HC Deb 04 April 1940 vol 359 cc349-409

3.49 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Assheton)

I beg to move, That the draft of the Order proposed to be made by the Minister of Labour and National Service under the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1935, entitled the Unemployment Insurance (Increase of Benefit in respect of Dependent Children) Order, 1940, a copy of which was presented to this House on 18th March, be approved. The Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee is required by law to submit a report to the Minister before the end of February upon the financial condition of the Fund at the end of the previous December. As the House is aware, complete responsibility for determining the extent to which there may be a disposable surplus in the Fund or a deficit, rests upon the Committee. If there is a surplus the Committee recommend to the Minister how that surplus shall be used. Parliament, of course, are not bound by the recommendations of the Committee, nor are the Government obliged to follow them, although if the Government differ from the Committee as to the use to which the surplus is to be put they must tell the House the reason why they differ. The Minister, however, is obliged to accept the view of the Committee as to the amount of the surplus available, and he can only make recommendations for its use which have financially the same effect on the Fund as the recommendations proposed by the Committee. It is also open to the Committee to recommend for the reduction of debt the use of sums belonging to the general account and held as reserves to meet future expenditure. If this is done there is then a reduction of the subsequent half-yearly payments on account of interest and sinking fund charges which are due on the debt. In so far as the reduction of debt is provided for in this way out of reserves, there is power to reborrow if this becomes necessary in the future, and that is subject only to the condition that the debt should not then be raised above the level at which it would have stood had no such repayment been made.

The report of the General Account shows that for the calendar year ended 31st December last the income exceeded the expenditure by £16,601,578, and there was a net balance at the end of the year of £57,555,222. On the other hand, the debt of the Fund at the same date was just over £77,000,000. The position of the Fund at the end of the year was very much better than had been anticipated by the Committee a year ago, and the Committee point out that the recent improvement in the account is the result of more employment, due chiefly to expenditure on defence. The Committee, however, give it as their view that it is as certain as any prophecy can be that there will be a severe rise of unemployment after the war. In these circumstances, the Committee have come to the conclusion that they cannot say that the Fund is insufficient nor that it is more than sufficient, and that they will be carrying out what appears to them to be the policy of Parliament if they recommend using part of the accumulated balance of the Fund to reduce the debt. Accordingly, the Committee recommend in their report that a sum of £37,000,000 should be allocated to the repayment of debt, bearing in mind, of course, that the reborrowing powers to which I have already referred will continue to be available. The effect of this transaction will be to set free from the fund a sum of £1,100,000 a year.

The House may, perhaps, wonder how it is that the repayment of a debt of £37,000,000 by drawing upon reserves which are invested and bringing in revenue can have any effect at all upon the income of the Fund. The answer to that is twofold. In the first place the Fund is paying 3⅛ per cent. interest on the long-term loan which they obtained, while they are only receiving an amount of about 2 per cent. on the reserves which they hold and which in the ordinary course of sound business they are obliged to invest in short-term and medium-term securities. Of course, it is necessary that the Fund should have at its disposal securities which can readily be realised at any time. In addition to this saving of about 1 per cent. per annum on £37,000,000, the repayment of the capital also saves the Fund from the necessity of making the provision of 2 per cent. per annum as a sinking fund on that part of the money which is repaid. We thus obtain a saving of 1 per cent. in interest and 2 per cent. in sinking fund on the total of £37,000,000, and hon. Members will be able to calculate that that gives a total saving to the Fund of £1,100,000 per annum.

The next task of the Committee was to determine how they should advise the Minister to use this sum of £1,100,000, and they decided to recommend in their report that the rate of benefit in respect of each of the first two dependent children should be raised from 3s. a week to 4s. a week; and the draft Order which is before the House to-day is for the purpose of implementing this proposal. This proposal on the part of the Committee was unanimous, although I should point out that there was in the report a note of reservation by one of the seven members of the Committee, Mr. Thomson, who says that he would have preferred to have paid off £10,000,000 instead of £37,000,000 and to have raised the general rate of benefit by 2s. 6d. a week, as he does not feel that the heavy incidence of unemployment after the war which is anticipated by the Committee is a matter which should be dealt with by unemployment insurance benefit. I put his view before the House. These suggestions, however, would have involved very large sums of money, and Mr. Thomson joins with his six colleagues on the Committee in signing the report. I am sure the House will welcome, as the Government welcome, the recommendation to increase the children's allowances. I might point out here that the recommendation to pay off debt does not require the specific approval of Parliament, and so it is not provided for in the terms of the draft Order which is now before the House.

Hon. Members will, however, observe that Section 3 of the Order deals with the Agricultural Account which, as the House will remember, is a separate Account altogether. The Committee concluded that there was on that Account a disposable surplus sufficient to justify an increase of benefit for the children equivalent to that proposed in the General Account, and in order to make this arrangement effective it is necessary to raise the maximum limit of total benefit from 33s. to 35s. Those two recommendations have the unanimous support of the Committee.

There is one other matter on which I should like to say a word in order to avoid any possible misunderstanding. It has been suggested, so I am told, that the reason for the repayment of this £37,000,000 is to set the sum free for the purposes of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and that this is the real object of the transaction. Even if that were so, I do not know that the House would, in time of war, object to such a proposal, but in fact there is no substance whatever in that suggestion. The Treasury does not gain by this transaction at all. At the moment the Treasury has the use of that £37,000,000, since it is invested entirely in Government securities, and after the £37,000,000 has been repaid the Treasury will still have the use of it.

Mr. Graham White (Birkenhead, East)

But they will not have to pay interest.

Mr. Assheton

The Fund, of course, will not receive interest on £37,000,000 of the investments, nor will it have to pay interest on the £37,000,000 which it is repaying. Anyhow, it happens that we have this £1,100,000available for use at the time. The Government have decided to accept all the proposals of the Statutory Committee, and the House is being asked to-day to approve the terms of the draft Order. I know that hon. Members in all parts of the House will share in the pleasure which my right hon. Friend and I have in being able to make a proposal which increases the children's benefit. [An HON. MEMBER: "Some children's benefit."] Yes, some children's benefit, and I feel sure that it will meet with the whole-hearted approval of the great majority of the Members of the House.

4.2 p.m.

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "That", to the end of the Question, and to add instead thereof: having considered the Report of the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee on the financial condition of the Unemployment Fund, this House is of opinion that the circumstances would fully justify the abolition of the waiting period, an all-round increase in benefits, and a modification of the anomalies regulations with respect to married women. The Parliamentary Secretary has given us a plain, straightforward, business account of this matter, and the House will be grateful to him for having stated the financial position as disclosed in the report of the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee very clearly, so that we need not waste time with that. I think it is desirable at the beginning to make this point. This is the report of a Committee which, as the Parliamentary Secretary has said, need not be accepted by the Government or by this House; and I hope it will not be accepted by the House and that the Amendment which I am moving will carry a majority in the Division Lobby to-night. It is essential to say that, because there is a growing tendency on the part of this House to regard these committees, set up outside, as being bodies with some kind of supernatural power, whose words, like Holy Writ, must be accepted. I have no doubt that the members who compose this Committee are all of them men of wide experience and some of them men of very great reputation, and they are deemed to be a committee of experts. Experts can go wrong, and I believe that these experts have gone wrong, and not only so, but I hope to be able to prove that to the satisfaction of the majority of the Members of this House.

Therefore, I want this House to approach this problem to-day and not to shirk its duty or to hide behind the report of the Committee. Part of the usefulness of a committee of this kind to many hon. Members opposite is that it gives them what is called in modern language a "get-away." They do not want to vote against increasing benefits to unemployed persons, and it gives them a good excuse when they can say, "We had to vote for the report of the Committee of experts, to whom, of course, we must bow." Well, we need not accept the report, and I propose therefore to subject the Committee's report to an examination. The Parliamentary Secretary accepted it at its face value and gave no time to discussing the reasons behind the report, as stated in the report, and of those factors which weighed with the Committee. I propose to deal with the report, with the reasoning behind it, and with the policy which the Committee obviously is going to pursue for the rest of the war.

First of all, the Committee are at very great pains to explain how it comes about that in the year which ended on 31st December, 1939, the Fund found itself with a surplus of £16,000,000. The Committee were bound to seek to explain that, for the simple reason that they are a committee of experts, and what I shall say shows that experts can go very far wrong. The Committee made an estimate as to what would be the condition of the Fund at the end of the year, and their estimate was that the Fund would work out during the year in such a way that the expenditure would exceed the income by £8,250,000. When the funds came to be balanced at the end of the year, instead of there being an adverse balance of £8,000,000, there was a net revenue balance of over £16,000,000, so that on the year's working the estimate of the Committee was £25,000,000 out. That, I think, is in itself proof that we are dealing with the report of fallible men, and not with the report of infallible experts. The Committee are anxious to try and prove how this situation developed and how the Fund at the end of the year had this very big balance instead of a loss as they had forecast, and they seek to explain that by stating that 1939 was an abnormal year and that during it there was so much war activity as to have made this surplus possible.

It would be idle to pretend that the amount of unemployment in the year 1939 was not affected by war expenditure. At the same time we do well to remember that the war began only in September, and that there had been a good seven months of normal activity, using the word "normal" as we have used it in the last few years, before the war broke out; and while we agree that war activity played its part during that year in improving employment and in decreasing unemployment, and therefore producing this balance, we do not accept the Committee's contention that all this balance is due to war conditions. We contend that it is only partially due to them and that therefore they ought not to regard this balance as completely and entirely a war balance, but that some of it—we think a large portion of it—ought to be available for the purposes which we indicate in our Amendment.

I see that the Minister of Labour is busy taking notes, and I presume that later he will intervene to reply. I should like, on this problem of whether the improvement in employment which has effected an improvement in the Fund was due, as the Committee suggest, almost entirely to war activity, to call the Minister of Labour into the witness box. I will not quote him on oath, but I will quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT, and we will put him in the dock before the evening is over.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Brown)

You will not be the judges.

Mr. Griffiths

No, the country will be the judges, one of these days. On 3rd August last my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. George Hall) spoke, and the Minister of Labour followed him, and during the course of his speech the right hon. Gentleman was very anxious to claim and sought to prove that the improvement in the employment position last year was not due to war activity but was due to his wise administration and to the policy of the Government. He said: We are now in the midst of a movement, quite apart from the armaments movement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd August, 1939; col. 2693, Vol. 350.] The Minister apparently accepts that, and therefore he accepts our contention that if there was an employment movement unrelated to the armaments movement up to August of last year, at least a part—we say a substantial part—of the surplus was accumulated owing to normal activities and not to war activities. That is our first point. Now I will discuss the reasoning behind this report and behind the policy which the Committee have adopted in making these recommendations. The Committee, believing that this activity is due to the war, devote a considerable amount of attention in their report to this problem. They are obsessed by the fear that at the end of this war there will be severe unemployment and that the readjustment which will have to be made then will be of such a character as to create an amount of unemployment which I do not think I am misquoting them—certainly it is the spirit if not the letter of their report—when I say that it will, if anything, be even more severe than the calamitous unemployment which we experienced at the end of the last war.

Mr. E. Brown

The hon. Member has misquoted the Committee there. The words they use are these: For the reason given below it is possible that unemployment was not fully recorded, but there was also no doubt a demand on urgent work postponed during the war. After the end of the present war the rise of unemployment may not be as great as in 1921 and 1922, and it may be possible to take action to keep it within bounds.

Mr. Griffiths

If I went through their report and picked out a paragraph here and a paragraph there, I could make these experts contradict themselves many times over, but I am thinking of the main body of the report. They do say that at the end of the war there will be severe unemployment. Paragraph 13 of their report begins in this way: A more important line of approach is to consider, not how the Fund reached its present position, but, as far as we can, what are the prospects for the future. What is likely to be the effect of war and of what may happen after the war upon unemployment insurance? Later on they use the phrase "severe unemployment" as likely to follow the end of this war. There are two aspects of this matter that we want to raise, because they are aspects of public policy and of Government policy. The first is this: We contend that it is the duty of the Government to prepare now and to plan now to ensure that the readjustment, the switch-over from a war economy to a peace economy, is made in a planned and organised fashion. It is their business to do that now, and I want to ask the Minister one or two questions. The Government accept the Committee's report, and I take it therefore that they accept not merely their recommendations but the whole reasoning behind the report, because you cannot dissociate the recommendations from the reasons.

