§ Mr. Prentice
I beg to move Amendment No. 14, in page 8, line 30, leave out subsection (2).
Despite all the window dressing that has accompanied the Bill, the hard fact remains that Clause 7 is the main part of the Measure. It affects far larger numbers of people than any other part of the Bill simply because those who are sick, unemployed or industrially injured are a massive number compared with the relatively few people who are involved in industrial disputes.
§ Clause 7 saves most of the money that the Bill will save. It will result in a net saving of £19 million of the £21 million that the Bill as a whole will save. This is part of the redistributive policy of the Government, taking away from those in need to give tax concessions to the well-to-do.
§ We are, of course, against the whole Clause. We think it is totally wrong to deprive the sick and unemployed of three days of benefit to which they have always been entitled through their contributions. But that part of the Clause which refers to industrial injuries is, in a sense, the worst part of all.
§ Part of the background is that industrial accidents have been increasing year after year. The last Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories, relating only to those forms of employment covered by the Factories Acts, gave a total of 322,000 accidents. It was the seventh successive year in which there had been an increase. It was a figure 50 per cent. higher than that six years earlier. Incidentally, the figures show that over the last decade we have lost six times as many days of working time through industrial accidents as we have through industrial disputes.
§ We are not talking simply about industrial accidents or diseases in general. We think now particularly of those people who make their living in exceptionally dangerous industries. We think of the workers in the mining industry: it is some years ago since David Lloyd George spoke of "blood on the coal", but there 1644 is still some blood on the coal—not as much as there was, but still some. We think of the workers in the construction industry, in fisheries, on the docks, and in those industries where people are particularly liable to industrial accident, industrial disease, or both. Part of the price paid for the rest of the community now enjoying a more affluent standard of living than once it did is the heavy rate of casualties in industry, and in these industries in particular.
§ We should also bear in mind that those who earn their living in the heavy manual industries often have no sick pay scheme or, if they have, it is a scheme often less favourable than that enjoyed by those in white-collar employment, who also lead a more sheltered existence.
§ I therefore ask the House to consider that this is a particular form of obligation. The community has recognised this in several ways. Ever since the two main Acts came into effect in 1948 the allowance for industrial injuries has always been higher, for the sort of reasons I have mentioned. Also, when a man suffering from an industrial injury or disease has gone back to work, even full-time work, and has a continuing disability, he qualifies for a disability pension or various allowances. The treatment afforded to industrial casualties has been similar to that which we have given to the casualties of war: the rates of benefit and the rules concerning them have been broadly similar.
§ The Clause creates for the first time a distinction, in that people suffering from industrial injuries will be deprived of half a week of benefit. I add the further point that when the Industrial Injuries Scheme came into effect in 1948 it took the place of the old workmen's compensation scheme, and there was much discussion at the time in the trade union movement about whether or not this was a good bargain. I believe that in most respects most trade unionists thought that it was a good bargain. There were certain aspects of the new scheme which were very much superior to the provisions of the old workmen's compensation scheme. But there were disadvantages, too; some people in some circumstances got less after 1948 than they would have done under the old workmen's compensation legislation. I like to think of this as a kind of bargain 1645 between the Government of the day—a Labour Government—and the trade union movement representing the casualties of industry; a bargain which has now been breached by this provision.
§ What would be the cost of the Amendment? When I asked this in Committee, the Under-Secretary said that the cost of exempting industrial injuries and diseases from this provision would be about £3 million a year. Therefore, out of a total saving of £19 million the Government would, if they accepted our case, be sacrificing £3 million. My point is that at a moment when the Government are said to be seriously considering injecting into the economy large sums of extra spending power in order to try to revive the economy and create new employment opportunities, it would not be a bad idea to start with £3 million for those who have suffered industrial injury or disease. It could easily be afforded in this situation—a situation which is now probably different on that point from that when the Bill was originally drafted.
§ We object to the whole Clause. We think it retrograde to deprive the sick and unemployed of the benefits to which they are entitled. But it is particularly mean, and hard to justify, to extend this disqualification to those who are the casualties of industry, to whom the House and the country owe a particular duty.
§ Mr. J. D. Concannon (Mansfield)
The last time I spoke on this issue was on 2nd April, 1968. In those days we had a more sympathetic Front Bench. My right hon. and hon. Friends who were then Ministers were prepared to tell their civil servants, "Stick this one back into the pigeon hole. We are not having this". Those who were then in Opposition and argued with us against our Front Bench and offered to take the whole Conservative Party into the Lobby with some of us against our Front Bench if it were necessary to carry the matter to a Division should act consistently tonight. However, thankfully, we managed to make our Front Bench see sense, and that provision was withdrawn.
The first misconception that must be put right is that the Bill does not abolish the three waiting days. I wish it did, because this was the whole tenor of my argument in the last debate. I wanted the three waiting days to be abolished. The Secretary of State is retaining the 1646 three waiting days. The Government are taking the money away from those who are, and were, entitled to it.
