HC Deb 06 June 1939 vol 348 cc322-45

10.1 p.m.

Mr. Neil Maclean

I beg to move, in page 4, line 39, at the end, to insert: nor shall it include the provision of accommodation, including board, of children boarded out by a local authority. The purpose of the Amendment is to do away with what is considered a grievance by a number of local authorities in Scotland, and particularly by the City of Glasgow. They have a large number of children who, by reason of certain domes-tie difficulties in their homes, have compelled the authorities to remove the children from many of the homes and find accommodation in others, which have been visited and examined by the city's inspectors, to see that they are suitable in every way and that the people in whose care the children are to be placed can be trusted to look after them and bring them up in a decent, respectable manner. The City of Glasgow pays a very large sum of money each year to people who are receiving these children, and it is sometimes found that where the man of the household is unemployed, when his income is being assessed, they take into consideration the amount that is being paid for the boarding of these children. We feel that something ought to be done, because by taking this payment into consideration there is a diminution in the amount that is going into the homes, and the local authorities feel that the children are bound to suffer. They desire that the whole amount that is being paid for the purpose of maintaining the children is being spent upon them so that they can be well fed and clothed and brought up respectably and in a healthy condition. If I draw the attention of the Minister to the Clause itself he will see that there is an omission which, had it not been there, would have remedied this matter and made it even clearer than my Amendment is calculated to make it. This is what it states in line 36: such an occupation shall foe deemed not to include the provision of accommodation, whether with or without board, for not more than one lodger. If between "one" and "lodger" there was the word "adult" it would have assisted in making this position much clearer. It would have meant then that those who are considered to be lodgers must be adults and that would have assisted us in our Amendment by ruling out any consideration of the amount paid for children. I know that the Minister of Labour will realise the importance of this. The money that is being spent by the local authorities in Scotland for those boarded-out children is for the purpose of seeing that they are being well kept. My information is—and it is not information sent in a letter, but information I have received from officials of the Corporation of Glasgow and also from members of the corporation who have paid periodical visits to the homes in which the boarded-out children are being kept—that the way in which those children are being kept is almost universally very good and very comfortable. Many of the people to whose homes they are sent to be brought up as though they were those people's own children get very fond of the children, and when the children have to leave the homes and follow some occupation, the parting is very often heartrending because of the great affection that has sprung up between the children and these people who have been their foster-parents.

I hope, therefore, that the greatest possible advantage is to be allowed to be taken of the moneys that are being spent by those authorities, that that money is to be spent in maintaining the conditions and giving all that is necessary to those children to have them brought up. I trust, therefore, that the Minister will see his way to accept my Amendment and enable the authorities to feel that in spending the large sums they are spending every year to maintain the children in those homes, the money is being spent on the children and is not being taken into account by any of the officials of a Government Department as being part of the income of the household, which is thus diminished, so that the children will suffer by it.

10.9 p.m.

Mr. Davidson

In seconding this Amendment I do not need to add very much to what my hon. Friend the Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean) has stated. As the Minister knows, the local authorities, particularly in Glasgow, but almost every local authority in the industrial areas, have had considerable expense and experience with regard to this problem. The Minister also knows that 99 children out of 100 boarded out by the Glasgow authority are boarded out because of the very great poverty of their parents. It is because the local authority, with inspections, with placing guardians over those children, with giving them an opportunity that they possibly could not get in their poverty-striken homes in the slums, incur this expenditure, that it comes back upon the authority when restrictions are made on the people within the Glasgow area, that I appeal to the Minister to give this Amendment his very favourable consideration. I am rather tired of asking the Minister of Labour to deal with these problems in a sympathetic manner. This is not the problem of the adult unemployed under an insurance scheme but a problem of children who, because of the poverty of their parents, have had to be boarded out, with a local authority bearing an expense which it ought not to have to bear. Therefore, I ask the Minister to accept the Amendment and to see that the children do not suffer in any wav by a regulation or stipulation under the Act as it now applies.

10.11 p.m.

Mr. E. Brown

I can say at once that with the intention behind the Amendment I find myself in general sympathy, but I am not able to accept the Amendment, and for this reason: There are a number of authorities which carry out this practice. It is not confined to Glasgow alone. That is my difficulty. I am sure that neither the supporters of the Amendment nor the Glasgow Corporation desire to make it easy for people to make a profit out of this sort of thing. The Glasgow Corporation did raise this point directly this subject came up. They said that they chose families having regard to their suitability for looking after the children and that it was not intended to enable any profit to be made. I will promise the House to put an inquiry in hand, and if I can satisfy myself that the principle laid down in the passage I have quoted from the statement of the Glasgow Corporation is the general rule and something which would not lend itself to abuse I should be glad to take the first opportunity of meeting the point, with which, as I have said, I have every sympathy. I will also have a look at other cases of boarding out, as I think the House would like me, while I am doing it, to do it thoroughly. I will let the House know the result of my inquiry and if the inquiry bears out the statement of the Glasgow Corporation, I will then take the first opportunity of meeting this point.

10.14 p.m.

