§ 3.54 p.m.
Mr. J. J. Davidson
I beg to move,That, as the present scale of pensions is inadequate to provide a reasonable standard of life for the recipients and, moreover, does not encourage the retirement of elderly workers, and as there are anomalies in the present law which call for redress, this House is of opinion that the necessary reforms should be introduced without delay.I have read the terms of the Motion, in order that its full implications may be understood by the House. Since it became generally known that the House of Commons had this matter up for discussion, I and many of my hon. Friends have received letters from every part of the country. Those letters, the mass of them documents of true human life and hardship, are my best reason for submitting such a Motion for the consideration of the House. I do not desire to deal with the volume of correspondence that I have received from pensioners in this country, but I should like to read part of one letter, and submit it for the sincere consideration of hon. Members:I should like to tell you of my case. I was 65 last September, and compelled to leave work the week of my birthday. I have only an old age pension of 10s. My wife is 3½ years younger than me. Therefore, we have to live, the two of us, on 10s. per week between us—5s. for each person.He goes on to state what many pensioners are saying to members of local authorities and to Members of Parliament:I do not ask for public assistance, but I have not been able to save money during my working life, as my wages were barely enough to live on.He finishes the letter by saying:When you get old, the future seems to be not worth thinking about. I often wonder what the position would be if some of the M.Ps. in the House of Commons had to change places with us and put up with the hardships that they have imposed upon us.I would specially recommend that last paragraph to the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment on the Order Paper. I do not desire to approach this question in any great party spirit, but I do desire to ask hon. Members to consider the facts placed before them. In the present unstable, ever-changing international conditions, I believe that if this House could demonstrate to the world, by passing this Motion, that democracy here and our democratic institutions are capable of protecting and advancing the social conditions 1794 of our people, we should indicate to the world what we have always claimed, that democracy can live where dictatorship and totalitarianism must die. The passing of this Motion, as affecting our international affairs, would, therefore, be a very important gesture to the world. Because of that belief, I regret very deeply the Amendment that has been placed on the Order Paper, an Amendment that seems to indicate a complete lack of knowledge of the financial strength of this country, a complete lack of knowledge of the needs of men and women who have grown old in the building up of the industries and the wealth of this nation, and a complete lack of knowledge of the needs of widows and children who, having lost their breadwinner, are living under existing arrangements in the midst of poverty-creating restrictions and anomalies.
Therefore, at this stage I would offer to the House a very serious warning. I would offer to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury this warning, in no arrogant spirit and in no spirit of intimidation. I would warn the House that the aged people of this country, the pensioners who are so thoroughly dissatisfied with their conditions, who have protested for many years against the anomalies that create poverty in their midst, are organising in every constituency in the country, that to-day they are stronger than ever they were, and that their intention is to see to it that if the present Government or any other Government will not attend to their demands or desires, they will establish a Government that will bring a decent standard of life for these people. We can accept the fact—I know that the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment will accept it—that among the great majority of our pensioners bad and poverty-stricken conditions exist.
Let me place before the House some of the points relative to that statement. We have in this country many thousands of aged persons who have no hope of further employment. They are too old to be taken into industry. Many of them, without dispute, are living on a bare 10s. a week. We have many thousands of pensioners whose wives have not attained a pensionable age, not receiving 10s. each per week but receiving 10s. between them, or 5s. each per week, with no hope 1795 of further increase. We have cases of husbands out of employment, sacked because they have reached their sixty-fifth birthday, receiving this 10s., and being forced against their will—I certainly believe that the older generation of people have an independence of spirit that must be admired by the youth of to-day—to seek public assistance relief, to crave clothing and boots from local authorities, and even to seek assistance from their own sons and daughters, who have been forced not only to become a burden on local authorities but have been forced to become a burden on sons and daughters who in their working-class life have little enough to spare for their parents. Under the present administration we have widows with families who have lost their breadwinners and have received a pension from the Government. But the administration says that as soon as the youngest member of a family leaves school the widow shall be refused her pension until she reaches the age of 55. We have thousands of cases of widows who have striven to bring up their families with a sense of decency, who have given the best that they could give to them, and when the youngest son has left school have been refused any pension whatever and have have to wait a considerable number of years before becoming entitled again to a pension.
As I have stated, the result is that these people are forced to appeal to the local authorities for public assistance. In Scotland under the present administration the number of old age pensioners seeking public assistance in money or kind has increased year by year until in May of this year there were 41,727 old age pensioners going to the local authorities to have their pensions supplemented. In Glasgow, the second city of the Empire, the number of old age pensioners seeking this relief has increased during the last three years by thousands, and in May of this year 15,246 old age pensioners in Glasgow, with the miserable pittance that they are existing on to-day, have been forced to appeal to the local authorities. In Glasgow to-day, the local authority, in supplementing widows' pensions, blind persons' pensions and old age pensions, although it has 80,000 unemployed in its midst, is paying £900,000 yearly in relief.
The task of looking after our aged workers, our widows and our blind persons 1796 is not a local responsibility but is a national responsibility that ought not to be shirked by any Government. The local authorities are feeling the effect of this maladministration. Glasgow is only typical of local authorities throughout the country. Hon. Members on this side of the House have repeatedly asked Ministers for figures tabulating the burden placed on local authorities. I regret very much that there is not a Scottish Minister present on the Front Bench opposite during this Debate, because 36 local authorities, Tory as well as Socialist, have gone to the Secretary of State for Scotland and told him that the present position must be altered, that the Government must accept its responsibility and not place an unfair burden on local authorities, even on Tory local authorities.
Keeping these things in mind and remembering the hardship of these people, I ask the House not to accept the fallacious argument put forward in the Amendment to the Motion, that there is no money in the country to assist the unemployed. If that is the decision of the Government, if the Government have selected the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment, they have been particularly unfortunate in their choice, because I suggest that it is an insult to the House and to the old age pensioners for the Government to have selected as opponents of these old people individuals who have never known what poverty means, who have never suffered from the lack of one luxury in their lives, who have never known the scraping and striving and the rent difficulties of these people, who have never lived the lives of the old age pensioners, the widows and the unfortunate spinsters of this country. It is doubly unfortunate that the Government selection should have been those who are known for their wealth, their love of luxury and for the clubs that they are able to attend.
When appeals have been made for some betterment of the conditions of certain sections of the community, I have listened to hon. Members opposite and have heard them say that there is no money in the country for this sort of thing. With the permission of my hon. Friend the Member for Abertillery (Mr. Daggar), who has written a most excellent pamphlet on the question of old age and widows' pensions, I shall have the honour of quoting what he says: 1797Here is a Government that turned out a Labour Government in the past because it borrowed £100,000,000 to assist the unemployed, but on obtaining its majority in the House, the Government immediately raised £400,000,000 by borrowing and was rated in the country as first-rate statesmen.No hon. Member can deny, if his desire is to be fair and honest in criticism or beliefs, that during the past two and a-half years we have granted vast sums in subsidies, to farmers, to brewers by derating, to shipping lines that are sometimes represented in this House, and, I would remind the House, to the beet sugar industry.
We have granted subsidies to almost every important industrial undertaking in the country, as stated by my hon. Friend in his excellent pamphlet. We have spent nearly £100,000,000 in buying out 3,000-odd royalty owners in the coal mines of this country. We have spent £1,200,000,000 in profits for these royalty owners in the past. The London local authority can raise loans of £80,000,000 to £200,000,000. The Government can grant £10,000,000 or £20,000,000 and can give special credit facilities to Italy. The Government then can surely find the means of raising the money to give the old age pensioners, the widows and their children a better and more decent standard of life than any they have known hitherto. The Government can raise the money if they desire to do so.
The Labour party has prepared a policy which I do not ask the Minister to accept wholesale in every word. It is a reasonable policy, a policy that should be considered, a policy that has for its object only the betterment of the standard of life of these people. We have a policy and the Government have the finance. Great Britain is not so poverty-stricken that it cannot help these people. It is a fallacy, a complete mis-statement, to say that it is impossible to raise the necessary finance because we have an armaments programme. All that is lacking is the spirit of the House of Commons to put it into operation. I trust that no word of mine will have caused any offence to hon. Members opposite. I have tried to put the case for widows and old age pensioners in as reasonable a manner as possible. They are suffering great hardships to-day. I do not propose to describe 1798 them in any sentimental speech. I have letters from old age pensioners and I have friends in my own constituency who have lived in industry all their lives. They have produced the ships in the Clyde shipyards, built the houses, the tramways, indeed, have built the wealth of the nation. These old men who are now suffering from rheumatism and arthritis through having to work in wet weather have made possible to-day all things which we enjoy.
All that I am appealing for is that this House in its gratitude should guarantee these people a standard of life which we ourselves can consider with pride, and which can be reconciled to a civilised community. The Labour party's policy deals extensively with widows and old age pensioners, and their children, indeed, with every form of pensioner in this country. I appeal to the Minister to make a concession to-day. Let it not be said that this Government with its great majority, and simply on party lines, denies any betterment in the conditions of these people. May I ask the Minister to accept this Motion, to consider it very thoroughly, and to bring before the House adequate proposals which will ensure more happiness and comfort to these people in the future? I ask the House to give their earnest consideration to all these facts and to remember, that while many of us are young to-day, we shall grow old and reach that part of the road where the pathway is narrow and company few, and at the same time keep in mind that nothing can be more heartbreaking than an aged man and an aged woman in poverty who do not seem to think life worth living when they are old. I ask hon. Members to think of all these things and to bring into being a plan, a scheme, whereby these people will be ensured of comfort in the c10sing years of their lives.
§ 4.21 p.m.
Mr. Ellis Smilth
I beg to second the Motion.
I consider it a privilege to have the opportunity of seconding the Motion, and I am sure that all my hon. Friends on this side of the House would have been equally pleased to have had the honour. I also consider it a privilege to-day to speak on behalf of the mothers, fathers and grandparents to whom we owe so much. Let me say this to hon. Members 1799 who do not agree with us on other issues, that the Motion has been carefully worded in order to give no one an excuse for voting against it. It has been framed as reasonably as possible, yet, despite that, there is an Amendment on the Order Paper. One thing would have pleased me above all others to-day if it could have been brought about, and that is to have seen the Government benches packed with hon. and right hon. Members listening to our case. What we are putting forward in our Motion is not our pensions' scheme. I believe in adequate pensions for all at 60 years of age, but we are not pressing that to-day. All we are doing is to say that the present scale of pensions is inadequate and asking the Government to deal with the anomalies which have arisen out of the Acts as they are administered at the present time.
My case will not be a sentimental one, although we could be forgiven if we were to stress its sentimental side. My case is an economic one, based upon income facts which have been gathered out of Government publications. My hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson) has dealt with the fact that there are a number of anomalies and that 10s. a week is too low. I do not want to go over the same ground, but I must remind the House of one or two things which are sometimes forgotten. In the first place, the pension is 10s. a week at 65, but if the wife is a few years younger than the husband, all that the couple have is 10s. a week. It must be remembered that from 1929 to 1933 thousands of men in this country were thrown out of employment. Many of them went into small businesses in order to try and eke out a living, to do better for themselves than in the past, to get more security and thus avoid unemployment in the future. After they had been in business for 12 months or two years they found, despite the fact that their insurance record was good, that they were no longer qualified for the pension, and in addition there is the great tragedy that hundreds of widows whose husbands had died, found that because their husbands had not been able to retain their pension rights after going into business, they themselves were not entitled to the widows' pension.
