HC Deb 22 May 1946 vol 423 cc406-29

(1) Regulation shall provide that:

  1. (a) Every person to whom this section applies who in consequence of the operation of this Act suffers any loss or diminution of employment or diminution of emoluments or superannuation or similar rights shall be entitled to elect within such a period as the Minister may prescribe to be transferred and appointed to an office in the Civil Ser vice at a salary not less than he was receiving at the date of his transfer and appointment as aforesaid and in the application of the Superannuation Acts, 1834 to 1935, to such person the Minister may make such modifications as after consultation with the Advisory Committees on the absorption of approved societies he may consider fair and reasonable or desirable for the administration of this Act.
  2. (b) If such person on such transfer and appointment as aforesaid shall be in any worse position in respect of any of the con 407 ditions of his employment or the conditions of his employment as a whole (including tenure of office, remuneration, pension, superannuation and all other benefits or allowances whether obtaining legally or by customary practice) as compared with the conditions he enjoyed at the date of his transfer and appointment as aforesaid he shall be entitled to compensation out of the National Insurance Fund.
  3. (c) Such person shall on being transferred and appointed as aforesaid assign to the Minister his share, if any, in any pension or superannuation fund to which he may be entitled by virtue of his prior employment by an approved society or some other body (including a body of which the society is a branch or section) administering the affairs of an approved society and such share shall equal such a sum as represents the accumulation upon an actuarial basis of such moneys as have in fact been contributed by or in respect of such person during such prior employment.

(2) Nothing in this section shall affect any right to compensation conferred by section sixty-seven of this Act in the case of any person to whom this section applies either not electing or refusing to transfer or be transferred to an office in the Civil Service under this section unless the Minister proves that it is unreasonable for him not so to elect or for him so to refuse.

(3) The persons to whom this section applies shall be persons who have been employed full time wholly or mainly on health insurance business by an approved society or by some body (including a body of which the society is a branch or section) administering the affairs of an approved society immediately preceding the appointed day or who would have been so employed but for any war service in which they have been employed and for the purposes of this section the expression "war service" means service in any of His Majesty's forces and such other employment as may be prescribed.

(4) In the event of any dispute arising out of or connected with any of the aforesaid matters the said dispute shall be referred to an arbitration tribunal to be appointed by the Lord Chancellor for the purpose of the determination of such disputes.—[Mr. Peake.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

Mr. Osbert Peake (Leeds, North)

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

The purpose of this rather formidable looking Clause is to provide some real security for the many thousands of whole time employees of approved societies and of friendly societies whose position will be threatened and prejudiced by the passage of this legislation. The Clause seeks to provide them with a greater measure of security, both as regards the tenure of their jobs and their entitlement to superannuation. If the Government intend at a later stage of this Debate to make con- cessions which will result in the inclusion of the approved societies and the friendly societies in the administration of the Bill, this Clause would not be necessary, but since I assume that the Government do not intend to make this sort of concession, it seems to me very important that the Committee should do something which will provide real safeguards for these people, who have been discharging very important responsibilities placed upon them by the State and who fear that, as a result of this Bill, some of them will lose their jobs and many of them will be prejudiced as regards the rate of superannuation to which they will become entitled.

Clause 67 of the Bill provides for a measure of compensation for persons who are not taken on, but these people say—and I think they say so with some justice —that they are entitled to be taken on. They fear—especially the older ones—that the State will turn them off and in that case the compensation provided by Clause 67 would come into play. Clause 67 enables the Minister by means of Regulations to provide for compensating out of the Fund for loss of employment or loss or diminution of employment or loss of superannuation or similar rights, where the loss or diminution is shown to be directly attributable to the passing of the Act. The persons covered by Clause 67, who are precisely the same persons covered by the new Clause, the whole-time employees of the approved and the friendly societies —I estimate there are some 10,000—include office staff and sickness visitors, and their salaries, no doubt, range from quite small figures to fairly substantial ones. The new Clause, over and above the compensation provided by Clause 67, provides that in the ordinary way these men shall be entitled to be transferred, that is to say their jobs shall be secured to them and secured to them at the kind of salary which they are earning at the date of transfer. The new Clause, therefore, gives them a right to continue in the jobs which they hold at the present time.

During the Debates in the Standing Committee this matter was raised in a general discussion, and the Minister made it quite clear, first of all, that where there is a transfer of function and loss of employment results, there is an entitlement to compensation. He went on to say in regard to these whole-time employees of approved and friendly societies: We say that persons coming under that definition are entitled to absorption, and our main efforts will he to fit them in."— [OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 4th April, 1946, c 563.] It is in order to carry that into effect that my Clause is necessary. These people, as the Bill stands, are not entitled to absorption. It is perfectly true that the great bulk of them, no doubt, will be taken over. The Minister estimates his staff requirements at something like 30,000, and there are probably 10,000 people who come within the definition of my new Clause. The great majority will be taken over, but the older men especially fear that they will be cast out and that some discrimination will be exercised against them.

