HC Deb 23 May 1968 vol 765 cc897-927


4.47 p.m.

Mr. Marcus Worsley (Chelsea)

I beg to move Amendment No. 1, in page 2, line 6, leave out subsection (2).

The Chairman

It will be for the convenience of the Committee also to discuss Amendment No. 2, in page 2, line 19, leave out subsection (3), and Amendments Nos. 8 to 21, all of which are consequential.

As I have indicated, there can be a Division on Amendment No. 2 as well as on Amendment No. 1 if desired.

Mr. Worsley

We are about to discuss some Amendments which epitomise our criticism of the kind of policies put forward by this Government which have led to the events of today. We wish to discuss these Amendments together because, except for the strange story of Clause 2, they make the main point that we on this side want to raise.

The Government wish to help some quarter of a million children to survive the harsh effects of Labour government, and we support the Government in this desire. Indeed, prices have risen, and are rising sharply as a result of Government policy. But the tragedy is that the Government cannot find a method, of the many methods suggested, to help these quarter of a million children without paying a universal flat-rate benefit to every child in the country.

I realise that the Government also propose to make a selective tax increase on the family man and that they propose, amongst other proposals, to increase the number of Income Tax payers by 300,000. For every child they are attempting to help another family is brought into the Income Tax bracket. What a monument, after nearly four years of Labour rule, that they should once more increase direct taxation, thus piling Pelion upon Ossa, because that is what this proposal is and it is no good hon. Gentlemen opposite crying "Shame" and "Humbug". This is a selective increase of tax on the family man. There have been increases in family allowance before. They have always been met out of the general tax fund. In this case the increase is wholly carried by the family man. What amazing folly in a country where so many of our ablest people are wishing to emigrate, or succeeding in doing so, that out of the whole range of Income Tax payers we should deliberately select the family man, the most oppressed by tax, for a selective increase in taxation. That is what the Government have done.

Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton)

How is it that when the Government genuinely bring in a measure of selectivity which means that those who can afford actually pay, the hon. Gentleman is now against the very principle for which he himself has argued in this House in the past?

Mr. Worsley

This is a hamfisted and foolish kind of selectivity. What we want is a system that does not have the obvious and manifold defects of the system proposed by the Government. We want an intelligent system, but what we in fact have is an overall increase of family allowance on the one side and a selective tax increase on the family man on the other side. That is why we are opposed to the method which the Government are choosing. I realise that we cannot discuss in full, as we would very much like to, these questions which relate to the Finance Bill and not to this Bill. But I want to make it perfectly clear that we do not believe that his is a suitable or viable method of financing this operation.

As the Clause is drafted its effect is to decrease the benefits which are paid to the sick, the unemployed and the widowed mothers; it increases payments to every family in the land except the sick, the unemployed and the widowed mothers. To us this is a crazy set of priorities, and that is why we have put down these Amendments. I hope that the Minister when he comes to reply to this first series of Amendments will not retreat into the pedantry into which the Parliamentary Secretary retreated on a previous occasion when he said that this is a family allowance Bill and not a Bill for National Insurance. Any rate, if according to the Title it is a Bill covering both; but perhaps that might also be called a lapse into pedantry.

The ordinary family is not really concerned about whether or not this is a Bill for a particular purpose. What it is concerned with is the total impact of the various benefits it gets, and it really does not make a lot of difference whether it is in one form or another, whether it is family allowance or a National Insurance benefit. What matters is the total impact, and that is why we believe it to be a fallacious decision, a mistake, to leave out the sick, the unemployed and the children of widowed mothers from the increases in this Bill.

We discussed a similar proposal in a similar Bill last year, but the proposal in this case is harsher than its predecessor. Last year there was at least an increase of benefit for the first child, though not for later children; so at least the sick, the unemployed and the widowed mothers got some benefit. This time there is no increase at all, and that is why we have simply moved to take out subsections (2) and (3) from the Bill, so that the increase is overall. At this time we believe the Government's crazy selectivity has had no mitigation. Last time we were told that the reason for the increase for the first child was to meet increased charges for school milk and school meals. But why was it necessary then to meet those increased charges and yet not to meet them now—increased costs which have resulted from the Labour Government since then?

Surely, there is no logic at all in a system which says in November that certain increases ought to be compensated for and now says in May that certain other increases should not. What about the pledge that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister gave, to protect the most vulnerable—I suspect the quickest forgotten of his many pledges? Surely, it must be wrong, confronted with this situation and with in front of them a Bill which would enable them to vary either the National Insurance Scheme or the family allowance scheme, for the Government to do nothing for those who by definition are in need and yet to help, under this crazy system, every family in the land irrespective.

The Minister of Social Security (Mrs. Judith Hart)

The hon. Gentleman is usually a good deal more responsible than this in social security matters and is usually able to understand the purpose of a Bill which, as he accepted on Second Reading, was particularly to help poor families where there was a wage earner in work and who could not be helped in any other way. I would ask him to return to his normal sense of responsibility.

Mr. Worsley

The right hon. Lady must at some point in her career have been a school teacher. She has a very "school-marmy" air sometimes when she addresses us across the Floor of the House. The point I wish to make is a very simple one, that as the Bill is drafted a universal increase of family allowances across the board is proposed but in fact the increase in prices which the Government, to be fair, have admitted which is going on at the moment and clearly is going to continue in the future is due to the actions of the Government. These increases make it necessary to look particularly at those in need; and yet what this Bill is doing is helping all families.

I appreciate fully the objective of the right hon. Lady. All I am saying is she is not approaching it in a sensible way. What is happening is that overall additional benefit is being paid except to those people who by definition, because of their condition or because of their families, are most likely to be in need. This seems to us to be wrong and, therefore, we intend to press the Government, and press them as hard as we can, to leave out these two subsections.

We believe that the Bill would make much better sense if it made a genuine attempt to help those in need rather than leaving out of the selection those who by definition are most in need.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. Heffer

I want to deal with the suggestion by the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Worsley) that these allowances should be paid in addition to those which are paid to people who are unemployed, or are widowed mothers. I am not against that principle, but why was it never accepted by Conservative Governments?

