HC Deb 23 November 1960 vol 630 cc1255-67

Again considered in Committee.

Mr. Braine

At that point, when I was given a short breathing space, I was drawing the attention of the Committee to the fact that the rates of National Insurance and industrial injuries benefits for children are the same and they have been so since the start of the Scheme. They would continue to be so under the Bill. This is obviously right. As the hon. Gentleman reminded us, when painting a picture of the needs of children in this unhappy position, the need in both cases is exactly the same. I am bound to say that, under the Amendments proposed, the National Insurance rate would be lower than the industrial injuries rate, and it has always been thought right that they should coincide. There does not seem to be any justification for introducing discrimination now.

On the other hand, children's allowances for war widows have always been payable at a higher rate than the rate for industrial injuries widows' children. At present, war widows get 25s. for each child, soon to be raised to 29s. The rates proposed in the Amendment would reverse this established differential by increasing the rate of industrial injuries death benefit payable to a widow for her first child to 35s. The 1946 Act provided from July, 1948, a dependency increase of injury benefit and in certain cases a disablement pension of 7s. 6d. for the first child but gave nothing for subsequent children. I see the right hon. Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) in his place. He was a pioneer in the matter of National Insurance and he will remember that. The rates in the Bill, on the other hand, plus family allowances, represent an increase of 133 per cent. for the first child, 250 per cent. for the second, and 290 per cent. for subsequent children, during a period in which the Index of Retail Prices has risen by 58 per cent.

I did somewhat resent a little earlier the idea that members of the Committee on this side had no feeling in these matters. The inference was that we did not live among the people we sought to represent, and so on. I must bring the Committee back to a sense of reality. Translated into real terms, the increases since 1948 are of the order of 47 per cent., 121 per cent. and 146 per cent. respectively for these child allowances, and the increases proposed in the Bill. of course, will take those figures further. That reflects in striking fashion, also, the way in which the emphasis has shifted in social provision during recent years in favour of larger families.

Those figures—I emphasise this again—represent a real advance in standards. With the improvement generally in industrial injuries and National Insurance benefits, they represent a real advance since the original schemes were mooted by Lord Beveridge. The Committee will remember that in his Report he said that social insurance should aim at guaranteeing the minimum income needed for subsistence", but, he added, the determination of what is required for reasonable human subsistence is to some extent a matter of judgment; estimates on this point change with time, and generally, in a progressive community, change upwards". Of course this must be so, and I accept a great deal of what the hon. Gentleman has said, not only on these Amendments, but throughout the debate. If the criterion of subsistence were Beveridge's standard of basic needs, the whole range of benefits is far more adequate today than it was in 1946. It has been substantially improved since that time.

The 1946 Act provided industrial death benefit at the rate of 7s. 6d. for the first child only, and there was no enhanced industrial injuries widows' rate, which, incidentally, was not introduced until 1956. The rates in the Bill, plus family allowances, represent increases of 233 per cent. for the industrial injury widow's first child, 400 per cent. for the second and 440 per cent. for the third and subsequent children.

In short, one would like to do more, but this represents——

Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)

I wish the Minister would realise that in putting forward these pleas under the Industrial Injuries Act my hon. Friends are proposing to change the contributions. The Government seem to have missed this point all the time. In 1948 it was very difficult to estimate what would be the cost of this Scheme, and, perhaps, one was over-cautious. The Government, in this affluent age, are letting the employers pay 1d. less. The hon. Gentleman ought to remember that these increases could easily be doubled if the contribution were left as it is. For the first time in our history the worker is to pay a very substantial part of the cost of the benefit paid to him when he is injured in the employment of his employer. That point ought to be considered. If the Government left the employers and the workmen to pay the same contribution as they are now paying the improvements which are proposed could be paid. No one would have to pay any more than he is paying now. Surely what I have said is a material consideration.

Mr. Braine

I am not certain that the right hon. Gentleman is right—that these improvements could be made happily without any difficulty if contributions

were left exactly as they are. We can speculate a great deal about the future of the Fund. All that I would say is that it was open to the right hon. Gentleman and to his hon. Friends to table Amendments to that effect. They did not do so. There may have been perfectly good and technical reasons for that. I am not complaining about it.

I am concerned with the Amendments on the Notice Paper. They are what we are discussing. I am concerned with the effect which the cost of them will have upon the Fund. The industrial injuries benefits proposed by hon. Members opposite would put the Fund out and, even if the contributions were left as they are, they would create difficulties. The Industrial Injuries Scheme is on an actuarial footing.