I had intended to quote some of the speeches which have been made by the noble Lord the Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel) and the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Worsley). However, I will refrain from doing so, because the speeches are there for people to read, and they make enlightening reading. In one interesting passage the noble Lord was pleading for people who were on a certain rate of pay, and he was telling them how much they would suffer, though at that time much depended on the size of the family.
I want to put this matter into perspective. Only five years ago I was working in a coalmine and was having to suffer sickness benefit, unemployment benefit, and injury benefit. There are very few hon. Members opposite who have had to work that hard. I have four children. It is not then a case of £5 or £4 a week, which is the sum which the Under-Secretary—the hon. Member for Barkston Ash (Mr. Alison)—talked about in Committee. It is a much greater sum than that for many people. For me, three waiting days at present would amount to £7.11. The National Union of Mineworkers accepts that on average a miner is off work sick or injured 28 days a year. We cannot stand by and see breadwinners deprived of this amount by this provision. This is why we are fighting and why we hope to talk some sense into the Government, even at this late stage. I had hoped that the hon. Member for Barkston Ash would reply to the debate.
§ Mr. Concannon
I want to have him tonight. He made an amazing speech on Tuesday, 15th June, when he talked about an average of £4 or £5 a week. Then we had a tirade about holiday pay, and so on. What has holiday pay to do with this matter, or is this another such effort as the Bill which is now going through another place? It all ties up with certain things which are being done in the Industrial Relations Bill about sick pay and redundancy pay.
The Under-Secretary, when he was trying to put over this business about the 1647 three waiting days, said this in Committee of the mining and quarrying sector:In this sector … 95 per cent. of full-time manual men workers are now covered by employers' sickness schemes."—OFFICIAL REPORT Standing Committee F; 15th June, 1971, c. 368.]Not a coal miner in this country is covered. The sick pay scheme in coal mining does not start till after the sixth day. So the miners will lose on the three waiting days. In fact, coal miners have lost all ends up under this Government, and this is just another example of what is going on.
I thought it brass-necked cheek of the hon. Member for Barkston Ash to make the quotation he did from one of my speeches. Incidentally, I am amazed that he should have done so, because I thought that it was only my mother and I who read them, but that is by the way. This is what he said:'the hon. Member for Mansfield said, Second Reading of the Family Allowances and National Insurance (No. 2) Bill…' I am for the abolition of the waiting days because they are no longer desirable. They restrict production and we can ill afford to do that these days '."—OFFICIAL REPORT Standing Committee F, 15th June, 1971; c. 376.]I do not mind him quoting that because that is my position, but it was disgraceful to quote it in the sense that I was agreeing with him that it should happen here when the whole tenor of my speech was the other way. I should not have minded so much if he had read the sentence before and the sentence after that passage. I shall read the whole piece to the House, if I can find it. I have so many quotations here that I cannot find it any too easily.
Here is the whole quotation, so the House can see how the hon. Member took those two sentences out of context:Like my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), I should like to see this incorporated from the very first day of sickness.Now comes the part I have already read—I am for the abolition of the waiting days because they are no longer desirable. They restrict production and we can ill afford to do that these days.Now comes the next sentence:But we should put something in the place of the waiting days."—OFFICIAL REPORT 2nd April, 1968; Vol. 762, c. 247.]1648 My argument always has been, and always will be, that the correct method of going about this and doing some justice for some of our most hard-working people in the most dangerous industries is to make sure that they are paid from the very first day. I took great offence at the way the hon. Member used quotations from my speeches in defence of the Government's proposal here. That is why I was hoping that he would be here to answer this debate himself.
That is my position. I hope that the Secretary of State will be wise enough to take account of what I have said. Some of us have had to work in dangerous industries. Some of us have taken accidents and illness as a matter of course in our jobs. In those days I could ill afford to lose £7.11 for my first three days of sickness. I needed it for my family then, and they or people like me are much more in need of it now.
It is no good complaining about mine workers putting in for high wage increases if the Government keep imposing things like this on them. On my calculations, over last year to this year mine workers would have to put in for £5 a week just to stand still, never mind anything else.
I leave it at that. I hope that the Secretary of State, like the Minister in his place previously, will take this proposal away and stuff it back in the pigeonhole somewhere in his Department.
§ Mr. Heffer
Every hon. Member on this side will agree entirely with everything that was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon).
I was working once with a fellow joiner on top of a movable scaffold on a building site. After I had got down from the scaffold I heard a cry and saw him clinging on to a rolled steel joist because the scaffolding had moved away. It was lucky that I was round and was able to get him down. Not all workers in the building trade are so lucky. Others could have a scaffold collapse and find themselves on the ground suffering from serious injury. In the building industry and the shipbuilding and ship repair industry the rate of accidents and injuries is very high, not always because workers are careless or employers are not carrying out safety regulations but in many cases because of the very nature of the job. 1649 When a man has served his apprenticeship in the industry and is earning his living in it, he knows that that is the risk he takes by working in it. Such workers are not millionaires for the risks they take, and they are the very people who suffer most because of short time, unemployment, sickness and industrial injuries. Yet the Government are taking away some of the rights and benefits they have enjoyed until now at the very moment when they require assistance.