Therefore, do the Government accept the position that this problem of readjustment, colossal as we know it will be, must be left to work itself out, without plan and without preparation, or do the Government accept the view, which we seek to put forward and which we have put forward almost from the very first week of the war, that it is the business of the Government now, not later on, to prepare plans, detailed, specific plans, by which this colossal problem can be solved and this transition can be bridged without calamitous unemployment such as we had at the end of the last war? The Committee warn the Government that they will be courting disaster if they allow this tremendous problem to arise without an organised plan to meet it. There are the millions who will come from the Forces when the war is over, not to speak of millions more who are now being drawn into the war machine in various ways. Unless there is a planned scheme, that will result in a social upheaval of the worst kind. I hope the Minister can tell us that there is some Minister or some Department already charged with the task of making preparations to deal with that problem. If the Government have not already taken such steps, I do not think that they are doing justice to the problem or doing their duty to the country.

Let us assume that there will be severe unemployment, which may be either exacerbated or eased by the kind of Government policy which prevails. Is it right that this Insurance Fund, which was created and designed to carry the insurance risk of normal cyclical unemployment, should be burdened with the effect of unemployment caused by a social upheaval? In the paragraph of the Committee's report from which I have already quoted, they say that at the end of the war there is going to be severe unemployment: there will be this great social upheaval, this great transition from a war economy to a peace economy; and they ask, how can we meet that now? I ask, is it fair to expect an insurance Fund of this kind to meet such a risk? I would remind the Minister of Labour that it is his Government which was responsible for this division of unemployment into two sections; first, an Insurance Fund, which carries its own burden, which we are discussing to-day, and, secondly, the Unemployment Assistance Board, which was designed to meet, subject to a means test, unemployment which is abnormal. The Government ought to accept the full implications of the distinction they have made. This Fund, designed to meet normal unemployment, should not be expected to carry a burden due to a social upheaval. We share the view expressed in the reservation made by Mr. Thomson: The heavy incidence of unemployment anticipated on the cessation of munitions production on the present scale is a matter which should be dealt with in another way than by unemployment insurance benefit. That is a fair contention. This Fund ought not to carry a burden of that kind. There should be a public policy to prevent unemployment becoming calamitous, or, if it does become calamitous, the burden should be placed on the State. Although there are three parties to the Fund, the workers, the employers, and the State, the heaviest burden falls on the workers. In some industries—in the one that I know best, for instance—not only do the workers pay their contributions, but the contributions of the employers go into the ascertainment to weigh down the workers' wages. We believe that the Committee have been actuated, and that their report has been determined, by considerations which ought not to have governed them in deciding what should be done with this Fund. We do not think that, as custodians of this Fund, they should have asked themselves, in 1939, what should be put on one side to meet this cataclysm of the war. If they had approached the problem in another way, without these obsessions, and had remembered that a substantial part of the Fund was created in normal times, they would have asked themselves: For what was this Fund created, and what shall we do with this surplus?

We believe that the proposals of Mr. Thomson are very much wiser and fairer than those of the majority. They proposed that £37,000,000 of this debt should be repaid in one year. I am not going to argue this very old question as to whether the debt should be placed on this Fund or not. It has been argued many times in this House, and we consider that it should not. But for years the scales and the rate of unemployment benefit have been weighted down by the debt contracted in the last social upheaval. Now the Committee wish to weight it down still further, with the debt which may be contracted during the next social upheaval. People will find the rate of unemployment benefit kept at miserably low standards because of those two burdens, neither of which ought to be placed on a fund of this kind. The recommendations which were made by Mr. Thomson were urged, not only this year but in previous years, by the great trade union movement.

We say that not more than £10,000,000 ought to go to debt redemption, and that the balance ought to be used to meet the needs of the unemployed at the present time. We propose, first, that the waiting period should be abolished; secondly, that there should be an all-round increase in the scales of benefit; and, thirdly, that those anomalies under which married women contributors to the Fund have been penalised for years should now be removed. This principle of a waiting period is based on an assumption which could be made by no one who was familiar with working-class life in this country; and that is why we should not always accept the recommendations of experts, who are naturally remote from the lives of the people. When the question was last considered by the Committee, they reduced the waiting period from six days to three days. It is thought that when a man becomes unemployed there is a period during which he can live without benefit, and that, therefore, this period is justified. There is something of the old penalty spirit about this waiting period. There are tens of thousands of homes in this country where this gap inflicts great hardship upon a man and his wife and children.

There are no margins in working-class homes—how could there be? Their budgets every week have to be fitted in to the last halfpenny. When there is a gap of three days, or often more, without benefit, it is a great hardship. One of my hon. Friends, representing a constituency in the North of England, said to me this morning that during the recent severe weather the coalpits in the area that he represents had been badly affected by difficulties in connection with shipping and transport and that there had been slow time and intermittent working as a result. He had made a calculation for a number of pits, and he found that for 16 per cent. of the lost time no benefit was paid. That was during a period when the weather was so severe and the cost of living was increasing.

Mr. Lipson

Can the hon. Member say what would be the cost to the Fund of each of the three proposals he puts forward?

Mr. Griffiths

The cost of abolishing the waiting period has not been estimated by the Commitee; but in 1936, when the period was reduced from six days to three, the Committee estimated that the cost of that change was £1,250,000 per annum. At that time, the level of unemployment was 16.5 per cent., and the number of persons in insurable employment was considerably less than it is to-day. Therefore, it is safe to argue that it would certainly not cost more to abolish the waiting period altogether in a year when there is a net surplus of £57,000,000.

Mr. Lipson

I am not quarrelling with the hon. Member's demand.

Mr. Griffiths

I hope the hon. Member will do more than not quarrel with it.

Mr. Lipson

Wait and see.

Mr. Griffiths

Secondly, we say that at this time the Committee should really have paid more attention to the inadequacy of the scales, and particularly to the relationship of the scales to the cost of living. They admit that that is not an irrelevant question, but apparently they completely forgot it when they considered how this £57,000,000 should be used. No one will argue in this House, not even the Minister of Labour, who has argued all kind of things at that Box, that unemployment benefits to-day are adequate. The righthon. Gentleman did not argue that they were adequate before the war. There are the figures of the Minister of Food, or perhaps I should have said the late Minister of Food. Ministers change so often nowadays that it is difficult to keep track of them. The Minister of Labour does not change because he does a job that many of his colleagues would not do. It is admitted that the scales were inadequate prior to the war breaking out, and it was admitted in the figures put forward by the Minister of Food in the House this week that the cost of living had increased by 17 per cent. since the beginning of the war. If unemployment benefit scales were inadequate before the war, how much more inadequate are they now? Surely this Fund ought to be for the benefit of those who made it; more attention ought to be paid to them than to future contributors, even in 1960 or 1970. More attention should be paid to those who have helped to build up the Fund with their hard-earned money, and who are now suffering from unemployment. In spite of the reduction in the figures of unemployment, there are still nearly 1,250,000 unemployed in this country. When the workers become unemployed wages stop, and they are entirely dependent upon these insurance benefits, which, on the Government's figures, are 17 per cent. below their pre-war value. Therefore we urge that the scale should be raised.

We believe that the proposal put forward by the Committee—I do not say this offensively—to increase the benefit for the first two children only is an insult to the unemployed in this country. When are we going to cease in this House creating scales of children's allowances each one of which treats one child different from another? In a few weeks' time the Government will be coming to this House and proposing that each child of an injured person shall receive the scale of allowances. Here the Committee suggest that the first two children only shall have an increase of 1s. We say that at least every child of the unemployed man ought to have the 1s. increase now, and we believe that the Fund can meet such a charge. It is estimated that to give the first two children an increase of 1s. in benefit will cost £1,100,000. In 1936 the Committee discussed the problem of increasing children allowances and estimated that, if they increased the benefit in respect of every child by 1s. per week, the cost in a year would be £1,345,000. The cost, therefore, of amending their recommendations of 1s. to the first two children to 1s. for each child would be roughly £250,000.

There is a balance of £57,000,000 in the Fund, and £37,000,000 of it is a disposable surplus. There is no obligation to repay the debt. The £37,000,000 is at the disposal of the Committee to make what use of it they like. Mr. Thomson suggested that there should be an increase of 2s. 6d. It is difficult to estimate how much that would cost, but it is obvious that the cost to the Fund of a 2s. 6d. increase would be very much less than before, and there is all the more reason for giving it when it is remembered that the Committee estimate that during this year there will be another great surplus. Having regard to the inadequacy of the scales a large share of the sum which could be made available ought to be used for increasing the scales. If £10,000,000 of the debt were paid off, there would be £27,000,000 left which would enable a very big increase to be made in Unemployment Benefit all round, to the man, to his dependent wife, and to every child. We believe that at this time it would be the right thing to do, and the opportunity ought to have been taken to wipe out the anomaly with regard to married women, who have helped to build up the Fund. I have just been reading Sir John Orr's new book, and I will conclude by quoting one of the first sentences in that book. We are engaged as a nation in a life-and-death struggle in a totalitarian war. We have now 1,250,000 people unemployed, including those temporarily stopped and casuals, but everybody counts in this war. The second sentence in that book says: Victory will depend as much on the morale and powers of endurance of the civilian population as on the efficiency of the Fighting Forces. Morale and powers of endurance cannot be maintained unless the whole population is on a diet good enough to maintain it in health. He says the whole population, and we are now discussing the condition of one-tenth of our population to-day—the submerged tenth, the unwanted tenth, the forgotten tenth—and in this great national effort our ultimate victory will depend upon their morale as well. How can that be maintained on their present miserable standard, with prices of food going up? As an old miner, it made me almost ashamed of my country when I heard an hon. Member state in this House that unemployed constituents of his were paying 1s. for 28 lbs. of coal, or at the rate of £4 per ton. I know something about coal. That is criminal exploitation. The poor people have not only had to put up with the severity of the weather, but they are having to put up with the evil consequences of the war. If the Government had real social imagination—we know that they have not got it—and realised the problem confronting them, they would throw out this Order and accept the Amendment which I have moved this afternoon.

4.39 p.m.

Mr. Graham White (Birkenhead, East)

The hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has argued with force and great ability in favour of the Amendment which he has moved, and has spoken strongly in favour of increased benefits, of the abolition of the waiting period and of the modification of the anomalies in the regulations with regard to married women, all of them aspects of the question of unemployment insurance benefit which, taken individually, would, I think, meet with the commendation and approval of the House of Commons as a whole. I must say that I find myself in some little difficulty with regard to the Amendment, because the Parliamentary Secretary remindedus that under the Act of 1938, in Sub-section (2) of Section 4, the Committee, in recommending whether or not the Fund was likely to be reasonably sufficient to meet its obligations, were entitled to take into account their borrowing powers, and also, that the part of the recommendation which deals with the repayment of debt does not require the confirmation of the House of Commons. Therefore, whatever attitude we may take with regard to the Amendment to-day, the part which deals with the repayment of debt is bound to be carried out, and consequently these other things which some of us would like to achieve cannot be carried out through normal Parliamentary procedure. However that may be, the hon. Member for Llanelly has done well in raising the major matter of policy and in dwelling to a great extent, and very forcibly, upon the expressed opinion by the Committee as to the course of unemployment when war comes to an end.

They say, as far as any prophecy can be certain, that the end of this war is likely to be followed, as in the case of the previous war, by serious unemployment. That is an expression of opinion which is probably as good as any other opinion, and it may be better than any other opinion, and we are entitled to say to the Government that, out of the mouths of their own appointed advisers, they have been warned. I hope that there will be no inclination on the Government benches to regard that warning as something which may not materialise. If this warning of the Committee is simply to be met with the reply, "We must deal with these matters after the war in the light of the circumstances which then prevail," then, of course, we shall have to deal with them in the light of the circumstances which then prevail. But the fact that the Government have been warned will, I hope, cause them to take every step to see that such a situation does not arise. The mere fact that we have an effective system of social insurance in this country is very important. The more perfect it is and the more adequate the benefits, the more stable will be the day-to-day expenditure of the people as a whole, and the less likely it will be that catastrophic unemployment will overtake us. I remember reading the comparisons between the devastating effect of the slump of 1931 in the United States of America and in this country, when it was pointed out that in America the effects were much more catastrophic than in this country. The advantage enjoyed by this country was due—however unsatisfactory it might have been individually—to the fact that there was a great volume of expenditure going on week after week in this country which prevented the level of unemployment rising above a certain figure.

