§ 3.50 p.m.
§ Mr. Aneurin Bevan (Ebbw Vale)
As the Committee will have seen from the Order Paper, we have asked that three Votes shall be put down for discussion today in order to have the widest possible debate on a subject, part of which was discussed on 6th July. Since then other events have taken place which make it necessary for us to return to that subject and also to an allied one.
The Committee will recall that on that occasion we were discussing the cessation of a Section in the National Insurance Act, 1946, the failure of the Government to continue it and the decision of the Government to add to the number of contractual days of unemployment benefit with the condition that on the expiry of those days anyone unemployed would be subject, if he wished to obtain it, to assistance from the Assistance Board. In other words, the provisions for extended benefit which had been maintained right through the period from the war to the present time were to come to an end.
I shall not discuss all the details that were discussed on 6th July, because it would be repetitive to do so; but, first of all, I want to ask the Minister of National Insurance one or two questions. Since the debate of 6th July we have had a document which is described as the "National Insurance Act, 1946: The Availability Question." I understand that this appeared at the Vote Office on 15th July. It was signed, however, on 16th April. I want to know from the Government how it comes about that a document which was relevant to a good deal of the discussion on 6th July was held back from the House of Commons until the Government had got that discussion over and why only when the debate was safely out of the way this highly controversial Report was produced. Why the delay in presenting it from 16th April until 15tb July?
It seems to us that the Government are now mobilising their attack on working-class standards like a carefully organised battle. From one direction after another inroads are being made into what has been described as the Welfare State, and I am bound to say they are made with extraordinary skill. The attack has been developed in two Budgets and in a 599 number of Bills from the Minister of Health, which have become Acts of Parliament; it has been further developed by the Minister of Housing and Local Government, and it is now being added to by a carefully organised attack upon the standards of the unemployed. I think that just now it will be necessary for the Opposition to review the whole of the Government's strategy in respect of the attack which they are now making on the working-class standard of life in many ways.
It would have been very convenient for us, certainly for my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), if on 6th July he had had this document before him, because then it would have been possible for him to point out that, so far from the Government, as they said on that occasion, following his example, they are now proposing to undermine one of the most important protections that unemployed people have got. I do not apologise for speaking on this matter because it is one with which I can claim a great deal of familiarity. Between 1931 and 1936 I made what might almost be described as an obscene number of speeches on this subject.
In 1930 we had a very interesting debate in the House of Commons on a subject which had caused more bitterness, more rancour and more political disturbance than any other subject that I ever remember. It was called, "Not genuinely seeking work." In the course of the discussion in the House this subject was raised. The authorities then advising the Government on unemployment benefit and unemployment policy generally had professed themselves quite unable to find any formula which would protect the national finances and at the same time not inflict some hardship on unemployed people.
They said—and they insisted upon it—that if a person claimed unemployment benefit he should prove that he was not able to obtain work. It seemed, on the face of it, an extremely sensible, simple and just proposition. When, however, it was converted into practice it meant torment and harassment of the most terrible description. As I pointed out in that debate, it meant, for example, that 10,000 people could be deprived of un- 600 employment benefit because of the existence of one vacancy, for if 9,999 people did not show that they had applied for that job all of them could be, and were, deprived of the benefit and they had no appeal at all.
As we know, unemployed people, of course, had to face humiliating ordeals in giving illustrations, dates and examples of where they had been looking for work. I confess quite frankly that those of us who went to the courts of referees at that time to try to protect working-class people from quite abominable conditions used to give them lessons in prevarication, and we had organised lying on a vast scale.
Even these sordid conditions are not always unaccompanied by some humorous incidents. I remember going one day to the court of referees on behalf of a number of people, and a man came to me and asked if I would represent him. I said, "Certainly." He said, "I am applying for benefit but I am starting to work next Monday." I said, "Very good, you will be all right." But I added rather wickedly, "Don't tell the chairman at first that you are." The chairman asked him, "Where were you a fortnight ago when you were looking for work?" He said, "Pochim"—that is the name of a colliery. The chairman asked, "Where were you the following day?" He replied, "Pochim." The chairman asked the same question in respect of each day of the fortnight and received the same reply. Finally the chairman said, "There, how absolutely impossible these people are. The manager will be sick and tired of the sight of his face. He has no chance of getting work." The man replied, "Ah, Mr. Clever, I am starting there on Monday morning."
At that time we met upstairs Mr. Arthur Hayday, Mr. George Buchanan—now Chairman of the National Assistance Board and, if I may be allowed to say without any invidious comparison, the best Chairman the Board have ever had—Miss Margaret Bondfield, and Sir Horace Wilson on behalf of the Treasury. We drafted the Report referring to the availability of work and application for work which exists today. It said that a person should not be deprived of unemployment benefit unless presented with a definite concrete job. That is all it did. It just shifted the onus from the individual 601 to the employment exchange. It said that a person must not be deprived of unemployment benefit unless it could be shown that he had declined to accept an offer of suitable employment.
That changed the whole character of the administration. I remember being told at the time that such a provision would cost the Treasury millions of pounds. I said it certainly would, because the millions would be transferred to the pockets of the unemployed from the Treasury, instead of from the pockets of the unemployed to the Treasury. That provision has existed ever since.
I think that hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee will agree that it has worked with almost perfect equity, because no one can say in modern society that, generally speaking, employment is a situation over which the citizen has complete control. He is as much at the mercy of social organisation, or disorganisation, as he is at the mercy of the forces of nature itself. Except by way of self-employment, which is extremely rare, he has hardly any way at all of fitting himself into a job if society does not enable him to do so. Therefore, it has become accepted practice, and, indeed, if I may be allowed to say so, accepted ethics, that a citizen ought not to be tormented because of conditions over which he cannot be said to have any reasonable control. That has been the philosophy lying behind this matter all the time.
That philosophy is not undermined by abstract references to actuarial calculations that we get all the while from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), who discusses unemployed people as though they are figures in an index system. It is perfectly true to say that insurance has come to be accepted as a means by which the bulk of unemployment can be covered, but if persons find that they have exhausted their contractual rights, merely because they cannot fit themselves into artificial actuarial frontiers is no reason why they should be worse treated than those who do so fit in—unless it can be shown that they are themselves responsible for their situation. That has always been our position.
Therefore, we are entirely unmoved by the argument, as we always were, that 602 certain periods of benefit could not be provided because it was not actuarially possible. This worship of the sacro-sanctity of actuarial gods always bored me to death. There was actually no justification for it at all. If, indeed, the State increased its contribution to the Unemployment Insurance Fund sufficiently to cover everybody, the actuarial situation would not arise. It is an artificial limitation created by the revenues of the Fund. All one does is to increase the revenues of the Fund either by contributions, which we do not support because it is merely a form of indirect taxation, or by increasing its revenues from any other quarter one likes. Therefore, the actuarial difficulties would never exist.
What we are concerned about is this. If, after people have exhausted their actuarial entitlement to benefit, they still remain unemployed, and it cannot be shown that their unemployment is due to any fault of their own, there is no reason why they should suffer any more than those more fortunate than themselves. I challenge the Committee to give me reasons why they should. This business of extended benefit which was discussed on 6th July is causing considerable trouble in industrial quarters.
I earnestly urge hon. Members opposite not to allow themselves to become complacent merely because the by-elections are going in their favour. I remember that the elections before the war went in their favour. They had no great political difficulties arising out of their behaviour, but England never sank lower than when the fortunes of the Tory Party were going up. Electorally they were doing very well. They won General Election after General Election, while the industrial basis of Great Britain contracted and millions of men rotted in the employment exchanges. So I say to the party opposite: Do not imagine that, because you are electorally successful at the moment, that is any justification for the behaviour which has been suggested.
I should also like the Government to try to make some connection between one thing and another. We were asked a little earlier to have a discussion on the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the Industrial Advisory Council. Does not the Chancellor of the Exchequer make any connection whatsoever between 603 the fact that we have not as much coal exports as we would like and the behaviour of the Government before the war? Is there no connection between those factors?
What do the Government say? The Government say, by what they have done on the question of extended benefit, that if a person has been disabled in the pit, if he suffers from pneumoconiosis—I am dealing with the mining industry in particular because it is the most graphic illustration that one can have—if he loses an arm or a leg or is ruptured, or is otherwise injured, and if he has had unemployment benefit for a certain time, when he has exhausted it he automatically ceases to get any more benefit, and if he requires assistance he must go along to the Assistance Board. In other words, he must lose status and income.
I put it to the Government that there is no worse way of undermining the morale of the mining industry, there is no worse way of bringing about a decline in recruitment into the mining industry, than the method now pursued by the Government. Cannot hon. Members opposite see any connection whatsoever between their conduct and the difficulty of getting people into the pits? Can anyone in any part of the Committee justify putting an injured miner or a disabled ex-Service man in a worse position merely because he has been unemployed for a certain period of time and is not able to obtain any benefit?
Why do the Government not accept the disciplines that have been accepted for so many years, and, if they cannot present a person with a suitable job, accept the obligation of paying him the same benefit as he was getting before? The very failure to present him with a suitable job is itself evidence that he is faced with social circumstances over which he has no control. Where is the logic of putting him in a worse position? I ask that question; I have asked it for 20-odd years in the House, and nobody has ever given me a satisfactory reply.
Let me assure hon. Members that this is no matter to smile at. It was only in 1935 that a certain right hon. Gentleman grinned at the subject, and he was out of office in a few weeks. We remember it very well. Hon. Members opposite should sometimes listen to what we say, because 604 we know rather more about this matter than they do. We must ask them to face up to their responsibilities in this matter.
We say that there is absolutely no justification in logic—and there is certainly no justification in humanity—for what is now being done. It is no answer to say that my right hon. Friend put a statutory limit to the period. In 1946 we had every reason to hope that we would now still be on the benches opposite, and not here, and would be in a position to protect the unemployed from what is now being done. Unfortunately, the country decided otherwise.
It is not enough to say that this does not matter because there are only a few people concerned. "The Times" leading article this morning sank to a level of hypocrisy which I have never seen equalled. They say that the Labour Government provided an extended benefit for five years because of the possibility of post-war dislocation, and they go on to say:There was no such dislocation.One would have thought that the absence of dislocation was a natural law, but its absence after the last war, as distinct from the 1914–18 war, was because the country, fortunately, had a Labour Government at the time. We did not have ex-Service men pawning their medals, millions of unemployed people, or all the scenes we had after the First World War. It was not a natural law; it was a consequence of organisation by the Government, sane financial policies, and the expansion of British capital equipment.
"The Times" goes on to say:Extended benefit, awarded case by case by local tribunals, has been paid chiefly to persons on the fringes of the labour market"—a lovely Pecksniffian phrase—for whom it was never intended. Its recipients, under 50,000 at any one time. …That is the point; there are only 50,000 of them and so they are not powerful enough to strike back. That is one of the worst features of this matter. The very fact that the number is small should mean that they should be left alone and not tormented; that is the Christian attitude that not one sparrow shall fall to the ground. But because they are small in number it seems to be thought that we can torment them and attack them.
605 The leading article goes on to say that recipients "have included housewives,"—one would have thought that housewives were animals to be hunted—vagrants, men compulsorily retired on private superannuation at sixty and waiting to qualify for insurance pensions at sixty-five, and many virtually unemployable disabled elderly men.There is not a word about pneumo-coniotics or ex-Service men. It is a matter of pretending that we are trying to prevent a number of vagrants from improperly obtaining benefit and, behind their backs, stealing it from the disabled ex-Service man and the poor disabled industrial worker. We have seen that happen over and over again. One always puts forward some person who is indefensible and then makes an attack upon him an excuse for an attack on a wider range of people. "The Times" goes on to say:Extended benefit has never been justified by events.What "The Times" is saying is that ever since 1945 extended benefit ought not to have been paid. So blind are they that for the last six or seven years, when one of the chief problems of Great Britain has been to build up the export trade, and particularly the export of coal, "The Times" would have surrounded the mining industry and mining villages with tormented people who would have been denied extended benefit.