Hon. Gentlemen representing the Government may say that there is no precedent for compelling the Government to take over a class of employees. I should not have thought that the Labour Government were much influenced by arguments about precedents. Their claim always is that they are not bound by precedents from the past, but if precedents are required I would refer hon. Members to two matters. The first is the Railways Act of 1921. On the amalgamation everybody was given perfect security in the job which he previously held. I can give what I think will be a better precedent in the eyes of hon. Members opposite, and that is a Bill which is now before the House, the National Health Service Bill, which received its Second Reading the other day. Let hon. Members turn to Clause 64 of that Bill and they will find the following words. The side note is: Transfer and compensation of officers. The Clause begins: Regulations shall provide… It is obligatory. It is not permissive. It is not "Regulation-, may provide" but "Regulations shall provide ";

  1. " (a) for the transfer of officers employed immediately before the appointed day solely or mainly at or for the purposes of any hospital transferred to the Minister by virtue of this Act, to the Regional Hospital Board for the area in which the hospital is situated or, in the case of a teaching hospital, to the Board of Governors of that hospital, subject, in the case of honorary officers, to such exceptions and conditions as may be prescribed;
  2. (b) for the transfer of officers employed immediately before the appointed day solely or mainly at or for the purposes of a medical or dental school for which a new governing body is constituted under Part II of this Act, to that governing body:
  3. 410
  4. (c) for the transfer of officers employed immediately before the appointed day by the Common Council of the City of London, the council of a metropolitan borough or the council of a county district solely or mainly for the purposes of functions transferred from that council to a local health authority, to that authority…"
So I could go on. Paragraph after paragraph of that Bill provides for the compulsory transfer of officers who are at present doing jobs which will be different from the jobs which will have to be done after the National Health Service Bill becomes an Act of Parliament. I therefore claim that the Committee should give to these whole time employees of the approved societies and the friendly societies an absolute right to be employed upon the transfer of their functions to the new service. That is the main proposal in the New Clause.

8.0 p.m.

The second proposal is a method of dealing with the superannuation rights which is not provided by the Bi/I. It is a little complicated, but I will try to explain it clearly. What happens with regard to the superannuation rights of a transferred officer, somebody who has been employed by the approved society, say, up to the age of 45, and is then taken over into the new service, is that he has an entitlement to superannuation rights against his old approved society. These rights are built up according to age at the transfer, but, of course, the entitlement to superannuation will not become effective until that man reaches retiring age. At the date of transference, such a man begins to build up a new claim to Civil Service pension. In the Civil Service, pension depends upon salary at the date of retirement multiplied by a fraction —x over 80, according to the number of years of service. If a man had 10 years' service, then it is ten-eightieths of his salary at the date of retirement.

The point of the new Clause is that, as things stand at present, a man's career is broken in the middle by transfer from the approved society to the service of the State, and the two separate pensions which he will earn, one from the approved society up to the date of transfer, and the other from the State after the date of transfer, will not be as good a pension as that man would have earned had his career not been broken in the middle in this way. Had he had a continuous career, either in the Civil Service or in the service of the approved society, he would come off better, in almost every case, as regards superannuation rights, than he will when his career is divided into two quite separate periods.

Therefore, our new Clause proposes that, on transfer to the Civil Service from the service of the approved society; these men shall surrender to the State whatever their superannuation rights with their society are worth at the date of the transfer, and, against that, they shall be entitled to count for Civil Service pension their previous years of service with the approved society. I hope I have succeeded in making a somewhat complicated matter clear to the Committee.

Mr. Logan (Liverpool, Scotland Division)

Am I to take it that continuity of service with an approved society will mean that, on the transfer of whatever the man would have been entitled to from the society, on its being handed over to the State society, he will be able to reckon on the full period of employment in both the State society and the approved society?

Mr. Peake

That is the suggestion in the new Clause, and I think it is a great improvement on the arrangements as they stand in the Bill. I think this new Clause is worthy of support in all parts of the Committee, and I therefore commend it to the consideration of hon. Members.

Mr. Basil Nield (City of Chester)

Not having been a Member of the Standing Committee which dealt with this very important Bill, I am glad to have the opportunity of supporting the new Clause which has been explained by my right hon. Friend. I often think that it is useful to recall the essential factors behind a general suggestion such as this, and I think those factors in this matter are these. We all know that a considerable number of people for many years have been engaged in the business of health insurance. We know, and it is, indeed, agreed by the right hon. Gentleman, that they have done useful work. It is also plain that, when the new Measure comes into force, these persons will be displaced from their employment. The issue thereupon arises, since our enactment will interfere with the employment of these persons, what is our duty? I feel that hon. Members in all parts of the Committee will say that it is our duty to take compensatory measures. These measures are surely of two kinds—either to seek to re-employ those who are displaced, or to compensate them with money. By Clause 67, there is provision for monetary compensation, but I feel most strongly that the best measures to be taken are those of re-employment of those displaced from their jobs. In these circumstances, this new Clause does that which I feel is right in regard to these people who for many years have been engaged in this business.

I know that the right hon. Gentleman said in the Committee that it is the intention of the Government to absorb the employees of approved societies in its new organisation, and I hope he will believe me when I say that I would at once accept, and gladly accept, an assurance of that kind from the right hon. Gentleman, but I would ask the Committee to consider with the greatest care the vital principle that we must see these measures in the. Bill. When the right hon. Gentleman gives an assurance, that is a matter which we feel sure will be fulfilled, but it will not, in law, stand any displaced person who is displaced from his employment in any stead at all. This is a matter of general principle, which I desire to emphasise as best I can, and I think it is useful to adumbrate it by a little illustration.

