§ 3.59 P.m.
§ The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Captain Crookshank)
I beg to move, in page 56, line 27, to leave out from the first "person," to "being," in line 28, and to insert:by any person (including a local authority) who has any responsibility in connection with the training or exercising of the injured person, or by any person who is.This Amendment is nothing but drafting. As the Clause stands, it relates toany person who is training or exercising.In point of fact, we know that those who are responsible for training and exercising are local authorities; but we are advised that we must make the wording more definite.
§ Mr. George Griffiths
I would like to know whether local authorities are to be responsible in any way for any person injured or for any fatal accident. I ask whether the local authorities are to be burdened with any finance from the compensation standpoint.
§ Mr. Ede
I hope that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman will be able to give my hon. Friend the assurance for which he has asked. I have understood that the negotiations between the local authorities and the Lord Privy Seal on this Clause were designed to lift the whole of the responsibility for compensation off the shoulders of the local authorities and to place it on the Government. Although the wording here is somewhat obscure I understand that that is the intention of both sides, that the whole of the liability is taken off the shoulders of the local authorities, and that in the case of all persons who voluntarily give instruction on behalf of the local authorities the liability is to be borne by the Treasury.
§ Captain Crookshank
The answer is that the scheme covers all volunteers. There is, however, a possibility of certain borderline cases which still have to be 1336 explored. There is, for instance, the case of the instructor who receives a small fee. Those concerned with the negotiations were aware of such cases. But, of course, it has to be remembered that, in the case of a full-time instructor of the local authority, he is covered by his ordinary conditions of employment, and he has nothing to do with this scheme at all.
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Mr. G. Griffiths
This scheme we discussed last night, and the Financial Secretary to the Treasury stated repeatedly that it is a better scheme than the present compensation Act. If an employé of a local authority meets with an accident whilst he is performing A.R.P. duty, the Financial Secretary says that that employé will not get this better compensation although he is working under A.R.P. The Act states that 30s. is the maximum, but under this 2nd March scale there would be a better payment. Surely it is not suggested that a man working in connection with A.R.P. is to be paid a lower scale of compensation by law compared with another man, a voluntary worker, who is to get the higher compensation, even though they both meet with accidents at the same time?
§ Captain Crookshank
Those are just the cases that do fall to be discussed still further. They are the borderline cases. If a man is employed as a full-time instructor by a local authority and that is his regular employment, he does not, as such, come within the scheme, because the scheme is meant to deal mainly with voluntary workers. The full-time man used for this purpose and only for this purpose will come under the general employment conditions under which he is engaged by the local authority. But there may be cases— for example, the case of a full-time employé of a local authority, who is giving instruction outside his regular duties— which will come within the borderline description which still remains to be solved.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ Mr. Ede
Really the answer of the Minister is so contradictory of what was stated in the conversations referred to, that I appeal to him to make the position clearer. I would point out that the 1337 first persons to whom this scheme applies are set out in Sub-section (1, a) of the Clause and in Sub-sections (1, b) and (1, c.) In Sub-section (1, a) there is reference to "being trained or exercised or of training or exercising others." Those may be persons employed by the local authority. They may be volunteers or they may be persons receiving a fee for giving lectures or courses, for instance a non-municipal doctor giving a course of first-aid lectures. I understand that whether those persons are employed by the local authority or not, they come within the scheme. They may be employed. Then in Sub-section (1, b) we find the words:or being trained in nursing in pursuance of arrangements made by the Minister of Health.They may be employed by the local authority or they may not. In Subsection (I, c) there is reference to persons
acting in a voluntary capacity on behalf of a local authority,and they may include an employé of the local authority who at the moment was not acting as an employéof the authority but was acting in a voluntary capacity. The Lord Privy Seal will recollect that at the conference to which reference has been made we had the case of a town clerk brought in evidence, because there were more town clerks present than other persons. It was suggested that if a town clerk was dictating a letter in the ordinary course of his duty he would not come under the scheme, but if the town clerk was acting as an air-raid warden or in some other A.R.P. capacity, he would come under the scheme because he was not then acting in the course of his ordinary civilian employment. But certainly under Sub-sections (1, a) and (1, b) persons who are employés of a local authority and are engaged on this work are brought within the scheme and are taken outside the ordinary compensation law. That was the understanding at the conference. To-day we hear with some consternation that the Financial Secretary and the Treasury are taking a different view.
§ 4.8 p.m.
§ The Lord Privy Seal (Sir John Anderson)
As the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) has made reference to discussions in which I have taken part, it might be an advantage if, purely for 1338 the purpose of trying to remove any possibility of misunderstanding, I say a few words. The House should realise that the main object of this scheme is to provide a form of compensation for volunteers. It was for that purpose primarily, and for no other, that the Clause was framed. The Government realised the unsatisfactory position that exists now in regard to the provision of compensation for members of the Civil Defence services, most deserving persons, as was said yesterday, because they have offered themselves voluntarily but as members of the Civil Defence services have at present no claim whatever against the Government, and may have no rights whatever to compensation under any existing scheme. In certain cases they are dealt with at present under policies of insurance that have been taken out by the local authorities concerned; but there is no sort of uniformity, and even where there are policies making provision for compensation those policies are in many respects unsatisfactory.