In addition to that, few people realise the serious effect of the change made in 1800 1928 when it was decided by the present Prime Minister that after 65 years of age a person was no longer eligible for unemployment benefit. That meant that no matter how good the insurance record of the person might be—he might never have been out of work and had paid into national health insurance from 1912 until the present time—all that he was entitled to at 65 years was the 10s. a week pension. As a result, in 1936, 214,901 old age pensioners; in 1937, 230,652; and in 1938, 232,238, had to apply for public assistance. In addition, 100,000 widows are applying for public assistance. The Financial Secretary to the Treasury the other day said:I do not think that it has ever been claimed by any party that old age pensions do by themselves provide for full maintenance of persons devoid of other resources.I should like to ask the Financial Secretary what other resources can these people have? Even if they work from 14 years of age until they are 65 and save every penny possible, what other resources can they have after paying for rent, food and clothing for themselves and their children? But the Financial Secretary went on to say:If the pension and other resources are inadequate, these people very properly have recourse to the public assistance authorities, where need is the criterion."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd November, 1938; col. 197, Vol. 34o.]That statement is an insult to the people to whom we belong. Let me give a typical instance. It is the case of a man living in the West Riding of Yorkshire. He was married in 1888. He was a miner, and, therefore, could not save much, nor could he have other resources. He worked all his life, but between 1921 and 1926 all that he and his wife had scraped together went, because of the lock-outs in which they were involved. He was a man of good principles prepared to stand up for the rights of his fellow-men, and in 1926, as many of my hon. Friends know to their cost, that man was the subject of victimisation. At 65 all that this man obtains is a pension of 10s. a week, plus charity. His wife is eight years younger and, therefore, until she reaches 65 years, all that this poor couple are entitled to get is 10s. a week old age pension. This is their budget. The other week they paid for rent, 11s. 2d.—that is a cheap rent—for electric light and gas, 2S. 6d.; coal and wood, 3s. 6d.; insurance, 1s. 6d.; 1801 and papers, 8d.—a total of 19s. 4d. Nothing for food or clothes or shoes. The next week in order to purchase groceries they refused to pay the rent, and this is their budget. For food, 8s. 9d.; milk, 1s. 2d.; meat, 1s. 6d.—a total of 11s. 5d. That is typical of the tragedies which exist in all our industrial centres. Another man writes to me:I am one of 20 men over 65 years of age who received notice to cease work at the colliery last May. My own position is as follows: After working in the mining industry for 47 years all that I have left is 13s. 1d. a week after paying 8s. 1d. per week for rent and rates and 2s. 4d. for clothes and insurance.Then he goes on to speak of his boys, and says:I will endeavour as far as possible to keep off public assistance for myself and my wife. It is utterly repugnant to both of us, and we believe that an immediate increase in the old age pension is due to the people that we belong to.The other day I picked up a pamphlet which shows the treatment of other people, the people for whom the hon. Members who will move and second the Amendment speak. I see from this pamphlet that special arrangements are being made for Christmas and the New Year at the Savoy, for the people who say that we cannot afford to increase old age pensions. The price of the dinner on Boxing night will be 25s., excluding wines and cigars, and on New Year's eve the price of the dinner will be three guineas, excluding wines and cigars. Treatment of this kind is for people who belong to the class that neither toils nor spins. Yet for the miners and the industrial classes to which we belong, there is 10s. a week at the age of 65.
I have always believed that there is one law for the rich and another law for the poor, but it now appears that there is also one law for the South of England and another law for the North of England. Municipalities throughout the country, particularly in South Wales, the North, the Midlands, and the North of Scotland, are becoming more and more indignant about the position into which they are getting. Thousands of our people who ought not to be expected to apply for public assistance have to do so, and the cost of giving this assistance is having an effect on the local rates. The people living in the areas I have mentioned not only have to bear the burden of unemployment, but also to pay additional 1802 rates owing to the great number of our people who have to apply for public assistance. That is happening mostly in industrial centres, whereas in the South of England, where people retire at the ages of 55 or 60 on huge sums a week, there are relatively few old age pensioners, so that the rates are not affected by the position. The result is that not only Labour and Socialist, but even Conservative town councils throughout the North of England are becoming more and more concerned. The councils of Manchester, Salford, Stoke, Bootle, and many other municipalities are bringing increasing pressure to bear upon the Association of Municipal Corporations, demanding whether the time has not arrived when the Government should increase old age and widows' pensions in order to give the municipalities in the areas of which I have spoken some relief from that unjustifiable burden of rates.
I am not prepared to acquiesce in the state of affairs as it is at present. We who represent the industrial centres, and go into the homes of the poorest people in the country, find that old grandfathers and grandmothers are afraid to eat too much food lest they should be taking the bread out of the mouths of their grandchildren who are living in the same houses. Too many of our women at 65 and 70 years of age have to go out washing, cleaning, wearing themselves out, at an age when they should be sitting in the armchair enjoying leisure, after having worked the whole of their lives. Therefore, no matter what Government may be in power, we on these benches are not prepared to acquiesce in a state of affairs which means that our old people have to exist upon 10s. a week at 65 years of age.
Here is our economic case for an increase in pensions. In 1911, pensions were 5s. a week. During the War, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) instructed the Members of his Cabinet to receive a deputation led by Bob Smillie, and the result was that old age pensions were increased to 7s. 6d. a week. In 1919, they were further increased to 10s. a week. In 1919, the national income was £3,000,000,000. In 1938, the national income is £5,000,000,000. Therefore, quite apart from any sentimental case, there is an economic justification for demanding an increase in the pensions of 1803 those people who have been responsible for increasing the national wealth to that extent. From where has that increase come? Has it come from the directors of big companies, and from the managerial and supervisory staffs? That increase has come from the mechanisation of the mining industry, from the introduction of electricity in coal-cutting, and things of that sort, with the result that when men reach the age of 55 or 60, owing to the increased output and the exploitation of human energy to a greater extent than has ever been known, they cannot hold their own with younger men, and are thrown out of employment. Then, when they reach the age of 65, owing to the change which was brought about in 1928 by the present Prime Minister, all that they are entitled to receive is an old age pension of 10s. a week.
I give hon. Members this further evidence from the journal "Economist." In its index of profits, the "Economist," taking 100 in 1930 as a basis, shows that by 1937 profits had gone up to 106.7, and that, in addition, bonus shares were being paid, which was a sure sign of the high profitability of industry. Therefore, this is a very opportune time to suggest that the country can easily stand an immediate increase in old age pensions. When introducing the Budget this year, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that the Exchequer receipts were five times greater than they were a quarter of a century ago, and at the time I made a note—"And old age pensions are still 10s. a week." We find that the expenditure on armaments in 1933 was £77,000,000, whereas in 1936 it was £178,000,000. I hope hon. Members will be good enough to make a note of the next piece of evidence. I would add that if there were time I could produce evidence to show that social insurance in this country is not a present form from the rich people, but is paid for out of the pockets of the workers. The workers' State insurance contributions in 1913 were £8,000,000, whereas in 1936 they amounted to £46,000,000. In 1913, expenditure on old age pensions was £12,400,000, whereas in 1936, despite the enormous increase in the national income, the expenditure on old age pensions at 70 years of age was only £44,600,000. During the Coronation celebrations, it 1804 was my privilege to meet a real gentleman; it was my privilege to meet a real statesman. At that time, he said in a speech:I see no reason why the Government should apologise for helping the poor, and I am not going to apologise for it.That statement was made by the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I hope that at a time which is not far distant, we shall be able to rally the support of the people in order that this great country, which should be proud of New Zealand, can do likewise, and develop the social services in the way that New Zealand is now doing. The "Financial Times" said, on 9th September, 1938, that the aggregate incomes of people in New Zealand had increased by 45 per cent. in two years. Some of us are constantly affirming that in this country it would be a sound economic proposition, even within the framework of the present social system, to increase the purchasing power of the people, thereby bringing about a fairer distribution of wealth and enabling the people of the country to unite in meeting the serious international situation which we shall face in the future. The Prime Minister of New Zealand said:For 2,000 years people have said, 'Care for the sick, care for the aged, and care for the widows.' New Zealand is doing that now, and the mother country should be proud of it.I would like to say a few words about the Amendment. I thought that most hon. Members were using their influence to bring about the maximum amount of co-operation and unity. Hon. Members cannot expect to get that on old age pensions of 10s. a week at 65. If the hon. Members who are to move and second the Amendment are concerned about the national finances, why do they not suggest a fairer distribution of wealth, why do they not support this party in the demand which it has made time after time that there should be an easing of the economic position of the people? In answer to a question yesterday, the President of the Board of Trade said that he wanted British people to eat British meat. We agree with him. We also want that. We want to assist the British farmers to improve their economic position and at the same time to improve the economic position of agricultural labourers. But how can people eat British meat when they have an income of only 10s. a week? I want to put a question to every hon. 1805 Member. I would like to put that question to every hon. Member individually, and particularly to the hon. Members who are to move and second the Amendment. Does any hon. Member think that 10s. a week is enough for an old age pensioner or widow? I would like to have an answer "Yes" or "No," to that question in this Debate. I do not want any evasions of the sort with which questions of this nature are constantly evaded. That is the issue to-night, and that will be the issue that every hon. Member opposite, and every hon. Member on this side, will have to face throughout the country from now onwards—Do they stand for 10s. a week for old age pensioners and widows?
From 1927 until he died, it was my privilege to meet John Wheatley night after night. I remember that the one thing that he used to emphasise more than anything else was that our party should constantly stress the need for a fairer distribution of wealth. He said that so often that at times I thought he was overdoing it, but now that I have thought over what he said, now that I have had more experience and been able to do more reading, I have become more convinced than ever I was that what our party must constantly hammer at and what we must constantly raise in this House is the need for bringing about a fairer distribution of wealth. This is one elementary step which we suggest should be taken to that end. There comes to my mind one thing which hon. and right hon. Members opposite often do. I have friends who drive the "Silver Jubilee," the "Mancunian" and the "Royal Scot." I am pleased to call them friends. On several occasions, Lord Baldwin went to the driver and the fireman and thanked them for a safe journey. The men who drive those trains daily between Scotland and London are great men. Great men are needed to do that work. The men who build the locomotives used on the "Silver Jubilee," the "Mancunian" and the "Royal Scot" are also great men. Yet all that this great country offers them at the age of 65 is a pension of 10s. a week.
We know that the miners of this country are great men. For generations they have been going into the bowels of the earth to extract coal and other minerals. They have been largely responsible for making this country great. They risk their lives daily. While 1806 they are at work their wives are in constant anxiety, and if they are late in returning home their families fear what may have happened to them. Yet there is only 10s. a week pension for those men when they reach the age of 65. I gladly second this Motion and, despite the Amendment which has been put down on the Paper, I hope that hon. Members opposite who may feel themselves unable to go all the way with us in other respects will, at least, go with us as far as this Motion is concerned, so that we can place on record the unanimous opinion of this House that the time has arrived when there should be an increase in the pensions of the aged people and widows of this country.
§ 4.47 p.m.
§ Captain Conant
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof:this House, recognising the great value of the existing pension schemes to the social welfare of the nation, would welcome their further extension as and when practicable on a sound financial basis; but is of opinion that at a time when the prime necessity of strengthening the country's defences is placing a severe strain on the national finances, such extension would, besides placing a heavy direct burden both on industry and those employed in industry, involve such additional demands on the national Exchequer as would imperil that financial stability upon which depends the well-being of industry and employment and the maintenance of all the existing social services.I am sure the House will join with me in paying a tribute to the eloquence and sincerity of the hon. Members who have moved and seconded the Motion. I think the desire which they have so eloquently expressed that the lot of our old people should be improved, will find an echo in every quarter of the House. But I have put down this Amendment because I take the view that we are trustees for the whole community, and responsible for the well-being not only of those who are drawing old age pensions at the present day but of those who hope to qualify for old age pensions in the years to come, and also for all those millions of people who are now engaged in trade and industry, and who, by their labour, are providing the funds from which old age pensions are paid. I take the view that to embark at this moment upon a scheme which is bound to impose great additional burdens on our trade would not be in the interests of the community 1807 as a whole. The value of a pensions scheme, to my mind, is not only in the contribution which such a scheme makes to the relief of present distress. It is also in its contribution towards relief from anxiety for the future, and that is perhaps one of the most valuable attributes of any soundly constructed pensions scheme. The certainty with which one can look forward to receiving an old age pension in future years is, I believe, of real value to the nation, and in considering the proposals which have been so well advanced by the hon. Gentlemen opposite, we have surely to consider, not only their effect upon old age pensioners who, as has been pointed out, are in many cases suffering grave hardships, but also the effect upon those who are looking forward to receiving pensions in the future, and whose confidence in the ability of our country to provide those pensions would be shattered if we were to increase the national burden at the present time.
The cost of old age pensions at present is some £95,000,000. The Exchequer share comes to £65,000,000. We know from vital statistics that the average age of our population is steadily rising, and that as the years go by a higher proportion of our population is reaching the age of 65. Consequently, in the future more will be paid out in benefits and less received in contributions, with the result that the cost of the pensions scheme in this country will automatically rise and the Exchequer share of that cost will also rise. It is estimated that the total cost, which is £95,000,000 at present, will rise to £147,000,000 in 40 years. The Exchequer share will rise very steeply from £65,000,000 to £113,000,000. That rise is automatic, without any increase in benefit rates or any other alterations in the present scheme. We are engaged now upon a great national effort to expand our defences, and we are pursuing that course with the approval, in principle, of all parties—[An HON. MEMBER: "No!"]—well, of almost all parties. The Estimates for this year have reached the colossal figure of £352,000,000, and, obviously, those Estimates are likely to be exceeded. To superimpose upon that figure the additional cost of increased old age pensions at this time, would, I think, have the same effect as the unbalanced Budget in 1931 had on the Government of that day. It seems to me that if we were 1808 to expand expenditure upon one branch of our social services, we should lose that balance of relationship between the social services which, I believe, it is important to maintain. Therefore, we ought not, to embark upon a great and costly extension in one direction at the risk of finding ourselves unable in the future even to preserve our existing social services in their present form.