Today, we may be told that it is hoped that all those employed by the approved societies will be absorbed into employment under the new scheme. We do not have that in the Bill, and we therefore rest upon the assurance of the Minister. If, in a year's time, one of our constituents comes to an hon. Member and says, "I was employed by an approved society. I was displaced from that position by the new Bill, but, in spite of the Minister's assurance, I am not able to be employed,"The hon. Member concerned will be entirely helpless, because, if the matter is taken to the court, the judge will say, "I am interested in Acts of Parliament, not in the pages of HANSARD or in the assurances of Ministers."I therefore ask the Committee to see that, if we all feel that this is a salutary Measure, it is placed in the Bill. I hope that, in these circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman will be ready to agree with these proposals and that the Committee will take the same view.

Mr. Logan

I think the new Clause is worthy of the consideration of the Minister, and I say so because I have practical experience of this business, having been engaged in its administration since the Act came into operation. I am fully convinced that the House would be doing justice—and this is not a question of myself—to the men engaged in this work who have been carrying on continuously from 1912 to the present time. I feel that there is a moral obligation—I do not want to put it any greater than that—upon any Government, Labour or any other, to see that those faithful servants who, after a long period of time, find that they are no longer wanted, will receive the recognition that good firms would give to them, and which has been observed in various amalgamations that have taken place up and down the country.

I have been on various Committees on Bills where the question of compensation has been discussed, and I have always found that the first essential is that provision should be made for servants who are to be discarded. During the war, these went through a very strenuous time. They were, in fact, carrying on an essential service. I understand that the Minister is not going to take over everyone, and it may be said that there is a duty imposed on the employer of labour not to discard such men and put them on the market in a body, without some form of compensation.

I am speaking with full knowledge, and do not wish to do any injury to the Bill. I am fully aware of its complications, and am most anxious to see it passed. It is a wonderful Bill, and its like has never been known before. But I do not want to be silent, and to feel that I have failed in my duty to those who have given real, loyal and honest service. I feel that some protective Clause ought to be inserted in the Bill. I know the Minister is most generous in his attitude towards labour. This Bill is his "baby." He is anxious to see it go through. I do not want to see any Division on this matter, but I want compensation to be given as is suggested in this new Clause. When it is a matter of moral obligation I am not concerned, whether the suggestion comes from Tory, or from Labour benches All that I am concerned about is that we should do our duty to those who have served the State so loyally.

I feel that a case has been made out for this new Clause. I cannot for the life of me see why there should be any objection to assenting to it. It does not destroy the nature of the Bill, but it does justice to a section of people who may not be reemployed. It gives the Minister the right of selection, and helps him to bring into his organisation scientifically trained men who have had a lifetime of experience in the working of a similar Measure. This Measure will require trained men. I think that on consideration the Minister will find that such a course will bring unity and concentration of purpose such as we have never had in public life before. This is the greatest Measure I have seen about to be placed on the Statute Book, I hope that the Minister will take note of the remarks which have been made on this subject.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Burden (Sheffield, Park)

I wish to add a few words in support of the proposed new Clause. I am sure the Committee will agree that it has been submitted in an able, lucid, and reasonable speech by the right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake). The principle of compensation for persons displaced has been accepted time after time, and goes back to the Local Government Act of 1888. It operated particularly in the Railways Act of 1921, and again in the Act which amalgamated the transport undertakings under the London Passenger Transport Board, and in local government Measures far too numerous to mention.

Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)

I am sure the Committee would be interested if the hon. Member could name a single instance in which the State has stepped in and where this has not been done.

Mr. Burden

If the hon. Member could be a little patient, I am coming to that point. It would be very regrettable if this great Measure were marred by bringing about a feeling of uncertainty among the men and women who have undertaken duties which, after all, were imposed upon them by the State, and who have loyally carried out those duties. In the march of time there hive to be changes. Surely. those who carried out those duties ought not to suffer. The Minister may say that the Bill as it exists provides ample safeguards. I am afraid it does not; I think it needs strengthening.. For the first time, a Bill is before the Committee which will dry up 'he work of sections of the community carrying out responsible duties. while making no provision for them.

I commend this new Clause to the Minister. We have accepted as part of our policy that in any undertaking where it is necessary for the State to assume responsibility—for the mines and so on—the owners of the capital should be adequately compensated. That has been done in regard to the Bank of England and in other instances. Are those engaged in the industry, or the undertaking, to be less favourably treated than those who own the capital? In view of the position of the people involved, I ask the Minister to look again at this proposal and see that they do not suffer any anxiety in the operation of this great Measure.

Lieut.-Colonel Clifton-Brown (Bury St. Edmunds)

I support this new Clause moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake). I think it only right and just that these men should be fully covered, and fully considered. We know that a great many of them will be required. They will be essential to help the Minister carry out his. task. But there must be some who may not be quite so well off, or able to fit into the same positions which they have occupied for the past few years. It is no fault of theirs that they cannot fit in. It is because the State is taking over a job they have been carrying out. Therefore, it is up to the new employer, the State, to see that where they cannot fit in, they should be no worse off as a result. Moreover, where these persons are fitted in, the work they have been doing for many years ought to be taken into account by their new employer. I hope the Minister will consider this new Clause seriously, and accept it.

