HC Deb 21 December 1937 vol 330 cc1920-2

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

11.33 p.m.

Mr. Duncan

This Clause is based on the report of the Unemployment Statutory Committee on the result of inquiries made into the position of out-door private domestic servants. There are, roughly, 35,000 in the three main categories of outdoor private domestic servants, but in reply to the inquiries made, only 126 replies were received, and of these, 18 were from employers, so that the recommendations seem to be based on rather inadequate information. In the case of gamekeepers, I should have thought the committee could have got into touch with a much larger number, because nearly every gamekeeper has a game licence and his name is therefore registered with the local taxation officer. There is, I admit, greater difficulty in the case of chauffeurs, because a chauffeur does not require any particular licence, involving registration of his name. [HON. MEMBERS: "His driving licence?"] His driving licence is the same as that of any other driver. There is no special driving licence for chauffeurs. As a result of these inquiries the majority of the replies seem to have been from chauffeurs and gamekeepers. I should like to know how chauffeurs are to be dealt with, if, as the Committee says, the majority seem to be in favour of inclusion in the insurance scheme. Under Sub-section (2) of this Clause it would be possible to include them under the category of agricultural workers, but I hope they will not be because the Statutory Committee recommended that, if they are to be included, they should be in the general scheme. I should like to know the meaning of Sub-section (3), because it does not mean anything in particular to me.

11.36 p.m.

Mr. E. Brown

The Statutory Committee took every possible opportunity of consulting the opinion of those who are employed as outdoor domestic servants. Sir William Beveridge broadcast so that those who were concerned could hear an explanation of what was proposed to be done, and he received a large number of letters. Then there was an insistent demand from Members in all parts of the House for the inclusion of these servants, and the hon. and gallant Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Captain Heilgers), speaking on behalf of the Gamekeepers' Association on the Second Reading thanked the Government for having done what the majority of gamekeepers desired to be done. With regard to the chauffeurs, I explained on Second Reading that they were being put under the industrial scheme, and that I had power under the general Act to do that by Regulation, which I am proceeding to do. As to the meaning of Sub-section (2), the Committee's report pointed out that there were 5,000 out-door domestic servants about whom it had not sufficient information, and I have taken power, if the Committee recommends that any of them should be brought under the agricultural scheme, to do it.

11.38 p.m.

Mr. Greenwood

I do not share the views of the hon. Member for North Kensington (Mr. Duncan). We on this side of the Committee are glad that the Bill extends unemployment insurance to a number of people, however small. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that Sir William Beveridge took great trouble to obtain the views of chauffeurs and gamekeepers, but he has paid no regard to the expression of opinion of the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance about the inclusion of black-coated workers, who are a very large group and infinitely more important than these personal servants of the well-to-do, for whom the right hon. Gentleman, to my astonishment, is showing such great regard. We accept Clause 2, but we cannot let it pass without putting on record our profound dissatisfaction at the exclusion of such a large group of people who are suffering as much from economic vicissitudes as manual workers. The right hon. Gentleman's period of gestation is a very long one. I remember that something was going to happen in the spring, but I cannot see the right hon. Gentleman bringing in a Bill to deal with this large number of people very soon. I must express a very strong feeling of dissatisfaction and disappointment that the right hon. Gentleman did not take the bull by the horns on this occasion and do the big thing by bringing in this very large section of workers. We are glad that he has brought in some, but are profoundly dissatisfied because he has not made the scope of the Bill larger. He spoke of outdoor domestic servants; there are also indoor domestic servants and their case ought to have been considered. I am sorry to see the right hon. Gentleman falling away from his old Radical days. Then he had regard to the masses; now he is having regard to the hirelings of the classes. We are glad to welcome the hirelings of the classes into the scheme, but would have preferred the right hon. Gentleman had broadened it so as to include the large class to which I have referred.