Cannot "The Times" understand the social climate that would have existed in the mining industry if extended benefit had not been paid? We would have found it impossible to build up manpower in the industry. I beg hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to try to make their policy intelligible, and to understand that what they do in one respect prevents them from carrying out their plans in another.
There is another matter to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer should pay some attention. Again, I speak of the mining industry, because it is the one with which I am most familiar. Before the war an investigation was conducted into the incidence of accidents in pits. We discovered, to our astonishment, that the highest level of accidents occurred in the middle of the day. In most other industries accidents occur at the beginning of the day, before the man or woman has warmed up to work, or at the end of the day, when he or she becomes 606 fatigued, but in the mining industry at that time—although it may now have been altered by mechanisation—the accident rate was highest in the middle of the day, when the output was highest, for the very good and simple reason that in the pit increased coal production very often means the neglect of safety precautions. They postpone putting up a prop or a sprag, and they try to finish the tram in time for the hauliers, so that their very preoccupation with production increases the liability to accidents.
The miner must bear in mind all the time that if, in answering the exhortation of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he produces more coal, has an accident, and loses a leg, he will be made to pay for the leg by the Minister of Health—when he had it for nothing before—and if he cannot get a job the Minister of National. Insurance will follow up the persecution of the Minister of Health and force him to go to the Assistance Board. I ask hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to look at this matter again because, on any reckoning, it is completely indefensible.
Before the war—and here we are back to the question of availability—the Federation of British Industries issued a series of documents in which they said that one of the defects of unemployment insurance was that it did not make the workers sufficiently mobile, but that if extended benefit were reduced or withdrawn the workers would move around the country much more easily and readily and make themselves available for employment. They advocated the curtailment of extended benefit on the ground of increasing the mobility of the workers.
Put like that, it was very agreeable to every economist. It did not mean that people were uprooted, or forced to leave their families, or that mothers and fathers were compelled to give up all the educational plans they may have formed for their children. It just meant that they would be more mobile. They were more mobile. In the years between the wars there was nothing like the mobility of the British workers. They flowed all over the place—came down to London, and went to Birmingham and Kent. Whereas the overall population between the wars increased by 12 per cent., in the South and South-East it increased by 32 per cent. Workers became mobile.
607 Look at the streets of London today. They are immobilised. They are shocking. We have the worst traffic problem in the world. That is how we made labour mobile. In Birmingham, the number of one-way streets has become so alarming that a stranger cannot find his way out. The fact is that what appeared to those clever people—who are still there—to be good economics before the war has resulted in more social disutility for Great Britain than can be measured. Huge cities grow as a consequence of mobility.
We tried an entirely opposite philosophy. We said that it was stupid to compel workers to accumulate in these vast metropolitan centres and, although we could not immediately decant them from there, it was more desirable to carry work to the unemployed workers than it was to try to drive them away from their homes. What is the result? This was not empiricism. This was not in accordance with the philosophy of the economists. This was not in accordance with the economics of those who appear as Conservative economists on the radio and speak all the same knowledgeable nonsense after the war as they talked before the war. This was in accordance with definite plans which we ourselves made—and what is the result? The result is that we have saved Scotland and Wales from depopulation. The result is that we have new industries in those areas. Unless we had taken that action London traffic would be not only complex, it would be congealed.
What is the proposition which is being put here? The proposition is quite simple—that we should modify the old availability test, that we should substitute it with another and that the individual must be asked to show whether there are reasonable prospects of employment in the district. In other words, once more the test is not the objective test of the offer of a job but is a subjective evaluation of the possibilities of work by the tribunal and by the individual without, as far as we can see, any precise guidance.
It means, therefore, that if we have, as we have in some of our mining districts, groups of disabled men for whom employment has not been found, then the more times that a tribunal, according to the advice here, has found that the 608 man has reasonably refused a suitable offer, the greater is the evidence that he should move away from there. That is the argument here.
A man goes before the tribunal and each time the tribunal says, "You are right." Having argued a series of right decisions on his behalf, they then say, "That, of course, is evidence that you ought to go away." It is like taking a man before a police court on 10 occasions, and on each occasion he is found innocent; and then on the eleventh occasion they say, "There must be something wrong with this chap or he would not have been here 10 times before." That is the logic we have here.
What we are saying is this: we are not claiming in this regard that we have been as successful as we ought to have been. We have not provided enough centres of employment for disabled people in the industrial areas. As my right hon. Friend said on 6th July, we ought to have done it on a bigger scale. We ought to have been more imaginative and maybe we ought to have been ready to risk more money. That is no justification for making the individual the victim of our own misdeeds and our own neglect. That is no argument at all. It is rather that we should now realise that this stubborn, small group of unemployed people ought to be tackled imaginatively and not only imaginatively but pitifully. The number is only 48,000, and of those 48,000 probably a very considerable number have to get assistance now.
We therefore ask the Minister why he found it necessary to ask the Advisory Committee to advise him on the modification of the availability rule? How did that come about? We shall be told that it was because some housewives who were employed during the war have been getting unemployment benefit after the war. As we were told about vagrants, so we shall be told that. What we want to know, however, is whether the application of any Regulations which the Minister may make will have the effect of tormenting injured industrial workers and injured ex-Service men. We are afraid that they will, because in paragraph 15 the Committee say:It is not, however, always practicable to rely upon offers of employment thought to be suitable to the claimant's circumstances in applying the availability rule. Offers of 609 employment must necessarily be made by employment exchanges primarily in accordance with employment policy directed to matching workers and vacancies, and only secondarily directed to assisting in the equitable administration of unemployment benefit. In any event, however many vacancies suitable to the general run of claimants may be on offer, appropriate vacancies to test the availability of a particular claimant do not necessarily arise at the right place at the right time for this purpose …In other words, they specifically say that because they cannot make the test of availability clear by the offer of employment, that itself is evidence that that worker should receive a certain amount of ex gratia payment at the end of which he should get no more and should be expected to go elsewhere to look for work.
The Committee also say:It has been represented to us that certain other special groups should be excepted from the operation of the proposed provisions, for example, workers who have been disabled in an industrial accident, and elderly workers generally, so as to allow persons in these groups to continue to receive unemployment benefit, even if their normal employment is no longer open to them and they have no future prospect of employment consistent with the restrictions they impose. This was urged on the grounds that such persons cannot be expected to accept different employment, or to move to a new locality where their usual employment may be available for them.The Committee went on to say:We do not consider there is sufficient justification for such a concession. …In other words, the Committee themselves, having been apprised of the problem, say they cannot agree that a concession should be made in the case of disabled persons and elderly persons. The only assumption we can reach from that is that if the Minister makes Regulation consistent with those recommendation, those who are now receiving standard benefit, as well as extended benefit—that is, all benefit—in the industrial districts of Great Britain may have their benefits stopped after an ex gratia payment. We must face that, and one of the advantages of having this discussion today before the Minister has made his Regulations is that we can warn him that if he makes Regulations of that sort serious disturbance will occur. We therefore ask him to be very careful indeed in what he does in this respect.
I want to end by asking the Minister another question. The Parliamentary 610 Secretary made this curious statement on 6th July, as reported in column 983 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, after he had been asked by my right hon. Friend whether the General Council of Trades Union Congress had made representations against this Regulation: he said he had not received any formal representations. I do not understand this at all. What is meant by:I have already said that there have been no format representations."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1953; Vol. 517, c. 983.]What is a formal representation? Must there be three blasts on a bugle outside the National Insurance office? Is this a Coronation year complex that we have? We understand that the Permanent Secretary of the Department was seen by a deputation and that at that meeting the Permanent Secretary was informed that the General Council desired the old provisions to continue at least until there had been a general review. Is that the case? We would like to know. [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] Did the hon. Gentleman receive those representations? In that debate he dodged; he shifted; he said there were no formal representations. He went on coyly to say that it would not be proper to give an indication of those discussions. He had already given an indication that the General Council had not made any formal representations against the Regulation. He had given that indication, but when we asked him whether, in the course of the discussions with the Permanent Secretary, they objected, he was so coy. He said it would be improper to disclose that.
In exactly the same way, when my right hon. Friend asked how many married women continued to receive extended benefit, which the pilot survey had disclosed they did, he said it would be improper to give the figure. Since when has statistical surveys been improper? I must say that this is a piece of Mother Grundism if ever there was one. This is a figure we ought to have been given.
If it is a fact that these Regulations are necessary to catch a few housewives coming into direct benefit who were never intended to have it, we should like to know how many there are in that category, and how many vagrants there are. We should like to know what is the justification for this fraction of 48,000 now 611 being under our consideration. That is what we should like to know. The right hon. Gentleman ought to be pressed to tell us.
I apologise to the Committee for speaking rather longer than I intended, but I hope that the small dimension of this problem will not persuade hon. and right hon. Members opposite to pursue their course. I hope that the political popularity they imagine they are enjoying at the moment will not cause them to repeat the blunders for which Great Britain has paid so high a price for so many years. I hope we shall provide whatever sense of security can be obtained for the workers, especially in our basic industries, and I sincerely beg hon. and right hon. Members opposite not to reintroduce into industrial relations in Great Britain, particularly in the mining industry, poisons not yet fully eradicated.
§ 4.33 p.m.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Insurance (Mr. R. H. Turton)
It will be my endeavour to explain to the Commitee some of the points that the right hon. Gentleman dealt with concerning the administration of the Department in this respect. This is the first opportunity we have had to discuss the added days Regulations which I understood the Opposition were anxious to discuss today, although in fact the right hon. Gentleman did not open on that point in his speech. The major part of his speech dealt with the Report on the availability question that has been received from the National Insurance Advisory Committee, a body which was set up under the 1946 Act and which gives the Ministry advice on subjects that are remitted to it.
One of the questions addressed to me by the right hon. Gentleman was why this question was put to the National Insurance Advisory Committee. The answer is that there were a number of cases where persons were unemployed and yet were engaged in subsidiary employments. At the present time they are limited under certain very rigid definitions to subsidiary employment and in particular to an earnings limit of 3s. 4d. a day.
That question, and questions dealing with seasonal workers, made my right hon. Friend think a year ago that it 612 would be wise for the National Insurance Advisory Committee to review this whole question of subsidiary employment and availability, and now, having got this Report, which has been printed, we are studying it with great care, and we shall be most grateful to hear the representations and advice of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in all quarters of the Committee on it, because we have got to make up our minds on the proper action to take when we have studied this Report. This is a very intricate matter, but it is an important matter because one of the recommendations made by this Committee is to increase substantially the amount allowed to be earned per day for subsidiary employment.
With regard to this matter of the additional days Regulations——
§ Mr. Turton
This Report had to be considered in the Department in the normal way, as was the practice in the time of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), and then had to be printed. That is the only reason. It came on 16th April at a time when we were introducing the Bill dealing with maternity benefits. They had to be dealt with, and then the Report was brought out as quickly as conveniently could be done. It makes no real difference. No decision has been taken. This matter is being studied now by my right hon. Friend.
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
Three months, let me say at once, may be required to consider it, and I gather that during those three months the Department have been considering it, but the House will adjourn tomorrow week until 20th October. Are we to hear the Minister's decision on this before the House adjourns for such a long Recess?
§ Mr. Turton
My right hon. Friend will not be making any Regulations on this matter until the House reassembles in October. We want as much time as possible to consider the matter, and we do welcome help and advice from those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have knowledge of this problem, because we admit at once that it is a very intricate 613 and detailed problem; but do not let anybody think it is our intention or the intention of the National Insurance Advisory Committee in any way to torpedo the joint social security system for the unemployed for which hon. Members on both sides have been responsible.
§ Mr. A. C. Manuel (Central Ayrshire)
The hon. Gentleman said that the Government are very willing to receive opinions from hon. Members in all parts of the Committee before they make up their minds, but does he not realise they have made up their minds and that all this is inextricably mixed up with the eligibility question?
