§ 7.2 p.m.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards (Caerphilly)
I beg to move,That this House expresses its deep concern at the position of the long-term unemployed arising from the termination of Section 62 of the National Insurance Act, 1946, and, in particular, of those who, by reason of their disability, are handicapped in securing employment; and urges the Minister of National Insurance to introduce forthwith a short measure continuing the provisions of Section 62, pending consideration of the provisions of the Act at the quinquennial review in 1954.In raising this matter, I am returning to an old battleground. This is the first time since 1946 that we have had to discuss in the House the treatment of the unemployed. It is a matter of very great concern to many people, and I hope that it is not an indication of what is to happen in future that on this first occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of National Insurance has had to deal with the unemployed we have to stage a debate on the treatment of the unemployed under his regime.
The substance of the Motion deals with Section 62 of the National Insurance Act, 1946. That Section embodied the philosophy that the unemployed should not be penalised by the State for 932 the State's inability to provide jobs. That was the first time that that philosophy was expressed in legislation, and since the passage of the Act in 1946 we have had hardly any complaint about the way in which the unemployed have been treated. I give credit to my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) for the splendid job of work that he did in piloting the Act through the House. It was his advocacy which enabled the House to accept the 1946 Bill, and in particular Section 62, about which we are concerned tonight.
The first thing that Section 62 of the Act did was to preserve the 180 days' benefit for the unemployed man who was insured. It also provided that a further possible 130 days' benefit, making 310 days' benefit in all, could be obtained by the unemployed man. That was the end of his statutory benefit. Then it had a provision whereby any man who exhausted his statutory benefit became entitled to, or could claim, extended benefit.
§ The question of extended benefit was a matter of very bitter debate, both in Committee and at all stages of the Bill. The extended benefit provision enabled a man who had exhausted his statutory benefit to go before a local tribunal to prove that he was fit and available for work, and, on production of that proof, he was granted six months' extension of standard rate of benefit. At the end of that six months he had only to prove the same thing and he was given an extension for another six months.
§ The result has been to provide a rate of benefit for an unemployed man, for whom the State could not find employment, without regard altogether as to what means he had. In fact, in relation to the unemployed under this provision, the means test was abolished, as we thought, for all time. The money for this extended benefit was found from the national Exchequer. It was not a burden on the Insurance Fund, neither was it a burden on the Assistance Board. The Assistance Board did not touch the unemployed man or his dependants.
§ The scheme has worked exceptionally well. For the first time in this century unemployment has ceased to be a source of civil discord. We have had no demonstrations. I can hardly remember a Question about it being raised in the House. 933 There have been no complaints from either side of the House as to the way in which the scheme has worked. It was a venture. It was trying out something that was new and, looking back, we can say that the scheme has worked with great credit to the country and with great satisfaction to all concerned.
§ But Section 62 of the Act, by its own provision in subsection (5), came to an end last Saturday, 4th July. On that date extended benefit came to an end and men who were not qualified for additional benefit and who had exhausted their 180 days' statutory benefit were put off benefit and today are on the books of the Assistance Board.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
We shall deal with that later. Men who entered the insurance scheme after the appointed day have already had notice. In my own town, they were told last Thursday that after Saturday they must make their claim to the Assistance Board. Perhaps the Minister will be able to clear this up, because it is an action that has already been taken by the Ministry of Labour. The notice has been issued, just as the other notices giving an indication of the additional days due have also been issued.
Why was there this automatic provision for the termination of Section 62 of the Act? I have looked back at the debates, and I find that my right hon. Friend had this to say about it:I have been asked why this should only continue for five years. The reason is that this is a very big venture. We believe that this Clause can be made to work. … Therefore, we think that we should include the provision that this scheme should last for five years, and at the end of five years we"—note, "we"—can take whatever steps are necessary in the interests of improvement."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 4th April, 1946; c. 550.]That is what my right hon. Friend said. Despite all the apprehensions of my hon. Friends on this side of the House as to whether the scheme would work, I think all of them would say that it has worked, and worked perfectly.
The reasons for the scheme were put most strongly in the Committee by my 934 hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton). I read his speech again today, and I thought that he was stating the case for a continuation of Section 62. My right hon. Friend, however, made a prophetic error. I am told that when politicians become prophets, they are apt to go wrong.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
In regard to the doubts of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who foresaw this position, my right hon. Friend said that when we came to the end of the five years, an attempt would be made to place the unemployed man from benefit on to the Assistance Board.
Generally speaking, however, the scheme has worked well; but instead of my right hon. Friend now being on the other side of the House, with power to improve the scheme, to amend it or to continue it, we now have on the other side the Minister's party, who were against the scheme altogether in 1946.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
Is the right hon. Member aware that until this debate a lot of back benchers on this side of the House had no foresight that this was likely to happen or was happening? The first I heard of it was today, apart from Press reports.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
It is not for me to take up the attitude of having to enlighten Members of the Conservative Party about what their Government are doing, or not doing.
In order to understand what is being done today we have to consider what was said in 1946 when this scheme was being debated in this House and upstairs in Committee. We can see that what the Conservative Party did not have the power to do in 1946 they are now seeking to do now they have the power. My view is that one cannot understand the tactic of the Government in this matter unless one reads what they attempted to do when this National Insurance Act was a Bill under discussion upstairs.
In 1946 the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. R. A. Butler) moved to delete Clause 61, as it then was, which eventually became Section 62. He wanted the unemployed, after they had had a maximum of 312 days' benefit, to go 935 straight on to the means test. The present Minister of National Insurance, if he will charge his memory, will probably remember saying:Whether this extended benefit is to be administered by the tribunal or by the Minister, we are opposed to it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 3rd April, 1946; c. 515.]When the matter went to a Division in Committee the party of the right hon. Gentleman voted against Section 62, voted against the scheme and voted against extended benefit. Now the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden is Chancellor of the Exchequer and the right hon. Gentleman opposite is Minister of National Insurance.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer was obviously motivated by two reasons. The first is the old one that the long-term unemployed ought to be placed in the charge of the Assistance Board and the other is to save the direct financial burden of extended benefit that is being given to all men who have exhausted their 180 days. If he were to get his way and if nothing were done, 48,000 who are today unemployed would be placed under the charge of the Assistance Board. One can imagine what a row there would be in this country—perhaps extending to the benches opposite—if 48,000 men and women were transferred from benefit to the means test on one and the same day. That would have been politically inconvenient and, in addition, would have thrown a burden on the administration which probably the administration would not have been able to carry.
The problem facing the Government was how to achieve their purpose without causing a major political row and how to do it without straining the administration. A very convenient way was found. The instrument to achieve the object which the party opposite had in mind in 1946 is the National Insurance (Additional Days of Unemployment Benefit) Regulations, 1953, Command Paper 848. I do not know how many hon. Members have attempted to read these Regulations. I spent some time on them and I was a bit shocked. I do not think we should submit the Regulations to a precise analysis this evening. My right hon. and hon. Friends will have to pray against these Regulations at an appropriate time when they can submit them to a very close analysis. How do 936 they affect the unemployed? I will quote from them and perhaps my hon. Friends will try to pick out from the quotations what is really meant. I quote from the leaflet issued to the unemployed. This is an extract from Leaflet N.I. 12:Duration of Benefit: Additional Days.Every claimant who satisfies the conditions and is not disqualified may receive 180 days of benefit in one period of interruption of employment. This is the basic number of days but a person who, when he reaches his 156th day of benefit, has been insured for at least five years under the National Insurance scheme, whether he has been insured as an insured person or otherwise, may qualify for additional days of benefit.The significant thing is that he must be insured for at least five years. If he came in in 1948 after the appointed day, on the face of it he does not appear to qualify for additional days and goes straight to the means test under the Assistance Board. I quote further:For such a person …one who is now qualified—the number of additional days is calculated by allowing three days for every five class I (employed person's) contributions which he has paid in the last ten contribution periods, less one day for every ten days unemployment benefit which he has drawn in the last four contribution periods. Both the ten and the four-year periods end with the last contribution year before the benefit year in which the claimant reaches his 156th day of benefit. The maximum number of additional days which may be allowed for one period of interruption of employment is 312, thus enabling a total of 492 days of benefit to be paid in such a period.This may be very simple, but I doubt whether one man in 10,000 unemployed will understand, or be able to calculate, what are the additional days to which he will be entitled. Summarising what these new Regulations do—they preserve the old 180 days, those who have not been insured for five years go straight on the means test and the maximum days benefit have been increased from 310 to 492. After that 492 days they go to the Assistance Board. Extended benefit, which previously was a direct charge on the Exchequer, has gone altogether. The increase in benefit days is made a charge on the Insurance Fund. What have these Regulations done? They have ensured that at the expiration of a certain period of benefit all the unemployed go on to the means test. I do not think that that can be challenged for one moment.
937 But this increase is not permanent. I would draw the attention of the House to the Report of the Advisory Committee in which, in paragraph 6, page 5, additional number of days are dealt with. This is what the Report says:It has been represented to us that the number of additional days for which the draft regulations make provision would, in the event of a prolonged national trade depression, be excessive;"—I should like to ask whoever is to reply for the Government, who made those representations? Were they representations from the Government? Was it the Government's view that the number of days approved in these Regulations was excessive?
The Report goes on:and that they might impose a burden on the National Insurance Fund greater than it could bear. It would be preferable, it was urged"—I would again ask, who urged it?—to make a more restricted provision for additional days which could confidently be maintained in all circumstances. After full consideration we feel unable to accept this view.The Committee then go on and give their reasons. Accordingly, it appears that when we get the quinquennial review this temporary improvement in the number of standard days, these additional days themselves, may be under attack. We may see a further attack on the rights of the unemployed next year, when there is that review.
The sum total of these Regulations is that not a single person now in receipt of benefit will be a penny better off. Those who came into insurance in 1948 after the appointed day and have had their 180 days' benefit, go straight to the Assistance Board. All the unemployed who exhaust their statutory benefit and additional days and are in receipt of either war or industrial disablement pensions, compensation or industrial injuries benefit, or who have other income, will probably be worse off under this arrangement.
The only person to be better off is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and we should like to know how much he expects to save, either directly or indirectly, upon the disabled unemployed of this country by this method. The Insurance Fund loses, and it is the elderly and disabled unemployed who are to suffer. I went 938 to some trouble this weekend to find out exactly what was happening. I examined the position in a township that was not in the heart of a coalfield but was on the fringe of a coalfield.
This is what I found. On a male register of 200, 89 unemployed persons had exhausted their 180 days and therefore come under the new Regulations. Two were struck off altogether and were told to go to the Assistance Board. Twenty-two will get 10 weeks of additional days, five will get 12 weeks of additional days, 11 will get 13 weeks, two will get 14 weeks, five will get 15 weeks, seven will get 16 weeks, nine will get 20 weeks and seven will get 21 weeks Altogether, in 21 weeks, 68 of the 89 men will have exhausted all rights under the National Insurance Fund.
The most alarming thing is that of these 68 men 34 are pneumoconiosis victims, and all are over 40 years of age. All of them are in receipt of compensation or industrial injuries benefit; some of them have had other additional benefits from the miners' funds; others have additional benefits from a private insurance scheme at that colliery. Most of them will suffer a reduction in income of between 4s. and 15s. a week. All of them will be subjected to the means test and all that that involves. The older men and the disabled are the ones to suffer.