Mr. Peter Tapsell (Horncastle)

It was.

Mr. Heffer

No one who knows anything about unemployment benefits can say that it was. Under no circumstances did Conservative Governments pay two sets of allowances.

Mr. Tapsell

I think I am right in saying that on no occasion when Conservative Governments raised family allowances did they reduce National Insurance dependency benefits.

Mr. Heffer

It is unheard of to pay two sets of benefits. I am not saying that we should not make additional payments, but if we were to do so we would depart from long-established principles.

Lord Balniel (Hertford)

The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood the position. The Bill proposes to increase the amount of family allowance paid to the sick, to the unemployed, and to the injured who have children, but to decrease the general dependency allowances. We are saying that these people should receive the same increase as is to be paid to those in work. That is a principle which we always implemented in our legislation.

Mr. Heffer

How often?

Lord Balniel

I am speaking from memory, but I think that we twice increased family allowances. We do not think that the method proposed by the Government is the best way of assisting poorer families. I have frequently advocated different alternatives, which are preferable to the method adopted by the Government.

Mr. Heffer

I do not think that hon. Gentlemen opposite ever implemented the policy which they are now advocating.

On many occasions I have heard hon. Gentlemen opposite talk about the principle of selectivity. They say that those who can afford to pay for the increases in family allowances should do so. I am not renowned for supporting the Government in all that they do, but I think that on this occasion they are doing a first-class job by tacking the problem in this way.

Those who can afford to pay will make an extra contribution. Those who cannot afford to pay will receive the additional benefits without making an extra contribution. Surely that is the fairest way of dealing with the problem? Hon. Gentlemen opposite say that they are not against that principle, but that they do not like the way in which the Government are doing things. I suggest that they would object, whichever way it was done. They would find some reason for saying that they were not in favour of the Government's proposals.

I hope that the House will not support the Amendments. I hope that on this occasion the Government will receive the fullest possible support, in the shortest possible time, to enable them to get the Bill through to help thousands of people who deserve the assistance which it is proposed to give them.

Mr. Tapsell

I have a high regard for the humanity of the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) but having heard his speech I can only assume that he has not fully comprehended what is involved. I am speaking from memory, but my recollection of the Conservative Party's record on increased payments of family allowances—

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Social Security (Mr. Charles Loughlin)

Perhaps I can help the hon. Gentleman by giving him the Conservative Party's record on the payment of family allowances.

Mr. Tapsell

I do not want to hear a statement from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Loughlin

I am trying to help the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Tapsell

It is my recollection that shortly after the Conservatives were elected to power in October, 1951, in 1952 I think it was, family allowances were raised from 5s. to 8s. a week for the second and subsequent children. A few years later, in 1956, these allowances were raised from 8s. to 10s. a week for the third and subsequent children. That was a substantial proportionate increase. The fact that the dependency element in 1951 was extremely small is hardly a relevant consideration, because for the previous six years Labour Governments had been in power.

Nobody is criticising the increase in the family allowance. We recognise that the Government are concerned about the effects of devaluation and the steeply rising living costs facing the poorer sections of the community. We all know how serious that is. What we find difficult to understand is the logic of a policy which does not seek to help those who are worst off.

I take the point made by the right hon. Lady, that one of the objects of the Government's proposals is to help those at work on the lowest incomes. We have in the past discussed the problem of the "wage stop". I recognise that we are faced with a difficult problem. The Government's proposals will help to a limited degree, but they will not meet the criticisms of my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Mr. Worsley). These proposals will help the poorest people at work, but they will not help those who may be even worse off, those who are not at work because they are sick, or unemployed, or widowed mothers. These people are to receive the increased family allowance, but it is to be offset by a reduction in the national insurance dependency benefit. At the end of the day they will be no better off.

The social services should be so designed, particularly in times of grave financial difficulties, when limited funds are available, that they particularly help those who are worst off. The Government's proposals will not help the worst off section of the community. They will merely provide help right across the board.

Mrs. Hart

The worst off, by definition, and the ones whom the Bill is designed to help, are those who, though still at work, are living below the supplementary benefits standard, in other words, below the guaranteed level of income provided for in National Insurance benefits and supplementary benefits.

Mr. Tapsell

I find it difficult to believe that even the poorest people who are in work are worse off generally than those who are being omitted from the scheme. But even if one accepts that, for the sake of argument—it is difficult to know what the precise standard of living of the poorest wage earner is— does that support the case for taking away an insurance benefit from the sick and the unemployed and the widowed mother at this time?

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Richard Crossman)

It is not taking it away.

Mr. Tapsell

Butit is.These proposals reduce by 3s. a week the National Insurance childdependency allowances—

Mrs. Hart indicated dissent.

Mr. Tapsell

It is no good the right hon. Lady shaking her head. People are having taken away from them a National Insurance benefit of 3s. a week. That is why I said I could not believe that the hon. Member for Walton fully comprehended this. Will he go back to his constituency this weekend and say: "On Thursday afternoon, I supported and voted for a proposal to reduce the National Insurance child dependency benefits for the sick, the widowed and the unemployed by 3s. a week"? That is what he has just said, that he will vote for that proposal, and I find this incomprehensible.

I fully share his wish to help the worst-off sections of the community. Although family allowances have never been particularly popular in the constituencies, they command a great deal of support from all parties. Miss Ellen Wilkinson was their architect and I cannot help thinking that she would turn in her grave if she heard some of the Minister's arguments now. She campaigned for family allowances throughout the 1920s and 1930s and they were accepted—again I speak from memory—in principle in 1940 by the National Government and were actually implemented by the very brief Conservative Caretaker Government headed by Mr. Winston Churchill in 1945. That was the only legislation which that Government had the time to put through.

Therefore, although the inheritors of Miss Wilkinson's idea, the Conservative Government can claim to have played an important part in the development of family allowances when we introduced them at 5s.—

Mr. Crossman

I think that the hon. Gentleman means Miss Ellen Rathbone and not Miss Wilkinson.

