HC Deb 13 November 1957 vol 577 cc1095-8

Considered in Committee under Standing Order No. 84 (Money Committees).—[Queen's Recommendation signified.]

[Sir CHARLES MACANDREW in the Chair]

Motion made, and Question proposed. That, for the purposes of any Act of the present Session to increase contributions and benefits under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Acts, 1946 to 1957, and the National Insurance Acts, 1946 to 1957, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of moneys provided by Parliament—

  1. (a) of any increase in the sums payable out of moneys so provided under—
    1. (i) paragraph (b) of section two or subsection (1) of section sixty of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946, or
    2. (ii) subsection (3) of section two of the National Insurance Act. 1946 (as amended by section one of the National Insurance Act, 1951), or subsection (1) of section thirty-eight of the National Insurance Act, 1946;
    which is attributable to any provision made by the said Act of the present Session for increasing any rates or amounts of contributions or benefits under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946, or the National Insurance Act, 1946, and
  2. (b) of any increase in the sums payable out of moneys so provided under subsection (3) of section one of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1936, or in the expenses incurred in the administration of that Act, which is attributable to any provisions of the said Act of the present Session increasing by two shillings and fourpence the weekly rate of pension under the said Act of 1936 to a person satisfying the statutory conditions under that Act.—[Mr. Boyd-Carpenter.]

10.20 p.m.

Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)

I wish to ask one or two questions about this Financial Resolution. I should not need to do so had the Minister given replies to the specific questions that were asked from this side during today's debate on the Bill. Will paragraph (a, i) make it possible for the Minister to introduce further provision into the Bill to bring the old compensation cases up to the new Industrial Injuries benefit? Will he be able, under that sub-paragraph, to give to those who come into benefit under the 1951 Supplementation Act the additional increase of 29s. that is given under the Industrial Injuries part of the Bill?

Paragraph (b) has been very tightly drawn, purposely, by the Government. Part of this paragraph reads: which is attributable to any provisions of the said Act of the present Session increasing by two shillings and fourpence the weekly rate of pension. Would not the purposes outlined in the Bill have been served by the omission of "two shillings and fourpence"? The Minister would still have been able, if he wished, in Committee, to increase the amount for people who have had no increase since 1946. He would have been able to put forward arguments on behalf of those people. If the paragraph is left as it is, any Amendment put down by us may be ruled out of order as not being covered by the Financial Resolution. I should like to have the Minister's views on these points.

The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter)

I will endeavour, as far as possible, to answer the questions which the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) has been good enough to put.

The purpose of paragraph (a) is to enable the various provisions of the existing Act authorising the payment of moneys under the Industrial Injuries and National Insurance Acts to be applied to the provisions of the Bill. It is designed to cover what is provided in Clause 6.

It is not my duty to attempt to rule, nor have I the authority to rule, whether or not an Amendment which I have not seen would or would not be out of order or liable to be called, as a result of the terms of the Financial Resolution. I can only advise the Committee of what the Resolution is designed to cover. I have given a brief summary but I can give a longer one, if that is the desire of the Committee. It is to cover Clause 6, which provides authority for the payment of the additional Exchequer contributions which will flow from the increase of contributions under those two Acts and for various other provisions of the Bill.

The second point related to the two shillings and fourpence which the Bill proposes to add to the payment made to the non-contributory old-age pensioner. It is the purpose of the Financial Resolution to make it possible to take into the Bill provisions which will impose a charge on the Exchequer. In that way it derives from the historic and traditional duty, of those who speak at this Box on behalf of the Crown, to propose expenditure.

Again, it is not for me to rule as to the view which the Chair will take of this, but it is certainly intended—I say this frankly to the Committee—to authorise the provision contained in the Bill and not any other provision which anyone may have in mind. That is the purpose in the ordinary way. When I filled the chair of the Financial Secretary I suppose I initialled hundreds of Money Resolutions, and that is the traditional purpose of a Money Resolution.

Mr. H. A. Marquand (Middlesbrough, East)

It is unfortunate that this should be so, because there is a real discrepancy between the two sections of the Money Resolution. The first paragraph says: it is expedient to authorise the payment of moneys for any increase in the sums which are to be provided under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act or "which is attributable" to any provisions made by the National Insurance Act. The second part of the Resolution does not say "any increase." It refers to an increase of 2s. 4d., and is very much less wide than the previous part of the Resolution.

I do not think that the explanation by the right hon. Gentleman of the discrepancy between these two parts of the Resolution was quite convincing. If it is possible to say in the earlier part that the Resolution authorises what is necessary to make any increase, it seems very unfortunate completely to deny the representatives of the people the right to say that they think the increase of 2s. 4d. is not sufficient.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I am sorry that the right hon. Member should think that. I think he will do me the credit of believing that it was never my intention to inhibit freedom of debate. I appreciate that he has taken the point at short notice, but he has not stated the position quite correctly. It is not to cover "any increase," but any increase in the present Session, and the second provision is for a specified, itemised expenditure proposed in the Bill. I suppose it is fundamental to our financial procedure in this House that it is for the Crown to initiate expenditure.

Miss Herbison

There is a further point I want to have cleared. It goes back to the first questions I asked the Minister. I think the Minister has hedged his reply to those questions. If there is an increase for the old compensation cases and the lime-barred pneumoconiosis cases, that increase does not come from the Treasury, but from the Industrial Injuries Fund. Surely the Minister is able to tell us about this. He must have played a big part in the formation of this Financial Resolution and it is quite wrong for him to put the onus for a decision on whoever will be in the Chair next week. He must have had in mind certain provisions when this Financial Resolution was drawn. Can he tell me clearly, since any increase for these categories of cases will come out of the Industrial Injuries Fund, whether they are covered by the Resolution as it stands?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Of course, I have a clear view of what must be covered by Clause 6 of the Bill. What I certainly cannot do is to say what other things might be covered. The hon. Lady will appreciate that the question whether or not a particular Amendment she may or may not wish to put down would be in order does not depend solely on the Financial Resolution but also on other matters, such as the scope of the Bill.

I must reject her suggestion that it is my duty to arrogate to myself the responsibilities of the Chair and give advice on what could be in order. That, with great respect, I cannot do.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported Tomorrow.