HC Deb 01 May 1941 vol 371 cc635-67
Mrs. Tate (Frome)

I beg to move, That the Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme, 1941, dated 10th April, 1941, made under the Personal Injuries (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1939, a copy of which was presented to this House on 24th April, be anulled. I ask the House to appreciate that in praying that these Regulations shall be annulled, I do so, not simply as a feminist, but because I believe that they are fundamentally wrong and fundamentally unjust. If a grave injustice is allowed to continue in the body politic, you are doing something detrimental to the moral health of a nation. These Regulations have had a somewhat checkered career. When the Minister first brought them before the House on 2nd September, 1939, he made this statement:

The House divided: Ayes, 84; Noes, 9.

"Pensions will be awarded on Service lines, that is to say in accordance with the medically certified degree of physical disablement. Again, wages or earnings will not ordinarily enter into consideration. …"— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd September, 1939; col. 243, Vol. 351]

Having regard to those words, we can see that these pensions have nothing whatever to do with and cannot be based on the wage earnings of a person who is physically injured. The State undertook to give some remuneration to those who, because of the war, were physically disabled. The Minister stated: the Government assume a national responsibility for all war injuries, instead of leaving it to employès and others to take their chance at law."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd September, 1939; col. 244, Vol. 351.]

Having regard to that, we could, I think have expected some degree of equality, and we could have expected that the awards would have relation, not to sex, but simply to injury. These Regulations were withdrawn. The hon. Lady the Member for Dartford (Mrs. Adamson), and the hon. Lady the Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill), drew attention to the very great injustice of the first Regulations which were laid, and they successfully prayed against them. It is interesting to look at these first Regulations and to note that under them a single man, if he was injured, would receive compensation at the rate of 20s. a week, and a woman would receive 18s. a week. When the second group of Regulations was brought in we found that the figures had been changed, and that a single man, injured in his home, would no longer be paid 20s. a week, but 35s. There is absolutely no doubt that the reason for that very remarkable rise in compensation to the single man was the result of representations made by the trade unions.

I ask this House to do justice to women who are not as ably represented as men by the trade unions. There is absolutely no doubt or question about that. There are not yet sufficiently large numbers of women inside the trade unions to enable women to make as great a fight for them selves as can the men. Many of us regret bitterly the fight people had to make through their trade unions in the past. We would have wished that better conditions could have been obtained without having to fight for them. I am asking this House to give justice to these women and to fight for them, because they are not yet able to attain this justice by fighting through their trade unions. The present rate of compensation for a woman over 18 years of age, who is injured in an armament factory or in the course of war work, is 28s. a week for the period of her disablement. If she is permanently disabled to the extent of 100 per cent, she will receive a pension for life of 24s. 2d. The amount payable, in similar circum stances, for a man is 35s. for the period of disablement, and 34s. 2d. if he is 100 per cent, permanently disabled. Hon. Members may say that that must be left as it is because a woman normally earns less than a man. But I have quoted the Minister's statement in which he said that this compensation should not be related to earnings.

I want the House to consider the case of a young widow with three children who has no pension. She may have been the wife of a small shopkeeper. This widow is called up and goes into an armament factory, and in an air raid suffers a 100 per cent, disablement. She will draw a pension at the rate of 24s. 2d., with 5s. each for the first two children, and 4s. for the third. Therefore her total income will be 38s. 2d. A man who is in exactly the same position, instead of drawing a pension at the rate of 24s. a week for life, will draw 34s. Is it not obvious that every single member of the household will suffer and that the children of the widow must of necessity be less well fed and less well clad than the children of the man? I ask the House whether there is any conceivable ground upon which you can justify that differentiation. Is there a single Member who can truthfully say that he would like a differentiation of 10s. on the very tiny income made between the household of the woman with three children and the household of the man with three children? Of course, he would not. He would do everything he could, if he examined the case on its merits, to see that no such injustice should be allowed.

I think the House will also appreciate the position of the unmarried woman under 18. If she is injured for life at 100 per cent, disablement, she will get a pension of 14s. 2d. If she is 50 per cent, disabled, she gets half that money. A man under 18 in like circumstances gets 17s. 6d. for 100 per cent, disablement or half that amount for 50 per cent, disablement. A man may lose, for instance, a leg. You might call that perhaps a 50 per cent, disablement. He can marry and have children and have a home. The disablement is not going to wreck his life. But if a young woman loses a leg, it is idle to pretend that she will have as full and complete a life in normal circumstances as she would have had if she had two legs. These injuries which occur to women are likely to have a far more wrecking effect on their lives than a comparable injury will have to a man. It is not the wish of the House, where a differentiation exists which we cannot help, that we should add to it a differentiation in the rate of compensation. Many people insure their lives against ill ness and accident, and there is not a single case in which the compensation paid in relates to their sex. It is always related to the degree of injury. These compensations are different from any that have ever been paid before. The Government have taken the whole responsibility. With the wish and the will of the whole country behind them, they have involved the country in war, and they intended to see to it that citizens who are injured should receive some degree of compensation, and I ask, and I think I ask in fairness, that the degree of compensation shall be equal as between women and men and that it shall be related to the injury and not to the sex.

I know the Minister will tell me that National Health Insurance has always been made a differentiation between men and women, but I ask that, if there have been injustices in the past, at least he should not perpetuate them. You are asking very great sacrifices from the whole population in this war, and I think no sacrifice is too great as long as we fight the war to its conclusion. I am willing to face death, injury, starvation or any form of suffering, because I believe this is a righteous war and because I wish to see it fought to its conclusion, but I ask that, if it is a righteous war, the nation should treat its citizens righteously and that these injustices should not be allowed to continued I know that the Minister of Pensions has a tremendously heavy burden to bear, and I know how heavily burdened the Exchequer is, but if the financial burden is too great, if it is impossible for the nation to bear, let us all go to a lower level together. Let the compensation rates all round be reduced. If we have to face poverty, let us face it, but do not let us create injustice, because, if we are fighting for freedom, if we are fighting for the things which make life worth living, how piteous it is that we should allow such great, such unjust proposals as these to go forward. I intend to divide the House on this issue. I am not speaking as a feminist. I am speaking simply as one who wishes to see a real measure of justice and who believes that these Regulations are absolutely in defensible on any ground save custom, and it is a custom which needs breaking down.

Dr. Edith Summerskill (Fulham, West)

I beg to second the Motion.