Mr. Lipson (Cheltenham)

I very strongly support the new Clause. It ought not to have been necessary for it to haw.: been moved, because the Government ought to have been alive to their obligations to these men and to have made adequate provision for them in the Bill. Nobody can deny that the State has a their services are no longer required, as a result of legislation, to see that there is adequate compensation, and that moral obligation ought to be made into a legal obligation. There is at present great anxiety among men who have served in the past and who will be affected by the Bill. They will lose their earnings as a result of it. They ought to welcome the Bill, because it is the culmination of much which they have spent their lives in trying to do, but the result of it will be to throw some of them on to the scrapheap without their receiving any compensation. That is quite wrong and contrary to the public conscience. If the Government oppose the new Clause and refuse to provide adequate compensation, they will be creating a bad precedent. The precedent in the past has been for compensation to be paid. I hope the Government will consider the views of hon. Members in all parts of the Committee, and do what I believe the country would desire. There should be adequate compensation to men who are deprived of their position as a result of legislation.

Mrs. Manning

When this matter was discussed in the Standing Committee, the Minister said that the emphasis would be on absorption, and I am pretty sure that, as far as absorption is concerned, we can rely upon my right hon. Friend's statements. We were also led to believe that where absorption was impossible, compensation would be paid. The point about which I want to get an assurance from the Minister, and without which I should feel that I ought to support the new Clause, is the superannuation of the people who are absorbed. I would like to be certain that in absorbing men, who will then become civil servants, the Government will reckon all the years of back service of these men in computing the new superannuation rates That is not an unusual thing to do. Very often teachers who have become officials of organisations, men working on the railways who have become trade union officials, have had their back service taken over by their new employer and used in reckoning superannuation. I would like to have an assurance from my right hon. Friend that he will take over back service in reckoning the superannuation for people who are absorbed.

Mr. Hollis (Devizes)

I should be rendering ill service to the Committee if I introduced a note of contention into the Debate on the new Clause. I would like to underline two points. First, with regard to the matter raised by the hon. Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning), I can hardly believe that the Minister will not agree to reckon back service for superannuation, because the overwhelming justice of that seems to be generally admitted by the Committee. On the question of compensation, about which hon. Members opposite and my hon. Friend the Member for Cheltenham (Mr. Lipson) have spoken, I would make the point that this Clause deals with compensation, but that it is not primarily concerned with compensation but with the taking over of labour. The Government have already, in Clause 67, admitted the obligation to compensate the servants of the approved societies. That being so, surely, from the point of view of financial economy, just as much as from the graver and weightier points of view which have been emphasised, as the Government have to pay these people in any event, it is common sense that the Government should use, and give the fullest guarantee that they intend to use: the services of these people as much as possible. The compensation will be paid by Clause 67, whether the new Clause is accepted or not. For the two reasons I have given, I join with hon. Members in all parts of the Committee in urging the Minister to accept this Clause.

Mr. Lindgren

Whether it was intentional or not, I think the Committee have rather been misled, perhaps in the first instance by the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden). Compensation is provided under the Bill for everyone who is not absorbed within the organisation. I feel it is a little unfair to suggest that compensation is not provided, for it is provided under Clause 67

Mr. Burden

On a point of Order, Alt-Beaumont. The Parliamentary Secretary knows perfectly well the men to whom I was referring. It was impossible for me to develop the point.

The Deputy- Chairman (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)

That is not a point of Order

Mr. Lindgren

I know the inference which my hon. Friend was making. He was referring to relieving officers who, because of the benefits that will be given under the Bill, are afraid they will become redundant. I think it would be unfair to make a charge on the contributions of an insurance fund for compensation for relieving officers who become redundant in local government as a result of general social improvements. There is a responsibility for absorption where there is redundancy in any group of persons. There is a responsibility for absorption within local authorities. To say that relieving officers, or those associated with public assistance departments, are of little or no use to a local authority other than in the departments in which they have been engaged is unfair to these men. I have worked with them and I know them. They are adaptable and efficient, they have considerable organising ability, and they have been taken into other forms of employment within local authorities. I wish the Committee had approached this matter in the same way as the hon. Member for Oswestry (Mr. Poole) approached it in the Standing Committee. The hon. Member was a very valuable Member of the Standing Committee, and he made excellent contributions to the Debates. He started his speech on this subject by saying that compensation was of little use, and that what we must provide was a job for every man and woman in order that they could pay their rent and provide necessities for their families. That is the approach that we make in this Bill. The right hon. Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake), in a speech that was rightly described as effective, said that the intention of the new Clause was to cover the whole-time employees of approved societies. If that be the intention of the new Clause, I am surprised, because its provisions go far outside that intention. I hope that hon. Members have read the new Clause. It says that we must offer a post in the Civil Service to every person to whom this Section applies who in consequence of the operation of this Act suffers any loss or diminution of employment or diminution of emoluments or superannuation or similar rights "— who, at the appointed day, is— 'employed full time wholly or mainly on health insurance business by an approved society"— That would mean that we should have to offer a full-time post in the Civil Service to any person who lost anything, whether£t' or£1,000, whether he was fit or unfit for the job, efficient or inefficient.

Mr. Molson

I am sure the Parliamentary Secretary does not want to misinterpret what the new Clause says. If he will look at Subsection (3), he will see that it states: The persons to whom this Section applies— and if he will read that Subsection, he will find that it does not apply to the people to whom he has been referring.

Mr. Lindgren

I am very sorry if I have misread the Clause, but as I read it, it states that we should offer a post in the Civil Service—

Mr. Molson

Will the hon. Gentleman read Subsection (3)?

