HC Deb 04 February 1944 vol 396 cc1546-75
Mr. Turton

I beg to move, in page 17, line 34, after "subjects," to insert: who have served whole-time in the Armed Forces of the Crown, in the Merchant Navy, or the Mercantile Marine, or in any of the capacities mentioned in the First Schedule to this Act. Hon. Members will find that the wording of the Amendment is the same as that which the Minister has placed in Clause 16. The Sub-section to which I want to draw the attention of the House, is that which reads: This Act shall, subject as may be prescribed, apply to persons who are not British subjects in the same manner as it applies to persons who are British subjects. I appreciate that the Amendment may prove to be too wide and may go beyond my intention, which is to exclude from the benefits of the Bill any non-British subject who has not served in the Armed Forces of the Crown. I fear that if other alterations were not made in another place and the Government accepted the Amendment, it might appear that an alien employer would be excluded from the obligations imposed by the Bill. That would have to be rectified, if the Government should accept the Amendment, but I make no excuse for presenting this Amendment to the House in this form as the difficulty is due to the bad drafting of the Bill.

In the old days, we used to have definitions at the end of a Bill of who was covered by the Bill and who was not In this Bill, a mass of definitions, which are becoming more and more contradictory as we go on, runs through it, from the first Clause. Finally, we have this old relic of the Bill, Clause 21, which says that the Bill shall apply to everybody. If hon. Members will follow my argument they will see how the position stands. In Clause 1 there is a definition of disabled persons; it covers all disabled persons, either in the country now or who may come after the war at any time. There is nothing in Clause 1 to except the members of the German Forces who are now in Italy from receiving advantages under the Bill. The Minister appreciated the wide nature of the definition in Clause 1, and in Clause 7 introduced an Amendment which would give him power to exclude persons who are not ordinarily resident in Britain, and to except those not ordinarily resident but who had fought in the war. That exclusion will not cover the aliens who have been resident in Britain and who have not served in the Forces. In my view, it is not germane to this Amendment but it is a very great mistake in the drafting of the Clause. In Clause 16 there is a further definition, in that the Minister can give preference to all persons, whether alien or otherwise who have served whole time in the Armed Forces of the Crown. Then we come to Clause 21, and I have pointed out its implications. Unless we amend it, we shall give the benefits of this great Bill to aliens equally with British subjects.

I suggest to the Government that there is need for a tie-up of this question of definitions and of the advantages we intend to confer by the Bill upon non-British subjects. I ask them to tie it up to-day, but if they cannot do that, I invite them to tie it up in another place. I am sure that all of us who support the Bill are anxious to see that the debt owed to men of all nationalities who have served in the British Allied Forces and have thereby become disabled, should be repaid by the provisions of the Bill, but those people should not be penalised by bringing into the scope of the Bill people who have not helped this country by entry into the Armed Forces of the Crown during the war. The House should remember what it is apt to forget, that the more people we bring into the Bill the greater hardship will be imposed on those to whom the debt is owed; greater hardship on men who have fought for this country and have had the good fortune not to be disabled, who will come back at the end of the war and are going to ask us for employment.

I ask the Government to consider the Amendment with care and to think over how the Bill is drafted and whether it can be reshaped. If we can have a clear definition of those to whom the advantages are intended to be given by Parliament, the Bill will be greatly improved. I do not think it is enough for the Minister—I say this with all respect to the Minister, for whom I have a great admiration—to say: "It's all right, I'm going to bring in regulations to make this quite clear." This type of advantage that has been conferred by Parliament must be conferred by Act of Parliament and not merely by Regulations drawn by a kindly Minister. None of us can tell how long any particular Minister will hold office, and it is the duty of Parliament to define in the Bill those whom it is intended to benefit, and, equally, exclude those to whom benefit should not be given.

Commander Galbraith (Glasgow, Pollok)

I beg to second the Amendment. I think my hon. Friend who has moved the Amendment has made its intention perfectly clear to the House. We would like to be assured on the point he raised.

Mr. Tomlinson

I shall ask the House not to accept this Amendment, for reasons which I think the hon. Member himself made quite clear in moving it. I am not going to apologise in advance but I say in advance that I shall probably use the phrase "the Minister has power to prescribe." I think that is all the power that is required in order to achieve the purpose of the Amendment. I am quite certain that the House would not wish, nor do I think the mover of the Amendment would wish, to exclude from benefit a person, for instance an alien, who may have been resident in this country for many years and who has been injured as a result of enemy action. Obviously, it is not that type of person whom the hon. Member is seeking to exclude. As a matter of fact, unless it is an individual whom the Government would exclude on other grounds I cannot see whom he is trying to keep out, for the Minister has the power, as was suggested over and over again in the Committee stage, to prescribe the conditions under which people can be excluded from taking advantage of this Bill. As a matter of fact one of the reasons indicated for having these powers was that we might do the very thing that my hon. Friend is suggesting in this Amendment. I would point out to him that to accept this Amendment in this Bill, which I think we are all agreed is to be in post-war years part of our social services, is to make a distinction between this and other of our social legislation. Nowhere do we seek to exclude in this way a person whom we describe as an alien.

Mr. Turton

The National Service Act, 1939, definitely does.

Mr. Tomlinson

I said social legislation. That National Service Act was a very necessary piece of legislation, but I do not think it could be described as one of our social advantages or part of our social legislation. We insist on these people paying national health insurance and coming into our unemployment insurance scheme. In that sense I think that where there is a particular reason for it, the case can be met under the powers which the Minister has, and that we should leave the Bill as it stands, making the provision that is necessary.

Mr. Tinker (Leigh)

After listening to the Minister I think there are good grounds for opposing this Amendment. I take it that we want to try to keep every citizen of this country useful. The time might come when in this country we might like to make provision, say, for cripples, and if this Amendment operated we would have to say to the people affected by the Amendment, "We cannot give you any benefits because you did not fight." What we are trying to do by this Bill is to make every citizen useful to the community; if he is a cripple, for instance, to try to put him on the right way to earning his own living. Preference has been given in this Bill to the Armed Forces. That is what I understand. When that has been done and we can rehabilitate everybody we shall surely never say to these other people that they cannot have the benefit. I think on reflection that the mover of the Amendment will see that it would not be wise to press it.

Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)

I should like to support what the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) and the Minister have said. No doubt I am to some extent biased, because of my special position as Chairman of the Inter-Governmental Committee for Refugees. I would point out to the mover of the Amendment that, historically speaking, he is on very weak ground. From time to time for the last 400 years at least we have absorbed into the social life of the country a great number of refugees—the Spitalfields weavers, the Huguenots, and hundreds of others. People who come here to-day and are given permission to remain have to pass through a very fine meshed net. There has been some criticism of the Government Departments concerned—the Foreign Office, under which I serve in the official capacity to which I have referred, and the Home Office—because of the narrowness of this mesh. I hope that the House will reject the Amendment.

Mr. Turton

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

Sir Austin Hudson (Hackney, North)

Before this. Bill leaves the House I wish to get an undertaking from the Minister as to how he intends to carry it out. May I first say that I welcome the Bill, as I think it is a worthy contribution to our post-war plans. Owing to the fact that for two days it has been under examination in Committee it may perhaps be an even better Bill than when it came in. I am perfectly certain that it will receive its Third Reading unanimously and with the best wishes of everybody here. What I want is an undertaking from the Minister with regard to a small but unfortunate section of the community, those suffering or who have suffered from tuberculosis. I believe they are fully covered under Clause 15. For that reason I did not think it necessary to raise the matter earlier in the Debates on the Bill or to move Amendments. But Ministers come and Ministers go, and it would be an advantage, I think, if we could have an undertaking on the Floor of the House, recorded in the OFFICIAL REPORT, that it is the intention of the Minister to try to help those people. Voluntary organisations, of which there are several in this country, are doing a great deal to help these people, both in the rehabilitation centres and in other ways, but unfortunately they cannot of their own account do enough. These people sometimes are not mixed with others, and they will want the sort of scheme that is envisaged in Clause 15 if the matter is to be dealt with properly. I therefore hope that the Minister will feel himself able to say just a word to show that he intends to use the machinery of this Bill to help in what I think everyone in this House will agree is a very grave problem.

Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke)

Our party have facilitated the passage of this Bill, and on their behalf I want to congratulate the Joint Parliamentary Secretary in particular for the competent and tolerant attitude he has adopted in piloting this Bill through the House. I am particularly pleased about that for many reasons. First, I know the area from which he has sprung, and it gives a great deal of satisfaction to the people of that area to see that one of themselves has been able so to develop himself that he has been able to pilot a Bill of this description through the House. In addition to that I believe there are hundreds of ordinary men and women who, if given the opportunity to serve in a public representative capacity, would be able to preserve that dynamic which British democracy has developed during the war. I believe that the Parliamentary Secretary and others associated with him are a fine example of how British democracy will develop when the new Education Bill begins to take effect. The Bill before us is based upon a large amount of hard work done by a fine body of public-spirited people serving on the Tomlinson Committee.

The whole House is aware of how people suffered after the last war, and I believe that hon. Members, irrespective of our political differences in normal times, will join together in the determination that our men and women disabled during this war shall not go through what they experienced after the last war. A very fine spirit has found expression in the House during the passage of this Bill, found expression also on the Government Bench in particular, and I make the plea that that same spirit should find expression in the administration of the Bill. I had an experience a few months ago which made me wonder whether many of us are worthy of some of the very fine young men whom I saw. I went through a rehabilitation centre run by the Royal Air Force. I wish all hon. Members could go through one of those centres, because I am convinced that no matter from what walk of life they came they would feel touched by the sufferings of the men disabled as a result of fighting the battle to maintain freedom for every one of us. I hope that the very high standards of the Royal Air Force rehabilitation centres will be maintained in the centres run by the Ministry of Labour.

I am sure we are all pleased that there are to be training courses and rehabilitation courses. Provided the Government follow up this Bill with a satisfactory system of social insurance and maintenance, and provided the Ministry of Pensions administers its responsibilities in the spirit which has been exhibited during the passage of this Bill through the House, I think the time will have arrived when the Government should consider prohibiting groups of men displaying their disabilities in the streets. Between the wars I have often seen half-a-dozen men limping along in the way with which we are all familiar, and it has always sent a cold shudder down my back, but I realise that I could not say very much about it because the way in which such men were treated was disgraceful; but now that public opinion is moving in the direction which it has taken, and that this House seems to be determined that we shall not have a repetition of what happened after the last war, if the Government follow this Bill with a satisfactory system of social maintenance for disabled persons I have no hesitation in saying that steps should be taken to prevent men from displaying their disabilities. On behalf of our party I welcome this Bill and hope that it will be administered on the lines I have indicated.

Dr. Russell Thomas (Southampton)

If I appear to be taking an inordinate part in the proceedings of the House today——

Hon. Members


Earl Winterton

Order, order. The hon. Member was stepping over the red line.

Dr. Thomas

I knew that the Noble Lord would not intervene except upon one of those meticulous points of detail which he has observed for so long for so many years. I regret that I have made a mistake. I feel that I am taking an inordinate part in the proceedings of the House to-day, but, after all, I am not responsible for arranging the Business to-day so that it is not my fault if matters in which I am interested all arise together and, after all, I did come to this House in order to express my point of view. I regret that I shall strike a note out of harmony with one of the underlying principles of the Bill. I will do this as gently as possible and with a certain amount of restraint, but, nevertheless, I will not be deterred by any threats of future retribution which may be made to me by the right hon. Gentleman or by any fear of the heavy-weight methods which the Minister has used in previous days. I can assure him that I do not intend to hurt the obvious delicacy of his feelings in any way with the form of words I shall use, and I shall confine myself to matters of high principle only.