It must be remembered that in Great Britain at the moment—I am using the latest available figures—there are 55,751 disabled men on the unemployment register. This is the field in which this blow will fall. Men who have been wounded in war, men who have been injured in industry—these are the ones who will feel the effect of this new tactic of this Government. Half of the registered disabled unemployed are war pensioners. By the Bill which was debated last week, to which some reference was made earlier, when the right hon. Gentleman corrected me, the war disabled are being passed to the Ministry of National Insurance. It would be more true to say that the Ministry will pass them to the Assistance Board. By this slightly longer road, by this more circuitous arrangement, the Tory view that the long-term unemployed should be pushed from benefit into the field of the Assistance Board has been achieved.
939 There has been no complaint about the working of Section 62. We have had peace in this field. Goodness knows that prior to the war we had many battles on the Floor of this House about this matter, but where we have had peace and comparative contentment this Government precipitate strife, and do so in relation to the most defenceless people in the country. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this matter.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer talked on Saturday about the difficulties of this country, about the importance of raising exports and the difficult economic battle which we were having. I make no prophecies but I express the hope that we shall never again have large-scale unemployment in this country; but if we are to experience difficult economic circumstances, if it does happen that we get a large volume of unemployment, the great havoc that will be caused in the lives of those people for whom the State cannot find employment is something which right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House will recognise.
There is our case. We do not want the treatment of the unemployed to become a foremost question on the political battleground. We thought we had saved them from that, but these Regulations, and allowing Section 62 to lapse in this way, without an adequate provision for the long-term unemployed, is creating a situation in which there is bound to be continuous debate and continuous conflict in the House.
When one reads what happened in the Committee stage of the Bill, when we discussed the Clause which eventually became Section 62, one is bound to come to the conclusion that here is a conspiracy against the long-term unemployed. I ask the Government to reconsider what they are doing in this matter and to see that such treatment is not given to the long-term disabled unemployed, so as to prevent heavy conflict in this House.
§ 7.30 p.m.
§ The Minister of National Insurance (Mr. Osbert Peake)
This is a Supply Day allotted to the Committee of Supply to enable the Opposition to choose subjects for debate. In Committee of Supply however it would not have been in order to discuss matters requiring legislation. I 940 take it as a compliment that the Opposition have so far found nothing in the administration of my Department to criticise upon a Supply Day in the ordinary way. The Government have willingly agreed therefore to take Supply formally this evening in order to enable the Opposition to raise an issue which would require legislation, namely the automatic expiry on 5th July of this year of Section 62 of the National Insurance Act which they carried through this House in 1946.
To judge from the tone of some of the comments and some of the statements made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards), one would think that the Government were repealing Section 62 of the Act. Of course, that is not the case. Section 62 expired automatically at the end of five years. I welcome this opportunity therefore of explaining both the reasons which have deterred the Government from introducing special legislation to take the place of Section 62, and what I think is the generous scheme we have devised for giving additional periods of unemployment benefit to those whose normal entitlement to it would otherwise run out.
The right hon. Gentleman, and in fact all hon. Members, have had ample notice that Section 62 expired two days ago. That was laid down in the Act of 1946, and actually it is as long ago as 9th February since I announced in this House, in answer to a Question that the Government intended to bring into operation a new and more generous system of added days of unemployment benefit. I have no quarrel with the right hon. Gentleman or the Party opposite on choosing this subject for debate, but I am surprised that it was not raised some time ago, because the intentions of the Government were made clear as long ago as last February.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
The right hon. Gentleman is speaking about the time which has elapsed since he made the announcement. May I ask whether he proposes to report to the House his discussion with the T.U.C. and their request that this Section should be continued?
§ Mr. Peake
I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman interrupted me to ask about that matter. I have always regarded it as improper to say whether or not the T.U.C. have approached me on a particular topic, unless they have agreed that I should 941 make such a statement. I attach the very greatest importance to the discussions which I have with the T.U.C. from time to time, but I neither wish to confirm nor deny—unless very hard pressed—whether or not I have been approached by the T.U.C. on this matter.
§ Mr. Griffiths
As the right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well, we on this side of the House have close contact with the T.U.C. It is within our knowledge that they have asked the Minister to do precisely what I said.
§ Mr. Griffiths
This is a matter of importance. Would the right hon. Gentleman care to read this letter which I hold in my hand?
§ Mr. Peake
There has been some suggestion that this five-year period put into Section 62 by the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) was in some way connected, or ought to be connected, with the quinquennial review of the finances of the insurance scheme. The right hon. Member for Caerphilly quoted 942 from the discussions in the Standing Committee in April, 1946. My right hon. Friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer asked then what was meant by that five-year period. The right hon. Member for Llanelly replied, and the right hon. Member for Caerphilly has today quoted some of the words used by his right hon. Friend, but he omitted the most vital sentence. I should like to tell the House what the right hon. Gentleman did say in reply to the question about what was the meaning of the five-year period. The right hon. Gentleman said:The reason is that this is a very big venture. We believe that this Clause can be made to work. Before five years are up, we shall know. We shall have the returns and"—these are the important words—long before the end of that period, we shall be in a position to examine it and review it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee A, 4th April, 1946; c. 550.]On reaching the Ministry of National Insurance, I had to face the question of how this provision was operated. I would ask the House to look for a moment at the history of it.
It has always been accepted generally, though not without some difference of opinion among hon. Gentlemen opposite, that unemployment benefit, unlike sickness benefit, should be limited in duration. I need not go deeply into the reason for this limitation. But a limitation on the period of benefit has always been part of the scheme, and a limitation was re-enacted in the Act of 1946. There was a debate in this House on 23rd May in which a minority, led by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), voted for an unlimited benefit. But all the sponsors of the Motion today who were in the House at that time—I except the hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton)—supported the right hon. Gentleman opposite in the Lobbies in favour of a limited period.
Section 62 was included in the Act for one purpose and one purpose only. It was to enable those who had run out of benefit and whose unemployment was due entirely to temporary dislocation arising out of the war, to receive it subject to a tribunal's recommendation. Section 62 is a curious hybrid between insurance and assistance. The money for it was to come from the Exchequer, and not out of the Insurance Fund. Whether 943 this extended benefit was to be payable in any individual case was to depend upon the recommendation of a local appeal tribunal. The tribunal, however, were expressly prohibited when they considered an application from paying any regard to the financial circumstances of the applicant.
It is as well to look back and consider what was in the mind of the Government of the day when they incorporated Section 62 in the Act. We had had the Beve-ridge Report which had estimated postwar unemployment at 8½ per cent. of the employed population. That was accepted as an average or a normal figure and that assumption was adopted in the White Paper on Employment Policy which was published by the Coalition Government. These estimates have happily not been fulfilled, but they were generally accepted at that time, and 8½ per cent. would have meant nearly two million persons unemployed.
Section 62 contemplated excessive unemployment due to post-war dislocation. It assumed very large numbers of unemployed and consequently, as a result of that, very large numbers indeed who would have run out of ordinary benefit. I want to quote to the House from the instructions to local tribunals which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly issued in June, 1948, a few weeks before the Section came into operation. The instructions said:Extended benefit. The primary object of extended benefit is to make provision for those persons who, owing to the dislocation of industry following the war, are temporarily unable to find employment pending the development of plans under the full employment policy and who have exhausted their rights to ordinary benefit. The life of the provision is accordingly limited by Section 62 (5) to five years from the appointed day, that is, from 5th July, 1948.Those were the instructions, and it has been upon the basis of post-war dislocation of industry that the tribunals have had to try to decide individual cases which have come before them.
Of course, the Beveridge forecast has, most fortunately, been belied by experience. Not only has unemployment been continuously below 2½ per cent. since the war, but the numbers on extended benefit have never been more than a small fraction of what was anticipated. They 944 have varied between 33,000 and 55,000, today's figure being about 48,000, and this despite the fact that refusals of applications have only been about 12 per cent. to 14 per cent.
I can give the House, as a result of careful inquiry, some information about the categories of persons in receipt of extended benefit and of the duration for which they have been receiving it. First, it would be a mistake to assume that they are a static body, that they are the same people going on extended benefit month after month and year after year. In fact, the hard core comprises only about 6,000 cases who have drawn it continuously for several years. The remainder come and go. Some of them on extended benefit find jobs; some pass on to other forms of benefit, such as sickness benefit or retirement pension. Of those who receive it more than 40 per cent. do so for a period of less than 12 months.
It is our hope and belief that the new provisions for added days of benefit which have just come into operation will pick up a large number of those who might otherwise apply for extended benefit. Our inquiries show that the cases are spread fairly evenly all over the country. But here is a fact of some importance and some relevance to our debate. We find that one in four of those on extended benefit, having obtained extended benefit, go to the National Assistance Board for supplementation. Do not let us imagine that that means the man walking round to the Assistance Board office every time he has to draw supplementation. These people, whether they are on extended benefit, on Assistance, or on a combination of both, draw their benefit at the employment exchange. In the Development Areas we find that one in two of those on extended benefit are also going to the National Assistance Board to get their benefit supplemented.
I must say a few words as to the class of persons drawing benefit. They are quite a different class to what was anticipated. Something less than half of them are suffering from some kind or other of disability, and of course a proportion—a large proportion probably—are in receipt of some other source of income, such as workmen's compensation in the cases mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly, or industrial injuries benefit.
945 The disabled naturally excite our sympathy. So far as the workmen's compensation cases are concerned, I have no doubt that some of them would have obtained certificates of incapacity for work and would have drawn sickness benefit in preference to extended benefit had there not been imposed, by Regulations made under the 1946 Act by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly, a provision against them drawing dependants' allowances in full together with sickness benefit. I am happy to say that I have recently revoked this disqualification and, for the future, those who are incapable of work—and of course many of these people are just on the border line between capacity and incapacity for work—will be able to draw dependants' allowances with sickness benefit in full over and above their workmen's compensation payments.
Apart from the disabled, another fairly large category comprises married women whom it is difficult to place in employment on account of their limited availability. Then we also have a substantial number of persons who are now described as persons without a settled way of living and for whom there were other descriptions in days gone by. For various reasons it is almost impossible for the labour exchanges to place many of these in employment.
Finally, there are a number of persons receiving extended benefit for whom it could never possibly have been contemplated by the right hon. Gentleman. This is the class to which the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) drew attention during the debate on the National Insurance Bill last year. They are persons with superannuation rights maturing at the age of 60. They include people such as retired civil servants, local government employees and officials of banks and insurance companies. On superannuation between the ages of 60 and 65, they are very difficult to place in suitable jobs. Although they have good vocational pensions, the local appeal tribunals are expressly prohibited by Section 62 from taking their financial circumstances into account.
These are the facts which confronted me when I had to consider the imminent expiry of Section 62 on 5th July this year. It was clear to me that the whole purpose of the scheme had, fortunately, been 946 frustrated, and it had never materialised; that is to say, we had never suffered, thank goodness, from the dislocation of employment in the post-war years which had been anticipated when Section 62 was incorporated in the Bill.