§ Mr. Turton
The difficulty is that if I were to discuss in detail any subject requiring legislation I should be out of order, but I hope I may be allowed a certain latitude to enable me to deal with this subject without offending against the rule. I remember that on 6th July the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) said: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."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th July, 1953; Vol. 517, c. 937.]Notwithstanding the fact that these Regulations were laid as long ago as 21st May, that forecast has not been fulfilled. The 40 days have run out, and I conclude from that that on further examination the Opposition have decided that, far from being harmful, these Regulations confer very great benefits on the insured population. Such in fact is the case.
§ Mr. Turton
If I am to understand that these Regulations are not accepted by the Opposition as conferring great benefits, let me attempt to justify them.
The history of added days goes back as far as the Holman Gregory Report in 1932. In that Report the Royal Commission recommended a system of added 614 days for insured persons with a good record of contributions. Section 3 of the Unemployment Act, 1934, adopting these recommendations, laid down that from March, 1935, there should be a system of added days based on a formula of 3 added days for every 5 contributions in the last 5 contribution years, less 1 day for every 5 days of unemployment benefit in those years. It was a condition of granting those added days that a contributor should have been insured for 5 years, and that condition has been continued in all the schemes that followed.
Under the 1934 Act, therefore, there was a maximum number of added days of 156. The standard period of unemployment benefit at that time was 156 days, and that made a total possible period of unemployment benefit of 312 days. During the war the arrangement for added days had to be suspended because the necessary records were not available, and as compensation the period of standard benefit was raised from 156 days to 180. When the records again became available after the war, the Labour Government revived the added days provision in April, 1946, altering the formula to five added days for every eight contributions in the last four contribution years, less one day for every 10 days of unemployment benefit in those years. That made the maximum number of added days 130, instead of 156, but the combined total of 310, was more or less the same as before the war.
The National Insurance Act, 1946, provided in Section 12 for a system of additional days for all people insured for unemployment benefit under the new scheme. The Act specifically requires that such additional days should be based on the claimant's previous record of contributions and unemployment benefit drawn. Our predecessors, although they armed themselves with these powers, never made use of them. But what the right hon. Member for Llanelly did was to introduce Regulations to provide added days for those insured before 5th July, 1948. His formula was very similar to that under the 1946 Regulations, except that instead of the deduction being one day for every 10 days of unemployment benefit drawn in the last four years, it became one day for every five days of unemployment benefit drawn in the last two years. The 615 effect still remained that any insured person entitled to unemployment benefit could draw that benefit for a standard period of 180 days of unemployment without need to requalify, and in addition those insured before 5th July, 1948, could by added days increase that period up to 310.
These Regulations have been in force for five years. My right hon. Friend, on considering the matter, came to the conclusion that the time had arrived when a more generous provision in the way of additional days should be given, and that those who came into insurance after 5th July, 1948, should no longer be debarred from claiming additional days of unemployment benefit. Thus he exercised his powers under Section 12 of the National Insurance Act and submitted to the National Insurance Advisory Committee Draft Regulations which had the following effect. First, that the maximum number of added days should be raised from 130 to 312. That made the maximum combined total 492 days, taking in the 180 days of standard benefit. Second, that the formula should in future be three additional days for every five contributions in the last 10 years less one day for every 10 days of unemployment benefit drawn in the last four years.
Under these Regulations, persons with insurance rights under the old Unemployment Insurance Scheme will receive a block credit of 52 contributions a year for all years before July, 1948, during which they were over the age of 16 or in in which they reached that age, whatever had been their record of unemployment during that time.
To deal with the problem of those who have either been receiving extended benefit or have qualified for added days under the previous Regulations, special provision is made so as to disregard those periods for the purposes of the formula. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly, speaking on 6th July, complained that the Regulations were too complicated, and said that not one in 10,000 unemployed men would understand or be able to calculate the additional days to which they were entitled. I think that the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) made a similar complaint.
616 I admit at once that the Regulations are not light reading, but they deal with a technical subject, and the same criticism would apply to all the other added days Regulations that had been before the House since 1935. Over 20,000 people were on added days under the Regulations which were introduced by the right hon. Member for Llanelly. I have not had it brought to my notice that the complexity of the old added days Regulations ever caused any trouble. Might not the truth be that the Ministry concerned has built up a relationship with its clients of such a kind—it has certainly tried hard to do so—that they do not suspect it of trying to do them out of benefit.
The ordinary man assumes that the Ministry is giving him a square deal on added days. He gets a letter well before his entitlement runs out, explaining the position and giving him a chance to raise any points. If he raises any query the officers of the Ministry of Labour have instructions to show him his record and try to explain the calculations to him. If he is still dissatisfied he can apply to the independent local tribunal and have the matter thrashed out.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards (Caerphilly)
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the Ministry have had to send out to every exchange a special calculating aid to enable its own staff to do the job?
§ Mr. Turton
That surely shows the efficiency of the Ministry. Let me help the right hon. Gentleman. The broad effect of these Regulations is this. When a man is coming to the end of his seven months standard benefit, the Regulations say, "Look at the man's contribution record for the last 10 years and give him one week's extra benefit for every 10 contributions he has paid in those years." As hon. Members will readily see, that gives a possible maximum of a year in added days. From that figure take away one week for every 10 weeks employment benefit he has had in the last four years.
These Draft Regulations were published as long ago as last February and received notices in all the leading newspapers. Hon. Members will be familiar with the procedure. They were referred to the National Insurance Advisory Committee under the chairmanship of Sir Will Spens. Let me make it absolutely clear 617 that members of the Advisory Committee, though they are appointed after consultation with particular bodies, do not in any way represent those bodies. Once a person has been appointed to serve on the National Insurance Advisory Committee, in the judgment of my right hon. Friend, he serves in his individual capacity and should not in any way be regarded as binding the particular body or party consulted about his appointment. I wish to make that abundantly clear.
§ Mr. Turton
The National Insurance Advisory Committee asked for representations on these Draft Regulations from interested parties and individuals. The Committee report shows that the only substantial representation they received was one that the Regulations offered too much benefit. The Committee rejected that representation and approved the Regulations and this formula, and I feel sure that if the Committee has the opportunity they will give the same verdict.
§ Mr. Bevan
That is an extremely skilful way to put it. As I understood it, all that was intended by that representation was to show in point of fact that this transferred to the fund the burden formerly belonging to the Executive; that the fund itself ought not to be asked to carry such an extended period of benefit. It did not mean that the unemployed worker should get less, but rather that the fund should not carry so much of the burden.
§ Mr. Turton
I am not a member of the National Insurance Advisory Committee, but I must say that having read that report with great care I came to a different conclusion from the right hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Turton
Be that as it may, it does not matter. The important part is the recommendation of the National Insurance Advisory Committee and not the detailed representations put before it. The point is—I say it again because I wish to emphasise it—that the only representation the Committee received 618 was one which indeed said that the proposals were too generous.
I am anxious not to exaggerate the extent to which these Regulations will come into play under present conditions. The unemployed rate has dropped to under 1½ per cent. Of the claimants to unemployment benefit every year, only a very small number remain unemployed for long enough to run out of the standard period of seven months. In fact, the average period of unemployment is only three weeks. In present conditions of full employment, which we all hope will continue, the average man will not need added days at all.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) put certain points about the debate on 6th July. Let me clear up any misunderstanding which arose in that debate about the representations made on this subject by the T.U.C. What happened was that late in January oral representations were made at the official level. These were duly reported to my right hon. Friend who now appreciates that the T.U.C. regarded these representations as expressing the formal conclusions of the T.U.C. My right hon. Friend is very glad to make that position clear.
In paragraph 9 the Committee deal with the effect of added days on those who have come off extended benefit. They state:The system of extended benefit 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 recognise that a permanent provision based on a statutory right to benefit must be on a different basis from a discretionary payment primarily designed to meet a special post-war need extending for a limited period. We consider, however, that it is right that the permanent provision should be as generous as possible, since it will to a substantial extent deal with cases which have been dealt with in the past under the extended benefit arrangements.That paragraph and those recommendations were very much in the mind of my right hon. Friend when he drafted these Regulations, and in effect they will be generous to those who have come off extended benefit. For that reason——
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Let us get this clear. Many of my right hon. and hon. Friends as well as myself are receiving letters from our constituents regarding the number of additional days which, under the new Regulations, will be awarded to 619 persons who were on extended benefit. The Parliamentary Secretary calls them generous. May I tell him that in my constituency there are cases varying from 50 to 80 which means that in February they will have completely exhausted the added days? Does the hon. Gentleman really think that is generous?
§ Mr. Turton
I have said that as we were framing these Regulations we tried to help those on extended benefit, and to make the provision for added days as generous as possible. Under the Regulations we arranged that all those people who have run out of their insurance benefit, and were receiving extended benefit when the new arrangements started this month, shall keep their entitlement to additional days of unemployment benefit, because they are to be treated as if they had only just run out of their standard benefit before the new arrangements started.
The effect of this concession is that for over two years to come it will not be possible for any person insured before July, 1948, to be restricted to the basic 180 days, however bad his or her employment record may have been. All the persons insured before July, 1948, who were on extended benefit when it expired a week or so ago, received added days varying from 10 weeks to over 40 weeks.
I wish to give the Committee the details of what has happened to those on extended benefit before 5th July, 1948. I am afraid I must trouble the Committee with a number of figures, which I hope they will forgive, but there have been considerable notices in the Press on the subject, and I thought it right that the figures should be given, so that we may see the size of the problem.
On 5th July there were some 47,000 people on extended benefit. Let me remind the Committee what my right hon. Friend said, that it was no static figure, that men were going in and out of extended benefit. I think the figure he quoted was that 41 per cent. were on extended benefit for less than a year. Of the 47,000 who had been on extended benefit, 39,000 qualify for added days. Of the 39,000 who qualified to receive added days, 20,000 received added days for more than 30 weeks. [Interruption.] Perhaps if I give the figures it will all come clear to the right hon. Gentleman. 620 I hope it does; if not he can interrupt me. Only 1,600 received the minimum of 10 weeks.
I want the Committee to realise that these 1,600 are the hard core of this problem. They are those who, ever since 1948, have been on extended benefit or standard benefit—who have had no employment since 1948. That is the hard core—1,600 out of 47,000.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
The Parliamentary Secretary says that there are 1,600 receiving 10 weeks added benefit. Will he tell us how those figures have been arrived at so as to show that the low figure which he has now indicated to the Committee is correct?
§ Mr. Turton
I do not quite follow the meaning of the hon. Gentleman's question. When I was talking about these Regulations I explained how we had so drafted them as to give as much favour and generosity as we could to those who had been on extended benefit. I now have the reports, which I received only yesterday, from all the offices throughout the Kingdom. If any hon. Gentleman is interested in any particular area I can give him details afterwards. That means that only about 1,600—the actual figure is 1,656 out of 47,331—receive only the minimum of 10 weeks.
Let me turn to the 8,000——
§ Mr. Turton
I beg the hon. Member's pardon; I did not understand the nature of his question. Every insured person who had been on extended benefit received a letter—I have here a copy of the letter which explained to him what was his entitlement to additional days. It says:In your current period of interruption of employment, you have received … days of benefit.It goes on:The maximum number of days which can be allowed in your case is …The minimum figure was put in that final blank in 1,656 cases.
§ Mr. Ness Edwards
Is the Parliamentary Secretary being fair with the Committee? He has not mentioned that certain persons on extended benefit received Form M 406. Will he disclose the contents of that form, which says, "You are not entitled to extended benefit at all"?
§ Mr. Turton
I wish to be abundantly fair, and I was going on to say when I was interrupted—I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee will acquit me of any desire to be unfair——
§ Mr. Brown rose——
§ Mr. Turton
My right hon. Friend will wind up the debate, and I think it will be better if I am allowed to make my speech without further interruption, and if questions are asked for my right hon. Friend to answer. I suggest that, not for my convenience but for the convenience of hon. and right hon. Members.