Mr. Tapsell

The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right—I apologise for a slip of the tongue—but that does not invalidate my argument. Anyway, the Conservatives introduced them in 1945 and the Labour Government did nothing to raise them between 1945 and 1951. We raised them twice, and never, when we raised them, did we reduce the National Insurance benefits at the same time.

Therefore, if there is any party political point to be made, it certainly does not lie in the mouths of right hon. and hon. Members opposite to say that our record is worse than theirs. But I think that people are intensely bored by important national problems being discussed in these petty party political terms. It certainly was not my intention to do so until I listened with incomprehension to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton, who made some of these extraordinary allegations.

5.15 p.m

These proposals seem to personify the extraordinary difficulties of this Government. I have never challenged the genuine wish of Labour Members to raise the living standards of our people. It is a wish which I share, and no fair person would deny that it is genuinely held by all hon. Members opposite. But their method of achieving it is so incompetent that it leads to social injustice.

It is all very well the hon. Member for Walton saying, "It does not matter about the method; it is the principle that counts." That is not so in practical affairs. Often, the method is much more important than the principle.

The issue is that there are about 250,000 children in families living below the subsistence level, and the object, which we surely share, is to raise their standard of living. Our charge against the Government is not that they do not share that wish but that they set about it in the most extraordinarily incompetent way so that, despite large expenditures of public money and great administrative inconvenience, they still do not achieve their object. They start by wanting to spend £125 million gross across the board and then want to claw it all back through an enormous range of taxes. They have to change the Income Tax structure and reduce the child allowance for Income Tax—and at the end of it all they still have not helped most of the children who are worst off.

I ask the Minister to direct her thoughts to this and to see whether, by a much smaller expenditure of public money, she could not achieve a much greater degree of social help for those children most in need.

Dr. David Owen (Plymouth, Sutton)

The speech of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Worsley) alarmed me to such an extent that, contrary to my original intention, I decided to take part in the debate.

I was the first person in the House, I think, in December, 1966, to introduce the subject of family poverty in an Adjournment debate just before Christmas. Since then a formidable lobby has been mounted in the House, and I pay tribute to the fact that we have had support from hon. Members on both sides in trying to draw the Government's attention to this problem and the need for an increase in family allowances. We all know that this is an unpopular benefit and that it wins few votes. For about a year—I do not underestimate this, and I have said some harsh things about the Government—we have had a difficult time getting them to produce an increase in family allowances. We are now debating the second increase introduced by this Government.

The partisan atmosphere which seems to be creeping into the debate is appalling. We are discussing the extremely difficult problem of child poverty, and all of us who have studied it know how extraordinarily hard it is to direct this money where it is most needed. We have never heard from the Opposition Front Bench concrete proposals to fulfil the criteria which we all want to achieve better than those coming from the Government.

We first had a generalised increase. We now face the situation—which we faced in January, in a post-devaluation situation—in which we are taking out of the economy over £900 million of taxation, yet we felt that we still had to increase family allowances. This decision in the Budget was an extremely courageous political decision. This has nothing to do with party politics. It was unpopular, it was an increased benefit and we did not have much money.

In ideal circumstances, what the hon. Member for Chelsea, and Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell) are advocating would win widespread support on both sides. We all want to give a family allowance increase across the board giving an additional amount to people on supplementary benefit or sickness benefit. But there seems to be a misunderstanding, because these people are not suffering, but are merely standing still. I concede to the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) that this is the first time, I think, that it has ever been done so that family allowances have been increased and it has been drawn back, resulting in this section staying static.

The hon. Member must relate his criticism to the fact that supplementary benefit, sickness benefit and unemployment benefit, have been increased by this Government to an extraordinary extent. This is the background to what we are discussing. The background which we are trying to examine has extremely worrying circumstances in many cities. In Plymouth there is a large proportion of low-paid workers. An increasing number of men there work for a full week yet still draw less than a neighbour who does no work at all but who, through illness or unemployment, is receiving more in benefit. This causes serious tensions in the community.

A person who is earning less than he otherwise would be entitled to if he were getting supplementary benefit is an acute social problem. We are discussing how we can tackle that problem. Speeches of hon. Members opposite have not contributed one iota to finding how to solve the problem. Of course I would like more for those on supplementary benefit who suffer from devaluation. I have made no secret of my belief that they should have higher benefits, but this Bill channels the increase to those who specifically need it. I am not denying that this is a blunt method and that there are objections. We have argued before on the different merits of a means-tested system, but this move will try to raise the income of the lower-paid worker to a great extent in order to match that of the person on supplementary benefit.

The House must deal with legislation providing for a minimum wage, but this raises major problems of differentials. In the meantime the basis of family allow- ances is that it is part of the system of the wage structure. When Beveridge originally discussed this proposal it was mooted that it should come under the Treasury and not be a benefit but part of the wage structure in which account would be taken of the size of a family. We have to take into account the size of the family when fixing people's wages. This is one of the way in which to get over the anomalies of the wage stop.

It is said that this will cost only £15 million, but in present circumstances that is a lot of money. One can see how difficult it was to get the £15 million when one considers that the Government were proposing to abolish the three waiting days, but they have now withdrawn that. This shows the right priorities, at least until we can transfer responsibility for the three days to the employer. The £15 million will come off Exchequer finance at a time when hon. Members opposite spend all their time complaining about increased public expenditure. I remind them that this Government, despite the low economic growth rate, have still maintained the growth targets for public expenditure outlined in the National Plan. This shows a massive shift in resources in favour of public expenditure—or, as I like to call it, collective consumption—at the expense of private consumption.

This is a courageous political choice. It is high time that the Government were given credit for choosing this path and that we realised that we are beginning to solve some of the problems associated with poverty, particularly the poverty of low-paid workers. I would take criticism from hon. Members opposite more kindly if they were prepared not to argue persistently for a decrease in public expenditure. Their position is one of total humbug. I am a mild person, but I have rarely been so disgusted by the quality of contributions by hon. Members opposite than by that of those I have heard this afternoon.

Mr. Julian Ridsdale (Harwich)

This is a very narrow Amendment and I do not wish to speak for long, but I want to answer a point made by the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen). All of us know that if we are to help people with social security measures we have to create more wealth. It is no good just handing out universal benefits, especially in this way, because that will mean that we have to claw back £130 million in taxation, and that will make a disincentive to create wealth.