The administration by the local tribunals—I am sure they have done their best to make a job of this—has necessarily been very uneven. There was no method of co-ordinating the decisions of the local appeal tribunals, and it seemed rather hit or miss whether a man got his extended benefit or not. Benefit by decision of a tribunal of this character in this class of case does not seem to me to be a very satisfactory method. I think that sometimes the man who could tell the tale got his benefit, whereas the fellow who was not very good at explaining himself failed to do so.
There is, however, one class which naturally excite sympathy, and it is these people about whom the Opposition express concern in their Motion. They are the small pockets—smallish taken in proportion to the problem as a whole—of partially disabled persons in the Development Areas, such as those who suffer from pneumoconiosis. Let it be observed that half the cases of extended benefit in the Development Areas are already going to the Assistance Board to supplement their extended benefit.
It is suggested that some of these people, if they have to go to the Assistance Board, will suffer substantial hardship by reduction of their incomes when extended benefit comes to an end. We have made provision that, when extended benefits ended the day before yesterday, all these people go back to ordinary benefit, some of them for a considerable period—for periods varying between 10 and 40 weeks—but I want to give in figures, so that the House may consider the matter in proportion, the sort of effect which the ending of extended benefit may have on a typical workmen's compensation case or two.
Let us take the case of a single man, partially disabled with a workman's compensation weekly payment of 30s. He is in the employment field, and goes to his Ministry of Labour employment exchange and draws his extended benefit of 32s. 6d., so that his total weekly income from these sources is 62s. 6d. If and when he comes 947 off extended benefit, what will happen to him? For the future, he would retain his weekly compensation payment of 30s., and the Assistance Board payment, with allowance for the disregards, would be calculated at 25s., plus an allowance for his rent. If his weekly income under extended benefit was 62s. 6d., it would become 55s., plus an allowance for the rent.
§ Mr. Peake
So that hon. Gentlemen opposite shall not think that I am doing anything at all slick in quoting that case, I will give them another, which I am sure they will think of as being a very much harder case. This was brought to my knowledge by an hon. Member as a case in which hardship occurred. It was the case of a miner with six children, four of them of school age or below, and he was partially disabled with pneumoconiosis. This was how his income worked out after the tribunal had decided that extended benefits in his case ought not to continue.
He had the maximum payment under the Workmen's Compensation Acts for a married man with children, which is 55s. He had the miner's supplement of 20s., which made it 75s. He got three family allowances, amounting to 24s., which, added on, made a total of 99s. His needs over and above that were assessed by the Assistance Board at 45s. 6d., which gave him a weekly income of £7 4s. 6d. Of his six children, four were of school age or less, and the other two were going out to work, and, no doubt, making some contribution to the maintenance of the home. I do not think that that figure of £7 4s. 6d. is a big figure, but it does not compare unfavourably with the recent awards of the Agricultural Wages Board given to agricultural labourers some days ago.
I have taken extreme cases, in one of which a man who was taken off extended benefit and transferred to the Assistance Board had, at the end of the week, an income of £7 4s. 6d. It is difficult to put forward such cases of some loss of income owing to the lapse of Section 62 as being cases in which real hardship is going to arise. I think the supporters of the Motion have overlooked the more humane and generous way in which assistance is operated today, and have failed to observe the improvement in the standards of those 948 on assistance which has taken place since 1946. The household means test disappeared in 1940. The National Assistance Act was passed in 1948, two years after Section 62 was framed, and it further limited the responsibilities of members of the family towards each other.
That is one aspect of the case, but I think the House would like to know that, by the best comparisons we can make, the actual living standards of those on assistance has improved by 25 per cent. since 1946; that is, in the short period of seven years, and that has been achieved under Governments of different complexions, all of which equally have the interests of the poorest of the poor at heart.
§ Mr. Peake
Scale rates during that period have very nearly doubled, whereas the cost of living has gone up by something very much less than 100 per cent.
These are the reasons we came to the conclusion that it would be impossible to devise new legislation to continue a half-way house between insurance and assistance. We should have had to devise some quite new formula, because we could not go on pretending that people should get extended benefit on the grounds of the post-war dislocation of industry which has not, in fact, occurred. I have not the slightest idea as to what the new formula should have been, but, certainly we could not have gone on with the old. Our attitude has, I think, been constructive.
Now I turn to the new Regulations for added days to which the right hon. Gentleman opposite made reference. These Regulations provide a maximum period of insurance benefit longer than has ever been known in the history of unemployment benefit in this country. The position as I found it was that the new entrants to insurance in 1948 had until the present no entitlement to added days' benefit. Those insured under the old system could draw benefit, if they had a perfect insurance record, for a period of five months beyond the normal seven months laid down in the Act, making 12 months in all.
The new Regulations give entitlement to added days' benefit to the new entrants 949 of 1948 who have now, of course, completed five years' insurance, and to those insured under the old scheme. The number of additional days will depend on the number of contributions paid during the previous 10 years and the amount of benefit drawn during the last four. As the pre-1948 records are, however, incomplete, we are assuming in favour of persons insured before that date that they had all paid the maximum possible number of contributions.
The new scheme provides additional benefit during the extended period, up to a maximum of 12 months, instead of only five months as hitherto. That is to say, normal benefit may be drawn for up to 19 months in all and for periods which approach that, even where there is a somewhat defective contribution record.
I laid this scheme before the National Insurance Advisory Committee, which, as hon. Members know, has representatives of both sides of industry on it, on 3rd February last, and they reported on it on 16th April. I think I ought to quote a sentence or two from their Report. In paragraph 8, they say:The whole system of extended benefit was, under the terms of the Act, to come to an end five years after the National Insurance Scheme began, since its essential purpose was to cover the unemployment due to temporary problems of industrial conversion to peace-time production.That is a statement by a body independent of myself. It is not a statement on behalf of the Government, but the view of the National Insurance Advisory Committee. They went on to say:The system of extended benefits has, in effect, been used to provide for many cases such as will be dealt with by the present proposals as to additional days. … We consider, however, that it is right that the permanent provision should be as generous as is possible, since it will, to a substantial extent, deal with cases which have been dealt with in the past under the extended benefit ararngements.I may also add in explanation of the position that the National Insurance Advisory Committee examined and approved at the same time transitional Regulations which dealt in particular with persons now in receipt of extended benefit. As a result of these Regulations, which I am afraid are rather complex, nearly all of those on extended benefit today will return to ordinary benefit for periods which vary between 10 and 40 weeks. Each of them has been informed 950 by letter of the exact amount of their new entitlement.
I hope that the House will welcome and approve the new arrangements. We get back to the basic distinction between insurance as a right by virtue of contributions, and assistance for those in need. I have little doubt that the majority of persons who are now granted extended benefit, and about whom concern has been expressed, will be absorbed either on to full benefit under the normal system, or, alternatively, will qualify for sickness benefit through incapacity for work. I trust, therefore, that the House will reject the Motion before it.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the National Insurance Advisory Committee. Did he ask that Committee for their advice concerning whether it might be desirable to continue Section 62?
§ 8.5 p.m.
§ Mr. William Blyton (Houghton-le-Spring)
To me this is a sorry day, because I happened to be on the Committee in 1946 when Section 61 was debated.
§ Mr. Blyton
It was Section 61 in the Committee, and became Section 62 later.
I crossed swords with the Minister of National Insurance and also with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on that occasion, and if anyone cares to look at the report of my speeches in that Committee it will be found that I made it perfectly plain that I was pleased to see the end of the obnoxious household means test. What have we now? We are told that this is more generous. In the light of my own experience, I am always wary of the Tories when they start telling the unemployed man that they are going to be generous.
I spent 25 years on the courts of referees under the old Unemployment Insurance Acts. It was my job to try to place disabled men in employment in an industrial area where there was no work to be had. The Minister talks 951 about the uneven decisions of the tribunals, but we must remember that, if we are to determine the extended benefit of an applicant, we must also take into account the conditions of the area in which he lives, and conditions in Tyneside are entirely different from those in Bournemouth.
When we were in power, we always recognised that there had to be a statutory limit to benefit, but we also recognised that there had to be extended benefit, and extended benefit has been paid from as far back as 1930. The Minister knows as well as I do about the old 78 days review under the old Unemployment Insurance Act. Before a man received extended benefit, he had to come up every 78 days and tell of every place he had visited in order to prove that he was looking for work.
This problem of extended benefit is no new problem. Whereas we abolished the household means test under Section 62, the Tory Party are now resurrecting it. These Regulations will not only affect the unemployed man; they will also affect the able-bodied man in industry who may become unemployed tomorrow for a long period, as well as the disabled soldier or the civilian drawing a civil disability pension who was bombed in the last war.
The trade unions made overtures to the Minister to retain Section 62, but those overtures were rejected. The reason for our alarm is that we now know that the unemployed of this country are once again to face the ugly means test after their additional days of extended benefit have expired. After a maximum of 312 days of extended benefit they will have to go on to National Assistance.
The new Regulation establishes two fundamental principles. It brings back the means test, but, for the first time since 1946, it puts the cost of the extended benefit, not on the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but on the Insurance Fund. In the old days, the applicant had to prove that he was looking for work and to show that at all times he was available for work before he could get the extended benefit. Section 62 shifted the onus from the individual to the Minister.
The tribunal under Section 62 were prohibited from taking the financial resources of the applicant into consideration. 952 The two things which the tribunal had to determine in relation to extended benefit were the availability for work, which is always proved by the fact that the man was signing the unemployed register; and the industrial conditions of the area, which the tribunal had to take into consideration, having regard to the circumstances and disability of the applicant who came before them. Since Section 62 has operated, the Minister has said, nearly 90 per cent. of the applicants have been given their extended benefit. Under Section 62 there is no limit to extended benefit. The Tribunal can extend it time after time and no limit is put upon them.
By the new Regulations, the Minister will say that at such and such a time shall their extended benefit end and shall they go to the National Assistance Board. Section 62 lifted the unemployed man from the undignified position of seeking assistance from the Board and now, because his crime, as in the past, is to be out of employment, due to many causes, he is to be subject to the means test based on a leaflet A.L. 18 which has been issued by the Ministry.
This is what the unemployed man has to face. In order to apply the assistance grant Regulations, the officer must know whether the applicant is living alone or with other people, whether he has any dependants, how much rent he pays, and the amount and nature of any resources possessed by him, his wife—or husband—and any dependants living with him. If that is not a household means test, as we knew it in the past, I should like to know what a means test is—and I ask that as one who has experienced it.
This Section is to be allowed to lapse. The Minister said he was not repealing it, and that is quite true, but he is certainly not resurrecting Section 62, which protects the unemployed man from the household means test. The formula which determines a man's extended benefit is absolutely beyond me. I have tried to follow it. We have to have the man's insurance record before us before we can know. How is a man who has worked in the shipyards until he is 40 or 50 to know what extended days are to be given to him? I cannot tell. He has to depend on the Minister's Department as to whether the additional days he is given are correct or not.
953 Be that as it may, we have to bear in mind that the maximum they can get is 312 days. The vast majority of these 48,000 people have poor insurance records. As the Minister said, many of them cannot work because of injuries. An injured man has difficulty in finding suitable work. The same applies to the civilian who has been hit with a bomb or the ex-Service man with his disability pension or the man with pneumoconiosis. I have seen forms by which men have been notified that they have 80 or 90 days before them. What does that mean to these people? It means that when their additional days have been exhausted they must go to the National Assistance Board.