The Government came to the conclusion that it would be a good thing that the compensation of all these volunteers should be cleared up in one comprehensive scheme, and they decided in the public interest to take upon the Exchequer a liability which had not previously existed at all—that the Exchequer would be solely responsible for the provision of compensation for all these volunteers. When we came to frame the Clause it became clear that certain anomalies might arise. You might have the case referred to yesterday, of a regular employé of a local authority who was doing work in connection with Civil Defence and there might be some doubt as to whether he was doing that in his capacity as a regular employé of the local authority or as a volunteer; and it was realised that it might be very unsatisfactory if such a person were liable to be treated less favourably, in respect of an injury received, than the volunteer. There was also the case of the regular full-time employé of a local authority who in the course of his duties for the local authority was taking some part in the organisation of Civil Defence services, training or whatever it may be. As regards that person it was clear that nothing we might do under the Clause, if it were extended beyond the volunteer for whom it was primarily intended, ought to have the 1339 effect of depriving that person of any rights he might have by virtue of his employment. Therefore words were inserted in the Clause to deal with the matter.
I would here call attention to one point. When reference is made to persons to whom the Clause applies what is really meant is persons to whom the scheme applies. This Clause was so drawn that the scheme might apply, not only to volunteers, but to persons other than volunteers who were being trained or exercised or were engaged in training or exercising others in respect of air-raid precautions. That is the reason why Sub-section (1) (a) of the Clause is not limited to volunteers. But it will be a matter for the scheme to determine how those borderline cases should be treated, and we intend, subject to the general principles that I have indicated, to make quite clear in the wording of the scheme who come within the scheme and who come outside the scheme. It is difficult to say in advance exactly what borderline cases may arise, but I think I am right in stating that as the Clause is drawn a scheme can be framed which will clear up all those points. In conference with the associations of local authorities I gave an assurance that the contents of the scheme would be the subject of the fullest consultation, so that we might be able to clear up all these matters satisfactorily. I hope that what I have said may have contributed to an elucidation of the purpose of this Clause and will have removed any possible misapprehensions.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ Mr. Dingle Foot
There is one small point on which I would like the attention of the Lord Privy Seal. He has just said that the scheme will decide who shall be within the scheme and who shall be outside. But if we look at Sub-section (4), which deprives people of their rights at common law, we see that that Sub-section applies to any injury to which the Clause applies. That is to say, the courts are ousted. A man loses his rights at common law, a widow loses her rights, in any case to which the Clause applies. But it may well be that the scheme will be narrower than the Clause. You might have an intermediate class of persons who would receive an injury to which the Clause applies and who may be none the 1340 less outside the scheme. May I have an assurance that it is not the intention of the Goverment that that shall take place?
§ Sir J. Anderson
I am not going to enter into a legal discussion with my hon. Friend. Sub-section (1) provides that the Clause applies to injuries as defined, being injuries sustained in time of peace by such persons and in such circumstances as may be specified in the scheme. I adhere to what I said before, that it was the intention, in drafting this Clause, that we should be placed in a position to avoid all possibility of doubt as to how particular individuals were to be dealt with. If the Clause fails to carry out that purpose it will have to be looked at again, but I am clear as to what the intention was.
§ Mr. G. Griffiths
I would like a definite answer to this question. If an employéof a local authority, after he has finished his day's work for that authority, should meet with an accident when practising on A.R.P. work, or giving instructions to somebody else, will he be paid compensation under the new scheme, or will he be given compensation under the old scheme?
§ Sir J. Anderson
The intention is that certainly in that case he would be paid under the new scheme.
§ Mr. Mainwaring
Let us assume that two persons are involved in an accident and that one of them is in this scheme and the other is outside it, the one will be limited in his claim for compensation to this scheme, and the other will have to proceed by common law against somebody. Obviously, the two persons involved in the accident in this case will not have the same measure of compensation.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) has asked whether he might substitute a manuscript Amendment for the Amendment which stands in his name on the Paper— in page 56, line 31, leave out "includes," and insert "shall not include." The Amendment on the Paper and the manuscript Amendment relate to a principle which was very largely dealt with in his Amendment last night, to leave out Sub-section (4), and I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not 1341 take up the time of the House by using the same arguments of which he made use on that particular Amendment.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ Mr. Foot
I beg to move, in page 56, line 31, at the end, to insert:Provided that if the personal injury results in death, Sub-section (4) shall not apply.I will endeavour to bear your instructions in mind, Mr. Speaker. The House will see that Sub-section (4) deprives anyone who comes under this scheme of any rights at common law against his employer or of any rights under the Workmen's Compensation or Employers' Liability Acts. We ought to have a little more explanation of these provisions than was given by the Financial Secretary last night, particularly in case of fatal cases, which is the subject with which my manuscript Amendment deals. It is a very serious matter to deprive an injured man at any time of the damages that are due to him under the ordinary law, but in many cases it will be even a more serious matter to deprive a widow and orphans of the amount which is due to them under the common law. That is what is sought to be done by this Clause. I only want to refer in passing to Sub-section (4). I am trying to exclude its operation in fatal cases. Sub-section (4) excludes an action against an employer or local authority at common law. Action can only be brought against the employer if the employer has been negligent. I cannot see why a claim should be put up whereby the employer is to be relieved from the result of his own negligence and the National Exchequer is to take the burden instead.