There are many things which can be done, but which it would not be in order to discuss on this Amendment. I hope that we shall have a statement from the Government to the effect that, although they have been warned, they are accepting the warning and are doing everything conceivable to prevent such a situation arising. We heard a short time ago that the Minister of Health was to send a questionnaire to all local authorities in the country making specific inquiries as to what capital expenditure they had in view which could be brought into operation at the end of the war. I hope that inquiry is not being dropped. No one can foretell what the situation will be at the end of the war. It may be grave, but clearly the difficulties are not insuperable. Provided the means of production are not completely destroyed, there is sufficient adaptability in the people of this country to reconstruct themselves and devise methods of day-to-day life on a satisfactory basis.

There was one aspect of the matter which the Statutory Committee did not mention in their report. Perhaps it was a little outside their province, but it is one to which the House may have regard, and that is that this is a totalitarian war. The number of men who will be drawn into the armaments industry in relation to the Fighting Forces is greater than in the last war, and, consequently, the distortion and dislocation of industry after the war will be much greater than they were at the end of the last war. While our opponents are determined to wage totalitarian war, we wish to achieve a total peace and set Europe free from the constant jealousies, suspicions and preparations for war which have prevailed and handicapped industrial efforts. It may be, if our best hopes are realised, that we shall have a better opportunity of creating employment than at any time during the last20 years. That is an important aspect of the matter.

Taking the report of the Statutory Committee, it is difficult to resist the con- clusion that their financial recommendation really means little more than a book-keeping transaction. If this debt is not repaid, it means that the Fund will be paying a larger amount of interest on the overdraft than on the credit account, and that is essentially an unbusinesslike procedure. I hope the Minister will say that the steps he is now taking are of such a character that employment in this country will be total before long and that the amount of benefit paid will be of little importance. I hope the 300,000 who resumed work during the last month is merely precursory to total employment. If the Minister cannot bring about that position, with the help of his colleagues, then I hope he will be ready to hand over the task to someone who thinks he will be better able to carry it out. That is the only answer which I think will satisfy the House of Commons.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Until the Minister is able to give that answer, surely he has an obligation to see that the unemployed are kept at pre-war level, if nothing else.

Mr. White

I will not dispute that with my hon. Friend. We are all, I hope, agreed that adequate benefit should be paid to those who are entitled to it. I think this Motion does bring us up against the extraordinary difficulties which we have created for ourselves in not having any unified authority to consider the social services as a whole. In the course of this report the Committee says it received evidence from the Employers' Federation, which asked for a reduction in contributions as an offset against the increased contributions to be paid for pensions. This question is not one to be decided on a request from employers, or by the Ministry of Health. That is not the way to go about a problem which can only be dealt with by an authority which is entitled to take account of all these necessities after they have had an inquiry into what is the reserve contribution capacity in this country, and when the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Labour have decided as to the right use of the benefits to be derived. This report, in several of its aspects, clearly shows the orderly state of the social services of this country. Perhaps I ought not to say disorderly, as it suggests something of a disreputable character, so I will say that the way in which these transactions are carried out by one Department, without reference to another, is ill-ordered. I would be glad to hear the Minister say that he had had an inquiry, in consultation with the Ministry of Health, into what is the reserve contributory capacity in this country and what benefits ought to be derived from it.

As to the increased contributions which were recommended by the Committee and accepted by the Government with regard to children, I cannot refrain from pointing out that this is another example of the extraordinary confusion into which our allowances as a whole have fallen. We have one allowance for unemployment insurance, another for unemployment assistance, another for orphans, another for dependants and widows, another for evacuees, and so on. This fact to face with the proposition advanced in the House the day before yesterday by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), who pointed out that in working-class households it was not a question whether the cost of living had gone up by 17, 18 or 20 per cent., but of the number of mouths in the family which had to be fed. That is what determines the cost of living in these cases. This recommendation is only a bite at a fundamental problem which leads to a sense of injustice between one family and another. It can be solved only by the application of some universal system of family allowances introduced to cover everybody, on the basis of justice, and outside the wage structure of the country altogether.

The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour himself must know the difficulties which the absence of such a scheme has caused in connection with the mobility of labour. There are many people now, particularly in the building industry, who are unwilling to accept transfers to other districts because they are up against the extraordinary difficulties which arise when you have a system of social assistance which recognises dependency and a wage system which does not. Men would willingly go to work in some other part of the country, but cannot do so because the Unemployment Assistance Board allowances make it impossible for them to move without doing something less than justice to their family requirements. I hope that we shall get away from piecemeal, hap- hazard and disjointed proposals of this kind in future and that some unifying influence will be brought to bear on this problem so that some satisfactory solution will be found.

On other occasions when we have had discussions on reports of the Statutory Committee there has been one matter which has been almost invariably raised and which ought to be mentioned to-day. There was a recommendation made by the Committee in favour of something being done for the black-coated workers, but that recommendation has not been accepted by the Minister. Thirty or 40 Questions were addressed to his predecessor on this subject, which raised an all-time record for Parliamentary procrastination, and a decision on the matter has not yet been reached. I do not expect the right hon. Gentleman will be prepared to enlighten us to-day on this particular matter, but I raise it now to show that the demand is still there. We hope that this recommendation of the Statutory Committee may be dealt with sooner or later, because it is not a matter which should be allowed to remain indefinitely in the background.

This Amendment calls for an increase of benefits and draws attention to one of the glories of our system of unemployment assistance and insurance. One can walk across to the office of the Unemployment Assistance Board and ask for a supplementary grant, this being one of the devices we introduced some time ago. I do not know whether that is the defence which the right hon. Gentleman may choose to put up to-day. The whole of this recommendation is yet another illustration of the difficulties we are in whenever these questions come to the House of Commons. They always impinge upon the claims of other Departments which are unrelated and, in some cases, competitive. One can only hope that the result of these discussions will be to see that the first post-war task which the House of Commons should be called upon to undertake is to bring into the social services some system of order which may give satisfaction to all.

4.59 p.m.

Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)

The hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) has once again drawn attention, quite properly, to the need for co-ordinating our social services, and I think there is growing opinion on all sides of the House that that is something which ought to be done. But apparently the most we can hope for in that direction is that it should be one of the first of our problems to be tackled after the war. However that may be, we have, in the meantime, to deal with the urgent problem under discussion to-day. The hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) spoke with his usual eloquence and sincerity, and I do not think any unbiased listener could have felt that the question now at issue was left by that speech exactly where it had been left by the Parliamentary Secretary in introducing the Motion. This is one of the rare occasions during war when the House has the opportunity of discussing a human and financial problem which has no actual contact with the war and when Members are able to approach a problem of this kind on its merits and agree or disagree with the recommendations or proposals of the Government without feeling that the Government's influence in the winning of the war is affected one way or the other. This is a very important problem, because, in spite of the welcome drop in the unemployment figures, announced to-day, there are still 1,100,000 unemployed. If you take their dependants, it means that between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 people are affected by the recommendations of the Statutory Committee.

I should have thought that this was a matter which might have been used to test the value of what is called the political party truce. Here we have the Statutory Committee with a surplus. What is to be done with that surplus? Shall some of it be devoted to the payment of debt and some to the increase of benefits to those who come under the Fund? And, if so, how much shall go to debt and how much to improving benefits? This is not a party matter; it is a financial and human problem. It is a matter on which there can be honest disagreement on both sides of the House, and it is also a matter on which there is the possibility of agreement. I could have wished, before the Government definitely decided that they would accept the recommendations of the Committee, knowing that they were bound to be unacceptable to hon. Members opposite, they had tried to find some compromise solution by which a party vote on this issue could have been avoided. When you have these two problems, on the one hand the need to reduce the debt and, on the other hand, the urgent claims of those under the Fund, I cannot feel that the proposals of the Statutory Committee are generous enough to those who come under the Fund.

Members of Parliament every day, when they are in their constituencies, have to deal with problems of unemployment, and I think it is quite clear that the waiting period is in itself the cause of very grave hardship. When we are up against individual instances of this hardship we simply cannot justify it. In normal times it may be necessary for the finances of the Fund to have a waiting period, and it has been necessary up to the present, but when the finances of the Fund so improve that an anticipated deficit of £8,000,000 is instead a surplus of £16,000,000, I think it is time some of the features of the Fund which are unsatisfactory and involve hardship should be done away with. I wish that opportunity had been taken to use some of this surplus in this way. The same is true of the demand for an increase in the amount of benefit. Some millions of workers in this country have been granted an increase in wages since the war on account of the increase in the cost of living. Every one of these workers is financially in a very much better position than an unemployed man, and if there is a good case for increasing wages because of the increase in the cost of living to a man in employment, I think there is at least as good a case, many of us would say a stronger case, for improving the amount of benefit to those who are unemployed.

The right attitude towards the Fund is to say that it is part of its purpose to see that men are kept in such a condition of nourishment and health that when employment is available they will be physically able to take up that employment. We know from the speech of the present Secretary of State for Air, when he was Lord Privy Seal, in the early days of the war, that it is the view of the Government that there will be practically no unemployment during the war. We were told that in a comparatively short time the position would be, not that men would have to seek jobs, but that jobs would be looking for the men. Therefore, I think the Government have a special responsibility for the unemployed until that state of things comes about. If it is their view that the great majority of the unemployed will be absorbed in employment, it is surely an additional reason for seeing that until that time comes they receive adequate benefit. I feel that a case has been made out for the use of some of the surplus of the Fund for this purpose also.

We are told that one reason why such a large amount of debt has to be paid off in one year is because it is anticipated that there will be a considerable increase in unemployment after the war, and we have to be sure that the Insurance Fund is in a sound financial position for that time. That, I submit, is a defeatist attitude to take towards post-war employment. Is that the new world which we have been promised; a world in which unemployment will be very much greater than it is now? Are we ever likely to get a peaceful world when the only time employment is good is when the nations are at war? We ought to make up our minds that unemployment and the economic position which causes unemployment and which is one of the causes of war, are problems which must be tackled, and tackled at once if we want to prevent future wars. I think that our activities would be much more usefully employed in trying to agree about a policy which will make unemployment less after the war rather than assume that unemployment is bound to increase. With the plans which are already in mind and the work which has necessarily been suspended during the war, but which local authorities will have to take up after the war, there will be quite a considerable amount of work available immediately after the war, and if we have removed from the world, as I hope we shall, the menace of war which has been hanging over it for so many years, I think we should be able to create conditions under which employment will be greater and unemployment less.

I do not think it is quite fair to assume that the right financial policy, although it may be a strictly correct financial policy, is that so much as £37,000,000 of the balance of the Fund should be devoted towards the payment of debt in one year. Although I recognise that in this matter the House has no alternative but to accept the Committee's proposals—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—that is so far as the payment of debt is concerned—I think we can, by expressing our views, make it known that in our opinion the surplus of the Fund should be used more in the direction indicated by the Mover of the Amendment. I regret that no attempt has been made by the Government to find a compromise, some way by which Members of the House could have agreed upon proposals which would have been, to my mind, a fairer distribution of the money available. You have 1,100,000 people and their dependants who are affected by the circumstances of the war. On the other hand, you have unemployment decreasing because of the war and, therefore, the Fund in a healthier condition. I think it is only right that those who still remain the victims of unemployment and are not sharing in the improved prosperity brought about by the war should be able to get something out of the better financial position of the Fund.

So far as my own sympathies are concerned, they are entirely with the proposals of the Amendment. The proposal of the Government is that we should devote out of this surplus an increase of 1s. a week for the first two children. It seems to me indefensible to limit it to the first two children. Are we to lay it down that after the second child it does not matter whether they have enough to live upon or not? Do we want to lay it down that it is not right in the national interests or the interests of anybody else that there should be more than two children in a family? If I have to choose between a proposal of that kind and the proposals of the Amendment, I prefer the Amendment. I wish that I had not been given that dilemma and that some compromise had been arrived at between the two proposals. That would have been making good use of the party truce, but if I have to choose between the proposals, I would rather go the whole hog than accept what I think is quite insufficient.

5.13 p.m.