I want to make it clear that I welcome the rehabilitation part of the Bill. I think it is of great advantage. I also welcome the part dealing with disabled ex-Servicemen. That is most important. If a disabled ex-Serviceman got a job in front of me I should be prepared to give way. I want that to be made clear, so that no one can in future be in any doubt on that point; but I do note that the Bill does insist that an employer of labour shall employ a certain number of disabled men. That is one of the main principles of the Bill, and the word "disabled" is defined very broadly in Clause 1. "Disabled" does not only mean disabled ex-Servicemen or a civilian injured in an air raid. It is a very wide definition indeed, and includes people who are supposed to have been rehabilitated after tuberculosis and many other diseases, cripples, and the congenitally defective both in mind and body.. The scope is very wide, and from that I can only deduce that the promoters of the Bill envisage post-war unemployment. I must say it because it is my duty as a Member of Parliament to do so, and I have remarked that no other Member has previously said it in regard to the Bill. That is quite clear. If there were no unemployment then every disabled person who has been rehabilitated—and I am using the word "disabled" as defined in the Bill—would automatically get a job and there would be no necessity for this Bill.

But I am clear that the Bill envisages nothing of the kind. The Bill, therefore, must envisage unemployment. That means that a certain number of men who are not in first class condition, are physically and mentally behind their fellows, will be employed in industry, and that logically and arithmetically a certain number of picked men, men who are in the heyday of their manhood, and upon whom their families depend, will be put out of work. That is what it means if we are to employ disabled men as suggested in the Bill. Naturally it means that. It cannot mean anything else. Let me give an example. Supposing there are 1000 unemployed men after the war and there are 800 jobs. That means that 200 people will be unemployed. But supposing that 25, 30, 40 or 50 men disabled in the broadest sense—not the war disabled men only—were employed, whether employers would wish to employ them or not, that would mean that the number of fit men who would be unemployed would be increased by 25, 30, 40 or 50, as the case may be. I am the first to sympathise with the tragedies of life, and we ought to do everything we can for such men, such as pensions, rehabilitation and so on, but I would ask the House to remember the devastating effect of unemployment upon the fit men who are pushed to the wall under this Bill and who, I repeat, must inevitably be pushed to the wall. There is nothing so demoralising or devastating as continuous unemployment. Nothing so much reduces a man in health, and in morale, and mental and physical well-being. Unhappiness, despair and ultimate ill-health are his lot. But, then, I suppose he will have the advantages of this Bill.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)

The hon. Member is not entitled to make a dissertation upon unemployment generally. He should confine himself to what is in the Bill.

Dr. Thomas

If I may say so with deep respect, I am confining myself to what the Bill implies. I am endeavouring to point out the underlying principle of the Bill, and I am giving this example in order to make my case. I am not discussing unemployment, and I am sorry if I have expressed myself rather forcibly in defending my position. I would emphasise that the glory of a nation is its fit men. We must remember that. Let us not worship at the shrine of disease but at that of good health. Of the Parliamentary Secretary's intentions with regard to this Bill I have no doubt. I think they are of the highest order, being based upon earnestness and sincerity. I have no doubt of that at all, but I must say that I could not fail to discern an absence of direction, from a deep philosophy of life, which so seldom appears to dominate the age in which we live. We constantly tell ourselves that we are treading the path of progress. We should, therefore, rebuild not on the flimsy foundations of sentimentality but upon the solid rock of realism.

Dr. Haden Guest (Islington, North)

I should not have risen but for the profound and deep-reaching philosophical reflections of my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton (Dr. Russell Thomas) which I shall, if I may, correct by a little plainer and humbler type of thinking about this matter. It seems to me that because the Bill provides for the employment of a proportion of disabled persons it does not necessarily follow—I speak subject to the correction of the philosopher—that there is to be unemployment after the war. I further say that I think to all who have studied the labour situation at all and know the conditions under which disabled persons have struggled on through life for many years past this Bill is one of the most desirable physiological reforms. I use the word "physiological." I do not think it is sentiment at all to employ disabled persons in the way in which they can be employed and make them fit and usable citizens in the community instead of leaving them as a neglected remnant. I venture to think that the House, which unfortunately was not able to follow all the hon. Member's philosophy, because some of it was not quite audible, will be best advised to follow the words of the Parliamentary Secretary and of the Minister of Labour on these matters. It is, after all, one of the fundamental creeds of our nation that we should provide for all members of the community.

It is not sentimental to provide for those disabled in industry, any more than for those disabled in the field or disabled by reason of the social conditions under which they happen to be born, if we as a society are responsible for those social conditions. It is a duty we owe to these people. In the United States, where they are not particularly sentimental about the employment of labour, they have managed to employ large numbers of very severely handicapped persons and found it an eminently good thing to do. During the war we also have found it possible to do that. The employment of disabled persons is one of the bricks in the foundations of social security which are being laid by the Government. I pay the Government that tribute. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour has taken a big part in this, and I do not think we ought to be diverted from this great work of building social security by even the elevated philosophy of the hon. Member who has just spoken.

Mr. Lewis (Colchester)

I do not think that in the course of the past 15 years I have ever supported a Bill in this House more whole-heartedly than I support this one. It seems to me that it removes a great blot from our industrial system. In passing this Bill the House lays it down as its considered judgment that, whatever may have been the case in the past, it is not enough in the future for the community to see that if a man be injured he does not starve, but that it is also the duty of the community to see that such a man is assisted in every possible way to live as full a life as possible. That seems to me a great advance, and a thing very well worth accomplishing. Personally, I am very glad that the Minister of Labour resisted the temptation to confine the application of this Bill to ex-Servicemen. It is no doubt quite true that the Bill arises out of the war. If it were not for the war, I do not suppose we should be discussing this Bill. But I see no reason why we should not take advantage of the rousing of the public conscience towards the case of disabled ex-Servicemen to apply the principle on broader lines, as is done in this Bill. It will mean that in years to come, when the problem of the disabled ex-Serviceman is no longer with us, the Bill will still be playing an essential part in the life of the country.