§ The question we must ask is, how will it affect their income? Will it reduce their standard of life? In hundreds of cases, the answer is "Yes." It is a remarkable thing that in the Budget of 1952 the first attack by the Tories on the National Health Insurance Act was on the crippled and the sick. Under the unemployment Acts it is the disabled and the injured who are the first to bear the brunt.
§ I want to give two examples. Take, first, the case of a man and wife with two sons over 21 years of age, both working. The man receives 30s. a week compensation; he pays 10s. a week rent; and today he enjoys an income of £4 4s. a week—that is £1 10s. compensation and £2 14s. unemployment pay. When he goes to the National Assistance Board he has 24s. deducted from the 59s. which the national scale allows for a man and wife. Why? He is reckoned to have an assumed contribution of 7s. each a week from his two sons—a total of 14s. Then, 10s. of his compensation is taken into account.
§ The figures work out in this way. He gets £1 15s. from the National Assistance Board and £1 10s. compensation. Although in nine cases out of 10 applicants do not get the maximum rent allowance, I have assumed that he gets the maximum of 10s. That brings him to £3 15s. a week, which means that he has had a reduction of 9s. a week. If this man had been a miner with the supplementation of £1 a week or if he had received a hardship allowance, these figures would have been even more glaring.954
§ Let us take the case of a shipyard worker who has hurt his back. He is a single man in lodgings and is over 21 years of age. He has 35s. a week compensation for injuries. Then he is certified fit for light work with no stooping or heavy lifting. That job exists only here, as M.P.s. There is no such job in the industrial world. He now enjoys £1 15s. a week compensation and £1 12s. 6d. a week unemployment benefit, which gives him £3 7s. 6d. a week. In future 15s. a week of his compensation is taken into consideration and that, in turn, is taken from the 31s. which he is allowed through National Assistance, so that he gets only 16s.
§ Mr. Blyton
I have the Ministry's document here. For a man living alone or a householder, as such directly responsible for rental and household resources, he gets 35s., but if he is in lodgings he does not. In the case I was quoting he gets 16s. from the National Assistance Board and 35s. compensation, making a total of 51s. That man therefore has a reduction of 16s. 6d. in his weekly income. These figures are taken from the Ministry's own booklet. A.L.18, in relation to assistance grants.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) said, it is the most defenceless who are now being treated in this way. The formula is to decide the number of additional days, not the circumstances of the man or the serious disability which he has suffered. This is returning our men to the days when the injured man on compensation had to go to the National Assistance Board for relief because his compensation payment did not allow him to keep himself.
Another important fact in this case should be noted. As hon. Members know, extended benefit has been a national charge. It is now to be paid by the Insurance Fund. It means that the Treasury is eased of the responsibility to the detriment of the Insurance Fund. This is not only an insidious attack on the weakest but has established a new principle of depleting the Insurance Fund to help the Treasury. We have always said that the nation as a whole ought to take responsibility for the long unemployment of our people in this country. 955 We have always fought for that principle. This new principle, while small in effect today, can mean large commitments on the Insurance Fund in the future.
We all desire peace, but it should be remembered that when it comes it will bring huge demands in America for a reduction in foreign aid, and a recession in the American market can have effects on ours. The Americans can build up their tariff walls against us to keep their own internal market intact. Our exports to America can be excluded, if a recession there should come, to protect their own internal market. Those who think that the boom will go on for ever in America are living in cuckoo-land. If we have large-scale unemployment, the Insurance Fund cannot carry the burden. We have to face that. In the light of this possibility, the Government are putting through this means test in the Regulations, because they anticipate that economic effect coming. I think the Chancellor's speech on Saturday was another indication of that.
If we have large-scale unemployment there are two things that will happen. To maintain the benefits, contributions will have to go up, or, the other side of the House will say, as the Insurance Fund cannot carry the benefits being paid the benefits must be reduced, as in 1931 when right hon. and hon. Gentlemen came back on the landslide. So I place no faith in what is going to happen next year when the review of the Act takes place. The people in power now believe in the means test. As sure as I am here, they will carry these Regulations next year again, when we discuss the future of the Act. It will mean that the able-bodied will be affected. I warn the able-bodied in employment that it may be their turn tomorrow, as it is the turn of the disabled today.
Therefore, I hope that, if the Minister is not to accede to our request tonight, all my hon. and right hon. Friends will go into the Lobby in support of this Motion and show to the country that our objection to the household means test, which we fought for years, still stands as a principle. We ought to vote to show that the means test, which many of us experienced in the days that are gone, is repugnant to us, and that we are disgusted at this sinister way of resurrecting it and 956 forcing it on people who have felt the brunt, the ex-Service men on pension, the unemployed civilians injured by bombs during the war, the men who were producing the wealth of the nation in industry and who are seriously injured and cannot get a job. They are to have their standards reduced to ease the Treasury of a burden it should rightly carry.
§ 8.24 p.m.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Walter Elliot (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
It has been truly said that this is a battlefield that has been fought over many a time, and I certainly have had long experience of it myself. In past debates in this House I had the task of putting through the legislation which abolished the whole of the local government Poor Law maintenance, which previously was all that the unemployed man had to rely on, under any Government, when he fell out of benefit, and of substituting for it the assistance which was administered at that time by the Assistance Board, which became the National Assistance Board, the administration of which, I think it is agreed on all sides, is a humane and far-sighted piece of Government work.
The difficulty which we are in, of course, was stated by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton). He stated that he crossed swords with his own Minister——
§ Mr. Blyton
No. I said I crossed swords with the Minister about the means test in the debates in 1946.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Certainly it is true that the decision that this system should prevail, and not be unlimited, was brought up when the Bill was in the Committee stage, and the view that it should be unlimited was rejected by the Labour Government and by a Labour Minister. The quarrel is with the Labour Government of the day and with the Labour Minister of the day, who put in a terminable Clause instead of an indefinite Clause. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), at any rate, takes credit for having opposed that at the time, and having stood out for an indefinite extension of what became Section 62, which was refused by the responsible Minister speaking on behalf of the responsible Government.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I was the responsible Minister, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman has got it all wrong, if I may say so with great respect to him. There was no proposal from the other side at that time to extend the five years, and the problem was whether there should be provision for extended benefit and there was a proposal by my hon. Friend to make it continuous under the Act.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
I think that both my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) are partly right and partly wrong. There was indeed the attempt to remove the limitation altogether and to make unemployment insurable, but besides that there was subsection (5) of the old Clause 61 which enacted that the old scheme should come to an end at the end of five years. That was never properly debated because it was held in Committee that an Amendment was out of order, so it was never discussed and never voted upon at all.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am perfectly content to be partly right and partly wrong in company with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), whose knowledge of these matters, I frankly admit, is far greater than mine, and to whose practical knowledge I would always defer; but since we have both been corrected by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne, not for the first time, I would say that the arguments while the Bill was going on certainly dealt with the question whether there should be an indefinite or a limited period. I would not go further than that. The House at the time decided upon this solution of a Clause which terminated, in virtue of which the debate is taking place tonight.
Of course, it is true that this point has been argued about time and again and fought over great periods of national trouble and distress. I was impressed by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring when he wondered about a possible American recession and possible extension of the outgoings from which the Fund is suffering today. It was exactly that which brought down the insurance scheme in the first instance and made it necessary to introduce a terminal period of benefit, with the subsequent indefinite 958 maintenance of the insured person from national funds. I fully agree with him that the person unemployed, through no fault of his own, is no longer after a certain period of time the responsibility of industry, but is the responsibility of the nation as a whole. That certainly is the principle which I myself translated into action and which I had the honour to put before the House.
§ Mr. Blyton
All I was saying is that today the extended benefit is paid by the Treasury, and I want that to go on, and not to put people on to the Insurance Fund so that in two years the Fund will be depleted.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I was discussing the rather wider field—the question whether the person should be carried, after the expiry of his contributions, by the State or by the Fund. I said that he should be carried by the State. That is the position as it will be even after this Motion is, I trust, defeated. At the end of the day, the responsibility for the person suffering a long period of unemployment falls on the Exchequer, and it falls on the Exchequer under the Minister's scheme just as it falls on the Exchequer under the provision of the Act which has just expired.
It is true that under the provision of the Act no examination whatever was held of the financial circumstances of the person who was benefiting. It is true that under National Assistance regard is paid to the circumstances of the person who is to benefit, and that is really what we are arguing about today. Again, the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring spoke somewhat bitterly of the conditions of the additional days which the Minister has brought in, but, after all, these conditions were examined and passed by a committee including, as he said, both sides of industry, and including representatives of the T.U.C. itself.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
We are not discussing whether the T.U.C. was opposed to the continuance of Section 62 but whether the T.U.C. representatives agreed to or advocated the proposals for the additional days, and it is not challenged that they agreed to the proposals for the additional days. We are now asking 959 whether there should be any additional days at all or whether Section 62 should be continued.
§ Mr. Anenrin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
If an outside body is consulted in the framing of legislation, whether it be the employers or the T.U.C., it is wrong to say in this House that they have agreed to this or that because, in fact, they have no part in the framing of legislation. What they do is to give advice to the Minister as to what will be the consequences of a certain action. They cannot be pleaded in the House of Commons in aid of a particular piece of legislation.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
The right hon. Gentleman and I myself have had discussions on this on the Floor of the House and in Committee upstairs, where he gave very interesting and valuable evidence and where we have frequently discussed whether outside bodies which have been consulted are thereby bound. I am not suggesting for a moment that they are bound. I am discussing the narrow and technical point—and I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give his attention to me and to stop his dialogue with his right hon. Friend if he is challenging what I have to say. I should think it very discourteous if I spoke to him and then proceeded to turn away when he was answering, and I would ask him to observe the same conventions.
I was saying that I was only dealing with the very narrow point as to whether the Regulations were so complicated as to be absolutely unintelligible, which was the case made by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring, or whether any improvement could be made in the conditions of these Regulations; and all I was saying was that in the drawing up of these Regulations the persons consulted gave the Minister, as the right hon. Gentleman himself has said, advice as to the consequences of the action which he was taking, and they did not suggest any improvement in the technical conditions of the provision for the additional days. I go no further than that. The technical conditions, although complicated, are as simple as they can be made by people dealing with a complicated and technical problem.
I only wish to leave that discussion out of our argument this afternoon because I 960 think that we are discussing a much bigger question, and that the more we can dismiss what I regard as a subsection of that argument, the sooner we shall come down to the important point. I repeat that on the question of additional days, the utmost possible care has been given to the promoting of these Regulations.
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman really must not try to buttress his argument, which appears to be extremely thin, by reproaching me. I and my right hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) were commenting upon the right hon. and gallant Gentleman's own argument, and we were following it quite clearly, as clearly as is practicable having regard to the way he is presenting it.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am perfectly content that that should be so, although I have heard the right hon. Gentleman comment very bitterly about conversations on the other Front Bench between people who said at the time that they were following his arguments very closely and giving them the utmost attention.
If I may state it shortly and simply, the technical problem of extended days has been considered on technical grounds by a technical committee and the technical committee has framed a scheme which is, as near as possible, workable. It may be complicated, but it is workable, and I do not think that that is denied by anyone in any part of the House. The real question is whether there should be such a scheme at all. Do I carry the right hon. Gentleman with me on that?