Mr. Maclean

I appreciate the reply which the right hon. Gentleman has given and his difficulty in making an immediate decision on such a matter, and I am also satisfied about the inquiry. But when the right hon. Gentleman states "the first opportunity," I wonder if he would inform the House whether that refers to the time when he brings into the House the next Unemployment Bill, or whether he is under the impression that he can, after he makes a suitable inquiry and comes to a decision, make the necessary alteration at the first opportunity in a regulation which can be issued under this Bill.

Mr. Buchanan

I understand that the first opportunity means the first time the Minister introduces a Bill dealing with unemployment insurance. It is only a few years since we passed the principal Act and we are piling up quite a number of amending Acts. However, as I understand it the Minister means that the alteration will take place when a new Bill is introduced.

Mr. E. Brown

indicated assent.

10.16 p.m.

Mr. Buchanan

I would ask the Minister, when examining the position, to have regard not merely to organisations, but to look into the question of individuals. A widower who finds that he cannot look after his children frequently boards them out and pays for them, and it is sometimes found that that income is taken into account when dealing with other children.

Mr. Davidson

Is the Minister prepared at least to consult the local authorities immediately concerned with this particular subject?

10.17 p.m.

Mr. Brown

If I may have permission to speak again I would say that that is the first step that I shall have to take, and in fact, I have already taken steps in that direction. I do not like to give a promise on the Floor of the House unless I am sure that I shall be able to fulfil it. I cannot be sure that my inquiries will be completed by the time this Bill goes to another place, but if the inquiries justify me in adopting the practice which has been laid down by the Glasgow Corporation, I will see that the first opportunity is taken to meet the principle of this Amendment.

Mr. Davidson

The Minister did not allow me to finish. If he feels that the result of his inquiries justifies the course of action we suggest, will he immediately bring forward a small amending Bill to deal with the point?

10.18 p.m.

Miss Horsbrugh

I entirely agree with what the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) said about having regard to private people, as well as authorities, boarding out children, but the minute we come to that point we find ourselves running up against a difficulty. Over and over again when dealing with the adoption of children we have come across cases where it would have been far better if the people taking the children whom they were willing to adopt had gone to the courts to make it a legal adoption, but in such a case we should have the strange anomaly that if the people who were willing to look after the child applied to the court to legalise the adoption, they would have the allowance taken away from them, because the child would have become one of their own family.

Mr. Buchanan

I think the hon. Lady is rather mistaken in her point, but as I have already spoken it is difficult for me to get time to answer her. There is a point that seems to be even more serious than that raised with reference to he Glasgow Corporation. In making calculations an orphan's pension is often taken into account, and the effect of that is to deprive the other children of the benefits of some of the income of the home. I hope the Minister will fearlessly examine that and all the other points.

10.20 p.m.

Mr. Lawson

We are all very glad to see the Minister so sweetly reasonable, and we might ask him, as we did in the Committee once, who has bewitched him? In view of the promise which he has given, perhaps my hon. Friend might now be inclined to withdraw his Amendment, as the right hon. Gentleman has practically held out the possibility of an inquiry.

Mr. Maclean

I have not yet received any definite answer to my question.

Mr. G. Griffiths

My hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) has referred to the sweet reasonableness of the Minister, but it does not come quickly enough for us. There is nothing to prevent the Minister, with the ability that he possesses, considering this matter and bringing it forward on a later stage of the Bill. I hope that the Minister is not going to allow this sweet reasonableness to be in the sweet by-and-by. We want it to be shown, if at all possible, now, and in the Bill. The Minister might not be on those benches in October. He might be on this side of the House and somebody else be over there, and I suggest that he do this thing now.

10.21 p.m.

Mr. Poole

I want to reinforce the appeal to the Minister that the reforms should be embodied in the Bill, and my hon. Friend should not withdraw the Amendment because of what the Minister has said. It is not reasonable to ask the House to await the introduction of another Unemployment Bill before we get the much-needed reform to the present Bill. It may be two years before we have another Unemployment Bill. Are the children to be penalised during those two years because of the inability of the Minister to make inquiries which are, after all, not difficult? The information necessary is already collated and is in the hands of the local authorities. If I understood the Minister aright, his prime concern in regard to these children who are boarded out is that a profit shall not be made by those who adopt them. If the Minister desires to safeguard himself on that point, he must have a good idea of the cost of maintaining a child. The figures are

available from many sources. Let him fix a maximum amount, and so long as the amount which is paid does not exceed the maximum, it can be disregarded. It is easy for the Minister to make in this Bill the concession which is necessary.

It is too much to expect that those of us who have been concerned, in our local government work, with the boarding out of children, should wait for two years for another unemployment Bill before this elementary reform is inserted. It ought to have occurred to the Minister when this Bill was framed. I wonder whether the Clause does not at present cover the point. I do not know whether the Minister is prepared to say that a child who lodges in a house is a lodger just as much as anybody else who Judges in the house. It may depend upon the meaning of the term "lodger," for, after all, when a child is boarded out it becomes a lodger in the house in which it is boarded. In regard to the point made by the hon. Lady, there is no penalisation in respect of children who are adopted by their parents. When a parent legally adopts a child and loses the amount which is paid by the local authority the parent does so for love of the child and knows full well that he is going to lose the boarding-out allowance which is normally paid. We ask the Minister to reconsider this matter and see whether he can expedite the inquiry between now and the time when the Bill goes to another place, in order to insert the necessary Amendment which will put this reform into the Bill. If it has to wait for some other Bill the time may never materialise.