I want to refer, in particular, to the scheme that was announced on 2nd March. That refers at some length to the compensation that is to be paid in cases of death. The first category of persons is that of members of A.R.P. services other than auxiliary firemen, and it is provided that in case of death the payment shall be £600 to a widow with dependent child or children, and in the case of an auxiliary fireman there is a rather higher scale, and it is provided that the maximum payment shall be £1,000 to a widow with dependent child or children. Of course, the amounts are rather less where there are no children. Supposing a man who is performing 1342 A.R.P. duties is killed in circumstances which normally would give his widow the right of action, it may well be that she would be able to obtain very substantial damages indeed. She might get £2,000 or £3,000, or possibly even a greater amount, but, as a result of the provisions of this Clause, she will lose her claim to £2,000 or £3,000, or whatever amount the court would award, and is to be limited to £600. That is a perfectly scandalous provision to put into any Bill, and it is a monstrous thing that any Minister should stand up at that Box in order to defend it.
The only substantial reply of the Minister, when we considered Subsection (4), was that he wanted to avoid duplication in this matter. He did not want people to be paid compensation in some other way, and also compensation under this scheme. If he wanted to do that it would be a simple matter to have some such provision as there is in workmen's compensation cases to allow a man to recover his rights at common law. It would be a simple matter to have some thing like that here, where for the first time we are saying that not only injured people, but their dependants in cases where they are killed, are to be deprived of their legal rights. It is interesting to see this Star Chamber mentality upon the Front Bench. The thing is quite indefensible when dealing with injured workmen, and it is still more indefensible when dealing with the case of widows and orphan children.
§ 4.23 p.m.
§ The Lord Advocate (Mr. T. M. Cooper)
I had not had an opportunity of considering the manuscript Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot) until a few moments ago. It seems to me that its purpose is to revive in a slightly altered form the subject of the discussion on the Amendment last night. Quite frankly, I do not appreciate the grounds for the heat with which he presented his arguments in favour of his Amendment. Under this Bill, in which, as the hon. Member said last night, we are breaking new ground, there is being brought into being a new form of public service affecting a very large section of the population, and entailing the possibility, 1343 of personal injuries or death to those who are engaged upon it. In that situation, the underlying purpose of this Clause is to provide that, if injury or death follows, the fact that injury or death has happened will itself be a title to payment from the Treasury. There will be no necessity to prove that the accident arose out of and in the course of the employment, or to establish the conditions required for the claim under the Employers' Liability Act, or to establish the far harder conditions required before an award of damages can be obtained from a jury at common law.
The hon. Member spoke rather on the lines as if, when an accident happened, the right to damages was more or less automatic. No one ought to know better than he does, or than I do, that there is a whole series of obstacles to be overcome particularly in common law claims before you can establish, in the first place, your legal right to anything at all, and, in the second place, before you can get a verdict from the jury for a substantial sum. All that is required under the common law, to a lesser extent in employers' liability claims, and probably to a still lesser extent in workmen's compensation claims. Everybody knows how often the employé's claim fails, and in how many claims the rights of the workman disappear. In the place of all these questionable and doubtful claims which may arise, there is substituted here what one might describe as a vested right to a payment under the scheme of the Treasury, whenever injury or death has been sustained in circumstances outlined in the Clause, and subsequently elaborated in detail in the scheme. In that situation, is it not right that there should be a provision that the persons who engage in his new form of public service, with this new privilege, should be told that they cannot have the ordinary rights such as they are at common law; or under the existing statutes, and if Subsection (4) were not to apply in the case of death, that they were not entitled to get the thing twice over.
The hon. Member will appreciate that It is possible in certain circumstances that the dependants, the widow and orphans, might get paid under the Treasury scheme, and might at once start an action for damages at common law 1344 against the local authority and get a verdict from the jury. I hope that hon. Members will disabuse their minds of the assumption which seems to underlie a great deal of the argument on this Clause, that claims for damages or rights under the Workmen's Compensation Act will easily or readily arise in relation to the types of cases specified in the first Sub-section of this Clause. I cannot foresee all the types of cases that will arise, but in the vast majority of the cases that I can envisage, I doubt very much whether the common law or the Workmen's Compensation Act claim would arise.
