HC Deb 22 May 1946 vol 423 cc429-49

(1) There shall be established a National Employment Guidance Council and such number of local employment guidance committees as the Minister of Labour and National Service shall think fit.

(2) The National Employment Guidance Council shall consist of a chairman who shall be appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service and six other members who shall be appointed as follows:

  1. (a) one shall be appointed by the Treasury,
  2. (b) one shall be appointed by the Minister,
  3. (c) one shall be appointed by the Board of Trade,
  4. (d) one shall be appointed by the Assistance Board,
  5. (e) one shall be appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service to represent employers,
  6. (f) one shall be appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service to represent trade unions.

(3) The local employment guidance committees shall each consist of a chairman who shall be appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service and who shall be an independent person having a knowledge of the industrial conditions of the locality, and five other members, one of whom shall be appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service, one by the Minister, and one by the Assistance Board, and of the remainder, who shall be appointed by the Minister of Labour and National Service, one shall be chosen to represent employers within the locality, and one shall be chosen to represent trade unions having a considerable number of members within the locality.

(4) The functions of the National Employment Council shall be:

  1. (a) to receive reports from the local employment guidance committees upon questions bearing upon the administration of this section,
  2. (b) to inform local employment guidance committees of all developments which may aid or enable local employment, guidance committees to assist employed persons who for any reason experience difficulty in obtaining and retaining employment,
  3. (c) to issue such advice and general directions as it may think fit to local employment 431 guidance committees to ensure that the practice of such committees in exercising the duties imposed upon them by this section shall conform, so far as practicable having regard to the particular conditions of any locality, to a standard applicable throughout the United Kingdom.

(5) It shall be the duty of local employment guidance committees—

  1. (a) in any case where an employed person has been in receipt of unemployment benefit for a period of six months without interruption, to give such advice and make such recommendations to such person as appear to them to be of assistance to such person in obtaining employment.
  2. (b) in any case where an employed person shall have exhausted his right to unemployment benefit under this Act to give such advice and to make such recommendations as are specified in paragraph (a) of this subsection, and a local employment guidance committee shall be entitled to recommend to the Minister that payment of unemployment benefit at the rate specified in the Second Schedule to this Act, may be made to such a person notwithstanding that he has exhausted his right thereto under this Act, and that payment of such benefit (in this Section referred to as 'extended benefit') shall be for such period or periods and subject to such conditions, and shall be made in such manner, whether in whole or in part, in money or goods, as the committee may recommend.

(6) In the exercise of their duties under this Section a local employment guidance committee shall take into account the present and possible future industrial conditions in the locality, and shall so far as practicable take into account also the personal factors arising in and bearing on any case requiring their consideration, and they may where they so think fit consult with the National Employment Guidance Council before coming to a decision.

(7) Subject to the provisions of this Section, regulations may authorise the Minister to pay unemployment benefit to insured persons, on the recommendation of a local employment guidance committee, for such number of days of unemployment as may be specified in the recommendation, being days for which they are not entitled to such benefit by reason only of having exhausted their right thereto.

(8) The sums required for payments of extended benefit under this Section shall be repaid to the National Insurance Fund out of moneys provided by Parliament.

(9) Nothing in this Section shall be deemed to modify or limit in any way the provisions of Section thirteen of this Act.

(10) This Section shall apply only to days of unemployment occurring within the period of five years beginning with the appointed day.—[Mr. R. A. Butler.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. R. A. Butler

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

I shall move this Clause in as succinct a manner as possible, as it will not now be necessary for me to demolish Clause 62. That has been sufficiently demolished by the right hon. Gentleman's own hon. Friends and by hon. Members on this side of the Committee. I therefore confine my remarks to the purely constructive aspect of the new Clause that we are moving. Upstairs in Committee, the Opposition were obliged to accept the statement of the Minister that he was not prepared to have extended benefit administered by the Assistance Board, and this Clause is designed to accept that position and not to go back to the old days when the Assistance Board, with great efficiency, did administer these matters. That they would have been able to continue to administer them was the belief of the Coalition Government, in which so many of the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends were, and to that policy many members of the present Cabinet subscribed. We do not propose in this Clause to go back to that situation. I am mentioning this to show the right hon. Gentleman that many of his own friends on that Front Bench are in the same position as I am in regard to the Coalition Government.