I believe that during the last eight months this is the third time that I have risen to ask the Minister of Pensions to reconsider his decision. As the months go on, far from thinking that the matter is not of great moment, I feel that the injustice seems greater and that the case for revision grows stronger. The reason for that is this: during the last few months the Government have brought ever-increasing pressure on women. The industries of the country are being con- centrated, so that soon everyone who works will feel that he is doing some essential work and every woman worker in the country, far from being engaged in a luxury industry, will in fact be engaged in some work absolutely essential to the prosecution of the war. Not only that, but we had on 19th April some thing that was historic. For the first time in the history of the country women were registered for war work, and there is now the threat that women will be compulsorily removed to do essential war work. A girl, perhaps of 20, living in a safe reception area, may be removed to Coventry, Birmingham or Manchester to do war work. We are all doing every thing in our power to make women war-work conscious. We tell them that hostels are to be provided for them and that it is their duty to do this work, but I have not noticed that it has been made clear to them yet that, having arrived in a vulnerable area, having worked on the target, in the event of their being bombed on the target they will be dealt with adequately and compensated equitably. The woman— perhaps she is a woman of 40— having left her safe place and gone to a vulnerable area, will find to her surprise, if she has a 100 per cent, disability, that she is not to be treated equally with a man of 21 who has been working by her side.

Surely this case is unanswerable. There is no need for me to stress that the women of this country are unafraid and are willing to work side by side with men. There is no hysteria, and there is no fear. I have not heard of one case of hysteria in this war. Women are injured and disfigured every day, and the Press tell us what wonderful heroines they are. Yet when the Government are asked what their attitude is towards these women, they say, "Well, women have always been regarded as cheap labour, and, therefore, when it comes to compensation they must not be compensated equally with men." That is our case to-day, and I ask the House to give it their earnest consideration. I have been playing a part as much as I can in encouraging women to do their work in this war. I have found that the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information are all taking part in this recruiting drive. I have almost felt that we are playing a monstrous confidence trick on the women of this country, for the Ministry of Pensions does not take part in this drive and tell women what their part is. We are shepherding women into industry and telling them that it is their bounden duty to go. The Minister of Health is saying, "We will supply hostels as billets", and the Ministry of Information is going to the women and girls and using its propaganda machine. The women, however, do not know until they get there that the Ministry of Pensions will not do its duty by them and that if a single woman is injured, she will get 28s., but that a single man will get 35s.

I am surprised that the Minister of Pensions shows so little concern in the matter. He knows that I am voicing the feelings of the women of the country. He: was present at a deputation of 40 women representing 2,500,000 organised women. He knows exactly what their sentiments are. I cannot understand why, in the atmosphere in which we are living, when none of us knows just what the next 48 hours will hold for us, he is not more receptive of this appeal. I feel that it is grossly unfair to send some of these girls to Birmingham, Manchester and. Coventry unless it is proposed to compensate them adequately in the event of in jury. I suggest that the Government are exploiting their patriotism. Perhaps the Minister of Pensions might go to the radio one night and explain the exact position to the women.

The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

I have done that already.

Dr. Summerskill

I have not heard the right hon. Gentleman tell the women that they are not to be treated equally with the men or explain to women of 40 that in the event of their being injured the)' will get only 28s., whereas boys of 19 and 20 will get 35s. If he had done that, it would have been made clear to these women that their end after the war would, be to live a miserable existence in a single room, probably subsidised by the public assistance authority. That is the horrible picture which is before us, and that is why we are coming to the Minister of Pensions to ask him not to harden his heart but to give a hearing to the women. My hon. Friend has said that a woman is handicapped with regard to marriage. There is a curious idea which obtains among men that a woman really need not be treated so well economically as a man because there is some man some where who will come along and care for her and cherish her.

Mr. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)

I hope so.

Dr. Summerskill

In view of the fact that there are 2,000,000 of what are called "superfluous women"— an appalling expression coined by men— and I tremble to think how many more there will be after the war— I cannot understand how, unless we have polygamy, men will come for ward and care for and cherish these extra 2,000,000 women. It is a fact that even in war-time the standards of the marriage market are the same as they always have been. Physical disability is a woman's greatest handicap, and it is idle to pretend that if a woman is injured at her work, she will easily find a man somewhere to love and cherish her.

I want to deal with the case of the Minister of Pensions. This is his case summed up in a nutshell: He has often said in the House that he has a soft heart, and last time he even said that he loved women. These sentiments are very nice, and we appreciate them, but we want something more concrete. [Laughter.] I did not say that I wanted anything more concrete, far from it. The women of this country are not fed, housed and cared for just because the Minister of Pensions holds these delightful sentiments. I know that he is very kindly disposed, but if he wants to do justice, it is no good telling the women that they are heroines, that he is proud of them and that he is very sorry for them if they are injured. Let him translate those words into action and say, "The right way to deal with you is to give you sufficient in order that you may be cared for during your time of need."He does not say that, how ever. What he says is that he is advised that according to the Workmen's Compensation Acts these women will be given their just due if they are given 28s. a week and men are given 35s.

My answer is that you cannot relate the situation to-day to the Workmen's Compensation Acts. Think, for instance, of Plymouth during the last 10 days. Think of a single woman of 40 feeling that she is doing her job by working in some factory in Plymouth which is a veritable target to the enemy. How can the Minister say that we must relate the Workmen's Compensation Acts to her particular need? I say, and my friends feel, that the position of that woman can only be related to the position of the soldier or seaman in Plymouth who is injured when doing his duty in some service which is essential 10 the prosecution of the war. Therefore, I ask the Minister, even at this late hour, to be strong, to have courage. It takes a lot of courage to change one's mind, and the Minister of Pensions has refused this request on so many occasions during the last eight months that I know it is asking a lot to ask him to change his mind at the last moment; but I do ask him to think again. The women of this country are willing to give everything— their limbs, their lives, everything— to prose cute the war. Therefore I ask him to treat them like soldiers, honestly, equitably, in order that they may be proud of their country after the war.

Miss Ward (Wallsend)

I intervene only briefly to support the plea put forward by my two hon. Friends for the annulment of these Regulations, and after their very able speeches I need deal with only one aspect of the matter. Talking over with many of my colleagues the decision to put down this Prayer, I have met the suggestion that the present was not the moment to raise this issue in the House of Commons, and the Parliamentary Whips, with all their charm, seemed to be more than surprised that we had taken the decision to Divide the House. The reason why we. have put down the Prayer and are going to Divide the House must be emphasised. The women of this country are for the most part unorganised. My hon. Friend the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate) referred to the alteration in the rates of compensation as between single men and married men when the new Regulations were brought before the House, and to the fact that undoubtedly that concession had been granted as a result of trade-union representations. "We are not quarrelling with that, but unfortunately, as far as I under stand it, the trade unions did not include women in their representations. We have not the power in the trade-union world, or in the industrial world, or by virtue of the number of women in this House, to go to the Minister and to say,"This is what we demand." I know enough about industrial practice and about representa- tions made behind the scenes to the Government to appreciate that if you have a strong enough body of opinion behind you, you can achieve results.