The remaining 8,000–47,000 less 39,000—were those who had not been insured before 5th July, 1948. They did not receive any added days at all. I should like to give the Committee particulars of those 8,000. Of that number 1,300 have found work. 238 are now on sickness benefit——
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The Parliamentary Secretary is giving very important figures. He began by saying that 8,000 will not get any added benefits. He says that of those 8,000 so many have found work. If those figures are to be used in that way the obvious inference is that when they were told that there were to be no added days they found a job.
§ Mr. Turton
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving me an opportunity to clear up that point. I did say at the beginning that this 47,000 were constantly coming on to and going off extended benefit. In the case of these 1,300, we are dealing with men who have been on extended benefit and then got work about 5th July—[Interruption.]—yes, at about the same time. Two hundred and thirty-eight are now on sickness benefit and 1,158 have gone onto National Assistance in addition to the 1,489 such persons who already receive it.
§ Mr. Turton
One thousand one hundred and fifty-eight more have gone on to Assistance; there were some 1,400 already on.
§ Mr. Turton
The number remaining are those who are getting credits, registering at employment exchanges, and in fact are mainly those who are superannuated—[Interruption.] I do not quite know what M 406 is. They are those who have not been claiming National Assistance—[Interruption.] They are getting their cards franked. They include a number of people who are on superannuation, married women, etc. They come to about 3,000. These figures refute the suggestion that the introduction of these Regulations on the expiry of extended benefit has resulted in a wholesale transfer from benefit to National Assistance.
I do not want to take up the time of the Committee in giving detailed figures but the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale mentioned, in passing, the position in Wales. I should like to give the Committee some figures, as there are a number of Welsh Members who are interested in the figures for Wales. Of the 6,800 persons on extended benefit in Wales, 6,100 are now receiving added days under the Regulations. Of the others, 110 have found work, 35 are on sickness benefit, and only 270 are on National Assistance, of whom 135 were already receiving it. [Interruption.]
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. George Thomas)
It will help the order of the debate if, when hon. Members wish to interrupt, they will stand. Otherwise hon. Members will not be able to hear what is going on.
§ Mr. Turton
In Wales there were about 580 who had the minimum period. That is the figure for Wales.
To sum up the position, the effect of these Regulations is to make the biggest extension of insurance cover against unemployment which this country has ever enjoyed. There was, in this House, in 1946, general agreement that unemployment insurance should form part of our 623 system of social security. I listened with care to the remarks of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale about what should be the system of insurance for unemployment. I cannot really believe that there is any division of opinion on that question in the House at present. We are all proud in this House of the insurance principle.
§ Mr. Turton
When we had debates and Divisions on this matter in 1946 the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his party and the Conservative Party were united in attaching importance to the insurance principle, believing that it was better for a man to be able to claim this benefit as a right than to get it as a concession after investigation by a committee or tribunal. By these Regulations we are entitled to claim that we have made more than ample provision for any short-term unemployment, and have gone further towards putting the benefit for long-term unemployment on a purely insurance basis, than any previous Government. That this step has been taken is surely a matter for congratulation for all hon. Members of this House. It is a result of the success of this country in maintaining a policy of full employment, and to that success all parties in this House, and all sections of industry, have made notable contributions.
§ 5.11 p.m.
§ Mrs. Jean Mann (Coatbridge and Airdrie)
I am glad to have caught your eye, Mr. Thomas, because I represent a constituency which, more than any other, will be affected by these proposals. My constituency is in a country which is carrying the heaviest proportion of unemployed, as it always has done. In Scotland in 1933 the overall figure was three million and my constituency was carrying 56 per cent.
I do not like to refer to my constituents as "my" people because it sounds possessive. They are not all my people. Perhaps I could refer to 24,000 of them as my people, but there were 17,000 of them who voted Tory. So, if I may say so to the Minister of National Insurance, "They are your people." It is a long time since the people in this constituency were easily divided; it is a long time since they have allowed even religious 624 questions to divide them. There came a time when they were cemented, and that time synchronised with the means test for not genuinely seeking work. That is the very thing we are returning to now in these two documents.
In the "added days" document the National Insurance Advisory Committee say that this present alteration was based on the assumption that unemployment will not exceed 4 per cent. on the average from year to year and over the whole country. It goes on:We are informed that it is estimated on certain assumptions that if the figure of 4 per cent. were reached, the additional cost to the National Fund … would be of the order of £2,000,000 a year.Can it be that the party in power see an end of rearmament, see a slump coming from America, and are cutting out quickly before it comes? The Report goes on:… it appears to us inevitable that a prolonged period of unemployment substantially in excess of 4 per cent. would involve a reconsideration of the whole financial position of national insurance.They refer to the quinquennial period in paragraph 5 as follows:… additional expenditure will of course have to be taken into account, together with additional expenditure in other directions, in the forthcoming quinquennial review.Why not postpone this until the quinquennial review? Have the conditions altered under which the Regulations were launched? For example, I find in Coatbridge that we are still in transitional conditions. In my constituency four mines closed down a long time ago. The miners have tried to get themselves into other jobs but they are not always successful. The result is that they are on the employment exchange for long periods. They are elderly men. I notice that in the second document, which I call the "not genuinely seeking work" document, though it is termed "the Availability Question," paragraph 10 says:It is an accepted principle of the administration of unemployment benefit that if a person chooses to reside in, and is unwilling to move from, a part of the country where there is no employment of a kind which is suitable for him, he is regarded as not available for employment and ceases to be eligible for unemployment benefit.That is the death blow to a great many human beings—not index numbers, but human beings—in Airdrie and Coat- 625 bridge. The difficulty there is skill versus unskill, and there must be many openings on that register for skilled men. These men are skilled in a trade that is no longer open to them. Jobs may be available in Glasgow which is eight miles away, but as these men are in their late fifties or early sixties it would be difficult for them to undertake to travel that distance. Simply because we have not filled up our Development Area and our industrial trading estate, these men will now be thrown on to the means test.
§ Mr. Turton
If the hon. Lady will allow me to interrupt, surely she is referring to the Report published in 1949, three years ago, at a time when her Front Bench were in power? The quotations she has made are from a report on seasonal work.
§ Mrs. Mann
I am quoting from the two documents just issued. One is the "National Insurance (Additional days of Unemployment Benefit) Regulations," and this one is Command Paper 8894 dated 1st July, 1953, and I am quoting from paragraph 10 on page 7. I thought the hon. Gentleman was going to tell me that most of these people would be in receipt of supplementary benefit in any case; but there are the exceptions. He might have said that if they are already in receipt of supplementary benefit, they will not be affected in any way. Supplementary benefit, however, means the death knell to a great many of my constituents.
A great many people resent being on supplementary benefit. Many of them have lost the companionship of their sons, who gave their lives in the war. They receive something in the way of compensation for that loss, which, with their transitional benefit, gives them just a little extra comfort. When the added days have come to an end, these people will lose. They will go on to the public assistance rate. For them the means test will operate.
If I may refer again to the availability question, there is the position of the widows to be considered. They are referred to as married women so that sympathy might not be unduly evoked. A great many of the married women, however, are widows, and the widow, particularly, requires to be looked after. 626 In paragraph 18 of the Report, the widow is disqualified. These reasons are given:… a claimant's, particularly a married woman's, personal circumstances may be such that, despite numerous vacancies thought to be suitable, there may be virtually no employment which can be offered which she cannot show good cause for refusing; thirdly, in certain exceptional cases it is found that, when a vacancy is offered, the claimant is able to avoid accepting the employment without actually refusing it.We are told that these women—widows, for instance, who cannot accept full-time jobs because they want to spend some of their time at home with their children—will find themselves out of benefit.
Paragraph 28 refers to the disabled and the elderly, and says:We do not consider there is sufficient justification for such a concession"—a concession that will enable them to have some kind of choice—since this would involve a radical departure from a basic principle of the Act, and moreover since, in our view, the proposed provision would be sufficiently flexible to avoid hardship in these cases.I do not think that that is at all a flexible provision. The elderly, the disabled—those in receipt of pensions—and many widows will find that when they apply for supplementary benefit, their pensions will be reduced. They will be brought into line with those who are struggling with poverty and who every day are meeting with defeat—defeat in rising prices and a prolonged period of a small increment.
Members on the Government Front Bench forget that these little extra benefits in industrial injuries payments and in pensions allow for household renewals—an extra pair of blankets, for example. Blankets wear thin, remember. Linoleum goes thin as well. Without these little extra benefits, there can be absolutely no new clothing, no new bedding and no new household furniture renewals. That is one of the dastardly things of prolonged periods on supplementary benefit.
The old age pensioners know that. They know that at the age of 65 they have an expectancy of life of, perhaps, another 10 years, or probably 20 years. The time comes when the suit of clothing which a pensioner thought at the age of 65 would serve him to the end of his days, is finished and a new one is required, together with new boots, new furniture or furnishings, and new plenishings; but the public assistance rate takes no notice 627 of that whatever. Therefore, in addition to the old age pensioners, who are already suffering from the Government's proposals, we are to have the widows, the more disabled, the more elderly and pensioners brought into the same category.For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath.Even that little which these people have is to be taken away by these Regulations. I am astonished at the hon. Gentleman, for whom I have some respect, and at the Minister also in allowing themselves to be persuaded to put this proposal into effect just now when they could quite well have waited until the quinquennial review.
§ 5.27 p.m.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith (Stoke-on-Trent, South)
This debate and its complacency remind me of a respected Member of the House, the late Mr. Oliver Stanley, who put regulations through the House, but within a few months there was such a situation in parts of the country, particularly in South Wales, Manchester and Glasgow, that the House had to withdraw them.
I admit that one cannot draw an analogy between these days and those, but having been through all this and knowing what it means, I am a very frightened man, and I say that we are bound to be concerned about the effect of these proposals. I venture to prophesy that if the industrial situation changes, if there is a slump or recession in other parts of the world and it affects our position in this country, there will be difficulties ahead of us similar to those with which the late Mr. Oliver Stanley had to contend.
As a result of that experience, I gradually saw Mr. Oliver Stanley change until he became a big man handling affairs in a big way. It is such a terrible experience as that, when the country was in so difficult a position because of the Regulations, with mighty demonstrations throughout the country, that steels a man and puts him on his guard against a repetition of that kind of thing. Had the late Mr. Oliver Stanley been living today, he would have warned the Government, as a result of his own experience, of the effect that would be likely to arise.
I admit frankly that I am frightened by these proposals. It is the beginning 628 of tinkering and patching with our national insurance and it is only a matter of time, once we start with this kind of thing, before we shall run headlong towards a vicious, mean, means test. Paragraph 7 on page 6 of the Beveridge Report says:A revolutionary moment in the world's history is a time for revolutions, not for patching.That was said when the war was on, and all in this country supported that because of the terrible needs this country had. Now we are beginning to play about, as we did after the First World War, with the rights that the people won during the war. We have a Conservative Government in power which again is beginning to patch and tinker with what we achieved through the terrible sacrifices of our people during the war. In my innocence, I thought that even the Conservative Party would have profited by our experience in the last world war.
§ Mr. Richard Fort (Clitheroe)
Does not the Regulation we are discussing today arise directly from Section 61 of the Act which the hon. Member's party passed in 1946. the National Insurance Act?
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
I accept a certain amount of responsibility for that, and will deal with it later, but the position is not quite as was made out in the interjection. We have travelled along the road and looked back with pride on the mileage we had covered since at the end of the war because we had travelled far from the terrible Poor Law days.
The Poor Law was criminally administered throughout the country. I never forget the days of 1931–32 when disabled ex-Service men were treated so badly, and once we begin on the slippery slope of this sort of thing we are apt to get back to those days. I could not be a party to that without making some observations about it. I ask, where are we going? We are first having the abolition of extended benefit, because in time it will mean that. Then we have Statutory Instrument No. 848 under which the Minister submits the question of availability to the National Insurance Advisory Committee.