I said in Committee that the Secretary of State was an honest man. That is true, because he said there that the £19 million was supposedly being saved on the three days' sickness, unemployment and industrial injuries non-repayment after two weeks, and in this case the £3 million that will be saved purely for industrial injuries, because, "We had to keep our pledge to reduce taxation for the mass of the people". But the savings in taxation mean very little to the lowest-paid sections of workers, because they pay out more on school meals and milk, dental charges, prescriptions and so on. The list is as long as my arm, and I cannot give it all. The surtax payers, the friends of the Tory Party, are the ones who are really benefiting. The £3 million being saved goes to help keep the pledge to them. That is what the argument is all about.
The workers in my industry, the building industry, get the worst end of the stick every time. They are in a sense the economic regulator, because when things are going badly economically they are out of work. They suffered unemployment more than any other section of the population under my Government, and suffer it even more under the present Government. I said in the House then—and I will never mince my words—that we allowed unemployment to rise too high, and my people suffered considerably. They also suffer from industrial injuries, and require assistance at the very time when it is being withdrawn from them.
We must point out the hypocrisy of Conservative hon. Members. During the debates on the Bill introduced by my party the Opposition spokesman was the hon. Member for Hertford (Lord Balniel), who said:On Second Reading, I stated our position on behalf of the Opposition absolutely clearly. I said that it was our intention to vote against 1650 the Clause and that we would remove it, so far as we were able to, in Committee."—OFFICIAL REPORT 23rd May, 1968; Vol. 765, c. 930.]But the Opposition did not mean it. They said it only because they were then in opposition. They were trying to buy votes. Now they bring in a Bill which does the opposite of what they said they would do. They are hypocritical in this matter. They will never be forgiven for it. The industrial workers—those in mining, building, engineering, shipbuilding, ship-repairing and other industries—who have to rely on these benefits will never forgive them for what they are doing. They might as well know now that they are stacking up votes against themselves at the next General Election.
§ Mr. Eadie
I endorse the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon), who made a witty contribution about the robbery by the Government of the three waiting days. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that there is anger in the coalfields about this. If the Government fail to concede on this Amendment, the miners in their militancy will get this back in some other way. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) referred, on a previous Amendment, to people rushing the factory gates of one firm because, if they were a minute after time, they would lose a day. That applies to the miners. He described graphically how, inside that factory, the men were timed when they went to the toilet. The point is that such rushing to some extent causes a higher incidence of accidents. For many years, we have tried to persuade men that they were only punishing themselves by rushing to the pithead to get down the pit, because they became to some extent accident prone.
Like my hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield, I have had some experience as a miner. It is not so long since I was working at the coal face. I have suffered some serious accidents. I was an invalid for almost two years at one time as the result of an accident. Before coming here, I was a brusher, which is a dangerous job, dealing with stone, taking roofs away, and so on. A brusher is constantly in danger. Yet the Government propose that men engaged in these dangerous and arduous occupations should be penalised if they have a family. 1651 This will penalise mine workers in particular. It is mean and petty and shows to some extent the class bias of the Government. They are so concerned about their friends, the surtax payers and their other supporters, that they are prepared to rob manual workers by this kind of proposition.
I should have liked to give more illustrations of this mean, petty and vindictive action, but, in deference to the wishes of some of my hon. Friends, I will conclude by saying that the miners may be robbed of their three days, but, as their conferences are held and their decisions are made, the miners, if the Government dare to do this—
§ It being Ten o'clock, the debate stood adjourned.
§ Question again proposed, That the Amendment be made.
§ Mr. E. Fernyhough (Jarrow)
Last November when the Chancellor introduced his mini-Budget I said that that part of the statement which referred to the very problems which we are now discussing was the meanest and the most contemptible statement made at the Government Dispatch Box since 1931. I have no reason to think that that was extravagant language, because in all the social legislation since 1931 there has not been anything as mean or as contemptible as this.
Besides being responsible for social security, the right hon. Gentleman is responsible for our health services. Let him go to any major hospital in any major industrial centre and visit the accident ward and see some of the burnt men, some of the men with broken backs, some with brain damage, and then let him say that he is proud that he is to withhold from such men and their wives and children the first three days of industrial injury benefit.
1652 Those of us who come from mining and industrial stock and have had to face this problem with our relatives year after year know that the accident itself, the recognition that a man has a disease itself, is a blow. But to save a paltry £3 million from those who are injured in creating the wealth of the country, the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to introduce legislation of this kind.
This, too, is divisive legislation, because there are millions of people who will not be affected. No civil servant who falls off the stool and sprains his ankle or twists his knee will be affected: nobody says that he will take home less pay the week that that happens. Nobody says that it will happen to any local government employee.