I have always regretted, and shall continue to regret, as long as I have the honour to be in this House, that weight of opinion can stimulate the Government to action where a good cause fails to make any impression. Therefore, the women Members of this House, of all parties, came to the conclusion that the only way to direct the attention of the Government to their case was to follow constitutional procedure and put down a Prayer to annul the Regulations. As this war goes on, as it will, until victory, as the intensity of the war grows, and as the women of the country come to realise that they are not being treated in their war effort on terms of equality with men, I am certain that there will come a time when the public pressure will be so great that there will be an alteration in the Regulations, in the same way as the original Regulations were withdrawn be cause of representations made by those women who were not gainfully employed by local authorities and of representations by the trade unions. If the right decision was taken in the first in stance, I want the Minister to state quite categorically, and not with any charming wrapping of Parliamentary words, what influenced him and the Treasury to alter the decision.. We had to put down this Prayer to-day because there is no other way of directing the Government's attention to what we regard as a grave injustice. If we had not done so, we should not have been doing justice to that body of opinion in the country which is not represented by those powerful influences which have had such an effect on my right hon. Friend.

The hon. Lady the Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill) referred to the powers now taken by the Ministry of Labour to direct women, and also to impose upon women the provisions of the Essential Works Order. Those two decisions of the Government, with which again we are not quarrelling and in which we are perfectly willing, delighted and proud to play our part, prevent women, in the national interest, from leaving their work. Surely we are not asking too much when we wish for the same consideration as single men with the same responsibilities and running undoubtedly the same dangers.

When I look at Government policy— I am not accusing the Minister of Pensions of this— its whole tendency appears to make things as easy as possible before injury takes place. After it is over— well, if the Government are fortunate enough to be financially sound enough to pay the costs of the wreckage, the injured people will obtain their share. There is hardly any need for me to cite the case of the nurses. I shall not develop this part of my argument, Mr. Speaker, because I know that you would rule me out of Order, but, until the nurses were needed the Government were not moved in regard to their conditions. The Government looked round and found there was a shortage of nurses. They said, "Why are women not being attracted into the nursing service?" They realised that the nurses' conditions were wrong, and they set about improving them. I regret that action was not taken about it before.

We may not win to-day. We realise that we are taking a grave action, but we are proud to take it. This is a free democracy. This is a country of liberty. Parliament still functions in this country. We are trying to protect the interests of those who cannot protect themselves, and if the Government will not do it, I hope that the women Members have the courage — as they have— to place on record at any rate their disapproval. I can only hope, if my right lion. Friend is successful to day, that his Regulations will share the fate of the other Regulations which had to be withdrawn owing to public pressure. I support the annulment of the Regulations.

Miss Lloyd George (Anglesey)

I would intervene for a moment or two to support the plea which has been so strongly put by the hon. Member who spoke before me that the Order now before the House should be annulled. I do not believe that it can be justified upon any considerations of justice or equity, and I hope very much that the Minister will reconsider his decision; if he cannot reconsider it to-day, perhaps he will be able to tell us "that he is prepared to consider what we have said. I hope that the House will do justice in this matter to the women of the country.

May I for one moment discuss the case of women who are gainfully employed? A single woman and a single man may work in the same factory on the same kind of machine. Both may be injured in an air raid, and one gets 35s. and the other only 28s. by way of compensation. I cannot see any justification for that difference, and I hope the Minister will explain how he is able to justify it. I would cite the case of fire watching. Men and women take the same risk in that matter and render the same service to the community. Why, if one is injured, should she get less than the man who is doing the same job as she is? The Minister of Pensions has told us that he has based all these Regulations upon the Workmen's Compensation Acts. He has certainly not based the Regulations on the Common Law of England, which takes no account of sex in the matter of damages. Can the Minister really bear out his contention? I think he cannot. The Workmen's Compensation Acts base compensation upon wages. They provide that compensation shall be payable on the average of the wage, or 30s. If you take the rate of compensation under these Regulations, where a single man and a single woman are working in a munition factory on the same job and receiving the same rate, the man will receive 35s.'and the woman 28s. Under the Workmen's Compensation Acts they would receive the same compensation. I should be very glad if the Minister would tell me where my calculation is wrong. So far as I can work it out, it shows that he does not base the new Regulations upon workmen's compensation in this respect.

Let us take the case of old age pensioners. I believe that under workmen's compensation they get the same rate. If you take the maximum rate, under work men's compensation, that is the same for men and for women. Therefore I fail to understand the Minister's position, and I shall be glad if he will explain it to the House. It is on that ground that he puts the whole of his argument against altering these scales. I should be very glad if he would explain how he can base his calculations on the Workmen's Compensation Acts. Another point is that, when the scales of compensation were laid down under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, conditions were very different regarding the employment of women. In the main, the high rates of accident and injury took place in the heavy industries, such as mining, engineering, shipbuilding and other industries in which, up till to-day, women have taken no very great part. Circumstances are completely changed. Women are going not only into the engineering industry in great numbers, but, in ever-increasing numbers, into munition factories, which, in addition to being dangerous occupations, are potential targets.. Therefore all these conditions ought to be revised.

The fact is that the calculations upon which the Minister has based these Regulations are completely out of date and bear no relation whatsoever to the times or to the problems of the times. As other hon. Ladies have said this afternoon, the Government are asking women to take their share of the burden of the work, and this the women are prepared to do. The country expects them to take the same burden of risk as their fellow-citizens, and no one can deny that women have been prepared to do that. They have earned high praise.

Dr. Summerskill

So long as it did not cost too much.

Miss Lloyd George

Let the Minister meet the readiness of women in a generous spirit and not in a mean and calculating spirit. The Government are asking the women to come in and to help. I say to the Government, "Give them measure for measure and treat them generously, as they are prepared to treat you."

Mr. Craik Henderson (Leeds, North East)

We have listened to some eloquent speeches. I wonder whether the women of the country will appreciate the efforts that are being made on their behalf by the women Members of the House. I suggest that there is another point of view which they would like to have considered. If there is to be equity of sacrifice, it means that when a. man is killed' the widow is not to get anything. If you were to put that proposition before the women of the country and ask them whether they would choose to have a lower rate of compensation when they themselves were injured or, in the event of the bread winner being injured, they should cease to get a pension which they are to get under the scheme, I think there is no doubt which alternative the women of the country would choose.

Mrs. Tate

Is my hon. Friend aware that we happen to represent the view of every women's organisation and that one of the complaints that we are making under these Regulations is that, in the case of a man being killed, his dependants are provided for, while, in the case of a woman being injured, where she is sup porting dependants, they are not provided for? That is exactly one of our com plaints. My hon. Friend is strangely badly briefed. He may represent that view, but he does not represent either the knowledge or the opinions of the women of this country.