629 It may be a strange coincidence that we are discussing these together at the present time. Why should we discuss Statutory Instrument No. 848 and the availability question at the same time? We need to be on our guard, to ask what all this means, and where we are going? The hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Fort) drew attention to Section 62, which provided for extended benefit while available for employment. That is to be replaced by Statutory Instrument No. 848 with no additional days, and eventually the effect will be the National Assistance Board. The National Assistance Board are tightening up their administration in personnel, regulations and the spirit in which the administration is carried on, and that is a danger signal. Is it also intended that other benefits should be affected by this? Once a man's insurance record is affected in this way, will there be any danger of sickness benefit, disability benefit and old age pensions being affected in time?
§ Mr. Turton
Is the question the hon. Member asks, are old age pensions and sickness benefit affected by the additional days Regulation? That is the Regulation before the Committee.
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Or will it be affected by the Report we are also considering in regard to availability and interpretation of availability?
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
My right hon. Friend drew attention to the leader in "The Times" today. It is typical of the superior middle class attitude we get from people living relatively easily in journalism. People in this country have suffered far too long from relatively well placed people who start work late in the morning and finish early in the evening while other people are carrying on the production of the country. The article is typical of those who have never experienced this kind of thing. "The Times" says that under 50,000 would be affected and that included are housewives, vagrants and those on superannuation. That is always the kind of case used by people preparing to worsen the position of those suffering through no fault of their own 630 and we are bound to draw attention to that.
Behind the question of availability I see lurking the question of "not genuinely seeking employment." Behind the availability consideration I see lurking the Anomalies Act and all that Act meant. I remember the days when our girls were forced into domestic service wth its low pay and with its terrible humiliation. I have read this Report from cover to cover and I am very concerned about the Summary of Recommendations. It reminds me of the stand which only a small handful of us took at the Bristol Trades Union Congress in 1931.
The Government of the day had introduced the Anomalies Act and there were all kinds of proposals of the same character as those in this Report. One proposal left it to the Minister to administer Regulations in accordance with how he thought they should be administered. We ought to profit by that experience and make quite clear that we cannot afford to leave it to any Minister to administer any Regulations in accordance with his own interpretation. What is meant should be strictly laid down in the Regulations.
Here are two or three examples from the Summary of Recommendations. Number 1 states:if he imposes such restrictions on the nature, locality or hours of work.That reminds me that between the two wars the engineering employers proposed to increase hours. There was great indignation throughout the country and the proposal had to be withdrawn. Suppose that proposal were made again and men refused to accept employment with those increased hours, how would they be affected in regard to eligibility for benefit? Suppose some individual firms which are not in the employers' federation decide to increase the hours and there is a pool of unemployment in that area. Suppose some of these people are sent to factories where the hours have been increased and because of that increase they refuse to do the work, will that be interpreted in such a way that it will be held that these people are not available for employment?
Then it is laid down: "… when reasonable, a period for adjustment. …" What is "reasonable"? What is considered reasonable in one quarter will not 631 be in another. What is considered reasonable in Eastbourne may not be considered reasonable in Manchester. Therefore, instead of having uniformity in administration, as the Beveridge Report recommended, instead of all being on the same basis as we were during the war and as we have been since the end of the war, differences are now going to be made. The difficulties of war time having been overcome, we are beginning again to place our feet on the slippery slope. We all know what that means. So I want to ask a few more questions as to the interpretation that will be placed on these proposals.
In the industry in which I am engaged men have to serve seven years in their trade to fulfil its requirements, and then they learn for at least another 10 years. They must make themselves well informed mathematically and geometrically. They must be adaptable and they must be able to apply ingenuity so as to produce what they are asked to produce. After all that, if they cannot obtain employment in their own area are they to be subject again to humiliations of the kind embodied in proposals of the character of those being discussed by the Committee?
In addition to that, everyone knows or ought to know who it was that suffered worst under the Anomalies Act carried by this House many years ago. It was the Lancashire cotton operatives who were forced to go to places like Blackpool and Southport and work for next to nothing, because they were afraid of damaging the interests of their mothers and fathers with whom they lived. We should remember that it is the miners first then the agricultural workers, the engineers, the pottery workers and the cotton operatives who are producing the exports upon which all in this country are living. It was these people in particular who were responsible for production during the war which gained them the admiration of the whole world. Since the end of the war they have done the same thing, and their reward is a tinkering with the unemployment benefit proposals of the kind such as we are discussing now. This is contrary to the Beveridge Report, and if anyone challenges that I have the Report here.
Members in all parts of the House unanimously supported the proposals 632 contained in that Report, and during the war years demanded their enactment. Now having got safely through the war there is a fear again that large scale unemployment—for that is what lies behind these proposals—will prevail. It is now suggested that the girls of Lancashire, the girls of the potteries and those poor people who, in the main, cannot speak for themselves and cannot afford legal advice, are again to suffer. They put their confidence in those of us who are not afraid to speak on their behalf, and I for one intend to do it as long as I am a Member of this House.
These proposals will be administered in such a way that once an individual cannot obtain employment he will be struck off benefit. The authorities will say to him, "But you can transfer to another area." The average man will say, "Ah, but there are no houses there." Then the authorities will reply, "Well, you are not entitled to benefit." It is not in two years or three years that we need to be fighting proposals of this kind. It is this afternoon, and by so doing we warn our own people what faces them unless we can take the appropriate action here to prevent it.
It was my right hon. Friend the Member for Wakefield (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)—and let me here say he is my real right hon. Friend—who appointed the inter-Departmental committee to make a comprehensive survey of the social insurance and allied services. I remember everyone in this House in those days supporting that proposal. Then we had the Report. Legislation was carried out based upon that Report. But today the country is being deceived. Different proposals are being put through the House, and that is the workers' reward once they have got us safely through the war.
I should like to say this in order to give a concrete example of what I mean. Before the war it fell to my lot to have to fight the greatest and most able demagogue that reaction has ever thrown up in this country. I recall that the people in those days were losing confidence in the ability of the democratic machine to deal with their needs. When the war came the people rallied to the nation in a way as no one could have dreamt they would. Then after the war we had a Labour Government, and to their credit they carried out almost every promise that was made in their election programme. The result 633 was that the people's confidence in democracy was completely restored.
It is being undermined today. Tinkering with the people's rights in the way these proposals do will undermine that confidence, because attacks are now being made upon the rights which the people have won, and they are being asked to suffer just as they had to in the days before the war. It was my privilege—and here again I believe in giving credit where it is due, and I am going to do it now that I have caught the eye of my right hon. Friend the Member for Southwark (Mr. Isaacs)—to work with my right hon. Friend for years on matters of this kind. He was the chairman of the trades union insurance committee, and month after month the men and women on that committee met together preparing evidence which was eventually placed before the Beveridge Committee.
Sir William Beveridge, as he was then, met some of us time after time and spoke to us of those proposals, and it was largely upon that evidence that subsequent legislation was framed. Men like James Smythe and others gave their lives for this kind of thing in order to try to safeguard the people's interest and fix a minimum below which no one should be allowed to go. Now after all this great work we find that the Government are tinkering with the scheme.
I understand that the three main principles on which our national insurance legislation was based were that it should not be restricted by sectional interests, that social insurance should be comprehensive and should provide a minimum income security and that there should be co-operation between the individual and the State. Since 1946 we have endeavoured, first of all by pressing upon our own people, and later, when the legislation was introduced, by supporting it, to encourage its administration throughout the country. It is now better administered than it has ever been in our history. There are fewer grievances in this respect than there have ever been. Yet, instead of building upon that, we are beginning again to tinker with it. As my right hon. Friend said, when large-scale unemployment comes, just as Mr. Oliver Stanley had to give way, so will the then Minister suffer a similar fate unless we stop the tinkering which is now going on.
§ 5.51 p.m.
Mr. J. K. Vaughan-Morgau (Reigate)
The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) talked of patching and tinkering the National Insurance Scheme. I was delighted to hear that he was such a real advocate of the insurance principle. In so far as my right hon. Friend has increased the number of additional days of benefit under the insurance scheme for those who are unemployed, the hon. Member should welcome such patching and tinkering. I feel that some of his other complaints, although I do not wish to dwell on the matter, would have been better expressed if there had not been such astonishing delay in raising in the Committee the whole question of the lapsing of Section 62.
I shall not detain the Committee very long because I know there are hon. Members opposite who also wish to speak, but I hope the Committee will bear with me for a few moments while I express the doubts and misgivings that I have. I am rather concerned about some of the expressions of opinion which we have heard from hon. Members opposite on the subject of the insurance principle. I feel that the Committee is indebted to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) for the very restrained manner in which he discussed a matter which for hon. Members opposite has been the root cause of much grievance in the past.
None the less, I am still in doubt as to what are the right hon. Gentleman's real beliefs on the insurance principle. I hope he will not consider me too academic if I address myself to that rather than to some of the more human issues which are involved. He was very critical of my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) who, he said, regarded the unemployed as actuarial figures. But we must at some time make up our minds about the right way to deal with the matter. Is long-term unemployment to be borne on the insurance scheme, or is it to be a direct responsibility of the State?
When we discussed the matter on 6th July, we had an excellent speech from the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), who put the other point of view, the non-insurance principle, the same point of view as that in the Beveridge Report, and that put by Sydney 635 and Beatrice Webb. I expect many hon. Members have read that great book, "The Problem of Destitution," in which they held that the payments to the unemployed should be the responsibility of the State. I thought that question was decided once for all in 1946 when the National Insurance Act was brought in, and supported by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale and most hon. Members opposite, with some exceptions, including the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne.
§ Mr. Bevan
We have not supported the lapsing of Section 62. There is no reason why Section 62 should lapse merely because the Act says so. This is a legislative Chamber. Every year we have the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill by means of which we continue legislation year after year. Just because a statute contains a termination for an Act or part of an Act, there is not the slightest reason why we should be helpless about it.
§ Mr. Vaughan-Morgan
The right hon. Gentleman cannot ride away from it as easily as that. A definite termination date was put in the Act, and it was put there for a reason, and it was supported by hon. Members opposite. The right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that in the year 1953. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman accepted the principle in 1946, although there is honest disagreement about it. Incidentally, both sides of the dispute can claim the support of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) at different stages of his career. He spoke in a very different mood when he was the Minister in charge of the Bill.
The effect of the lapsing of Section 62 is that many of the unemployed will fall on National Assistance. That is an issue which has been raised in different forms by hon. Members opposite. For the purposes of this debate, I looked up the Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill, and I found these words by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale:Therefore, it is proposed that we shall transfer to the Assistance Board, to be renamed the National Assistance Board, the responsibility for providing the financial help which will still be needed, because there must always stand behind the existing social services a national scheme to assist people in peculiar and special circumstances. There will be a number of persons who will not be eligible 636 for insurance benefit. There will be some who will not be eligible for unemployment benefit …"——
§ Mr. Vaughan-Morgan
… and there will be persons who will be the subject of sudden affliction, like fires and floods and circumstances of that kind, who will need to have help from some special organisation."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 24th November. 1947; Vol. 444, c. 1604.]
§ Mr. Vaughan-Morgan
The right hon. Gentleman then went on to pay a tribute to the National Assistance Board. The point I want to discuss today is that the extended benefit in Section 62 was, in effect, assistance from the State without a means test. Yet those who ordinarily receive assistance are subject to a means test. Where do right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite stand on the issue of there being two classes of those who receive assistance? I am thinking of a case in my own constituency of a decent woman whose husband has just gone to prison. Through no fault she finds herself in poverty, and she receives assistance subject to a means test. If there is such a thing as social justice, those who fall out of insurance and then receive assistance from the State should not ask to be relieved from a means test. There should not be one rule for one and another rule for another.