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Lindgren

It reads: The persons to whom this Section applies shall be persons who have been employed full-time wholly or mainly on health insurance business by an approved society or by some body (including a body of which the society it a branch or section)… There is no question of a limitation. On the appointed day, the person could have been so employed for one, two or three weeks. There is no question of how long the period of employment is. There are no qualifications in that regard. Also, there is no definition of what the loss is. In so far as the Clause suggests, I fear it is wholly unacceptable. May I say at once that my right hon. Friend is glad that the Clause has been moved, because it provides an opportunity to explain what is the approach to this problem and what is being done. The first line of approach has been that to which I referred earlier, as expressed in Committee by the hon. Member for Oswestry, that is, the provision of employment for all persons who are displaced, provided they want to come and that they are effective in coming.

Mr. Hollis

What does the hon. Member mean by "effective in coming?"

Mr. Lindgren

I mean that when one makes an offer of employment one must give the person concerned an opportunity to refuse it.

Mr. Hollis

The phrase used by the hon. Member was "who desire to come and who are effective in coming." What is meant by "effective in coming "?

Mr. Lindgren

All I intended to say was that we are desirous of offering a post to all persons who are now wholly or mainly employed on the approved societies staffs, who desire to come to us, and that general arrangements to that end are being made.

Mr. Logan

Will my hon. Friend explain what he means by "mainly"? understand "wholly." What is the reservation in regard to "mainly"?

Mr. Lindgren

"Mainly" has always been interpreted as 50 per cent, or over.

My right hon. Friend appreciates the primary fact that this Bill will be made or broken by its administration. It is not only a question of the amount of benefit, but the promptness of payment of that benefit and the manner and spirit in which the insured person, man or woman, is dealt with by officials in the locality. Its administration will, in tact, be the most important consideration. Therefore, to secure that the administration is effective we desire the best brains, the best organising skill, the best administrative ability available amongst those persons who, up to the present, have had experience in the type- of work that has been carried on within the scope of national insurance in the years since 1912. Accordingly, we approach the question of building up an effective administration from the point of view of bringing into the Ministry all the accumulated skill that has been acquired by persons who have been administering the existing insurance scheme. Our first approach is the provision of employment for persons who are displaced, not the provision of compensation. Those who cannot be absorbed for one reason or another are, under Clause 67, entitled to compensation.

There will be—the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds referred to this in his speech—great scope for the recruitment of staff into the Ministry, because of the large network of offices which will have to be set up, in order to meet local needs. But our first responsibility in regard to recruitment is to those persons who will be redundant when this Bill comes into operation. When we assume these functions now administered by the approved societies, the staffs of these approved societies will have lost the jobs which they hold. Our first responsibility is to see that every one of these men and women who desires to come to the Ministry has the opportunity. That is our first responsibility. Over and above that there will still be scope for recruitment. In the general acceptance of responsibility, opportunity for recruitment must next be given to those who have in fact been agents of approved societies but not directly employed by those societies. I refer to agents of insurance companies—those insurance companies who have contracted to work for approved societies in localities. Many of these insurance agents—in fact, the vast majority of them —have a very wide knowledge of administration of health insurance work. In particular they have great experience of field work to their credit. We shall be glad to receive applications from them, and to take them in. The third group of people from whom we will draw recruits are those persons who have suitable experience and who desire to come to us. I refer to local government officers and the like.

What steps have been taken by my right hon. Friend in this matter? As soon as the announcement of Government policy was made last November, my right hon. Friend arranged for approved society officers representing the managements of approved societies, and representatives of the trade unions who cater for the workers within approved societies, to come together in conference. Arising from those consultations with the employers, the approved societies, and with the trade unions, as representing the employees, we have in fact set up two committees. One committee will deal with the machinery of transfer, the absorption of the approved societies into the State machine, the transfer of funds, the records, and that sort of thing. It will deal purely with the machinery for facilitating the transfer. The second committee will deal with staffing problems, the machinery which will be necessary for the absorption of the staff of the approved societies into the Ministry, the question of superannuation—which was referred to by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Leeds, and in particular by the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning)—and the question of general rights in regard to compensation. Those problems will be dealt with by these committees who will.consider and then report to the Minister. On the reports of those committees the Minister will consider the matter and decide whether he will accept them.

Mr. Molson

Does the hon. Gentleman mean that the committees which we were told about on the Committee stage have not yet met?

Mr. Lindgren

The hon. Member for The High Peak (Mr. Molson) interjects that the Standing Committee was informed that these committees were in being. One of those committees had met during the Committee stage, and the other committee had not met.

Mr. Molson

Has it met yet?

Mr. Lindgren

Both committees have now met and they are working. In fact, so far as the staffing committee is concerned, it has proceeded very considerably on its way. Both committees have met, they will prepare their reports, and submit them to the Minister. The Minister will consider those reports and will accept them, with or without modifications, or reject them. This House is protected further because under the terms of Clause 67 there is a requirement to bring the regulations which have then to be made before the House for approval by affirmative Resolution. Therefore, the House will have to deal with them.