The hon. Member who seconded the Motion referred to the Social Security Act recently passed by the Government of New Zealand. I am glad he did so, because I am certain that if he had examined that Act and knew the exact conditions on which the benefits under it are being paid, he would not have suggested, as he did, that we ought to follow the example of the New Zealand Government. The plan of that Act would not in the least fit in with our pensions scheme. Although, as the hon. Member said, pension benefits under that Measure have been increased to figures considerably higher than those which are paid in this country, yet they are paid subject to a means test and that, in spite of the fact that the pensions scheme in the Social Security Act is on a contributory basis. I cannot believe that the hon. Member really meant what he said when he suggested that we ought to follow that example. Incidentally, there is another test under that Act. Benefits are paid only to applicants of good moral character and sober habits. In this country we have divided our pensions into two categories. We pay contributory pensions without any test of means and as a right. Non-contributory pensions, rightly, I believe, are subject to a means test, which, I notice, hon. Members opposite propose to continue in their own plan.
If we were to follow the example of New Zealand and impose a means test in the case of contributory pensions we should save a great deal of money, and we might be able to raise our pension benefits, but I do not think it would be practicable to impinge that new principle upon our existing pension services. It may interest the hon. Member to know that the Social Security Act is expected to cost New Zealand some £15,000,000. It includes not only age benefits but unemployment benefits and provision for invalids, for orphans, for miners, for health services, medical services and war pensions. The scales in many cases are higher than those 1809 payable in this country. The cost of £15,000,000, of which £8,500,000 is from contributions, is somewhat less than one-sixth of what we are spending on the pensions service alone. [HON. MEMBERS: "What about population?."] I was just about to say that it only shows the difference between a country with 40,000,000 inhabitants and a country with 1,500,000 inhabitants. One cannot really draw comparisons to suggest that we ought to impose in this country exactly the same legislation as that which may be found suitable in other countries. The hon. Members opposite referred only to one aspect of this problem, namely, the effect of the present scheme upon the old age pensioner and the hardships which, as they have pointed out—no doubt with accuracy—people are suffering to-day on account of the low rates of benefit which it is at present possible to pay. They have told us extraordinarily little about how we should meet the cost of the extension which they propose.
§ Captain Conant
Hon. Members have their own plans, but although some hon. Members opposite—the hon. Member who seconded the Motion, for instance—do not apparently accept their party's plan, yet I imagine it is still the policy of the party opposite to increase benefits by the method suggested in the pamphlet "Labour's Pension Plan." I take it that that pamphlet still represents, in the opinion of the party opposite, the best method by which their policy should be carried out in present circumstances. Perhaps the House, therefore, will allow me to make a few criticisms of what they propose to do. Since so little has been heard about the plan to-day, may I ask, first, whether it has met the same fate as its predecessor, the plan which promised old age pensions at the age of 60, and which was scrapped for the simple reason that the cost in those days, when the national burden was far lighter than it is to-day, was found to be prohibitive, and whether the plan has undergone any modification owing to the increasing enthusiasm of hon. Members opposite for spending money on armaments? Has that in any way modified their view as to what it is possible to spend in the direction of pensions?
Their plan proposes many most excellent reforms, at a cost of £80,000,000, 1810 which is the estimate of the promoters, but in my submission that money is to be raised by methods which are extraordinarily unjust to the contributors to the scheme. I think it is most unfair that those who are compelled by law to contribute to the scheme should contribute on the basis which is laid down in this plan. As the House knows, under our present scheme no one is called upon to pay in contributions more than his own benefits are worth. A young entrant to insurance, at the age of 16, is called upon to pay a contribution which represents the actuarial worth of his benefit, and because, in a compulsory and universal scheme, you are bound to have a flat rate of contributions, it follows that everyone who enters insurance above the age of 16 is in fact paying less than the real value of his own benefits. The balance, therefore, under our present scheme, is made up by the State, and that represents the State's contribution to insurance. Under the plan of the party opposite it is proposed that the State should contributewhat it can afford to pay, according to the budgetary conditions prevailing at the time.and the balance to make up the amount required is to come from contributions. We are told in the scheme that it is not unreasonable or impracticable to ask an additional weekly contribution up to 1s. a week from insured male persons and 9d. a week from insured female persons. That means that the younger people in insurance are being called upon to pay, not only for the benefits that they will receive, but for the benefits that are to be paid immediately to a number of other people. In fact, it is the proposal of the party opposite that they should raise their money by a direct tax upon the young people in industry, in order that pensions may be increased immediately, and that, in my submission, is extraordinarily unfair. I do not think the young man in industry should be singled out for a special tax in addition to what he is to receive back when he qualifies for benefit, in order that old age pensions may be increased immediately for other people. Our present system guards against that unfair practice.
Hon. Members have referred to a great many alleged anomalies in the present system, and I join with them in hoping that any anomalies or apparent injustices 1811 may be removed as soon as possible, but in my submission it is difficult, if not impossible, to see how, in any contributory scheme where you have a dividing line, you can dispense altogether with apparent injustices. Of course, you will have the man on one side of the line and the man on the other, and it is always the person who just fails to qualify who is the most deserving case. That is inevitable, and no one, in my judgment, is entitled to exploit that type of grievance which arises from the dividing line unless he is prepared to abandon the contributory principle altogether. Hon. Members' efforts in their own scheme to remedy anomalies have not been particularly successful, and where they have attempted to do so they have created greater anomalies which will affect a greater number of people. I would mention two instances. First of all, there is the wife of an insured old age pensioner who receives a pension at the age of 55. But why should not the widow of the same age receive the same pension, and what about the spinster? Her case is just as hard. We are told in the plan of hon. Members opposite that spinsters are not to have pensions, on account of the cost. That is the reason why it is definitely turned down. On page 18, while we find that the wife, on the one hand, is to get a pension, the widow and spinster are not.
Then we have the similar case of the wife of an insured old age pensioner who receives a pension of 15s. at 55, but if her husband dies, her pension drops to 10s. When she reaches the age of 65, it goes up to 20s., and that is, I submit, a very remarkable situation and only goes to show that when you do remove, successfully, one anomaly, you almost invariably create other and worse anomalies in its place. It is extraordinarily easy for us to say that we are in favour of increasing old age pensions, but it is quite a different thing to sit down and, with a full sense of responsibility, count not only the cost to the national finances, but the effect of such a course upon other sections of the community. There is the effect, for instance, upon our trade, because surely the increased contributions of employers and employed and the increased taxation which would inevitably result from an extension of pension benefits would be a serious handicap to our trade at the present time. I believe that 1812 it is not in the general interest of the community that at this time, while our rearmament programme is still upon us, we should take this course, and on that account I ask the House to accept the Amendment.
§ 5.8 p.m.
§ Mrs. Tate
I beg to second the Amendment.
The hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson), who moved the Motion, said that if we to-day in this House could pass his Motion, it would be a great gesture to the world at large, and might indeed be a gesture of such note that it would do much to stabilise the international situation by proving to the totalitarian States the inherent strength of democracy. Could we pass anything which would do that, we should indeed be achieving much, but if by merely showing how admirable our pension schemes were, we could achieve that, it would have been done already, for to-day, I think I am right in saying, in this country some 19,000,000 persons in insurable employment are covered in one way or another by pension schemes, and that excludes the non-contributory pensions of old people at 70. It happens to be a more comprehensive scheme than is put forward by any other country in the world, and I think it does show to the totalitarian States the strength of democracy and is a very good proof of the healthy condition achievable by democracy. If pension schemes are likely to influence them in any way, they would already be influenced.
I should like to stress what the Mover of the Amendment, the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Captain Conant), has said, that the important feature of an old age pension scheme, the feature that is more valuable to those who receive it than any other, is that it should be secure, and we have no right to stand up in this House, no matter how great our sympathy for cases which are admittedly hard, no matter how small the sum which the people now get may be, and say, "We will increase it," unless we are quite certain that in doing that we are doing nothing which will jeopardise the safety and security that those people now enjoy in regard to their pensions. I am sure that hon. Members opposite agree with me that security of the pension is more important that anything else. 1813 Where they and I differ is as to our ability to afford to increase that sum at this moment.
The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. E. Smith), who seconded the Motion, asked me whether or not I thought 10s. a week was a sufficiently large sum for anyone to live on. Of course it is not, particularly for old people. No one in this country would get up and say that 10s. a week was a large enough sum to live on, but I do not think it has been the policy of the party opposite—it has certainly never been the policy of any Government of this country—to say that the old age pension should be an adequate sum to sustain life in desirable circumstances. It has never been put forward as an adequate sum for the total needs of a family or a person; it has always been put forward as a minimum benefit which they can be sure of receiving. If it be said by any hon. Member opposite that the old age pension has ever been put forward by any Government or party as being an adequate sum for a family to live on, how is it that it has never followed the cost of living index? In 1919, when it was raised from 5s. to 10s., because of the high costs of that day, the cost of living index was at 255, but to-day it is at 156, and on that basis, if you had ever made your old age pension follow your costs of living index, you would not now be getting very much more than 7s. On that basis the old age pension of 10s., if you compare it with 1919, must be worth to-day about 14s.
I, therefore, say that we never have considered the cost of living, and none of us pretends that it is an adequate sum of money, but when you take notice of that tremendously important feature, security, it is better to have that than to embark on a scheme to increase it without due thought as to whether you would be able to make it secure in the future. The hon. Member for Stoke said that he was not putting forward to-day the Labour pension scheme, but, as the Mover of the Amendment said, you cannot get up in this House and advocate a scheme unless you define what it is. The scheme of the party opposite has been defined, and I agree with the Mover of the Amendment that it shows very grave anomalies. One of the features of the Motion before the House is that an increase in the pension scheme would encourage people to leave employment.
1814 Decreasing unemployment is one of the reasons hon. Members opposite give for increasing old age pensions. They admit that some 360,000 people over 65 are at present in insurable employment, and they claim that from that number about 250,000 would retire if the pensions were increased. I do not know on what they base that figure, but I think it is an exceedingly problematical one. I do not agree that if we increase the pension to £1 for a single man and 35s. for a married couple from the present 10s., we have any right to believe that 250,000 people will retire from employment. I do not think it is true. Even if they would, is that a practical scheme from the point of view of employment? Hon. Members opposite say that their scheme would cost on an average £85,000,000 a year additional to our present expenditure for the next 10 years. They claim that 250,000 people will be put into employment. Do they really believe that for an additional 250,000 people going into employment—with which I do not agree—it is worth spending £85,000,000 a year of the taxpayers' and work people's money? That is a very fallacious argument, and I should like to know on what they base the figure of 250,000 people whom they say would leave employment.
I want to look at the cost of this proposal, because I have said that we must be certain of security, and we cannot guarantee it if we increase the cost beyond what we are able to afford. At the present time our social services are costing some £222,000,000 a year. Of that we are spending £95,000,000 on pension schemes. Have we any right to come to the House and say that we must increase the pensions schemes without saying one word as to whether or not, at the same time, it will be desirable to increase the other social services? We cannot take one-quarter of the cost of the whole and say that we must increase it. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have not said that."] Hon. Members have said that they are in favour of increasing old age pensions. I say that it is desirable they should be increased, but we must be certain whether we can afford it and what we can afford, and what comparable increases we must make in the other social services. We know that our budget of £922,000,000 will have to be increased, because we have to find extra money for Defence Services. Until we know exactly what 1815 the cost of the Defence Services is likely to be, we cannot say how much we can afford to spend on increasing the social services. When we know by how much we can increase them, then will be the time to apportion the sum between the whole of the services, and not give it only to old age pensioners.
I think that hon. Members are ignoring one important factor, although it is put forward in the Labour pensions scheme. We sometimes forget that the schemes which we pass here to-day have to be paid for by future generations. I notice that the Labour party in their plan say that it is useless to look further than 10 years ahead as none of us know what the nation, or the worker, or the employer will be able to afford in 10 years time. When we are considering pension schemes we have to look 40 years ahead, because we are asking young people to-day to start contributing for these pensions, the benefits of which they will not get for 40 years, and we have no right to ask people for increased contributions unless we are certain they can get the benefit when the 40 years have elapsed. Do we realise that every 10 years our population is decreasing by, roughly, 2,000,000 people, but at the same time, every 10 years, the number of people over 65 years of age is increasing by about 2,000,000? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Do hon. Members know what is put forward in the Labour party's pension pamphlet? [An HON. MEMBER: "You have not read it."] I have read it very carefully and I will read what it says. [HON. MEMBERS: "All of it?"] I should not like to read all of it aloud, and I often wonder whether hon. Members themselves can have done so.In the year 1936 the total population of this country was 45,144,000 and the number of persons over 65 was 3,640,000. In 1941 it is calculated that the population will have dropped from 45,000,000 to 44,000,000 and that the people over 65 years of age will have increased from 3,640,000 to 4,127,000.That is a very serious consideration—roughly 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 extra people to be kept by a population of 1,500,000 fewer people. It would put a very heavy burden upon the people in industry, and before we do anything which will increase the taxation of these people we have to think very carefully whether or not they can afford it.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Has the hon. Lady considered the increased potential productive capacity owing to machinery, science and invention with those smaller numbers?