Mr. Maclean

I would ask the Minister to reply to the question which I put. Can he put any regulation into the Bill to cover the particular circumstances named in my Amendment? He cannot? Then it means that it must wait for another Bill, and I am therefore afraid that I cannot accept his assurance. We must divide the House.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 128; Noes, 201.

Division No. 159.] AYES. [10.27 p.m.
Acland, R. T. D. (Barnstaple) Adamson, W. M. Batey, J.
Adams, D. (Consett) Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Beaumont, H. (Batley)
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Ammon, C. G. Bellenger, F. J.
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Banfield, J. W. Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.
Benson, G. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Price, M. P.
Broad, F. A. Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Quibell, D. J. K.
Bromfield, W. Hicks, E. G. Richards, R. (Wrexham)
Brown, C. (Mansfield) Hills, A. (Pontefract) Ridley, G.
Buchanan, G. Jagger, J. Riley, B.
Burke, W. A. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Ritson, J.
Charleton, H. C. Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens)
Chater, D. John, W. Rothschild, J. A. de
Cluse, W. S. Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth) Seely, Sir H. M.
Cooks, F. S. Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T. Sexton, T. M.
Collindridge, F. Kirby, B. V. Shinwell, E.
Cove, W. G. Kirkwood, D. Simpson, F. B.
Daggar, G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G. Sloan, A.
Dalton, H. Lathan, G. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Lawson, J. J. Smith, E. (Stoke)
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Lee, F. Smith, T, (Normanton)
Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Leslie, J. R. Sorensen, R. W.
Day, H. Logan, D. G. Stephen, C.
Dobbie, W. Macdonald, G. (Inee) Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Dunn, E. (Rother Valley) McGhee, H. G. Stokes, R. R.
Ede, J. C. MacLaren, A. Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)
Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty) Mainwaring, W. H. Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Marshall, F. Tinker, J. J.
Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H. Maxton, J. Tomlinson, G.
Foot, D. M. Messer, F. Viant, S. P.
Frankel, D. Milner, Major J. Walkden, A. G.
Gallacher, W. Montague, F. Watkins, F. C.
Garro Jones, G. M. Morgan, J. (York, W.R., Doncaster) Welsh, J. C.
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Westwood, J.
Green, W. H. (Deptford) Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.) Wilkinson, Ellen
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Muff, G. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.) Naylor, T. E. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Oliver, G. H. Wilmot, J.
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Owen, Major G. Wilson, C- H. (Attercliffe)
Groves, T. E. Paling, W. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Hall, G. H. (Aberdare) Parkinson, J. A. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Pearson, A. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Harris, Sir P. A. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Hayday, A. Poole, C. C. Mr. Whiteley and Mr. Mathers.
Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J. Cruddas, Col. B. Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) De la Bèer, R. Holdsworth, H.
Agnew, Lieut.-Comdr. P. G. Denman, Hon. R. D. Holmes, J. S.
Albery, Sir Irving Denville, Alfred Hopkinson, A.
Apsley, Lord Donner, P. W. Horsbrugh, Florence
Aske, Sir R. W. Dugdale, Captain T. L. Hewitt, Dr. A. B.
Assheton, R. Duncan, J. A. L. Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Dunglass, Lord. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)
Balniel, Lord Eastwood, J. F. Hume, Sir G. H.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Edmondson, Major Sir J. Hunloke, H. P.
Bird, Sir R. B. Ellis, Sir G. Hunter, T.
Bossom, A. C. Elliston, Capt. G. S. Jennings, R.
Boulton, W. W. Emrys-Evans, P. V. Jones, L. (Swansea W.)
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Entwistle, Sir C. F. Keeling, E. H.
Boyce, H. Leslla Errington, E. Kellett, Major E. O.
Braithwaite, J. Gurney (Holderness) Erskine-Hill, A. G. Kerr, Colonel C. I. (Montrose)
Brass, Sir W. Everard, Sir William Lindsay Kerr, J. Graham (Scottish Univs.)
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Fildes, Sir H. Lancaster, Captain C. G.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Findlay, Sir E. Lees-Jones, J.
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Fleming, E. L. Leighton, Major B. E. P.
Bull, B. B. Furness, S. N. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.
Bullock, Capt. M. Fyfe, D. P. M. Levy, T.
Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L. Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley) Liddall, W. S.
Butcher, H. W. Gledhill, G. Lindsay, K. M.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Gower, Sir R. V. Lipson, D. L.
Carver, Major W. H. Granville, E. L. Llewellin, Colonel J. J.
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Grimston, R. V. Loftus, P. C.
Channon, H. Guest, Maj. Hon. O. (C'mb'rw'll, N.W.) Lyons, A. M.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen) Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight)
Clarke, Colonel R. S. (E. Grinstead) Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.
Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston) Hambro, A. V. Maclay, Hon. J. P.
Colfox, Major W. P. Hannah, I. C. Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Colman, N. C. D. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Magnay, T.
Colville, Rt. Hon. John Harbord, A. Maitland, Sir Adam
Conant, Captain R. J. E. Haslam, Henry (Hornoastle) Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton) Manningham-Buller, Sir M.
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Heilgers, Captain F. F. A. Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.
Craven-Ellis, W. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Marsden, Commander A.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel A. P Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Herbert, Lt.-Col, J. A. (Monmouth) Medlioott, F.
Crossley, A. C. Higgs, W. F. Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)
Crowder, J. F. E. Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S. Mitcheson, Sir G. G.
Moore, Lieut.-Col. Sir T. C. R. Ross, Major Sir R. D. (Londonderry) Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Moreing, A. C. Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge) Tasker, Sir R. I.
Morrison, G. A. (Soottish Univ's.) Rowlands, G. Thomas, J. P. L.
Muirhead, Lt.-Col. A. J. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R. Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Munro, P, Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A. Thorneyoroft, G. E. P.
Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H. Russell, Sir Alexander Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Russell, R. J. (Eddisbury) Titchfield, Marquess of
Peaks, O. Salmon, Sir I. Wakefield, W. W.
Perkins, W. R. D. Salt, E. W. Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Petherick, M. Samuel, M. R. A. Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Pickthron, K. W. M. Scott, Lord William Watt, Lt.-Col. G. S. Harvie
Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Selley, H. R. Wayland, Sir W. A.
Procter, Major H. A. Shakespeare, G. H. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Radford, E. A. Shepperson, Sir E. W. Wells, Sir Sydney
Raikes, H. V. A. M. Shute, Colonel Sir J. J. Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham)
Ramsbotham, H. Simmonds, O. E. Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonal G.
Ramsden, Sir E. Smith. Sir R. W. (Abardeen) Wise, A. R.
Rankin, Sir R, Smithers, Sir W. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin) Snadden, W. McN. Wood, Hon. C. I. C.
Read, A. C. (Exeter) Somerset, T. Wragg, H.
Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury) Somarvell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.
Raid, J. S. C. (Hillhead) Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J. York, C.
Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Spens. W. P. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Remer, J. R. Storey, S.
Rickards, G. W. (Skipton) Strauss, H. G. (Norwich) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Ropner, Colonel L. Strickland, Captain W. F, Mr. James Stuart and Captain Waterhouse.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