I suggest with the greatest respect that it is far better to allow those persons—the employers and employees within the industry—to deal with these very complex matters of the absorption of staff. The conditions under which these people work vary very considerably; their superannuation rights vary considerably, from nothing to some quite good funds. All these complex problems ought to be dealt with, and recommendations made in regard to them, by those who have intimate working knowledge of them. They are the approved societies, who have been the employers, and the trade unions covering the employees of the approved societies. They will make the recommendations to the Minister, and we feel that is a much better way of dealing with the matter than fettering the Ministry, or those Committees which have been set up, by set details such as are included in this Amendment. I assure the Committee that the desire of the Minister is to see that justice is done to those persons who have been administering National Health Insurance within the approved societies up to the present time. That is the desire of those persons who have had experience of management committees and of the general executive officers of those approved societies at the present time. It is the desire, of course, of the trade unions which exist for the purpose of improving the conditions and obtaining the best possible conditions for the staff employed by those approved societies.

I ask the Committee to leave the matter as it is at present with the Minister, with the two committees which are considering these problems and which will report to him. Regulations arising from their reports will be laid before the House and, as they are subject to affirmative Resolutions, the whole matter can then be discussed in the House.

Mr. Logan

Is it absolutely certain that when officers are taken over, or hands from the approved societies are taken over, the status of civil servants will be given to them?

Mr. Lindgren

The persons will come over to the Civil Service under Civil Service conditions. In fact the civil servants themselves were very anxious that the taking over of these people would not undermine the conditions of the Civil Service, and the Staff Side of the Whitley Council has emphasised that point strongly to the Minister.

Mr. Medland (Plymouth, Drake)

Will they be established or temporary?

Mr. Lindgren

It is a little unfair to shoot questions at me in regard to hypothetical cases like that. [HON. MEMBERS: "No.") Well, who were being referred to? The persons we take over will be taken over as permanent members of the staff, but there may be some persons who will not. After all, the question of age comes in. Some persons may be taken on—there is no question that we are starting up a new scheme and not putting on an age limit. A person of 62 may have very valuable experience which we urgently need in the first few years in order that the machine shall not creak. The question of whether one individual as compared with another may be permanent or not, cannot be answered at the present time. In the main the answer is that these committees are deciding the conditions under which the people will come over, and I think this Committee can leave it to the previous employer sand to the trade unions to see that those conditions are well safeguarded.

Mr. Hugh Molson (The High Peak)

I confess that as I listened to the speech of the Parliamentary Secretary, my bewilderment grew. He began by going out of his way to attack the hon. Member for the Park Division of Sheffield (Mr. Burden) for apparently having suggested that there was no compensation payable under Clause 67. I listened with the closest attention to what the hon. Gentleman said. He did not deal with compensation at all, he said that in all cases of which he knew—and he cited a number of examples where, in the past, the State has stepped in and taken over some going concern—it had not only paid compensation to the owners of that concern but has also taken over those who were engaged in making a living out of it.

8.45 P.m.

Mr. Lindgren

We are doing that here.

Mr. Molson

The hon. Gentleman says that they are doing that here. I was going to come to the latter part of his speech. My bewilderment grew because of the attacks he made; they raised the temperature of the Debate, which had been extremely good tempered until he rose. He proceeded to say that it was his right hon. Friend's intention to take all these people over. If that is so. why make so much difficulty about incorporating this responsibility in the Bill? If there had been some of these employees of approved societies here tonight, I wonder what impression they would have gained from the hon. Gentleman's speech? He indicated that they expected to take a number of them over. We know perfectly well that, during the transitional period, it is the right hon. Gentleman's intention to take over the present concern almost as it is and, then, at some later time, when it suits his convenience, to get rid of those who have borne the heat and burden of the day for 32 years. He will use them for an initial two or three years.—[HON. MEYBERS: Oh."] If there is anything unfair in what I have said, no doubt I shall be corrected. It is, I think, common ground among Ls that it is impossible. for the right hon. Gentleman to set up a complete framework for the administration of his scheme at the beginning.

Mr. Lindgren

indicated assent.

Mr. Molson

There is going to be a transitional period?

Mr. Lindgren

indicated assent.

Mr. Molson

During that period the existing framework is going to be used and the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to give any guarantee such as is contained in this Clause that those who are going to be used during the transitional period will be used subsequently.

Mrs. Manning

Some will die off.

Mr. Molson

In so far as the persons concerned die off, they will not be employed "on the appointed day" and, therefore, they do not come within the framework of this Clause. This is a matter of very great importance. Here we have an organisation which was set up largely by legislation of this House in 1911 and, at a later time, for reasons which appear to this House to be good, it is decided to set up a new framework. Those men who have been engaged upon this work during that time are entitled, in my submission, not only to have compensation if they are dismissed, but some guarantee that they are going to be taken over.

The hon. Gentleman has said that it is the Minister's intention to take over all those whom they select for the new service. But he is not prepared to incorporate any guarantee in this Bill. What he has kept on saying towards the end of his speech, and has repeated a number of times, is that it is his right hon. Friend's intention to take them over. He spoke about the responsibility of this House. This House and this Committee have a responsibility for passing legislation and to ensure that that legislation, when conferring benefits upon many people, shall not inflict great hardship and injustice on a certain section of the community. It is in order to try to provide adequate guarantees for a deserving section of the community that we have moved this new Clause, and we ask the Government, even now, to be willing, if not to accept it,

at any rate to say that they will incorporate some guarantee that these men shall be included in the new service.