Mr. Craik Henderson

I have been put completely in my place, but my head is still quite unbowed. I would point out that the men may not represent the women's organisations, but they represent the majority of the women of this country.

Mrs. Tate

Not women's opinions.

Mr. Craik Henderson

I was not dealing with the question of dependants, but with the very definite point that the gainer in the event of the death of a husband or wife under this scheme is the woman and not the man. If the woman is killed, the man gets no compensation, but if the man is killed, the woman gets a pension on a very generous scale. If it was worked out on an actuarial basis, it would be found that women are the gainers under the scheme. I merely raise this question as to whether in fact, if it was put to the women of this country with all the arguments on one side and on the other, they would not say that they would rather have the scheme than what has been suggested by hon. Ladies in this House.

Dr. Summerskill

Does not the hon. Gentleman realise that it is inequitable that the dependants of a woman who is working because her husband is incapacitated— and that is not unusual; many women have to help support their husbands— should receive no compensation? That is the whole point.

Mr. Craik Henderson

May I point out to the hon. Lady that I was not referring to the question of dependants, but to that of a pension. A pension is paid to the woman when a man is killed, but if the woman is killed, no pension goes to the man.

Dr. Summerskill

That is what we complain of.

Mr. Craik Henderson

I cannot under stand it.

Mrs. Hardie (Glasgow, Springburn)

This seems to me to be a question of such an elementary piece of justice that it should not need much arguing. The day has gone past when women are sheltered and provided for by men, at any rate as far as the class to which I belong is concerned. The working-class home is a partnership, where the woman, in addition to being the man's wife, has certain duties to perform. The unfortunate thing is that there are so many parasitical women in the country that a good many men are led to think that all women are in that position and will be looked after by a man. It is all very well to be sentimental and jolly about it, and say that men love women and that kind of thing. We know they do, but it is not that which we are asking for; we are asking for justice. It will be noticed that most of the arguments have not been put forward for the married women, although we believe that they also have a grievance; what we are asking is mainly for the single woman who supports herself. I am not one of the people who object to a man receiving 35s. a week. As a matter of fact, I do not think the men receive enough. They would be quite entitled, through their organisations, to force a higher scale than 35s. a week when they are disabled, and certainly a much better scale when they are permanently disabled.

What we do say, however, is that the woman who takes up the same duties as a man should be in the same position as the. man. This is a different war from any other. I can remember the day when women were told that one of the reasons they could not have the vote was that they could not go out and fight. That was always the final argument. In this particular war the women and children are in the front line. I believe there have been more civilians killed than soldiers so far. I do not want the soldiers to be killed— far from it— but a good proportion of our women are taking up most dangerous occupations, and even the occupations now supposed to be suitable for women are very dangerous. Take the case of nurses. The hospitals are bombed. What are the nurses doing? Not thinking about their own safety, but carrying men out on stretchers, and protecting them, and it is no use telling me that a woman who has taken on the duty of looking after helpless patients at the. risk of her life is to get compensation on a lower scale if she is injured than a man who may be blown up while playing darts in a public house. Do not think I am suggesting that all men go to the pub? while all women are saints. The point is that these comparisons are made, and there is no sense of justice in this scheme whatever. I cannot understand the Minister of Pensions having made such a scheme, especially with the backing of Under-Secretaries who are good Socialists, because one thing that Socialists have ever stood for has been equality.

I do not think I need labour the point any further. I would simply urge that the Minister should not worry too much about not being able to pay for it. As a matter of fact we. have got tangled up with a financial system that is all wrong. At the end of the war, if we have the land and the capable workers we have, we can produce all the work that is needed. It is a myth to say that we cannot pay for things; we can provide for all who have suffered in the war. I urge the Minister of Pensions to take a broader view, and not to think that every woman has somebody to look after her. There are thousands of women living in lodgings who have themselves to support. Besides, you very often find that it is the unmarried woman who is left to support her parents. The men get married, and it is the older single women who look after the old folks at home. Do not, therefore, take the view that a woman is a sort of liability, and that if she is hurt, it does not matter much. These women are in the same position as the men, and I hope the Minister will take account of that.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence (Edinburgh, East)

I intervene only to say one thing to the Minister, and in doing so I ought to say that I am speaking entirely for myself and not for anyone else in this House. I hope the Government will not put the House and the country into the position of creating a division between the sexes. When we were fighting the battle to give women the vote more than 20 years ago, it was often said that in giving the vote to women we should create a sex war. We have had 20 years of women's enfranchisement, of women being potential Members of this House, and I do not think there has ever been a question on which the men have been on one side of the Division Lobby and the women on the other. It would be a most disastrous thing if, after these 20 years, and in the middle of a war when we are all standing together and fighting in a common cause— and when, as the hon. Lady who has just spoken said, the women are in the danger line— this House were to divide on sex lines and the country thereby also be led to divide on sex lines. I beseech the Government, if they cannot give way to-day, to do some thing to prevent this division. I have said to the women Members who are taking part in this Debate that I hoped they would not press the Motion to a Division; but they have decided to do so. Now I make my appeal to the Government. I do not want to see this House divided on sex lines, and the country divided on sex lines. I hope that the Government, even at this twelfth hour, instead of standing absolutely immovable, will take some step by which this matter can be postponed and both sides meet in honourable conclave, and come to some understanding which will prevent this House and this country from feeing divided on sex lines.

Sir Patrick Hannon (Birmingham, Moseley)

I would like to support the point of view expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence). During the last 18 or 19 months I have had continued experience of the contribution that the women of this country are making in the production of munitions of war. Their efforts stand beyond all praise. It would be deplorable if, in this House, we introduced a sex division in relation to compensation for injuries. There is nothing more heartening, more stimulating and more encouraging, In these dangerous days, than the contribution which women are making to the prosecution of this war. I have associations with a series of enterprises the fundamental purpose of which is to assist in war preparation. We have had to introduce women workers into our various processes of industry, and I want to bear testimony to the response made by the young women of this country. If this Motion is put to a vote, I will support the contention of the women Members, because I do not think we should have sex differentiation' in these times.