Having accepted the Minister's decision that extended benefit is not to be administered on what has been called the means test by the Assistance Board, how were we to move in this Bill a Clause to fit in with the Minister's idea about the means test? We decided that the only manner in which to do it was to continue the sort of scheme the Minister had in mind—the opportunity for extended benefit to be paid in certain circumstances; but we suggest, under this Clause, that the administration should be done in a manner much more efficient and much more likely to succeed than that which the Government have in mind.

What suggestion do we make? The suggestion we make is that, instead of using purely judicial machinery—which the Minister is using and, thereby, making the cardinal mistake of mixing up the judicial and executive machinery, calculated to lead to a mix up in the payment of extended benefits—instead of that mixture, which is against all English traditions, we would substitute committees consisting, as the Minister's committees do, of an employer and an employed person, and having sitting with them representatives of certain of the Government Departments chiefly concerned, so that the real problems of unemployment can be dealt with. We suggest that these local guidance committees shall sit and be coordinated at the centre by a central employment guidance council, so that there may be a constructive attitude towards the problem of the unemployed. The Minister himself said he hoped we would take a constructive attitude towards the unemployed I believe that we should put this matter fairly and squarely upon the Ministry of Labour.

I have had two short opportunities of serving in the Ministry of Labour, and I only wish I had had longer there, to learn more and to do better work. But the fact is that on each occasion I was very much impressed by the fact that the main activities of the Ministry were devoted to what I call negative work—dealing only, although in a human and positive form, with those suffering from a lack of a constructive policy, namely, the unemployed and long term unemployed, and those suffering from disabilities of many sorts. Therefore, although the drafting of this Clause is not as expert as it would have been had it been drafted by Parliamentary counsel, the sincere object of it is to concentrate on the constructive aspect of unemployment to deal not only with block unemployment in distressed areas but with the individual cases, such as those of persons suffering from physical defects or maladjustment of some sort, and with the causes of unemployment where there is redundancy of particular occupations in a particular area.

The suggestion is that these committees shall recommend to the unemployed certain courses of action, and that the case of every unemployed man or woman shall be reviewed after a period of six months, and then, to take the intelligent attitude of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), to recommend that the case should be reviewed after six months and then reviewed again on the expiry of the person's benefit rights. This scheme is designed, as I say, to take a constructive attitude towards the unemployment problem.

I want most particularly to refer to certain questions that have arisen since I had the opportunity of studying these matters in Office. The first point which comes to my attention is the necessity of dealing with the many disabled un- employed. I have been shocked to find how comparatively few persons have registered under the Disabled Persons Employment Act. By March, 1946, 402,190 had so registered, of whom only 51,816 came from the unemployed, and of whom 42,898 were suitable for further employment. I suggest that part of the duties of this Council should he the business of making this disablement scheme work, not only in regard to ex-Servicemen, but in regard to the unemployed as well. I consider that if we adopt machinery of this sort, we shall be dealing with one of the problems of administration which arise in Government circles, namely, the lack of use of this Act and the application of its provisions to the problems of unemployment and the difficult cases which arise. Not only do I suggest that this Guidance Council should be used for that purpose, but that it should be used also for vocational guidance. In this I am inspired by the Report of the Ince Committee, which sat whilst I was a Minister and reported afterwards, on juvenile employment services. In regard to juveniles, the Ince Committee, which is the latest and most up-to-date model issued from Government garages, desired proper vocational guidance to be given to juveniles. The report states: The bulk of the placings of all juveniles are not first placings. There will often be need of two, three or more placings before some juveniles settle down I believe that to be the case with many unemployed, particularly in the case of redundant occupations. What we suggest is that this Guidance Council should use the same procedure which the Ince Committee recommended for juveniles, for the under thirties, who are unsettled in that period of their lives through no fault of their own, and are submitted to difficulty in finding jobs. We consider that they should be dealt with by the method of vocational guidance which was recommended by the Ince Committee. Our object would be to find the best man for a particular job. Therefore, it will be seen by the Committee that the objects of this scheme are constructive. If the method of dealing with this problem is wrong, I hope that the Minister will say how it is wrong.