There is one matter in which think the Bill might have been altered. An Amendment was moved in Committee by the hon. and gallant Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) which sought to lay down categorically in the Bill a definite obligation on Government Departments to apply its provisions. Those hon. Members who heard the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General on that occasion will remember that he gave us very convincing reasons why that should not be done. At the same time he gave us a very definite statement on behalf of the Government, a very definite undertaking, that they would see that this Bill was applied by all Government Departments so far as their staffs were concerned. It remains for this House and for those Houses of Parliament who will follow us in the future to see that that is done. Nobody else can do it. That obligation could not, for reasons which the Attorney-General mentioned, be placed categorically in the Bill, and if the Bill is to be carried out in the spirit and letter by Government Departments, many of whom are very large employers of labour, much will depend on the vigilance of this House in seeing that it is done. On that occasion I pointed out that there are even to-day in the height of war some Government Departments which do not show the active sympathy with disabled ex-Service men we wish for, and I am sure it will be necessary for the House to exercise vigilance over the Government so that the Bill is worked as we would wish it to be worked. One advantage of the Bill, I think, may be to reduce in future what is known as the hard core of unemployment. We have had very startling figures placed before us in the past as to the number of people who cannot be absorbed into full employment. That number includes many people suffering from some disability. I hope that as a result of the Bill that number will be reduced to so large an extent as to have a very considerable effect on that hard core of unemployment.

In conclusion I would like to congratulate the Minister of Labour on having found time, amid the multifarious duties of his great Department, to initiate this Measure, and I would like also to associate myself with what was said by the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. E. Smith) about the part played by the Parliamentary Secretary, who has piloted this Bill through the House. I am not very closely familiar with his career, but I venture to say that, whatever successes he may have achieved in the past, he will probably not regard it as the least of his successes that his name will always be associated with this Bill.

Mr. Tinker

The hon. Member who has just spoken does not as a rule lean to our point of view, and so I am all the more pleased that he gives approval to this Bill. He spoke about the part played by the Parliamentary Secretary in this matter. I had the honour and pleasure of introducing the hon. Member when he first came to this House. Whatever else I may have done, that at least stands to my credit, and he has been a credit to himself and to the class he represents. I welcome this Bill because it will give hope to a class of the community which needs sympathy from the great mass of the people. Last year I went to the employment exchange in my constituency to find out what was happening to the unemployed. I found a big body of men who were all anxious to do work but who had been crippled or were ill through some cause or another. Nobody would employ them privately. I had a word with the manager of the exchange, and he told me he had no power to force employers to employ them; that he could only send them for interview. I had a word with the men themselves, and it was a pitiful experience. Every one of them was anxious to do something, although they could not do a full day's work. Because of injury, the loss of a leg or a hand, or because of something else that was wrong with them, nobody would employ them. This Bill is intended to try to improve that position. It is going to build men up and give them hope, give them the feeling that they are of some value to the community. Then there will be an attempt to find them work.

The hon. Member for Southampton (Dr. R. Thomas) said putting these men to work would have the result or putting able-bodied men out of work. If the State finds work for these men it cannot allow able-bodied men to be out of work. I can see in this Bill a trend towards finding work for everybody. That must inevitably follow. In the first place, this Bill gives new hope and health to those who have hitherto had none, and secondly, as I see it, it will lead to full work for all. If private employers are not able to meet their responsibilities, then the State will have to take over to see that there is full employment for everybody. If the private employer cannot provide it, then the State must. I welcome this Bill and wish it every success.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Ian Fraser (Lonsdale)

May I, on behalf of disabled persons, whether they be disabled in the Armed Forces or in industry, or whether their disabilities came to them early in life, offer their thanks to the House of Commons and to the public opinion which supports it for a Measure which must be looked upon as a milestone in their lives? There can be no doubt whatever that the organisation of employment for disabled persons which is provided by this Measure must make a contribution towards the happiness of scores of thousands of disabled people, perhaps the greatest contribution that has ever been made. Accordingly, I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour upon having the political courage and the humanity to bring this Measure before the House, and I congratulate his Parliamentary Secretary for having so courteously and capably carried the Bill through its various stages.

One other observation occurs to me to be worth making on the Third Reading. Much discussion is taking place among people and in the Press about the merits or otherwise of a National Government and of this House acting in the capacity of a kind of Council of State, where party arguments are diminished—I think that is a fair word, I do not say absent—and where the merits of proposals are discussed. Let me remind the House that no party in the last 25 years has found it possible to pass such a Measure. A Measure of this nature has been recommended to the House and to public opinion by the British Legion for over 20 years. It has been in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour and others belonging to the trades unions for perhaps a like period. But it has not been found possible hitherto for Conservative, Labour or mixed Governments to bring such a Measure to the Statute Book. Why has it been found possible now? Partly on account of the war and the poignancy of the cases that are so much in our minds, coming from the battlefields, but partly also because this is a National Government, where people are willing to subordinate their interests—their vested interests, if you like—and look at the thing without prejudice or partial affection. Hitherto the trade unionists have been unwilling to give full rights to disabled persons. The individual trade unionist is, like every other individual, kindly, understanding and helpful, but the trade unionist, in his organisation, has been unwilling to help. The employer, in his individual capacity, has been kindly and decent, and has done his best.

Mr. Ellis Smith

I do not like to interrupt the hon. and gallant Member in particular, but perhaps he will make allowances for my doing so. The individual trade unionist may have his own views, but the trade unions in general have been very generous to the men disabled in the last war. I myself have had experience of the training, with trade union co-operation, of men disabled in the last war.

Sir I. Fraser

I would be very hurt if the hon. Member, for any reason, did not interrupt me. I hope he will do so. I put it in the reverse way from what he did: the individual trade unionist is a very kindly individual, just like any other individual, but collectively he sticks to his rules, objecting to the alteration of any precedent which has been established. He is the most conservative man in the world. The employer, in the same way, is kindly and understanding, and many employers have gone out of their way to help disabled persons, but frequently their spokesmen in this House have thought that they would not like to do anything even of this kind. A National Government has done it, and I think that that fact is worthy of record. I do not say that a National Government is always right, but there are times when it is advantageous. It is worth remarking that that is one of the things that can be best done by National, not party Government.