I conclude by saying that the Bill makes substantial provision for families in this category, and I hope that the Committee will not lose sight of the real and substantial advances which the Bill proposes.

Question put, That "Seventeen" stand part of the Schedule:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 167, Noes 120.

Division No. 12.] AYES [10.11 p.m.
Agnew, Sir Peter Currie, G. B. H. Hobson, John
Aitken, W. T. Dalkelth, Earl of Hooking, Philip N.
Allason, James d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Holland, Philip
Atkins, Humphrey Deedes, W. F. Hollingworth, John
Balniel, Lord Duncan, Sir James Hopkins, Alan
Barlow, Sir John Elliot, Capt. W. (Carshalton) Hornby, R. P.
Barter, John Elliott, R. W. Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hon. Patricia
Beamish, Col. Tufton Emery, Peter Hughes-Young, Michael
Bennett, F. M. (Torquay) Errington, Sir Eric Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Biggs-Davison, John Erroll, Rt. Hon. F. J. Jackson, John
Bingham, R. M. Farr, John Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel Fell, Anthony Johnson Smith, Geoffrey
Bishop, F. P. Finlay, Graeme Kerans, Cdr. J. S.
Box, Donald Fisher, Nigel Kerr, Sir Hamilton
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. John Fraser, Ian (Plymouth, Sutton) Kimball, Marcus
Boyle, Sir Edward Freeth, Denzil Kirk, Peter
Braine, Bernard Gammans, Lady Langford-Holt, J.
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H. Gibson-Watt, David Leavey, J. A.
Browne, Percy (Torrington) Godber, J. B. Leburn, Gilmour
Bryan, Paul Goodhart, Philip Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Bullard, Denys Gower, Raymond Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Campbell, Gordon (Moray & Nairn) Grant-Ferris, Wg Cdr. R. (Nantwich) Lilley, F. J. P.
Carr, Compton (Barons Court) Green, Alan Longbottom, Charles
Carr, Robert (Mitcham) Grosvenor, Lt.-Col. R. G. Loveys, Walter H.
Cary, Sir Robert Gurden, Harold Luoas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Channon, H. P. G. Hall, John (Wycombe) McLaren, Martin
Clark, Henry (Antrim, N.) Hamilton, Michael (Weillngborough) Maclay, Rt. Hon. John
Clark, William (Nottingham, S.) Harris, Reader (Heston) MacLeod, John (Ross & Cromarty)
Cleaver, Leonard Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye) McMaster, Stanley R.
Cooper, A. E. Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.) Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Harvie Anderson, Miss Maddan, Martin
Corfield, F. V. Hastings, S. Maginnis, John E.
Costain, A. P. Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel Maitland, Sir John
Coulson, J. M. Hendry, Forbes Markham, Major Sir Frank
Craddock, Sir Beresford Hicks Beach, Maj. W. Marlowe, Anthony
Critchley, Julian Hiley, Joseph Marten, Neil
Cunningham, Knox Hill, J. E. B. (S. Norfolk) Mathew, Robert (Honiton)
Curran, Charles Hirst, Geoffrey Matthews, Gordon (Meriden)
Mawby, Ray Ridsdale, Julian Thompson, Richard (Croydon, S.)
Maxwell-Hyslop, R. Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley) Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin
Mills, Stratton Roots, William Tiley, Arthur (Bradford, W.)
Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh Ropner, col. Sir Leonard Turner, Colin
Montgomery, Fergus Russell, Ronald Vaughan-Morgan, Sir John
More, J. Scott-Hopkins, James Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.
Morrison, John Seymour, Leslie Webster, David
Nabarro, Gerald Shaw, M. Whitelaw, William
Neave, Airey Skeet, T. H. H. Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)
Noble, Michael Stodart, J. A. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Oakshott, Sir Hendrie Studholme, Sir Henry Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pearson, Frank (Clitheroe) Summers, Sir Spencer (Aylesbury) Wood, Rt. Hon. Richard
Pilkington, Capt. Richard Talbot, John E. Woodhouse, C. M.
Powell, Rt. Hon. J. Enoch Tapsell, Peter Woodnutt, Mark
Price, David (Eastleigh) Taylor, E. (Bolton, E.) Woollam, John
Proudfoot, Wilfred Teeling, William
Redmayne, Rt. Hon. Martin Temple, John M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rees-Davies, W. R. Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury) Mr. Chichester-Clark and
Ridley, Hon. Nicholas Thomas, Peter (Conway) Mr. Sharples.
Ainsley, William Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly) Pavitt, Laurence
Albu, Austen Hamilton, William (West Fife) Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Hannan, William Peart, Frederick
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe) Hart, Mrs. Judith Pentland, Norman
Awbery, Stan Hayman, F. H. Probert, Arthur
Bacon, Miss Alice Herbison, Miss Margaret Rankin, John
Baxter, William (Stirlingshire, W.) Hill, J. (Midlothian) Redhead, E. C.
Beaney, Alan Houghton, Douglas Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Bence, Cyril (Dunbartonshire, E.) Hoy, James H. Ross, William
Blackburn, F. Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Boardman, H. Hunter, A. E. Slater, Mrs. Harriet (Stoke, N.)
Bowden, Herbert W. (Leics, S. W.) Irving, Sydney (Dartford) Slater, Joseph (Sedgefield)
Boyden, James Janner, Barnett Small, William
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Jay, Rt. Hon. Douglas Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Jones, Dan (Burnley) Snow, Julian
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper) Jones, Jack (Rotherham) Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Brown, Thomas (Ince) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Spriggs, Leslie
Callaghan, James Jones, T. W. (Merioneth) Summerskill, Dr. Rt. Hon. Edith
Castle, Mrs. Barbara Kelley, Richard Swingler, Stephen
Cliffe, Michael Kenyon, Clifford Sylvester, George
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) King, Dr. Horace Symonds, J. B.
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Lee, Frederick (Newton) Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock) Taylor, John (West Lothian)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Loughlin, Charles Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Deer, George Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Dempsey, James MacColl, James Thompson, Dr. Alan (Dunfermline)
Donnelly, Desmond McInnes, James Thomson, G. M. (Dundee, E.)
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John McKay, John (Wallsend) Thornton, Ernest
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly) Mackie, John Timmons, John
Fernyhough, E. Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Warbey, William
Fitch, Alan Manuel, A. C. Watkins, Tudor
Fletcher, Eric Mapp, Charles Whitlock, William
Foot, Michael Marsh, Richard Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Forman, J. C. Millan, Bruce Wilkins, W. A.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton) Mitchison, G. R. Williams, D. J. (Neath)
Galpern, Sir Myer Morris, John Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
George, Lady Megan Lloyd Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Yates, Victor (Ladywood)
Ginsburg, David Oram, A. E. Zilliacus, K.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C. Padley, W. E.
Gourlay, Harry Pargiter, G. A. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Grey, Charles Parker, John (Dagenham) Mr. Howell and Mr. Lawson
Mr. Houghton