We do not think the Minister's method of administration will work. We consider that it will be too casual, that no sort of general case law will develop from his scheme, and therefore there will be no uniformity of treatment throughout the country. That is the great weakness of Clause 62. Some men will be granted extended benefit in one part of the country, but in another part men under similar conditions will not be granted extended benefit because the committees will be different. Our object is to centralise the scheme so that there can be correlation at the centre, and comparison of the types of cases dealt with. We also think that the Council will provide an opportunity to bring to bear the most up-to-date methods in placings and in psychology. It will be able to bring to the local committees the most up-to-date centralised knowledge on unemployment conditions, whether it be in pockets or not. Therefore, we have drafted this Clause, however amateurish it may seem, and I think it would need amendment in some particulars. We appeal to the Government to pay attention to the constructive suggestion I have made to try to deal with the problem of unemployment and extended benefit, not by the method it was dealt with between the two wars, but in a more constructive manner and in a better atmosphere than ever before.

9.15 p.m.

Mrs. Castle

None of us on this side of the Committee who have keen anxious about Clause 62 are likely to be attracted to this proposed new Clause. We are not, if there was ever any danger of our being, likely to be lured into the Lobbies against Clause 62, if this new Clause were to be substituted for it, at the end of our voting. This Clause avoids none of the faults to which we have objected in Clause 62, and includes very many evil new features, which bode no good at all to the unemployed of this country. We could have no clearer indication of what is the Opposition's real concern about the treatment of the unemployed as outlined in this Bill. It is apparent that, under this new Clause, they are not so much concerned about the treatment being too harsh, as concerned lest the treatment should be too gentle.

The purpose of this new Clause is quite clearly one which is, in the name of the constructive treatment of the unemployed, going to subject them to all the old humiliations, and, in fact, many new ones. Our objection to Clause 62 is not met, because this new Clause still leaves the payment of unemployment benefit, when the right to statutory benefit under Clause 12 is exhausted, to the decision of the Minister on the recommendations of local bodies. It reproduces that particular item of Clause 62. Admittedly, it specifies the constitution of the local bodies a little more clearly, and also superimposes on them some kind of vaguely coordinating national committee; but so far as we are concerned, a tribunal by any other name would not smell any sweeter, and, therefore, it is hardly likely to endear the Clause to us. Surely, the real kernel of this Clause —despite the fine words of the right hon. Gentleman about his concern for fitting in the disabled, and his desire to see vocational training extended—lies in the end, when we come to study the scope of the recommendations which it is proposed that the local committee should make to the Minister, outlining the conditions under which extended benefit should be paid. Here, we find that the local committee shall be entitled to recommend to the Minister that payment of extended benefit shall be for such period or periods and subject to such conditions, and shall be made in such manner, whether in whole or in part, in money or goods, as the committee may recommend I do not want to put too much confidence in my own intelligence, but if that means anything at all, it means to me two things: First of all, you have the restoration of a means test, because you are entitled to pay benefit in part, and the grounds on which you pay benefit in part would obviously have relation to the financial circumstances of the applicant; and, worse than that, by the restoration of payment in kind, you are reducing the unemployed to the very worst conditions of poor relief.

Mr. Stanley Prescott (Darwen)

Is the hon. Lady in favour of the abolition of all means tests?

Mrs. Castle

I am in favour of the abolition of the means test for the payment of unemployment benefit. We have spent a lot of time in considering that in this Committee, but I do not think that the hon. Gentleman was in attendance on his duties.

Mr. Prescott


The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Gentleman cannot speak unless the hon. Lady gives way.

Mr. Prescott

I am entitled, am I not, to rise to my feet on a point of Order? I was about to submit to you, Mr. Deputy-Chairman, as a point of Order, that in view of the personal reference, I was entitled to make an explanation about my absence from the Committee.

