§ Mr. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)
I beg to move, in page 3, line 4, to leave out "disabled persons," and to insert:persons handicapped by war injury or disease.On the Order Paper will be found a large number of Amendments that are consequential to this. I would explain 118 to the Committee that all the Amendments in my name except that dealing with Clause 20, page 16, line 5, to leave out Sub-section (3), which is on an entirely different point, are consequential and hinge on this Amendment. The object of this Amendment is to confine the register to the disabled and the obligation to provide employment for those who were injured either in the last war or in this war, and the reason why that limitation is being sought is because of the uncertainty as to the number of persons who will be qualified under this Bill and the number of jobs available for them. The Parliamentary Secretary, in moving the Second Reading of the Bill, was quite clear that he could not give any approximate estimate of the number of persons qualified, and his own Committee's report went into the matter in even greater detail. What we do know, and what we can hazard, are the numbers of those disabled in the last war and those who are likely to be disabled in the present. The number disabled in the last war was 400,000, and we can hazard the number for this war in the region of 600,000, which is not unreasonable if this war is going to be longer than the last, and fought on a wider front. We thus have 1,000,000 men to provide employment for under this Bill, and without wishing to injure the claim of any of the other classes—the congenital, the road accident, or the industrial—I think that is a job that this House should do now. It should see that every man who has been disabled in the war should get a job and after that, if there are jobs over, then it will be for the Minister of Labour, and whatever Government is then in power, to bring in a Bill asking for wider powers.
There is considerable danger, which the Tomlinson Committee admitted, in this question of the burden upon industry. The Minister must fix a reasonable quota, otherwise we are going to damage the object which we all have at heart. We must have a quota fixed for an industry which will be reasonable so that it may employ a proper number of disabled persons, otherwise you may find works closing down. I am going to suggest that to per cent. is a reasonable quota. If we take the figure of employment just before the last war and deduct those who are already accepted by the Minister under this Bill, it would appear that the 119 1,000,000 disabled will be about 10 per cent. of the insured population that will be qualified. I hope, when the Parliamentary Secretary comes to reply, he will give us some idea of what budget he is working on. What worries me in this Bill is that we are all really agreed in our sympathy, not only with the war disabled but with all disabled, but everyone in the House is equally in favour of securing a job for the man disabled as a result of the war, and, without entering into the differences of the last Amendment, they want to see that done first. The man, whether he is blown up in the factory or has lost his leg on the Sangro, or whether he got his disability protecting convoys to Russia, must be assured of a job, and I do not feel confident that the Bill as at present drawn will give that assurance.
There are large numbers of congenital and road accident cases—those who practise in the courts know how very large are the numbers of people injured in road accidents—but I think it unwise to-day, when the number of war disabled is increasing and will continue to increase, to give the benefit of guarantee of employment to road accident cases. At this time we should be very careful not to include in this Bill such cases as that of a man who is injured by his own fault. Not that we grudge that man getting employment, but we have a greater obligation to those who have been disabled in the war. The Committee will appreciate that if there are jobs for all then this part of the Bill is completely waste paper. The only reason for this register and these privileges is because the Government assume that there will not be full employment. Let the Parliamentary Secretary address himself to this choice: Are you going to deny a man who has fought for his country—whether in a munitions factory or in the Services—a job after the war in order to provide employment for somebody congenitally disabled or injured through his own fault in a road accident, or, as the Parliamentary Secretary and I foresaw on Second Reading, for a man who has been a burglar? I beg pardon, I forget whether it was a burglar. Let me come back to that point as a matter of historic interest. I had thought out the illustration of the cat burglar and the skylight before the Parliamentary Secretary ever gave me the opportunity of putting as the basis of 120 his Bill the fact that he intended to give employment to the burglar who had been disabled. That is the historical fact, and the illustration is very germane.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
I do not like to interrupt, but there may be a misunderstanding if I do not. The man we had in mind was not a subject for employment; it was a question of rehabilitation, and he is therefore excluded from this part of the Bill with which my hon. Friend is dealing.