Miss Wilkinson (Jarrow)

I rather agree with the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson), but I would like to remind him that he has rather a wrong idea of the party truce. The party truce means that we have to accept all that the Government propose and that they do not take the trouble to ascertain what we think on various questions. When we have discussed the question of these benefits on previous occasions, it has always been the reply of the Minister that we must remember that the Fund is an insurance fund and that benefits must never be paid out without due regard to the financial position of the Fund. That contention has always worked when the Fund was becoming increasingly insolvent. Now the thing is working the other way, and if the Minister accepts the argument on the one set of circumstances, he should bewilling to abide by the argument on the other set of circumstances. We have now stored up a huge Fund because the Government want a pool or reserve fund which may be used after the war, and used after the war, not to deal with the normal incidence of unemployment, but with a condition of tremendous mass unemployment. Of course, a condition of mass unemployment is not something that can be insured against, for it depends partly upon Government policy and partly upon the economic conditions of the world. One can no more insure against it than one can insure against the Day of Judgment. Therefore, when there is an enormous surplus, surely the time has arrived when the very modest proposals contained in the Amendment ought to be considered by the Government.

There is no more superb juggler with figures—and I use the term in a most complimentary sense—than the Minister of Labour. I have listened to many speeches by him; by the time he has excused one lot of figures, explained away another lot, and somehow or another put another set out of the table, one has felt that there was no unemployment problem to be dealt with. I have admired his optimism in the days of very serious unemployment. Now I am afraid his optimism will again outran the facts. It is too much taken for granted that at this time everybody can get a job, and that if he has not got a job now, he will have one by the middle of next week, so to speak. Speeches of that sort have been made for seven months, and at the end of the seven months, people are still out of work.

We are to-day dealing not with the Unemployment Assistance Board, but with standard benefits. In the present conditions, however, there will still be pockets of unemployment, such as one gets in the area for which I speak—in distressed areas like Jarrow and South-West Durham—where for a short time the men get sufficient work to bring them under standard benefits. The older men, who are taken on only when there is a rush of work and when nobody else is available, are the first to be thrown out of work again. There will be a position in which men who have been unemployed for a long time and have come under the Unemployment Assistance Board will be worse off, if they have large families, when they come on to standard benefit again—and they will be worse off at a time when food prices are rising very rapidly. These are the people who, when in work, have paid into the Unemployment Insurance scheme as long as it has existed. If large funds are available, as is now the case, the rights of these men should be considered, and there should be an all-round increase in benefit for the people who really need it most. Obviously, until the end of the war, we are not likely to have to deal with mass unemployment. We have to deal with cases which are in themselves very difficult. The younger men will not be unemployed, but the men who have been under the Unemployment Assistance Board and who will now come back on to standard benefits, are the men who would get most advantage from an all-round increase in benefits, such as is suggested in the Amendment.

I want now to deal with that part of the Amendment which calls for a modification of the anomalies regulations with respect to married women. The married woman worker has always been very badly treated under the Unemployment Insurance scheme. I remember very well what may be called the stampede circumstances in which the anomalies regulations were tightened up in regard to married women. Tremendous pressure was put upon Miss Margaret Bondfield, who was then Minister of Labour, by the supporters of the present Government, although Miss Bondfield was not responsible for the Act under which the regulations were finally put into shape. In those days there was a pernicious doctrine that married women in work kept men with families out of work. I have never subscribed to that doctrine, for I do not believe that statistically it is the case; but at that time, there was a growing body of unemployment and a tremendous prejudice against the married woman worker. No Minister, no matter to what party he or she may belong, operates in a vacuum; he or she has to have full regard to a situation in which there are tides of feeling that have to be taken into account. It was in such a situation that the anomalies regulations with regard to married women were drawn up. Since that time, the situation has entirely altered. The married women are being called upon to come back into industry, instead of pressure being exerted to push them out of industry. That being the case, it may be said that there is no problem because all of them can get jobs; but there is the difficulty of women who get a job, then lose it, and are then subjected to the full rigour of the anomalies regulations.

I do not think any Minister has ever tried to justify those regulations on an insurance basis; they have been justified always in social terms from the point of view of getting married women out of industry. There has been an unfortunate tendency to assume that the mere fact of marriage would render it more improbable that a woman would again get work in her own job. There have been clerical workers, for example, who have been denied standard benefit because a number of employers in the area in question have ruled that they would not employ married women. I do not want now to go into the long list of anomalies, but I want to call the Minister's attention to the general tendency, to the case-law that has been built up with regard to married women; and I want to sugget that this would be a very good time to put women in industry on the same basis as men, to say that the woman stands on her own feet, that she is a worker, that she pays into an insurance fund, and that she has a right to exactly the same privileges of insurance as a man. From that point of view, the fact of marriage is an irrelevant consideration. After marriage the woman ought not to have to serve again the whole time of employment as at present. If the Minister would do these things, I think it would use only a very small amount of the money, but it would do away with what is felt very widely to be a very considerable injustice.

With regard to children's allowances, if there is to be an increase, it ought to apply to all children. The assumption behind the present proposal is the entirely unwarranted one that the average married woman can somehow stretch any kind of income to fit any number of children. The working-class mother of small children performs miracles, but it is too much to ask her to perform the miracle of providing her children with milk, bacon, butter, vegetables, fruit, and all the other things which children need, and which are rapidly increasing in price, out of an insurance benefit that was fixed at a time when prices were much lower. Those benefits cannot be stretched indefinitely so as to give to those children the kind of nourishment which they need. In a comparatively few years, we have learned a good deal about the kind of nourishment that children need. It does not make sense to give one shilling to only two children out of a family of five. To begin with, it means that, in the case of a woman who provides the State with two children, the State rewards her by giving an increase for each of her children, but the woman who—if we are to talk about totalitarian wars—has provided her country with a larger quantity of cannon fodder is penalised in that increases are given in respect of only two of the children. That means that the 2s. may have to be spread over five children. It does not make sense.

The hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) has called attention to the differences that exist between the various classes of children who will have to depend upon State funds of one sort and another. Those differences may be justifiable when they are looked at as figures on paper and talked about round a table, but when they are translated into the life of the small back street, where the women draw these allowances and have to make them do, the Minister has no idea of the jealousy, difficulties and friction caused by the payment of different allowances to women of exactly the same social standing, with the same economic problem to face, and the same standards with regard to their children.

There has been plenty of talk and trouble about the amount of money paid in respect of evacuees compared with the amount paid to the wife of an unemployed man. It is possible to say that the woman who has taken in evacuees is being paid for her labour, whereas the wife of an unemployed man is not; but at a time when prices are rapidly rising, none of those things justifies the giving of an increase to only two of the children of an unemployed man. I ask the Minister whether it would have made so much difference from the point of view of the Fund if 1s. had been paid for each child. If I had to choose between the various things that are proposed, I would put an all-round increase for the children first. Men are being killed now, and if the war is intensified a whole generation of young men may be swept away; surely it is the most elementary national common sense that we should not allow the children of the nation to suffer from lack of nourishment at this time. It is no use saying that they are not doing so. Anybody who is continually in touch with unemployment in the badly-hit areas knows that to be the fact.

The Minister has taken the same view as he took when a group of Northern Members discussed with him the question of the waiting period, namely, that all he is able to do is to put into force the recommendations of the Statutory Committee. It has already been pointed out from this side, but there is no harm in underlining the fact, that that is not exactly the case. The Minister is allowed to vary the recommendations, provided he puts before the House a White Paper stating his reasons. Therefore, I ask the Minister to take into consideration such variations of these recommendations as have been put forward from this side. After all, the Members of the Labour party are closely in touch with the people who are affected by these recommendations. They are our people and we know the difficulties which they have to face. I would urge that recommendations so utterly indefensible as this recommendation about the 2s.—for which there is no argument in logic, or in statistics and certainly none on grounds of national policy—should be altered and that every child should get the extra 1s.

5.31 p.m.

Mr. Buchanan (Glasgow, Gorbals)

I do not intend to follow the hon. Lady the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) into a discussion of the question of married women, beyond saying that I dissent from her on one point and one point only, and that was in her reference to Miss Bondfield. On the question of married women, I think the Minister has had regard to regulations which were framed some time ago and modified subsequently, and that, in view of the new industrial condition now arising and involving the employment of married women, the question of these regulations is worth further investigation. I wish, however, to enter a caveat against this report from another and a different angle. I would remind the House that this Committee and the Unemployment Assistance Board were set up largely as a result of the economy measures propounded by the National Government early in 1931. It was then that these various measures were taken. All the cuts which were then made have been restored with one exception. One cut which was made then at the expense of the working class, by way of economy, has never been restored.

I do not care how often I repeat myself, or how irritating it may be to those who say, "Here is this old story again." As long as I am privileged to be here, I shall not allow the House of Commons to forget the one great economy cut made at that time which remains as a cut at the expense of those of the working class who are unfortunate enough to be unemployed for a long period. Prior to the National Government's cuts, every person with 30 stamps to his credit was, roughly speaking, entitled to one year and four months' standard benefit. Married women, of course, were an exception. That was cut to six months—a terrific cut and one which has never been restored. As long as I am in this House, I shall insist that those people are entitled, just as much as anybody else, to the restoration of what was then taken from them. Undoubtedly this section of the unemployed ought to be restored to the position in which they were before this cut was made, and that is one of the first things that ought to be put right. The 30 stamps provision was the result of the Blanesborough Commission's report, but one does not hear of it from Sir William Beveridge or his Committee. One does not even hear of an examination of the problem, but I for one, as far as I can, will constantly try to bring the House back to this, which is, I think, one of the harshest cuts of all, because it means that men who are on standard benefit are frequently flung on to means test benefit.

Some time ago it was claimed with great glee that a concession had been made, in that the period of six months' standard benefit had been extended to 12 months for people who had fairly long records of employment. I remember the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health taking some part from the back benches in Debates about the extension of standard benefit to those who had what, I think, she called good records of employment, and all of us more or less accepted that concession as far as it went. The position then was that a person who had had, roughly, five years' steady work could receive 12 months' standard benefit. But since the war started, with hardly a minute's discussion in the House of Commons, that has been abolished. To-day the maximum which any person can get is 190 days. Here is a cut, made since the war began, with hardly any discussion in this House at all.

I have never taken the view which some people take about people with long periods of employment, but I think that, curiously enough, there is a stronger case for that concession now than there was previously. I find that the chief sufferers from unemployment now are small shopkeepers and their employés. I do not know what the position is in other cities, but in my division nearly all the small shops display, "To Let" signs. I find women who have worked in those shops for 20 or 30 years coming out of employment at ages varying perhaps from 50 to 60, and at the end of six months what is their position? Nobody appears to have known about this new regulation reducing the 12 months to six. At the end of six months, these women are astounded to find, after their good record of employment and, with the difficulty of getting new employment—nobody but the women themselves can tell how hard it is for a woman of 55 to get employment after having been 25 years in a shop—that they are faced with this terrific cut in their standard benefit. It is a very serious matter. I would ask the Minister and this Committee presided over by Sir William Beveridge to consider that case.

I have already said all I ever want to say about Sir William Beveridge. I do not pay him all the great compliments which have been paid to him by others. He is a capable man, but the idea, which seems to be getting abroad, that he is the only man is just nonsense, and the sooner it is exploded the better. There are other men in the world just as capable as he is of adjusting these matters, and when I look at this report I say, frankly, that I believe that any civil servant in the Ministry of Labour, most of whom are capable men, could have written this report without all the jiggery-pokery of these Committee meetings and all the other ramifications of this procedure. Any intelligent civil servant could have written this report in a night—and without sitting up too late. There is a lot of planning about what is to happen after the war, but what member of this Committee knows what will happen after the war? Who has the slightest idea of when the war will end and what will be the conditions after the war?

Who knew what was going to happen at the end of the last war? Then we had, first, a terrific boom in trade. My own trade was busier at the end of the war than during the war. But after two years there came a terrific slump, which sent the unemployment figures sky-high. I do not know, with certainty, what will happen after the war, and neither does this Committee. I doubt whether the Government, with all their special knowledge, have any idea of how long the war will last. But I leave that aside, and I make my plea in the strongest manner to the Minister that something should be done to restore the 12 months' standard benefit which has been reduced to six months since the war started, in the case of those with long terms of employment. I submit that the reduction to 190 days was made without the real sanction of the House of Commons. I know that it was nominally sanctioned, but it was rushed through among a crowd of other things when Members were faced with a general war situation, and I take it that if such a proposal were brought in now, it would not be sanctioned without considerable opposition. I hope, therefore, that this matter will be raised again.

On the question of the waiting period, I agree with, and have pleaded for, the abolition of the waiting period altogether. The Minister has recently extended the period of unemployment, in connection with which the waiting period operates, from 10 weeks to 20 weeks. I would ask him to consider a period longer than 20 weeks. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will re-examine this question of the period. I admit that every time he stretches it from 10 weeks to 20 weeks or from 20 weeks to 30 weeks he is, to an extent, abolishing the waiting period for a large number of people, but I would ask him whether, if he cannot abolish the waiting period entirely, he will look into the question of extending this other period to 20 weeks.