§ Mrs. Tate
I have certainly considered it, but I have also considered the great wealth of this country in the past and of the frequent statements that are made of the dangers of competition to our trade, and of the possibility of keeping up the present lead of this country with that growing competition. Hon. Members themselves in the recent crisis have been forced to say that we have now to look to increased competition from Germany and the great wealth of those countries with which we have to compete, which have so much middle European trade and a lower standard of life. We have all those factors to take into consideration. I wish that I could think that the potential wealth of this country would increase at the same rate at which it increased in past years, but we have seriously to consider whether we can, in comparison with other nations, keep up our standard of wealth. We must be certain of that before we place this enormous burden on a decreasing population of young people.
I hope that we shall have a larger number of superannuation schemes. The hon. Gentleman who seconded the Motion was a little unfair about some schemes he mentioned when he said that all we gave these highly skilled people in old age was 10s. a week. Many of them, I am thankful to say, belong to additional superannuation schemes. They are highly desirable. I should like to see their growth in industry, for they are one of the safest and healthiest ways of providing for old age pensions. The increased cost of £85,000,000, which the labour party admit will be the cost of their scheme, does not account for the anomalies that exist. Before I agree to an increase of pensions all round I should like to see some of the anomalies wiped out. If we granted a pension of 10s. to wives of old age pensioners when their husbands drew a pension, the cost of the scheme would be increased by £6,500,000, which would rise automatically to £8,000,000 in 10 years.
I do not think we have taken enough note of the fact that the £96,000,000 which pensions already cost will automatically increase in 40 years' time, even if we do not add an additional farthing to the 1817 present pensions, to £147,000,000. When hon. Members say that so little is done, do they forget that the cost of pensions is already 20,000,000 greater to-day than it was when the Labour party were in power in 1930? Is it nothing to them that there is that enormous increase? I ask hon. Members to be quite sure that we can afford to do what we all want to do. There is not a human being in the country who does not want to make old age easier and more secure. There is not one of us who does not sympathise with the hard cases of which we all know, but if we promise what we cannot fulfil, we are bringing infinitely greater hardships than exist to-day. I say that the schemes which the party opposite have put forward are unsound, and must inevitably bring that hardship upon the people.
§ 5.28 p.m.
§ Mr. Mander
I heartily support the Motion. Sometimes it is said that if the circumstances of the country were such as to force all the progressive elements in each of the three parties into one government, they would find it possible to agree on foreign policy, but they would not agree on home policy. I do not take that view. I certainly think that there would be no difficulty in finding agreement, for example, on the subject of pensions and the necessity of increasing them in the interests of the people as a whole. It is my practice in August to go into my constituency with a loud speaker and invite the residents in various streets to come and have a talk with me on any subject where they desire to enlighten me on their views, or to ask me any questions. I am bound to say that my experience is that they are mainly interested in two questions. One subject is housing, and with regard to that while I express my sympathy with them I refer them to the local authorities, because housing is not primarily a matter for Parliament.
The other subject is pensions. There is a widespread feeling that pensions are not large enough, and do not cover a sufficient number of people to be fair and just. We have heard something about the Labour programme, and if the Mover and Seconder of the Motion failed in any way to do justice to that programme their omission was made up for by the very full remark on the subject by the Mover and Seconder of the Amendment, who were good enough to give a very fine advertisement 1818 to the Labour party's scheme. I was very much distressed to see the alarm of the two hon. Members regarding that programme. Apparently they thought it would be unfair and that it would not work. I did not gather whether they thought it would give too little and wanted a more generous pension scheme. On the whole, I was not too much impressed by their criticism, because I came to the conclusion that their own programme is to make no extensions whatsoever of pensions. In the main the Government and the party opposite—not all of them, for there are saner elements among them—do not offer any prospect to the electors of an extension of pensions, and I agree that the Social Services not only cannot be maintained but will have to be cut down under the policy which the Government are pursuing at the moment.
The programme of the Labour party seems to be in its basis a fair and adequate one. One proposal is for a pension of £1 a week for a single person, with 35s. for a married couple, as full rates of pension for persons of 65 and over qualified under the Old Age and Blind Pensions Acts and the Contributory Pensions Acts—subject to certain provisions. One proposal to which I would particularly refer, because I have found a great demand for it among my constituents, is that the pension should be given to the wife as soon as the husband qualifies for pension, provided the wife is over 55. The hon. Lady made some reference to it. I understand there are about 250,000 husbands over 65 receiving a pension who have wives younger than themselves and who are not getting the pension. One of the best reforms we could make would be to say that the wife shall get the pension as soon as she is 55. That would do away with the difficulty which arises from the pension of 10s. being used at times to subsidise wages. The man is kept on by his firm but 10s. is taken from his wages. If husband and wife both got the pension there would be a much better chance of the man retiring from industry altogether and thereby making way for someone else who would be paid the full wage.
I hope that as an outcome of the work of the committee which is sitting at present something will be done in the way of pensions for spinsters. I certainly have every sympathy for them and think that their claim can be fully justified. Having 1819 stated generally my strong support for increased and extended old age pensions, I come to the question, Can we afford them? I entirely agree that the present Government, with their policy, are not in a position to pay for them. There is no hope of the people getting increased pensions from them. It is entirely a matter of foreign policy. I am not going into a discussion on that subject, but it all depends upon that. If we pursue a policy which involves a perfectly futile, endless and disastrous race in armaments, one country competing against the other, causing extra taxation to be piled on every year and yet bringing no peace to anybody but leading only to final disaster, we certainly cannot afford extended pensions and we shall not be able to keep going the Social Services which we now have. The Government are anxious that no such idea should get abroad, but what I have said is perfectly true and they will not be able to hide it very much longer. On the other hand I say most definitely that if those of us who take a different view of foreign policy were given the opportunity which I think will come when hon. Members opposite, in due course, go the way of Bridgwater, what I have indicated would be possible under that other policy.
§ Mr. Mander
I should not be in order in going into foreign policy, but the general views of the two sides of the House are perfectly well known, and if the hon. Member has any doubt he can read them up in the reports of the Debates recently. It is a policy which, as a result of joint and collective action by the peace-loving nations of the world, would enable international disarmament to take place under international supervision, which would bring with it a decrease in armaments and a decrease, therefore, of taxation, a cessation of the armaments race, and the freeing of large annual sums of money which could be used for the purposes we are discussing to-night. That is the real issue. Hon. Members opposite are perfectly right and logical in saying that what is proposed to-night cannot be done under their policy and under their Government, but it can be done, and that is why we desire to see them depart quietly from office at the earliest convenient moment.
§ Mr. Beverley Baxter
As the hon. Member says that what the Opposition are asking for to-night is impossible under the present Government's policy shall we find him in the Lobby with us against the Motion—as he says that it is impossible? Is the hon. Member going to look both ways?
§ Mr. Mander
Perhaps the hon. Member has not realised that we on this side are pursuing a dual and concurrent policy. One part of it is to press forward with these pension schemes and the other is simultaneously to get rid of the present Government. I think, therefore, that he can feel reassured as to any difficulty that might confront me as to how I should vote in the Lobby to-night. I support the Motion warmly for two reasons; because I think that what is asked can be done and that it would be just and fair to the people of this country, and because I am one of those who desire to see the wealth of this country redistributed. I think there is far too much wealth in the hands of a limited class, and one of the best ways of producing greater equality is to see that by way of taxation sums are taken from the pockets of the wealthy and placed in the pockets of the poor. Pensions are a proper and reasonable way of doing it, and for that reason I heartily support the Motion.
§ 5.40 p.m.
§ Mr. Duncan
The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) has carried on his party's traditional duality policy, and I do not think I need say more about that except, perhaps by way of example, to remind him of the resignation from his party yesterday of a distinguished member of it, Mr. D. M. Mason, who used to sit for Edinburgh. The hon. Member who moved this Motion said he did not put it forward in a party spirit, but I think he will forgive me if I say that he and the seconder between them pretty fully explained their party's policy, and I compliment them on the sincerity with which they did it. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion quoted Mr. Wheatley, with whom he was associated for some years and of whom he saw a good deal. Let me also quote someone from the past as representative of Tory ideas.The Tory party has three great objects. The first is to maintain the institutions of 1821 the country, the second is to uphold the Empire, the third is the elevation of the condition of the people.That was said by Benjamin Disraeli.
§ Mr. Duncan
I do not think anybody who knows anything about the Empire would regard that interruption as being really serious. It is the third object which we are discussing to-day, the elevation of the condition of the people. However sincere hon. Members opposite may be in pursuit of this particular aspect of the elevation of the people, I hope they will not consider us any less sincere if we take a different view, at this moment. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion asked us individually whether we thought that a widow or an old age pensioner could live on 10s. a week. My answer is No, quite frankly, but I follow that up by saying that it was not the idea of the pensions scheme that they should live on 10s. a week, but that the 10s. should be a contribution towards the maintenance of old age pensioners and their wives at the end of their working lives or if, through becoming widows, they have lost their means of livelihood with the death of their husbands. The pension was never intended to be the full sum on which they should be able to live.
I think we should recognise that of recent years there has been an enormous extension of pension schemes. The Contributory Pensions Act is only 12 years old, and has been of enormous benefit, and it was passed by a Conservative Government. I think the main difference between the position as it was before 1926 and now is that although 10s. may not be adequate to keep a widow or an old age pensioner none the less the fact that there is this contribution to the family income makes an enormous difference to the lot of those people who are getting pensions to-day. As a matter of finance, it is interesting to note that the cost of living was in the neighbourhood of 175 points over 1914 when the contributory pensions scheme came in and that it is now in the neighbourhood of 160. The actual value of 10s. is greater now than when the pension was introduced. I do not make a great point of that, but say it in passing, because I think the point should be remembered. Then there is the voluntary pension which has already been passed 1822 by this House and which will, in its way, be of enormous benefit to those who are not in insurance, having been left out by previous Acts. They are now introduced for the first time.
I must support the Amendment. The Motion states:This House is of opinion that the necessary reforms should be introduced without delay.For reasons which have already been stated the country is not in a position to go in for vastly increased expenditure of that nature. Many questions were asked during last summer about the cost of various extensions of the pensions scheme. I do not remember them all, but they varied, if I remember aright, between £60,000,000 and £150,000,000 a year. They were extensions upon a very considerable scale, at any rate. The estimates for the Services this year are about £352,000,000 and an enormous increase is bound to take place in the Estimates next year, the Air Ministry alone accounting for £200,000,000, as the Secretary of State for Air said last week. It is obvious that further vast expenditure for increasing pensions is at the present time quite impracticable. For that reason I cannot vote for the Motion.
I come to the consideration of the Amendment. I agree with its first sentence:This House, recognising the great value of the existing pensions schemes"—I have said something about that—… would welcome their further extension as and when practicable on a sound financial basis.That expresses what is in my mind. I would like to see the pensions schemes extended as and when practicable on a sound financial basis. If the policy of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is successful, as I hope it will be, and there is some form of disarmament in the near future, we may be able to release for social purposes sums which are now being devoted to armaments. I believe that pensions would be as good social purposes as any other for the elevation of the condition of the people.
I am not altogether happy about the rest of the Amendment. The next seven or eight lines seem to ask the Government to do nothing whatever, to make no extension and to remove no anomalies. I must confess that if it were possible to 1823 remove some of the anomalies I should be delighted to support the Government in doing so, in spite of the financial stringency. Hon. Members have already mentioned one anomaly, that of the man who receives a pension at 65 years of age and who may be put out of work. He does not have to be put out of work, but sometimes that is what happens. [HON. MEMBERS indicated dissent.] No, it does not happen in all cases. His wife, not being 65, he gets only 10s. a week to live on until his wife is 65. If the wife, provided she does not work, could also get 10s. a week when the husband became 65, there would be £1 coming into their house. I am sure that the additional money would be of enormous value. I cannot imagine that the cost of that extension would be too great or that there is a very large number of cases.
Another anomaly, the correction of which should cost still less money, contains one of the hardest cases. It is always said that you cannot get good law without hard cases, but this hard case should be met in some way. It is that of the widow of a man who, to all appearances, so far as his wife knew, was insured when he was alive. The woman has not worked for years except in looking after her home, children and husband. Then the husband dies and she makes application in the ordinary way for pension. She is told that because her husband had not the requisite number of stamps on his card she is not entitled to a pension. When inquiries are made it is found that the husband ought to have had the stamps on his card but that the employer was at fault. Under the law, as I understand it, the employer can be sued for the number of stamps that are missing, but even though the stamps are subsequently paid up the widow is not entitled to a pension because the stamps must be put on at the due date. There cannot be many cases of this kind. In the last few years I have had three in my constituency. One is still pending and we may be able to wangle round the law in some way.