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Might we get this clear? This is an Advisory Committee upon which there are representatives of both sides of industry. They do not frame any Regulations. Regulations are framed by the Minister. They are submitted to the Committee who are asked for their advice, and they tender their advice. The responsibility for framing Regulations and presenting them to the House is entirely that of the Minister.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I fully agree with that. I have done my best to state it. All I am saying is that this is a complicated matter, in which additional advantage is given to persons with an insurance record which is more continuous than others, that this complicated 961 business has received a considerable amount of technical attention and that the Minister's Regulations, for which the Minister alone is responsible, and which he alone can recommend to the House, have had the benefit of the utmost technical consideration that could be given to them.
I do not think that is pressing the matter too far, and I do not think it is an argument which it is unfair to adduce to the House, because I merely wish to remove this from the ambit of our discussion. The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring quoted Regulations and leaflets. I admit that they are complicated, but all I say is that, in a complicated subject, the Minister has framed Regulations embodying the best conclusions which he could reach after taking technical advice.
The principle is another thing. It is the principle of whether there should be an insurance system with a limited period, or whether there should be a payment with an unlimited period. That is the main question that we are discussing this evening. The gravamen of the charge has been that the principle of an unlimited payment which was enshrined in the Section is being brought to an end under the provisions of the Act itself. That is the complaint which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have made this evening. I only say that this goes back a very long way. It was the danger of unlimited payments under the Insurance Fund which brought the old insurance scheme first into disrepute and then into bankruptcy, and it had to be altered. I believe that if an unlimited drain on the Insurance Fund were again established, it would bring about the same result. A further argument has been advanced——
§ Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman keeps repeating "an unlimited drain." Surely he is aware of the meetings of the tribunal. They have to come to a finding before there can be a further extension. Cannot the right hon. and gallant Gentleman bring it into that perspective. I am sure there are safeguards under the present provisions.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Certainly, that is perfectly true, but I do not think the hon. Member listened very closely to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring who envisaged a different position arising. I put this to the House without any hesitation. If the conditions which are imposed ought to be relaxed and if the means test is being applied partially and unjustly, then it is the means test which is at fault—the provision of assistance for the carrying of the individual by the State. That is a position which I ask the House to agree to, and I do not think that can be denied by anyone.
Both the examples given by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring were examples of the worsening position of individuals because their incomes were reduced by almost exactly the equivalent of their compensation payments taken into account. The shipyard worker was receiving in compensation a certain sum. Of that sum 15s. had to be taken into account, and he was going to receive a weekly reduction of 16s. 6d., or practically an equivalent amount of the compensation money not disregarded. The other case he gave concerned a man and his wife. He said that 10s. of that man's compensation would be taken into account, and there would be a reduction in his income of 9s. per week.
It may well be that the disregards ought to be more leniently administered, or that some at least should not be taken into account. I know this matter well. I framed the original scheme of disregards which brought into operation a whole list of payments which were not allowed before that time. Up till then the working population was concerned to a large extent with the Poor Law, and they were under very much more stringent conditions than after the passing of the Bill which allowed for these disregards to be considered. I know that these disregards have been considerably developed since then.
If the means test is harsh, it is harsh on all the people concerned, and not only on one section. The question of revising it is not one for the quinquennial review of this particular Act. I cannot see that that would be of any advantage in the 963 position we are discussing. Nor can I see it would bring a great deal of advantage to that section of the community whom two hon. Members mentioned, namely, those who are suffering from sickness and those who are suffering from injury which make it practically impossible for them to obtain employment. I think the House will agree that in these circumstances the worst service that could be done to the person in question is simply to pay out a succession of moneys without doing one's best to carry out rehabilitation treatment and to make sure that the person is capable eventually of taking a place in the employable forces of the country.
We listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southwark (Mr. Isaacs) in the debate recently on the fusing of the Ministry of Pensions into the Ministry of National Insurance. He gave examples of the remarkable feats of rehabilitation which had been carried out, through taking a case not merely as someone for which money should be paid out, but as a human being upon whom, as he said himself, miracles could be worked. I am sure that the indefinite prolongation of those payments is the least advantageous thing that can be done for the person who has suffered from one of these injuries. It may well be that sufficient attention is not being given to that suggestion, but that is a case for giving more attention to these problems and not a case for merely prolonging indefinitely Section 62 of the old Act.
Time and again this whole question has been discussed. All responsible administrators have always decided that the insurance payments must be contributory, and that it was only by contributory insurance payments that we could maintain the principle of drawing insurance money as a right; that no insurance scheme could eventually carry all the risks——
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am sorry if I am delaying the speech of the hon. Gentleman, but perhaps he will have an opportunity——
§ Mr. William Keenan (Liverpool, Kirkdale)
Cannot the right hon. and gallant Gentleman make a speech without the assistance of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)?
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
I am doing my best to speak without his assistance. I have never asked for the assistance of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne and I am sure that he would be the last to suggest that he gave it to anybody, especially on this side of the House.
§ Lieut.-Colonel Elliot
Then I regret that his efforts have been singularly unsuccessful.
Our difficulty today is this: Should payments to the person who is a long-continued casualty of industry be continued without any revision of the position in which he finds himself, or should they not? I think they are bound to be reviewed and revised. The burden of the insurance scheme on industry is not one which can be treated in the way in which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite sometimes suggest it should be treated. We have seen these great schemes placed in jeopardy before, and actually founder, through the lack of exactly the kind of treatment which right hon. Gentlemen when in office considered necessary in making this Section terminable and not continuous.
It is their then decision which is being challenged tonight. They have the responsibility of putting it on the Statute Book, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale—all these right hon. Gentlemen were members of the Government that put a terminable Clause into this Bill. On them falls the responsibility, and it is for them to show cause why it should not be terminated.
I suggest that they have not done that this evening, that the Motion which they have brought forward does nothing to deal with the situation. Therefore, on the ground that they put this law on the Statute Book, that they have brought forward no grounds for reversing the decision they then took, I ask the House not to pass this Motion this evening.
§ 8.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
I hope it will not be thought to be a lack of modesty if I agree with those hon. and right hon. Members on both sides who have reminded the House that at least I was consistent in 1946 and remain consistent now. I would only add that, whether my right hon. Friends were right or wrong in 1943, I am sure they are right tonight, and I hope that we shall all vote unitedly in support of this Motion.
There are two matters involved here, and some of the speeches have confused the two things. The first question is whether, in a proper social insurance scheme, unemployment benefit shall continue to be paid as long as a man is genuinely unemployed without limit of time, or whether the right principle is to pay that benefit only for some limited period of time laid down in the statute.
That was what we fought about in 1946. On that occasion I was in the minority. Whether I am in the minority now, I do not know, because that question is not now being discussed. I say in passing, however, that I believe now, as I believed then, that no system of social insurance can be called comprehensive which does not set out to grant the insurance benefit as long as the risk is there.
I do not think it would matter on the principle, but on the facts it is a little unfair to say that the Insurance Fund cannot carry it without collapsing, without becoming insolvent and without producing all the miseries of the middle 1930's, because in sober fact the funds on which the 1946 social insurance Act was carried were the accumulated surplus funds in the Unemployment Insurance Fund in 1945.
As it happened, six years of war had cured our unemployment problem. Instead of there being a deficit in the Fund, there was a vast surplus. I do not now remember the figure, but it was an enormous sum of many millions of pounds. What we did in 1946 was to take those unemployment insurance unused surpluses, the unrepaid contributions of millions of workers over many years, and use them for the payment of other social insurance benefits, while unemployment benefit was taken out of the Fund and cast as a burden upon the Exchequer.
966 I thought that was wrong. I still think it is wrong. I hope that if my right hon. Friends ever get the opportunity, they will correct that error. But if the error was made, if a term is, in fact, put to the payment of unemployment benefit, no matter how genuine and unavoidable the unemployment, there must be some sort of safeguard against the worst industrialist. That was Section 62.
The Government of that day would not accept the principle—it is no use arguing it at any length now—and neither would the party who are now the present Government when they were in Opposition. They would not accept the principle of continuing unemployment pay as long as the unemployment continued. What the Government did was to say that they would take some safeguard to see that, at any rate, where a genuine case could be made out, there should not be a complete cessation of benefit.
The Opposition of that day—the Government of today—opposed that. They did not want that safeguard either. Not merely did they agree with the Government of that time in opposing the principle of benefit that was unlimited in time, but they voted against the protective Measure, the safety Clause. The safety Clause contained subsection (5), and subsection (5) provided the safety Clause only for five years.
The trouble today is that the five years have come to an end, and by our own legislation the safety Clause is coming to an end with it. What my right hon. Friends are now saying to the Government is that they ought not, as things have turned out, to dispense with that safety Clause; and that instead of throwing the thing over to the National Assistance Board, with the means test, they should keep in being the tribunal machinery set up by Section 62 of the Act. That is what we are voting about tonight. It is a perfectly simple point. What were their reasons? The reason has been given from the Front Bench opposite.
It was said that the Labour Government said, "We are not contemplating that there will ever again be mass unemployment—long continued terms of unemployment. Therefore we do not need to bother about unemployment benefit being paid so long as there is unemployment, but there may be a period—before things get back properly 967 into their groove—of post-war dislocation, which we will put at five years, during which men may be unemployed beyond the statutory benefit period." Of course, it did not happen. Matters were such that there was no dislocation during the first five years after the war. The dislocation is coming now. It is now that it is beginning to be a real problem. But at the moment when the dislocation occurs and it begins to be a real problem which we all hoped would never be with us again, the statutory safeguard expires.
Some of us made an attempt in 1946 to urge the Government of the day not to limit it to five years but to take out subsection (5). I put down a Motion in those days, that it should be an instruction to the Committee that they should have power to delete subsection (5). I was assured by the Minister that there was ample power and my Motion was never called. It was never called on the grounds that the Committee had power to deal with it. But when in Committee we came to my Amendment to leave out subsection (5), the Chairman of the Committee—I am not quarrelling with his Ruling, which was probably right, but which was inconsistent with what we had been told before—ruled that the Amendment was out of order. So we never had the opportunity in Committee of testing what the feeling of the Committee was as to this limitation of the safety device to a statutory maximum period of five years.
We all know now that if we are not to have the complete principle—for which I would contend—we need the safety Clause now more than we needed it then. It is no use the right hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) saying that it is a question of the means test as a whole and not only the means test on unemployed people. That is not the point. The point is whether any means test at all ought to be applied in cases which are certified by the tribunal set up by Section 62 as being cases where unemployment benefit should continue as of right for such a period as the tribunal determines. That was the machinery we had then; that is the machinery we want now. The operation of the means test, whether it is good, bad or indifferent, has nothing whatever to do with that question.
968 I do hope my right hon. Friends will stand by what they said today. If the Government do not agree to reconsider the matter and introduce a Bill—which could be done quite simply—to extend this provision, or for some similar machinery, the principle of subsection (5) of Section 62 ought to continue. If the Government are not prepared to do that, we ought to vote for the Motion.
§ 8.59 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)
There is more than a little flavour of humbug attaching to the Motion which the House has been discussing. The Opposition have put down a Motion asking Her Majesty's Government to introduce legislation amending an Act they themselves passed in 1946. The expiry of Section 62 was an eventuality not only provided for in that Act but continuously foreseen at every moment from 1946 until the present time. But it was only on 2nd July, at a loss for some other subject with which to fill up the second half of a Supply day, that this Motion was put down by the Opposition. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shocking."] If the Opposition had been serious about this matter, if they had really thought that the Act ought to be amended, that legislation for this purpose ought to be introduced in this Session, why did they wait until 2nd July, two days before the Section expired, before they came forward in public with any such request?