It appears from this report that the Committee and the Government have decided to spend £1,100,000 out of their surplus and that they propose to devote £37,000,000 to the lessening of the debt. One of their arguments in support of this course is that they are getting only 2 per cent. from their investments, and the debt service is, I think, costing 3 per cent., and it is said, therefore, that there will be a saving of 1 per cent. But they enter a caveat to that proposition, because they say that if they wipe out the debt, they may have to re-borrow at much higher rates of interest at the end of the war and it seems to me that the one thing cancels out the other. I put it to the Minister whether he thinks that this sum of £1,100,000 is sufficient for the purpose to which it is to be devoted. As I have said, when it comes to a matter of trying to prophesy what is to happen at the end of the war, nobody can argue about it. I may be a simple fellow, but, frankly, I cannot follow all the intellectual arguments of people who profess to have deep knowledge of these matters. I admit that I do not know what will happen at the end of the war and when people talk to me about "homes for heroes" and all the rest of it, I sit back and say, "Maybe it is all true; maybe you know better than I do, but I propose to wait and see what turns up."

Here we are in this position. There are, roughly speaking, 700,000 people affected by this question. I believe there are about 400,000 on unemployment assistance and somewhat fewer than 700,000 on standard benefit. Could not some of this money have been devoted to other improvements? I would plead with the Minister and with this Committee to give some attention to one section of men whose case requires re-examination. I refer to that small section of the unemployed who were dealt with under the Anomalies Act, namely, those who are called intermittent workers. I hate to appear to set one unemployed man against another or the married women against other classes. It is always awkward to do so, but I believe that the case of the intermittent worker calls for attention. I refer particularly to men who grow old before their time. You find men of 60 who are older than their years while other men of 70 appear comparatively young.

A large number of these older men to-day are taking on work—and all credit to them—at anything they can get. Some of them take on jobs as watchmen at week-ends. They work only two days a week, but if they work two days a week for 18 months, their benefit is cut on the ground that they have become intermittent workers. I ask the Minister seriously to re-examine this problem, which has become even more acute than the problem of the seasonal worker. For goodness' sake, do not discourage anybody from taking on a day's work or two days' work. It seems to me that to penalise men up in years who take on this weekend work and to cut their benefit is a miserable and mean proceeding. I would ask the Minister to re-examine the position of the intermittent worker, working a two-day or one-day week, who is frequently elderly. If the man was employed by the same employer at the same wage for three days a week he could draw standard benefit for ever. There is nothing more inconsistent. If he went to his employer and asked to be employed for another day without pay so that he could work for three days, again he would be able to draw standard benefit for ever; but because he is decent and honest and works for two days, for some unknown reason which I have never been able to fathom or follow, there is this sharp distinction drawn. I trust the Minister will re-examine this question in the light of the surplus. It would cost less than £250,000 to solve the problem of the old intermittent worker, and at a time when we have a surplus of £37,000,000 I do not think that £250,000 spent in this direction could be considered an undue amount.

We are increasing by 1s. the children's benefit. Far be it for me to depreciate anything improving anyone's condition, but when folk read in the papers of a £37,000,000 surplus, and £6,000,000 a day being spent on war, and then you give them 1s. for a child, they look aghast and ask whether they live in another world, and whether they are the same people as we are. I started speaking on the question of unemployment insurance in these Debates, and far be it for me to deny that there has not been a gradual improvement. I admit that it has been gradually improved, and to-day marks another small improvement. It is, however, so meagre. Why do not the Government learn the lesson that when they are going to do a thing to get credit for it, they should do it right. Why should they not grant 1s. to each child, instead of taking all the decency back and making it become simply revolting? There is such a revolting feeling about the way the Government do the thing. The time has come when, as they are at least increasing the benefit by 1s., they should extend it to each independent child.

We used, at one time, to pay a man 18s. a week unemployment benefit and I would make this plea for the womenfolk. I should have thought that the hon. Lady would have done it before me, but she did not. No longer do I think there is a defence against paying an unemployed woman less than an unemployed man. I cannot see that the unemployed woman can live on less than an unemployed man; indeed, the average woman who is unemployed may actually have to spend more. A man can go about untidy, but a woman must be well dressed to get a job; and one of the urgent reforms needed now is the payment of the same unemployment benefit to a woman as to a man. We are all shouting to-day for equality of payments. When the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary entered her job she was paid at the same rate as any other Under-Secretary. When she came into this House she was paid the same as other Members of Parliament. The demand to-day is for equal work and equal pay, and the same thing should apply to the unemployed woman. She should be paid the same rate as a man, and I trust that, instead of devoting such a miserable sum for this small improvement in increasing children's benefits some of it will also be made available for raising women's benefits, to modify the anomalies in connection with the intermittent worker, and to giving the right to a person to have standard benefit if he has 30 stamps on his card in two years. These are the benefits to which I would devote the money. In these days one gives way to committees, and it makes one wonder whether the House of Commons is not becoming a rubber stamp for outside bodies. I trust, however, that there is still a sufficient number of Members in the House of Commons who will see to it that we do not let our responsibilities go.

5.51 p.m.

Mr. McLean Watson (Dunfermline)

We have all noted the modest remarks of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) on the question of unemployment benefits and insurance. He is a very modest individual, and he says he is a very simple individual, but so far as unemployment insurance is concerned, he does at least know one or two things as well as Sir William Beveridge and the members of the Committee who have signed the report we are considering this evening. I do not intend to deal with the matters so ably referred to by the hon. Member for Gorbals. I want more especially to turn the. Minister's attention once again to a question put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). He asked the Minister very specifically whether it is the intention of the Government, if there is abnormal unemployment at the end of the war, that benefits shall be paid by the Fund, or whether other steps will be taken. We are very much concerned about what is to happen after the war. The matter has been referred to by the Committee whose report we are considering. They say that there is to be anticipated serious unemployment, and we on this side of the House share the same opinion. We believe that there will be serious unemployment because at the moment there is not the slightest trace of any preparations being made by the Government to avert it.

We know what happened on the last occasion, and consequently we are concerned about what is to happen, not so much to the present surplus, or even the reduction of the Debt, but in regard to the great mass of men who have been swept into the fighting forces and into munition factories during the past year or two. Immediately we get back to peace there will be demobilisation as on the last occasion. As a matter of fact I am rather inclined to think that it will be more expeditiously done than it was the last time, because, whereas we started the last war with a National Debt of £700,000,000, we began this war with a debt of over £8,000,000,000. Therefore, the need for getting men demobilised and back into industry quickly, if industry can find work for them, will exist at the close of the war. We, on this side of the House, are very much concerned about what the Government are preparing to do to meet the post-war period. We do not know how long the war will last, but the longer it goes on the more difficult will become the position.

I do not know why the Minister interrupted my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly in regard to the views of this Committee on the subject of unemployment after the war. It is quite true that it is speculation. The Committee is simply speculating as to what will happen, but at any rate they are entitled to draw their conclusions. They have the experience following the last war to go on, and they are entitled to have their own opinion whether or not there is to be unemployment. I will quote two passages from the report, giving the views of the Committee on the subject of unemployment after the war is over: It appears to us to be as certain as any prophecy can be that the end of the present war will be followed, as the end of the last war was, by severe unemployment. These are the words of the Committee in the opening sentence of paragraph 14. Paragraph 16 reads: The war in effect makes impossible any reasonable forecast of the future course of unemployment, beyond the general forecast that any great reduction of unemployment during war is certain to be followed by a great rise of unemployment after it. So there is no doubt in the minds of the Committee that at the close of this war we shall be faced with a great unemployment problem. My hon. Friend in opening the discussion from this side of the House put the question to the Minister, whether he or the Government intended that the requirements of a great mass of unemployed would be met out of the Unemployment Fund, or whether the Government would take extraordinary methods in order to deal with the problem. This side of the House is more concerned with finding work for the men who may be unemployed, than with provisions being made for payment of unemployment benefits. The whole problem of unemployment has been treated all the time as a makeshift affair. We have been led to believe that this was only a temporary phase in our national life, and that unemployment was a thing which would be got rid of by and by. The measures brought forward to deal with the situation have been so much patchwork, something for the immediate future, without any long view being taken to tackle the problem. I hope this will be changed, and that if there is any desire on the other side of the House for the continuation of what is called "National unity" after the war, we shall see some evidence of the Government framing schemes which will make provision for the unemployed men when the making of munitions stops. It is not that there is no work to be done in this country. There are great schemes which could be undertaken by the Government, and it ought to be their duty now to prepare schemes.

I agree with what has been said by previous speakers about the proposed disposal of this surplus. We totally dissent from the recommendations of the Committee in regard to it. The 1s. each for the two children in the family is inadequate, and if there is any intention of dealing with the problem in that way there ought to be increases for all the children. A claim can also be made for the unemployed man whose need is much more urgent. There has been an increase in the cost of living since the war started and part of the surplus should be devoted to meeting it by giving an increase in the allowance to the unemployed man as well as to the children. We agree that part of the debt which has been on the Fund for so many years should be got rid of as speedily as possible, but to devote £37,000,000 to that purpose and such a miserable amount to meet the increased cost of living which the unemployed have to meet cannot be justified. I hope that the Minister will take note of the fact that the one speech which has been made from his side of the House was in favour of our Amendment. The hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) made it clear that if he had to choose between the recommendations of the Committee and our Amendment he would choose the Amendment. Not one speech has been made on the other side in justification of the recommendations of the Committee. I noticed that the Parliamentary Secretary kept on very safe ground. He did not express any opinion or the opinion of the Government. He made no defence of the Committee's recommendations. I suppose that he will leave his right hon. Friend to express any opinions about them. It will be lamentable if the only voice on that side of the House is a voice in defence of the Amendment. I hope that the Minister will, before the close of the Debate, seriously consider the suggestions that have been made and will agree to give more of this surplus to the unemployed and less to the debt.

We on this side are much concerned about what the position will be after the war. The hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) reminded us that the Lord Privy Seal had said that before long there would be more jobs than men. We are looking forward to that period, but it is not in sight yet. When we have over 1,100,000 unemployed—and there are more, for they are not all registered—it is clear that we are not within sight of the end of the problem. We have had seven months of war and extraordinary industrial activity. In addition many men have been called into the Forces. In spite of that there are over 1,000,000 unemployed. I hope the Government are preparing plans now for the period that is to follow the war. We on this side will be delighted if the Minister can to-night supplement the statement made by the Lord Privy Seal, now Secretary of State for Air, that there would be more jobs than men. If he can tell us that and show how speedily it is to be done we shall have some assurance that the Government are really making an effort to solve the problem. Unless we can have that assurance we shall stand by the Amendment. We are dissatisfied with the recommendations of the Committee, which has not enhanced its reputation in the minds of Members on this side. With a surplus of these dimensions they ought to have come forward with better recommendations than are contained in their report.

6.7 p.m.

Mr. Collindridge (Barnsley)

I want to join with my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in congratulating the Parliamentary Secretary for his clarity in presenting his statement. There is not, however, a great deal of enthusiasm on the Government's side for the case he had to put. That is borne out by the fact that we have had only one speech from the Government benches, on a proposal which affects about 10 per cent. of the people in the country. If hon. Members opposite were proud of this business we should have had more speeches eulogising these proposals. Some of us come from constituencies where it would be regarded as disloyal, in view of the continuance of heavy unemployment, not to say a few words upon the proposals now before us. It is not the fault of individuals that they are unemployed or the fault of the districts where they live that they have to suffer all that results from industrial depression. We have had nearly eight months of war and the district I represent, not a very large one, has still over 5,000 of its inhabitants unemployed. That adversely affects the individuals concerned and it is a levy upon the trading community.

We are discussing in various parts of the country how the unemployed can be used in the war effort. Some districts want during the war new industries which will be able to continue working after the war. My district would prefer that, but I think I voice their views aright when I say that because of the burden of unemployment they would be glad even of an industry that operated only during the war. I have often heard the Minister say that the roll of unemployed consisted mostly of people who were out of work for small periods. If that be so, surely during war we could be more generous to those people in view of the large surplus that has been revealed in this report. I smiled when I read in the report the plea of the employers that the surplus should be devoted to a reduction of contributions. I had recently left the minefields when I came to the House, and the tripartite method of getting funds for our social services by levying on the workers, the employers and the State, is regarded there as a huge joke. By the wage ascertainment system in the mining industry 85 per cent. of the employers' contributions is borne by the miners.