10.34 p.m.

Mr. Lawson

I am extremely sorry that at this time of night it is necessary for me to say a few words on the Third Reading—particularly when there is other business. But it is important that the House should understand that this Bill, which we said on the Second Reading had certain good Clauses, has still one or two Clauses, including, indeed, the chief Clauses, which are, from our point of view, very dangerous. I am particularly sorry that we had not an opportunity on the Report stage to get an answer from the right hon. Gentleman on several points of great importance in this Bill. Some of the most important points have been totally untouched during the Debate. The House will understand clearly that the origin of this Bill rests upon a certain report. The right hon. Gentleman says that I have always understood that it did. The fact is there has been a great quantity of case law dealing with holidays; it has almost become a section of Unemployment Insurance law. The report stated that the law dealing with holidays was becoming rather dangerous because of the adoption of holidays with pay on a large scale. It was proposed that the Minister, instead of continually relying upon the umpires' decisions, which are varied, and number thousands, the Minister should take power to decide by regulation when a man is deemed to be on holiday.

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us to-night—because it is a cardinal point in this Bill—what he means by "a man deemed to be on holiday"? My hon. Friend the Member for Hemsworth (Mr. G. Griffiths) put this point. Men in factories, workshops, shipyards and mines have, by agreement, holidays of a week or a fortnight with pay. They will be on holiday according to the regulations which the right hon. Gentleman will make, but we wished, by an Amendment, to make it clear that it meant "holiday with pay." The right hon. Gentleman was not in the mood to accept such a definition. Take the case of a man who goes from a workshop, shipyard or mine to another place of employment. By agreement, he must work perhaps 12 months before he is entitled to holidays with pay. Supposing, when the holiday time is due, the man has not been in his new employment long enough to qualify for holidays with pay. Is he to be deemed to be on holiday, and is he to be penalised as a result of this Bill?

Mr. Buchanan


Mr. Lawson

I understand that a good deal depends upon the regulations, but the right hon. Gentleman should give us some indication of the position with regard to these important points. Is a man who is receiving no pay and who is unemployed because the rest of the workers are on holiday to be deprived of his benefit? The right hon. Gentleman should answer that question. We did not get an opportunity of putting an Amendment upon the point, but I think the right hon. Gentleman should make the matter quite clear. There is another point. In Sub-section (2) of Clause 1 there is a reference to an insured contributor, but in the next Subsection the reference is to an employed contributor. I asked the right hon. Gentleman a question on the Second Reading, whether he could tell us why there is this distinction between an insured contributor and an employed contributor. There must be some reason for it, but we have not been given the reason. Is it to be applied to some unemployed workers? Is it to extend the Bill to those who are not actually employed, but insured? I do not wish to take up the time of the House by showing how the Bill is going to work, but there is not the slightest doubt that it will work very hardly. Take the case of a man and the three days' waiting period. He comes to Easter week and perhaps has been idle on the Wednesday of that week. He is unemployed on the Good Friday, and usually works do not start on the Saturday. He has been idle three days, but he usually has the benefit of Good Friday as a waiting day, which will now be counted as a holiday, and he will lose his benefit for those two days. There is not the slightest doubt that men are going to lose benefit for a day or days where they have been getting it in the past.