Mr. C. Williams

A very vital question was raised just now by the hon. Member for the Drake Division of Plymouth (Mr. Medland) as to whether these new civil servants are to be established or not. Few hon. Members of this Committee know more about the Civil Service than the hon. Member who raised that question. When we are dealing with a matter of this kind which vitally affects the people concerned, even if the Minister cannot give the necessary information now, we ought to be told at some time, at any rate on Third Reading, whether these men and women who are having the whole of their lives changed, are to come under the establishment system, with all the advantages which that brings, or whether they are to be temporary. I ask that question because it is only right that the Minister should give a fuller answer, and because this is a matter which affects the constituencies of every Member of this Committee

Mr. Lindgren

I thought I gave the answer. The answer is "Yes" except in exceptional cases where, in fact, we take over persons who are over the normal retiring age

Mr. Williams

They may be the older people and the very type of persons who require most help under this scheme. I think some concession should be made The years they have spent in the service of those concerns entitle them to some assistance so far as their pensions are concerned. I emphasise that, because I think the Minister did say that he would consider their case on the length of their service, and if he will give a plain answer indicating that he will take over the whole lot, I shall be satisfied.

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

The Committee divided: Ayes. 141: Noes, 271.

Division No. 180. AYES. 8.53 p.m.
Agnew, Cmdr. P. G. Bower, N. Clarke, Col. R. S.
Aitken, Hon. Max Boyd-Carpenter, J. A. Clifton-Brown, Lt. Col. G
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W Conant, Maj. R. J. E.
Baldwin, A. E. Buchan-Hepburn, P. G T. Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U. (Ludlow)
Barlow, Sir J. Bullock, Capt. M. Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.
Beamish, Maj. T. V. H. Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n) Cuthbert, W. N.
Beechman, N. A. Byers, Lt.-Col. F Davidson Viscountess
Birch, Nigel Carson, E. Davies, Clement (Montgomery)
Bowen, R. Challen, C De la Bère, R.
Digby, Maj. S. W. Lucas, Major Sir J. Renton, D.
Dodds-Parker, A.D. Lucas-Tooth, Sir H. Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)
Donner, Sqn-Ldr. P. W. MacAndrew, Col: Sir C Roberts, H. (Handsworth)
Drayson, G. B. MacDonald, Sir M; (Inverness) Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)
Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond) Macdonald, Capt. Sir P. (I. of Wight) Ropner, Col. L
Duthie, W. S. Mackeson, Lt. Col. H. R. Ross, Sir R.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Maclean, Brig. F. H. R. (Lancaster) Sanderson, Sir F.
Foster, J. G. (Northwich) MacLeod, Capt. J; Scott, Lord W.
Fraser, Maj. H. C. P. (Stone) Macpherson, Maj. N. (Dumfries) Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)
Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale) Maitland, Comdr. J. W. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D. Manningham-Buller, R E. Snadden, W. M.
Glossop, C. W. H. Marples, A. E. Spence, H. R.
Glyn, Sir R. Marsden, Capt. A. Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.
Granville, E. (Eye) Marshall, D. (Bodmin) Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Gridley, Sir A. Marshall, S. H. (Sutton) Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)
Grimston, R. V. Maude, J. C. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray)
Gruffyd, Prof. W. J. Mellor, Sir J. Studholme, H G
Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley) Molson, A. H. E Sutcliffe, H.
Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V. Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T. Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Head, Brig. A. H. Morris, Hopkin (Carmarthen) Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)
Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C. Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury) Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.
Henderson, John (Catheart) Mott-Radclyffe, Maj. C E. Thorp, Lt.-Col. R. A. F.
Hinchingbrooke, Viscount Neven-Spence, Sir B. Touche, G. C.
Hollis, M. C. Nield, B. (Chester) Turton, R. H.
Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Vane, W. M. T
Howard, Hon. A Orr-Ewing, I. L. Wadsworth, G.
Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport) Osborne, C. Wakefield, Sir W. W.
Hutchison, Lt-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.) Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Walker-Smith, D.
Hutchison, Col. J R. (Glasgow, C.) Pickthorn, K. Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie
Jarvis, Sir J. Pitman, l. J. Wheatley, Colonel M. J.
Jeffreys, Genera! Sir G Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry) White, Sir D. (Fareham)
Jennings, R. Prescott, Stanley Williams, C. (Torquay)
Joynson-Hicks, Lt.-Cdr. Hon. L. W Price-White, Lt.-Col. D Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Prior-Palmer, Brig. O Willoughby de Eresby, Lord
Langford-Holt, J. Raikes, H. V. Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H Ramsay, Maj. S. York, C
Lipson, D. L. Rayner, Brig. R.
Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral) Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury) TELLERS FOR THE AYES
Low, Brig. A. R. W Raid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead) Sir Arthur Young and
Mr. Drewe
Adams, Richard (Balham) Cluse, W. S Follick, M.
Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South) Cobb, F. A. Forman, J. G.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Cocks, F. S. Foster, W. (Wigan)