We suggest therefore, that when the Fund, is showing to advantage a little more generosity should be shown to the workers. We contend that not only should the waiting period be abolished, but that less than three days unemployment should rank for pay. The mining industry, which is perhaps different from most industries, is subject to incidents which cause days of work to be lost through no fault of the miner. We have the anomalous position in the industry that a man who fails to have work for three days in a week is often better off than he who loses only two days' work a week. Regard should be had to that position.

The Statutory Committee argue that we must prepare to deal after the war with what they call the likelihood of severe unemployment. I wonder whether that particular lesson would be a suitable one for the whole country. A plea is being made to the community to lend to defend, but I wonder whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer would get the general public to lend if they knew of the sad tale related in the report and whether they would not be more likely to save it for the period of stress which the Committee mentions. I also want to refer to the sad fact that the Committee, supported by the right hon. Gentleman, take up the position of recognising only two children in a family instead of all the children. I wonder when the Government will learn by past experience. They started by treating the dependants of serving men in similar fashion, recognising only a certain number of the children in a soldier's family, but owing to the indignation created in the country they had to retreat from that position and to recommend that all the children should be recognised.

As mentioned by my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment, it would be better if the Government concerned itself with the morale of the country in connection with this matter. I say no word of disrespect about those of well-to-do families who are now serving in His Majesty's Forces; I pay them the same tribute as I pay to members of the working class who are fighting the country's battle, but the fact remains that it is the sons of the workers who are in the majority in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Those young men have families here on the home front, and I am satisfied that a generous gesture by the right hon. Gentleman towards their families would strengthen not only the morale of the country but of the fighting men as well. We have been told that a time will come, and ere long, when it will be a case of seeking men for jobs and not seeking jobs for men. If those who put forward that view are so sure of themselves surely it is proper to give better treatment to the remnant of the unemployed until that good time comes. It is right to put forward that plea on behalf of districts like my own, where there is a heavy rate of unemployment for which the people are not responsible. The country is holding those men in readiness until the need for them arises, and meantime they ought to be treated generously, and I hope the plea we make in our Amendment will be supported by hon. Members in all parts of the House.

6.18 p.m.

Mr. A. Jenkins (Pontypool)

I should like to join with the other Members who have congratulated the Parliamentary Secretary upon the clarity of his statement. Like them, I wish he had had a subject which would have permitted him to introduce some enthusiasm, but at any rate his statement was so clear that we all thoroughly understood it. With my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) I want to say that in my judgment the Government have missed a golden opportunity of doing a measure of justice to the unemployed. Last year the Fund had an income over and above its expenditure of approximately£25,000,000. It is true that the Fund has a debt which was incurred in other days—we have had quarrels about that and need not argue it further now—but it had that big surplus last year. Another salient fact is that during the period of the war the very people who are the recipients of benefit from the Fund have experienced an in crease of approximately 20 per cent. in the cost of living, and their purchasing power has been reduced by, roughly, 15 per cent. The Minister has missed the opportunity of putting those people in the position in which they were at the beginning of the war. I do not think even the Minister will be able to introduce any enthusiasm into his defence of the recommendations of this Committee. Even the Committee themselves seek to excuse themselves regarding certain of their decisions. I will quote from page 12 of their report: In considering the finance of the Unemployment Fund it is not appropriate for us to take into account directly such matters as the cost of living or the rates of assistance fixed from time to time of the Unemployment Assistance Board. Our approach to the problem is financial only; that of adjusting the income and expenditure of the Fund. Further down on the same page they say: If, in the present war, drastic changes occur in the value of money the problem may arise of making changes in the rates of benefit, but those problems must be dealt with, if at all, by special legislation. The proper interpretation of what the Committee say there is that they invite this House to take such steps as may be necessary in order to deal with the increase in the cost of living. They go on to strengthen that point: If the value of money changes so that 1s. becomes, say, 11d. only, in terms of commodities, that in itself is a reason for using our surplus to increase rates of benefit. There the Committee put forward proposals which this House ought to be ready to adopt, but we have not done it. The House and the Government have missed a golden opportunity of doing justice to these people. To say "justice" is putting the matter too high, because it has never been argued in this House—no Minister, not even the Minister of Labour, has ever said it—that the rates of unemployment benefit are adequate for maintenance. The Minister knows perfectly well that they are not, because he has examined the matter as some of us have examined it. On hundreds of occasions I have examined family budgets, and I have found that in the unemployed home—a man, his wife and children—they are usually living on an average of expenditure which approximates to 2d. or 2½d. per meal. Now we are reducing even that level, and are not taking advantage of the opportunity offered by this great surplus in the Fund to put benefits on a par with what they were in September.

The Committee recommend that half the £77,000,000 of debt should be wiped off this year. From an arithmetical point of view one can see the advantage of that, and the Committee point out that it will reduce the liability for debt charges by approximately one-half. If I remember aright, in 1931 the May Committee recommended that the Fund should bear a liability for repayment of debt by £5,000,000 per annum. The Government have now gone seven times better than the recommendation of the May Commit- tee by making a reduction of £37,000,000 in one year. We are doing this at a time when, as the Minister himself knows well, the rates of benefit are not adequate for maintenance, because provision has had to be made whereby some of those receiving statutory benefit may appeal to the Unemployment Assistance Board for supplementation. If benefit is kept at a low level more and more people will have to take advantage of that provision. That is not fair and, further, it means taking far too much of the payments made by working people. My hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly has already referred to the contributions paid by the miners. They pay their own contributions and, under their wages arrangements, they pay 85 per cent. of the employers' contributions as well, leaving the employers to pay only 15 per cent.

It is very important that the rates of benefit should be as adequate as possible. We should not miss the golden opportunity now presented to us, and I hope the Minister will give the House an opportunity of putting matters right. I feel there is not one Member of the House who if he were free from the Whips, and had full knowledge of all that is involved, would not agree to our Amendment. Only one Member other than the Minister has spoken from the opposite side of the House and that was the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson). He strongly supported the Amendment, and I have no doubt that many other hon. Members opposite would do the same. It would be a correct if not a generous act on the part of the Minister to get up and announce that he accepted the Amendment.

6.28 p.m.

Mr. Leonard (Glasgow, St. Rollox)

The case for the Amendment has been amply stated and I desire to amplify only one point. In a reference to the evidence which was given to the Committee by the Trades Union Congress it was mentioned that the Congress had supported the view that the excess of income over expenditure must not be regarded as a war profit but as due to the normal incidence of economic causes. On the next page, when argument is entered into by the Committee, they return to this point and. say: There is room for argument as to whether the whole of the unexpected improvement in the financial working of the Unemployment Fund in the past year is due to defence expenditure. But there can be no hesitation in attributing some of the improvement, if not all of it, to this cause. Speaking personally, that does not impress me. The normal lot of the working people of this country is to work for their livelihood, and it is a matter of secondary importance whether it is war work or ordinary economic work. The unexpected gain of the Unemployment Fund in 1939 was the result of the normal activities of the working people, and it should not be related to any exceptional circumstances. It is the simple result of more people being in employment, and it has benefited a Fund which was created for the purpose of relieving those who are in distress. There is no doubt, as stated here, that what is likely to be the effect of the war is one of the factors to be taken into account. The war has resulted in the need, for large sections of the people of this country, to have increased wages, because prices have gone up. This has led a small section of the community who are eligible for unemployment benefit to be in a worse position than they previously were. That is definitely a result of the war. I therefore think that the Amendment is definitely related to the needs of the people whom the Fund was meant to succour. What we shall have at the end of the war is not so important as what is happening now, which is that people are suffering. Whatever succour is at the disposal of the Committee or the Government should be used for the effects of the war as they can be seen to-day.

We are told that there is one difference to-day as against ordinary times. It is that this is a great national effort of millions of people who are bound together in one family as they never were bound before. Here is a small unit of that family, suffering. The mover of the Amendment referred to this matter. This small section of the family is suffering now, before the war has come to an end, and is suffering because of the war. There should be no hesitation on the part of anyone looking at this matter impartially, and with regard to the purpose of the Fund, that the Amendment should be accepted and applied.

6.32 p.m.

Mr. Ammon (Camberwell, North)

The House has discussed this proposal at some length. Experts with far greater know- ledge than I possess have spoken with knowledge and enthusiasm for the Amendment. If there were any doubt whether our Amendment should be pressed to a Division it would be removed by the fact that the Amendment has been strongly supported and that there has been no dissentient voice in any part of the House with regard to it. In fact, as has already been stated, the only voice from the Government side of the House expressed itself in no uncertain terms as being wholly in favour of the Amendment. Perhaps it would be just as well to inform the House that the Leader of the Opposition has just received a telegram from an unexpected source supporting our Amendment and pressing for the abolition of the waiting period. It is from the Brighouse Master Builders' Association. Therefore it is not only from one side that the need for justice in this connection is seen, but from a wider, informed public opinion.

I should like to deal with one general point before I come to the report of the Committee. One of my hon. Friends has referred to a statement, made upon ministerial authority, that the time might come when jobs would be seeking men rather than men be seeking jobs. Frankly, I do not believe that any such time can arise in the present economic organisation of society. I am alarmed at the statement, because it suggests that the speaker was visualising the most ghastly holocaust ever known in history, if a period like that were to come. I believe that, in present economic circumstances, even if production rose to the highest peak ever known, we should still have the unemployed army among the people. That is bound to be. That is one of the reasons why I deplore the report that is now before us. My hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) has said that we were not prepared to accept the report and to swallow it without consideration merely because it had been presented by so-called experts. Bless me, the whole of history is strewn with mistakes and disasters that have followed upon the prognostications of experts. The expert is usually a person who cannot see the wood for the trees and therefore may land you into considerable trouble.

One notices names to this report that one always sees upon reports of this character. The reports are now so stereotyped that one can almost guess the kind of report that these people are likely to bring forward. Like the Government's programme, the whole thing lacks imagination or any appreciation of the broad issues involved. It would be foolish to say, and I shall not attempt to do so, that there is no benefit in the proposals now before the House, but the Government, on this occasion as upon others, have missed an opportunity of looking at the matter in a broad sense. They have always acted in such a niggardly fashion that the manner in which they have presented their proposal has very often undone any benefit there might have been, by arousing a certain amount of resentment that otherwise would not have been created.

The statement is made in this report by its signatories that, to some extent, the surplus that we are now considering may be due to war circumstances, and my hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly has already referred to that matter. My hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) rightly called attention to the previous cuts that have been made and that have, over a long period, gone to swell this surplus. My hon. Friend asked, is it right or fair that the insurance Fund, which was created to cover insurance risks, should be included, and that the unemployed should be held responsible for bearing the burden of social upheaval? That is what it amounts to in this connection. My hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Jenkins) called attention to paragraph 21 of the report. Even the experts say that they are very uneasy in their minds about this matter. They point out with truth that the purchasing power of money is not the same now as normally. We may take it for certain that the position will get worse and that nobody will feel it more than the people who are concerned in this matter, namely, those on the lower edge of old age pensions, and so forth. Instead of devoting this money to reducing the debt, as we are told, it would surely have been better to distribute it among the unemployed. That would have been better for the nation from the economic point of view because the money would have gone into productive enterprise and into things necessary to keep the wheels of industry going. The nation would have benefited considerably thereby.

The other thing that impresses me very much in glancing at this report is the way in which the Government have approached the matter. They appear to have thrown in their hand already, so far as post-war conditions are concerned. Are we to be told that there is to be no planning? The Government ought to be planning ahead for what is to happen after the war. We simply have here a prophecy and jeremiad that unemployment is bound to happen. As one with some knowledge of the ordinary working man in this country I say that that appears to be looking for a considerable amount of trouble in the days to come. Let it be said, and quite clearly understood, that I believe the people will not stand for the position which followed the last war. There will be something which is utterly foreign to what has happened in the history of this country, unless the Government are taking considerable steps to plan. That planning must mean a basic alteration in the economic condition of society as we now know it. To say deliberately that there is to be no planning to do away with unemployment, or to meet the changes that will possibly come immediately after the war, is inviting disaster, and is at the same time alarming a good many people. A society that can assure to its citizens enough to eat and drink and the wherewithal to live only in time of war has no justification for existence. That is the sort of society in which we are living to-day and it is proposed to perpetuate it to an even worse extent than we have known.