I have had to appeal in the works with which I am associated, in the Midlands, in Sheffield and elsewhere, to masses of people to put forth their supreme effort; and the response has always been led by our women workers. In our precision work, in our industries where skill has to be developed in the shortest period of time, the work done by the young women who have been brought into our factories has been of exceptional quality, and has commanded the respect of those of us who have been engaged in engineering processes for many years. It would be a great pity if, in face of the great difficulties surrounding us, we were to put women workers into one category and men workers into another. I know the sympathies of my right hon. Friend the Minister and his kindly feeling that we ought to give some recognition of the work that women are doing. We ought not to let it go out to the country that we put a 35s. price on a man, and a 28s. price on a woman. If a woman is doing the same work, with the same energy and spirit of sacrifice, as a man, why should there be such differentiation? If it goes to a Division I shall support the Prayer.

Mr. Isaacs (Southwark, North)

I also wish to support the plea which has been made on behalf of women workers. I will not develop that point to any extent, because there is another aspect of the question which I wish to raise, but I will only say that many of these single women workers are not young women; they are women who have reached middle age or have, perhaps, advanced beyond middle age, living entirely on their own resources. The difference between 28s. and 35s. a week means a great deal to them. They have to pay exactly the same for their milk, for their butter, for their bread, and even for their cigarettes. There is another aspect of the scheme, however, to which I would draw attention. That is the position of men who are compelled to go on working even after the danger signal.

I am referring to such classes as rail-waymen, transport workers, and men in the electric light stations. If this rate of compensation is to be paid to those who can, and do, take shelter, something additional should be paid to those who are compelled to work through the alerts. That principle has been recognised in one of the essential industries. In the news paper industry, the men have been asked by their employers to carry on after the alert, in order that the public may have its newspapers. The employers recognise that the men should get something more; and, both in London and in the provinces, the proprietors have created a scheme for such additional compensation. Men who are injured while working should get full wages, as against the rate of compensation paid to those who are injured while not working.

Sir Francis Fremantle (St. Albans)

I want to introduce a point which has not been raised hitherto. I think none of us in any way disagrees with what has been said about the magnificent work which has been done by the women. I am afraid that my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) has been rather hypnotised by the fear of offending them by mentioning any other point of view.

Sir P. Hannon

To say that I would be hypnotised, is a most extravagant assertion on the part of my hon. Friend.

Sir F. Fremantle

It is very astonishing that the hon. Ladies who have put forward this case have not dealt with the principle which, surely, is at the root of the whole matter, namely, the fact that men have hitherto been given the responsibility for looking after the family. It is quite true that there are many anomalies. For in stance, there are the unmarried men and the widows and so on, to whom this principle does not apply. But this is the principle underlying many matters which come before Parliament— whether men are to continue to be responsible for their families. That is mainly responsible for the difference in remuneration for male and female labour.

Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)

Does that explain why an unmarried man is given so much more than a woman?=

Sir F. Fremantle

No, it does not ex plain that. That is one of the exceptions. But when we are dealing with questions of statesmanship and law we have to go to the root of the question. If we are to give an equal return to the men and to the women, that will do away with the principle that men are responsible for the family. Once that principle has gone, many men might repudiate that responsibility; and, under the law, they would not be held responsible. That point of view must occur to all of us men. While we have sympathy with the claims which have been put forward, the Government cannot alter the whole of the principle because of this one phase. They must deal with the whole subject. It is from that point of view that I hope that the Minister will deal with the matter in his reply.

Miss Eleanor Rathbone (Combined English Universities)

Has the hon. Member noted that the rates cover single men and single women; and also that in the case of married men and women, there are dependants' allowances, which are equal for both men and women? Does not that cut the. ground away from under his case that the extra remuneration is given because of family responsibility?

Sir F. Fremantle

No; I was dealing with the case put forward by the women Members, who spoke as though what is the primary cause did not exist.

Sir Henry Morris-Jones (Denbigh)

My name has been associated with this Prayer, and I thought I was the only sprat in the House of Commons which the ladies had managed to capture. I was very glad, however, to see that there was a mackerel over there in the person of my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon). Therefore, the contention of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) that it would be an entirely sex division is not strictly accurate, because there are at least a few Members associated with the hon. Members who have moved the Prayer. I apologise to the House that I was not present in the early part of the Debate, but I want to endorse what has been said more particularly by the hon. Member for Moseley.

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions in his heart is sound, but he is confronted with the enormous difficulties with which a Minister of Pensions must be confronted at the present time, and these difficulties will obviously become greater as the war goes on. I shall not envy him or whoever may be following him in his position after the war, but I contend that the disparity at the present moment between the figures given for single men and single women is too great. I was very surprised to see my hon. Friend the Member for St. Albans (Sir F. Fremantle) taking up the attitude he did, because I usually agree with him on these subjects. As a medical man, for many years in practice before I came to this House, I was in close touch with the work done by women, especially those of the nursing profession, who have suffered enormously since the war and who are making sacrifices in the hospitals of London and throughout the country. It is now rather late in the day to support a contention that you can substantiate the disparity between the position of women and men as affected by this war. Women have to bear the same sacrifices as men, and in fact more sacrifices in many ways, in the sense that they have perhaps children more immediately dependent upon them for whose welfare they are directly concerned.

I do not think that the Government really can carry this to its logical conclusion by adhering to the figures to which my right hon. Friend adheres at the present time, and without delaying the House I would like simply to endorse the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh and of my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley that, while my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions may not at the moment be able to promise that he will be able to vary or alter these figures, he will, in order to avoid a Division on a matter which creates ill-feeling, as it naturally will, at any rate give the assurance to the House that during the next few days he will consider the whole matter in the light of the discussion which has taken place.

Miss Eleanor Rathbone


The Minister of Pensions (Sir Walter Womersley)

It may be for the convenience of the House if I intervene at this moment. I cannot close the Debate, and if the hon. Lady wants to speak after me, she can do so, but I think that it is just about time that I came in here and cleared the air. There have been so many' misrepresentations made that it is well that we should have a review of the whole posi- tion and get down to realities. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Debate as far as it has gone. I have never heard more eloquent speeches, though without the usual amount of accurate facts to back up the eloquence. Still, that is what one expects in Debates which must of necessity arouse the sentiments of many of us. I am glad to know that many hon. Members realise that I try to administer my job with sympathy, and there is nothing with which I have had to deal in the course of the time during which I have been at the Ministry of Pensions that has given me more food for thought than this particular question. I can assure the hon. Ladies who have moved this Prayer that it has not been for want of consideration or of sympathy in regard to this question that I brought forward the revised scheme, but it is really because I was up against hard facts.

May I make one or two corrections, because I believe that even those who have inadvertently dropped into these errors would like "to know the real position? The hon. Lady the Member for Frome (Mrs. Tate), who put her case with"great skill and eloquence, when she talked about the allowances, fell into an error. She gave the case of the widowed woman with children who was injured 100 per cent, and quoted the figure of 38s. a week as the household income. Actually it is 43s. 9d., made up of 24s. 2d. that the woman would get, and 8s. 4d., 6s. 3d. and 5s. for the three children, making altogether 19s. 9d. for the children.