Therefore, I welcome the proposals of my right hon. Friend, which will increase the number of additional days and will ensure that the overwhelming majority of those who may have the misfortune to be unemployed will be retained within the National Insurance scheme.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ Mr. David J. Pryde (Midlothian and Peebles)
The hon. Member for Reigate (Mr. Vaughan-Morgan) tried to unload upon the Opposition the responsibilities for the lapsing of Section 62. The Government of the day must assume full responsibility. The hon. Gentleman clearly proved that, while the National Assistance Act is a great boon to the people, he at least will ensure that there will always be a use for it.
I compliment the Parliamentary Secretary on the case he endeavoured to put. He certainly had a very sticky wicket. I appeal to the Government to heed the 637 words of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) and to realise the great significance of the policy they are trying to pursue. I warn them that this policy, if pursued, is pregnant with the greatest danger. I will not enter into any hypothetical argument about what may or may not develop in industry or try to interpret the future trend of unemployment due to a recession of trade in America, and so on. I do not even want to discuss the Report on the Availability Question. We will take that Report to the huskings and, when the full significance of it is explained to the people, I am positive that, in Scotland at least, the Conservative Party will not retain one dozen seats.
I want to apply myself to the question of added days. I appeal to the Minister not to pursue his policy any further. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South indicated, the Minister's face is turned the wrong way. Well do we remember the Holman Gregory Committee, the May Committee, the Londes-borough Committee and the Rushbury Committee. They are remembered especially by those who were active trade union officials in the days between 1927 and 1932. I served five years on the court of referees in the City of Edinburgh under some of the most able men who ever applied themselves to insurance questions.
There we got an experience which stands us in good stead today. In those days unemployment in Edinburgh was at its height. I want the Minister to face the other way. I have a great respect for him and his Parliamentary Secretary. I want them to turn their faces to the future. The Minister is borrowing from the old compensation law technique. In those days of workmen's compensation we found insurers persuading injured workmen to compound their cases and to accept what they called a "slump" sum settlement.
That is exactly what the Minister is trying to do with the injured worker today. When he has exhausted what is known as the statutory benefit he is then told, "Now you will compound your claim and you will get 10 days' notice," or words to that effect. The man will get notice that he will go on to the National Assistance Board in due course. The Government are taking away from 638 our people any chance of confidence in insurance. They are simply saying to the people that they are returning again to the old poor law. The people of Scotland are thrifty and industrious and they do not even like the idea of the National Assistance Board, much as we have worked to remove the stigma of the old poor law.
In my constituency there are no poor-houses now. The Chairman of the National Assistance Board who visited Scotland recently complimented our local authorities on the arrangements we have made. The Government are merely asking that further provision should be made for people who are unable to secure employment. It is nonsense to say that we will be able to transfer them all over the country. Today in my constituency there are people who spend as much as £1 per week on transport charges, because they are an industrious people. I appeal to the Government not to pursue this policy but to endeavour to consult some of my right hon. Friends. The Government would find that they would get all cooperation. We on this side are just as anxious as the Government to ensure that there is no discontent in industry. If the Government continue to pursue this policy they will be breeding nothing but ill feeling.
§ 6.7 p.m.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
In the short time at my disposal I want to express, with my hon. and right hon. Friends, our grave apprehension about the meaning of the Regulations under discussion not so much today as in the future. That is of paramount importance. In view of our past experience, and though I hope it never happens, I can envisage a great danger to unfortunate men who are broken and bruised on the wheel of industry and in war. I speak from experience. I have sat on courts of referees on the Ministry side of the table and I have represented unemployed miners on the workmen's side. I have also experienced long periods of unemployment myself.
These Regulations will have a serious economic and moral effect upon the mining fraternity. I was most disturbed when the Minister told us that there were just 1,600 of what he represented to be 639 hard-core cases. With all my powers of imagination, I cannot see how the Ministry arrived at that figure. There are 200 or 300 cases in my constituency in one village. On 3rd February, 1937, one colliery closed down and threw out of work 1,237 men, myself included, and many of those men have not yet got back to work—to be precise, 127 men, all of them injured in one form or another. They received extended benefits.
With a deep sense of conviction borne of experience, I claim that the Department would be well advised to take back these Regulations and answer the plea made by my hon. Friend the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) and others. They should wait until there has been a full review of the working of the National Insurance Act. Then, if it is found, even on an actuarial basis, that some alteration should be made, the Minister should come to the House with a full explanation.
In my opinion, and I must be very careful not to be misunderstood, this is really a sneaking way of getting out of the responsibility for the unemployed, the injured and the discharged soldier, and it ought not to take place. The Minister, the Board and the Advisory Committee ought to be ashamed of themselves in bringing forward such Regulations as these. May I call the attention of the Minister to the particular aspect of the availability for work. This is what the Spens Report says in paragraph 12:It has been ruled that availability is a question of fact to be considered in the particular circumstances of each case, but at the same time it was pointed out that availability is to a very real extent an attitude of mind.They will have to do some persuading with me in order to convince me that availability for work is an attitude of mind. It is not. Then it goes on to say:As a general rule, a claimant must be ready to accept suitable work of any kind normally carried on in the locality.They should go to some of our coalfields, where they will find no work at all. Many pits have closed within the past few years.
I want to plead with the Minister and his Department to take these Regulations back and examine them again, and, in view of what was said from this side of the House on 11th July and has been said today, come forward with something 640 a little more humane in its application to the unfortunate victims of industry and of war.
§ 6.12 p.m.
§ Mr. Iorwerth Thomas (Rhondda, West)
We have listened to a very factual debate on the effect of the Regulations upon unemployed people in this country, but there are two sets of facts that have been presented—the factual, statistical, cold approach and assessment of the problem by the Parliamentary Secretary, speaking on behalf of the Government, and, on the other hand, the warm, sympathetic appreciative approach from the standpoint of the humanities. Whatever statistical digest may have been presented to the Committee by the Parliamentary Secretary, it will not outweigh the force of our argument, which has behind it the moral sanction that we on this side of the Committee take upon ourselves the responsibility of defending these men against the implications of these Regulations.
When the Parliamentary Secretary was giving his statistical quotations, my reaction was to become more confused and rather stunned. In regard to his presentation of the statistical information, it may well be that his facts are true, in so far as they are supported by statistics, but the hon. Gentleman was motivated by a desire to hide the bigger facts and tragedies that lay below them. He talked a great deal about the increased rights that would accrue with increased benefits to the unemployed, and of the additional days included in the Regulations. Theoretically, his argument was correct, but only theoretically, because, having outlined to the Committee the additional benefits from extended days that will accrue to the unemployed person, in the next cold breath he stated that the average period of unemployment in this country was only three weeks.
Let us be generous and assume that the average period of unemployment is 10 or 20 weeks; let us even assume it is the latter figure The vast majority—one could say 99.5 per cent.—of the persons on the registers at the Employment Exchanges can never benefit from the additional days provided for in these Regulations because they are the people whom we call the "ins and outs." While theoretically correct, from the practical 641 approach these Regulations have no real application to the situation.
The Parliamentary Secretary, in a similar vein, spoke about these additional days and the additional benefits to the unemployed, but even the persons registered at the Employment Exchanges are not in the three weeks' group to which the Parliamentary Secretary referred. We take them outside the law of averages, and they are outside the category of the average period of unemployment in this country, so that these people do not benefit from these Regulations.
Neither will the man who has been unemployed for a long term benefit from these Regulations or the extended days, because—on the admission of the Minister in the last debate on this subject—of the number of persons who submitted their cases to the tribunal, only 14 per cent. were refused benefit, and, consequently, as far as the others were concerned, the effect of Section 62 has been to give them security of tenure. Therefore, while on the face of it, as far as political window-dressing is concerned, the Minister was right in theory, the effect of these Regulations in practice will be disastrous on the financial position of the weakest, most defenceless, but yet most loyal, section of our people.
While the Parliamentary Secretary has been stressing the rights of this matter, he was blind to the wrongs that will emerge in the application of these Regulations, and what we say tonight, having regard to the fact that a document relating to the availability question has now come to light, is that the Government are sharpening their teeth in this nibbling at the rights of the workers, and that this is a prelude to a major attack that will be made when the Regulations are recast when under examination in the quinquennial valuation.
What is the financial shift in the process now being initiated? Let me give an example. There is a person in my constituency who is at present in receipt of £2 14s. unemployment benefit and of £3 injury benefit because his lungs are riddled with pneumoconiosis. This means that he has an income of £5 14s. a week. But under the new Regulations, owing to the fact that he is in receipt of £3 a week from the Industrial Injuries Fund, his weekly income will be reduced to 642 £4 9s., a reduction of £1 5s. a week, or £65 a year.
That case is typical of hundreds of similar cases in the South Wales valleys alone. What Government can claim the moral or even the cold statistical right to sanction a Regulation that will reduce the income of a person who has worked in the coalmines for 40 years, an industry, which as other hon. Members have said, is the keystone to the whole British economy?
Those are the cold statistical facts that can be quoted against the cold statistical facts put forward by the Parliamentary Secretary. The important result to be discerned in this change is that, whereas at present this man receives 52 per cent. of his total income from the Industrial Injuries Fund, after these Regulations come into operation 67 per cent. of his income will be derived from that fund.
Was it ever intended that the Industrial Injuries Fund, which was specifically set up to give benefits to men who suffered injury and disease while working in the mines, the factories and the workshops, should become the wet nurse to the Treasury? This trend will be accentuated when the Government implement the recommendations of the Committee which has now reported on the question of availability, and, instead of decreasing we shall increase the number of people who are in the category of the person I have just quoted.
We are very disturbed about this for several reasons. The Minister has referred in previous debates to the fact that the hard core numbers 6,000 and that these men are to be found in pockets in various parts of the country, but particularly in the mining communities. Therefore, the effect of the effort of the Minister of National Insurance to rid himself of this problem will only mean transferring it from his Department to that of the Ministry of Fuel and Power.
It should be remembered that in South Wales we had demonstrations of 50,000 and 80,000 people against the means test. If the Minister believes that because these people are a small defenceless minority they have become a forgotten army in the coalfields, he is making a very big mistake, and the economy of the country and the standard of living of the people of this country 643 will pay very dearly for the mistake he is now making.
A conference will be held at Porthcawl on Saturday at which 100,000 miners in South Wales will consider this matter. When the miners of this country realise, as they are bound to do, being realists, what this means, they will say to themselves when they see their colleagues standing in the queue at the offices of the National Assistance Board:There, but for the grace of God, go I.Owing to the inherent conditions of the coal industry, it is inevitable that as the years go by hundreds of thousands of men will find themselves in that position. I assure the Minister that because of that fear, the revulsion and resentment felt in the coalfield will be heard throughout this country, and that when this debate finishes at 7 o'clock tonight that will not be the end of the conflict on this matter.
Much has been said lately about the imperative need for increasing coal production. How can one expect responsible men on this side of the Committee to ask the miners to increase their efforts in an endeavour to step up production and to work at an increased pace when that means taking the risks to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) referred? Those risks will increase and will swell the lists of men who will become the physical rejects from the mines, and who will eventually be at the mercy of the National Assistance Board.
I have been in the House of Commons for only three years, but I have had the pleasure of listening to the present Minister of National Insurance on a few occasions. I think that he has endeared himself, even to hon. Members on this side, on several important matters; but never have I seen him more uneasy, hesitant and lacking in conviction than when he defended these Regulations during the last debate. If the right hon. Gentleman has pawned his soul to the Treasury, there is one opportunity of which he can take advantage to redeem it from the cold refrigerators in that Department. If these Regulations have to go on, he can dull the edge a little by giving consideration to other matters.
644 In the Report on the Availability Question, the Committee have recommended that the allowance for subsidiary occupations shall be increased from 3s. 4d. to 6s. 8d.; that is to say, a man with a subsidiary occupation can increase his earnings from £1 to £2 per week. As the committee argue in that paragraph, because of the increased cost of living and because 3s. 4d. has not the social, economic and purchasing value it had when it was fixed, it is necessary to increase it. If the Committee can give that advice to the Government with reference to able-bodied persons, why cannot something similar be done in this case, if the Government are determined at this late hour to proceed with these Regulations?
