HC Deb 09 February 1962 vol 653 cc876-7

Order for Second Reading read.

3.57 p.m.

Mr. W. Griffiths (Manchester, Exchange)

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

In the two or three minutes remaining to me, it only remains for me to say that this simple Bill is designed to remove about 20,000 widowed mothers from the effects of the earnings rule. I am sure that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have been energetically lobbied by many women's organisations on this issue and have been made familiar with all the details. I want only to remind the House quickly of the present position.

What we seek to do is to remove from 20,000 widowed mothers the disability of being subject to an earnings rule, a disability which has never rested upon widowed mothers who have lost their husbands as a result of either an industrial accident, or war service. I have always opposed the earnings rule, which I have always regarded as an anomaly. I do not think that there is one hon. Member who can possibly be satisfied that widows, whose husbands died what is called a natural death, should be subject to an earnings rule of an upper limit of £5 a week, while other women, who lost their husbands as the result of an industrial accident or war service, should be able after the deaths of their husbands to earn as much as they can.

There is no time to say more. The case is well understood and I hope that the House will agree that it is possible to remove this glaring injustice and give the Bill a Second Reading.

3.59 p.m.

Mr. A. R. Wise (Rugby)

I sympathise very much with the hon. Member for Manchester, Exchange (Mr. W. Griffiths), but this is not a simple Bill. It is a major alteration in a system of taxation departing from principles originally laid down in the Beveridge Report, which have been the basis of such Government action——

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway (Eton and Slough)

I beg to move, Mr. Speaker, "That the Question be now put."

Mr. Speaker

I cannot accept the Motion.

Mr. Wise

I thought that the optimism of the hon. Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway) would probably be unjustified, but it was worth a try; one never knows what may happen.

There are many and detailed arguments which could be put for and against the Bill, and which, I hope, will be put on some subsequent occasion, but certainly the time is not now.

It being Four o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.

Debate to be resumed upon Friday next.