Mrs. Tate

I realise that I made that error, and I apologise, but the fact still remains that a man in similar circumstances gets 10s. a week more. So although my actual figure of income coming into the home is wrong, the differentiation between a woman and a man in similar circumstances is quite accurate and correct.

Sir W. Womersley

I was not making a point of that, but I wanted it to be clearly stated in the OFFICIAL REPORT. If we are going to ask that women should carry on with a smaller amount, and where there is a difference between men and women, one would like to see the correct figure given in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I merely wanted to correct it. Let me make a correction of a little misunderstanding. It is assumed that a single woman, or a widowed woman with children, would not get anything for her dependants. The scheme provides that parents of a single woman who have been dependent upon her, if the' can prove dependency, can make a claim for compensation. The statement was made that they are to be left entirely out in the cold, but that is not entirely the case.

Dr. Summerskill

If the woman is supporting an incapacitated husband, does he get an allowance?

Sir W. Womersley

I am afraid that we cannot provide pensions for husbands. It is going a little too far. There will not be many cases of that kind anyhow, and if they come along—I have not met one yet—we shall possibly be able to deal with them. In order to give a real idea of the effect of this scheme, I am afraid that I shall have to ask hon. Members to allow me to go back a little into history. I would say to the hon. Lady the Member for West Fulham (Dr. Summerskill) that I do not resent anything that she has said at all, but I do take a little exception to her statement that I have had to withdraw this and to withdraw that. The real position is that I came into this office with a clear and an open mind, prepared to hear arguments from all sides, whether from lady Members of the House or from male Members, and from representative bodies outside. When I brought forward the scheme it was unique in the history of the world. There had never been such a scheme before, and therefore there was no precedent upon which to go. With regard to Service schemes there was the experience of the last war, but this was entirely new. I made it clear in my statement in this House that I did not close my mind to the fact that the scheme did not represent the final word and that I hoped to alter, revise and improve it from time to time. That is the reason why we had to bring forward an amended scheme, and I am prepared to bring forward another amended scheme in another few months in the light of my experience in handling this problem. Any man who said that a scheme of this kind is perfect would be speaking foolishly, because such a scheme has never been tried before in the history of the world.

When I had some experience of that scheme I realised that it would be wise to alter and revise it. We had a Debate in this House on the question of the woman's position under this scheme and the plea put forward on that occasion was on behalf of the married women of the country. To-day I have not heard a word about them and I am rather astounded because I expected to hear a good deal. The plea of the hon. Lady who moved the Prayer was that we should provide for everyone other than the housewife and she asked, "If a housewife was injured what would we do for her?" We have provided in the first scheme that something should be done for the housewife. We realised, as we must all realise, that when a man marries a woman he takes her "for better or worse, in sickness and health" and that he has a responsibility. But we felt that if the housewife was injured we ought to do something for the man as regards provision for someone to come into the house and relieve the injured woman of her housework so that she could rest and get better. We thought it was an idea that would appeal to the women of the country.

Those of us who have had a good deal of experience of working-class households, know that a woman may be injured or sick and may yet carry on her housework, whereas if she is employed and is sick, she will go on to health insurance. She will go on working in her own house because she does not want the expense of someone coming in. Often she does not like anyone coming in. We therefore said to the man, "Provided you bring someone in to the house to do your wife's work, we will provide the money." But the women of this country did not want it. I had deputations on the matter from various women's organisations and they said, "We object to you giving the money to the man; we think it ought to be given to the woman." When I asked whether we ought to give money to the husband so that he could pay bills, they said, "No; the woman must have the money." They said that the money should not be given as a condition of someone being brought into the house to do the work, but that it should be handed to the woman to do what she liked with it, because it was her compensation for injury.

I had to go carefully into this matter and finally decided to revise this scheme so that something should be done on behalf of these women. In the Debate to-day no one has raised the question of the non-gainfully-employed person, which was the burden of the previous complaint and the main subject on which a deputation, representing 2,500,000, came to see me. The deputation consisted of over 40 ladies and I listened carefully to all they had to say. I hope that the ladies here to-day will listen carefully to what I have to say [Interruption]. I would like to make my speech.

Miss Ward

My right hon. Friend must not make misstatements.

Sir W. Womersley

I am not making misstatements.

Dr. Summerskill

It is complete misrepresentation. I was there.

Mrs. Tate

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, I apologise for interrupting the Minister, who is, I realise, making a very difficult case, but when he says that that was the main burden of the plea of the deputation, he is wrong. The women Members agreed among themselves, in order to avoid repetition, each to take one particular point, both at the deputation and in the Debate in this House. It was left to me on both occasions to put the case of the non-gainfully employed woman. It was left entirely to me; no other ladies mentioned it and therefore to say it was the main burden of our plea is sheer misrepresentation or forgetfulness.

Sir W. Womersley

That is a peculiar point of Order, although I am glad the hon. Lady has raised it. She entirely misunderstands me. I am not talking about her deputation or her speech. The hon. Lady must not think that her deputation was the only deputation I ever saw.

Dr. Summerskill

I was a member of the other deputation.

Sir W. Womersley

I hope the hon. Lady will try to prove that women are really equal to men by keeping quiet. I was referring to the first Debate we had in this House. It was in the second Debate, that the hon. Lady the Member for Dartford (Mrs. Adamson) raised the question of the housewives, and this was the main burden of the complaint on that particular day. I was attempting to come to the hon. Lady's point but she interrupted me too soon. However, we will come to that now. It is true that the deputation did put different points to me and that one question was that of the gainfully employed woman and the difference in the rate between a man and a woman. There is a simple explanation of that and I want to make that explanation now, so that my hon. Friend the Member for Moseley (Sir P. Hannon) and others will understand why there is this difference between 28s. and 35s. Origin ally the rates as fixed were not satisfactory to the workers in this country be cause the Government had taken away from them their right to sue under the Workmen's Compensation Acts for damage by enemy action. Having taken away their right, the plea— a proper plea — was put forward that the Government should substitute in its place an arrangement which would give those men injured by enemy action a sum equal to that given to those injured in the course of their work.