I support the Amendment because I think there are other ways in which this provision can be made. The Ministry could have found a better method of selectivity. In the rate relief measures, old people in my constituency have to undergo a means test. Why should there be a means test for the elderly and not a means test for family allowances? I think it perfectly possible for this to be done. It would cost far less than at present.

Dr. Owen

This question has been gone over in innumerable debates. One major reason is that the person getting family allowances is usually working. Quite often he is taking a different wage packet home each week. The elderly person is usually not working and it is much easier to assess his income, apart from any other major argument.

Mr. Ridsdale

We could do this through a P.A.Y.E. scheme. We have been applying our minds to this problem and we believe that it would cost about £20 million compared with the £130 million it is costing at present. Because it is costing so much it is making disincentives in the economy to create more wealth. Without more wealth we shall not be able to raise the standard of living for those on the poverty line.

Mr. Kenneth Marks (Manchester, Gorton)

The disincentive to create more wealth at the moment is that 150,000 men, or thereabouts, are working on supplementary benefit rates. The disincentive is that they would get more if they were not working. We are talking about 250,000 children in families below subsistence level. They are not the children of the unemployed or the sick, but of men who are working. The facts are there in the circumstances of families and in the information collected by the Child Poverty Action Group.

The worst-off section of the community are families of men who are working for less than supplementary benefit rates. The reason why we have this number of poor people is that this Government have raised the subsistence level. The subsistence level is the supplementary benefit level. When we raised that we created more poor. I do not think that ever before, certainly not when the Beveridge Report was considered, have we had a situation in which men are working for less than the supplementary benefit rate. It is not difficult to know the circumstances. As has been said, the facts are there. It must be repeated over and over again that those most in need are the people who are working. I hope that the Government will soon do more to help them in addition to giving the 3s. a week increase in the family allowance. But no one will get less, as has been suggested. From 1st October the sick and unemployed will get the same, not less. If there were a re-examination in October they could get more through supplementary benefit increases.

It was significant that an hon. Member opposite talked of cutting public expenditure. What the Opposition suggest in the Amendment is an increase in public expenditure. I do not know the amount, and I do not know whether they have worked it out, but I should imagine that it would be quite considerable.

5.30 p.m.

Mr. Tim Fortescue (Liverpool, Garston)

The Minister and Parliamentary Secretary will be pleased, if not relieved, to hear that I shall not talk about negative income tax today.

First, on the points made by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), I should like to absolve myself from any responsibility for which the Conservative Government did between 1951 and 1964 because I was not in the House then.

I am puzzled about the Government's resistance to the Amendments, because in the Second Reading debate on the Family Allowances Act last year the right hon. Lady said: Clause 1, as I have said, fixes the new rates. It also … deals with the necessary adjustments of National Insurance dependency benefits for children, … She went on to explain what it did, but did not qualify or explainthe word "necessary" at that point. Later she said: The object of a family allowances increase, after all, is to help families who cannot be helped through the National Insurance and supplementary benefits scheme, … In the next paragraph she said: But we think it right on this occasion"— and this is the point I wish to make— that the family allowances increase should not be offset in full against National Insurance dependency benefits, first, because of the higher charges for school meals, due to start next April, which may affect beneficiaries if they have other income besides their basic national insurance benefit; second, because to get family allowances, which are taxable, in exchange for sickness and unemployment benefit which are not, could actually reduce the living standards of any people receiving benefits who have enough other income to bring them into the taxation field."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th November, 1967; Vol. 753, c. 1038–1040.] I do not agree with them, but those were logical arguments for what was being done. Now we hear from the hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) that that was not the reason at all for not increasing but in fact decreasing the dependency benefits at that stage, and I think that the right hon. Lady will accept that the position is, pari passu, the same now as it was last November. The hon. Gentleman said that the purpose was to redress the balance between the worker on low pay and the unemployed man with children. He said that this was a deliberate object of the exercise, but it was not what the right hon. Lady told us six months ago. It has not been said anywhere else in the numerous debates we have had on family allowances and National Insurance. I am puzzled to know whether it is a deliberate act of policy in trying to bring the lower-paid worker more into line with the man who is out of work, the widow with dependent children, or the man who is sick, or whether it is done for the reason the right hon. Lady gave on 8th November.

I return to the right hon. Lady's word "necessary". She spoke of the "necessary adjustments". Why are they necessary in her view? She has given reasons why she thinks that they are desirable. We do not agree with them, but she gave them logically and cogently. But as I see it, the differential between the widow with children, the sick man or the unemployed man, and the man with a large family who is in work but on low pay, should be maintained. I disagree with the hon. Gentleman. That is what we are here for—to disagree with each other. No good argument has been given to show why the differential should not be maintained.

We often hear from hon. Members opposite in arguments about prescription charges, that it is wicked to tax the sick. I know that the Government's policy has changed on this, but many hon. Gentlemen opposite told us when we advocated prescription charges that we were taxing the sick when they needed money most. But now exactly the same thing is being done. When one is sick, one is not better off, but everybody else is better off under the Bill and the sick stay the same. "The sick are static", the hon. Gentleman said in a very apt phrase, while the income of everybody else is going up. Even my noble Friend the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel), who I think has four children, will have an increase in his income, but if he were unemployed, which God forbid—

Mr. Marks

The income of everyone else is not going up. The incomes of those who pay Income Tax are not going up to the same extent.

Mr. Fortescue

I accept that. They are going up, and then coming down again, in the interests of simplification of Government. [Interruption.] I agree that my noble Friend's wife will get more money and he will get less. But the income of people who do not pay Income Tax stays static under the Bill if they are sick, and if they are well it goes up. I should like the Minister to comment on this.

Mr. John Pardoe (Cornwall, North)

I have absolutely no criticism of the principle which the Government have at last accepted of giving more to the poor families and ensuring that the incomes of the better off do not rise as a result. I do not understand why the Conservative Party is opposed to this type of selectivity, which I think is good. I am not in favour of all types of selectivity.