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Member is not.

Mrs. Castle

I was merely going to say, in conclusion, that it is obvious that once again we are having from the Gentlemen of the Opposition recommendations for the treatment of the unemployed, which though nominally in the interests of the unemployed, are directed towards hounding them and degrading them in the future as in the past as though unemployment were a crime and not a disaster.

Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint)

The hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) speaks always with great fire and she has not disappointed us tonight. One of the things to which she appeared to object most strongly was the constitution of these tribunals as explained by my right hon Friend. The main difference between the constitution of these tribunals and the constitution of the tribunals set up before, was that these are to have representatives of Government Departments on them, The hon. Lady strongly objected to that, and, as I understand she is a Parliamentary Private Secretary to a Cabinet Minister, that is very discouraging, but I ask her to have just a little more confidence. This Clause is really only an effort to make sense of Clause 62 as laid down in the Bill. Clauses 12 and 62 caused recrimination in Committee and they have clearly done so tonight. Perhaps they will again tomorrow. They cause recrimination by hon. Gentlemen opposite against us and a great deal of mutual recrimination on the other side of the Committee. I do not complain about that, but it is a fact. I should like to say at the outset that I believe passionately that the Minister was absolutely right when he said that the vast majority of the people in this country would rather work than be idle.

Mr. Gallacher

That does not apply to hon. Members opposite.

Mr. Birch

I further absolutely agree that the longer anybody is sick or unemployed, the more his income needs increase. The big problem in the future, believe, will be slightly different from the problem that was argued about in the '20's and '30's. The problem of the future—the problem indeed which we have now—is what to do with people who are unemployed, when, in fact, the overall condition of the country is that there are far more jobs than workers. At the moment it is the fact, taking the situation as a whole, that there are more jobs than workers, and yet there is a considerable volume of unemployment. That is partially in the old "pockets," where difficulties have always arisen and partly arises from those marginal cases, which have been mentioned in the Debate to night, where one gets a fellow who is handicapped in some way and is difficult to fit into industrial life.

Obviously, the Government are right to take the most energetic measures about the location of industry, but I do not think we can rely always on bringing the job to the man, and further getting the man what he wants, which is a job at his own trade. The vast majority of the people in this country want to work in their own trade and in their own area. We see now that it is not always obtainable, and there are a number of reasons, I think, for supposing that it will not be always obtainable. First, there are causes entirely beyond the Government's control such as the exhaustion of natural resources like coal or iron, or some district is producing principally for export and tariffs are put on by some foreign country, which closes the market That is something which the Government cannot avoid. Lastly, there is the possibility of new inventions, new techniques and changes in fashion, which means we have to scrap plant and start again. There are measures such as nationalisation, which will be liable to cause pockets of unemployment. When you get reorganization you get larger—

The Deputy-Chairman

The hon. Gentleman is getting extremely wide of the new Clause. We canot have a discussion on nationalisation now.

Mr. Birch

I was merely saying, Mr. Beaumont, that the result of larger plants would be the creation of local pockets of unemployment. That would be bound to happen. The problem of these marginal men is one which we shall have with us always, one which needs guidance, and which may not be completely soluble within a narrow area. There must be a certain amount of mobility, although we hope as little as possible. The first task must be to try to fit the person in somewhere in his own area, but we have to recognise that that will not always be possible, and that someone may have to be advised to take a new trade and go further to his work. There must be some degree of industrial mobility. That is fully brought out in the Coalition White Paper on employment and in Sir William Beveridge's book, "Full employment in a free society," and is a generally recognised fact. I believe we can fit in the people who are handicapped, and do away with these pockets of unemployment, provided we have a national plan which is properly worked out. The idea of these councils is that there should be advice on the national level. The Ministries concerned should be able to make their voices heard. Under the Bill, there will be only one umpire, one representative of employers and one of trade unions, who can take only a purely local and parochial view. I believe, most strongly, that this problem must be solved by persuasion, and rot by compulsion. I believe it can be done if this plan is properly worked out. The Fabian Society, according to Appendix G of the Beveridge Report, says: We also propose very strong sanctions against the malingerer, or the slacker. Refusal to cooperate with the placement, retraining, or rehabilitation service, or with the public medical service, would be dealt with very severely. That is more severe than anything which the hon. Lady the Member for Blackburn has said about us. I could never subscribe to a statement like that. I believe that that is absolutely wrong. I believe that the problem of localised unemployment, and the difficulty of putting a man in his right place, can be solved, and that these guidance councils will be a step towards solving the problem.