§ Mr. Turton
I am not dealing with the Parliamentary Secretary's burglar, but with my cat burglar who falls through the roof and is injured and is trying to get a job. Is the Committee going to say that that man should be given a job in preference to a man who is fighting in Italy and comes back not disabled? If we have full employment for all, then there is no point in this Bill. If there is going to be a shortage of employment, let us get our preferences quite clear and see that we give employment to the war disabled, and then let us see that those men who have fought and returned not disabled get employment before those who are the congenital, road accident or civilian casualties.
Let me say one more word on the industrial question, because that has made a difference of opinion appear between Members in different parts of the House. I personally believe that if an employee is injured in his industry then his employer has a responsibility towards that injured workman to employ him when he is rehabilitated. I fear that if this Bill extends to the casualties in industry it will be a retrograde Measure. Employers will no longer think that they have that responsibility and they will be able to say to their injured workman: "We cannot give you employment; you are given this choice under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Bill." That would be a very unfortunate result of what I know are the good intentions of the Parliamentary Secretary. Surely it is fair for those industries with high rates of casualties to make their own provision for employment rather than put that responsibility on other industries, as this Bill will do, and at the same time deprive those men who have been disabled in the Services from the chance of employment. It is because I feel a case has not been made out that there will be enough jobs for the disabled to go round, 121 so that those who are the war disabled either in the Services or the factories can get employment, that I hope the Parliamentary Secretary in his reply will give us an estimate of numbers and quotas so that we can be satisfied that his figures are correct.
§ Mr. Naylor (Southwark, South-East)
On a point of Order. I want to draw your attention to the fact that this Amendment seeks to destroy what we have already passed in Clause 1. This is intended to be a Bill for enabling all disabled persons to find employment; that is clearly implied in the Preamble and in Clause 1 itself. If we say in Clause 1 that a disabled person is one disabled in war service or otherwise, how can we discuss an Amendment which seeks to destroy what we have already passed in that Clause? I think we should be well advised to consider that point as I am quite sure in my own mind that whatever the letter of the Amendment may be, in principle and in fact it comes back to Clause 1.
§ Mr. Turton
Would it not put the matter entirely in Order if I pointed out that Clause 1 gives a definition of disabled persons who are dealt with, and that this Amendment seeks to set up a register of persons, who are going to be defined in Sub-section (2)? This, in my submission, is a perfectly reasonable Amendment.
§ Mr. Bellenger
If this Amendment is carried, are we to understand that the register will then be limited to only one class of disabled persons?
§ The Temporary Chairman (Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward)
It seems to me that as, in spite of Clause 1, disabled persons have been dealt with in subsequent Clauses, that renders this Amendment completely in Order. It does not necessarily follow that the fact that they are defined in this Amendment will affect other Clauses in any definite way.
§ Mr. Naylor
I submit that the Amendment in fact conflicts with Clause 1. I waited before making my further point for the explanation of the hon. Member who moved the Amendment. This Bill depends on the compilation of a register. If this Bill is intended to take into account all disabled persons, and the Amendment seeks to limit the register to only a proportion of the disabled persons, it is quite obvious that there will be a conflict between Clause 1 and this Amednment.
§ Mr. Glenvil Hall (Colne Valley)
Further, on the point of Order, although the Amendment is in Order, I take it that the hon. Member does not wish to keep out all people who are disabled other than by war injury.
§ Mr. J. J. Lawson
This Amendment very clearly reveals the state of mind in which Members opposite are facing this whole subject. The hon. Gentleman is saying, in effect, that thousands of ex-Servicemen of the last war who have been injured in industry since that war, and thousands of men who are now serving and who will be injured after this war, are to be excluded. I am very sorry that I have not at my disposal here the statistical abstract dealing with injuries and deaths in workshops and mines, but about 1936 I dealt with the 15 years after the last war. I remember quite clearly that in my own industry no fewer than 30,000 had been seriously disabled during that 15 years: taking the whole of industry, about 1,000,000 had been injured, and tens of thousands seriously disabled, It goes without saying that large numbers of them were men who had served in the last war, and the same will apply in the case of the men who are serving in this war. I do not think I need ask the Government to refuse this Amendment: they cannot very well accept it, either in principle or in appearance. It is very clear that not only are hon. Members opposite against giving assistance in a Bill of this description to people who have already been disabled in industry, but they are against giving consideration to men who are now serving.