As for the argument of the hon. Member for Southampton (Dr. R. Thomas), its logical end would be that we should follow the Spartans, or perhaps even the Germans, and, in a desperate effort to secure the ultimate efficiency in the material sphere, let all of those who are not quite 100 per cent. go by the board, put them out in the cold to perish, or, better still, get rid of them by some painless method. But that is not the civilised way, nor is it in line with the Christian ethic, which seeks to help those who need help; and I cannot help thinking that it will be a very fine thing for mankind if, in spite of the handicaps which Great Britain places upon herself by a civilised way of life, she yet wins the war against a nation which does not adopt that standard of humanity. Let the House remind itself that the handicap under which disabled persons suffer is rather that of adjustment and finding the right niche: it is not so much a question of their inefficiency in the jobs once they are put into them. It would not be true to say that you are handicapping industry or the nation's production to a great extent by taking thought and pains to see that people handicapped in some way or another are specially trained, specially adapted, and specially placed. This Bill seems to me one which a civilised people should be proud to have passed in their Parliament, and one which will not in itself detract from their efficiency. Indeed, for a long period it may well be thought that, by bringing all the resources of the nation into full play, it will contribute to our efficiency.

Mr. Isaacs (Southwark, North)

I should like to refer to two observations made by the hon. and gallant Member for Lansdale (Sir I. Fraser). The first was his reference to the fact that this Bill has been procured as a result of Coalition Government. I agree entirely. We should not have had the opportunity of getting the Bill at this time if there had not been the measure of agreement that we have now. We should have found that the old idea that the duty of an Opposition is to oppose would have risen above the desire for a Bill of this sort. The second observation was in reference to trade unions. When the King's Roll was introduced after the last war the great trade unions, through their Congress and its organisation, agreed to set aside their rules and accept as many of these men as they could, and they did accept a number. The trouble is, the hon. and gallant Gentleman said, that the trade union movement, through its organisation, is conservative. It is the fact that trade unionists want to retain the things that they have fought for. But the trade union movement has another peculiarity. It does not advertise; it does not shout from the housetops the things it has done, as certain other organisations do. I am chairman of the Workmen's Compensation Committee of the Trades Union Congress, working with the Minister of Labour, and I know what the trade unions are doing in matters of this kind. Much of the success of this Bill will depend upon an organisation being prepared to accept in its ranks a man trained by some other organisation. The Minister already has an unqualified undertaking that there will be no demarcation line which will prevent the Bill being made effective. I can say this in my capacity as chairman of the Workmen's Compensation Committee of the Trades Union Congress.

Now I would like to refer to the promoters of this Bill. The Parliamentary Secretary was a weaver. He has woven into this Bill that spirit of kindliness and thoughtfulness which all who know him know that he possesses. We shall think of the Bill as the Tomlinson Bill, and it will always bring a picture of him to our minds. We shall carry into the operation of this Bill the spirit which he has shown of wanting to do the best possible for those who are suffering and to let nothing else stand in the way. The Minister of Labour, who was a transport worker, must have given the Parliamentary Secretary some ideas as to how to transport this Bill through a bumpy passage. There has been co-operation between these two Ministers and another Minister, who belongs to the industry with which I am connected, the printing industry. Although he does not happen to have been connected with this Bill, he must have lent weight to their counsels on it. From a coalition of this character we get this Bill, of which we shall take the greatest advantage. Speaking for the trade unionists of this country, I wish to thank these Ministers for having brought in the Bill, and the House for the reception which has been given to it.

Mr. Turton

I am very glad that the hon. Member for North Southwark (Mr. Isaacs) has made the speech which he has made, because the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker), with whom I am usually in sympathy, if not in agreement, created a false impression when he expressed surprise at the fact that members of the Tory Party were supporting what he called "our point of view." While I give full credit to the Parliamentary Secretary for this Measure and the great work he has done, and the great human kindliness he has shown, a lot of the work in the past which has brought this Bill to fruition was actuated by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser). Quite frankly, my view on this Bill has been radically altered by the great concession that was made by the Minister when he amended the Bill to give a preference to ex-Service men. Directly that concession was made, I think all of us felt that we were of one mind and one point of view regarding the Measure. We have acknowledged one of the debts that we owe.

I see one or two difficulties about this Measure. I hope it will not diminish the sense of responsibility which a good employer should have to the man who has been disabled in his industry. I hope that the Minister, in all the Regulations that he makes, in all the directives that he issues, will make it quite clear that an employer has a responsibility to his own industry's casualties. I think it would be a great pity if that feeling, which is very wide in many industries, was diminished because of this Bill. The Minister is going to govern the scale and scope of the Bill by Regulation. There will be a time when large numbers of men will be coming back from the Forces, anxious to get into employment. I hope that he will then regulate his quota to make due provision for that. I do not want the man who has fought and has come back, and who is really at a tremendous disadvantage, to find that this Bill is in any way a bar to his obtaining employment. I feel sure the Parliamentary Secretary will understand that. We have, by our joint efforts, improved this Bill a great deal, but when you improve a Measure you often leave a certain number of loose ends, and I suggest that when this Bill is considered in another place the drafting should be reconsidered. I congratulate the Government on having introduced the Bill, the Parliamentary Secretary on the very helpful attitude he has shown towards all the Amendments, and the House on its good sense in facilitating its passage.

Mr. Messer

Third Reading speeches usually fall into two categories—valedictory and maledictory. On this occasion there has only been one type of Third Reading speech—the speech which welcomed the Bill. One feels that it is almost redundant to add to the chorus of praise accorded the Minister not merely for what the Bill does but for the manner in which it has been handled. I want to express my appreciation of the manner in which the Parliamentary Secretary has dealt with every point raised. I confess my inability to understand what he said on one of my Amendments, but he promised to write to me, and he did write to me on Clause 8 and I got a reply which is complete. That sort of treatment makes for smooth working.