9.30 p.m.

Mr. Hopkin Morris (Carmarthen)

In criticising Clause 62 the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) put forward what I thought were very good and powerful arguments, but he had the merit of dealing with the Clause as an insurance Clause and this is, after all, an insurance Bill. My failure to understand this new Clause is due to the fact that it is connected with something other than insurance. Had it been introduced on another occasion to deal with the unemployment problem, I should have understood it, but as an insurance Clause it has no relevance at all.

When one contrasts the unemployment problems in the inter-war period with that which exists at the present time—as I have heard hon. Members do during the last few days--it should be borne in mind that the problem is not an ordinary unemployment problem in either case. The present insurance scheme would have failed during the inter-war period because we had failed to realise in time that the unemployment problem was not an ordinary problem. It was due not to the position of trade but to the fact that the world was preparing for war. If one looks at the unemployment figures—

Mr. Follick (Loughborough)

Preparation for war partly solved the unemployment question.

Mr. Morris

I agree, but the figures of unemployment in Germany rocketed to something like 6,000,000 and in this country to something like 3,000,000. I do not know what the American figures were but they were in the neighbourhood of—[An HON. MEMBER "Fourteen million."] Very well, 14 million. What were the conditions? Every country in Europe had thought itself to be self-supporting and was pursuing its own ends irrespective of everyone else. Unemployment figures soared, and to try to solve the problem one country after the other prepared for war. In face of this no scheme, neither that of the present Minister nor the one proposed by the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler), would have solved it. My criticism of this Clause is that it seems to me to be irrelevant to the situation.

Mr. Raikes (Liverpool, Wavertree)

I confess I was astounded by the argument put forward by the hon. Gentleman from the Liberal Benches that the heavy unemployment in the days before the war was due mainly to the fact that the nations of the world were preparing for war. In view of the fact that the highest unem- ployment which ever occurred in this country took place something like seven or eight years before the war began—indeed, before ever Hitler came to power —and that in point of fact unemployment figures in this country, in the United States, and elsewhere, were considerably smaller between 1931 and 1939, the hon. Member's argument seems to me to be even more astonishing than most of those that I have the honour of hearing at different times from the Liberal benches.

So far as the new Clause itself is concerned, I would emphasise that this is not a question to discuss with heat. I think that hon. Members on every side of the Committee desire beyond all else that we should try to avoid, as best we can, a recurrence of long-term unemployment. The Minister himself, speaking earlier in the Debate, observed that it was perhaps unfortunate that during the bitter days of long-term unemployment those who were fighting, as he said he himself was fighting, against the means test, had not enough time to give to tackling the prevention of long-term unemployment. This Clause aims at trying to attack the question of unemployment before it becomes too prolonged and endeavours to establish an expert machinery for tackling the question in its earlier days. It does it in this way. First and foremost, in quite a different way from anything under Clause 62, which we have already discussed, it provides for guidance committees to examine and try to help any unemployed man or woman before extended benefit ever arises. We lay down that after six months of continuous unemployment these committees, which are widely based, should have the opportunity of approaching a man, considering his individual needs, and trying to make suggestions which have no penal sanction about them at all.