We start our Sessions with a long debate upon the Queen's Speech, and the Opposition put down an Amendment which "humbly regrets that the Gracious Speech does not include" this or that. Why did the Opposition not put down an Amendment in such terms as "but humbly regret that there is no proposal in the Gracious Speech for the amendment of the National Insurance Act, 1946, so as to retain Section 62 in force"? The whole time from 1946 until 2nd July, 1953, has passed, and we have not had a squeak from the Opposition about what we are now told is a glaring injustice to the unemployed which the Government are seeking to perpetrate. This Motion is nothing more than a device for passing an hour or two.
I do not think that the Motion is very sensibly drawn, particularly in its reference to the quinquennial review. That 969 review was provided for in the original Act in Section 40, so that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) himself could not have thought that there could be any connection between the quinquennial review and the expiry of Section 62. In case there might be any possible doubt about the matter, he restricted the scope of the quinquennial review to matters which would exclude consideration of the working of Section 62. The matters to which the quinquennial review is restricted are the "rates and amounts of benefits." How he thinks that can have any possible relationship to the working of the qualifications for benefit dealt with under Section 62 he will perhaps explain when he speaks.
On several occasions during the debate on the 1946 Act explanations were given of the necessity for a temporary provision for extended benefit—not of the necessity for extended benefit as such, but of the necessity for making it temporary. The ground for that which appeared to hold the field was that in the first few years there might be abnormal conditions and unemployment during those years might be at a higher level than that at which it would eventually settle down or than was contemplated actuarily in the framing of the 1946 Act.
Therefore, the Government of the day said, "We will put in a temporary provision in order to cover the hazards of those years"; but by implication they also said, "When employment has settled down after the war, when we have arrived at levels approximately at or below those actuarily contemplated, there will be no need for extended benefit, and we can maintain a sharp separation between benefits as a right earned by contributions under the Insurance Act and running for a definite time, and, on the other hand, assistance payments without contribution conditions."
That was the clear implication given at that time. It was the principle enunciated by the right hon. Gentleman, when he stated:The Government have given serious consideration to this unemployment benefit and its relationship to the Fund. They have come to the view that only short-term unemployment ought to be borne by the Insurance Fund. We believe that the responsibility for long-term unemployment should be undertaken by the State as a direct responsibility."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th February, 1946; Vol. 418. c. 1744.]970 But because in the initial post-war period it was expected that the numbers of unemployed falling to be dealt with by the State would be exceptionally high, a temporary arrangement was written into the Act for dealing with that not by the Assistance Board but under Section 62. It should not pass without notice that there was in fact a very sound and convenient reason for the selection of a five-year period. By the Regulations under the previous Unemployment Insurance Acts, and by the transitional Regulations made by the right hon. Gentleman in 1948, a five-year qualifying period, a five-year industrial record is required to entitle a man to his additional days. It was therefore reasonable and fair that, in introducing the new scheme, the temporary provision for extended benefit should be made to ran until those who began to be insured under the new scheme could have fulfilled the five-year condition. That is an additional and logical reason for the temporary provision.
But when the original grounds have been falsified by experience and when the five years have expired, when we know that in future new and generous conditions for additional days will be provided under the Regulations which my right hon. Friend has laid, the House is back again facing the matter of principle. Are we to draw a clear distinction between insurance benefits payable as of right, in virtue of contributions, and payments from the National Assistance Board to meet need in cases where there is no such qualification? Or are we going to merge and confuse the two?
There is no doubt that the whole force of thought and legislation from both sides of the House on this subject, at any rate since the war, has been strongly in favour of the establishment and maintenance of the insurance principle. Any alteration, any change, which blurs and weakens that principle, must be rejected and resisted. We are told that as a result of that distinction being maintained, unemployed persons whose contributions have run out will be referred to the National Assistance Board, and will have to fulfil the conditions for obtaining assistance laid down by the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues, and since continued by Her Majesty's present Government.
That does not only apply to persons unemployed whose contributions conditions have run out. It applies to persons 971 who, through no fault of their own, have not been able to establish the initial contribution conditions for insurance or who, for any reason whatever, are outside the mesh of the Insurance Fund and fall to be caught by the net of National Assistance. Why select one category of those who fall outside the scope of the scheme and say that these must be treated in a special class? There is hardly a fraction of one per cent. of those referred to the National Assistance Board whose situation can be attributed to any fault of their own; but so long as we run a National Insurance scheme we must treat it as an insurance scheme, and those who fall outside its scope have to be dealt with under National Assistance. I do not believe that those who argue in favour of the blurring of this principle, the confusion of the two sources of aid and security are doing a service.
Undoubtedly there are some who will fall victim to the termination of Section 62 and the establishment, at least after a longer or shorter period, of the full insurance principle in this field. I have taken what steps I can to estimate the degree of that effect in my own area. I find that practically none of those at present under extended benefit will fail to qualify for a number of additional days. Less than 50 per cent. of those on extended benefit are disabled, and of those disabled persons again, less than half are in receipt of any payment in respect of their disability. Thus less than one quarter of those on extended benefit in my area can suffer any diminution of income as a result of reference to the National Assistance Board. But my right hon. Friend has made a number of statements tonight which go further to assist the position of those persons, notably in what he said about qualification for sickness benefit as permanently unemployable and in his illustration of the modified effect of the offset of disability payments in assessment of means for National Assistance.
I share myself the sympathy which must be felt for that extremely small number who will suffer some not unappreciable loss of income in the next 12 months or so as a result of Section 62 expiring, as was provided by the last Government. But I do not hesitate to say that that is a necessary consequence of establishing, as the country unanimously did in 1946, 972 the principle of insurance, and that any effort to tamper with that principle would certainly bring in its train far greater, immensely greater, hardship than any which may be involved in the expiry of Section 62.
§ 9.12 p.m.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
I want to keep strictly to my bargain with the Parliamentary Secretary. Therefore, I shall have to concentrate the remarks I have to make upon what is the real issue, which we must not allow to be obscured when the House comes to make a decision. First, a few words about the history of the matter.
When I was Minister the Government and I had to make some important decisions. The first was whether we should accept the recommendations of the Beveridge Report that unemployment benefit should be made continuous without limit and borne upon the Insurance Fund. We decided against that, for reasons which I do not want to elaborate, but they were reasons conditioned very largely because, when we approached the problem in 1945 immediately after the war, we had the memories of the inter-war years still very strong in our minds. We had the memory that the attempt to bear the burden of continuous mass unemployment had broken the Insurance Fund. Therefore, we decided to limit—if I may use the old phrase, because it is simpler—standard benefit.
A further problem was what was to happen to the men who were unemployed beyond the period covered by extended benefit. We laid down one principle, which was that they must be entitled to unemployment benefit, although they had exhausted their standard benefit, without being subject to the indignities of the means test—to what we called in Section 62 an inquiry into their financial position. We decided to introduce Section 62, and we referred to the fact that we were approaching a period in which there would be dislocation and problems of unemployment, we feared, on a scale which, happily, was not realised.
Section 62 provided that when a person exhausted the standard benefit he would apply for the benefit to be extended, at the same rate, to a tribunal composed of an independent chairman and two local representatives drawn from industry, one 973 from an employers' panel and one from a trade union panel. The tribunal would listen to the plea, would interview the man, would hear the Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of National Insurance and recommend to the Minister that extended benefit be continued for a period, generally speaking, of six months. The man could apply again and his benefit could be extended again. That is the position, and Section 62, therefore, has worked for five years.
§ The question which the Minister had to decide was whether, in the circumstances, there was a case for continuing Section 62 or not. I believe there is, and I think the reason is very simple, and I am not going to argue it. The overwhelming reason is that there are 48,000 people receiving benefits. What more do we want? There are 48,000 people who, were it not for Section 62, would not be receiving unemployment benefit at the present moment. That is not denied. They are unemployed, and the Ministry of Labour has not found jobs for them. They have appeared before tribunals which have been satisfied that they ought to get unemployment benefit, and which recommended accordingly. That is why they get it, and that is the simple issue. I ask the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) to remember that that is the issue we have to face.
§ Mr. Powell
Will the right hon. Gentleman also give the number of persons who are referred to the National Assistance Board because they have not fulfilled the contributions under the National Insurance Act for other reasons? Is the right hon. Gentleman going to ask that they should receive payment under other arrangements?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I want to stick to the issue we have to decide tonight. That issue is whether the Government should or should not continue Section 62. What happens outside that is another matter that we can discuss on other days, but, in the limited time available now, let us stick to that simple issue. The hon. Member made a point about the fact that we are debating this matter today, but he could make a complaint as to why we did not discuss it last week or the week before. Let me tell him what happened. I hope it will not be denied. The Trades Union Congress made representations to 974 the Minister. Does the Minister care to deny that again?
§ Mr. Griffiths
The Trades Union Congress, having regard to the experience of the past five years and also to the fact that there were still 48,000 people in receipt of extended benefit—as well as to the fact that next year the quinquennial review takes place, which will give the Government and the House the opportunity of reviewing the whole of the working of National Insurance—therefore made representations—let me quote—… urging the Minister that extended benefit should be continued for a further period, so that the whole question of the duration of the benefit could be examined in the light of the 1954 review.When we come to that review next year, we can examine the whole working of the Act with the benefit of five years' experience. There is to be a review, and the Minister must present a basis and give his ideas about the future scheme to the House.
The T.U.C. put forward what I thought was a sensible proposition, which was that, until that time, Section 62 should be continued. The Minister rejected that, and, consequently my hon. Friends who are members of the National Union of Mineworkers as well as Members of Parliament went to see the Parliamentary Secretary some few weeks ago, urging him to do the same thing. I therefore want to make it perfectly clear that, before raising the matter here, both the industrial and the political side had made representations to the Government through the Minister that Section 62 should be continued. Those suggestions were rejected.
Now I come to the reason why. But, first of all, let us get quite clear something on which we are all agreed—that Section 62 has worked admirably. There have been no complaints about it. I do not recall a single Question in the House about it. I appeal to the Minister, to the Parliamentary Secretary and to others on both sides of the House who were in this House in the 1930's to recall the Questions about unemployment problems which were addressed on Thursdays to 975 the then Minister of Labour, the Adjournment debates, the Resolutions and the all-night Sittings that took place on this matter. There was continuous conflict about unemployment. Not a week went past without Questions being asked on the subject, and not a month went past without a debate about it.
Five years ago I had the privilege, and, indeed, the pleasure, of introducing the Bill which in due course became the 1948 Act. I spent a good deal of time and thought and took the best advice available to me upon it. I drew on all the experience I had of this problem which, I may say, was not inconsiderable. For five years Section 62 has been a success, and no one can deny it. All that the Minister can say today is that a few bank clerks who were sacked at 60 received extended benefit. Because there are a few bank clerks who are sacked at 60 and a few engine men who have retired at 60 and are therefore still capable of work is no argument against Section 62. The tribunal was appointed by the Minister and an employers' representative and a trade union representative were members of it.