I think it will be understood that the Bill, in itself, does not provide one man with a job. It does not provide one man with a place in a rehabilitation centre or a vocational course. What it does is to give the Minister the power of providing them, and the success of the Bill will lie not in its being on the Statute Book but in the way it will be administered. There are some who will quarrel with that and who will argue that we ought to have specifically stated in the Bill what it is going to do, but you simply cannot do that. For the Bill to be a success, it has to be resilient and elastic, and couched in a way that will enable those who administer it to fit particular circumstances and particular conditions at a particular time to particular types of people. You cannot lay that down in an Act of Parliament; you have got to provide the instrument under which it is done. If there were any warrant for assuming that it would not be done, then we would have to contradict the known facts, because the Bill is a superstructure on foundations which already exist. The training schemes are there. The Minister has already provided 42s. per week for a man who goes into training, with travelling allowances, meals and other allowances. That is in the Interim Report and is an earnest of what is to come.

Having said that, I think a Third Reading speech can be of very little value unless it provides an opportunity for the expression of opinion as to how some people think the Bill ought to be worked, and I have very definite views on that. I think it will be very necessary to have liaison between the Minister of Health and the Minister of Labour. In the Interim Report just referred to there is a reference to Ministry of Labour officers interviewing patients in hospital. That is where your treatment starts—in the hospital—and, if you have one Department pursuing a course completely divorced from that of the Ministry of Labour you are not going to get the best results. I have some association with hospitals, and I have not yet been satisfied with the measure of the first steps which it is necessary to take. The patient, in his early days, should be given an opportunity of occupational therapy, which is very largely experimental and not by any means organised or co-ordinated. Nor do people in control of therapy departments appear clearly to know what it is they want.

Occupational therapy can be divided into three divisions. There is diversional occupational therapy, which has for its object the occupation of the mind of the patient, to relieve hospital boredom, make it possible for long-drawn-out cases to find some interest in life and permit the hours to be used in such a way that they will not bear too heavily on him. Apart from its psychological value, there is also a therapeutic value, which mainly consists of teaching the patient how to read and instructing him in handicrafts of various sorts, such as leathermaking, toy making and things of that description. It has no object beyond the period during which the patient is going through it. The second division of occupational therapy is what may be termed remedial. This is the type which has for its object the exercise of certain parts, the building-up of wasted muscles, the breaking-down of stiffened tissues—a real therapeutic purpose. This method does not teach a man to be a carpenter because a woodworker is wanted, but because in that work the man is doing himself some good.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Charles Williams)

I do not wish to interrupt the hon. Member, but I think we are getting rather wide if we are to discuss various Ministries.

Mr. Messer

I want to link up the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour. I want to marry them——

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

We cannot take the marriage on the Third Reading of the Bill.

Mr. Messer

I will do my best not to transgress your Ruling, Sir. I just want to give to the Minister the idea that the Ministry of Health would be doing something which would be wasted effort unless there were this union with the Ministry of Labour to ensure a measure of selection in the types of occupation to which certain patients are directed. The Ministry of Labour comes in here. When a patient has obtained that degree of physical fitness, he should no longer be a hospital job. He should be directed to a rehabilitation centre. Those steps should be consecutive steps, linked up with each other. If, in the process that has gone before, you have done something more than merely train the patient to do a job, you may have discovered an aptitude for a particular kind of work, and one of the probable sources of great wasted effort is the unfitness of many people for the job they are called upon to do.

The third type of occupational therapy is purely industrial, the training of the man for work, and the value of this resettlement will lie in the effect of what you are doing to fit a man who can do a job well and putting him in the job that needs doing. There has been some misconception. I do not know whether it is thoroughly understood, but there has been an idea that the Bill seeks to build a ring fence round the disabled person, perpetuating his status as a disabled person. It does not propose to do anything of the sort. What it does propose to do is to take the normal disabled person out of a category and make him a person who can earn a week's wages as well as anybody else, and because of that I welcome the Bill. There was an attempt to restrict and limit the Bill in its operation. When one realises the vast amount of human misery that exists in the world—misery experienced by people who, by no stretch of imagination, can be held responsible for it—our sympathy is aroused. We see among children in the playground, one who can only just look on—an infantile paralysis case, perhaps, a cripple, blind or semi-blind. We see others suffering from a disability, for which they are not responsible, which is not merely going to be an economic disadvantage to them in later life, but takes much of the joy of their present lives away from them. I see, in this Bill, hope for the hopeless, a future for the despairing, and cheer for those with whom we commiserate. I am grateful to the Minister for what he has done.

Mr. Erskine-Hill (Edinburgh, North)

I want to say how warmly I feel towards this Bill. It is a great achievement. For many years many of us have felt that those who were injured at their work should receive better consideration than they were able to get. Though individual employers no doubt did their best, still there was not the same certainty that full and adequate treatment would be given to rehabilitate the men. We felt, further, that after the rehabilitation process has been successfully conducted there should be an assurance of suitable work. I think the Ministry has faced this Bill in the right way. I think the Bill has been greatly strengthened by the criticism to which it has been subjected from various parts of the House, for that criticism was constructive. It will be a very bad thing for this House and the country if Ministers feel that any criticism directed at them in this House is unwarranted or if it is resented by them. That, I feel sure, is not the position of the Minister in this case, and I think he has shown it by very generously looking at the suggestions made. I want to congratulate the right hon. Gentleman and the House and wish the Bill well.

Lady Apsley (Bristol, Central)

I take this opportunity of adding a word of very deep appreciation and of congratulation to the Minister concerned in bringing forward this Bill at the present time, and I would like to associate myself with those hon. Members who have already spoken in saving that it is a most valuable plank in building the better future we all desire—a future which, I am quite convinced myself, will not be built by talking or merely planning, and certainly not by wishful thinking, but by each of us taking a part and doing something constructive. I would like to refer to what the hon. Member for Southampton (Dr. R. Thomas) warned us about undue sentimentality. In my opinion this Bill steers a very straight course between sentiment and sentimentality. Sentiment I would define as based on sympathy and knowledge, but sentimentality is something sticky, tiresome and extremely annoying to those who are handicapped by any disability. I think this Bill does steer very clearly away from sentimentality.