The object of the Amendment is basically to remove subsection (2) and make various other changes arising from that. There is some confusion in my mind, and in the minds of most who have spoken so far, to judge from their speeches. Therefore, it is fitting to see how we got to the subsection over the past three years' legislation. It is an extraordinarily tortuous course.

The subsection refers to Schedule 3 of the National Insurance Act, 1965, which sets out in columns 4 and 5 a benefit of 14s. 6d. for the second and subsequent children. But the subsection also says "as amended by the Family Allowances and National Insurance Act, 1967", Section 1(2) of which says: The rates of benefit provided by Schedule 3 to the National Insurance Act, 1965, as amended by the National Insurance Act, 1967, … I then have to look at that Act and find in Section 1(1)(b): for the provisions set out in Schedule 3 … there shall be substituted the provisions set out in Schedule 2 to this Act; When I look at that Schedule I find several changes. The sum of 14s. 6d. in 1965 has been increased by 2s. 6d. to 17s. I do not quarrel with that, and I imagine that many other right hon. and hon. Members who were lucky enough to be in the House at the time voted for it. I then turn back to the Family Allowances and National Insurance Act, 1967 —the same year—to find more changes. For the second qualifying child, 17s. has become 13s., and for subsequent children it has become 11s.

Next I come back to the Bill, which will presumably become the Family Allowances and National Insurance Act, 1968, to find that 13s. for the second child has become 10s. and 11s. for the subsequent children has become 8s. That is an extraordinarily tortuous chain of events, which I hate to say we have all played a part in.

If we take the amount for the second child since 1965, what was then 14s. 6d. became 17s. in 1967, 13s. later that same year and is now to become 10s. It makes a pretty graph, but this is the legislation of the madhouse. I have played my part—although perhaps not as much as the right hon. Lady—and we have all been responsible. It seems that no one has quite traced the sheer idiocy of the process.

It may well be that all these changes were necessary, but how do we know? Were they the mere products of idiocy or were they based on a careful analysis of need or of their effect, which is what we were primarily concerned with? What effects have they had on the living standards of the families receiving them? The present figures are related to the 1965 figures by a series of subtractions and additions. Were those figures right then? Did we then know—and I do not believe we did—that it was right to increase the income of an unemployees family by 14s. 6d. for the second child and by the same amount for each subsequent child?

Did we then know what was the additional cost to an unemployed family of having a second child? I do not believe that we knew any such thing. Do we know that we have the right balance? Subsection (2) reduced the benefit allowed for a second child by 3s. per week to compensate for the increase in family allowance of 3s. per child.

The Amendment would leave the chidren of the unemployed and sick people slightly better off. How does it affect the problem of poverty? We have all been concerned. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) said that he was one of the first to raise the problem of child poverty. Ever since the Family Circumstances Survey, we have had figures for 280,000 families whose resources were less than requirements. Of these, 55,000 of the fathers were sick and 44,000 were unemployed. These are affected by the changes in the Bill. A further 75,000 families are fatherless and presumably a large number of these are headed by widows. It is not possible to find out in the survey how many families have widowed mothers.

How have these changes in the benefits and family allowances affected these figures which were produced by the survey? Until we know, I do not see how we can legislate for this at all. I have heard nothing from the Government or from the Opposition which would lead me to suppose that either course was right. We have no facts to go on. In 1965, the benefit for the second child was 14s. 6d. In 1967, it was raised to 17s. The same year, the family allowance for the second child rose from 8s. to 15s. and benefit was reduced from 17s. to 13s. At that point, the unemployed and the sick were better off by 3s. for the second and subsequent children.

How does this affect their poverty? I do not believe that we know. We now have the increase in the second child family allowance of 3s. from 15s. to 18s. and reduced benefit from 13s. to 10s. Again, I do not believe that this is based on facts or statistics about poverty. I hope that the right hon. Lady will be able to disabuse me of that opinion. Unless she can convince me that these families do not need the increase of 3s. a week for their children, I shall have to vote for the Amendment.

5.45 p.m.

Lord Balniel

I am glad to have the opportunity of following the hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) because, like him, I found studying the Bill a labyrinthine and tortuous proceeding. I suspect that our experience is shared by most hon. Members who have tried to play a part in this debate on social security policy.

The debate is on a fairly limited subject. The hon. Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen) who has played such a notable part in the past in debates on child poverty, should perhaps have postponed the heat of his emotion until we discuss the wider issue of family allowances as such, because he widened the argument beyond that which most of us would wish to pursue during this debate.

When the Bill was introduced, it was widely believed throughout the country that all families with two or more children would be getting an increase of 3s. in the family allowance, although I think that it was equally widely appreciated that, for those paying Income Tax, the whole of the increase would be Jawed back by the Treasury.

What was not appreciated, because, unfortunately, the right hon. Lady forgot to mention it, was that certain families with two or more children were not going to get any help at all. She placed no emphasis on this matter and forgot to mention that these groups of people who are in receipt of child dependency allowances are going to find those allowances actually reduced as a result of the Bill. The House was depressed to hear these groups were when they were enumerated by my hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Mr. Worsley).

As the Bill was introduced, the groups which will not benefit from increased family allowances—I am talking in net terms—are those who are ill, those who are unemployed and those who are widowed. For them, the whole of the 3s. increase in family allowances is to be eliminated by a reduction in the National Insurance child dependency allowance. The purpose of our Amendment is simply to ensure that these groups of people, who have a very high claim on the compassion of the House, will get the full benefit of the 3s. increase in family allowances.

Mr. Heffer

We are all getting slightly confused on this question. It has been said many times that there will be a reduction, but surely the hon. Gentleman must agree that, in cash terms, there will be no reduction at all. They will receive precisely the same cash terms that they received before. The fact that there is a reduction in benefit is made up by increases in other directions. It is not right to give the impression that the dependents of the sick and unemployed are going to get a cash reduction.

Lord Balniel

The hon. Gentleman is perfectly right and I will give him the figures which explain the situation. The family allowances will be increased for the whole of the community with two or more children, but for the sick, the unemployed and the widows the National Insurance child dependency allowance will be reduced. These families will be left in exactly the same position as before. Our argument is that these groups—the sick, the unemployed and the widowed with children—should be given the same net increase as is being given to those who are in work. That is the point of the Amendment.