It is only at a later stage, when the ordinary benefit has come to an end, that the committee will once again, under our proposal, examine the individual case. An hon. Member upon the Liberal Benches seemed to think that this proposal was out of place, but I do not see anything wrong in proposing a method of preventing prolonged unemployment, which is capable of damaging any insurance scheme. The committees set up under the Ministry of Labour are committees of experts. The whole idea is to tackle the individual case and to try to prevent men from becoming long distance unemployment cases. Many people in this House realise what tragedy that form of unemployment brings. The more quickly we can deal with those who need some form of treatment the better There are other people who need training. I believe that it would be absolutely fatal to train men during continued benefit unless we were in a position to offer employment at the end of that training. That is why men of experience representing various Government Department and with a knowledge of local industry should be appointed to sit with these committees and to plan ahead. If we tell men to go into training, are we in a position to promise them a job at the end of the training? The alternative, training in a penal camp, I believe, would be the end of any scheme.

Reference has been made to transferring men to other areas. Only in cases where no other remedy was possible should the committee consider transferring a man elsewhere. Their main task as far as possible is to bring work to the area where men and women have their homes. They should consider each case on its merits and tackle it in its early stages. I believe that would be a better approach to a solution of unemployment than the purely judicial tribunal being set up by Clause 62. I ask the Minister and the Committee, before they turn to specific objections they may have to parts of the proposed new Clause, to remember that we do not put it forward as a perfect new Clause, any more than the hon. Member opposite is a perfect Parliamentary Secretary. He is good in parts —in a good many parts. For that reason.I support the proposed new Clause and I believe that in putting it forward we are trying to be helpful to the Government and are submitting a plan which is a slight improvement upon that which is proposed in the Bill.

Mr. J. Griffiths

During the Committee stage the Opposition criticised Clause 62 —or Clause 61 as it then was—and they wished to delete the Clause. During the discussion it was indicated that when we reached the stage at which we have now arrived, an alternative to Clause 62 would be proposed. I take it that the proposed new Clause which the right hon. Gentleman has moved is his alternative to Clause 62. If they had had their way earlier, Clause 62 would not have appeared in the Bill at all. They divided against it. In Clause 62 is a provision by which those who exhaust their statutory benefit can apply and, on the recommendation of the tribunal, receive extended unemployment benefit at the same level of benefit that is provided in the Bill generally. In so far as this new Clause is an alternative to Clause 62, it is a very curious provision indeed. It provides that a person about to exhaust his standard benefit would apply to the local committees which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to set up. The local committees would examine the case and would recommend whether benefit should be paid and also recommend the manner in which it should be paid. Not only is this the operation of a means test or needs test coming into the new machinery which the right hon. Gentleman proposes, but something which is even older and in many ways even more objectionable, the old question of relief in kind.

At the moment the position is that if a person exhausts his standard benefit, he can go to the Assistance Board and they can give benefit in cash. The alternative is that, when the standard benefit has been exhausted, the unemployed person will go to a new committee which it is proposed to set up and that committee will examine each case and will recommend what shall be paid and how it shall be paid. That is the public assistance committee all over again. [An HON. MEMBER: "Without being elected."] Without being elected and without being responsible to anyone. There is a further point, Clause 62, with its provisions—whatever may be the criticism and objection—is subject to the control of the Minister and the Minister is subject to the control of Parliament. The Regulations under Clause 62 have to be submitted to a National Advisory Council set up by the Bill who will publish them and invite comments and criticism, and I have to table them in the House and they are subject to the decision of Parliament before they can be operated. This proposed National Council will be completely free of any responsibility to any Minister of Parliament or anyone else. It will issue instructions to the local committees and need not submit those instructions to any advisory council nor to the House of Commons nor to any Minister. The whole of the operation will be completely outside the control of any Minister and Parliament itself.

For those reasons I am certain that the right hon. Gentleman's proposal is no kind of alternative to Clause 62, and I have no hesitation in asking the Committee to reject it. The right hon. Gentleman has mixed up in this Clause other suggestions and other provisions which I think the hon. and learned Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Hopkin Morris) was right in pointing out were not relevant to the Bill. For example, the committee is not to be set up by the Minister of National Insurance who is the Minister responsible for the operation of the Bill, but by the Minister of Labour. Clearly this provision, if there were any desirable features in it at all, ought to be incorporated not in this Bill but in some Bill for which the Minister of Labour is responsible, because he will set up the committee. What is suggested is that the existing machinery which the Ministry of Labour has built up, and which they are developing and extending, for offering vocational guidance and assistance to unemployed persons, should be completely scrapped and replaced by this new kind of machinery.