The right hon. Gentleman has been the Minister for 20 months, and during that time he has never said a word about any abuse of Section 62. There has been no abuse. It has worked admirably. Not all the people who have applied for extended benefit have been granted it. The Minister said that 14 per cent. of those who applied have been denied it. It is clear, therefore, that the tribunals are doing their duty seriously and are properly examining whether the person who applies for extended benefit is one to whom in all the circumstances, taking into account his own industrial effort and the circumstances of the area in which he lives, should properly be given the benefit and whether there is justification for recommending the Minister to continue unemployment benefit at the standard rate and under standard conditions for a further six months.
Forty-eight thousand people are receiving the benefit at a cost of £2 million per annum. The cost of extended benefit is met by the Exchequer, and, I think, quite rightly so. I reserve for myself and for my party the right to argue this matter when we have a complete review 976 of the whole subject, but, quite frankly, remembering the experience of the past, I am still convinced that long-term benefit ought to be borne by the State.
I believe that in Section 62 we found the way to provide the unemployment benefit borne by the Exchequer under conditions that have provided for the whole country a period of contentment and peace in this field that stands out in contrast to the bitterness of the inter-war years. Let me ask this question of hon. Members opposite before they vote: do they want to go back to 1936? Does any one of us? Does the Minister? But that is where we are going.
I have letters here from my own constituency, and perhaps I may for a moment speak of my constituency because I know it best. In my constituency we face two very great problems. One we share in common with many other areas—the problem of the man who is fit for some work but is disabled by pneumoconiosis. Let me tell the House where this drives him. It drives him either to take a job which is beyond his capacity and to hasten his death or to go to the doctor so that the doctor will do what I am sure will be perfectly honest—declare him to be unemployable.
I do not want to do that. I do not want to face the man with this choice of either taking a job back in the pits, or on the pit surface, or of becoming unemployable. In the case which I have in mind, his extended benefit is 89 days—14 weeks. He will cease to get extended benefit in the middle of November. The alternative to his going back to work is to declare him unemployable at 50 years of age, with 15 years to go before he reaches the retirement age which is laid down, to write himself off at the age of 50.
This is the problem we tried to meet. We built Remploy factories in the effort to do it. We did not find the solution. I do not criticise hon. Members opposite for this; we did not solve it, either. It is a very difficult problem. We were seeking to find a way by which work could be found for these men instead of saying to a man at 50 years of age that there was nothing for him except to wait to die. We did not succeed entirely because it is a difficult job. But we must go on trying to find a way.
977 In the meantime, why deny them this? I do not mind the right hon. Gentleman quoting what I did in 1945 and 1946, but he must not use it as an alibi. We are deciding now, in the circumstances of today, and in the circumstances of today we have this provision dealing with these 48,000 men, nearly half of them in the Development Areas and a large proportion of them disabled men. They get their disability pension; they get their workmen's compensation; they get their other benefit; and they are available for work. They cannot find work. Having given themselves to the nation, it is not their job to provide work but ours; it is our responsibility. As long as we fail to meet it then I say, frankly, that we ought to continue this provision which has worked so well. That is what we are asking and that is what the Motion is about.
I do not want this House, under any Government, to go back to 1936 and to have those debates again. If the Government will promise between now and the end of this Session, a month's time, to reconsider this matter, I will ask my right hon. and hon. Friends not to press it to a Division tonight. It could be done by a short Bill passed through the House in one day. Whatever the arguments, would any of us here vote against the Government if they brought in a Bill to extend Section 62 until they could bring it up to date? Would any of us on either side of the House? We say to the Minister, "Bring in your Bill next week. We will give you all the stages in one day." All he needs to do is to draft a short Bill to the effect that Section 62 shall be continued for a further period and to bring it in next week. We will pass it in one day. I speak for all my hon. and right hon. Friends. The alternative, if we do not get such an assurance from the Government, is that we must vote.
It may be, let me confess—I am not afraid of confessing—that I made a mistake about the five years, in that I did not make the five years co-terminous with the quinquennial review. I am not afraid of confessing that. My father told me that the only man who does not make a mistake is the man who makes nothing. But why should the Government use my mistake, if mistake it was, and continue it now? This provision has worked well. There has been no abuse. It has worked smoothly.
978 Surely this is not an economy. Let me put it to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West that if he votes against this Motion he will put a burden on the Fund now carried by the State. He himself would be reversing what he says he wants. Surely, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not, is he, urging this Measure upon the Minister because of the money involved? Surely not. What is it? The extended unemployment benefit is now costing £2 million. The saving will not be £2 million because people who get extended unemployment benefit now under this provision of Section 62 will get a part of it in assistance. If the saving were half it would be £1 million, and for £1 million saving what do we do? We revive the old memories; we revive the old fears.
My right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and I had the privilege of piloting the National Assistance Act together through the House, and we did our best to remove as many of the taints as we could from the National Assistance scheme. There was one thing we were unable to do, and I confess that I am not entirely sorry we did not succeed. We did not succeed in removing from men's minds the doubt whether they could ask for Assistance and keep their dignity. Do we want them to lose that? Do we really want that? Do we really want men and women to ask for Assistance without hesitating? I do not think we do. We should lose something vital in this nation. What is the hon. Member laughing at?
§ Mr. E. Partridge (Battersea, South)
Over and over again we are asked to produce leaflets so that it may become known—what they ought to know. There is nothing wrong in that.
§ Mr. Griffiths
No, and there is nothing wrong either in old people saying they do not like to go for assistance.
§ Mr. Griffiths
That is what I was saying. What I am saying is that now we are to send men to assistance. I ask the Government again to consider. This is the simple issue. I ask the Government to consider the Motion, and if they promise to consider it now I shall withdraw it now. If they do not, we must vote for it. We are saying that Section 979 62 should be continued until such time as after the quinquennial review we have an opportunity of reviewing the National Assistance scheme and of then deciding this problem and the duration of benefit. The T.U.C. asked the Minister to do that several months ago; the miners' group asked him some weeks ago. We have been refused. If we are refused again we shall have no alternative but to go into the Lobby and vote for our Motion.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Insurance (Mr. R. H. Turton)
I am sorry that there has not been sufficient time this evening for all hon. Members who have wanted to get into the debate to do so, but I think that they will excuse my getting up now, because I have a number of points to reply to.
My only criticism of the speeches from the Opposition side of the House and of the action which they have taken tonight is that, in my view and that of my right hon. Friend, there has been very great delay on this matter. On 9th February we announced, in reply to a Question put by the hon. Member for Pontypool (Mr. West), the decision of the Government on this matter. We stated the fact that Section 62 ran out on Saturday last, 4th July, and that we intended to bring in Regulations under Section 12 (1) to deal with that problem. There was no Motion put on the Order Paper on this matter until late at night on Thursday last, when it was quite clear from the Parliamentary business that the Motion could not be debated until after Section 62 had run out.
If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen had felt so strongly about this matter, why did not they raise it during the intervening five months? We laid on the Table on 21st May the Regulations to deal with the added days. Ever since then there has been an opportunity under Parliamentary procedure to debate these Regulations by Prayer in the House of Commons, and no action was taken to discuss this matter until after Section 62 had lapsed.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said that there had been discussions between certain 980 hon. Members who represent mining constituencies and myself on this matter. That is perfectly true. On 17th June—and I have the report in front of me of what took place—I met some of his hon. Friends who said that they were concerned about the lapsing of Section 62, and they wanted to know what provision was being made. I explained to them at that time the facts of the situation, and I pointed out to them—and I see that there is a representative here—how important it was that they should not neglect to take the opportunity of praying against the Regulations that had been laid on the Table. I remember telling them that the last day for praying was a date later in this month. I cannot but accuse the hon. Gentlemen of delay in this matter.
I regret very much that the right hon. Gentleman brought in this question about certain representations which, he said, had been made by the Trades Union Congress to the Minister. I think that was a great pity. My right hon. Friend has never claimed that legislation which he introduced had the backing or the opposition of representative bodies. That would be quite the wrong thing to do. The right hon. Gentleman knows from experience that there have always to be discussions going on at all levels between members of the Trades Union Congress and officers of the Ministry of National Insurance. What the House of Commons is interested in is whether there has been a formal approach to the Minister or to the Parliamentary Secretary by representative bodies in this country of whatever character they may be, and to press the Minister to disclose informal conversations with officials is, I believe, absolutely wrong and a precedent which would be extremely dangerous if carried out.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I am not asking the Minister to disclose information which ought not to be disclosed. I am asking the simple question: Did or did not the General Council of the Trades Union Congress press for Section 62 to be continued?
§ Mr. Turton
I repeat the answer that my right hon. Friend has already given, and I will add to it that neither my right hon. Friend nor I has had any formal approach from the Trades Union Congress on this matter.
§ Mr. Houghton
Might I ask the hon. Gentleman to make it clear to the House that, at the request of the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, representatives of that body saw the Permanent Secretary and other officials on 29th January, 1953, for the purpose of representing the decision of the General Council that Section 62 ought to be extended pending the quinquennial review?
§ Mr. Turton
I have already said that there have been no formal representations. [An HON. MEMBER: "Dodger."] An hon. Member calls me a dodger. I started off by explaining to the House that I hoped the Opposition would not so far forget themselves as to ask for particulars of informal discussions between officers of my Ministry and representative bodies to be disclosed to this Chamber. I will do it if it is requested, but it is a very ugly precedent to set. There have not been any formal representations. If hon. Members press for it, I will give them the position. On a certain date there were discussions—they were quite informal—between officers of the Ministry and representatives of the Trades Union Congress on that matter.
There was no request that the Minister should receive a deputation; there was no official formal representation at all on this matter. It is no good hon. Members opposite trying to get away from that. If the Trades Union Congress had wanted to do so, they could have come and made formal recommendations to the Minister, as they have done frequently in the past, but they did not do that in this case.
That really seems to me to be a side issue. If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have to excuse their delay by the fact that they thought some other representative body was going to press the case and ask for the introduction of legislation, they must indeed be on very weak ground. Having listened to the debate, I cannot think that their ground is very strong. I wonder if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly remembers the debate which took place on 23rd May when his party were very acutely split on the problem of standard benefit, added days and the temporary provision under Section 62. The right hon. Gentleman 982 the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) said in that debate:… I think it is impossible, being an insurance scheme, that it should march upon the basis that there can be unlimited or unqualified benefit in respect of unemployment. … I say, frankly, that whether the Government are right or wrong, they will not seek to justify on the Floor of the House, unconditional, unlimited benefit out of the public funds in any circumstances.The right hon. Gentleman went on to say:There may be noise, but the Government will not do it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd May, 1946; Vol. 423, c. 661 and 664.]He added that the argument for unconditional benefit was one which the Government could not support.
§ Mr. Ernest Popplewell (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, West)
Will the hon. Gentleman explain the context of that statement? Was not that statement made in relation to the set-up of Section 62 of the Act in which there is provision for an investigation to be made by the tribunal?
§ Mr. Turton
That debate took place on the Motion that Clause 12 stand part of the Bill. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is the only Member on the other side who spoke who has been consistent in the argument he advanced, that the system to be attacked was that of standard benefit plus the added days and then full and complete assistance. That was challenged by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly. I will not quote his words now because they have already been quoted and they will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I do not want to take up too much time on that point, but it was put quite clearly by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South that unconditional or unqualified benefit not out of the Insurance Fund but out of public money was what they were opposed to. We are having to operate that scheme now, because the framework in that 1946 Act was for the 180 days, then the period of added days and after that National Assistance.