I beg to move, in page 8, line 48, at the end to insert:

Section 22 (4) Weekly rate of pension payable to a parent—
(a) for period for which parents are living together and are both entitled to pension. Fifteen shillings. Thirty shillings.
(b) for any other period Twenty shillings. Forty shillings.
Section 23 (4) Gratuity and weekly rate of pension payable to a relative—
(a) weekly rate of pension payable in circumstances specified in the subsection (2) of this section. Twenty shillings. Forty shillings.
(b) amount of gratuity payable under subsection (3) of this section. Fifty-two pounds. One hundred and four pounds.
(c) weekly rate of allowance payable under subsection (3) of this section. Thirty-six shillings. Seventy-two shillings.
Section 24 (3) Weekly rate of allowance payable to women having care of a deceased's children. Twenty shillings. Forty shillings.

This Amendment takes in a series of benefits which were contained in the 1946 Act but which, I understand, have not been changed since. There is in Section 22 of the 1946 Act a provision for a benefit to be paid to the parent of a deceased if at the deceased's death he or she was being to a substantial extent maintained by the deceased or would but for the relevant accident have been so maintained. Under certain conditions there is provision for a death benefit payment to be made.

As will be seen from the Amendment, for the period during which parents were living together and both entitled to pension the amount of benefit was 15s. and for any other period 20s. Then in Section 23 of the 1946 Act there is provision for benefit to be paid to a relative under certain conditions. Again, the condition of being wholly or mainly maintained by the deceased is written into the Section. In that case, under certain conditions there is a benefit of 20s., under other conditions a gratuity of £52, and under still other conditions a benefit of 36s. Then in Section 24 of the Act there is a benefit to be paid for women having the care of deceased's children.

All these benefits were provided for in the 1946 Act and for a reason which I cannot explain they have not been attended to since. That is why we propose to include them as an addition to the Schedule. Having regard to the failure of the House of Commons to improve these benefits in past years, we have thought that to increase them by 100 per cent. would be appropriate now Probably the Joint Parliamentary Secretary can tell us a little more about these benefits of which very little is usually heard but which presumably are still claimed.