Then, what is the right hon. Gentleman going to do about the regulations? Apparently hon. Members are to be ruled out altogether. I know the answer of the right hon. Gentleman that we can put down a prayer and start the consideration of regulations after 11 o'clock at night, but we shall do so with the clear knowledge before we start that the Chief Whip will be there and use his majority to force the regulations through. Who is going to be present at the investigations? Is it to be the Employers Federation on the one hand and the Trades Union Congress on the other, or are any sections of the workers to have an opportunity of putting their point of view? I have here a document submitted by the Durham Miners Association who have been much alarmed about this matter. They have thoroughly analysed the Bill and have stated their case. Will an organisation of that kind have an opportunity of putting its point of view, and will organised sections of workers who feel that they have a special case, have an opportunity of putting their case before the right hon.

Gentleman or the Statutory Committee? I think it is very important that that should be so, because the conditions vary so widely.

The Statutory Committee made certain suggestions which the right hon. Gentleman has accepted in the main, and therefore, we have this Bill before us. We think that the operation of some of these Clauses will be harsh. At the same time, I am not blind to the fact that there are certain Clauses in the Bill—as we said in the Second Reading Debate and on the Committee Stage, and would have said to-night if we had had the opportunity—which give certain benefits. Having expressed our feelings in very strong language to-night, and having in the Division Lobby, both in Committee and on the Report Stage, expressed ourselves in regard to those Clauses with which we disagree, we do not feel like going into the Lobby against some of the Clauses, because they give some little benefit. On this side, although we have made our criticisms and given our warnings, we have made it a practice always not to take any step to oppose anything that would bring some little improvement in the conditions of any section of workers affected by modern industry.

I should like the right hon. Gentleman to-night to give us some explicit answers on these important points. We have not had answers in the past, and indeed, if we had had answers in the Second Reading Debate or on the Committee Stage, we might not have been as long about our business to-night. When is a man deemed to be on holiday? Perhaps tens of thousands of men's benefit will depend upon a proper interpretation of that. I should like the right hon. Gentleman also to answer the other questions I have put to him. There is much more that could be said in regard to these matters, but we did not get an opportunity of saying it because of the special method of selection of the Amendments that were put. I expect to receive from the right hon. Gentleman some explicit answers to the questions that I have asked.

10.49 p.m.

Mr. Hayday

There are one or two points to which I should like to call attention before we finally part with this Bill. I rather regret that the Government have missed the golden opportunity of having a more complete revision and readjustment of anomalies, and of making certain improvements that are so desirable, that was afforded by the Bill. It is a pity that the Government could not agree to make their task more real and complete. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson), I feel that there are many improvements within the Bill, such as the extension from 10 to 20 weeks, and one or two other matters; but certainly it falls short of being the satisfactory Measure that it might have been had the Government been a little more inclined to meet the obvious objections that exist. I need only briefly supplement the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Chester-le-Street with regard to the holiday disqualification. All that we asked was that the words "with pay" should be inserted. That would have made it clear that any workman having his holidays with pay should be excluded from the right of any claim for unemployment benefit during that period. But if a man is having a week's compulsory holiday without pay, surely he should receive his unemployment benefit for that week, because in that case the man has no alternative—he is in the same position as a man thrown out of work. It is true that, under a general scheme such as we now have, 90 per cent. may enjoy holidays with pay, but what becomes of the other 10 per cent.? While others are having a holiday with pay, the Unemployment Assistance Board must give those men what the employer on the one hand denies, and what the Minister of Labour denies them under this Bill.

There is one other important matter on which I hoped the Minister would have introduced an Amendment to-day. It is in connection with Clause 4, where the Bill states that an insured contributor is entitled to benefit in a case where the insured contributor has residing with him and is wholly or mainly maintaining his daughter or sister, being a daughter or sister who has attained the age of eighteen years. We asked that that should apply in the case of a daughter at the age of 16 instead of 18, because it often happens where there is a family of younger children and the mother has passed away that the father, rather than bring in a housekeeper, and thus lay himself open to the odious suspicions that often surround a workman in that position, gets that daughter of 16 to become the mother of the home. She looks after those children as no housekeeper could do. If that child of 16 were receiving her education, there would be an allowance, but when the age of 16 is reached automatically the dependant's allowance ceases, and a daughter between the ages of 16 and 18 is cut off from any benefit whatever. I should have thought the Government would have seen the injustice of that, because it increases the handicap on an unfortunate household. It has a tendency to weaken, rather than strengthen, the family relationship of which we are so proud in this country, and it creates a set of circumstances which I am sure no one in this House desires.