This is an opportunity for the Minister of National Insurance to free himself from these aspersions. Let him consider the income of disabled persons in the same way as the Advisory Committee considered the earnings of persons employed in subsidiary occupations, and raise it by 100 per cent., to £2 instead of £1. The present disregard is £1. That might alleviate the effects of these Regulations. Even if that concession were made, we are concerned about protecting these men from these effects and we will still persist in our agitation and our position about the operation of these Regulations.
Some people may say that probably this is not universal in its application and that other trade union organisations in industry are not similarly affected. The miners do not care. They fought alone before and they are prepared to fight again; it may be in a very positive way, and it may be in a very negative way that will have very positive effects. Therefore, I ask the Minister to consider this matter seriously and to avoid these Regulations being applied to these men.
We, as a Labour Party, believe that men who have received an injury or an accident by reason of their occupation should have consideration. There are hundreds of these men suffering from pneumoconiosis and silicosis who are in death's antechamber, and they are conscious of all this. I have great pleasure and conviction in asking the Minister to consider this major reversal of policy and to save the most defenceless, the weakest, section of the community from these political and social indignities.
§ 6.36 p.m.
§ The Minister of National Insurance (Mr. Osbert Peake)
This is a half day given over to Supply, so far as my Ministry is concerned, and hon. Members have raised a number of questions. The debate has not taken quite the line which, from reading the newspapers, I had rather expected.
§ Mr. Peake
Yes, I have to make an impromptu speech. The only information I got about it was contained in the "Manchester Guardian" which said:The decision of the Opposition to have on Thursday a second debate on unemployment benefit within three weeks … arises from the bitterness with which the miners regard the ending of Section 62 of the National Insurance Act of 1946. … The Opposition hopes on Thursday to make a more effective demonstration against the Government than it did on July 6. Mr. Bevan has been chosen to make the case against the new regulations in place of Mr. Griffiths, who found himself to be in an awkward position. …
§ Mr. Peake
I have only a limited time and I have a number of rather important things to say. I do not think any question arises at this stage.
The temper of the debate has been in accordance with our recent debates upon insurance matters. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have approached the subject in a most constructive spirit. I was particularly interested to get the views of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) and a number of his colleagues on the back benches on the recently issued report on availability and subsidiary employments. There are not any Regulations, as the hon. Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) seemed to think.
The position regarding the Report is this. Since it was received it has been discussed inter-departmentally. I have been very heavily engaged on the Industrial Injuries Insurance Bill, and I have not so far given any real consideration to the Report. I certainly do not intend to come to any hurried conclusions about it. I am very pleased to have had the views of hon. Gentlemen, and I will study them with great care. I repeat the pledge given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary that no action will be taken 646 on the Report until after Parliament resumes in the autumn.
§ Mr. Brown
We are very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I did not think there were Regulations, but my past experience has been that when a Report is submitted to this House it is upon that Report that Regulations are assembled. I was calling the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to what the Advisory Committee said about availability, and so on.
§ Mr. Peake
I can only repeat that I am glad to have the views of hon. and right hon. Members on the Report. If they have any further observations, I hope that they will let me have them. I preserve an open mind upon the subject and have come to no conclusions upon the Report as yet.
Now I come to what I consider to be the main issue of the debate. It is a serious one, because anything which may affect even indirectly the interests of disabled persons, however few in number, is a serious matter and deserves serious attention. The position today, arising from the lapse of Section 62, is the direct consequence of decisions taken by the preceding Labour Government in 1946——
§ Mr. Peake
—and in 1948. When we debated this last time we were reminded by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) that when the Labour Government were working out the details of the National Insurance Act they then deliberately decided not to have unlimited unemployment benefit. What is happening today flows from that decision, with which I personally agree, and to which, at any rate at the time, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale was a party.
§ Mr. Peake
The point that I was making is quite clear. The 1946 Act contained a definite limit on the amount of standard benefit which could be paid, and the right hon. Gentleman was a party 647 to that decision. A Division was taken in the House and 30 to 40 Members of the party opposite went into the Lobby in favour of unlimited benefit. But the right hon. Gentleman was committed as a Member of the Government at that time to the doctrine that standard benefit should be limited in duration.
§ Mr. Peake
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in the instructions which he issued to the tribunals which were to administer Section 62 said: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 … The life of the provision is accordingly limited to five years from the Appointed Day.After five years, as we know, the expected dislocation never occurred. We have had full employment, and it is no longer the case that there is any remaining temporary problem arising from the war for which those temporary provisions are required.
The problems that remain with us are permanent—the problems of the disabled, the superannuated, the married women, and persons without a settled way of living. The time has come to face up to a permanent arrangement, and that is what the Government have done. Hon. Members opposite have suggested that the temporary provisions of Section 62 should be re-enacted pending the quinquennial review, when the one thing that is clear is that those temporary arrangements bear no relation whatever to conditions today. Nothing could possibly come out of the review which would justify continuing a temporary arrangement to meet an expected dislocation from a transition from a war to a peace economy which never occurred.
The only way to deal with the kind of case that has been put would be to provide unlimited benefit. Leaving the matter in the hands of tribunals, as is done in Section 62, does not meet the case which has been put by the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite. In the course of the administration of Section 62 over the past six years the tribunals in fact have disallowed something like 90,000 original 648 or renewal claims. That shows that this administration by tribunals would not be the system which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ebbw Vale would appear to desire, which is unlimited unemployment benefit.
§ Mr. Peake
What is the policy of the party opposite? Are they in favour of unlimited benefit as a right? [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] If they are, they ought to say so. They did not think so in 1946, nor, so far as I know, did they contemplate introducing it at any time between 1948 and 1951, and the subject is not even mentioned in their latest statement of policy, "Challenge to Britain." Nor was it suggested in the debate which we had a fortnight ago, in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Ness Edwards) took part. I take it from that that they are opposed as a party to a policy of unlimited benefit.
§ This question has had to be faced over and over again in the past and no one has ever found a solution to it. It is perfectly true that Sir William Beveridge suggested unlimited benefit, but only subject to the condition that a recipient attended at a work or training centre as required. Both political parties rejected that solution. To offer to the kind of man mentioned today, the sufferer from pneumoconiosis, unlimited benefit on condition that he went daily to a work centre would be repudiated with indignation. I certainly would not be a party to any proposal of that kind.
§ Mr. Bevan
The right hon. Gentleman asked a question. I will give him the reply. He is confusing the rate of benefit with the extension of benefit. What we have said is that until the employment exchange can present an applicant for extended benefit with a suitable job he should receive the same amount as he would receive of standard benefit if there is no such suitable job available for him. That is the position of this party. It is clear and distinct. In fact, in most instances the tribunals have allowed more than 90 per cent. of the cases that have come before them, and therefore the right hon. Gentleman, by adding up his 90,000, is attempting to suggest to the Committee that his method is more humane.
§ Mr. Peake
We have heard something this evening about the means test. One might imagine that it did not exist in the days of the Labour Government. In fact, as hon. Members know, there has always been a substantial number of people on assistance since the scheme started in 1948. Between July, 1948, and October, 1951, the number of assistance allowances in payment rose by 600,000. It rose from 850,000 to 1,430,000. With dependants, that means in all a total of two million people, and the rate of increase of persons on assistance during those three years 1948 to 1951 was 300,000 a year. These numbers have always included a considerable proportion of those drawing unemployment benefit and extended benefit. Indeed, in some areas 50 per cent. of those on extended benefit have been on assistance as well.
I am not aware that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale did anything about this when he was in office. Although the purchasing power of benefit was continuously falling, the party opposite left the unemployed and the sick untouched by the improvements which they made for certain classes of pensioners in 1951. This made it inevitable that more unemployed and sick had to apply for assistance in order to maintain themselves. If we had taken the same line when we increased pension rates last year, more people on extended benefit would have had to apply for assistance in supplementation of extended benefit at the old rates of 26s. single and 42s. married.
I want to analyse the position of those on extended benefit. They numbered 47,000 at the last count. There had been a fall of 1,000 during the month of June. About 13,000 were already on assistance, so that the lapse of extended benefit will effect no change whatever in their case. The balance of 34,000, of course, are not 650 a static body. They are not the same people all the time; many people are passing from extended benefit, some to retirement pensions, some on to sickness benefit, some back into jobs, and others have been coming on to extended benefit, and our new added days Regulations will pick up a very large number of those who would have gone on to extended benefit. But there are other categories, such as those superannuated on pension, and married women, who will have no need to seek assistance. The hard core of long-term cases, as has been pointed out by a number of hon. Members, is a comparatively small figure.
§ Mr. Peake
The hon. Gentleman knows that until quite recently, certain deductions of dependants' allowances have been made from sickness benefit and un-employability supplement which were not made from extended benefit, and people have been struggling to remain in the extended benefit field to get these allowances. I have recently revoked that disqualification, and they will now get as much benefit if they transfer to sickness benefit or unemployability supplement as they have been getting on extended benefit.
§ Mr. Peake
The type of case of which I am speaking is that of the man who has been struggling to remain in the employment field because he could thereby get the higher rate of benefit which he could not get if he transferred to sickness benefit. There are also cases of men who until recently would have 651 gone to the unemployability supplement had dependants' allowances been payable with the unemployability supplement. The Industrial Injuries Act which has recently passed through the House, as the hon. Gentleman knows, provides for dependants' benefits in full with the unemployability supplement.
I have gone very carefully into this matter. There will undoubtedly be some cases of diminution of income, but I can assure the Committee that there will be no cases of hardship. The standard of living of those on assistance has risen considerably in recent years. The scale rates of assistance are now nearly double what they were in 1946—they are 94 per cent. higher—while the cost of living over that period has risen by 40 per cent. The result is an improvement in the real standard of living of those on assistance of at least 25 per cent. over the last six years. Assistance scales as a result of last year's improvements now provide a standard of living higher than at any time during the Labour Government's tenure of office. Not only this; the cases which have been quoted will, of course, over and above the more generous provisions now made by National Assistance, get the benefit of the disregard for workmen's compensation or industrial injury benefit.
Today's "Daily Herald" speaks of theharshness and humiliation of the Means Testandthis shameless lapse into inhumanity.I am glad the right hon. Gentleman did not take that line this afternoon. After all, the right hon. Gentleman sponsored the National Assistance Act, and conducted it in its passage through this House.
§ Mr. Peake
The National Assistance Act established the National Assistance Board, and everybody is agreed that the National Assistance Board have done a fine job and that their administration is tactful and humane. The right hon. Gentleman ought to be proud of the fact that he was connected with the establishment of the National Assistance Board.
Let me make it plain that this change which is being carried through involves 652 no question of economy. Our decision is based on considerations of principle which go to the very root of the insurance scheme. Hon. Members must face the fact that it is impossible to reconcile unlimited unemployment benefit with the conception of a limited insurance contribution. It is of vital interest to preserve the integrity of the insurance principle with benefits as of right. The Labour Government rejected the idea of unlimited benefit. They took power instead, in the Act of 1946, to provide a permanent system of added days based on the insured person's contribution record. They did not use that power, though they could have done so at any time between 1948 and 1951, and it has been left to this Government——
§ Mr. Ellis Smith
Before the right hon. Gentleman continues, may I put this question to him? He has paid a great tribute to the administration of the National Assistance Board. Is it the intention of the Government that National Assistance should continue to be so administered?
§ Mr. Peake
Most certainly. I give that assurance to the hon. Gentleman.
There has been mention, particularly by the hon. Member for Rhondda, West (Mr. Iorwerth Thomas), of men suffering from pneumoconiosis, and it has rather been implied that the Government in general, and I in particular, are unsympathetic to these people. It was my privilege in 1943 to introduce the first comprehensive scheme of compensation for pneumoconiosis, and I was also able at that time to do something which, under workmen's compensation law, had never been done before, and that was to pick up old cases going back to 1934. Since I came to the Ministry of National Insurance in 1951, there has been no single question that has occupied my attention more closely than that of pneumoconiosis.