Alpass, J. H. Coldrick, W. Fraser, T. (Hamilton)
Anderson, A. (Motherwell) Collick, P. Freeman, Maj. J. (Watford)
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Collindridge, F. Gaitskell, H. T N.
Attewell, H. C. Collins, V.J. Gallacher, W.
Awbery, S. S. Colman, Miss G. M. Ganley, Mrs. C. S
Ayles, W. H. Comyns, Dr. L. Gibbins, J.
Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W.) Gibson, C. W
Bacon, Miss A. Corlett, Dr. J. Gilzean, A.
Baird, Capt. J. Corvedale, Viscount GlanVille, J. E. (Consett)
Balfour, A. Cove, W. G. Gooch, E. G.
Barstow, P. G Daggar, G. Goodrich, H. E.
Barton, C. Daines, P. Gordon-Walker, P. C.
Battley, J. R. Davies, Edward (Burslem) Greenwood, A. W J (Heywood)
Bechervaise, A. E Davies, Harold (Leek) Grenfell, D. R.
Berry, H. Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.) Grey, C. F.
Beswick, F. Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Grierson, E.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale) Davies, S. O (Merthyr) Griffiths, D, (Rother Valley)
Bing, Capt. G. H. C. Deer, G. Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)
Binns, J, de Freitas, Geoffrey Griffiths, Capt. W D. (Mass Side)
Blackburn, A. R. Delargy, Captain H. J Guy, W. H
Blenkinsop, Capt. Diamond, J. Hale, Leslie
Blyton, W. R. Dobbie, W. Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)
Board man, H. Dodds, N. N. Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)
Bottomley, A. G. Driberg, T. E. N. Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.
Bowden, Flg.-Oftr. H W. Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich) Hannah, w. (Maryhill)
Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton) Dumpleton, C. W. Harrison, J,
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'p'l, Exch'ge) Durbin, E. F. M. Hastings, Dr. Somerville
Brook, D. (Halifax) Dye, S. Henderson, A, (Kingswinford)
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C. Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)
Brown, George (Belper) Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Harbison, Miss M.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Edwards, John (Blackburn) Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)
Brown, W. J. (Rugby) Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) House, G.
Bruce, Maj. D. W. T. Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel) Hubbard, T.
Buchanan, G. Evans, E. (Lowestoft) Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)
Castle, Mrs. B. A. Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury) Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)
Chamberlain, R. A. Ewart, R. Hughes Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Champion, A. J. Fairhurst, F. Hughes, Lt. H D. (W'lvtrh'pton, W.)
Chelwynd, Capt. G. R Farthing, W. J. Irving, W. J
Clitherow, Dr. R. Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.) Janner, B
Jeger, G. (Winchester) Nally, W Stubbs, A. E.
Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.) Naylor, T. E. Swingler, S.
Jones, J. H. (Bolton) Neal, H. (Claycross) Symonds, Maj. A. L
Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin) Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)
Keenan, W. Nicholls, H, R (Stratford) Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)
Kenyan, C. Noel.-Buxton, lady Thomas, l. O. (Wrekin)
King, E. M. Oldfield, W. H. Thomas, George (Cardiff)
Kingdom, Sqn.-Ldr. E. Oliver, G. H. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
Kinley, J. Orbach, M. Thurtle, E.
Kirby, B. V. Paget, R.T. Tiffany, S.
Kirkwood, D. Palmer, A. M. F. Titterington, M. F.
Lang, G. Parker, J, Tolley, L.
Lavers, S. Parkin, Flt-Lieut. B, T Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J. Perrins, W. Ungoed-Thomas, L
Lee, F. (Hulme) Porter, E. (Warrington) Usborne, Henry
Lee, Miss J. (Cannock) Porter, G. (Leeds) Viant, S. P.
Leslie, J. R. Proctor, W. T. Walkden, E.
Levy, B. W. Pryde, D. J. Walker, G. H.
Lewis, T. (Southampton) Pursey, Cmdr. H Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)
Lindgren, G. S. Ranger, J. Warbey, W. N.
Lipton, Lt.-Col, M. Rankin, J. Watson, W. M
Logan, O. G. Reeves, J. Weitzman, D.
Lyne, A. W. Reid, T. (Swindon) Walls, P. L. (Faversham)
McEntee, V. a T. Richards, R. Wells, W. T. (Walsall)
McGhee, H. G. Ridealgh, Mrs. M. Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Mack, J. D. Robens, A. White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)
McKay, J. (Wallsend) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire) Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W
McKinlay, A. S. Royle, C. Wigg, Col. G. E.
Maclean, N (Govan) Sargood, R. Wilkins, W A.
McLeavy, F. Scollan, T. Wilkinson, Rt. Hon. Ellen
Macpherson, T. (Romford) Scott-Elliot, W. Willay, F. T. (Sunderland)
Mainwaring, W. H. Shackleton, Wing-Cdr. E. A. A Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)
Mallalieu, J. P. W. Sharp, Lt.-Col. G. M. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Mann, Mrs. J. Shawcross, Sir H. (St. Helens) Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)
Manning, Mrs. L (Epping) Shurmer, P. Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)
Marquand, H. A. Silverman, S. S, (Nelson) Williams, W. R. (Heston)
Marshall, F. (Brightside) Simmons, C. J. Wills, Mrs. E. A
Mayhew, C. P. Skinnard, F. W Wilson, J, H.
Medland, H. M. Smith, Ellis (Stoke) Wise, Major F. J
Messer, F. Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S) Woodburn, A.
Middleton, Mrs. L. Smith, S. H (Hull, S.W.) Woods, G S.
Mikardo, Ian Smith, T. (Normanton) Yates, V. F.
Mitchison, Maj. G. R Snow, Capt. J. W. Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Monslow, W. Soskice, Maj. Sir F. Younger, Hon Kenneth
Morgan, Dr. H. B. Sparks, J. A.
Morfey, R. Stamford, W TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.) Steele, T. Mr. Pearson and
Mort, D. L. Strachey, J. Captain Michael [...]
Moyle, A. Stross, Dr. B