HC Deb 04 August 1942 vol 382 cc854-7
62. Mr. Dunn

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware that, during the last war, 1914 to 1918, the coal controller issued an instruction that war wages increases paid to miners must not be taken into consideration when computing partial compensation payments to injured miners; and whether he will now issue similar instructions, to be made retrospective to the outbreak of the war?

The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Peake)

My right hon. Friend is aware of the instruction to which my hon. Friend refers, but has no authority to issue any similar instruction. As was explained in replies to the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) on 23rd of last month, the position has been materially altered since the last war by the provision in Section 11 (3) of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925, which was enacted for the purpose of enabling workmen in receipt of weekly payments, whether for total or partial incapacity, in certain circumstances to get the benefit of increases in rates of remuneration.

Mr. Dunn

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that men entitled to partial compensation under that Section are not receiving it and that deep anxiety exists over it?

Mr. Peake

Parliament in its wisdom provided this means of dealing with these cases in 1923, and in my view it ought to be utilised before we consider possible alternatives.

Mr. Lawson

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is a strong feeling in working-class circles that the time is overdue for a complete overhauling of this compensation matter?

63. Mr. Dunn

asked the Home Secretary whether he can give an assurance that, where a wife has been living with her husband, prior to his decease, and earning wages, such wages shall not be reckoned as earnings when assessing her dependency for compensation under the Workmen's Compensation Act?

Mr. Peake

As I explained to the hon. Member for East Durham (Mr. Ritson) on 25th June, the principle of the Workmen's Compensation Act is that compensation is payable in respect of the death of a workman to persons wholly or partially dependent on the earnings of the person at the time of his death, and the question of the extent of dependency is one to be decided by the court on the facts of each case, but I am advised that where a widow was in employment at the time of his death, the court would have power to take into account how far the employment was of a regular and permanent character or temporary only.

Mr. Dunn

Surely the Minister is aware that miners' wives who have gone into munition works are deeply disturbed about this? I am afraid that many of them may perhaps take another course altogether.

Mr. Peake

This question was raised on 25th June by the hon. Member for East Durham (Mr. Ritson), and I asked that any hard cases which were known should be sent to the Home Office. Only one case was sent, and that was a case where the amount had been agreed between the parties and it had not been taken to the county court.

Mr. R. J. Taylor

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that unless there is a clear line laid down on this matter it may have a detrimental effect on the number of women who are working?

Mr. Peake

My right hon. Friend has expressed himself as willing to take action in this matter if hard cases are shown to exist.

64. Mr. Dunn

asked the Home Secretary whether he has considered the resolutions passed at the conference of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain last week at Blackpool on the question of Workmen's Compensation, and if he has any statement to make on the matter?

Mr. Peake

My hon. Friend has been good enough to send to the Home Office a copy of these resolutions, and they have been noted. Two of the resolutions relate to matters which were dealt with in replies given to a Question on 25th June by the hon. Member for East Durham (Mr. Ritson) and to a Question on 23rd July by the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker). I would also refer to the reply given on 16th July to a Question by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith).

Mr. Dunn

Is the Minister contemplating meeting the Executive Committee of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain to discuss these resolutions?

Mr. Peake

I shall be meeting my friends the executive of the Miners' Federation on another matter very shortly, and I have no doubt that they will take the opportunity to raise the matters incorporated in those resolutions.