Dr. David Owen

The critical question is: given that there is financial stringency and that one cannot give the increases to both sections under these circumstances, which one the Opposition would choose?

Lord Balniel

If the hon. Member is raising, as he is perfectly entitled to raise, the question of Government expenditure and national economy, I can tell him where I would find the money. I would abolish the Land Commission; I would abolish the Transport Bill; I would abolish the Industrial Expansion Bill; I would cut back the colossal increase in the Civil Service.

The Temporary Chairman (Sir Ronald Russell)

This is getting rather wide of the Amendment.

Lord Balniel

I am grateful to you, Sir Ronald, for calling me to order, because the list of cuts in expenditure which I could enumerate would take almost the whole of the debate.

The purpose of the Amendments is to ensure that the Government do not cut child dependency allowances for the sick, the unemployed and the widowed. On Second Reading, the Minister of Social Security said that the essential reason for the increase in family allowances was an attempt to fulfil the Government's commitment given by the Prime Minister immediately after devaluation. This was the pledge to protect the most vulnerable sections of the community from the consequences of devaluation.

On Second Reading, the right hon. Lady said: We see the most vulnerable as those with slender resources who are old or sick and those families which must support their children on very low incomes. It is these groups who must be given help at the right time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th November, 1967; Vol. 755, c. 458.] In fact, Clause 1(2) means that many of the very people who need most help, the sick, will not be given any. Yet this is a time when help should be given to them. This is a time when there are price increases. Already, the cost of living has gone up by 3 per cent. since devaluation, and help should be given to this section of the community.

The Government themselves have selected the sick as being one of the most vulnerable groups, and yet the sick are to receive no help from the Bill. The Government are saying in the Bill that people in work should have extra help to maintain their families, but those who are sick, or unemployed, or widowed, should not. I fail to see the logic or humanity of this proposal. I suspect that when they heard that their family allowances were to go up in April, many widowed mothers geared their budgets to the belief that they would benefit, and that they would benefit, and that they were profoundly disappointed when they went to a post office to collect the widowed mothers' allowance and found that it had been reduced and that they would not receive the; full increase which was being made available to those in work.

I shall now explain to the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) exactly what the Amendment would mean in terms of family finance. A family with two children now receives cash family allowance of 15s. and insurance dependency allowance of 13s. making a total of 28s.—we are talking about the sick, the unemployed, and widowed mothers. The Bill will increase cash family allowances to 18s., but reduce the insurance dependency allowance to 10s., so the total benefit will remain exactly the same 28s.

The effect of the Amendment is that the cash family allowance would be 18s. and the insurance dependency allowance would be 13s., a total of 31s., so that these families would receive the 3s. increase which all families in work and with two children are receiving. The Government are making a rather mean economy, striking only at the sick with children, the widow with children, and the unemployed with children. I hope that the right hon. Lady will meet our request and accept the Amendment.

Sir Brandon Rhys Williams (Kensington, South)

I have listened to the debate with the greatest interest. Some of my hon. Friends and some hon. Members opposite may know I am the author of a pamphlet on this subject. The debate has shown what a serious muddle the whole approach to welfare has reached. It is unanimously agreed that we must eradicate child poverty at the earliest possible moment, and our debate is about how that can be done. The difficulties which we encounter at every turn are that the administrative machine cannot cope with it, and, tinker with it as we may and with the best will in the world, we cannot achieve the result which everybody wishes to achieve.

Our problem is that we have four Welfare States, and to some extent they are now working in conflict with each other. The simplest Welfare State of all is represented by family allowances, which are completely universalist and not expensive to administer. Secondly, there is the National Insurance system, which has grown up higgledy-piggledy over many years and which is not adequate to cope with all the needs of all the people who fall into situations which the National Insurance system is supposed to cover. And so the system of special supplements has grown up, because, as a matter of mercy and obvious need, something has had to be done for people not adequately catered for by family allowances or National Insurance. Finally, there is the fourth and often forgotten Welfare State which is represented by the negative allowances in the Income Tax system.

We are seeing some sort of approach to an amalgamation of all these schemes, but it is going on at such a slow pace and it is being followed in such an unplanned way. The Bill is an attempt to link the increase in family allowances to a reduction in the negative allowances in the Income Tax system so as to limit the total of public expenditure and at the same time to go some way towards achieving the abolition of child poverty. I should have liked the increase in family allowances to have gone much further on this occasion, and there could have been a corresponding reduction in the negative allowances in Income Tax at this juncture. That would have been a good thing.

Curiously enough, we are now seeing a conflict between family allowances and National Insurance, and this is a highly undesirable development. We ought to try to build on the insurance principle, because it is possible through insurance to give people a sense of self respect while giving them considerable assistance. We are now attacking the insurance principle, and if the Government do not accept the Amendment, they will make that principle even more of a farce than it is now.

We have just seen increases in contributions to National Insurance without a general increase in the scale of National Insurance benefits, and that is extremely hard to explain. Now the Government are proposing to go further and actually to reduce the scale of benefits paid by National Insurance. National Insurance is recognised as being more of an administrative convenience than an actuarial reality. If one wants people to feel, when they draw their benefits, that they are drawing something as of right, when the Governement must pay more attention to the insurance principle which is supposed to underlie the scheme.

By tinkering with the Welfare State, and playing on its various sections, like four different notes jangling out of tune, they are in danger of making National Insurance into an administrative convenience, because people will never be able to regard the system as something that they have paid for themselves. It will simply take us one step further on the road to total anarchy in the social services which will bring us no nearer to abolishing child poverty.

I support the Amendment, and hope that the hon. Gentleman will explain how he thinks National Insurance will survive as a principle if the Government continue to tinker with it, as they are doing now.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Loughlin

We have had something of a repetition of the debate of a short time ago. By and large, the same mistakes and misconceptions have been put forward.