Therefore, I congratulate him, and particularly on the way in which he has met those of us who so sincerely desire preference for disabled ex-Servicemen and women. I thank him on their behalf, and I would like also to point out to the House how very valuable this concession will be to the enormous number of dependants on whom much of the burden of rehabilitation falls, and particularly the wives and mothers, who will find, and who know that they are going to find, great difficulties in helping the men and women belonging to them who come back from the war, unfortunately disabled, to start a new lease of life with a new aim and object. This wonderful new scheme will give them that hope for the future, enabling the disabled men and women to have an aim, something constructive to work for, and something to make the sweat and blood worth while. I thank him very much on their behalf.

Commander King-Hall (Ormskirk)

I only intervene for one minute to welcome this Bill and to say that in the previous Debate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour made a remark which seemed to me very significant. He said that when he took up office he found about 180,000 people who had been written off as of no further value to the community and he was shocked by that fact and he had got the figure down to 18,000. Incidentally, I was glad to be able to get that information across in an overseas broadcast because I thought it was a very significant and important result. It perhaps has not had the publicity that I hoped it would receive and that is why I repeat it again and I hope that the Press will take note of this remarkable fact. It is in the spirit in which we approached the task of cutting down that figure of 180,000 to 18,000 that this country will have to tackle its postwar problems. I am sure that this Bill will make a very valuable contribution to the machinery required and that with the idea behind the Bill of tackling post-war problems in that spirit everybody will be able and willing to do their bit and make their contribution to the national income.

Mr. Granville (Eye)

I would like to add my congratulations to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour and to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Labour for their great amount of work in introducing this Bill, which I regard as a considerable attempt to keep faith with those men and women who have given of their best in serving their country. There is good reason for the tributes to the Joint Parliamentary Secretary. One of my hon. Friends below the Gangway referred to this Bill as becoming known as the Tomlinson Act and I think that that will be so and that the hon. Gentleman will find this fame has come to him comparatively early in his Parliamentary career. I want to thank him also because he has taken the trouble to go round to the factories of this country, on personal visits, including the various war factories, to make direct contact with the management and workpeople in those factories. I want to tell him what a tremendous amount of good this is doing all round. He will, I am sure, have noticed during his visits to these towns that many of the local factories have instituted medical clinics, and I hope that a certain amount of the work can be undertaken by these clinics, where there are first class industrial medical officers, many of whom are following the course of this Bill and its effect on the future with interest. The hon. Member for South Tottenham (Mr. Messer) spoke of an attempt to make effective co-operation between the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Health and, of course, this is an important point, but the Joint Parliamentary Secretary knows it, and I hope that these clinics through this understanding will be used to the full in much of the preliminary work envisaged in this Bill to help disabled persons.

The hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), who always speaks with skill and distinction on these questions, referred to this Bill as a good example of the product of a Council of State or the working of a coalition in its best sense, and I regard it as such. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour will not be discouraged from introducing Bills of this character, or discouraged by some of the small Parliamentary incidents of the type which occurred yesterday.—[Interrup- tion.] —Yes, but the right hon. Gentleman, although a towering figure in the public life of this country, is to a certain extent comparatively new to Parliamentary debate. In the shaping of these Bills it is the constructive arguments which often produce a good Bill. The right hon. Gentleman must expect a certain amount of the sort of thing which happened yesterday in the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Stafford (Major Thorneycroft) in introducing these Bills in a democratic assembly, but I hope sincerely that he will go on introducing them.

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Bevin)

It is like water running off a duck's back.

Mr. Granville

I do not know whether it is like water on the right hon. Gentleman's back or not but I think he can look after himself. He referred in his speech to the question of why he is here and the directions he first received from the Prime Minister and all the rest of it.

Mr. Deputy-Speaker

Yes, but that would not be in Order now.

Mr. Granville

I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The right hon. Gentleman has not said that now, and I hope that he is not going to say it again and that he will not be discouraged by fair criticism from introducing these Bills. If this Parliament is going on for another year, 18 months or two years or however long——

Dr. Russell Thomas

Twenty years.

Mr. Granville

My hon. Friend says 20 years. He is a political optimist, but it may be that we shall go on for another 18 months or two years and if we are to lay the foundation of post-war reconstruction, the groundwork must be begun now, during this Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman has to come here and to introduce contributions of this kind. If we are to work as a Council of State I am sure he will recognise that these discussions will help in the production of these early Measures and we shall be helping forward necessary measures for the post-war period.

Mr. Murray (Spennymoor)

I feel that I would be acting in a very cowardly manner to-day if I sat still and did not say a word on the Third Reading of this Bill. Some time ago it was my privilege, in this House, to introduce a certain amount of heat into a speech that I made dealing with the rejects of industry, and needless to say I am very glad, to-day, that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has had such success with this Bill. I am also glad that his colleague has had such success in my division with these very people. He promised to come to my division and he willingly did so, and to-day a new hope has come to many of these people. I am delighted to say that a great amount of success has come as a result of that visit of the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to my constituency. People to-day are coming to me and saying how pleased they are, not because they have opted into work at the moment but because they have been summoned to go to the factories to be medically examined. They feel that a new light has come into their life, giving them new hope and a new vision, and, therefore, I am delighted that the Joint Parliamentary Secretary has had such success. While this Bill will not give to these people or to any people the right to employment, it will give them a new outlook on life, which, I am sure, will be regarded as a great triumph.