§ Mr. Duncan
I have not yet discovered. The case does not come within the law of the ordinary hard case. However much you may blame the man for not 1824 seeing that his card was stamped, he is now dead and the widow has to suffer through no fault of her own. You cannot expect a woman to watch every stamp that is put on her husband's card. I urge the Financial Secretary seriously to consider whether financial conditions admit of his looking into that type of case.
I have merely mentioned those two anomalies to see whether they can be met. For the rest, I shall have to vote for the Amendment. I cannot vote for the Motion, but I would like to see, as and when financial circumstances permit, the extension of the pensions scheme on the lines of that great Tory leader of the past Benjamin Disraeli.
§ 5.54 p.m.
§ Mr. Stephen
Some weeks ago I introduced a Bill with the specific object of increasing pensions from 10s. to £1 per week and of removing anomalies created by deficiency of contributions. I hope that the hon. Member who has just spoken will support my Bill.
§ Mr. Stephen
I am sorry if the hon. Member thinks it is a bad Bill. Either he does not agree with increasing the pensions from 10s. a week or he disagrees with the removal of anomalies arising from deficiencies of contributions. It cannot be anything else. If he does not disagree on either of those points he must support the Bill altogether. On that occasion I had the unanimous approval of the House for the introduction of the Bill, which took place at the close of the Session because I wanted the Government to understand that Members on all sides of the House were in favour of this measure of justice to the old age pensioners and the widows who are now existing on 10s. a week. Unfortunately, the Government did not take advantage of the obvious wish of Members of this House. There is nothing in the King's Speech that offers hope to the people in such poor circumstances.
I want to try to take the Debate away from some of the side-issues which have been introduced by the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment and by the hon. Member who preceded me. The question that the House has to face is not whether it is possible within the national revenue to provide increases for 1825 these pensioners, but whether these people can be expected to go on living, or managing to exist, on 10s. a week. I have the support of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that 10s. is inadequate for this purpose. In answer to a supplementary question he stated that it was obvious that nobody supposed that these people could live on 10s. a week and that the idea was that the old age pension should be supplemented from other sources. I do not think I am doing him an injustice, although I am not quoting his exact words. What we have to consider is not the national income and expenditure, but the possibility of the 10s. a week to those people being supplemented from other sources.
There are two possibilities in that regard. The first is supplementation by relatives or friends. My experience is that most of the old age pensioners have no relatives who are able to assist them in that way, and I should think that, taking the old age pensioners of the country as a whole, the overwhelming majority have no relatives who could help them in that way. I put the idea aside, and if hon. Members are honest they will do so too. The other possibility is that relating to the local authorities, who in some cases supplement the pensions by a certain amount, which may be half-a-crown. To add half-a-crown to the 10s. does not make it sufficient for the maintenance of the person concerned. The burden that is being put on distressed areas and places where unemployment has been heaviest, in connection with the supplementing of these pensions, is absolutely unfair.
Because the State—the national Treasury—is not fulfilling its responsibility in this respect, districts like Glasgow, which have had a big volume of unemployment, are put into an impossible position in regard to giving those people the maintenance that they ought to have. It means that, in districts like Glasgow and the distressed areas, the rates are forced up, and consequently those districts are placed in a completely false position as regards the development of industry in comparison with districts in the South and round about London. I accuse the Government of helping the movement of industry towards the South by the injustice that they are perpetrating upon those other districts in throwing upon the local authorities the burden of 1826 the maintenance of these people when it ought to be a national responsibility. There are so many districts that cannot do it. Take Merthyr Tydfil, with a rate of 28s. or 3os. in the £. How are the old people in a district like that to receive the supplementation which the Financial Secretary to the Treasury declares to be necessary? It is practically impossible. Therefore, I believe that a great responsibility rests upon the Government to deal with this matter.
The kernel of the problem is, not how much the country can pay, but whether we are prepared to allow these thousands of our fellow-citizens to be starved to death because they are unable to get more than 10s. a week on which to live. That is the question on which hon. Members have to vote to-night. If they vote against the Motion, then specifically they are voting for allowing those people to remain on this 10s. a week level. It is no use their saying that the country cannot afford any more, in view of the great programme of rearmament which the Government have felt compelled to undertake. To my mind, Members of the House will not be facing the issue honestly if they do not realise that their responsibility to those old people in their districts compels them to see to it tonight that the Government are told that it is the opinion of those people's representatives in this House that their pensions should be increased—I would say to £1 per week. The Motion does not mention a specific figure, but I think hon. Members will agree that £1 a week is no extravagant amount on which to base the maintenance of the individuals concerned.
I wondered when I heard speakers on the other side of the House talk about the financial stringency at the present time, about the difficulties in view of the financial circumstances of the nation. If the country cannot afford to maintain its old people, it cannot afford to provide aeroplanes, dreadnoughts, and all the rest of the instruments of destruction. The first charge must be for the maintenance of human life in those days when we are still at peace. These are the parents of the men whom the country would expect to join the Colours and undertake the fighting if a war should break out. But you are going to leave the parents in this hopeless financial position; you are going to say to them: "We are very sorry for 1827 you old folks; it is really too bad; we sympathise with you; but just look at the difficulties in which the country is. We have to spend umpteen millions to re-arm, and, after all, it is for your protection."
These people can protect themselves against any dangers that might come to them. What makes the danger for this country is the great wealthy resources of the rich, well-to-do sections of the community who own the land and the means of industry in this country. The old age pensioners in my division could really protect themselves. I have had put into my hand to-day, for example, a cutting from a local newspaper which reports that one of my constituents is living in such a house that she is bitten by a rat, and has to be removed to the Royal Infirmary. I might go to the First Lord of the Admiralty, but I should not get a dreadnought to go up and protect her against a plague of rats; I should not get an aeroplane to go and bomb the rats that are attacking my constituents.
I am told that the country cannot provide the financial resources to do justice to the old age pensioners, but that is not the point. The point is that the country should be able to afford this money as a first charge on the national income. All this programme of rearmament will not interest the ordinary working people of the country. There will be no unanimity with regard to the provision of your rearmament if you go on treating the old people and the widows as they have been treated by these miserable 10s. a week rates. I put it to the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that something has got to be done in this respect. The volume of opinion about the injustice which these people are suffering is growing. It is going to be one of the biggest questions in the future, and each Member of the House to-night, in the Division on this Motion, has got to realise his responsibility. It is no use his telling the old age pensioners in his division that the money cannot be found for them when all these hundreds of millions are being found for the instruments of death and destruction.
I prepared my Bill in order to get the matter definitely before the House of Commons. My Bill would put the charge on the employers, and I said, when I was introducing it under the Ten 1828 Minutes Rule, that I knew that the employers of this country had such a hold upon the Government that, if the charge were put on the employers, the employers would see to it that the Government would undertake the financial responsibility and make it a State charge. The Mover of the Amendment drew attention to the New Zealand system, but I do not think he did justice in the least to that system. I would point out to him that under the New Zealand plan every individual has to pay his contribution; a person with £1,000 a year pays a corresponding contribution. In this country there is nothing like that. Hon. Members get up and tell us that there is not a country in the world that has such a fine system of social security as we have in this country—National Health insurance, an Unemployment scheme, a pension scheme. Yes, and a public assistance scheme.
§ Mr. Stephen
No; I am not suggesting that we should have a means test or contributory pensions, but I am suggesting that our system here should be, like that in New Zealand, that the rich person would have to pay his responsible portion in accordance with his wealth. We have not got that in this country. When the pension scheme was introduced in this House, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), who was the first to put the scheme before the House, pointed out with great glee that the beauty of it all was that in a term of years every person would be paying for his own pension, and there would not be any State contribution at all—that the old system would die out. I know it did not work out exactly in that way, but under the New Zealand system the rich have to pay according to their riches. Our system of social insurance here is wholly unco-ordinated; it is wasteful in the extreme because of the lack of co-ordination. In New Zealand they have so much co-ordination that they can work their scheme more economically as regards administration than we are working ours here. But all that is beside the point. What Members on the Benches above the Gangway and on this Bench are demanding is that these old age pensioners and widows should not have to continue, as they have in the past, practically speaking only existing, because of 1829 their meagre pittance. I hope that a majority of hon. Members, both on the opposite side of the House and on this side, win let the Government understand that the old people and the widows have to get social justice.
§ 6.13 p.m.
§ Sir Robert Tasker
I have carefully considered the Motion, and compared its phrases with the Amendment. The Motion says:the present scale of pensions is inadequate to provide a reasonable standard of life for the recipients.So far as I know, no Member of the House will quarrel with that assertion. The Motion goes on to say that the present scale of pensionsdoes not encourage the retirement of elderly workers.Again, nobody can quarrel with that statement. It proceeds:There are anomalies in the present law which call for redress.That has been admitted on all hands. No one who has served on an old age pensions committee would for one moment deny that there are anomalies. I am not in the least concerned about Labour policy, about their teddy-bear pamphlets, or anything of that kind. What I am concerned about is the question whether the old people can live on 10s. a week. Obviously they cannot, but I think it would be fair to say that they are not required to do so, and I am surprised that such a question should be addressed to Members of this House.
§ Mr. Silverman
The hon. Member says that they cannot live on 10s. a week, and are not expected to do so. Would he care to tell the House who pays the difference?
§ Sir R. Tasker
I was coming to that. I said that they do not have to live on 10s. a week, nor do they. If they are old age pensioners, there is nothing to prevent their getting assistance from the public assistance committee, and that is done in thousands of cases.
§ Mr. Silverman
Is the hon. Member, then, contending that the old people should indeed be supported out of public funds, but that it is a matter of great principle with him and his friends that the public funds should be the local funds and not the funds of the State?
§ Sir R. Tasker
I think that, if my hon. Friend will be a little patient and will allow me to develop my argument, he will see what I am advocating. This is not a new problem. It is a problem which I, as chairman of an old age pensions committee for 15 years, have been endeavouring to get His Majesty's Government to look into. We are asked in the Amendment whether we can afford it. I say without hesitation that we can afford it. I wish to goodness that people in this House showed the same activity and the same enthusiasm to increase old age pensions by 5o per cent. as they did to increase their own remuneration by 50 per cent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, it is very well to say "Hear, hear"; but there were only 17 Members who went into the Lobby to vote against that.
Of course, it is no use getting up unless one is prepared to suggest where there is a means of finding the money. Why should not the amount of stamps be increased? That is one way. I suggest that if we have money to lend to Czechoslovakia and other foreigners, we have money for our own aged poor and spinsters, and for the man who has been wrecked and ruined by reason of his avocation, and is bound to retire long before he is 65. We have to take an entirely different view of this question of pensions. I do not like the idea that the men and women who have been working for 30 and 40 years should find themselves dependent entirely on the present inadequate money which they receive under any insurance scheme. If it is necessary, I am prepared to cut down certain portions of the social services which in my view are almost useless. There are certain subjects taught to our children that are of no earthly use to them. If we wanted to find £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 a year for other people we could find it. If we can find £30,000,000 to send to the Czechs we can find £30,000,000 for the old people. Let me read this extract from a letter which I received this morning:I have lived at the above address since September, 1891. My rent has been increased by 4s. 7d. since the end of the War, and by 7d. only since Saturday last. I can assure you that I do not know sometimes whether I shall be able to get the rent money together. I get sometimes a job or two, but nothing constant. I am a watchmaker over 75 years of age.1831 Here is a man paying 45. 7d. a week more for his rent, but his pension has not been increased. We have to bear in mind the difference between the value of 5s., 7s. 6d. or 10s. a week when the Old Age Pensions Acts came into operation and the value of those sums now. No one will deny that 10s. did not go much further when the Act was first introduced than it does to-day. On those grounds alone I would urge that there should be an increase. I promised to take 10 minutes; I will not exceed my time, but I want hon. Members in all parts of the House to believe me when I say that this desire to help the aged, the spinsters and the poor is not confined to any part of this House or any section of the community. I honestly believe that the great majority of the people of this country desire that something should be done to assist them.
§ 6.22 p.m.
§ Mr. Richards
It is quite natural that this Debate should centre on the difficult question of old age pensions. I should like to say a few words about that. The idea behind the Old Age Pensions Act originally was to remove the aged poor from the purview of the Poor Law, and I think that in a great many cases we have succeeded in doing that. Consequently, we can regard the Old Age Pensions Act as one of the most beneficient schemes ever passed through this House. One is sorry, however, to find that although we have succeeded to a certain extent in doing that, we have, as a result of constant unemployment in this country for a great number of years, a new body of people who are gradually becoming poorer, and, who are dealt with almost exclusively by the Poor Law. That means that we have not made the progress in this matter that we believed was possible some years ago.