My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Sutton (Dr. David Owen), was correct when he tried to point out to the Committee that the Bill dealt with family allowances. It is designed primarily to treat a situation in which there are a considerable number of people in regular work, but who, because of the wages they receive and their family circumstances, are trying to exist on the basis of an income lower than the supplementary benefit scale. Because it is intended to do the former, and not give universal family allowance benefits across the board, that is the reason why, on the last occasion, as on this occasion, we are treating the increases in family allowances on the "give-and-take" principle of Income Tax.

The hon. Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) has a wonderful facility for expressing the most outrageous nonsense in the most impeccable English. I wish that he would be a little more honest in his approach. I do not want anyone to suggest that I am being unparliamentary. I am not suggesting that he is dishonest, but I wish that he would get down to the issue of trying to treat the insurance benefits and family allowance, or the social security schemes, on their existing basis and not on the basis of what might be if we redesigned them.

I am not arguing the case that they should not be redesigned. The hon. Member for Cornwall, North (Mr. Pardoe) demonstrated that while these benefits are not from the madhouse, some of the ways in which we deal with them make it appear as if they were. We hope that within a reasonable period of time we can recast the whole social security system, so that we do not have this kind of difficulty in trying to relate one section of social security with another.

I am not too sure what the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Worsley) was saying. I will certainly read his speech with great interest tomorrow. I understood that hon. Gentlemen opposite were in favour of a degree of selectivity. Now that we have introduced a degree of selectivity in the payment of family allowances, the hon. Member does not want it. What does he want?

There has been some dispute in the Committee as to whether we are introducing a completely new principle in the offsetting arrangements of dependency benefits, under the various National Insurance Schemes, against family allowances. We had this on the last occasion. Hon. Gentlemen opposite say that they never did it and that we are introducing something new. They say that they never reduced dependency benefits when they increased family allowances. Let me make it clear that there has always been benefit for the first child on the basis of family allowance alone. I am talking now of the National Insurance Scheme. There has always been a benefit for the second and subsequent children on the basis of two elements—the family allowance together with an additional dependency element.

Together that was the payment, and it largely equated with the payment for the first child. It is true that on the two occasions that the Tories introduced increases in family allowances they did not reduce dependency benefits. I concede this. It would have been extremely difficult for them to do so because, as the hon. Member for Horncastle (Mr. Tapsell) said, they increased benefits in 1952 from 5s. to 8s. The dependency benefit then was the princely sum of 2s. 6d.

If one increased family allowances by 3s. it would have been extremely difficult to reduce dependancy benefits by any amount. The Tories increased the family allowance in 1956 by 2s., but the increase was restricted to the third and subsequent child. They were not faced with any difficulties in dealing with the situation. We ought to recognise, when we are talking about reductions in the National Insurance and supplementary benefits, and the basis of the increases in the cost of living—it was said that we were exposing the most vulnerable to reductions in the standard of living— what has been done in other areas.

We have improved out of all recognition the family allowances. Hon. Members opposite did not give an increase in family allowances between 1956–64. They left them alone. In other words, they left a man with a large family earning less than the supplementary benefit level without an increase at all. It ill becomes them to talk about our treating people shabbily at the present time because, during the same period of time in which hon. Gentlemen opposite refused to give an increase in benefits and family allowances, the cost of living went up by 24 per cent.

Mr. Tapsell

Would the hon. Member not accept, also, that between those years he has mentioned, 1956 to 1964, we gave very substantial increases indeed to the sick, the unemployed and, in particular, the widowed mother? Therefore, we are being entirely consistent in what we say today.

Mr. Loughlin

I do not think that the hon. Gentleman will be quite so complacent when I come to that section of my speech in which I shall deal with that.

I am dealing with the matter now on the basis of family allowances, on the one hand, and other National Insurance benefits, on the other. We have substantially increased the family allowances for those people whom the Conservative Administrations neglected, those people with incomes lower than the supplementary benefit level. Hon. Gentlemen say that we are simply neglecting and refusing to give increases to those people on unemployment and sickness benefits and supplementary benefits, but let us see what has happened.

I will cite a classical case. If we take a family consisting of husband, wife and two children, the current rate operative in October, 1964, when the Tory Government were in power, was £7 Is. a week. The current rate today for a similar family is £9 7s. a week, and that is only for the first fortnight, because immediately after that, if the husband was a relatively low-wage earner, a man earning £14 a week, his benefits would not be £7 1s., which the Tory Administration estimated to be completely adequate, but, including his earnings-related benefit, £11 4s. a week. And if we take a man with average earnings of just below £20 a week, the benefit today, including earnings-related supplement, would be £13 6s.—going on for 100 per cent, more than was being paid at that time.

I will not go into figures as far as supplementary benefit is concerned, because the House of Commons has heard me at least four times on this subject during the past six months. But, although I do not suggest for one moment that the supplementary benefit is as high as I would like it to be, it is a substantial

improvement on anything the Tories did during the whole period they were in power. If they were as concerned as they try to suggest, they had a wonderful opportunity over a long period of time to alleviate all the difficulties with which the various sections of the community are faced.

This is simply a family allowance Bill. We are setting out to extend the benefits to those people who are in the lower wage groups and who have families. It is not intended to be an uprating Bill. This debate has been a completely false one because the hon. Member for Hertford knows full well what we are doing, but seeks to exploit what we are doing for political ends. I hope that the House will reject the Amendment.

Question put, That the Amendment be made: —

The Committee divided: Ayes 124, Noes 172.