§ Mr. Fernyhough
I am about to come to Members of Parliament. There is something indecent and immoral about any Member of the House of Commons, who will get his full pay if he has an accident, or is sick, voting that the victim of an industrial accident should not get any benefit for the first three days. If hon. Members have any moral character they ought not to take their parliamentary pay for the first three days when they are away sick. If they are prepared to go into the Lobby and support taking three days' pay from those who have been injured in creating the wealth of this country.
I cannot think that the right hon. Gentleman can, on reflection, be proud of this. I can only hope that that compassionate society about which he ha/ spoken will be in evidence tonight and that he will have second thoughts on this and do justice to those who have been injured in the service of their country.
I know that there is no hon. Member opposite who would apply this to the Armed Forces. If it were to be suggested that admirals, generals and so on who had met with an accident in serving their country should not get the first three days of their pay we all know what solidarity there would be in defence of such people! But we are dealing here with ordinary men and women who are entitled to this benefit. They did not go out to work to get injured; they were injured doing a job without which the 1653 country would be poorer. In these circumstances I say to the right hon. Gentleman that, whatever other concession he will not make, this one should be made. Not to do so would be both mean and contemptible.
§ Mr. Skinner
I am pleased to be able to follow my right hon. Friend the Member for Fernyhough—[Laughter.] I have made one or two mistakes in this House but that is about the best. I meant the right hon. Member for Jarrow (Mr. Fernyhough)—the place where the marchers come from. My right hon. Friend has taken away some of the things that I wanted to say, because as he pointed out, some of the people who are not affected by the three waiting days, and who never have been, are Ministers, civil servants and the very insurance officers who decide to disqualify those who are injured. Even the doctor who signs the certificate saying that a man is unfit for work as a result of industrial injury does not have to forgo any pay when he is sick. This provision will affect the vast majority of industrial manual workers. It will particularly affect miners who are suffering from chronic emphysema or from chronic pneumoconiosis. Those people will be affected by the iniquities of this Bill.
It will also affect the miner who suffers from dermatitis. This disease occurs in an aggravated form every spring and autumn. I have dealt with thousands of these cases and taken them to the medical appeals tribunal. What this Clause says is that a miner could lose up to £9 a week, depending on the number of his dependants. One gets the impression from reading the reports of the Committee proceedings that the Tories believe that there is an element of abuse among people who claim industrial injury benefit. I want to set out the hurdles which every man who is injured, whether in a pit or in a factory, must jump in order to claim industrial injury benefit for the three waiting days. There are 10 of them.
First, he must report the accident. If he is in the mining industry, that may create difficulty. There may not have been witnesses of the accident, which means that the employer can suggest to the insurance officer that there is an element almost of insecurity about the claim. The man must then go to the 1654 general practitioner or, if the case is severe, hospital. The general practitioner, having issued a certificate, is not bound to leave it at that. There is a little box at the bottom of the certificate saying, "Any other remarks". I know of several instances in which the doctor was not totally satisfied that the man suffering from, say, a slipped disc was genuine and so he wrote "R.M.O." In other words, although he is giving a certificate, he is saying to the insurance officer that he wants the man to be referred to the regional medical officer. The result is that the man must be subjected to this independent examination.
Notwithstanding that, the man can be sent to the regional medical officer for an independent examination anyway. Men are picked out at random. That is another hurdle which the man with perhaps emphysema or dermatitis must face. It does not end there. The insurance officer, despite the overwhelming evidence, may decide, and in many cases does decide, to disqualify the man from receiving industrial injury benefit. The man can appeal. If he is working in a factory where there is no proper trade union organisation, the chances are that he will not appeal because he is frightened to death of the system. Where the workers are organised or there is a local "ombudsman" or trade union official to give advice and help, he may well appeal.
If he appeals, and if he is to sustain his claim, he needs to provide in almost every case additional medical evidence, and in almost every instance someone must find the money for a consultant's fee to furnish the medical evidence. The local appeals tribunals are supposed to work fairly, but they rely on the decisions of the commissioners, which, in the main, whatever else hon. Members opposite may say, militate against the ordinary industrial worker. Having got to the local appeal tribunal, and by dint of the good efforts of his representative, the man might well succeed. But then the insurance officer can, despite the fact that the man believes he has succeeded in sustaining the injury claim, refer it to the commissioners again.
Those are the 10 hurdles which a man who wishes to sustain an injury claim may have to jump in order to get the 1655 benefit of the three waiting days' provision. My description will, I hope, eliminate for all time the belief that there is any abuse except in a small minority of cases which escape the very severe scrutiny which a man must undergo in order to make his claim stick.
My hon. Friend the Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon) talked about the miners' sick pay scheme. There is no such scheme that allows a miner to obtain sick pay from the first day. He does not get it until he has been off for a week. In Committee it was suggested time and time again by the Under-Secretary that 90 per cent. of the miners were covered by the scheme, but the only people in the mining industry who are covered are the officials and the upper echelons of management.