§ The Lord Advocate
I think it is. The whole purpose of the Clause and the necessity for avoiding duplication are equally obvious, and I submit that there is no justification for the Amendment, the effect of which would be, in the case of death, to say to the dependants or other parties who might have the right to claim, "You can, if you are able to do so, recover damages at common law or compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act or the Employers' Liability Act, or you can also recover under this automatic scheme which is envisaged." I accordingly submit, for the reasons more fully urged last night, and for these further reasons, that the Amendment should be rejected.
§ Mr. Stephen
The Lord Advocate has not dealt with the possibility of a person having the right of election as to which remedy he should take.
§ The Lord Advocate
The whole purpose of the Clause as drafted is to preclude the election, and to say as far as this new type of service is concerned, "Here is a new right which takes the place of such rights which might have arisen independently."
§ 4.30 p.m.
§ Sir Stafford Cripps
The right hon. and learned Gentleman has not really met the point. In the latter part of his speech he introduced the old traditional argument that the problem is only a small one as regards the number of people affected. That does not deal with the problem. The fact that only a few people are likely to be affected does not make it any the less necessary to see that those few people 1345 have justice. Nor has he met the position in what he said about election. There are many cases where new remedies have been given where there have been other remedies available in some of the cases. The procedure in regard to that type of case is that when a new remedy is given election is allowed to the persons as to which of the remedies they choose to assert, either the new remedy or the pre-existing old remedy.
Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman says: "Look how simple all this is, instead of the complexity of damages at common law and compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act. Here is an automatic thing." Is it automatic? I am afraid that he has never tried to get money out of the Treasury. If he thinks that is automatic, I am sorry for his idea of automaticity. We do not know the details of the scheme, and until we know the details how can we judge of the ease with which this compensation can be claimed? It may be more difficult than under the Workmen's Compensation Act. There may be far more rigorous regulations. What is to happen if a claim is put forward and the Treasury refuse to pay? What form of appeal is to be introduced? Is it to be arbitration? If it is to be arbitration, is there to be an appeal to the courts, as there is in arbitration under the Workmen's Compensation Act? Are we to have exactly the same procedure as under the Workmen's Compensation Act, although with perhaps more difficult and more rigorous regulations?
It is impossible for the right hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the Government have substituted for these difficult and complex procedures which exist to-day an automatic way of going to the box office and drawing your money. Obviously, that cannot possibly be the situation. The injury will have to be proved. It will have to be proved that the injury occurred in the course of the training or in the course of operations under air-raid precautions. All these things will have to be proved just as much as they have to be proved in any other case, and they will have to be proved before a body which is much more difficult to deal with than any insurance company, or any ordinary employer, or any other person. I admit that the remedy you are offering covers a lot of 1346 people who would not be covered otherwise, and therefore it is valuable, but that is no argument for depriving people of remedies to which they are at this moment entitled and would continue to be entitled, even if they happened to be engaged in air-raid precautions work? Why should the widows be deprived of the rights which now exist?
There is a good argument in favour of election, that they should not be allowed to claim both the benefits of the old remedy and the benefits of the new remedy. That has always been dealt with in the past by saying that they must elect which remedy they will choose. It is obvious if it is a case of death, where there is a duplicate remedy, that the amount that can be recovered under the old remedy may be very much larger than the amount under the new remedy. Under this Clause you will be depriving some people, literally, of thousands of pounds, and you will be substituting payment of a few hundreds of pounds. In other words, they might under the common law at the present time secure payment of thousands of pounds, whereas under this scheme they would get hundreds. There is no justification, unless you are altering the whole law in regard to accidents— which nobody suggests— for the suggestion that because people have given this particular service to the State you should put them in a worse position than people who have not given such service. The reward that you are offering to people who are giving their service in this way is that they will be worse off than the people who do not give that service.
We are told that it is much easier to make the scheme uniform, but that is no argument for taking away people's rights. Whether the words of the Amendment fit the position or not, this matter can be dealt with in a perfectly simple way by putting in election, as there is now in the case of workmen's compensation at common law. I beg the right hon. Gentleman to give way in this case, which is the only fair thing to do in the circumstances. I am certain that he does not want people who are asked to give their service to the State in this way to be told: "Yes, but if you do so your widow will be worse off than if you had not given your service."
§ 4.36 p.m.
§ Mr. Thorneycroft
I beg the Lord Privy Seal to take some steps to meet the Amendment. I do not think that he can really appreciate the rights that he is taking away from these men, women, boys and girls who are volunteering their services for the State. At the present time if a man is killed the widow may have rights under the Workmen's Compensation Act, or she may sue under Lord Campbell's Act for loss of prospective pecuniary benefits from her husband, or she has rights under the Miscellaneous Provisions Act. All these rights are being swept away. If her husband had lived a little time after the accident she would have been able to claim damages for the pain and suffering to which he had been subjected, and she would be able to claim for loss of expectation of life That alone in many cases might amount to the maximum sum which they are to be paid under this scheme. In these circumstances it seems to me an astonishing thing that the Government should come forward with a plan of this sort and deprive these people of their ordinary common law rights. I listened to the Lord Advocate, and I was certainly glad to hear a Law Officer on this matter. What he said confirms me in my view. When he rose I felt that every point that could be put in support of the Government's proposal, would be put. What did we get from him? We got a statement that negligence claims would be difficult to prove. What has that to do with it? It does no matter how difficult it may be to prove a claim, the point is that rights should not be taken away. Let us assume, as we must assume, that in a number of cases persons have good claims which they can prove. In those circumstances, are the Government going to take away their rights? The Lord Advocate says that there may not be very many of these cases. Again, what has that to do with it? Finally, we had the suggestion that it is to be beautifully uniform. The only uniformity is to be uniform injustice. I do not want to be harsh about this matter but I beg the Lord Privy Seal to reconsider it and see whether he cannot do something to remedy the injustice.