§ Mr. Bellenger
I have no objection to a separate registration of different classes of disabled people: all I would suggest is that, whether they are included in this manner in the Bill or not, the Ministry of Labour, in their own interests—because they have to operate this Bill when it becomes an Act—should know the size of the problem. If the House of Commons is going to insist that, in those circumstances which many people believe and some fear may happen, only a limited 123 number of jobs will be available and preference shall be given to ex-Servicemen as a consequence, the Ministry of Labour obviously must know through their registers with how many such men they have to deal. I suggest that this Amendment will have a penalising effect on certain classes of the men whom the hon. Member wants to benefit. Who are the war-disabled? They are defined as those who can pass through the fine-mesh sieve of the Ministry of Pensions and get a pension. If the present appeals are any indication the odds are four to one against a man proving his case for a pension. A far larger number will be excluded from this register because they are not pensioners of the Ministry of Pensions. The register, whatever we may think about the entitlement to preferential employment, ought to be left to administrative action in the Ministry of Labour. As long as they give a guarantee that they will classify the different persons that we have in mind, effectively, this Amendment, I think, is totally unnecessary.
§ Mr. Messer
I see an additional danger in this Amendment. As I understand, if the Amendment were passed the register would include only those who are handicapped by war injury. Employers are to be compelled later to take a quota of those who are so registered. Already there is in industry a large number of disabled people. There are many trades where these people can fit in. There are many generous employers who are prepared to recognise the disability of certain people. The employer will be expected to take a quota of registered disabled persons. Obviously he could not do that in addition to keeping the disabled persons who are already there, and they would have to be discharged. I cannot see how the Government could possibly accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
The hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), by suggesting that the whole of the Amendments should stand or fall together, shows that he realises that the different parts are dependent one upon the other. If the Government were to accept this Amendment the Bill would become unworkable. The Amendment would destroy the Bill. The Bill could no longer be regarded as a Measure of social service, but would be 124 purely and simply a Measure for dealing with the war-injured and the war-diseased. For that reason the Amendment could not possibly be accepted. Again I want to emphasise that I am not going to enter into a competition in pessimism. The arguments which were put forward earlier to-day depended on what opportunities there would be after the war, but this Amendment assumes that there will not be an opportunity to do anything for anybody except those who are injured by the war. Therefore I could not agree with the first condition upon which the Amendment is moved.
It was suggested that because the size of the problem cannot be defined it follows that you are not entitled to assume that you will be able to deal with it. The hon. Member, in arguing that the Amendment was in Order, gave part of the answer to that particular problem. The disabled, as he pointed out, are to be divided into two classes, one of which he is seeking to exclude. These are, the disabled, and those who are handicapped by disablement. It is only those who are handicapped in obtaining and retaining employment who find a place on the register, so that whatever the number of disabled, it does not follow that that will have any particular relationship to the number who will find their way on to the register and therefore become part of the scheme.
An hon. Member suggested that there are a great many disabled employed now. There are a great many disabled people in employment now who will not find a place on the register, because they will have done what the Bill is primarily intended to do, and that is, to achieve rehabilitation to such an extent that they are brought back into industry without needing the medium of the register. Therefore, I hope the hon. Member will not press the Amendment, for the reason that it could not possibly be accepted. Even if we accepted it and tried to work it, I do not think that it would help the people whom he is seeking to assist because of its exclusiveness. I do not think that any section of the community would seek to deny benefit to one man until they were in a position to grant the same benefit to all. Therefore, I hope that he will withdraw the Amendment in order that we may attempt to do that which he wishes to be done.