I repeat the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer); one thing that is certain about this Bill—and the Tories would do well to remember it—is that every time an industrial manual worker goes home with a shattered leg, chronic emphysema or any one of the countless other injuries that manual workers sustain, every time he receives a certificate from the doctor, sends it to his local insurance officer, and finishes up on half-pay, he will remember and register his vote accordingly, in a much more substantial fashion than he did on the last occasion.
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Alec Jones
It is a great honour to follow my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner). It has been a pleasure for all hon. Members on this side of the House to hear him, because he spoke from his own experience of industry. He showed, first, how weak the Government's case is and, secondly, how little they know about this matter. If we were discussing the Bill we should say that it is a mean and miserable Bill— but we are not allowed to talk about it. If we were discussing the Clause we should say that it is one of the meaner and more miserable Clauses—and we would say that subsection (2), which the Amendment seeks to delete, is the meanest and most miserable part of the Bill.
The provision that we are proposing to delete is likely to save about £3 million 1656 for the National Injuries Fund. It is really not saving anything. It is really taking £3 million from the pockets of those who are least able to pay. That sum is being taken by a Government whose actions clearly indicate that they are anxious to give that money to those who are already better off.
By this subsection the Government propose to take £3 million from men who are injured at work. This does not happen to other people who injure themselves at work. We have all heard of the story of Robin Hood, who robbed the rich to give to the poor. We now have the modern Tory version, whereby the injured are robbed to pay those who are already better off. Part of the Tory purpose—stated in some detail in the Conservative Party manifesto—was a determination to cut public expenditure. No one could deny that that was part of the manifesto on which the Conservatives fought the General Election.
Even those who still want some reduction in public expenditure hardly believed that the cuts envisaged by the Tory Party would be cuts in industrial injury benefit paid to men who had sustained accidents at work. Those who supported the Conservatives did not realise it—even many hon. Members opposite. We have heard from the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Kenneth Clarke)—who made one intervention and rapidly departed from the Chamber-that the cancellation of payments for the first three waiting days for those on strike has always appealed to Tory minds, but I hope that a reduction in respect of the three waiting days for those who are sick has little appeal even for hon. Members opposite. The reduction of payment for the three waiting days for those who suffer injury at work can have no appeal to anyone who has a mind.
What does the reduction in respect of the three waiting days do? Does it in any way prevent accidents? If one could make a case that it would prevent people from having accidents by making them more careful one could perhaps argue that there is something to be said for the proposal; but it does nothing of the sort. All it does is extract £3 million not only from those who suffer accidents but from the families of those who suffer accidents. It penalises families.
§ Mr. Jones
Yes, the children. It might be written on their tombstone when we bury the party opposite and the Government along with it.
The Tory defence, which we have heard several times again today, is that a Labour Government proposed to do this sort of thing. The Tories can keep on saying that as many times as they like. It is true that the Labour Government proposed something of the sort, but the greater Labour movement soon disposed of it. It is a matter of great pride to us that our Government saw the wisdom of being prepared to take advice from outside the House from people who knew more about it than even the Labour Government.
§ Mr. Jones
Yes, from inside the House too, but I was too modest to refer to the part played by my hon. Friends and I wanted to remind the House that the advice came from outside the House also, from people who wanted that proposal changed. They want this squalid proposal changed, too.
As my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover pointed out, the loss of industrial injury benefit for the first three waiting days will not apply to everyone, because some employers will pay from the very first day of absence due to accident. There is this element of unfairness in this Measure, and this unfairness is part of the disgracve of this Measure and why it should not be allowed to go through.
Before coming here I was a school teacher for 17 years. I suppose the only accident I might have sustained in those days was tripping on a piece of chalk. The chances are that any injury I might have suffered would have been a minor injury, but if I had sustained an accident at work I would have received my payment from my local authority from the very first day. Now I represent a mining area where I know serious injuries have occurred in the past and still occur today underground and under this proposal by this Government those miners will receive no payment for the first three waiting days.
The right hon. Gentleman said that there has been some change in circumstances since the three waiting days were 1658 introduced. Talking of some mystical savings he used the phrase that there was some "fat" available and that the sick or injured or unemployed could live on the "fat" which, presumably, they are supposed to have accumulated in better times. There may be some people who have a lot of fat, but I shall not make any personal references to physique because I myself am in a dangerous position on that account, but, if we are talking of fat meaning money which people have saved, I put it to the right hon. Gentleman that the amount of that must of necessity vary considerably from one part of the country to another and that it is unfair to generalise on this issue.