§ 4.39 p.m.
§ Mr. Edmund Harvey
I should like to add my voice to the appeal that has been made to the Government to reconsider their position in this matter. 1348 The only argument that did seem to impress one at first sight in the Lord Advocate's statement of the case was that it was most important that we should avoid giving a duplicate right to individuals. There is however no need for this to arise. In Sub-section (2) without any alteration of the wording it will be seen that ample powers exist to provide in the scheme that the Government's proposals should not apply in the case of those persons who elect to use instead any of the various methods outlined by the hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Thorneycroft). That would make it quite clear that it is in the hands of the Government under the terms of the Bill to avoid duplication of compensation and to insist on election. That seems to remove the one serious argument that has been addressed to the House by the Lord Advocate, and leaves the House face to face with the fact that if we pass the Bill in its present form, without some such Amendment as that suggested by the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Foot), we are taking away rights under the common law from people who really need those rights. By so doing we shall be committing a very serious injustice, it may be to a limited number of people, but persons whose case calls for the deep sympathy of every Member of this House.
§ 4.41 p.m.
§ Mr. Silverman
I should like to give two practical instances in order to throw a little light, I hope, on how this thing would work. Something has been said as to the amount involved. With regard to that point I should like to quote a case in my own experience and in the experience of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). It was a case fought in the courts and up to the highest court. The; question was whether a widow was entitled to damages at common law or whether she must be content with what she would be entitled to under the Workmen's Compensation Act. At common law the amount awarded was over £2,500, and under the Workmen's Compensation Act she would have been entitled to a sum round about £400. The difference involved in these cases can be as great as that. Suppose that had been a case within this Clause and the claim had been under the scheme, and suppose we agree that the scheme would be no less favourable to the widow 1349 than a claim under the Workmen's Compensation Act. The scheme would have cost her, by depriving her of her right at common law, assuming that she had one, no less a sum than £2,000. I do not think the House would readily agree to take that right from the widow unless very sound and adequate reasons were given for it, and I do not think that we have heard any such reasons.
The other practical instance that I should like to give concerns the suggestion that it is much better to have a kind of automatic claim under the scheme. I think I have a case which is closely analogous to that. It will be remembered that under the Ministry of Labour arrangement there are certain training centres for young people, where they work very much as they would work in a workshop or a factory. It has been held, certainly the Ministry of Labour holds, that the Workmen's Compensation Act does not apply, and that where injuries arise out of and in the course of a period of training of that kind, as there is no contract of service between the Ministry or the head of the training establishment and the trainee, there can be no question of a claim under the Workmen's Compensation Act; but the Ministry of Labour say: "Although we do not recognise that the Workmen's Compensation Act applies, we are prepared to deal with these cases in a manner similar to that under which they would be dealt with in the county court under Workmen's Compensation legislation.
Let us see how that works out. In a case with which I had to deal a boy of 18 lost an eye. When we asked that that case should be dealt with under the Workmen's Compensation Act, the Department said:" We cannot admit that the workmen's compensation legislation applies, but we want to be reasonable and to do the fair and proper thing." We began to discuss to see what was the fair and proper thing in the case of the loss of an eye for a working youth at the age of 18. The House will not be surprised to learn that we differed, we could not agree, and I suggested to the Minister that we should arbitrate the case in some way under the Workmen's Compensation Act.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member will realise that this Amendment deals with one particular point, that is the case of death, and we should confine ourselves to 1350 arguments in regard to these matters in the case of death, and not in the case of accidents.
§ Mr. Silverman
The only reason for which I cited the case was to show the effect of having a scheme administered by a Government Department with no recourse to the courts, and although the question with which I am dealing is not one of death, obviously the same principles apply. It was simply a deprivation of the claimant of any right to a third party hearing. Looked at in that way I think I am within the rules of order. I suggested to the Department that we might agree upon some form of third party judgment. It may be that the Workmen's Compensation Act did not apply; never mind, let us agree upon a lump sum, and then both parties go to the registrar of the county court and ask him to say under the legislation whether the sum was appropriate. I suggested to the Department that we might voluntarily agree to some arbitration of that kind without their admitting any liability under the Act at all. They said "No. We are going to be the judges ourselves. You have no right to go to the courts. We are not subject to the jurisdiction of the courts, and we absolutely decline to go outside at all. You are to negotiate with us, and you either have to take what we give or you get nothing."