I am administering the great schemes of national and industrial injuries insurance on the same lines as my Socialist predecessors. The main change is that I am administering them with much better 653 rates of benefit than existed under the Socialist Administration. There is another matter arising directly out of my administration about which I want to say a further word. Many sufferers from pneumonoconiosis left the prescribed industries before the Silicosis Scheme of 1934 and the main Pneumoconiosis Act of 1943 were passed. Others failed to make their claims in time under the old workmen's compensation law.
These men have been rightly described by the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) and the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor) as the forgotten men of industry, their health broken by an incurable disease, and without compensation of any kind. These are very hard cases. The very first Bill introduced by my Department after the present Government was formed dealt with cases of total incapacity in this field. It provided a weekly payment of benefit during life, and lump sum payments to dependants where the disease resulted in death. Two thousand five hundred cases have already been dealt with.
I was pressed on all sides on that occasion—notably by my hon. Friend the Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Leather), who has been assiduous in this matter—to go further and provide for old cases of partial incapacity. I undertook to discuss the question—which undoubtedly bristles with administrative and technical difficulties—with the T.U.C. One of the difficulties has been the lack of accurate knowledge about the number of cases involved. It has been variously estimated at between 5,000 and 30,000. No doubt the greater number of cases that exist are in the South Wales coalfields. I am very happy now to be able to inform the Committee——
§ Mr. Bevan
On a point of order. There was an occasion when the Labour Government were in office when one of my hon. Friends, then a Minister, wished to make an announcement about impending legislation in the course of a debate on Supply. The Minister, I believe, is now proposing to make an announcement which requires legislation, at the end of a debate on Supply. Are we permitted to discuss the statement he makes, if he makes it?
He has not made it yet, but if he proceeds to advocate legislation, I shall stop him. Up to now I 654 have seen no reason to stop him. He may be going to do something by regulation, which is quite in order.
§ Mr. Peake
I am quite aware of the risks of being "no-balled" by the Chairman in Committee of Supply, but I was reporting to the Committee purely administrative actions of mine resulting from discussions which I had had with the T.U.C, and I had hoped that the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale would be interested to hear them. I shall go back to the beginning of the sentence in which I was interrupted.
I am very happy to be able to inform the Committee that, given the good will of all concerned, including the trade unions, we see our way to overcoming the difficulties involved. I therefore look forward eagerly to taking the necessary action and thereby completing a task which I began in 1943. Not only will my action give some much-needed relief in the hardest cases of all, but it will do away with a long-standing and justifiable sense of injustice.
I am not able to answer that question. If it does involve legislation, it cannot be discussed.
§ Mr. Bevan
I am asking a question. This is at the end of our debate. [Interruption.] It is no good; I am not to be bullied by anybody. The right hon. Gentleman has made a statement, the significance of which we cannot understand at the moment. We want to know from the right hon. Gentleman if the step which he has indicated involves legislation.
I have been asked that question three times. I do not in the least mind being bullied. I have answered the question and I shall answer it again. If what the right hon. Member said involves legislation, its discussion cannot be continued. If it can be done by administration it is perfectly in order.
§ Mr. Peake
Everybody except the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale appears to be highly delighted at the report which I have been able to give of the outcome of my conversations with the T.U.C. My announcement should give some cause for rejoicing in the coalfields, and particularly in South Wales. I hope that it will be duly reported to the conference at Porthcawl, about which we heard something in the course of this debate.
§ Mr. Iorwerth Thomas
I appreciate what the Minister has indicated, from which we must infer a great deal, but I have not heard him refer to the man I quoted, who is going to lose £65 a year and who suffers from pneumoconiosis.
§ Mr. Peake
Earlier in my speech I mentioned the fact that in certain cases there would be certain reductions of income as the result of the lapse of extended benefit. The right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is advocating the re-enactment of Section 62, which equally requires legislation. I hope that the report which I have been able to make to the Committee will give satisfaction in the coalfields, particularly in South Wales. Let it be noted that the only person who is displeased about it is the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale.
§ Mr. Peake
These men have not beer, forgotten, at any rate by a Conservative Government. I trust that on this ground alone, if for no other, the Committee will reject any proposal to reduce my salary, which, let me remind the Committee, is already £1,000 less than that drawn by my predecessors.
My hon. Friends can go into the Lobby, if a Division is now challenged, with a clear conscience and, indeed, even with a song in their hearts. In doing so they will be endorsing the Government's policy, which is to fill the gaps left by our predecessors in 1946, and to provide the most generous system of insurance benefit which this country has ever known.
§ Question put, "That a sum not exceeding £207,780,000 be granted for the said services."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 236: Noes, 256.659
|Division No 221.]||AYES||[7.9 p.m.|
|Adams, Richard||Clunie, J.||Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C|
|Albu, A. H.||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Cove, W. G.||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Grey, C. F.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Crosland, C. A. R.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Crossman, R. H. S||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hale, Leslie|
|Baird, J.||Daines, P.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glanvil (Colne Valley|
|Balfour, A.||Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead. W.)|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon A J||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hamilton, W. W|
|Bartley, P.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hannan, W.|
|Bence, C. R.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Hargreaves, A.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Deer, G.||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Benson, G.||Delargy, H. J.||Hastings, S.|
|Beswick, F.||Dodds, N. N.||Hayman, F. H|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon A. (Ebbw Vale)||Donnelly, D. L.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S. E.)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Driberg, T. E. N||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A (Rowley Regis)|
|Blackburn, F.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W Bromwich)||Herbison, Miss M|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hobson, C. R|
|Blyton, W. R.||Edelman, M.||Holman, P.|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)|
|Bowden, H. W||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Bowles, F. G.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hubbard, T. F|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Brockway, A. F.||Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Finch, H. J.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Burke, W. A.||Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Foot, M. M.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Forman, J. C.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G A|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Janner, B.|
|Carmichael, J.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D P T|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||Freeman. Peter (Newport)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Champion, A. J.||Gibson, C. W.||Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Glanville, James||Jenkins, R H (Stechford)|
|Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Paget, R. T.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Swingler, S. T.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Pannell, Charles||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Keenan, W.||Pargiter, G. A.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Kenyon, C.||Parker, J.||Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.||Pearson, A.||Thomas, David (Aberdare)|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Peart, T. F.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|tee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Popplewell, E.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Thornton, E.|
|Lewis, Arthur||Proctor, W. T.||Timmons, J.|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Pryde, D. J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Pursey, Cmdr. H.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|McGhee, H. G.||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Usborne, H. C.|
|McInnes, J.||Reid, William (Camlachle)||Viant, S. P.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|McLeavey, F.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Weitzman, D.|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Ross, William||West, D. G.|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Royle, C.||Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Manuel, A. C.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N. E.)|
|Mason, Roy||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Mayhew, C. P.||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Wigg, George|
|Mellish, R. J.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.|
|Mlkardo, Ian||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mitchison, G. R||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Willey, F. T.|
|Moody, A. S.||Skeffington, A. M.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Morley, R.||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S)||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Mort, D. L.||Snow, J. W.||Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)|
|Moyle, A.||Sorensen, R. W.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Mulley, F. W.||Soskice, Rt. Hon Sir Frank||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Murray, J. D.||Sparks, J. A.||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Nally, W.||Steele, T.||Yates, V. F.|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Oliver, G. H.||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)||Mr. James Johnson and Mr. Wallace.|
|Oswald, T.||Stross, Dr. Barnett|
|Aitken, W. T.||Channon, H.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Godber, J. B.|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A|
|Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Gough, C. F. H|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Gower, H. R.|
|Arhuthnot, John||Craddosk, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Grimond, J.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Crouch, R. F.||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Baker, P. A. D.||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Harden, J. R. E.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cuthbert, W. N.||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.)|
|Barlow, Sir John||Davidson, Viscountess||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Deedes, W. F.||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Dodds-Parker, A. D||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Donner, Sir P. W.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Doughty, C. J. A.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Malcolm||Hay, John|
|Bishop, F. P.||Drayson, G. B.||Heath, Edward|
|Black, C. W.||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Henderson, John (Catheart)|
|Boothby, Sir R. J G.||Duthie, W. S.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir D. M.||Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)|
|Bowen, E. R.||Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Erroll, F. J.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Fell, A.||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Braine, B. R.||Finlay, Graeme||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Fisher, Nigel||Hollis, M. C.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Fleelwood-Hesketh, R. F.||Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Holt, A. F.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Hope, Lord John|
|Bullard, D. G.||Foster, John||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.|
|Burden, F. F. A||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Horobin, I. M.|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lonsdale)||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Campbell, Sir David||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Carr, Robert||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Gammans, L. D.||Hudson. W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Hutchison, Lt-Com Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir Thomas||Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)|
|Hylton-Foster H. B. H.||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Jennings, R.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Speir, R. M.|
|Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Neave, Airey||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)|
|Jones, A. (Hall Green)||Nicholls, Harmar||Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.||Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Kaberry, D.||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Stevens, G. P.|
|Keeling, Sir Edward||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)|
|Kerr, H. W.||Noble, Cmdr A. H. P.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife E.)|
|Lambert, Hon G||Nugent, G. R. H.||Stoddart-Scott, Col M.|
|Langford-Holt, J. A||Nutting, Anthony||Storey, S.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. R. K||O'Neill, Phelim (Co. Antrim N)||Summers, G. S.|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon A. T.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon N)||Teeling, W.|
|Lindsay, Martin||Osborne, C.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Linstead, Sir H. N.||Partridge, E.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Peake, Rt Hon. O.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Perkins, W. R. D.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.||Thornton-Kemsley, Col C. N.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Low, A. R. W.||Pitman, I. J.||Turton, R. H.|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Vane, W. M. F|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Powell, J. Enoch||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Vosper, D. F.|
|McAdden, S. J.||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L||Wade, D. W.|
|Macdonald, Sir Peter||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Rayner, Brig. R.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Mackie, J. H (Galloway)||Redmayne, M.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Ward, Hon George (Worcester)|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Remnant, Hon. P.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Renton, D. L. M.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon C.|
|Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Maitland, Comdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Robertson, Sir David||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)||Wellwood, W.|
|Manningham-Buller, Sir R. E||Robson-Brown, W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Marples, A. E.||Roper, Sir Harold||Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Marshall, Sir Sidney (Sutton)||Russell, R. S.||Wills, G.|
|Maude, Angus||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Medlicott, Brig. F.||Scott, R. Donald||York, C.|
|Mellor, Sir John||Scott-Miller Cmdr. R|
|Molson, A. H. E.||Shepherd, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Studholme and Mr. Oakshott.|
Question put, and agreed to.
That a sum, not exceeding £207,781,000 be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sums necessary to defray the charges for the following services connected with the Added Days Procedure for unemployment Benefit for the year ending on 31st March, 1954, namely:
|Civil Estimates and Supplementary Estimates. 1953–54|
|Class V, Vote 10, National Insurance and Family Allowances (Revised Sum)||118,037,000|
|Class X, Vote 5, Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance||4,724,000|
|Class V, Vote 11, National Assistance Board||85,020,000|
Motion made, and Question proposed.
That a sum not exceeding £39,697,000 be granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sums necessary to defray the charges for the following services connected with the Position of Conscientious Objectors for the year ending on 31st March, 1954, namely:
|Civil Estimates. 1953–54. Ministry of Defence Estimate, 1953–54, Navy Estimates, 1953–54, Army Estimates, 1953–54, and Air Estimates 1953–54|
|Class V, Vote 8, Ministry of Labour and National Service||12,775,000|
|Ministry of Defence||13,012,000|
|Navy Estimates, Vote 12. Admiralty Office||6,910,000|
|Army Estimates, Vote 3. War Office||3,020,000|
|Air Estimates, Vote 3, Air Ministry||3,980,000|
§ —[Mr. Ward.]