In a constituency like mine where we have had long periods of high and lasting unemployment, where we have a high accident rate because it is a coal mining area, where we have a high mobility rate because of the geography of the area, and where we have chest and other ailments, the conditions are very different from those which may be conducive to people to save and to develop the kind of fat which the Secretary of State talked about as something on which people who sustain these injuries can live. Personally I would like to throw the Clause and the whole Bill through the window.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer) said that the Secretary of State was a generous man—
§ Mr. Jones
I suppose that honest men are as few and far between as generous men. I have on previous occasions said that the Secretary of State claims to be a generous man. He has an opportunity tonight to show his generosity by the way in which he proposes to treat those who sustain injuries at work and by accepting the Amendment.
§ Mr. Orme
We are indebted to those of my hon. Friends who were not members of the Standing Committee and who represent mining constituencies. They have brought a wealth of information and knowledge to the House. Although the Committee was fairly representative, 1659 there was no miners' representative on it. A great deal of industrial injury occurs in the mining industry. In general manufacturing industry and engineering, even with modern methods of accident prevention, accidents are still on the increase. Year after year the factory inspectors report an increase in the number of industrial injuries despite all that has been done by management and men.
By this provision we are treating a certain section of the community, mainly manual workers, many of whom are highly skilled, differently from other sections of the community. A person who receives sick pay from the first day of sickness and full pay during the whole period will not be concerned with this problem, but the millions of industrial workers who are most liable to industrial injury will be disqualified from benefit for the first three waiting days.
Reference has been made to the speech my Mr. James Griffiths in the House in 1967, when he said that the Labour movement and the Labour Party in conjunction with the trade union movement had worked for 50 years to put on to the Statute Book benefits of right for industrial workers. He lived to see the day when the Workmen's Compensation Act was replaced by the National Insurance Act, 1946. The Labour Government at about that time temporarily provided that benefit would not be paid for the three waiting days until a person had been away from work for a fortnight, when he would receive the full benefit. It was the intention eventually that benefit should be paid from the first day, but, unfortunately, that intention was not implemented. The proposals of the Labour Government in 1967 were proved to be wrong and were rejected. The Government just do not realise what will be the reaction of industrial workers when these measures are implemented.
I believe that we must vote against this proposal by the Government and against the Bill as a whole. I hope that the Secretary of State has a much better case tonight than the one he deployed in Committee, because the overwhelming evidence put by this side of the House has revealed in full the meanness of Clause 7.
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I recognise that the whole subject of the waiting days has 1660 aroused a great deal of feeling among hon. Members opposite, and I congratulate those of them who have spoken on the self-discipline which they have shown in fitting in six speeches in a relatively short time. I hope that they will allow me to develop my reply, which will be a serious answer, without too much interruption, although I shall be talking about things which, inevitably, are at issue between the two sides of the House.
Although the Amendment deals with retrieving the waiting days for industrial injury, it is inevitably part and parcel of the question of whether the Government's policy on the waiting days is right or wrong. There is a special case about industrial injury, which I shall come to later. There are, broadly, three things which can be done about the waiting days. We can, first, keep them as they are, in which case payment in the first three days of a spell of sickness or unemployment or industrial injury, within its connected period of thirteen weeks, falls to be paid and actually received not during those first three days or even in the first or second weeks but, roughly, in the third week—which means often, therefore, though not always, when the man is already back at work. The hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. Concannon), in his vivid speech in Committee in 1968, which has been much read, spoke of an element of distortion that sometimes creeps in if we keep the waiting days as they are.
The second alternative is to abolish the waiting days altogether, as the hon. Member for Mansfield wants and as Mr. James Griffiths wanted. The problem about this is two-fold. First, it is difficult to do that in the sense of practicable efficiency without enormous cost. To get money into the beneficiary's hands at once involves a huge operation and great cost. Secondly, I think the House agrees that it would not command a high social priority compared with all the other social priorities.
The third alternative is what is called "making the waiting days absolute"—taking away the right to receive payment for those three waiting days even if the bout of sickness or unemployment or injury continues over the twelfth day.
The Government have decided on the third alternative. Although the Labour 1661 Government changed their minds, nevertheless this choice was one which commended itself to them to the extent that it was introduced and seriously put before the House—although in due course, I agree, it was withdrawn.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I agree. But the problem remains and the problem would remain for a future Labour Government. I suggest that, whatever hon. Members opposite may say tonight, a future Labour Government are unlikely to change the law back if we change it now.
§ Sir K. Joseph
The reasons I shall give are those which I believe would commend themselves to a Labour Government once we have had the pertinacity to carry through this superficially unpopular change. The situation is summed up in one word, which hon. Members may dislike when they see it applied by this Government, but which is nevertheless a word which they have claimed as their own philosophy. The word is "priorities". It is always all right for hon. Gentlemen opposite to claim that a Labour Government have priorities, but a Tory Government have their priorities too—
§ Sir K. Joseph
It is common ground between the parties that a number of improvements are needed in our social services. There are enormous gaps. Everyone would agree that the chronic sick have up to now not been treated properly, that Westminster has just discovered the disabled, and that more needs to be done for the very old.