That kind of Hobson's choice resulted in our being compelled to settle a claim for the loss of an eye for a very miserable sum, a far less sum I assert than the registrar of the county court would have been content to pass if he had had jurisdiction under the Act. The same thing would have happened if the youth had died. Under this scheme is there to be any third party judgment, or is the Treasury to be the judge in their own case? Are they to act as the Minister of Pensions habitually acts? Where any dispute arises the Department says, "We have referred the matter to our own medical advisers, to our own assessors, who are part of the permanent staff and if you are not content with that you must lump it." I doubt whether the House and the country will be content with that, and I doubt whether the Lord Advocate really believes that the House should accept any such proposal.
§ 4.50 p.m.
§ Sir J. Anderson
This matter has been discussed so far from the legal point of view, and I should now like to put to the House another point of view. I look upon this matter from the point of view of one who is responsible for the organisation and the administration of a great new service, and from that point of view it is of the greatest importance that the terms and conditions under which the members of that service will work should be clear-cut and clearly defined, and that we should eliminate as far as possible any element of speculation or uncertainty. That is the position in regard to the auxiliary fighting services, in regard to those volunteers who have come forward and offered themselves for the Territorial Army and other services-— in those services there is no question of workmen's compensation. Their compensation is dealt with under a scheme settled by His Majesty's Government subject to the control of this House. I, as primarily responsible for this great new Civil Defence service, am as deeply interested as anyone in ensuring that the terms upon which people are invited to enter the service should be fair and reasonable, and I tell the House without any hesitation that I should find it quite impossible to apply to members of the Civil Defence service terms of compensation which in a proportion of cases would be indeterminate and uncertain, and would in all cases be wholly different from those terms which are applicable to members of the older auxiliary defence services. There must be a proper relationship maintained in this matter.
§ Sir S. Cripps
Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that in the older services rights are taken away from people?
§ Sir J. Anderson
I made it quite clear that, in so far as people may have rights in virtue of their employment, the scheme could be so adjusted as to ensure that they are not denied those rights. This scheme is primarily for volunteers, and their case is wholly analogous to that of the volunteers who enter services which are outside the scope of the Clause, the auxiliary defence services. From the point of view of administration I do not share any of the enthusiasm which has been expressed for the system of compensation which has been described, under which persons are left in great uncertainty as to 1352 what their rights may be, and under which the sums which may be awarded as compensation may vary enormously in cases which, to ordinary persons, seem very much the same. That is my own view from the point of view of administration. There is a strong argument in favour of a scheme which operates on uniform lines, and with great respect to the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) it will be in the interests of those concerned in the public departments to operate the scheme speedily and fairly.
There is another point of view which I should like to put. We have not here to consider merely the position of these volunteers or His Majesty's Government. His Majesty's Government, the Treasury, are not directly concerned in this matter at all. Common law rights, as far as they exist, will be exercisable not against His Majesty's Treasury but against someone else; it may be a local authority, an employer, or another volunteer in the same service. If we are to be successful in our efforts to get this Civil Defence service organised and administered effectively, we ought not to leave local authorities and employers and people who may be in the service as instructors, whether they are volunteers or not, under any sort of undefined liability for the payment of compensation at common law to people who may allege that they have suffered from their negligence. It is definitely our intention to sweep away these uncertainties, and it is from that point of view that the matter has been considered.
§ 4.55 p.m.
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood
The Government have so far been batting on a sticky wicket and their batsmanship has struck me as not being too good. One of the difficulties in which we are in now is because the scheme which was originally being contemplated, and which found its way surreptitiously into the pages of the Official Report on 2nd March, did not visualise what would appear in the Bill when it was before the House three weeks later. The right hon. Gentleman opposite is a strong man struggling against adversity. He is in a dilemma in which he has placed himself by bringing in new categories of people who were not origin-ally contemplated. The right hon. Gentleman drew a comparison between these people and those engaged in the regular 1353 fighting services. There is no comparison whatever. We are dealing here with volunteers.
§ Sir J. Anderson
I drew a comparison between members of the Civil Defence service and members of the older auxiliary defence services.
§ Mr. Greenwood
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman did not make that quite clear, but, in any case, these services are, in fact, fighting services, and the services with which we are now dealing are essentially civilian in character, and, therefore, the analogy does not seem to me to be a good one. I think the view of the House has been largely against the right hon. Gentleman. What argument is there against giving people the right to elect whether they will come under the scheme or retain such rights as they have got? I agree with the hon. and learned Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps). I do not see this scheme working so automatically as the right hon. Gentleman suggests. If a person dies as a result of injuries sustained under the conditions referred to in Sub-section (r) is a postcard to be dropped by his widow to the appropriate Department and is she to get a cheque by return? I think there will be the most meticulous examination. There will have to be a one-hundredfold proof, before anyone on behalf of His
§ Majesty's Treasury parts with a single copper. There will be no greater difficulties or dangers to those people who are injured if they keep their rights rather than come under the beneficent wing of the right hon. Gentleman. I hope the Amendment will receive considerable support from hon. Members opposite. As far as we are concerned we want to see right and justice done to people who, as the result of injuries, die in the pursuit of what are essentially public duties.