No one can deny that that is not a perfectly legitimate claim to make and that matter was taken into consideration. I say without any hesitation that I thought it my duty to consult not only with the accredited representatives of the trade unions, but also with the accredited representatives of the employers' associations, because the Government had taken away the responsibility which was their' sunder the Workmen's Compensation Acts. In the meantime the House of Commons approved the new Workmen's Compensation Act, which fixed rates higher than those which obtained before and when the suggestion is made that we are a long way out of date, I can assure the hon. Lady the Member, for Anglesey (Miss Lloyd George) that we are up to date because we have fixed rates that are up to the new and not the old standard. Under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, it is true that the maximum for a single man or woman is the same, but we had to decide whether we would carry out workmen's compensation practice purely and simply. I had to face the position that if we carried out workmen's compensation practice alone, we should have had to have an army of inspectors going round inspecting wage books for the purpose of finding out what was the average wage of a given person during the 12 months preceding the accident. Bearing in mind the many cases which we thought we might have to deal with, and which experience has proved we have had to deal with, that method would have meant, first of all, the employment of many people on the job, and secondly, it would have been an inquisition into the earnings of the people which, althought it might be desirable in the case of a dispute between an employer and employe, we felt would be very un desirable in the case of a Government Department dealing with a pensions scheme.

The only way in which we could meet the position was to say that we would take the average. We have taken the average, and it works out at 35s. for a single man and something considerably Jess than 28s. for a single woman. It is true that, having fixed the figure at 28s., which is in excess of the average, and benefits many thousands of women, a few women will have to make a small sacrifice for the sake of those who were getting the lower rates of pay and who are, therefore, entitled under the Workmen's Compensation Acts to the lower rate of compensation. This is the only reason for the difference. We wanted to keep the scheme in accordance with workmen's compensation practice, brought up to date by the latest Act of Parliament As far as we are concerned, it is not a question of any sex differentiation. We are paying them more than they would get on the average under workmen's compensation. I think the reason I have given is a good and sound reason. I have dealt with the question of the gainfully employed. The only point at issue concerns the difference in rates of compensation for men and women. My hon. Friend the Member for Moseley will know from his experience of industrial affairs that we are not far wrong in our calculation. If circumstances change, and it can be shown to me that the figure is not a fair one, I shall always be prepared to consider the matter and recommend to the Government that a change be made.

Sir P. Hannon

My difficulty is this. A5 my right hon. Friend knows, we have had a violent enemy attack in a certain Midland town. Lives were sacrificed. I cannot see why the life of a woman sacrificed in these circumstances ought to be compensated for on a lower scale than the lives of the men who were sacrificed.

Sir W. Womersley

Perhaps my hon. Friend will tell me why in some of the in- dustries which he knows women are paid less wages. Then we can deal with the matter. I warn hon. Members that if we departed from the workmen's compensation practice, we should get on to very dangerous ground indeed. That is my view after very carefully considering the matter, I might have said, "Never mind workmen's compensation; we will deal with them exactly as though they were soldiers and sailors.". But we have tried to conform with workmen's compensation, and to bring the Services on to a comparable basis to this. That is what I want to do, and what I intend to do. If it were a question of departing altogether from a practice that was laid down by the House and approved by the trade unions of the country and also by the employers' organisations, I think we should get on to very dangerous ground. Let us get it out of our heads that this is a fight between women and men. I hope the right hon. Member will not consider dividing the House on sex lines. In my opinion, that would be a bad job for the country and for the war effort. I have given a straightforward answer with regard to the gainfully employed. It is not a question of sex differentiation, but of compensating them on the same lines as under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, and I think that is as much as one can expect the Government to do at the moment.

The hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Isaacs) raised a point in connection with those who are gainfully employed. That point was argued at great length, with myself in the chair, between myself and the trade union representatives. It was pointed out that the wealthy newspaper proprietors of this country had agreed to have a special scheme of their own for compensation for their workers. They were providing the scheme and the money themselves, and they were not asking the State to contribute. We considered whether the scheme could be carried further and applied to other Indus-tries. But I found that in dealing with representatives of the trade unions it all depended on which trade unions they represented. Some people thought we ought to go to as much as £4 5s. a week, but when I asked whether they thought professional men with £1,500 a year should be brought in, they said "No." They did not represent labourers' unions, but skilled craftsmen's unions. I know there is a good deal to be said on behalf of a man working in a very dangerous occupation, such as on munitions, who may feel aggrieved because he will not receive more compensation for it if he is injured as a result of enemy action. It often appears that one man is taking a bigger risk than another, whereas in actual practice it has been found that that has not been the case. Often the fellow who has tried to dodge it has got off very badly.

I should now like to inform the House how we arrived at the figure for non-gainfully employed. We realised that there would be a certain number of people who could be described as non-gainfully employed who would suffer severe hardship if they were injured as a result of enemy action. The term "non-gainfully employed" was a new one, and when it was brought into this scheme many people wondered where it came from. The lawyers had to find some definition. At first, most people thought the term meant people who were retired on superannuation, or people who had money invested and were living on the interest. When it came to actual practice we found that it included old age pensioners, and also people who had been unemployed for so long that they had sacrificed all benefits ' under the Ministry of Labour's scheme. It also included housewives— those engaged in no other occupation than that of looking after the household. It occurred to many people that these old age pensioners ought to have some allowance made to them over and above their ordinary pension if they were injured, because they would have to have extra help and extra comforts.

There was a strong case put forward for men who were unfortunately unable to obtain employment and had run out of benefit. These could have been dealt with quite easily, but there was also that very strong plea put forward in this House, and by deputation after deputation which came to me, on behalf of the housewife. After due consideration it was finally settled that the non-gainfully employed person should be included in the new scheme, and that we should make a rate which would apply to both the housewife and any other person non-gainfully employed. In dealing with this, I admit that we made a bit of a mistake. There was that difference of 7s. a week, taking the average under workmen's compensation awards of the gainfully employed. We took the 7s. as a difference, but on reflection I realised that while it was the same amount, it was a far greater percentage. Therefore we altered the rate to 16s. 4d. for women, and it is quite true, as has been stated, that we allowed a little more for men.

Why have we fixed that rate? Again I state that it is not a question of sex differentiation, but of obligation. Our experience has shown in all the claims we have had up to date that what I thought would happen has happened, namely, that the bulk of the claims under the non-gainfully employed are on behalf of housewives— those women who have husbands who should be responsible for their maintenance in the ordinary way. We found that something like 84 per cent, of the cases so far received are from married women. Surely it will not be argued that a married woman who is not engaged in any other occupation, and whose husband ought to be able to look after her, should receive as much compensation as those who are earning their own living. Therefore we found that 84.7 per cent, of the claims up to date have come from married women. I do not think there is a case which can be put forward that their money should be equal to that of a man. The figure for single women is 6.8 per cent., and I am hoping that many of these single women will find employment in the future and that that figure will therefore be reduced. However, it is a very small percentage.