Mr. Butler

That is not so.

9.45 P.m.

Mr. Griffiths

The right hon. Gentleman knows. He was himself Minister of Labour for a period. Almost since the Ministry of Labour began its work, it has had attached to its employment exchanges local employment committees whose task and function have been to assist the Minister of Labour and in particular the local officers of the employment exchanges in this very great problem. It is a human problem of the greatest magnitude to assist those who are unemployed, and who look like becoming completely unemployed for a long period, back to a new life, and in guiding them, training them and in choosing their vocations. The local employment committee does that work now. The Ministry of Labour is giving further consideration to the work of the local employment committees and to the desirability of developing them so that they can become even better instruments through which guidance and help can be offered to the unemployed in their efforts to find new work. I am quite certain myself that it would be a very grave mistake indeed. at this juncture, when the Ministry of Labour has become better fitted than ever in its history, because of wider experience in problems of this kind, to take this question of the resettlement of all kinds of persons out of their hands and put it into the hands of a council of this kind which is responsible to no one and is just working on its own. For those reasons, I hope the Committee will reject this new Clause

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of Order. Before this discussion is closed, I would like to submit to you, Major Milner, that this new Clause which we have been discussing is not really in Order. It seems to me to be completely outside the Title of the Bill. This Bill, as the Title says, is a Bill to— establish an extended system of national insurance providing pecuniary payments by way of unemployment benefit, sickness benefit, maternity benefit— and it then deals with other benefits, and says: To provide for the making of payments towards the cost of a national health service, and for purposes connected with the matters aforesaid. This new Clause has a marginal note concerning a National Employment Guidance Council, and I submit that it has nothing to do with the matter in the Bill.

Mr. Stanley Prescott

Further to that point of Order. In view of the fact that the Clause we are discussing has already taken some considerable time, is it in Order, at this late stage, to make such a submission?

The Chairman (Major Milner)

In reply to the last hon. Member it is perfectly in Order to raise a question of Order at any stage. In reply to the hon. Member who raised the matter, I had considered it, and it is quite clear in my mind that the new Clause is covered by the long Title as being a matter "connected with the matters aforesaid," and is quite in Order.

Mr. Silverman

Further to that point, I should think that the "matters aforesaid" were matters of the collection of contribution and the payment of benefits, and that matters connected with them were matters relevant to either of those things, and that it is not in Order, in a Clause of that kind, to bring in entirely new matter quite outside the purposes of the Bill, which, I submit, is what this new Clause attempts to do.

Mr. Gallacher

Further to that point of Order. Does not this new Clause, under the cloak of setting up machinery, attempt to reintroduce the old poor-law system, and, therefore, has nothing whatever to do with national insurance?

The Chairman

the hon. Member has raised a question on the merits, not a question of Order. In my view I am quite clear that the new Clause is in Order, and I hope the Committee will now come to a decision.

Mr. McGovern

I am sorry that I was a rather silent Member of the Committee, and I do not raise my voice in heat now, but I must say, in connection with this proposed new Clause, that I think that the Tory mind has never profited by past ' experience at all and that the Opposition are advocating here in this new Clause a line which is completely alien to work of this character. I see in it an attempt to form what might he the prelude to a further board which would be almost analagous to the Nazi Party in Germany. Whoever concocted it, one would have thought, attended the Nazi rallies at. Nuremburg, because the only thing that is not provided in regard to the unemployed is a "cat o' nine tails."It suggests payment in kind and the setting up of boards as an imposition on the workers of this country. One would actually think that in dealing with the unemployed people of this country, they were dealing with some form of criminal class, whereas the system that they themselves represent, has been the cause of the development of unemployment in this country, and throughout the world. I am sure that having entered into the Debate at this stage they have brought together in support of the Government and against the proposed new Clause a solid phalanx of labour opinion in this Committee. If a choice had to be made between the Minister's proposals and this Clause, there would be no difference of opinion. I deprecate that we have at this stage, after the tremendous gruelling the Tory Party got at the last Election—

The Chairman

The hon. Member's argument is not relevant to the new Clause before the Committee.