§ I do not think it has been proved to the satisfaction of hon. Members that the proposals in the scheme of 2nd March are to be more expeditiously worked, or will necessarily prove in the long run to be more generous to persons who are bereaved as the result of death arising out of the performance of these duties. I hope, therefore, that we might on this matter, which is entirely non-party, and indeed hardly political, get some rallying support against the Government with a view to their reconsidering a decision arrived at after the original decision was taken. There ought to be none of these border-line cases which have been referred to. It is an injustice to these people to create, when the Bill is printed, a class of border-line cases never contemplated, whose position, and that of other people who may not be border-line cases, may be prejudiced in the future.
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 136; Noes, 207.1355
|Division No. 173.]||AYES.||[5.2 p.m.|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.)||Day, H.||Hayday, A.|
|Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford)||Dobbie, W.||Henderson, A. (Kingswinford)|
|Adamson, W. M.||Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)||Henderson, J. (Ardwick)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.)||Ede, J. C.||Henderson, T. (Tradeston)|
|Banfield, J. W.||Edwards, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Hicks, E. G.|
|Barnes, A. J.||Fletcher, Lt.-Comdr. R. T. H.||Hills, A. (Pontefract)|
|Bartlett, C. V. O.||Gallacher, W.||Hollins, A.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W.||Gardner, B. W.||Hopkin, D.|
|Benson, G,||Garro Jones, G. M.||Jagger, J.|
|Bevan, A.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jenkins, A. (Pontypool)|
|Bromfield, W.||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)||Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath)|
|Buchanan, G.||Gibson, R. (Greenock)||John, W.|
|Burke, W. A.||Green, W. H. (Deptford)||Johnston, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Cape, T.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.||Jones, A. C. (Shipley)|
|Charleton, H. C.||Grenfell, D. R.||Jones, Sir H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Cluse, W, S.||Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. T.|
|Cocks, F. S.||Griffiths, J. (Llanelly)||Kirby, B. V.|
|Collindridge, F,||Groves, T. E.||Kirkwood, D.|
|Cove, W. G.||Guest, Dr. L. H. (Islington, N.)||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. G.|
|Cripps, Hon. Sir Stafford||Hall, G. H. (Abardare)||Lathan, G.|
|Daggar, G.||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Leach, W.|
|Dalton, H.||Hardie, Agnes||Lee, F.|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Harris, Sir P. A.||Leonard, W.|
|Davies, S. o. (Merthyr)||Harvey, T. E. (Eng. Univ's.)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Logan, D. G.||Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Lunn, W.||Poole, C. C.||Stephen, C.|
|Macdonald, G. (Ince)||Pritt, D. N.||Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Quibell, D. J. K.||Strauss, G. R. (Lambeth, N.)|
|MacLaren, A.||Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Maclean, N.||Richards, R. (Wrexham)||Thorne, W.|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Ridley, G.||Tinker, J. J.|
|Mander, G. le M.||Riley, B.||Viant, S. P.|
|Marshall, F.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Mathers, G.||Robinson, W. A. (SI. Helens)||Walker, J.|
|Maxton, J.||Sanders, W. S.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Masser, F.||Seely, Sir H. M.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Montague, F.||Sexton, T. M.||Westwood, J.|
|Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)||Shinwell, E.||Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)|
|Nathan, Colonel H. L.||Silkin, L.||Williams, T. (Don Valley)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Silverman, S. S.||Wilmot, J.|
|Noel-Baker, P. J.||Sinclair. Rt. Hon. Sir A. (C'thn's)||Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)|
|Owen, Major G.||Sloan, A.||Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)|
|Paling, W.||Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)||Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)|
|Parker, J.||Smith, E. (Stoke)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Parkinson, J. A.||Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees- (K'ly)|
|Pearson, A.||Smith, T. (Normanton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES. —|
|Mr. Foot and Mr. Graham White|
|Acland-Troyte, Lt.-Col. G. J.||Edmondson, Major Sir J.||Mabane, W. (Huddersfield)|
|Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.)||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Maclay, Hon. J. P.|
|Albery, Sir Irving||Ellis, Sir G.||Macmillan, H. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Allen, Col. J. Sandeman (B'knhead)||Elliston, Capt. G. S.||Macnamara, Lieut.-Colonel J. R. J.|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h Univ's||Emmott, C. E. G. C.||Macquisten, F. A.|
|Aske, Sir R. W.||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Magnay, T.|
|Assheton, R.||Everard, Sir William Lindsay||Manningham-Buller, Sir M.|
|Baldwin-Webb, Col. J.||Fildes, Sir H.||Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Barrie, Sir C. C.||Fleming, E. L.||Medlicott, F.|