When we come to the men non-gain fully employed, we find the percentage of claims for single men is 1.7. Actually we have had only seven from all the blitzed places in the country. We know that they will receive a little more by way of compensation, but it does not amount to much. Then we have the married men and widowers. The figure for this class is 6.8 per cent. It must be remembered that these married men and widowers have responsibilities of households and also in many other respects. That, I think, en titles them to a little more consideration than is given to a married woman who has a husband and her own home. The money is provided in her case so that she can have someone extra in the house to do her work and save her trouble and hard ship.

We have great responsibilities in addition to compensation for both gainfully and non-gainfully employed men and women. In the first case there is free hospital treatment. There are many other things which are done for them at Government expense which also involve enormous expenditure. It is all given freely, and rightly so.

Mr. Charleton (Leeds, South)

Do I understand the Minister to say that these women have special facilities in hospitals? As I understand it, there is no free treatment in hospitals to-day.

Sir W. Womersley

The hon. Member is chairman of one of my principal hospitals. Surely he knows that persons injured in an air raid go to the Ministry's hospitals? The first obligation of the State is to get a person back into health, and the second obligation is to provide a pension if this cannot be done. I am glad to say that, including the hospital with which my hon. Friend is associated, we have been doing very good work. Let me give the House full details. Insured persons arc entitled to free medical treatment in hospitals or elsewhere as may be required. The emergency medical ser vices of the Ministry of Health are responsible for providing this treatment where they can. We are actually running one or two hospitals for them, and many casualties have been taken into our own hospitals, which we maintain primarily for ex-Service men.

Then we come to the children. They are compensated in the case of the gain fully employed, and they are compensated in the case of the woman worker. If she has children, there is compensation for them, and provision is made on their behalf. The same applies to orphans. When, as it has happened in something like 600 cases, the father and mother have been killed, we do not leave the orphans to the mercy of the world, hand out the compensation and say we have finished with them. We carry on. We realise that, if they are evacuated children, in an area where they are in good hands it is as well to leave them there. On the other hand, if there are relatives who wish to take them, and we feel that the home is a suitable one, we make use of voluntary helpers, and some women members of our staff deal with this particular problem It is women's work, and it is being done very well indeed. If we cannot find them the right homes with relatives, it is our responsibility. I should like to take the opportunity of saying that I have had an enormous number of letters from good-hearted people offering to take these children. I do not want them to think that, because we are not able to send them children by return, we are ignoring their offers. The problem is not a serious one at present, because so far relatives have taken them in large numbers. I want these good-hearted people to realise that their names are on our register, and when it is necessary we shall communicate with them and see to it that the children are put into proper homes.

I have listened to the Debate with very great interest. I am glad in the second place because it has given me an opportunity of explaining how these rates were arrived at and of refuting the statement that has been put forward that the Minister of Pensions is one of those folk who think women are inferior to men and therefore he is not going to compensate them. I have never made that statement, and I never shall. But, on the broad question of sex equality, I feel that this is not the time and place for it to be debated and decided. It is a matter of great principle, and I am not prepared to offer an opinion to-day. It is certainly worth while bringing it forward as a major subject, but not as a side issue in a pensions Debate. Do not let any of us regard this Debate as anything to do with sex differentiation. Do not let us have a Division on it, as was suggested, as a matter of sex differentiation. You can deal with that at the right and proper time, and it is worth while, because I know that very strong views are held in both directions, but it is a matter of major policy and should not be brought in as a side issue on a pensions scheme. I am satisfied that so far, in the light of my experience, I have given justice, and that is what the hon. Lady asked for— true justice to those who have unfortunately been injured by enemy action. It is the most generous scheme of compensation, given freely without the payment of any premium, that any country has ever offered to its citizens. How far it is going to carry us I should not like to predict. I hope that it will not mean bringing us into a state when there can be no pensions for anyone because of there being nothing with which to pay them. But I do feel that, having made this generous gesture, the Government ought not to be subjected to too severe criticism on minor points.

I say to my hon. Friends who have moved this Prayer, and to my hon. Friends on both sides of the House, that I am quite prepared to consider carefully all that has been said in this Debate, that I am prepared to hear opinions at any time, and that this is not the last word on civil compensation. I am certain of that, because in the light of experience I am bound to find ways and means of improving things, and if I can improve them, I shall do so; because it is my desire not to go down to history as a Minister of Pensions who was a petty-minded, pettifogging, mean person, but, on the other

Division No. 16.] AYES.
Barr, J. Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Rathbone, Eleanor (English Univ's.)
Baxter, A. Beverley Hardie, Agnes Rothschild, J. A. de
Bevan, A. Harvey, T. E. Sloan, A.
Brooke, H. Hill, Dr. A. V. (Cambridge U.) Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)
Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.) Horabin, T. L. Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Charleton, H. C. Hughes, Moelwyn A.. Wilson, C. H. (Attercliffe)
Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd) Isaacs, G. A. Wright, Wing Commander J. A. C.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Lipson, D. L.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) Morris-Jones, Sir Henry TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Granville, E. L. Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon. F. W. Mrs. Tate and Dr. Summerskill.
Hannah, I. C. Rathbone, Beatrice F. (Bodmin)
Adamson, W. M. (Cannock) Gower, Sir R. V. Ridley, G.
Albery, Sir Irving Grenfell, D. R. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S. Grimston, R. V. Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)
Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Sc'h. Univ.) Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A. Salter, Dr. A. (Bermondsey, W.)
Aske, Sir R. W. Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Assheton, R. Henderson, J. J. (Leeds, N.E.) Scott, Donald (Wansbeck)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Hopkinson, A. Shakespeare, G. H.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Stuart, Rt. Hn. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Beaumont, Hubert (Batley) Hurd, Sir P. A. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Bernays, R. H. Jeffreys, Gen. Sir G. D. Tomlinson, G.
Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. Johnston, Rt Hn. T. (Stl'g & C'km'n) Touche, G. C.
Blair, Sir R. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (S'k Newington) Wakefield, W. W.
Boulton, W. W. Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's) Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Brass, Capt. Sir W. Lathan, G. Waterhouse, Capt. C.
Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R. Lloyd, G. W. (Ladywood) Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Caine, G. R. Hall Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. 0. Wickham, Lt.-Col. E. T. R.
Campbell, Sir E. T. Mabane, W. Williams, C. (Torquay)
Courthope, Col. Rt. Hon. Sir G. L. Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E. Williams, T. (Don Valley)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C. Mitchell, Colonel H. P. Windsor, W.
Crowder, J. F. E. Montague, F. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Drewe, C. Munro, P. Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W. J.
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir K. (W'lwich, W.)
Ede, J. C. Paling,W. Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Peake, O.
Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.) Plugge, Capt. L. F. TELLERS FOR THE NOES —
Fremantle, Sir F. E. Pym, L. R. Major Sir James Edmondson and Major Dugdale.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Gibson, R. (Greenock) Reid, W. Allan (Derby)