§ Mr. Turton
I listened with quietness to the right hon. Gentleman. I could have interrupted him and I could have challenged some of his remarks. I fore-bore doing that because I knew his time 983 was limited, just as mine is. I hope he and some of his hon. Friends will follow that example. I am stating the facts after having read the debate. Those who disagree with me should read that debate. The hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) took part in that debate and I remember her describing that particular Clause as follows:As a Member who was not in Standing Committee, I have carefully read the wording of Clause 12. I ask hon. Members of my party … to read Clause 12. Have they read it? Have they made a considered judgment on it? I have read it, and on the wording, it is either meaningless or mischievous."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd May, 1946; Vol. 423, c. 638.]That sentence drew her into the Lobby against the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly and most of the then Socialist Government.
That was what they were fighting for at that time, and a great deal of emotion has been worked out of this debate by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly on the same lines as that roused by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne in May, 1946. I gather that the argument now adduced is that there should be unconditional and unqualified benefit through Section 62. In other words, the standard benefit and the added days having been exhausted, an applicant comes before the tribunal to draw extended benefit for all time. If that had been the object and the intention of the Socialist Government in 1946, why was there this dispute with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne and his friends? They would have been quite happy if they had known that for all time under Section 62 extended benefit would have been got from a tribunal.
§ Mr. Turton
If there had not been subsection (5) of Section 62 there would have been no disagreement with the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne. That was what he and the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock were arguing for in May, 1946, but that is what the Opposition Front Bench decided not to do.
Let me remind the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly what he 984 was trying to do by Section 62. These are the general directions for chairmen and members of local tribunals:The primary object of extended benefit is to make provision for those persons who, owing to the dislocation of industry following the war are temporarily unable to find employment pending the development of plans under the full employment policy and who have exhausted their rights to ordinary benefit. The life of the provision is accordingly limited by Section 62 (5) to five years from the appointed day. …That is the true purpose of Section 62. Is there a right hon. Gentleman or hon. Gentleman or hon. Lady in the House who can claim today that the provisions of Section 62, which ended last Saturday, were operating to provide for those who were out of work through dislocation caused by the war? They were operating to deal with many cases of real hardship which I do not deny, but they were also operating to deal with many classes of unemployed persons whom the right hon. Gentleman did not contemplate would be covered by Section 62 when he introduced it.
In his speech the right hon. Gentleman challenged me to deal with the point whether all the 48,000 should not get extended benefit. He asked if there had been any question in the House as to the undesirability of some of those drawing unemployment benefit. The answer is, yes, there have been a number of complaints by hon. Gentlemen on this matter. May I quote to him a speech made by his colleague the hon. Member for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) in 1952? The hon. Gentleman said:I wish to call the Minister's attention to one of the consequences of the 1946 Act that we did not foresee at that time. My attention has been called to not a few cases where, for example, higher civil servants and retired Army officers, some of them high executive officers with substantial salaries, are compulsorily retired before pension age and go to sign on at local employment exchanges for the purpose of getting unemployment benefit on the one hand and of getting franked cards on the other.He finished by saying:I am calling attention to something that I think approximates to a public scandal."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, Standing Committee C. 13th May, 1952; c. 41–43.]That was in the Committee stage of the Family Allowances and National Insurance Bill. The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) took part in that debate and my right hon. Friend, in replying, 985 promised to look into the scandal to which his attention had been drawn by the hon. Member for East Ham, North.
§ Mr. Turton
We have inquired, and amongst the persons of whom we inquired there were a number on superannuation and also a considerable number of married women.
§ Mr. Turton
The right hon. Gentleman always appears to be completely innocent about departmental machinery——
§ Mr. Turton
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will let me reply to his inquiry? As he probably knows, there is a pilot inquiry and it would be improper to give numbers based on that. All I can tell him is that there was an official inquiry into this matter and it was found that there were a considerable number in that sample inquiry who were superannuated persons. There were also a certain number who were married women who were really outside the employment field. There were also a certain number who were vagrants or who were living in common lodging houses. I am making no attack, but am merely saying that I do not believe that the right hon. Gentleman, when he introduced Section 62, was expecting that the people who would benefit would be those classes that I have enumerated.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Was a single one of those persons given extended benefit without the recommendation of a tribunal?
§ Mr. Turton
Every case has received the recommendation of a local tribunal.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there were only 14 per cent. of cases in which the tribunal had refused the application. An important point in this connection is that there is a great variation from tribunal to tribunal. In certain cases the percentage is higher than 14, and in some cases it is much lower. I remember my right hon. Friend pointing out to the right hon. Gentleman, when he was introducing what is now Section 62, that there would be that tendency to 986 variation from tribunal to tribunal and from district to district.
§ Mr. Turton
What we have done in this matter is what I ask the House to do: that is, face up to the real issue in this situation of whether a contributory insurance scheme is to provide for unemployment of unlimited duration. Whether or not they have forgotten it, the right hon. Gentlemen who now occupy the Opposition Front Bench came to a decision on that in 1946, in the words of the right hon. Member for Lewisham, South, which I have quoted.
We have examined the position and have come to the conclusion that right hon. Gentlemen opposite were right in 1946. What we have done, however, is to take the added days provision and to give the scheme the most generous system of added days ever to be known in the history of unemployment insurance. We believe that that is the right way of interpreting the will of Parliament in 1946. It is all very well for hon. Gentleman opposite who voted for the Act in 1946 today tardily to attack the provisions of that Act when they could have brought it to the attention of Parliamen long before Section 62 ceased to operate.
We acknowledge that there will be certain cases of hardship—no one can dispute that. It is quite wrong, however, to adopt the line that has been taken in some of the speeches in this House and which is shown more clearly in the headline in the "Daily Worker," when it says:New dole rule throws them on Assistance.The facts are these, and let them be on record. Twenty-eight per cent. of those who are today receiving extended benefit are also receiving National Assistance. That 28 per cent. will not be one penny worse off. In the large towns the figure, I regret to say, is as much as 50 per cent. I ask the House, therefore, to reject the Motion and to support the policy of the Government in giving the most generous provision of added days that has been known in the history of unemployment insurance in this country.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: Aves. 222; Noes, 249.989
|Division No. 212.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Hamilton, W. W.||Plummer, Sir Leslie|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Hannan, W.||Popplewell, E.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Hargreaves, A.||Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Proctor, W. T.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Hastings, S.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Balfour, A.||Hayman, F. H.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.)||Rankin, John|
|Bartley, P.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)|
|Bence, C. R.||Herbison, Miss M.||Reid, William (Camlachie)|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Richards, R.|
|Benson, G.||Hobson, C. R.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Beswick, F.||Holman, P.||Roberts, Gorony (Caernarvon)|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Houghton, Douglas||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Blackburn, F.||Hoy, J. H.||Ross, William|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Royle, C.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley|
|Boardman, H.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Short, E. W.|
|Bowden, H. W.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Janner, B.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Burke, W. A.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Snow, J. W.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Keenan, W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Carmichael, J.||King, Dr. H. M.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Kinlay, J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Champion, A. J.||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Clunie, J.||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Coldrick, W.||Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E|
|Collick, P. H.||Lewis, Arthur||Swingler, S. T.|
|Cove, W. G.||Lindgren, G. S.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Logan, D. G.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Crosland, C. A. R.||MacColl, J. E.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||McGhee, H. G.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Cullen, Mrs. A.||McGovern, J.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|Daines, P.||McInnes, J.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Thornton, E.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||McLeavy, F.||Timmons, J.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.||Tomney, F.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Deer, G.||Mainwaring, W. H.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Delargy, H. J.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Viant, S. P.|
|Dodds, N. N.||Mann, Mrs. Jean||Wallace, H. W.|
|Donnelly, D. L.||Manuel, A. C.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Weitzman, D.|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Mason, Roy||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Edelman, M.||Mayhew. C. P.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Mellish, R. J.||West, D. G.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Messer, Sir F.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mikardo, Ian||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Mitchison, G. R.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Monslow, W.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Fernyhough, E.||Moody, A. S.||Wigg, George|
|Fletcher, Erie (Islington, E.)||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Foot, M. M.||Morley, R.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Forman, J. C.||Mort, D. L.||Willey, F. T.|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Mulley, F. W.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Freeman, John (Watford)||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Oldfield, W. H.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Gibson, C. W.||Oliver, G. H.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Glanville, James||Orbach, M.||Wilson, Rt Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||Oswald, T.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Padley, W. E.||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Grey, C. F.||Paget, R. T.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Yates, V. F.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Pargiter, G. A.||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Hale, Leslie||Parker, J.|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Paton, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Peart, T. F.||Mr. Pearson and Mr. Arthur Allen.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Arbuthnot, John||Baldwin, A. E.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Banks, Col. C.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Astor, Hon. J. J.||Barber, Anthony|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Baker, P. A. D.||Baxter, A. B.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Beach, Maj. Hicks|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Hay, John||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Heath, Edward||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Higgs, J. M. C.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Birch, Nigel||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian (Weston-super-Mare)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythemhawe)||Osborne, C.|
|Black, C. W.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Partridge, E.|
|Boothby, Sir R. J. G.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Holland-Martin, C. J.||Peto, Brig. C. H. M|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Hollis, M. C.||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N. W.)||Hope, Lord John||Pilkington, Capt. R. A|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Horobin, I. M.||Pitman, I. J.|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Powell, J. Enoch|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Bollard, D. G.||Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Raikes, Sir Victor|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.||Rayner, Brig. R|
|Campbell, Sir David||Jennings, R.||Redmayne, M.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Keeling, Sir Edward||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)|
|Cole, Norman||Kerr, H. W.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Colegate, W. A.||Lambton, Viscount,||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)|
|Conant, Maj. R J. E||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Cooper-Key, E M.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Leather, E. H. C||Russell, R. S.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.|
|Crouch, R. F.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur|
|Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T||Scott, R. Donald|
|Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Lindsay, Martin||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Llewellyn, D. T.||Shepherd, William|
|Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Deedes, W. F.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Digby, S. Wingfield||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Longden, Gilbert||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Low, A. R. W.||Stevens, G. P.|
|Donner, Sir P. W.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Doughty, C. J. A.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Storey, S.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||McAdden, S. J.||Summers, G. S.|
|Duthie, W. S.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Erroll, F. J.||McKibbin, A. J.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Maclean, Fitzroy||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.|
|Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Macpherson, Nial (Dumfries)||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Fort, R.||Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Foster, John||Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E.||Turton, R. H.|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Markham, Major Sir Frank||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Maude, Angus||Vosper, D. F.|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Maudling, R.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Ward, Hon. George (Worcester)|
|Godber, J. B.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Mellor, Sir John||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Gower, H. R.||Molson, A. H. E.||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Gridley, Sir Arnold||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Wellwood, W.|
|Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Harden, J. R. E.||Neave, A. M. S.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Wills, G.|
|Harvey, Air Cdre, A. V. (Macclesfield)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Nutting, Anthony||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Oakshott, H. D.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Odey, G. W.||Sir Cedric Drewe and Mr. Kaberry.|