Both sides would also agree that all cannot be done at once. We have had the most dramatic illustration during the last five years of the impotence of even a Labour Government to do these things. When they were increasing taxation by thousands of millions a year, despite this huge mountain of extra taxation, none of the things which we now regard as essential was done.
§ Mr. Alec Jones
The right hon. Gentleman is being less than fair. He knows that many of the things that his Government 1662 brought into being, supported by this side of the House, were actually part of the Bill that went through the House in the last Parliament.
§ Sir K. Joseph
The Labour Party has every reason to be ashamed and infuriated that its Ministers failed to introduce this legislation until the sixth year of their successive Governments. Total taxation increased under Labour, yet these commonly accepted improvements were not carried out—[Interruption.] I am making a simple point—
§ Sir K. Joseph
All things cannot be done at once. We believe that these three waiting days no longer have the same priority as they once had, for four reasons.
First, the general level of pay in terms of the standard of living that it will produce has gone up. Second, Labour themselves introduced an earnings-related supplement, which brings additional benefit based on earnings in precisely that third week when the three waiting days are at the moment paid for scikness, unemployment and industrial injury. Third, for much, but not all, unemployment there is redundancy pay. Fourth, in the case of sickness, there, to a large extent, though not totally, a system of employers' sickness schemes.
Much emphasis has been laid on the fact that the miners' sickness scheme also has waiting days. A miner is not entitled to any occupational sickness benefit unless he is sick or industrially injured for more than six days. But that is precisely the same situation as the waiting days which we are discussing. The money is available and comes in at a later week, provided that the bout of sickness or industrial injury lasts more than six days. The fact of having waiting days does not remove the benefit to those who are sick or injured for more than six days.
§ Mr. Concannon
This week the miners' conference has passed a resolution to go for sickness benefit from the first day. Will the Secretary of State back them up when they come to Hobart House to see the National Coal Board about this?
§ Sir K. Joseph
The hon. Gentleman would be very upset if Ministers involved themselves on either side in these issues.
1663 Hon. Gentlemen opposite jeered when I said that we had our priorities, but they were set out clearly in our Manifesto. We undertook to do a number of things, including cutting the marginal rate of taxation at all levels of income, including for the surtax payer who, in our view, has as much right to have relief at his marginal rate of taxation as anyone else, and perhaps more because he has borne more taxation in the past. We also undertook to start the process—it is bound to take time—of filling the gaps in our social service system. Having undertaken to do both of those things, we have, I submit, made a fair start in carrying out those commitments.
The House will be aware that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has cut taxation across its whole range and that through the child tax allowances, which are raised this month, more than £200 million a year will be returned to families with children at all levels of income, providing the same benefit to the lowest paid as to those who are receiving the average industrial manual earnings.
We have also begun the process of filling the gaps this year by, for example, the extra package for the chronic sick, the attendance allowance for the severely disabled, the family income supplement and the age addition for very elderly pensioners. We have begun to carry out these commitments, and to do this we have needed to redeploy the priorities that are no longer as high as they were in the past.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite have laid great emphasis on the unique quality of industrial injuries and have claimed that because the number of industrial injuries has been increasing and because these injuries have such a poignant quality about them, they should be exempted from the making of the three waiting days absolute. But even those afflicted by industrial injuries have shared in the general improvement of conditions.
§ Sir K. Joseph
Not every individual has done so, but the overwhelming majority have improved their earnings, are benefiting from earnings related supplements and have a share in occupational sickness schemes.
1664 Above all, the person who suffers an industrial injury has received, is receiving and will receive a preferential rate of benefit—£2.75 a week more than sickness benefit. For all these reasons we believe that there is no special exemption justified for industrial injuries from this making absolute of the three waiting days.
We believe that the same reasons that impelled the Labour Government to introduce this proposal will prevent any future Labour Government from reversing what we seek to do tonight, and we believe that the priorities have now changed and that if the Labour Party is so immovable, so unradical and so, in the worse sense, conservative that it will not recognise the changing priorities, then it will never succeed in filling the gaps in the Welfare State which we are trying to fill.
§ Mr. Prentice
The debate has featured a number of powerful speeches from my hon. Friends, each of them based on practical experience of industry—of the human effects of sickness, unemployment and, particularly, industrial injuiries. We rest our case on this.
Hon. Gentleman opposite have been eloquent in their embarrassed silence, which is not entirely due to the lateness of the hour. Had they had anything to say, they would have said it, but they are too embarrassed to say what is obviously on their minds.
I feel inclined to make a long reply to the points adduced by the Secretary of State, but there is no point in doing that, and it has all been said before. However, I must comment on his use of the word "priorities". We do not accept that the priorities of a civilised Government should include robbing the sick, unemployed and industrially injured of half a week of benefit to which they and their employers have contributed over the years.