Mr. Pickthorn (Cambridge University)

On a point of Order. Is it not introducing a very dangerous precedent, that we should have a Debate in this Parliament without his speech?

Mr. McGovern

I would rather have mine than that of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Pickthorn) I do not intend to pursue the matter. The Tory Party, in this new Clause, has simply shown all the old class antagonism and bias against the common people in the proposal to set up this form of board. If they are wise, they will take note of the lessons learned in the General Election, and do something more intelligent.

Mr. Prescott

I shall not detain the Committee long, but in view of the speech—

Mr. Leslie Hale (Oldham)

On a point of Order. This Clause provides, or purports to provide, under Subsection (8) that expenditure for payments of extended benefit under this section shall be repaid to the National Insurance Fund out of moneys provided by Parliament Surely that goes outside the terms of the Financial Resolution, and in my submission, on that ground, the Clause is out of Order.

The Chairman

I had considered that matter, and in my opinion the new Clause is within the Financial Resolution.

Mr. Prescott

As hon. Members opposite are making such great efforts to stop any Debate on this new Clause, I think that, although, as always, I have many wise things to say, I will let the matter go.

Question, "That the Clause be read a Second time," put, and negatived.

Bill reported, with Amendments; as amended (in the Standing Committee and on recommittal) considered.

Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)

I beg to move, "That further Consideration of the Bill, as amended, be now adjourned."

I move this Motion to enable the Government to give some indication of their intentions in regard to the progress of Business. It is now nearly ten oclock. [Interruption.] I do not know why hon. Members opposite are groaning. The Government side have taken up nearly all the time of the Committee today. I have risen, as a matter of courtesy, for the information of the House, to ask the Government's intentions, and I propose to do so, even if hon. Members groan all night. We have a right to ask the Government that. [Interruption.] I am in no particular hurry. If the hon. Member wishes to interrupt me, I will give way.

Mr. Kirkwood (Dumbarton Burghs)

Oh, no, go ahead.

Mr. Eden

I am deeply obliged. Perhaps I may be allowed to make the further observation that the first new Clause to be called, if it should be in Order, is one of very great importance. It affects the lives of people throughout the country. I hope the Government do not intend to ask us to embark on that discussion at this hour of the night.

Mr. Attewell (Harborough)

This is the time when we get brilliant speeches.

Mr. Eden

No hon. Member can say that there has been anything in the nature of an unnecessary waste of time tonight. [Interruption.] I do not know why hon. Members opposite go on making these interruptions.

Mr. Hale

Does not the right hon. Gentleman remember that, after certain undertakings had been given, the Opposition divided upon the Motion to suspend the Rule?

Mr. Eden

The Opposition are perfectly entitled to divide on that Motion; the hon. Gentleman does not know the Rules of the House. I am dealing with the present state of Business. I ask the Minister to consider whether this very important new Clause should not be taken tomorrow, whether we should not adjourn now and take the new Clause when the House can give it full time, and, let me add, when the Press of the country has an opportunity of reporting the discussion. I can understand that that is not very welcome to hon. Members opposite, but that is not a reason which should animate us. I suggest to the Government that there has been fair cooperation, and there will continue to be fair cooperation. whatever their decision may be—there is no question of obstruction—but I hope they will consider whether the important matter which we have to discuss should not be taken tomorrow.

10 p.m.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Whiteley)

It had been our desire to finish at the end of the next new Clause. I appreciate that it is an important one, but I do not see why we should not go on at least for some time, even if the final speeches have to be made tomorrow before the Division is taken. I think we ought to make very great progress towards the end of this new Clause, so that we may have an opportunity of finishing the Bill tomorrow.

Mr. Molson

Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate what time he has in mind?

Mr. Whiteley

I think we should see how we get on.

Mr. Eden

I am perfectly content with that. It seems to be a reasonable offer, so far as I am concerned. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.