HC Deb 05 February 1941 vol 368 cc1028-31
Mr. Woodburn

I beg to move, in page 28, line 5, at the end, to insert: (2) Liabilities of contributors being a capital liability shall not be included as an expense in any ascertainment in coalmine accounts or in any other calculation by which the amounts or rates of wages are determined. It would appear that unless an Amendment to this effect were included in the Bill the contributions of coal mines under this Bill would have to be borne partly by the coal miners, because in the ascertainment if that were allowed as an expense then of course the whole cost would be shared by the coal miners. A case may be argued that certain other people should contribute, but I think it is not the intention of the Chancellor that any set of workers should be singled out for a special liability in this connection which is not specifically mentioned in the Bill, and that there can be no intention of the miners being asked to bear a share of the contribution for the protection of the coal mines against war damage any more than any other worker in industry. I need not labour the case. Some of my hon. Friends have a considerable amount of data on the subject, but I think it is superfluous to do more than put the point, and I shall be glad to have the Chancellor's assurance on it.

Captain Crookshank

Perhaps the hon. Member is not quite aware of the latest development with regard to this Amendment. I understand that it has been the subject of discussion by my hon. Friend the Secretary for Mines with the Miners' Association and the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. This, apparently, is what has emerged. Both the Association and the Federation consider that, as wage settlements are subjects of negotiation, it would be a mistake to have one element in the negotiation a statutory obligation. One can see the importance of that point. In consequence, the Miners' Association are ready to give an assurance that it is not their intention that payments to be made under the Act should be regarded as expenses to be taken into account for purposes of the ascertainment of wages, and, on the other hand, the Miners' Federation of Great Britain are agreeable to accepting that assurance. That being so, and in view of the undesirability of putting in a statutory requirement, I think that meets the case which the hon. Gentleman's friends have in mind.

Mr. Tinker (Leigh)

The assurance of the right lion. and gallant Gentleman will meet the point of view which we had in mind. I understand that capital expenditure is not allowed to come in; I was afraid that it might be.

Mr. Woodburn

In view of the assurance given by the right hon. and gallant Gentleman and the report of these negotiations, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment made:

In page 28, line 18, after "as," insert "or as a mortgagee of."— [Sir K. Wood.]

The Attorney-General

I beg to move, in page 28, line 19, at the end, to add: () Any expenses incurred by the Commissioners of Crown Lands in discharging any liability as a direct or indirect contributor may, with the approval of the Treasury, be charged as a principal sum to the account of the land revenues of the Crown; but any sum so charged in pursuance of this Sub-section shall, if the Treasury so direct, be repaid out of the income of the said revenues within such time and by such number of instalments of such amounts respectively as may be specified in the directions. This Amendment and the following Amendments are all to enable the Commissioners of Crown Lands to pay the contributions which they will have to make out of capital. It is, of course, the general intention of the Bill that these contributions are to be regarded as payments out of capital, but in the case of the Commissioners of Crown Lands it is necessary to give statutory authority to that effect.

Amendment agreed to.

Further Amendments made:

In page 28, line 19, at the end, add: () The purposes authorised by Section twenty-five of the Act of the fifty-seventh year of King George the Third, chapter ninety-seven, for the application of moneys arising by any such sale of annuities standing in the name or to the account of the Duchy of Lancaster as is therein mentioned, shall include the discharge of any liability as a direct or indirect contributor.

In line 19, at the end, add: () The purposes authorised by Section eight of the Duchy of Cornwall Management Act, 1863, as amended by Section one of the Act of the thirty-first and thirty-second years of Queen Victoria, chapter thirty-five, for the advancement of parts of such gross sums as are therein mentioned shall include the discharge of any liability as a direct or indirect contributor."—[The Attorney-General.]

Sir G. Courthope

I beg to move, in page 28, line 19, at the end, to add: () Where a proprietary interest in any contributory property belongs to an ecclesiastical corporation—

  1. (a) the Ecclesiastical Commissioners or Queen Anne's Bounty may apply any money or securities held by them respectively for the corporation in discharging any liability as a direct or indirect contributo arising in respect of an instalment of contribution for that property;
  2. (b) if the interest belongs to a benefice as defined by Section forty-seven of the Tithe Act, 1936, Queen Anne's Bounty may make grants out of their corporate funds for or towards the discharge of any such liability as aforesaid;
  3. (c) the purposes for which a loan under the Clergy Residences Repair Act, 1776, or the Acts or Measures amending that Act may be made by Queen Anne's Bounty shall include the discharge of any such liability as aforesaid."
This Amendment calls for a very short explanation. The Ecclesiastical Com-Missioners and Queen Anne's Bounty hold a very large number of capital sums in trust for what are generally known as ecclesiastical corporations The trusts are very strict and there is a doubt as to whether it would be legal, without these words or some other statutory sanction, for capital contributions to be paid out of these funds. This Amendment, if agreed to, will enable the Ecclesiastical Commissioners and the Governors of Queen Anne's Bounty to make payment out of these capital sums in respect of contributions under this Bill.

Sir K. Wood

The necessary Amendments will be made to enable this end to be achieved.

Earl Winterton

May I ask my hon. and gallant Friend if it is intended that these semi-official bodies should pay the whole of their contributions out of capital? Many of them are in the position of receiving a considerable revenue while the capital is required urgently for a great number of purposes.

Sir G. Courthope

There will be no improper use of capital for matters for which revenue is required. There would be great hardship in some cases in which it might be impossible legally to pay contributions at all unless they were taken out of these funds.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.