The Old Age Pensions Act was first introduced into this House in 1908, after a very long period of agitation. For example, as far back as 1895 there was a report of a Committee of this House, which said that it appeared, from existing statistics, that nearly 20 per cent. of the total population above the age of 65 received relief in one day, and nearly 30 per cent. in the course of one year; and that if we deducted from those numbers the well-to-do, who were never 1832 driven to seek relief in this way, the number must have been nearer 40 per cent. It was a fact of that kind, that somewhere between 30 per cent. and 40 per cent. of the population in this very rich community at the end of the last century were receiving relief, which induced this House to pass the Old Age Pensions Act. That scheme, as we all know, was noncontributory, and it granted a pension of 5s. a week at the age of 70 to everyone whose income was below a certain limit; while in some cases, even then, it was possible for an old age pensioner to receive a pension of 10s. Since then some changes have taken place, and I would like to analyse the nature of those changes. There was, first, the natural agitation for the lowering of the age from 70 to 65. In 1925, as the result of this agitation, the age was reduced from 70 to 65. There are two points to remember. First, there is the reduction of the age to 65, and, secondly, the increasing of the pension to 10s.
If I put it baldly in that way, it looks as though some very considerable change had taken place in the scheme; but let me remind hon. Members that after 1925 the pensioner was really paying for his pension—not for the whole of it, it is true, but paying for it to a certain extent—and the pension scheme has by that fact gradually been converted into a contributory insurance scheme. Let me examine the relative position. In 1908 the pensioner got 5s., and possibly 10s., at the age of 70. In 1926 he got 10s. at the age of 65, provided he had contributed to the scheme. It is not true to say that the age has been universally lowered from 70 to 65. It has been lowered only in the case of those persons who have contributed to the pension. Those who have not contributed still have to wait until they attain the age of 70 before they get the pension of 10s. a week.
Let me examine the cost to the State of the working of the scheme. For the first full year, 1910, the cost was £8,500,000. For the first full year of the new scheme, 1928–29, the cost was £12,500,000. That is to say, over a period of 18 years the increased contribution that has been made by the State is just £4,000,000. During those critical years the old age pensioners must have passed through an exceedingly difficult time, because costs were rising against 1833 them—so much so that, I quite admit, in 1919 the Government raised the old age pension from 5s. to 10s.
§ Captain Conant
Has the hon. Member not omitted from his calculation the cost to the State of the non-contributory pension?
§ Mr. Richards
I have included that. I am including the total rise in the cost to the State as between those two dates. I am not including the total cost, because I do not think that is fair. The finances of the new scheme, as we all know, are based on a long period of permanence. There is no necessity to quarrel with that idea. We have heard a great deal to-day about the necessity for a permanent scheme. Such a scheme should cover a long period of years.
One or two other facts have been emphasised to-day, first of all, that the cost to the State is likely to mount up for a number of years. The reason for that is that there were a great many births between 1850 and 1890, and another fact is that it is largely affected by the improvement in public health, as the hon. Lady pointed out, with the result that there are a larger proportion of older people surviving. It has been estimated that the cost to the State, which was £12,500,000 in 1928, the first full year, will amount by 1965 to £21,500,000, after which—and this is an important point—it will decline very rapidly. The scheme of pensions is very ingeniously linked up with war pensions. War pensions are a declining liability, and if, on the other hand, the liability for old age pensions tends to increase up to a certain point, the liability on war pensions declines. To-day the liability in respect of war pensions is about £40,000,000 but it is calculated that by 1965 it will be only £10,000,000. The State is using the decline on the one in order, quite rightly, to supplement the other. In 1965, and even before that time, a boy who enters industry and pays his contribution will receive absolutely nothing from the State when he comes to claim his pension.
We are gradually changing over from a pure pensions scheme to a contributory scheme, and the result in the long run will be that the old age pension and other schemes will really be self-sufficing and carrying their own burden. The responsibility for old age pensions is a dwindling 1834 liability and our case on these benches is that in view of that, the Government surely ought to find some means of assisting the people we have heard so much about to-day.
I would like to consider the value of the pension from the point of view of its purchasing power. When the pension was first given in 1908 the cost-of-living figure stood at 97, and the pension was 5s. When we came to 1920 the cost-of-living figure stood at 269, and, although the pension had been increased to 10s. by that time, the value of the pension was 3s. 4d. When we came to 1921, another year with a very high figure for cost-of-living, the value of the 10s. pension was 4s. In 1928, the first year under the new scheme, the value of the 10s. pension was 5s. 5d., and to-day, on the cost-of-living figure given in the "Labour Gazette," the value of the old age pension of 10s. is 6s. 2d. Consequently our argument is that we ought not to pretend to give these people 10s., but we ought to do something to supplement it, so that the purchasing value of what they get will really be equivalent to 10s. The Chancellor of the Exchequer the other evening was very eloquent on the change that has taken place in the standards of life of the people, and we appreciate that that is so. But here are people whose claims, because they are old, are really fundamental. They require more delicate feeding and more warmth, and if they are to participate in the improved standards of living about which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was so eloquent, we think that, on all these grounds, the pension ought to be immediately considerably increased.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Euan Wallace)
Nearly a year ago the hon. Gentleman the Member for Ince (Mr. G. Macdonald) submitted a Motion in this House on a private Member's day very similar to the one we are now discussing. The hon. Member proposed reforms in the old age pensions schemes with two objects—first of all to encourage elderly workers to retire from industry and so to contribute something towards the solution of the unemployment problem, and, secondly, the removal of certain anomalies in the pensions schemes, some of which are admitted on all sides, and many of them inseparable from any pensions system.
1835 To-day the hon. Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson)—and I am glad to see that he is still fresh after his efforts last night, as I am—is somewhat more ambitious. He has not only taken into his Motion the two points that were discussed last year, but he proposes at least by implication that the old age pension should be of such a sum as in itself to provide a reasonable standard of life for the recipient without money from other sources; but I observe that the Motion is delicately reticent as to exactly what that standard is to be. The Motion itself and the speeches of the Mover and the Seconder and of others who have spoken in support of it, must inevitably make a powerful appeal to those feelings of humanity of which I am glad to say no party in this House has ever presumed to claim a monopoly. I do not suppose that any hon. Gentleman in this House would envy the Financial Secretary to the Treasury to-day in the exercise of his not infrequent duty of having to quench the generous ardours of his colleagues by the application of what I might perhaps describe as a cold financial hose; but my task to-day has been made very much easier by the Mover and the Seconder of the Amendment. I should like to congratulate, if I may do so without pomposity, both of them on courageous and realistic speeches, at a time when it is essential that Members should be realists.
§ Captain Wallace
I should like at the outset to re-emphasise two very essential facts which we ought to keep in mind. The first is the present cost of old age pensions, and the second, and more important, is the extent of the future commitments into which we have already definitely entered. As the Mover of the Amendment pointed out, pensions this year cost £95,000,000, of which £65,000,000 comes from the Exchequer. Even if it is not possible for us to make any improvement in the conditions, there will be an automatic growth in our commitments of pretty formidable proportions. The changes of recent years in the birth and mortality rates are, from the point of view of pensions at any rate, and indeed, from other points of view as well, extremely disquieting. There is going to be a considerable change in the next two or three decades in the age distribution of our population. The 1931 1836 Census showed that the number of persons over 65 in this country was 11 per cent. of those aged from 15 to 64. It is estimated that in 1955 that percentage will have risen to 16 and in 1975 to 21, and therefore, as various hon. Gentlemen have already pointed out, there will inevitably fall larger burdens upon a smaller number of persons in productive employment. In 40 years, which is a time before everyone who is now entering insurance will be drawing benefit, the cost of old age pensions, as my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Bewdley (Captain Conant) has told the House, will be £147,000,000, of which no less than £113,000,000 will come from the Exchequer. Therefore, I suggest that in dealing with every proposal for improving the conditions of old age pensions we have to remember first of all the immediate cost, and, secondly, and more important, the cost that we are laying on the next generation, remembering that they are already committed to an increase of very nearly £50,000,000.
The Motion begins by claiming that the present scale of pensions is inadequate to provide a reasonable standard of living. The Mover did not define what he considered a reasonable standard, and the Seconder said that he was not to be taken as being committed to Labour's present plan. It is essential that the House—and I feel quite certain that we shall have it from the right Gentleman who is to follow me—should have some definite indication as to precisely what is meant by a reasonable standard, in order that the House before they vote may see what that means in terms of money. I am not suggesting for one moment that the Mover and the Seconder of the Motion are espousing the 1934 Labour plan of £1 a week at 60, because that plan was very definitely and specifically rejected in the later Labour plan which I believe is sometimes rather irreverently referred to as the "Teddy Bear" Plan. [Interruption.] I am bound to assume that the standard of adequate maintenance is that outlined in Labour's latest pension plan, which was subjected to a detailed examination by my predecessor, now the Secretary of State for Scotland, in last year's Debate. My right hon. Friend showed—and I do not think that it has ever been contradicted—that if that particular scheme were placed upon a financial basis which was fair to 1837 contributors it would bring the total cost of pensions in 40 years time to £259,000,000 of which £194,000,000 would have to be provided by the Exchequer. In other words, it added £81,000,000 to the automatic increase of £50,000,000, to which we are already committed. That is the figure which I would like to ask the House to have in mind when they go into the Lobby, as they have been asked to do this evening with a very full sense of responsibility as to what they are voting for.
Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman keep in mind, when he is advising his supporters with regard to voting, that in my address I appealed, first of all, to the right hon. Gentleman to consider this plan, and secondly, that, if he could not go all the way, he should try and give some improvement to the old age pensioners and widows of this country. Therefore he is asking them to vote not only against the whole plan but against any progress with regard to these pensions.
§ Captain Wallace
We are not in Committee and we have to vote either for the Motion or the Amendment.
§ Mr. Stephen
Does the right hon. and gallant Gentleman not realise that it is as important to maintain these old people as to maintain the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.
§ Captain Wallace
Before I sit down I propose to deal with that point. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman who is going to follow me from the Opposition Front Bench, to say exactly what is meant by this proposal. Several hon. Members have twitted me about a statement I made in reply to a Supplementary Question about a fortnight ago. As that was a reply to a Supplementary Question, I am certain that hon. Members will credit me with a perfectly honest reply, straight from the heart. I do not retract one single word that I said, and I am glad to notice that one or two hon. Members on my own side have had the courage to endorse that statement. I have never heard it claimed in any responsible quarter that the payment of a pension of 10s. a week is enough for those who are entirely devoid of other resources; and I should not have the face to come to this Box or to stand in any other part of the House and suggest that it was.
1838 The old age pension was intended to provide a minimum benefit in supplementation of savings, annuities, private benefit funds and superannuation schemes, all of which we should encourage as far as we can. The hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) said that the supplementary amount must come from one of two sources. He put relatives first, and the local authorities second. Surely, the proof of the pudding is in the eating; and it is true that the other resources to which I have referred, savings, annuities, private benefit funds and so on, do make it possible for the majority of old age pensioners to live on this sum of 10s.
§ Captain Wallace
In the minority of cases, where further supplementation is necessary, these people go, and properly go, to a source whose only criterion is need. All of us hope to live to see the day when conditions in this country will be such that this will not be necessary; but if it is proposed, as appears implicit in the Motion, to remodel the whole old age pension system and make full maintenance the criterion, then surely the logical corollary is that whenever additions to the existing sums are necessary in order to reach that standard, they should be subject to a test of means. I fail to see how it is possible to graft a scheme of that kind on to a contributory scheme. It must be remembered that more than three-fourths of the pensions that are being paid to-day are contributory pensions, which are in the nature of insurance benefits. People receive a specific benefit in return for a definite premium which they have paid.
§ Mr. Lipson
If this Motion were carried would it not be our suggestion that the Government should bring forward such reform as it thought necessary? Is not that the point at issue? I feel rather worried as to how I shall vote.
§ Captain Wallace
Perhaps I may be allowed to make my speech in my own way. It may he perhaps a clumsy way, but I intend to deal seriously with all these points if I am allowed to do so. It is certain that by however much and in whatever proportion of cases the old age pension at present falls short of providing that adequate maintenance for people who 1839 are without other resources which everybody in this House would like to see provided, it comes a great deal nearer to doing so than when the rate of pension was fixed. The hon. Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) pointed out that when the old age pension was fixed in 1919 the cost of living was 225 as against the present figure of 156. Therefore, the pension has risen in purchasing power by about 4s. 6d. since that date. If the pension were meant to provide an adequate standard of maintenance, then one might logically expect its amount to be related to the cost of living. If this had been done the rate would be about 7s. to-day.
The second point in the Motion is that the old age pension at its present level does not encourage the retirement of elderly workers. That point was ably and comprehensively dealt with by my hon. Friend the Member for Frome. We must all seriously ask ourselves what increase in pension we can envisage which would act as a sufficient inducement for a man earning, say, 40s. to 45s. a week to retire. Presumably, also, the pension would have to be conditional on actual retirement. That, again, brings us back to the Labour plan. I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Frome in saying that such retirements as might be induced would not really represent any substantial contribution to the unemployment problem. I do not believe that in their heart of hearts there are many hon. Members opposite—who have much greater experience in these matters than I have—who really believe that a scheme of that kind would act as a substantial relief of unemployment. Clearly, there is no justification for increasing the pensions of 2,500,000 people merely in order to induce a certain number of the 300,000 old persons now at work to retire. Moreover, I do not think any one has ever contended that for every elderly worker who retired under such a scheme a young one would come into a job.