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

It is my turn to begin expressing thanks after all the thanks that have been expressed and the congratulations that have been showered upon me. I want to say "Thank you" to the House not only for the way in which it permitted an amateur to introduce a Bill of this kind, but for being so kindly disposed towards me that it was a pleasure to do so. I want to say thanks too, at this stage of the Bill to those who do the work behind the scenes. The Tomlinson Report has been referred to. It deals with the unfortunates, and if my name had to be associated with anything at all in connection with this country or any other country, I would not wish that it should be associated with anything other than that. My hon. Friend suggested—and I do not want to go over individual arguments we have had with regard to the Bill—that the glory of the nation is in its fit men. That may be so, but I believe that the soul of the nation can only be found in the way that it expresses itself towards its, unfortunates.

I want to say "Thank you" to those members of the Inter-Departmental Committee who drew up and did the work in connection with the Tomlinson Report upon which this Bill is founded. It may be that the association of names with the report leads people to wrong conclusions. It is not the Tomlinson Report, in the sense that it is my own work. It is the Tomlinson Report, for the simple reason that I was the chairman of that committee. It is the work of the committee, and I can assure the House that I was honoured and privileged to have the advantage of presiding over it and of receiving a great deal of education in the process of its sittings. I also want to say a word of thanks to my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, who in Committee dealt with some of the points that, I frankly admit, I did not understand.

The hon. Member for Thirsk (Mr. Turton) to-day suggested that there might be drafting points chat would need looking at between now and the time the Measure goes to another place. Frankly, it I were asked whether there were any such points, I could not tell him. There may be, and if the people responsible for these things find that there are points that need to be put right, that will be done. I can assure the hon. Member that they often put a thing right even before I have seen that it is wrong. Sometimes in an Amendment the words substituted seemed to me to mean the same thing, and I having arrived at an understanding only after it has been carefully explained that one word in a given context means one thing, whereas in another it means something else. All I am concerned about is that as a result of the co-operation of those responsible the desires of the Tomlinson Report should be put into a Bill which will be workable and which will give to the unfortunates in the community that hope about which the hon. Member spoke just a few minutes ago. Again, I want to say that I cannot understand the individual who wants to restrict good works. I can understand a little the desire for preference—we all can—and there are circumstances in which we have tried to meet it, but to restrict good works is a frame of mind which I cannot understand.

I was asked for one or two assurances. My hon. Friend the Member for North Hackney (Sir A. Hudson) asked for in- stance whether this Bill covered the tuberculosis case. Of course it does. I see this Bill in its application giving to the tuberculous something more hopeful than I have seen in that direction for a long time. I see the possibility of being able to utilise the Bill for the rebuilding of those who can be rebuilt and for the assistance of those who have got past rebuilding. The fact that they have that dread disease means, that they are handicapped in obtaining and retaining employment, and that is the test. May I refer here to that wedding which could not take place to-day—the wedding of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour in connection with this matter? The development of medical science and its application will reduce the number of people who, eventually, find themselves on the Register, and the Bill will carry out what it is intended to do before medical science has reached that point. Hence the necessity for the continuation of the inquiries which are taking place, the experiments that are going on, the new discoveries—penicillin for instance—the effect it will have in the future in reducing the number of amputations. This is what I would call pre-rehabilitation work and therefore we must be willing, not only to help it forward but to do all we can to see that the facilities are available for that purpose.

That brings me to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, Central (Lady Apsley) who suggested that, in spite of the fact that we are passing legislation and that there is an attempt to help these people who have been cast down because of disability, there is the necessity still for those of us who are interested to do our share in the work. That will always remain. Reference was made to my visits to the factories. Time and again, I have visited not only factories but employers' organisations and associations, because it is not enough to compel the employer by Act of Parliament to take on a number of individuals. You must have his co-operation. The hon. Member for Thirsk suggested that you must have the employers' co-operation, if the work of these disabled people is to be used to the best advantage and if you are to get the best out of this Measure. I have no doubt, from my experience up to now of this subject, that the vast majority of the employers of this country are willing and eager to help in this work. Not one, but half-a-dozen experiments are taking place at this moment on the lines laid down in the Bill, where rehabilitation and training and occupational therapy are taking place in the workshops themselves, under medical supervision, bringing, as it were, the co-operation set out in the Bill, into effect upon a voluntary basis before the Measure has become an Act of Parliament.

The hon. Member for Colchester (Mr. Lewis) referred to a promise made, I think, by my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General on the Committee stage with regard to the position of Government Departments. This promise was made in answer to the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) on the question whether an annual report could be presented to the House, on the number of people employed in Government Departments. Having considered that, the arrangement will be made for a formal statement to be presented to Parliament each year, showing the number of registered disabled persons in the Government's employ and the percentage of this number to the total number of employees. The exact form of the statement has not yet been decided, but it will enable comparison to be made between the position of Government Departments and other employers who are subject to the statutory obligations. That is a definite understanding which Parliament will have. One or two other questions which we were asked by Members, on the Committee stage, to consider, have been looked at, and where it has been possible, note has been taken of the points that were made. The hon. Member for East Wolverhampton (Mr. Mander) informed me that he could not be present and asked if I could refer to the question he raised as to whether the pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary could not be included in the list of priorities. With all the will in the world, it has been found impossible to do so without at the same time broadening the scope by bringing in all kinds of other classes who have served in Civil Defence. Therefore, we intend that it will remain in the words provided in the Schedule. May I say a word of thanks, in conclusion, to the Members of the House for their kindness and consideration; a word of thanks to the staff for the way in which they have made it possible for this Measure to be brought before the House, and for the speed with which they have constantly worked and for the great assistance they have rendered.

Dr. Russell Thomas

Could my hon. Friend apply his mind to the point I made as to whether this Bill would have the effect of pushing employed men to the wall in a time of post-war unemployment?

Mr. Tomlinson

That question was dealt with on the Second Reading.

Dr. Thomas

I only want it made clear.

Mr. Tomlinson

The answer to my hon. Friend's question would be that all this Bill does is to ensure that, in any time of misfortune, a percentage of those who are more unfortunate than others will receive consideration, whatever the position of the country may be.

Question, "That the Bill be now read the Third time," put, and agreed to.

Bill read the Third time, and passed.