Now I come to the extraordinary proposal that the increase in children's allowances should be only in respect of the first two children. That is a new form of birth control—Government birth control. It means, in effect, that the Government are now saying to people that two children in the family are the limit. What does this mean? It means under present conditions, that the harassed mother will have her worries intensified as the family increases, and that we are penalising the nation's greatest asset. If the war becomes intensified, twice in less than two generations we shall have lost the flower of our nation. We should therefore be doing all that we can to see that that is made up, and we should not penalise the people who may, through no fault of their own, find themselves unemployed although they may have families somewhat large. Anything more absurd is difficult to imagine. No wonder that the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) said he was not prepared to face those consequences and that he approved of the Amendment. When he found that the Minister did not give him any sympathy he exhibited dismay and horror, and went out of the Chamber, where he has not been seen since.

With her knowledge of working-class life my hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Miss Wilkinson) touched upon a real point when she spoke of the difference between the allowances as causing a considerable amount of social unrest and trouble. To-morrow night I shall be doing what so many of my hon. Friends make a general practice of doing, sitting in my constituency to receive people who bring complaints. Believe me, there are many complaints. Among these people will be women who will ask why Mrs. So-and-So has a larger allowance than she has. It is no good my explaining that it is because there is something more coming into the house. She will say that her boy has gone to the war and that she ought to be treated similarly. You will have the same thing said in regard to the children. All that kind of feeling goes to make up the undercurrent of unrest and distrust, and when the time comes that is visualised in the report, namely, that we are bound to get more unemployment, we shall have more trouble than anyone will want to face.

In regard to the surplus, I agree with the notes that Mr. Thomson has made. Mr. Thomson does not altogether accept that the surplus is merely a matter that has arisen out of war conditions. He recognises that various other factors have gone to build it up. I suggest to the Minister even now that it seems rather deplorable that, in a part of the House to which we usually attribute the representation of wealth and privilege in society, one supporter of the Government, who has probably brought himself into touch with the other side of things and with the workers, should have been the only one to stand up here against anything that might be to the advantage of the workers and might penalise them in some way or another.

I hope the Minister will take advantage of the opportunity to gather the sense of the House. This is a subject which affects 10 per cent. of the population; yet the House is practically empty and only one hon. Member on the opposite side has thought it worth while to take part in the discussion. With the expression of the sense of the House—never mind about those who have not taken part in the Debate—I hope the Minister will accept the opinion that the waiting period should be wiped out, and the surplus distributed among the people who are now in the ranks of the unemployed. Not only will that assist the people, but it will benefit the nation as a whole in the broadest and truest sense, and the Minister will be assured that he has done something which will redound to his credit. It will indicate that the Government have looked at the matter from the broad view and with imagination instead of in a niggardly fashion.

6.46 p.m.

Mr. E. Brown

The hon. Gentleman rather surprised me in one passage of his speech.

Mr. Ammon

I often do.

Mr. Brown

That may be so; perhaps his views do surprise me, but he made a personal reference. He made the general accusation that I was accustomed to standing at the Box defending matters which other hon. Members on this side would not support. When he reflects on what he has said he will see that that is scarcely a fair view of myself after nearly five years as Minister of Labour. As Minister of Labour I could produce a longerlist of reforms for the benefit of the working people for whom he asks me to speak to-day than any of my predecessors of any party, whether it be a question of the extension of the scheme to 1,000,000 people who have not had the advantages before, or a whole series of other amendments to the insurance scheme, every one of them with one exception for the benefit of the unemployed. I will only say to the hon. Gentleman that I am prepared at any time to have a balance sheet drawn up as between himself and hisparty's handling of the Unemployment Fund and unemployment insurance matters and the record that I can present to the nation.

Miss Wilkinson

You have had rearmament.

Mr. Brown

This has been going on persistently and constantly and it is a record in which I can take nothing but pride. [Interruption.] Well, I have been modest, and if I cared I could have sought the headlines, but that has never been my desire in this office. We have in the balance sheet solid facts, and from the point of view of this Government in our period of office and in nearly five years in which I have been Minister of Labour that balance sheet is infinitely better than the balance sheet which hon. Members opposite can show. The hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) did take a broad view. We have been told that my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary made a speech which was full of clarity and I am sure he will regard that as a great compliment. It is easier, however, to be full of broad, imaginative views and enthusiasms when in Opposition than it is when you have to shoulder the responsibility of handling practical affairs. The hon. Member for Llanelly said that a report of a committee of experts is nearly always wrong, but on this occasion the hon. Gentleman was caught because he was asked by the hon. Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson),who as the House knows is an Independent Member of the House, what it would cost to do two of the things that he was advocating. His answer showed the danger of the non-expert entering into the waters usually sailed by the expert, because his answer was far from accurate. It indicated how easy it is to take a broad, enthusiastic, imaginative view on insufficient information because one has not appreciated the arguments and reasons put forward by the experts. We have had an estimate of the cost of abolishing the three days waiting period and it is a very instructive example of the danger of brushing aside experts. The argument of the hon. Gentleman was that it would cost £1,300,000. It is a fallacy to say that three days of a waiting period are equal to any other three days.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Does the Minister dispute that figure?

Mr. Brown

I do. It is not true. It was easier for me to come down and ask the House to agree to reducing the period from six days to three days than to reduce it from three days to one day. The first day of unemployment is the largest day of unemployment. There are more people out of work for one day than for any other day of any period of unemployment. If the hon. Gentleman wants to do that and abolish the three days waiting period and the continuity rule, he must reckon that not £1,300,000 but £5,000,000 will be the cost on the basis on which the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee have always reckoned their percentages.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The Minister has misrepresented or misunderstood what I said. In estimating the cost of abolishing the remaining waiting days—I will give the Minister's figures—first of all, when the waiting period was reduced from six days to three days the Committee estimated that the added expenditure was £1,250,000 at that time, when unemployment was at 16.75 per cent. and the number in the insurable scheme was 12,000,000. Now the number is up to 14,000,000 and unemployment is down to 10 per cent., and the Committee estimate that unemployment will be still less this year.

Mr. Brown

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's conclusion. I stick to what I have said. The cost might be less than £5,000,000 on another basis, but it would be much greater than £1,300,000 which the hon. Member mentioned in his answer to the hon. Member for Cheltenham.

Mr. Griffiths

In any case the difference would be very small indeed as compared with the mistakes which the Committee made in estimating this year's balance.

Mr. Brown

I could not agree with that either. The actual balance is not a matter of estimating; it is a matter of fact. If it is a question whether there is a surplus or not, that may be a matter of opinion, but the hon. Gentleman is not entitled to say that the balance is a matter of opinion. It is a matter of fact and it is open to statistical proof. No hon. Member would think of disproving the actual figures which are adduced in the appendix showing the basis on which the balance was computed. So much for the experts and the non-experts.

The hon. Member for Llanelly and his colleagues do not all say the same thing. Some of them say that you must not have regard to the period after the war, and others say you must. Some say that unless you do something—something unspecified, on some big, broad imaginative plan, something as enthusiastic as what the hon. Member for North Camberwell (Mr. Ammon) proposed, namely, the reconstruction of the whole social and economic system—there will be unemployment. Anyone reading the report of the Debate to-morrow will find that these views have not been very consistent. [Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman will let me make my own speech I will be glad to listen to him. The hon. Member for Llanelly said that I ought to declare what the Government will do in this matter. He should know perfectly well that I can make no statement of that kind because it is not a departmental matter for me. The question has been put to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister not once nor twice but three times, and he has given answers showing that so far from being unaware of the future or not alive to it, as the speeches on the opposite side suggest, he is very well aware of the future. His answers in this House indicate that fact very well, although in those answers he was very careful not to fall into the trap laid by those who put the questions—those with the broad imaginative plans.

We have to take things as they are and we have to make preparations, and I hope that in making our preparations we shall have regard to those who made broad imaginative plans towards the end of the last war. I have on my file at home 24 pamphlets which I purchased on landing from France, all dealing with broad imaginative plans, and some of the hon. Gentleman's colleagues and members of his party were responsible for some of the planning. The result of that planning does not make an ex-service man over-enthusiastic unless those who ask for planning are prepared to come a little closer to realities.

Miss Wilkinson

Surely the fault was not in the planning but in those gentlemen who have been described as the hard-faced men and who did well out of the war and stopped any of those plans being put into operation?

Mr. Brown

I would not agree with that. There has been one particular kind of planning in which in the end we have made very big strides. I refer to housing construction. It was not done on the lines of the broad, imaginative planning mentioned in those particular pamphlets. I have made it clear, and the Prime Minister has made it clear, that he is alive to the need for taking notice of the warning. The Committee said two things. First of all it said, "We are not going to recommend the Government to abandon taking the long view. We are not going to lay our policy on a short period of one or two years." They have always made their plans on the consideration of an eight years period. They say secondly, "This is an abnormal period. We are likely to have two abnormal periods, the period in which we now are, which will be intensified as the war effort is intensified, and secondly, the period of readjustment after the war. For these reasons we shall need to have reserves in the Unemployment Fund." First of all they point out that one difference between the last post-war period and this post-war period will be that there was no widespread Unemployment Fund then. There was a small fund covering about 3,000,000 insured workers. It was not until just before the real slump began that a larger measure of insurance was brought in, and then we had recourse to all kinds of shifts. They point out that that step was then taken too late. Now we have a Fund. It is surely right to take the long view of it and to make sure, as far as human foresight and prevision can make sure, that we do not damage the basis of the Fund, that we keep a reserve in order to deal with whatever measure of exceptional unemployment may come.

The second reason they give is this. They say, "Since you have established an Insurance Fund, since people now have stamped cards piled up, that means that when the war is over and those who are entitled to benefit come on to the Fund, they will be making the maximum call on the Fund." That is a reason that no one can overlook, that claimants will have the maximum number of stamps and will be entitled to the maximum period of benefit. The other is an economic industrial reason which ought to appeal to every Member of the House, including the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Camberwell. Owing to the tremendous increase in mechanisation, an issue which is raised whenever there is a change over from war to peace, there must be a larger distortion than was the case in the days relatively pre-mechanisation. The hon. Gentleman used that argument, I thought carelessly, that there might be some happy state of affairs on a different basis where work and the worker would always synchronise, where job and job would always synchronise, where there would never be a man coming to register for unemployment. If that is the kind of picture that he draws in his mind, I hope he will get nearer reality and let those to whom he talks in that way have some idea of the details whereby he is going to manage such a synchronisation.

The Statutory Committee say four things to the House to-day. First, we have an accumulated balance—not a surplus. We have an outstanding debt. It is easy for hon. Members opposite to say "Wipe the debt away," but the debt was incurred and was £106,000,000 in July, 1934, and I regard it as one of the things on the credit side of the balance sheet of the Government that the debt is now down to £40,000,000. It will be a very different problem for the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee and for the Government and the Opposition if the time arrives when we have an accumulated balance and no outstanding debt. They say, since it is true that a great deal of the balance is unexpected, not only because of war circumstances, but largely due to war circumstances, it is right, taking the long view, to help to do away with that anomaly, and they have chosen £37,000,000 as the figure they would recommend to pay off. The hon. Member for Llanelly quoted from me, but he will allow me to complete the quotation. If he had completed it he would have found out that my forecast in August makes good the argument of the Committee in this report. I said on 3rd August: There is a 10 years story behind these figures. An analysis of the last 10 years will show that we are now in the midst of a movement, quite apart from the armaments movement, which is far bigger than any seasonal movement. Broadly speaking, the fact is that the fall of 783,000 in the numbers of unemployed between January and July is 450,000 greater than the normal decrease in the normal years when decreases have taken place in the 10 preceding years. That is a very remarkable fact and, although I do not want to belittle the enormous effect on employment of the expenditure on armaments, it is not true to say that it is solely due to that."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd August, 1939; col. 2694, Vol. 350.] [Interruption.] If the hon. Gentleman will look up the part of the quotation that he read he will find that he did not quote the last part of that quotation, which is the important part. What has happened since September is complete proof of this. If there had been no war and we were still in the period of intensive preparation, the building of small houses would have been going on still, there would be no interference in the South and West except in areas which were saturated with the number of houses. That is only one illustration.

Mr. Buchanan

You did not build in Scotland.