§ Mr. Turton
Before I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment, I would ask the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to do what I requested—give us some indication of his budget and the size of the problem that he estimates owing to these Amendments. Without an estimate one cannot really tackle the Bill.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
The same question was put on two or three occasions during the Second Reading, and I want to say now what I said then. It is impossible either to estimate or to guess—and a guess is no use—as we are not in a position to determine what will be the situation that we may be called upon to meet. We were not in a position to determine whether we could meet the situation when we were called upon to fight, and had to decide how many people had to be called up. No one had any conception of the number that would be involved. I have no conception of the numbers involved here, but I have some conception of its relationship to the general working population, and I believe we can meet the requirements of the disabled in conjunction with the Ministry of Pensions.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Sir I. Fraser
I beg to move, in page 3, line 9, at the end, to insert:provided that in the Register war-disabled persons shall be separately recorded.
§ Mr. Bellenger
On a point of Order. Does not this Amendment rather involve the same sort of problem that we have just been debating?
§ Sir I. Fraser
The Minister has said that between now and the Report stage he will find some words to insert in the Bill which will go some way, perhaps even go the whole way, towards meeting the wishes of many of us, that those who have served or who are serving, together with some other classes of ins and outs of his own, shall be given a preference within the quotas of the Measure. It will be within the recollection of fhe Committee that he promised to do something very definitely between now and the Report stage. It follows from this that he in- 126 tends, either by way of operating these words, which can be in the Statute, or by administration, or by both, to give some kind of preference to ex-Servicemen, with some others. It must be clear to the Committee, and I hope it is to the Front Bench, that they cannot do that unless they record who these ex-Servicemen and others are. Therefore, they must either have a second register or must mark the register they keep. The Amendment is to authorise them to make regulations to mark the register so that ex-Servicemen and the others to whom it is proposed to give a prior place shall be clearly recognisable.
§ Lieut.-Commander Hutchison (Edinburgh, West)
There is a point in connection with the Amendment that I would like to stress as it represents the view held by the British Legion in Scotland. If the Government accept the Amendment, as I hope they will, we would not like two registers but one general register in which cases might be marked by coloured cards according to the different categories of disabled or injured persons in the register. If there were two registers there might be possible confusion and when an employer asked for particulars of an employee, say, a cabinet maker or a painter, possibly the clerk in the Exchange might only produce one register, which might not be the ex-Serviceman's register. Therefore, it is best to have all the names in one volume and the different types of cases should be distinguished by coloured cards. That is the view held by the British Legion in Scotland.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
I hope the Amendment will not be pressed, because we have already the power it is suggested should be given. It is the intention not to have two registers but to be able to know exactly the reasons for the disability, how it has arisen and the information regarding each individual who comes under the register. Therefore, in a comprehensive register of that kind there is no necessity to differentiate between the two except to know that they are all there. We certainly have the power already and it therefore does not need to be given to us.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Whether my hon. Friend is going to have a register containing not only two categories but many more, I take it that it will include the hon. Gentleman's cat burglars.
§ Mr. Tomlinson
It will be, as it must be, one register, and a register for whatever purpose, and the differentiation can be made because of the entries.
§ Sir I. Fraser
Can the right hon. Gentleman add just a little word further and then I shall be anxious to oblige him by withdrawing the Amendment? Can he give an assurance that in the Regulations there will be a power to see that ex-Servicemen——
§ Sir I. Fraser
You are going to set up a register. That is what this Clause gives you power to do. Can you give an assurance that under these Regulations you will take power to mark the ex-Servicemen?
§ Sir Joseph Nall (Manchester, Hulme)
We ought to have it clear what is in the mind of the Minister of Labour. We know perfectly well already that, in the last war—the Minister of Pensions is here and will correct me if I am wrong—something like one out of every 100 disabled or fewer were those who required particular treatment, training and rehabilitation. This Bill as it stands will deal with every injured, person, but the ones we are most concerned about are those who need special training to get them into a condition where they can do something for themselves towards getting a job. The vast majority of war disabled men get occupation without special training and without special guidance. What we are most concerned about now is the man who has lost limbs and suffered injury of such severity that he is at a special disadvantage in the labour market. The proportion of men to which that applies is very small in the whole field of disabled persons and would be lost in one comprehensive list. I do not know what the precise figure is; I suggest it is one in 100.
