patrick
Guy, J. C. Morrison Munro, Patrick Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'morland)
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Nail, Sir Joseph Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)
Hales, Harold K. Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H. Storey, Samuel
Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Normand, Rt. Hon. Wilfrid Strauss, Edward A.
Hamilton, Sir R. W. (Orkney & Zetl'nd) North, Edward T. Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart
Hanley, Dennis A. Nunn, William Tate, Mavis Constance
Harvey, George (Lambeth, Kenningt'n) O'Donovan, Dr. William James Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles
Haslam, Henry (Horncastle) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)
Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth) Orr Ewing, I. L. Wallace, John (Dunfermline)
Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Palmer, Francis Noel Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)
Horsbrugh, Florence Patrick, Colin M. Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.
Howard, Tom Forrest Pearson, William G. White, Henry Graham
Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Peat, Charles U. Whyte, Jardine Bell
Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Penny, Sir George Wise, Alfred R.
Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H. Percy, Lord Eustace Womersley, Sir Walter
James, Wing-Com. A. W. H. Petherick, M Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)
Jamieson, Douglas Procter, Major Henry Adam
Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Ker, J. Campbell Ramsden, Sir Eugene Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward
Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose) Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham. and Major George Davies.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South) Gardner, Benjamin Walter McGovern, John
Banfield, John William Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur Maclean, Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Batey, Joseph Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan) Mainwaring, William Henry
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts., Mansfield) Groves, Thomas E. Maxton, James
Buchanan, George Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Smith, Tom (Normanton)
Cape, Thomas Jenkins, Sir William Tinker, John Joseph
Cripps, Sir Stafford Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly) Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Daggar, George Kirkwood, David Wilmot, John
Davies, David L. (Pontypridd) Leonard, William
Dobbie, William Logan, David Gilbert TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Edwards, Charles Lunn, William Mr. John and Mr. D. Graham.
Foot, Dingle (Dundee) McEntee, Valentine L.

I beg to move, in page 5, line 5, to leave out from the first "work" to "suited," in line 8.

This, the first of a group of Amendments, four in number, are consequential and drafting, and are moved for the purpose of putting in better form the concession which I gave the Committee, that the work should be at a centre or institution maintained by the authority; an institution of the authority in its Poor Law capacity and not any of the various institutions which a local authority may have.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made: In page 5, line 10, leave out "so however," and insert "Provided."

In line 12, leave out "except," and insert: otherwise than at a work centre provided under this section or at or in connection with any institution maintained by the authority for the purposes of the principal Act and."—[Mr. Skelton.]

10.19 p.m.


I beg to move, in page 5, line 12, after "by," to insert: the medical adviser of the applicant or, failing that, by. The purpose of the Amendment is that if a man is seen by the medical officer of an authority he shall have the option of having his own medical adviser so that if any difference arises as to whether he is fit, or if there are any other questions which it is necessary should be decided by a medical authority, the applicant for relief would not be merely under the direction of, or the treatment of, or the decision of the medical officer of the local authority, but would have the opinion of his own medical adviser also.

10.20 p.m.


I hope that the Under-Secretary will accept the Amendment. It is not in any sense intended to weaken or destroy the Bill. It is merely intended that when the medical officer of the local authority is called upon to give an opinion as to the fitness or otherwise for work of an applicant, the responsibility should not rest entirely upon him. We would be quite prepared to consider the responsibility being shared by the panel doctor, who could be called in to discuss the matter with the medical officer of the local authority before any decision is given. The panel doctor will know a great deal more about a man's capacity than the medical officer of the local authority.

10.21 p.m.


I have already said that in our view a principle of the Bill must be that the interests of the man shall be a first consideration. When I considered this Amendment it seemed that there was something of that principle in it. The actual language of the Amendment has difficulties. I am, however, prepared in another place to put in an Amendment to provide that the medical officer of the authority shall consult with the medical attendant of the man, if the man so requests, keeping in view the fact that in our opinion there will not be many cases in which this Subsection will be put into operation. It is desirable, however, that no mistake should be made in the operation of the Sub-section. The doctor who has had long experience of an unfit patient knows his medical history far more than any stranger. Therefore, there is a strong case for consultation with an applicant's doctor. I shall try, in another place, to put in words to meet that point. But let it be understood that the final responsibility will rest with the medical officer of the local authority.


In view of that very favourable statement I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made: In page 5, line 13, leave out "it," and insert "the work."—[Mr. Skelton.]