A further point raised in the Motion is the question of anomalies. The difficulty about putting right all the anomalies, or alleged anomalies, is that it would cost a lot of money. If time were available I should be very glad to take the House through the precise implications of the various proposals made in differentquarters for remedying 1840 anomalies, and to express them to the House in terms of millions of pounds per year. I will mention one, which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for North Kensington (Mr. Duncan). He wanted wives of insured pensioners to get the pension even if they were not 65. If they got the pension at any age as soon as their husbands qualified, that is, if, when the husband got it at 65 his wife also got it even if she were only 25, the cost would be £6,500,000 a year now, rising to £8,000,000 in ten years. If the concession were limited to wives over 6o years, it would cost £4,000,000, rising to £4,750,000 in 10 years. There was one further point which was brought to my notice by my hon. Friend, and I must frankly admit that it is one of some complexity and one of which I am not fully seized. I have not the slightest idea how much it would cost. All that I can say is that, as it is a new one on me, I will certainly look into it very carefully.
Now I must leave the Motion and come to the Amendment. I want to make it clear that the Amendment begins by accepting the desirability of extending the pension schemes, as and ashen practicable, on a sound financial basis. I have no doubt that hon. Members opposite who took part in the pensions Debate last year believe that the policy of the Government is jam yesterday and jam to-morrow but never jam to-day. This is certainly not one of the jam days. The argument that has been advanced in many quarters that because you can find money for war you can find money for increased pensions is an argument which is entirely unsound. An exceptional, temporary emergency such as a war, or the immediate threat of war, can be met by exceptional emergency measures, such as borrowing, heavy taxation and the like, but a heavy increase in old age pensions would not be a temporary expedient. It would not only be permanent, but it would be increasingly costly as time goes on. I should like to know whether hon. Members who will go gaily and, I am certain, sincerely, into the Lobby in support of the Motion, really suggest that we should have in this country war finance methods in perpetuity. Borrowing for emergency is one thing, but borrowing for expenditure which is both permanent and increasingly costly is a very different proposition.
1841 It has been suggested in more than one quarter—I think it was suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn (Sir Robert Tasker)—that the extra cost need not fall on the State but that the contribuors should pay for the whole cost, or that they should contribute something more than the actuarial worth of the pension benefits they themselves will receive. But it would surely be unfair, for example, to ask the people whose contributions to contributory pensions give them an insurance benefit for which they have paid the necessary premium, to meet, over and above that benefit, an increase in non-contributory pensions. What is going to happen when, as is absolutely inevitable, the cost of the scheme continually rises and the number of contributors continually decreases? I am bound to say that, so far as I am able to appreciate it, the probable effect of the financial method adopted in the Labour plan for pensions, is that the rate of contribution must go on increasing from time to time if the same rate of benefit is to be maintained. That situation is clearly envisaged in their pamphlet. For our part we could not propose a scheme which would be so obviously unjust.
Here I would again emphasise a point made by the hon. Lady the Member for Frame, which was one of the most important made in the whole of this Debate. Any pension scheme to be of the slightest good to its beneficiaries and its potential beneficiaries must stand the test of permanency. It is no good saying that you are going to give so much a week now but that at some future time the benefit may have to be reduced. It must stand the test of permanency in so far as it guarantees that the benefit will not fall, although there will always be the possibility of some future improvement in the scheme, just as the pension schemes have been improved from time to time in the past.
Finally, I must bring the House down to the financial implications of national Defence at the present time. I am not in a position to give any new and sensational figures of a later date than those with which the House is already painfully familiar. We are faced with an expenditure of £343,000,000 in the current year on Defence, £253,000,000 of which has to be found out of revenue. And Supplementary 1842 Estimates are inevitable. We have been told also that the Estimate of £1,500,000,000 for the five-year Defence programme is certain to be exceeded. As my hon. Friend the Member for North Kensington said, the Secretary of State for Air announced in the House only a few days ago that the Air Estimates for next year will be £200,000,000. At this moment, I do not think the vital need for Defence is denied by anybody in the House, with the possible exception of the hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander)—
§ Mr. Mander
I am sure the right hon. and gallant Gentleman does not want to do me any injustice. No one in the House is more anxious than I am to see proper defences maintained, and I have always voted for the whole of the Government's rearmament schemes. I do not know what the right hon. and gallant Gentleman means by his reference to me.
§ Captain Wallace
Certainly, the last thing I should want to do would be to misrepresent the hon. Member, but I understood from what he said that he had a plan which, if it were put into operation, would mean that no rearmament expenditure would be necessary.
§ Captain Wallace
It is true that some of this immense expenditure is met by borrowing, but we all know that by far the largest part of it is raised year by year from the revenue provided by taxes of different kinds, and we all know to our cost that heavy taxes are at present laid upon every section of the community. It is one thing to talk about adding a few millions to the Budget in the month of November, and a very different thing to agree to it in April or May. Since the proposals in the Labour plan, on a very conservative estimate would mean an increase of something like £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 in the Budget next year, and £75,000,000 if we adopted the idea of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen), I want to put this to the House. This summer we were faced with a gap of £30,000,000 in the Budget, and only £7,750,000 of that gap was filled by indirect taxation. I remember the protests which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and I met with on this; they were very sincere and very 1843 genuine. I may add that 6d. on the Income Tax, with all that that means in repercussions upon trade and industry, only brought in the other £22,250,000.
Now, the House is up against realities, and it is with great respect, and with a deep sense of the difficulty of addressing hon. Members opposite upon a subject of which they know a great deal more than I do, that I ask hon. Members in all parts of the House to show to-night a sense of responsibility and a sense of proportion. It is no exaggeration to say that Defence is the first essential at this moment, and in a sense the greatest social service, for without security for this country every single social service which we have is potentially in jeopardy. Defence is extremely costly. We have to find the money somehow. The necessary measures of taxation are already very severe; any further addition to the financial burden which all classes in this country will have to shoulder next year increases the risk to that stability and that prosperity which are both vitally necessary to the national revenue from which Defence measures and social services alike derive. To put that stability and prosperity in any greater jeopardy at this moment would, in my view, be the worst possible service to the nation as a whole and not least to the millions of people who now benefit from our social service system. For that reason, I must advise hon. Members to reject the Motion and accept the Amendment.
§ 7.6 p.m.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
I do not propose to follow to any considerable extent the arguments contained in the latter part of the speech of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. As regards expenditure on Defence, I would only say that in the opinion of hon. Members on these benches—I hope the hon. Lady the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) will not leave the Chamber, since I intend to deal with the speech she made—the cost of this Defence is due to the foreign policy which has been adopted by the Government and that if the correct foreign policy had been followed during the last few years, the amount that would be required for Defence would be entirely different from what it is now. As to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's remarks about stability, I maintain that there can be no 1844 real stability in any country while there is discontent caused by a large section of the population going miserably short at the same time as unbounded luxury prevails at the other end of the social scale.
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman, and several hon. Members who spoke before he did, asked what precisely is the meaning of the Motion that has been moved by my hon. Friend and where we stand with regard to the Labour party's scheme for old age pensions. I will answer the second question first by saying that I and those who sit with me on these benches are absolutely behind our scheme for old age pensions. We consider it to be a thoroughly practicable one, and I may say that, having had a great deal to do with finance and having filled the position which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman now occupies, I would not have supported or assisted in the production of that scheme unless I believed that it would be completely workable and practicable. That remains our objective and that is the scheme which hon. Members on these benches, when they sit on the benches opposite and form a Government, intend, if it has not already been put into effect otherwise, to bring forward and carry into effect. It may be that in the course of time there will be some modifications, but broadly that is our scheme, and we stand by it. Of course, we are not at the present moment in a position to bring forward our own Bill, for we are not the Government of the day, and the House, by a very large majority, supports the present Government. Any hon. Member voting for this particular Motion is not necessarily voting for our whole scheme. All that we say in the Motion is that the present pensions are inadequate, and that they do not have the effect of giving an opportunity to elderly workers to retire. May I say, in passing, that no hon. Member on these benches has ever suggested, as was claimed by the hon. Lady the Member for Frome and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that the main object of this scheme is to improve the position with regard to unemployment.
§ Captain Wallace
I would not like the right hon. Gentleman to have a wrong impression of what I said. I did not suggest that that was the main objective. I said that I did not think that incidental objective would be achieved.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
I quite agree that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman said that, but the hon. Lady the Member for Frome went so far as to say that £85,000,000 was a great deal of money to spend for the purpose of introducing a few extra people into employment as a consequence of the numbers that would be retired Hon. Members on these benches have never said that our scheme is mainly or principally designed to cure unemployment.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
Certainly, the hon. Lady and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman are entitled to argue that it might not do very much in that direction, but the hon. Lady made the remark—as she will see if she reads the OFFICIAL REPORT—which I have attributed to her, and I think I am entitled to say that that remark was utterly unjustified. The third point of the Motion is that there are anomalies which call for redress. I do not believe that is denied in any part of the House. We maintain that the House should demand that necessary reforms shall be introduced without delay. Naturally, if those reforms are to be introduced, they will have to be introduced by the Government of the day, and unless the Government are converted overnight, of course their proposals will not be the particular proposals contained in the pamphlet of the Labour party, but the removal of some grievances would be a step in the right direction.
Having dealt with the questions which I was asked, I come now to the main subject of the Motion. I wish first of all to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Maryhill (Mr. Davidson), who introduced the Motion, both on his good fortune in the ballot and on the very able and successful speech with which he moved the Motion. I should like then to congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke (Mr. E. Smith), who, in seconding the Motion, made a most moving appeal to the House. I was glad also to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Holborn (Sir R. Tasker), one of whose constituents I am, in support of the Motion; and even though the hon. 1846 Member for North Kensington (Mr. Duncan) said that he intends to vote for the Amendment, at any rate he showed that he supports a very large part of that for which we stand.
My congratulations to the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley (Captain Conant), who moved the Amendment, and the hon. Lady the Member for Frome, who seconded it, stand on rather different grounds. I congratulate them on the ingenious nature of the arguments which they advanced. Of course, their main case—and they put it with great solemnity—was the case of "guns or butter," and the Financial Secretary also put that case very largely at the end of his speech. I shall have something to say with regard to this before I finish my remarks, but I would like now to deal with the miscellaneous arguments of the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Amendment and the hon. Lady who seconded it. I noted with interest and a certain amount of surprise that one of the principal arguments made by the Mover of the Amendment was more or less directly at variance with the argument of the Seconder. Therefore, to a large extent, those two cancel one another out. The hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley objected to the Labour scheme because under it, he said, the younger people would be paying for what are now the older generation, whereas the hon. Member for Frome objected to the scheme because it would, she said, throw too large a burden on future generations.
The fact is that under the existing system of society the young are to-day paying for the old. They are paying for the old partly through their contributions to the rates and very largely because it is on the younger generation, the members of their own family, that the old people who cannot get adequate pensions have to depend for their support. Moreover, a great number of the younger generation are to-day investing in various insurance schemes and are paying large premiums for their own old age. As anyone knows who has investigated insurance, there is no doubt that a very great deal of their money is being paid away, not actually to obtain benefits, but in order to carry expensive overhead charges which are part of these insurance societies. One of the objects we have in view is to enable the comprehensive machinery of the State to carry the burden of overhead charges in 1847 an entirely different proportion from what it is at the present time.
Both the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley and the hon. Lady want to postpone the introduction of any better scheme for old age pensions to a more favourable date. In asking that, they have entirely neglected what is, after all, the major fact in the situation, and that is that every year the introduction of a comprehensive scheme is postponed the financial difficulties become greater. They become greater for precisely the reason which the hon. Lady used in the opposite direction. Let me correct some of her figures. She told us that the number of persons over 65 in this country was increasing at the rate of 2,000,000 every decade. The actual fact is that the increase is expected to be 1,250,000 in two decades, a very different thing, but still a matter of considerable importance. The point I am making is that, so far from making it easier to postpone this reform to later years, the facts quoted by the hon. Lady make it important that we should deal with the matter at once. Most of these schemes, which are partly or wholly contributory, have the effect that anyone entering the scheme at 16 years of age provides entirely his own old age pension, but the trouble is that there is a very large number of people who are over 16, some of them much older, and it is for these people that the State has to provide a certain amount of money. If you postpone the introduction of this scheme for another ten years this part will be very much heavier than it is at present, and if you postpone it for 20 years that same part will be still further increased. The fact that the bulge in the population is moving to an older period makes the introduction of any scheme in the years to come increasingly difficult, and it is, therefore, of supreme importance that before that time arrives this scheme should be introduced and put into operation.