If they are so claimed and are still applied to conditions which I feel sure they are, and which occur from time to time when a worker gets killed, perhaps the right hon. Lady will tell us why the Government have done nothing about them and if there is any reason why these benefits should not now be increased. I think that I have said enough about them to convince the Committee that here are benefits which have been left unimproved for a long time and which should be increased now.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton), unusually for him, has expressed the view that he does not know why certain things have happened, a view which he need rarely express in the light of his vast knowledge of all our insurance topics. The Amendment, as he has rightly said, seeks to double the present rates of industrial benefits payable to parents, relatives and women having care of the deceased's children, but it does not change the other benefits under the same part of the Scheme, the pension payable to a childless able-bodied widow and the parent's gratuity. I am not quarrelling about that.

This type of payment is essentially derived from the old workmen's compensation scheme, which, as hon. Members know, pre-dated by very many years the modern schemes of social insurance. It has not any real parallel in the main insurance legislation. These payments were based not on the principle of a subsistence allowance but on the principle, originally, of lump-sum compensation. Their introduction into the modern Industrial Injuries Scheme represented a continuation of this compensation element.

When the Workmen's Compensation Acts were repealed in 1948—and I would mention that the maximum payment under the old workmen's compensation was £400—in order to meet an obligation which had hitherto been met by employers, this new provision was made in industrial injuries. Instead of a lump sum, provision was made for a weekly payment of 15s. each for two parents living together or of 20s. for one parent or relative.

As hon. Members will appreciate, there are other and wider provisions today for the elderly and the sick than those compensation payments. These wider provisions are improved by this Bill. In value, the £1 a week, or 30s. for a couple, is not ungenerous in comparison with the £400 lump sum compensation which would have been payable had the old workmen's compensation scheme not been repealed.

For example, if the recipient mother was as old as 60 when she started drawing a parent's pension of £1 a week, the actuarial value would be about £700, and for a father at 65, about £600—with, of course, progressively higher values should parents at ages younger than those I have quoted come within the ambit of these provisions. There are at present 386 parents, 77 relatives and 66 women who receive the allowances on the ground that they have the care of the deceased's children.

Any change in these rates would have repercussions on the corresponding benefits payable under the Royal Warrant for the dependants of war pensioners, which makes parallel provision. This is a legacy of a scheme which is now outmoded. It was introduced in the 1946 Act to take the place of a provision that had been made by employers in the form of lump sum payments, and it is now, and always has been, purely a compensation payment and not a subsistence payment.

As the hon. Member for Sowerby rightly says, for this reason no Government have ever changed its basis since it was incorporated as a compensation payment in the 1946 Act. Although other insurance rates, from which most of these beneficiaries will be gaining and for which most of them will qualify, have been increased very much, this particular type of payment is not one which, strictly speaking, has any connection with the insurance rate for the provision either for old-age or for unemployment or for sickness. For that reason, I hope that the Committee will resist the Amendment.

10.30 p.m.

Mr. B. Taylor

I do not follow the logic of the right hon. Lady's argument. But before coming to that, let us look at this problem in terms of existing values as compared with those of 1948. As my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) said, these beneficiaries have had no increase at all since 1948, yet monetary values have changed considerably since then. The right hon. Lady tries to justify her argument by saying that these weekly payments, which are gratuitous, are based on payments made under the old workmen's compensation scheme.

The right hon. Lady mentioned, correctly, that the maximum lump sum payment under the Workmen's Compensation Act pre-1948 was £400, and that the existing benefits bore some relation to that. Does she believe that had it not been for the introduction of the Industrial Injuries Act the Lump sum compensation for a fatality today would be £400 as it was in 1948? That argument is totally illogical. These people should be treated no less generously and humanely than the other beneficiaries under the Industrial Injuries Act. The trade union movement—I speak particularly on behalf of the National Union of Mineworkers—feels very strongly on this point in respect of dependent relatives.

Aside from the illogicality of the right hon. Lady's argument, I hope that the matter will be looked at again and a longstanding grievance rectified by restoring the value of this benefit to that of 1948.

Amendment negatived.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this be the First Schedule to the Bill.

Mr. B. Taylor

I wish to make an observation about industrial widows' pensions. It is a small but very important one. I will not say anything about the first 13 weeks of widowhood of an industrial injury widow, nor anything about the widow after the first 13 weeks.