Mr. Brown

I am talking of figures which have come into the unemployment statistics in September. What has been happening is that you have had a very strong flood-tide making for employment, growing stronger every day, but the change over from peace to war meant that there was a strong ebb tide as well against the flood. The figures this morning are the first major indication that, while the flood is going forward, the ebb has come nearly to an end. Those who sail in tricky water will appreciate the simile. Those who have tried to make an estimation of the future in order to belittle expert opinion are sailing in very tricky waters. The Government believe that the view taken by Sir William Beveridge and his Committee in this report is the right one. They have said, let us take advantage of this abnormal balance and do away with some of the debt. Let us in doing it have regard to the future. Let us not abandon the well-tried practice which the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) admitted had produced gradual improvement. For that is the record for the last five years—nothing broad, nothing imaginative, perhaps, but conditions better all the time, with the one exception that he mentioned.

The third thing is this. Having done that, having had regard to the future, it is necessary to deal with the problem in such a way as to give the maximum benefit inside the disposable surplus. We have been told to-day in this Amendment that the Labour party agree with the evidence of the Trades Union Congress with regard to the three major points they put before the Statutory Committee. Let me bring them to the test of the estimated financial effect. First of all I am not very clear on Mr. Thomson's reservations, exactly what he meant with regard to the addition to the general benefit, but I understand that what he meant was that the benefit should have been raised by 2s. 6d. a week. To make that addition of half-a-crown for adults, with proportionate betterment for other classes, would cost £6,000,000 a year—not £6,000,000 for one year, but in each year during the years to come, on the unemployment figure which the Committee were dealing with in the report.

Mr. Jenkins (Pontypool)

Would not that be just about equal to the percentage loss which these people have sustained in the increase in the cost of living?

Mr. Brown

I should not agree to that at all, but I do not want to be involved in that argument now. I want to put the facts before the House. It is estimated that in normal conditions, which is what the Committee were dealing with, an increase of benefit to the extent of 2s. 6d. for adults, with proportional betterment for other classes, would amount to £6,000,000 per annum and the abolition of the waiting period, retaining the continuity rule, would cost £1,750,000 a year. The abolition of the waiting period as asked for by the hon. Member for Llanelly, with payment for all the days of unemployment, would cost between £5,000,000 and £6,000,000 a year.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Those figures are estimates made by the right hon. Gentleman's Department. The Committee give no estimates in their report. On what general level of unemployment percentage are those estimates based?

Mr. Brown

They would be based on a general average of about 15 per cent., which is the normal average with which the Committee have been dealing.

Mr. Griffiths

If the average this year is 10 per cent. or less, those figures would be very materially reduced.

Mr. Brown

If the war came to an end before the end of the year, in respect of unemployment within a period of two or three years from now we should be placed in precisely the same position as the party opposite left their successors in 1931. The Government of the day would have to impose cuts, and would be doing the hardest thing for the unemployed. On that issue I am sure hon. Members opposite in their hearts agree—that given the choice between getting a reasonably secure addition of a smaller magnitude and a larger addition of a bigger magnitude they would prefer to take the advice of the Committee, as the Government do, and see that 2s. goes into the household.

The hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White) said that repayment was bound to be judged in the light of circumstances. He regretted that we have not a unified social services system. He called attention to the fact that there are variations in the rates of pay. That is far outside my scope to-day. All the same, I have not yet seen in detail a plan which would have regard to the history of these great social movements of ours. The hon. Member would not expect me to give him a definite answer on that to-day. With regard to the other question, of the married women, I know of no experience of magnitude to warrant me in telling the House that I thought the time had arrived when there should be any alteration in the general arrangements, under the Anomalies Act, for married women. In the first period of the operation of the Anomalies Act, 134,000 married women came off benefit. The majority did not return to the exchanges. Of course, conditions may change; the impact of war on women's labour may make a difference. [An HON. MEMBER: "It does make a very big difference."] I know; but, on the whole, it does not make a call for any alteration of the Anomalies Act. It makes a call for regular, and not for seasonal, labour. The fact is that it was not on financial grounds that the Anomalies Act was brought in, especially in so far as it affected married women. It was brought in because the Royal Commission, which went very carefully into the matter, came to the conclusion that the working of the old rule had effects, both on the Fund and on industry, which were undesirable. For those reasons, the Labour Government accepted their report. Although I have certainly taken note of some of the minor suggestions made to-day, I have heard nothing to lead me to believe that a major alteration is required in the Act in relation to married women.

There were one or two smaller, practical points raised by the hon. Member for Gorbals. He asked me to look again at the question of intermittent work. I do not know that there is any change that can be made in the procedure, but I will look again at the matter. With regard to the 180 days, that, of course, was a matter of administrative difficulty. The House knows that since the war I have been working under great difficulty. My very big register system had to be moved, and we have been working, under the pressure of war conditions, on a smaller scale than that of the very big documentary system we had. Weighing it up, we came to the conclusion that the 180 days would be about the period which would cover the maximum number of cases; but, of course, I am always willing to look at things like this again. If it were desired to alter the period, we could, of course, do so again by regulation. What we have done in this Order is to accept the view of the Committee that it would be wise to hold on to the reserves and to reduce at once the heavy debt and the heavy credit balance; and, since the Committee, under their statutory powers, have recommended the repayment of £37,000,000 of debt, that it is the right thing to use the £1,100,000 which, in accordance with their recommendation becomes available, by way of giving one shilling per week in respect of each of the first two dependent children.

Mr. Buchanan

Would the right hon. Gentleman deal with the question which was raised, about people who are out two days a week? He has devoted a lot of time to the question of abolishing the waiting period. Would he not re-consider, and possibly make a change in, the condition of three days in six, and make it, instead, three days in twelve?

Mr. Brown

It may be that the time will come when the Committee will say either that it can do the major thing or that it can do the minor thing. I do not know, but there is no objection in principle. It is a question of what the Committee think shall be done with the Fund.

Mr. Jenkins

The right hon. Gentleman promised to reply to the point I raised, about these people being 15 to 20 per cent. worse off now than they were in September, because of the war and what has happened since. There is a surplus in the Fund. Why has he not taken steps to put people in as good a position as they were in September?

Mr. Brown

The Unemployment Fund is not related to the question of need. It is different from the assistance scheme

administered by the Unemployment Assistance Board, because it is possible for anybody in need to go to the Board and get supplementation of the scale.

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

The House divided: Ayes, 139; Noes, 118.

Division No. 57.] AYES. [7.26 p.m.
Adams, S. V. T. (Leeds, W.) Gibson, Sir C. G. (Pudsey and Otley) Raikes, H. V. A. M.
Albery, Sir Irving Gower, Sir R. V. Rathbone, J. R. (Bodmin)
Assheton, R. Graham, Captain A. C. (Wirral) Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Balfour, G. (Hampstead) Greene, W. P. C. (Worcester) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)
Balfour, Capt. H. H. (Isle of Thanet) Gretton, Col. Rt. Hon. J. Rickards, G. W. (Skipton)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Gridley, Sir A. B. Robertson, D.
Beechman, N. A. Grigg, Sir E. W. M. Robinson, J. R. (Blackpool)
Bernays, R. H. Grimston, R. V. Rowlands, G.
Blair, Sir R. Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E) Russell, Sir Alexander
Bossom, A. C. Hepburn, P. G. T. Buchan- Salt, E. W.
Bower, Comdr. R. T. Horsbrugh, Florence Sandeman, Sir N. S.
Briscoe, Capt. R. G. Hume, Sir G. H. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Brocklebank, Sir Edmund Jennings, R. Schuster, Sir G. E.
Brooke, H. (Lewisham, W.) Joel, D. J. B. Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k N'w'gt'n) Somerville, Sir A. A. (Windsor)
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Southby, Commander Sir A. R. J.
Butcher, H. W. Lamb, Sir J. Q. Storey, S.
Carver, Major W. H. Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Cary, R. A. Levy, T. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Channon, H. Liddall, W. S. Sutcliffe, H.
Chorlton, A. E. L. Lindsay, K. M. Tasker, Sir R. I.
Clarry, Sir Reginald Little, Dr. J. (Down) Taylor, Captain C. S.
Cook, Sir T. R. A. M. (Norfolk, N.) Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S. Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (Padd., S.)
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.) Lyons, A. M. Thomas, J. P. L.
Cooper, Rt. Hn. T. M. (E'nburgh, W.) Mabane, W. (Huddersfield) Touche, G. C.
Craven-Ellis, W McCorquodale, M. S. Tree, A. R. L. F.
Croft, Brig.-Gen. Sir H. Page MacDonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness) Tufnell, Lieut.-Commander R. L.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Macdonald, Capt. P. (Isle of Wight) Walker-Smith, Sir J.
Crowder, J. F. E. McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Wallace, Capt. Rt. Hon. Euan
Cruddas, Col. B. Maitland, Sir Adam Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Culverwell, C. T. Makins, Brigadier-General Sir Ernest Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Davidson, Viscountess Margesson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil) Mason, Lt.-Col. Hon. G. K. M. Warrender, Sir V.
Denman, Hon. R. D. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Wayland, Sir W. A.
Denville, Alfred Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.) White, Sir Dymoke (Fareham)
Doland, G. F. Mitchell, Col. H. (Brentf'd & Chisw'k) Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. Morris, J. P. (Salford, N.) Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Eckersley, P. T. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel G.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Munro, P. Wise, A. R.
Ellis, Sir G. Nall, Sir J. Womersley, Sir W. J.
Elliston, Capt. G. S. O'Connor, Sir Terence J. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Errington, E. O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh
Erskine-Hill, A. G. Palmer, G. E. H. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Etherton, Ralph Peake, O. Lieut.-Colonel Kerr and Mr. Boulton.
Fox, Sir G. W. G. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Procter, Major H. A.
Adams, D. (Consett) Benn, Rt. Hon. W. W. Dobbie, W.
Adams, D. M. (Poplar, S.) Brown, C. (Mansfield) Dunn, E. (Rother Valley)
Adamson, Jennie L. (Dartford) Buchanan, G. Ede, J. C.
Adamson, W. M. Burke, W. A. Edwards, A. (Middlesbrough E.)
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (H'lsbr.) Cassells, T. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly)
Ammon, C. G. Cluse, W. S. Evans, D. O. (Cardigan)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Clynes, Rt. Hon. J. R. Foot, D. M.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Cooks, F. S. Frankel, D.
Banfield, J. W. Collindridge, F. Gardner, B. W.
Barnes, A. J. Cove, W. G. Garro Jones, G. M.
Barr, J. Daggar, G. Gibson, R. (Greenock)
Bartlett, C. V. O. Davidson, J. J. (Maryhill) Green, W. H. (Deptford)
Batey, J. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Griffith, F. Kingsley (M'ddl'sbro, W.)
Beaumont, H. (Batley) Davies, S. O. (Merthyr) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth)
Griffiths, J. (Llanelly) Marshall, F. Smith, Rt. Hon. H. B. Lees-(K'ly)
Groves, T. E. Martin, J. H. Smith, T. (Normanton)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Mathers, G. Sorensen, R. W.
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley) Maxton, J. Stephen, C.
Hardie, Agnes Messer, F. Stewart, W. J. (H'ght'n-le-Sp'ng)
Harris, Sir P. A. Milner, Major J. Stokes, R. R.
Harvey, T. E. Montague, F. Summerskill, Dr. Edith
Hayday, A. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Thorne, W.
Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Naylor, T. E. Thurtle, E.
Hills, A. (Pontefract) Noel-Baker, P. J. Viant, S. P.
Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown) Oliver, G. H. Walkden, A. G.
Horabin, T. L. Owen, Major G. Walker, J.
Isaacs, G. A. Paling, W. Watson, W. McL.
Jagger, J. Parker, J. Whiteley, W. (Blaydon)
Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Parkinson, J. A. Wilkinson, Ellen
Jenkins, Sir W. (Neath) Pearson, A. Williams, E. J. (Ogmore)
John, W. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Jones, A. C. (Shipley) Pritt, D. N. Wilmot, John
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Quibell, D. J. K. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Lathan, G. Ridley, G. Windsor, W. (Hull, C.)
Leonard, W. Ritson, J. Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Leslie, J. R. Sexton, T. M. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Lipson, D. L. Shinwell, E.
Lunn, W. Silkin, L. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Macdonald, G. (Ince) Sloan, A. Mr. R. J. Taylor and Mr. Charleton.
MacLaren, A. Smith, Ben (Rotherhithe)
Maclean, N. Smith, E. (Stoke)

Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.

Resolved, That the draft of the Order proposed to be made by the Minister of Labour and National Service under the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1935, entitled the Unemployment Insurance (Increase of Benefit in respect of Dependent Children) Order, 1940, a copy of which was presented to this House on 18th March, be approved.

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