Division No. 165.] AYES [6.15 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Goodhew, victor Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Gower, Raymond Pardoe, John
Astor, John Grant, Anthony Percival, Ian
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Peyton, John
Awdry, Daniel Hall, John (Wycombe) Price, David (Eastleigh)
Balniel, Lord Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Prior, J. M, L.
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Pym, Francis
Bell, Ronald Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.) Quennetl, Miss J. M.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James
Berry, Hn. Anthony Harvie Anderson, Miss Rees-Davies, W. R.
Bessell, Peter Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Biggs-Davison, John Hiley, Joseph Rhys Williams, Sfr Brandon
Black, Sir Cyril Hirst, Geoffrey Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Blaker, Peter Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Ridsdale, Julian
Boardman, Tom Hordern, Peter Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Body, Richard Hornby, Richard Royle, Anthony
Bossom, Sir Clive Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Scott, Nicholas
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn John Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Sharples, Richard
Braine, Bernard Kaberry, Sir Donald Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whittby)
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.Sir Walter Kershaw, Anthony Sinclair, Sir George
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Speed, Keith
Bullus, Sir Eric Kirk, Peter Steet, David (Roxburgh)
Burden F. A. Kitson, Timothy Tapsell, Peter
Campbell, Gordon Langford-Holt, Sir John Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Carlisle Mark Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Chiches'ter Clark, R. Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone) Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Clegg Walter Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Corfield, F. V. Lubbock, Eric Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Costain, A. p. McAdden, Sir Stephen Walters, Dennis
Crouch, David Mackenzie, Alasdair(Ross & Crom'ty) weatherill, Bernard
Davidson, James(Aberdeenshire, W.) McMaster, Stanley Wells, John (Maidstone)
Dean, Paul (Somerset N.) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Drayson, G. B. Marten, Neil Williams, Donald (Dudley)
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Emery, Peter Mills, Stratum (Belfast, N.) Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Errington, Sir Eric Miscampbell, Norman wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Farr, John Monro, Hector worsley, Marcus
Fisher, Nigel Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Neave, Airey TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Fortescue, Tim Nott, John Mr. Jasper More and
Galbraith, Hon. T. G. Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Mr. Reginald Eyre.
Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Albu, Austen Hannan, William Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)
Anderson, Donald Harper, Joseph Morris, John (Aberavon)
Archer, Peter Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Moyle, Roland
Armstrong, Ernest Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith Neal, Harold
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Haseldine, Norman Newens, Stan
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Hazell, Bert Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Heffer, Eric S. Noel-Baker, Rt. Hn. Philip (Derby, S.)
Beaney, Alan Hilton, W. S. Ogden, Eric
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Hooley, Franl O'Malley, Brian
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Horner, John Oram, Albert E.
Bidwell, Sydney Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Orbach, Maurice
Binns, John Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Orme, Stanley
Blackburn, F. Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Oswald, Thomas
Blenkinsop, Arthur Howie, W. Owen, Dr. David (Plymough, S'tn)
Booth, Albert Huckfield, Leslie Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Boyden, James Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Paget, R. T.
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hughes, Roy (Newport) Palmer, Arthur
Brooks, Edwin Hunter, Adam Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Hynd, John Parker, John (Dagenham)
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Jeger, George (Goole) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Jeger, Mrs. Lena(H'b'n & St.P'cras, S.) Pentland, Norman
Carmichael, Neil Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Chapman, Donald Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)
Coe, Denis Jones, Dan (Burnley) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Coleman, Donald Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Concannon, J. D. Kenyon, Clifford Rankin, Johm
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St.P'c'as)
Crawshaw, Richard Kerr, Dr. David (W' worth, Central) Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Roebuck, Roy
Dalyell, Tam Lawson, George Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Davies, Harold (Leek) Leadbitter, Ted Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey Lee, John (Reading) Ryan, John
Dickens, James Lestor, Miss Joan Sheldon, Robert
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lever, L.M. (Ardwick) Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Dentford)
Eadie, Alex Lomas, Kenneth Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)
English, Michael Lomas, Kenneth Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Loughlin, Charles Small, William
Faulds, Andrew Luard, Evan Snow, Julian
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Spriggs, Leslie
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) McBride, Neil Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) MacColl, James Swingler, Stephen
Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Macdonald, A. H. Tinn, James
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) McKay, Mrs. Margaret Varley, Eric G.
Ford, Ben Mackie, John Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Forrester, John Mackintosh, John P. Watkins, David (Consett)
Fowler, Gerry MacPhereon, Malcolm Weitzman, David
Fraser, John (Norwood) Marks, Kenneth Whitaker, Ben
Freeson, Reginald Marquand, David Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Maxwell, Robert Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Mendelson, J. J. Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Gregory, Arnold Mikardo, Ian Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Grey, Charles (Durham) Miller, Dr. M. S. Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)
Griffiths, David (Rorher Valley) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Lianelly) Molloy, William
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Moonman, Eric TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hamling, William Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Mr. John McCann and
Mr. Ioan L. Evans.
The Chairman

I understand that a Division is not desired on Amendment No. 2. The Question is—

Lord Balniel rose—

The Chairman

I proposed to rule that, under the Standing Order, there had been such a wide debate on the Amendment that the Clause had been adequately discussed.

Lord Balniel

With the greatest respect, Sir Eric, our Amendments were devoted to reducing the child dependency allowance for the sick, unemployed and widowed. This Clause is devoted to increasing family allowances. None of the arguments which I and my hon. Friends wished to advance has been advanced. This is an extremely important Clause and, with respect, we should have the right to debate it.

The Chairman

I listened to the whole of the debate very carefully. It was obvious that the debate on the Amendments covered the whole field of the Clause. I allowed the debate to traverse the question at large and the principle of the Clause. It was moved in that way and the subsequent debate took that form. Having considered the matter very carefully, I must adhere to my Ruling.

Lord Balniel

On a point of order. If you had indicated to me, Sir Eric, that I was allowed to debate matters outside the Amendments, I should most certainly have done so. This is a major Bill involving a very substantial increase in expenditure. I, on behalf of the Opposition, have not advanced the arguments which I wished to advance on the Clause. If you had given me prior warning, I should have been prepared to develop my arguments on the very narrow Amendments which we have just discussed. I hope, Sir Eric, that you will reconsider your Ruling.

The Chairman

I have listened very carefully to what the noble Lord has said. I must adhere to my Ruling. I listened to substantially the whole of the debate and it covered a very much wider field. I am sorry if the noble Lord feels embarrassed, but it is my function to rule whether the whole question of the Clause has been considered. In view of the way that the debate was opened and the way it proceeded, I thought that the whole policy of the Clause had been adequately discussed. I must adhere to my Ruling.

Lord Balniel

On a point of order. Of course, I accept your Ruling, Sir Eric. We can probably meet your wishes by moving on the Third Reading the Motion which I had not intended to move.

The Chairman

It will be possible for a debate to take place on the Third Reading.

Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill, put and agreed to.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Forward to