The Bill is one of exclusions and omissions. It is like the curate's egg—it is not all bad; it is good in parts. At the commencement of proceedings yesterday we asked about the exclusion of the old workmen's compensation cases and the time-barred pneumoconiotics. Here is another exclusion as I see it—the industrial injury widow who is under 50, not incapable of supporting herself and with no dependent child or children. The existing pension for that widow under the Industrial Injuries Act is 31s. I cannot understand why one should include the widow over 50 and the widow under 50 who has a child or children and is incapable of self-support and yet leave out the other widow who might be any age from 49 down to 25.

I hope that we may be told why this widows' benefit of 31s. is not to be increased as are the benefits for the two other types of widow. I am sure that this needs an explanation. We shall go back to our constituencies and meet widows of this type, and they will say, "My next-door neighbour, because she is over 50, has an increase. The other next-door neighbour has an increase because she has a child or children, or because she cannot look after herself".

Will the Minister say why this type of beneficiary is excluded from the proposed increase? It is a serious matter, and I hope that at some other stage of the Bill this type of industrial injury widow will receive some consideration, and that her benefit will be increased.

Mr. Braine

I will do my best to answer the point raised by the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor), although it is rather a new one to me.

I understand that the lower rate of pension payable to the young able-bodied widow without children has remained unaltered since inception of the Industrial Injuries Act, 1946, and I take it that that is the category of widow to which the hon. Gentleman is referring. Since I have been in the Ministry I have discovered that there are a wide variety of widows and some, perhaps not altogether in this context, more fortunately placed than others.

Mr. B. Taylor

Will the Joint Parliamentary Secretary look closely into this, because, if my memory serves me right, this kind of widow received 20s. at the inception of the scheme, and she now receives 31s.? It is, therefore, not correct to say that there has not been any increase since 1948.

Mr. Braine

I think I can say this, that the lower rate of pension payable to the able-bodied young widow without children has never been regarded as a subsistence payment. It was provided partly as a replacement of a lump sum payment—the lump sum of £400 under the Workmen's Compensation Acts—and partly as compensation on the analogy of war pensions, which makes similar provision of a 20s. pension for a young widow of an ex-Service man. May I say in passing that the war pension 20s. rate is not being increased either, so the argument of the hon. Gentleman would apply to the war pension rate as well.

Actuarily, the value—

Mr. Taylor

Before the hon. Gentleman leaves that point—

Mr. Braine

I have not developed it yet.

Mr. Taylor

—I want to be certain about this. If one looks at Section 19 (3) of the 1946 Act, it says: . . in any other case"— that is referring to widows under 50 not incapacitated nor having a child or children— shall be twenty shillings. The existing rate is 31s. I want to be clear about the statement made by the hon. Gentleman, that there had not been an increase since 1948.

Mr. Braine

I do not think I can be positive on that point at this stage. I would not like to say anything that I would have to retract later. It is clear that this point is causing the hon. Gentleman some anxiety, and I will undertake here and now to find the answer and get it to him as quickly as possible. After all, our deliberations will not end tonight. They will go on tomorrow, and I will give him the answer as soon as I can.

I would like to add to what I have said, because I think that it is relevant to the point. Actuarily it is estimated that the 20s. pension is worth more than the lump sum payment under the Workmens' Compensation Acts, the actuarial benefit for a widow at 49 being about £800.

I am bound to tell the Committee that any increase in the rate of industrial injury widows would bring into contrast corresponding widows under the main National Insurance Acts who receive nothing if they have not got a reserved right to an underlying 10s. pension under the old scheme.

I think that I must leave it there. I will have the matter looked into and get the information to the hon. Gentleman as quickly as possible.

We have had an extraordinarily interesting and extensive debate ranging from the proposals in the Schedule to the increase of a whole range of industrial injuries benefits. I wish to conclude by saying that, though the general burden of the arguments from the Opposition benches is that we ought to have done much more for those who come either under the full scope of the Industrial Injuries Scheme or for those for whom special provision is made out of the Industrial Injuries Fund under the benefit schemes, nevertheless the fact is that the Bill brings substantial new advances to bear in this field of social provision, and I recommend the Schedule to the Committee.

Question put and agreed to.

Schedule agreed to.

Second Schedule agreed to.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

With, I think, very good co-operation and good will we have made a reasonable measure of progress tonight, and I am therefore able to move this Motion which I hope will obviate the necessity for hon. Members to continue with their deliberations until an inconvenient hour. I hope that with the same spirit of good will and co-operation tomorrow we shall be able to reach the Third Reading proceedings at a reasonable hour.

Question put and agreed to.

Committee report Progress; to sit again Tomorrow.