There has been no possibility of discussing a Clause covering the case in which an employer violates an agreement entered into in connection with a trade or undertaking. There is a stronger argument for that now than ever there was, although it was in an earlier Act, which gave benefits to a large number of men, although it led to certain difficulties as regards umpires. We are strengthened in our view by the knowledge that all the national joint industrial councils have been appealing for an enactment that would legalise agreements as regards industrial conditions and rates of wages and make them compulsory. The absence of such a provision from this Bill puts us back to the old stage. The bad employer can decline to carry out a national agreement to which he, through his federation, has been a party, and if the men refuse to work for a rate lower than the agreed rate he can lock them out, and if they stand down they can get no unemployment benefit at all, because it is looked upon as a dispute. That weakens the relationship between employers and workmen through their respective associations. The national joint industrial councils have asked that these agreements should be made legal and that compulsory observance of them should be required.

We must comment on the absence of that provision from the Bill. It was put in by a Labour Government, it has been taken out by a National Government, and we ask that it should be put in again. I feel that enough has been said, although much could be said, about the shortcomings of the Bill. While appreciating the slight advantages and benefits which it will give to numbers of the unemployed, I hope the Minister will use such powers as he has taken to make it a more complete addition than it is at present to the many Measures which have preceded it and that he will give more favourable consideration to those who come within its operations.

10.58 p.m.

Mr. Stephen

I am in complete agreement with my colleagues above the Gangway in the regret they have expressed that the Minister did not take the opportunity which was presented to him when a Measure of this kind was being introduced. One has to recognise that there are some points in the Bill which will make for material improvement in the treatment of the unemployed. The extension to the 20 weeks will have a material effect but I exceedingly regret that the Minister has so completely refused to respond to the appeals made to him from all parts of the House on the question of holidays. One of the great weaknesses of all the Unemployment Insurance Bills introduced within my experience has been that so many of those responsible for drafting and working out their terms have not had real experience of unemployment, and have not had an adequate conception of the circumstances of unemployed people. In the section dealing with holidays, I think there has been throughout the whole time in connection with unemployment insurance a complete incapacity on the part of those responsible to realise that working-class people are not getting holidays when they are out of work and are not being paid for that period.

I speak from bitter experience of my own home with regard to what was called the holiday period. There came a holiday period at Glasgow Fair, and working-class people tried to get away for a week or a fortnight at the seaside, but the result in working-class homes was that you came back from the seaside, and there were so many commitments that there was no money in the house. For the next six months that working-class home staggered from crisis to crisis, and until just about the New Year, in Scotland- -it would be Christmas in England -you were getting into an economic position in which you had practically overcome the effects of that fortnight in July when there was no pay coming in. Then you had a week's holiday at the New Year, and so you went into another crisis for the next six months, from January to July. It never seemed to me to be realised, in connection with unemployment insurance, what the circumstances in working-class homes were owing to those unpaid holidays.

I am greatly disappointed that the Minister has refused the opportunity that was given to him to have the co-operation of Members of this House of all parties in modifying the draft regulations. He rejected it altogether. The statutory Committee are to have the opportunity of listening to this and the other section of people, who will talk to them about the regulations, and we as individuals can go to them, and they will report to the Minister. He will prepare a draft, and we who come from the constituencies and who have from our constituents the proper views as to the holiday period in the districts can do nothing. It is true that we can present a Prayer, but I would ask the Minister, When was a Prayer successful? [Hon. Members: '' Oh!"] It is so long since I was a minister. I still believe that the prayers of a righteous man avail, but I am asking the Minister of Labour when the Prayers of Members of Parliament in connection with regulations have had any effect. Not even in the notorious case when the regulations were made in connection with the means test was there any possibility of our dealing with the difficulty that had arisen.

I suggest to the Minister still that he should take account of the possibilities, when this Bill goes to the other place, of meeting his colleagues in this House and granting a concession in connection with the regulations. I would suggest that he could consider an Amendment so that a day would be allotted for the consideration of the regulations, with the opportunity of Amendments being moved. If he is afraid of the time that it would take, he can surely arrange to have an Amendment inserted in another place so that the draft regulations will be considered by the House of Commons, with an opportunity of amendment, the whole proceedings to be finished in one day. I put that forward as a suggestion which would help in some way to meet the general disapproval which has been expressed. I feel very much regret indeed that the Minister did not take the opportunity of bringing forward a much more satisfactory Measure. With regard to the point about the dependants, we appreciate that an improvement is being made but we all think the Minister was making a great mistake in not fixing the age at 18. We appreciate the fact that we have got another stage in connection with this. I should have thought, from the way the right hon. Gentleman sometimes speaks, that he would have shown much greater courage and imagination in trying to produce a Measure which would have got much more unanimity in the House and much more satisfaction on these benches.

11.7 p.m.

Mr. E. Brown

The hon. Member speaks of lack of courage and imagination, but one of the proposals that have been made was so bold that it provoked the opposition of men who would not be called reactionaries opposite. This Bill is a great reform I do not know whether the prophecies of the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. Lawson) will prove accurate. We have heard from the same source other prophecies which have not been fulfilled. The House ought to understand that the Bill is different in one respect on Third Reading from what it was on the Second Reading. That is due to my realisation of the feelings that hon. Members have about one part of the Bill. We had hoped to get it before Easter. The original Bill was made effective from October, but, realising the difficulties of the problem, and the strength of feeling, I myself proposed an Amendment in Committee so that the Bill, as regards the part about which feeling is expressed, does not become operative until 18th January. I desired, as Minister, to have time to consult all those who have been expressing views about it, and they are many. Nearly all of them have come from the mining industry. [Interruption.] The hon. Member was not on the Committee. The records will be on my side.