§ Mr. Bartle Bull (Enfield)
Forgive me, but if we have any more of this we shall not be able to find any in the list.
§ Sir J. Nall
This Bill is mainly concerned with men who cannot find a job themselves because of war disability, but as it stands it is dealing with thousands of people who can fend for themselves and there must be a distinction between the two categories. I fully accept the Minister's assurance of his good intention and good faith. What we want to make sure of is that the Department will be able to administer these things and that these men, for whom this Measure is primarily intended, will not be submerged in the great whole of all injured persons. I am very doubtful whether the Tomlinson Committee knows just what it is dealing with. We have only to look at their Report, which states that they never took evidence or made any inquiries. The Tomlinson Report is only the opinion of the people of which the Committee was composed. We must know, before this Bill is passed, that there is something more behind it than just the expression of opinion contained in the Tomlinson Report. What is the Minister going to do before this Bill leaves the House to make sure that there is a perfectly clear record of men who suffer war injuries in the Fighting Services and who are thereby unable to fend for themselves, as distinct from others whose injuries have not prevented them finding jobs and looking after themselves?
§ Mr. Bevin
If he had I do not think we would have listened to such a speech. The register is quite clear. I can assure my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) that in compiling the register we will take all the administrative steps necessary to see that the war disabled are put in proper categories and are given information by those who administer the employment exchanges. I am a little afraid of putting in the Bill this question of administration, but I can give him an absolute assurance that it will be a general register, with special marked cards—and I will do it by instruction or Regulation, whichever is necessary—so as to see that the disabled are clearly distinguishable from one another.
I should like enlightenment from the Minister. Under 129 the Clause the Minister will establish a register of disabled persons. Clause 7 Sub-section (2) says that persons desiring to go on the register should make application. Thus the whole of the basis of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Hulme (Sir J. Nall) goes by the board.
§ Sir J. Nall
Not at all. There are cases of persons who do enjoy disability pensions for fighting in the last war.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ Mr. Bellenger
I wish to ask some further questions about this register. We have been talking a lot about the spirit of the Bill, and I hope the Minister can give some information of how it will be operated. For example, will the register be a central register, like the central register we have set up to deal with the higher range of unemployed, or will it be a register centrally compiled and then transferred in pieces to the locality where the applicants for jobs will naturally be interviewed, have their particulars taken and dealt with? Obviously, the register, if it is going to be effective, must be an area or locality register, because men on this register will mainly expect jobs in their own immediate neighbourhood and there may not always be jobs for them. I hope the Minister will be able to give us a little more information of how it is to be worked. It is often found that when Bills are before this House a scheme seems excellent on paper but that when it comes to be operated we find many defects and that all the well laid plans are destroyed. We are all concerned, on all sides of the House, that whether you give preference or you do not, the people entitled to come on to the register shall be dealt with in the most effective manner in order that they shall get jobs.
§ Mr. Bevin
The intention is that the local registers shall be kept at the local exchange. As my hon. Friends know, the Ministry of Labour works in regions and it is our intention that knowledge of that register shall be known at the regional offices. It is not our intention to have a large central register which, in my opinion, would not make administration very effective. My experience with the Central Register, which I took over, was that it was almost unworkable and I broke 130 it up into appointment offices in about 30 centres in the country. It is on that principle that we wish to work.
§ Sir J. Nall
That emphasises the point I was raising just now; what about the man who loses a limb and who cannot look after himself? It is no good leaving him to the mercy of the local district register.
§ Mr. Bevin
I shall centralise it in the regions. I do not think it is any use having a huge register in London on which everybody is lost. There are 11 regions, and in those I ought to be able to cover all the vacancies and opportunities that will exist in the areas. I do not propose to limit it to the local offices because that would handicap the opportunity for the disabled by making a narrow limit. I think the region is wide enough to grapple with this problem.
§ Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill", put, and agreed to.