|Baxter, A. Beverley||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Meller, Sir R. J. (Mitcham)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Gluckstein, L. H.||Mellor, Sir J. S. P. (Tamworth)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E. B. (Portsm'h)||Goldie, N. B.||Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral)||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Bennett, Sir E. N.||Grant-Ferris, Flight-Lieutenant R.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Blair, Sir R.||Granville, E. L.||Mitcheson, Sir G. G.|
|Boulton, W. W.||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||Moreing, A. C.|
|Bower, Comdr. R. T.||Gridley, Sir A. B.||Morgan, R. H. (Worcaster, Stourbridge)|
|Boyes, H. Laslie||Gunston, Capt. Sir D. W.||Morris-Jones, Sir Henry|
|Briscoe, Capt. R. G.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.||Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's.)|
|Broadbridge, Sir G. T.||Hambro, A. V.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Brook, H. (Lewisham, W.)||Hannah, I. C.||Munro, P.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)||Harbord, Sir A.||Neven-Spence, Major B. H. H.|
|Bull, B. B.||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Haslam, Sir J. (Bolton)||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Burgin, Rt. Hon. E. L.||Heilgers, Captain F. F. A.||Palmer, G. E. H.|
|Burton, Col. H. W.||Hely-Hutchinson, M. R.||Patrick, C. M.|
|Campbell, Sir E. T.||Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan-||Peake, o.|
|Cartland, J. R. H.||Hepworth, J.||Peat, C. U.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Herbert, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Monmouth)||Perkins, W. R. D.|
|Cary, R. A.||Higgs, W. F.||Peters, Dr. S. J.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. N. (Edgb't'n)||Hoare, Rt. Hon. Sir S.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Channon, H.||Holmes, J. S.||Pilkington, R.|
|Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)||Hopkinson, A.||Ponsenby, Col. C. E.|
|Clarry, Sir Reginald||Hore-Belisha, Rt. Hon. L.||Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton|
|Cobb, Captain E. C. (Preston)||Horsbrugh, Florence||Proster, Major H. A.|
|Colfox, Major Sir W. P.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hack., N.)||Radlord, E. A.|
|Colville, Rt. Hon. John||Hulbert, Squadron-Leader N. J.||Ramsay, Captain A. H. M.|
|Conant, Captain R. J. E.||Hunter, T.||Ramsden, Sir E.|
|Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.)||Hutchinson, G. C.||Rankin, Sir R.|
|Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir T. W. H.||Reed, A. C. (Exeter)|
|Cooper, Rt. Hon. T. M. (E'burgh, W.)||James, Wing-Commander A. W. H.||Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)|
|Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L.||Joel, D. J. B.||Rickards, G. W. (Skioton)|
|Craven-Ellis, W.||Jones, L. (Swansea W.)||Ropner, Colonel L.|
|Crooke, Sir J. Smedley||Keeling, E. H.||Ross Taylor, W. (Woodbridge)|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Kellett, Major E. O.||Rowlands, G.|
|Crowder, J. F. E.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham (Scottish Univ.)||Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.|
|Cruddas, Col. B.||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Ruggles-Brise, Colonel Sir E. A.|
|Culverwell, C. T.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G.||Russell, Sir Alexander|
|De la Bère, R.||Law, R. K. (Hull, S.W.)||Russell, S. H. M. (Darwen)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Leech, Sir J. W.||Salt, E. W.|
|Denville, Alfred||Lees-Jones, J.||Sandeman, Sir N. S.|
|Doland, G. F.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Sandys, E. D.|
|Donner, P. W.||Levy, T.||Schuster, Sir G. E.|
|Drewe, C.||Lewis, O.||Selley, H. R.|
|Dugdale, Captain T. L.||Llddall, W. S.||Shaw, Captain W. T. (Forfar)|
|Duggan, H. J.||Lindsay, K. M.||Shepperson, Sir E. W.|
|Duncan, J. A. L.||Lipson, D. L.||Smiles, Lieut.-Colonel Sir W. D.|
|Dunglass, Lord||Little, J.||Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)|
|E[...]kersley, P. T.||Loftus, P. C.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Snadden, W. McN.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.||Warrender, Sir V.|
|Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald||Tasker, Sir R. I.||Waterhouse, Captain C.|
|Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)||Tate, Mavis C.||Whiteley, Major J. P. (Buckingham|
|Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)||Wilton, Lt.-Col. Sir A. T. (Hitchin)|
|Spears, Brigadier-General E. L.||Titchfield, Marquess of||Thornton-Kemsley, C N.|
|Spent. W. P.||Touche, G. C.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Oliver (W'm'l'd)||Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan||Womersley, Sir W. J.|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)||York, C.|
|Stourton, Major Hon. J, J.||Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)|
|Strickland, Captain W. F.||Wright, Wing-Commander J. A. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES. —|
|Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)||Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.||Captain McEwen and Lieut.-Colonel Harvie Watt.|
Question put, and agreed to.