We are not making the law alone for miners. We are making it for the whole of industry in the light of a great and unprecedented movement of reform. It is such a revolution as to induce hon. Members to speak very strongly about it. The hon. Member for Chester-le-Street said the Bill had its origin in the report. The Bill has its origin in facts. The report only threw light on the facts and made recommendations in the light of the facts revealed. What are the facts?

Mr. Lawson

It is based on the report.

Mr. Brown

That is another matter. I am taking this up because it is not a debating point, but a very real point. A solution of the problem of defining holidays, which has not been faced up to this time, will have to be faced by this House. Why? Because in insurance law holidays have never yet been defined. There is no such thing as a holiday in insurance law. Holidays are merely decided in terms of umpire's case law. I would ask hon. Members to do this Bill this justice—in the light of the facts, to analyse the illustrations they have made, and to distinguish those cases where difficulties arise now. Lots of the hard cases that have been quoted to-night are cases which arise now, where holidays are not defined. There are scores of them, and they have been the cause of complaint for a long time. That is the first class. There is a second. Since holidays have never been defined, as long as the position was static there was no real urge for reform. But this question of holidays with pay is no longer static. It is a wide, sweeping movement. Millions of people during the last three years have come under agreements for holidays with pay, and no two agreements are alike. They all have to be adapted to meet the needs of specific industries.

While I have listened with sympathy to what has been said by mining Members, I would remind them that it is not fair to put the whole burden on the employers, for the agreements were made by both sides. When the opportunity comes for both sides to review them in the light of the experience, the two sides will suggest to each other what Amendments are to be made. This was a new experience to the industry. The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent (Mr. E. Smith) knows what an extraordinary series of suggestions had to be made on both sides.

Mr. S. O. Davies

Why misrepresent the position in the mining industry? This is an attack on the miners.

Mr. Brown

I have made no attack.

Mr. Davies

You have misrepresented the miners' position.

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member knows perfectly well that it was a new situation.

Mr. Davies

Why suggest that the miners are satisfied with their agreements?

Mr. Brown

I have not suggested anything of the sort. I have pointed out that they have the normal constitutional means for expressing their dissatisfaction to the owners. Seeing that already there was dissatisfaction in scores of different ways and that now we have a sweeping movement which before long, I have no doubt, will cover the whole field of industry, it is quite impossible for any statesman, whether he be an industrial or a political statesman, to face a situation in which a man cannot be told what is and what is pot a holiday. I think this point needed to be made, although I regret having had to take so long over it.

Next I have a few things to say in answer to the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street. He wanted to know why a distinction was drawn between the word "insured" and the word "unemployed," and he feared there might be something behind the distinction. The explanation is a simple one. The word "insured" is always used technically in connection with unemployment insurance, and the word "employed" is used technically in connection with health insurance. His next question was, When the regulations are being made who will be heard? Will such a body as the Durham Miners Association be heard? The answer is that all those who have any concern in this matter will be heard. It was in order to give ample time that in Committee I moved an Amendment to make the date for this part of the Bill the 18th January instead of the first week in October. On behalf of the Durham Miners' Association he has given me a copy of a very elaborate document dealing with this problem. The hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey) quoted from it this afternoon. I cannot imagine a more powerful argument for the procedure in this Bill than is furnished by that document, which I had the chance of looking at last night.

We have never defined holidays; the Statutory Committee did not do it, because the situation is full of complexities and difficulties. It cannot be done along the lines of finding some simple definition in the terms of an Act of Parliament.

Mr. S. O. Davies

But the umpire will have to define it.

Mr. Brown

We are not concerned with the umpire except in the last resort. My whole answer to the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street is that we are proposing to do three things. I have now first to submit a draft of regulations to be considered by the Statutory Committee, who will hear the observations of all those who are concerned. I have then to lay that draft so that we may know, first, whether a particular day is a holiday. Then we have to lay a draft to make it clear whether a holiday is a holiday for a particular person. A holiday may be a general holiday for an industry and not be a holiday for a particular person. Thirdly, we have to define by regulations what refinements will be necessary to meet difficult cases which are deemed not to be holidays.

I have a number of cases and I will quote one to show the necessities that arise. Take the case of a worker who had had a substantial spell of unemployment followed by a period of re-employment— but one not long enough for him to re-establish himself—and then there come the holidays, and a man who after a long spell of unemployment has been back in employment for so short a time that he has not been able to make provision for a holiday, ought not to be dealt with in the same way as a man to whom a holiday comes as a welcome break after a long spell of employment.

That is one illustration of a score of others, and in the light of the foregoing we shall have to get refinements to meet those points. We shall have to deal with all the reports—the report on linking-up and the effect of continuity, in the light of the new Bill. That is the type of problem. I have already received a great mass of information from all kinds of organisations, and I have shown the House that I shall take action to stop what in my judgment the House would not like to take place, namely, a case of Umpire law which recently would have affected South Wales. In the light of the general proposition, that will be my attitude in drafting the regulations. We hope to get a draft ready for the Statutory Committee, in the. early summer.