Now I come to what is really the main case against the proposal, namely, that the country cannot afford it. But the fact is that old people are already being kept in one of two or three ways. The Financial Secretary admits that a pension of 10s. a week is inadequate to provide wholly for the old person. What he requires in addition is to some extent met out of public assistance, and so far as it is met out of public assistance there is no 1848 difference to the community whether it is met in that way or by a direct burden on the Exchequer. The only difference is that in one case it is met with an honourable acquiescence on the part of the recipient, and in the other it greatly offends his dignity and self-respect. In asking that the cost should be removed from public assistance to the Exchequer we are asking for something which will greatly inure to the diginity of our people. But, in part, the cost is met by the relatives of the old person and in so far as it is met in this way, it means that we are imposing on working class families a burden which does involve some curtailment in their own necessities of life. It means malnutrition for their children, a weakening of the family. In so far as the cost is not met in either of these ways it means that the old age pensioner goes terribly short and is even destitute. That is a disgrace to the country, and it also involves a loss of trade and a loss of revenue in the taxation which the old age pensioner would otherwise make to the Revenue. The hon. Lady presented a terrible picture of what is going to happen, because she said she saw no signs that the productivity of the country was increasing.
§ Mr. Pethick-Lawrence
The hon. Lady said that she saw no signs of an increase in the production of this country which would enable us to bear the economic burden of looking after our own people decently. If the hon. Lady has seen no such signs, it is because she has not read recent literature on the subject. If she had studied a Cambridge survey based on the census of production, to which I referred a short time ago, she would have found that the distinguished economists concerned were of opinion that in the five years 1930 to 1935 the output of production in this country increased by no less than 20 per cent. per employé; that is at the rate of 4 per cent. per annum per employé.
Now when we turn from the economic to the financial implications we have to distinguish carefully between the contribution of the State and the contribution made by the persons concerned. The facts are that very large numbers of working people at the present time are paying large sums of money, much of which is frittered away, in an endeavour 1849 to provide for their own old age, and if they were asked whether they would prefer to have the scheme put forward in the Labour proposals, which the hon. and gallant Member for Bewdley says are so unfair to them, or whether they would have none at all, I have very little doubt that they would reply in favour of our scheme. The arguments against it on that ground cannot possibly be sustained.
Why is there a prospect of our Motion being defeated and the Amendment substituted in its place? Broadly it is because the Tory party as a whole, with some honourable exceptions, has a different set of values from hon. Members on this side of the House. The Financial Secretary claimed that no party has a monopoly of sympathy for old persons. That is no doubt true, but what we claim is that the Tory party has not the imagination to see the issue in its true proportions. I remember some years ago when old age pensions were first introduced a Noble Lord who had been awarded a very large sum by way of superannuation benefit by a grateful country, and who had been paid a large salary all his life, getting up in the House of Lords and saying that he was going
§ to vote against old age pensions because they would pauperise the people who would receive them. It is rather sickening to me when I hear people who have ample on which to live lives of luxury, and who think that the State can afford to allow them to go on in that way, talk about the country not being able to afford the pittance which is required to give these other people a decent standard of life. It may be that the Tory party can be pushed into a certain measure of reform. We have tried to stimulate their imagination for many years past. I am reminded of the story of the man who was driving a motor car. He was asked how fast it could go and he said, "Thirty or 40 miles an hour or 5o if I push her." Then his questioner asked, "How fast would it go if we both pushed her?" I think we should get on with these reforms much quicker if the pushing did not come solely from this side of the House but from the Tory party as well.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 154; Noes, 187.1851
|Division No. 7.]||AYES.||[7. 30p. m.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Lathan, G.|
|Adams, D. M, (Poplar, S)||Foot, D. M.||Lawson, J. J.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Frankel, D.||Leach, W.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Gallacher, W.||Leonard, W.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V, (H'lsbr.)||Gardner, B. W.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Garro Jones, G. M.||Lipson, D. L.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Logan, D. G.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Lunn, W.|
|Banfield, J. W.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||Macdonald, G. (Ince)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||McGhee, H. G.|
|Batey, J.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||McGovern, J.|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Grenfell, D. R.||MacLaren, A.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Griffith, F. Kingsley(M'ddl'sbro, W.)||Maclean, N.|
|Benson, G.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)|
|Bevan, A.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||MacNeill Weir, L.|
|Bromfield, W.||Groves, T. E.||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)||Mander, G. le M.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Marshall, F.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hardle, Agnes||Mathers, G.|
|Cape, T.||Harris, Sir P. A.||Maxton, J.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Messer, F.|
|Chater, D.||Hayday, A.||Milner, Major J.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)||Montague, F.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)||Morgan, J. (York, W. R., Doncaster)|
|Collindridge, F.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Cove, W. G.||Hicks, E. G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Hopkin, D.||Morrison, R. C, (Tottenham, N.)|
|Daggar, G.||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)||Nathan, Colonel H. L.|
|Dalton, H.||John, W.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Noel-Baker, P. J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Oliver, G. H.|
|Day, H.||Kelly, W. T.||Owen, Major G.|
|Dobbie, W.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.||Paling, W.|
|Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Kirby, B. V.||Parker, J.|
|Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Kirkwood, D.||Parkinson, J. A.|
|Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.||Pearson, A.|
|Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Silverman, S. S.||Viant, S. P.|
|Poole, C. C.||Simpson, F. B.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Price, M. P.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Watson, W. McL.|
|Pritt, D. N.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Smith, T. (Normanton)||Westwood, J.|
|Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Sorensen, R. W.||White, H. Graham|
|Ridley, G.||Stephen, C.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|Riley, B.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Ritson, J,||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Rothschild, J. A. de||Tasker, Sir R. I.||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Sanders, W. S,||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Seely, Sir H. M.||Thorne, W.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Sexton, T. M.||Thurtle, E.||Mr. Davidson and Mr. Ellis|
|Shinwell, E.||Tinker. J. J.||Smith.|
|Silkin, L.||Tomlinton, G.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Furness, S. N.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Fyfe, D. P. M.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Glutkstein, L. H.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Apsley, Lord||Gower, Sir R. V.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Granville, E. L.||Peake, O.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Petherick, M.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Grimston, R. V.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Guest, Lieut-Colonel H. (Drake)||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Radford, E. A.|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Bernays, R. H.||Hammersley, S. S.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bird, Sir R. B.||Hannah, I. C.||Reid, Sir D. D. (Down)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Heneage. Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Higgs, W. F.||Rowlands, G.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Bull, B. B.||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Holmes, J. S.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Hopkinson, A.||Salt, E. W.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Channon, H.||Hunloke, H. P.||Scott, Lord William|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hunter, T.||Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)|
|Chorlton, A. E. L.||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Hutchinson, G. C.||Smiles, Lieut-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Smith, Sir Louis (Hallam)|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n)||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Kimball, L.||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Spens, W. P.|
|Courthope Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'rr'ld)|
|Cox, Trevor||Law, Sir A. J. (High Peak)||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Lees-Jones, J.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Critchley, A.||Leech, Sir J. W.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lewis, O.||Train, Sir J.|
|Crowder, J. F. E,||Liddall, W. S.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Llewellin, Colonel J. J.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Loftus, P. C.||Turton, R. H.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||McCorquodale, M. S.||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|De Chair, S. S.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Warrender, Sir V.|
|De la Bère, R.||McKie, J. H.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Doland, G. F.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Wayland, Sir W. A.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Marsden, Commander A.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Wragg, H.|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Everard, W. L.||Munro, P.|
|Fildes, Sir H.||Nail, Sir J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Captain Conant and Mrs. Tate.|
§ Question put "That the proposed words be there added."1852
§ The House divided: Ayes 169; Noes, 149.1855
|Division No. 8.]||AYES.||[7.40 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt-Col. G. J.||Everard, W. L.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H H.|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Fildes, Sir H.||O'Connor, Sir Terence J.|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G.||Furness, S. N.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet)||Gluckstein, L. H.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gower, Sir R. V.||Peake, O.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester)||Petherick, M.|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Beauchamp, Sir B. C.||Grimston, R. V.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.)||Radford, E. A.|
|Bernays, R. H.||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hammersley, S. S.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Hannah, I. C.||Reid, W. Allan (Derby)|
|Braithwaite, Major A. N.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Brocklebank, Sir Edmund||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Ross, Major Sir R D. (Londonderry)|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P.||Rowlands, G.|
|Bull, B. B.||Herbert, Major J. A. (Monmouth)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Higgs, W. F.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Cayzer, Sir H. R. (Portsmouth, S.)||Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.||Salmon, Sir I.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Holmes, J. S.||Salt, E. W.|
|Channon, H.||Hope, Captain Hon. A. O. J.||Sanderson, Sir F. B.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Scott, Lord William|
|Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead)||Hunloke, H. P.||Simmonds, O. E.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hunter, T.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W D.|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Hurd, Sir P. A.||Smith Sir Louis, (Hallam)|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Hutchinson, G. C.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)||Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald|
|Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.)||Kimball, L.||Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F.||Spens, W. P.|
|Cox, Trevor||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'ld)|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Less-Jones, J.||Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)|
|Critchley, A.||Leech, Sir J. W.||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Taylor C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. F. C.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P.|
|Cross, R. H.||Lewis, O.||Train, Sir J.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Liddall, W. S.||Tryon, Major Rt. Hon. G. C.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Loftus, P. C.||Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||MacAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G.||Turton, R. H.|
|Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)||McCorquodale, M. S.||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan|
|Davison, Sir W. H.||Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|De Chair, S. S.||McKie, J. H.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|De la Bère, R.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Doland, G. F.||Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest||Watt, Major G. S. Harvie|
|Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.||Wedderburn, H. J. S.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Marsden, Commander A.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Dunglass, Lord||Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Eastwood, J. F.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Eckersley, P. T.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)||Wood, Hon. C. I. C.|
|Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R.||Wragg, H.|
|Ellis, Sir G.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.|
|Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Young, A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Emery, J. F.||Munro, P.|
|Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Nall, Sir J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Captain Conant and Mrs. Tate.|
|Adams, D. (Consett)||Chater, D.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Cluse, W. S.||Graham, D. M. (Hamilton)|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R.||Granville, E. L.|
|Adamson, W. M.||Collindridge, F.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Cove, W. G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Daggar, G.||Grenfell, D. R.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Dalton, H.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)|
|Barnes, A. J.||Day, H.||Groves, T. E.|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Dobbie, W.||Hall, G. H. (Aberdare)|
|Batey, J.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)|
|Bellenger, F. J.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Hardie, Agnes|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)||Harris, Sir P. A.|
|Benson, G.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)|
|Bevan, A.||Foot, D. M.||Hayday, A.|
|Bromfield, W.||Frankel, D.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Brown, C. (Mansfield)||Gallacher, W.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)|
|Buchanan, G.||Gardner, B. W.||Hicks, E. G.|
|Burke, W. A.||Garro Jones, G. M.||Hopkin, D.|
|Cape, T.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)|
|Charleton, H. C.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||John, W.|
|Jones, A. C. (Shipley)||Montague, F.||Silverman, S. S.|
|Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster)||Simpson, F. B.|
|Kelly, W. T.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's)||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)|
|Kennedy, Rt. Hon T.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B, Lees-|
|Kirby, B. V.||Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Smith, T. (Normanton)|
|Kirkwood, D.||Naylor, T. E.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Lathan, G.||Noel-Baker, P. J.||Stephen, C.|
|Lawson, J. J.||Oliver, G. H.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Leach, W.||Owen, Major G.||Stewart, W. J. (H' ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|Leonard, W.||Paling, W.||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Leslie, J, R.||Parker, J.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Lipson, D. L.||Parkinson, J. A.||Thorne, W.|
|Logan, D. G.||Pearson, A.||Thurtle, E.|
|Lunn, W.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Poole, C. C.||Tomlinson, G.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Price, M. P.||Viant, S. P.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Pritt, D. N.||Watkins, F. C.|
|McGovern, J.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Watson, W. McL.|
|MacLaren, A.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Welsh, J. C.|
|Maclean, N.||Ridley, G.||Westwood, J.|
|MacMillan, M. (Western Isles)||Riley, B.||Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)|
|MacNeill Weir, L.||Ritson, J.||Wilkinson, Ellen|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Mander, G. le M.||Rothschild, J. A. de||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Marshall, F.||Sanders, W. S.||Woods, G. S, (Finsbury)|
|Mathers, G.||Seely, Sir H. M.|
|Maxton, J.||Sexton. T. M.||TELLERS FORTHE NOES.—|
|Messer, F.||Shinwell, E.||Mr. Davidson and Mr. Ellis|
|Milner, Major J.||Silkin, L.||Smith.|
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
That this House, recognising the great value of the existing pension schemes to the social welfare of the nation, would welcome their further extension as and when practicable on a sound financial basis; but is of opinion that at a time when the prime necessity of strengthening the country's defences is placing a severe strain on the national finances, such extension would, besides placing a heavy direct burden both on industry and those employed in industry, involve such additional demands on the national Exchequer as would imperil that financial stability upon which depends the well-being of industry and employment and the maintenance of all the existing social services.