Notice will then be given to all concerned in the matter and Members of Parliament or anybody else may go and have the benefit of expert knowledge. Employers' organisations and all kinds of organisations, as well as individuals who have special knowledge, will be called to give evidence. As I put in the date of 18th January, we shall have plenty of time to make sure that the House has a full discussion before Christmas of this year, in the light of what we have done.

Let the House remember that we have a balance here, and I lay down a proposition which no reasonable man can refute. We shall be able to determine that a holiday is not unemployment and that unemployment is not a holiday. Secondly, since any determination on that line, after the history of the past years of the customs that have grown up, is bound to have effects which are likely to mean about £400,000 of losses to those who now get the benefit, we take the view that there should be a great offset, to double the bridge of 10 weeks to 20 weeks, at a cost of £600,000. That, the House will agree, is a great reform. I shall not allude to the other reforms, except to say that I hope that the House will welcome the power which I have as Minister of Labour, to go forward with schemes in relation to "wet time," where practical. I hope the House will now give the Bill a unanimous Third Reading.

11.23 p.m.

Mr. Buchanan

I would like an opportunity of a word on this Measure, and I would first of all raise a point that so far has not been mentioned. The Minister referred to the portion of the Bill in which he takes power to depart from the present law as a complete new departure. A decision of a court of referees is now paid at once to a man, when it is in his favour, but under the Bill a court of referees' decision in favour of a man will, for the first time, be not payable until the insurance officer has appealed to the Umpire. Thus, Section 49—I think it is —of the principal Act is being set aside. I was not on the Committee upstairs, though I would have liked to have been, but I would like to see some attention paid to this serious departure from the present law, namely, that, when a man has gone constitutionally to a court of referees and has been allowed benefit, the decision is not to operate because some insurance official deems it necessary to appeal to the Umpire.

The Minister has said that Parliament has never defined what a holiday is, but that it is the Umpire who has done it. But the Umpire's decision, as a matter of case law, has legal effect just as much as case law decided by the Court of Appeal. There is no need for a decision by the Minister; the Umpire has already decided the matter over and over again. The Bill decides that in the future no day of holiday can count for payment of benefit or for continuity purposes, and no regulation can overcome that provision in the Act of Parliament. I understand that the Minister is to bring in regulations. The law at present says that, if a man is unemployed for 12 days plus his normal holiday, his normal holiday is not employment, but unemployment. In effect the present position is that, if a man's normal holiday is six days and he is unemployed for 18 days, the six days cease to be a holiday and become unemployment. I know the Minister will not answer me to-night, but is it his intention, and is he able under the Bill, to make a decision similar to that which the Umpire has already made, that if a person suffers a certain length of unemployment in a holiday period, say 12 days plus the normal holiday, that holiday will be regarded as a period of unemployment?

I was interested in the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) with regard to regulations. Every Member of the House knows that it has been decided that the regulations must be passed as a whole, and are not capable of amendment. I should have thought that the House of Commons would have learned something from unemployment insurance. The hash that was made of the first regulations must have proved to the House that, whatever may be said for regulations, human beings and their rights are not a subject that ought to be lightly dealt with. If the Minister cannot give what has been asked for by the hon. Member for Dundee and my hon. Friends above the Gangway, surely it would not be impossible for him to submit his regulations to a Committee upstairs, similar to the Committee which examined the Bill, for the purpose of being examined and if necessary changed. That would not occupy any Parliamentary time.

In his remarks on these regulations he has given us the greatest argument in favour of their being considered by the House. He said that every town varies, that every calling varies. That means that there will be regulations varying in character to deal with places far apart, to deal with industries unlike one another, to deal with the female population as against the male, and a host of complicated issues. The Minister's argument, if it has any force, means that the House of Commons should examine the regulations in detail. A Minister of Labour ought to welcome this House looking through the regulations. Are there not Members on the other side, as well as on this side, who could help in discussing them? The hon. Member for East Newcastle (Sir R. Aske) has taken a great interest in unemployment, and could give us the benefit of his advice. I would risk dividing against the Third Reading of this Bill, because, in regard to holidays and working time, it is a wholly reactionary step. At a time when we should be advancing, it marks a reactionary step, and despite what may have been said outside, I would have voted against it.

11.33 p.m.

Mr. Mainwaring

I want to speak briefly on this matter. [An HON. MEMBER: "Do not take half an hour."] I do not care if I take two hours. It has been said that this Bill contains provisions which would be very beneficial to the unemployed. But, as has also been pointed out several times to-day, it contains a number of conditions which will adversely affect the unemployed. When it comes to a balance of gains and losses, I doubt whether the unemployed will be in the slightest degree better off. The Bill contains a principle which, it cannot be too strongly emphasised, is a departure from the historic rights of the House of Commons. I cannot understand anyone suggesting that because this pill has been sugared, we should swallow it. The Minister takes upon himself the responsibility of saying that in future his actions will be submitted not for judgment of the House of Commons, but for the judgment of a committee outside. I urge the House to vote against the Third Reading.