The Secretary of State spoke about the modest improvements that have been made for the chronic sick and others. With great respect, the right hon. Gentleman cannot get away with that one. The situation is different from that of the Labour Government in the sense that the Labour Government, throughout most of their period of office, fighting as they were 1665 the balance of payments, were in a situation in which there had to be a transfer of resources into exports. The objects of the Labour Government, particularly following devaluation, had to include both expenditure reductions and tax increases, and every honest person who is prepared to debate these matters seriously will take that as a matter of fact.
But in recent months we have been in a position in which the Government have had the overwhelming duty to release purchasing power, stimulate the economy, and try to fight the rise in unemployment. They could have had improvements for the chronic sick and the elderly without taking the cost from sick or unemployed workers. They could
§ have had them if they had postponed the priority they gave to tax reliefs to the better-off.
§ The Secretary of State says that it is a matter of priorities, and, of course, it is. Our priorities involve dismissing the idea that we should take this out of those who are sick or unemployed or disabled from industry. Our priorities are different from those or right hon. and hon. Members opposite. They are more civilised than theirs. That is why we shall divide the House.
§ Question put: That the Amendment be made:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 179, Noes 214.1667
|Division No. 420.]||AYES||[10.46 p.m.|
|Albu, Austen||Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Marshall, Dr. Edmund|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Hamling, William||Meacher, Michael|
|Ashley, Jack||Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert|
|Atkinson, Norman||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Mendelson, John|
|Barnett, Joel||Heffer, Eric S.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Beaney, Alan||Hooson, Emlyn||Millan, Bruce|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Horam, John||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Huckfield, Leslie||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Booth, Albert||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Moyle, Roland|
|Bradley, Tom||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Murray, Ronald King|
|Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan)||Hunter, Adam||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Irvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Cant, R. B.||Janner, Greville||Oram, Bert|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis (Eccles)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Orme, Stanley|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'bn & St. P'cras, S.)||Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Cohen, Stanley||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Paget, R. T.|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, c.)||John, Brynmor||Palmer, Arthur|
|Cronin, John||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Parry, Robert (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Pendry, Tom|
|Davidson, Arthur||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pentland, Norman|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Judd, Frank||Prescott, John|
|Deakins, Eric||Kaufman, Gerald||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Kelley, Richard||Probert, Arthur|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Kerr, Russell||Reed, D. (Sedge-field)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Kinnock, Neil||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Lambie, David||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Dunn, James A.||Latham, Arthur||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Leadbitter, Ted||Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n & R'dnor)|
|Eadie, Alex||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Roper, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lestor, Miss Joan||Rose, Paul B.|
|Ellis, Tom||Lever, Rt. Hn, Harold||Sandelson, Neville|
|English, Michael||Lipton, Marcus||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Evans, Fred||Lomas, Kenneth||Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Loughlin, Charles||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B'ham, Ladywood)||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Foley, Maurice||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Foot, Michael||McBride, Neil||Skinner, Dennis|
|Ford, Ben||McCartney, Hugh||Spearing, Nigel|
|Forrester, John||Mackenzie, Gregor||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||Stallard, A. W.|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackie, John||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Garrett, W. E.||Maclennan, Robert||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Gilbert, Dr. John|
|Ginsburg, David||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff. W.)|
|Golding, John||McNamara, J. Kevin||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C.||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Tinn, James|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Marquand, David||Torney, Tom|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Marsden, F.||Tuck, Raphael|
|Urwin, T. W.||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Woof, Robert|
|Varley, Eric G.||Whitehead, Phillip|
|Waiden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)||Whitlock, William||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Wallace, George||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||Mr. Ernest Armstrong and|
|Watkins, David||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)||Mr. J. D Concannon.|
|Weitzman, David||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Adley, Robert||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Haselhurst, Alan||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Hastings, Stephen||Page, Graham (Crosby)|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Havers, Michael||Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)|
|Astor, John||Hayhoe, Barney||Peel, John|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Heseltine, Michael||Percival, Ian|
|Awdry, Daniel||Hicks, Robert||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Baker, W. H. K. (Banff)||Higgins, Terence L.||Pounder, Rafton|
|Balniel, Lord||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Bell, Ronald||Holland, Philip||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Holt, Miss Mary||Pym, Rt. Hn. Francis|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Hordern, Peter||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Hornby, Richard||Redmond, Robert|
|Body, Richard||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)|
|Boscawen, Robert||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Rees, Peter (Dover)|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Howell, David (Guildford)||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Bowden, Andrew||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Braine, Bernard||James, David||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Bray, Ronald||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Jessel, Toby||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Jopling, Michael||Rost, Peter|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Buck, Antony||Kaberry, Sir Donald||Scott, Nicholas|
|Burden, F. A.||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs. Elaine||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Carlisle, Mark||Kershaw, Anthony||Sharples, Richard|
|Channon, Paul||Kilfedder, James||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Chapman, Sydney||Kimball, Marcus||Shelton, William (Clapham)|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Simeons, Charles|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Kinsey, J. R.||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Churchill, W. S.||Kirk, Peter||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)|
|Clark, William (Surrey, E.)||Kitson, Timothy||Soref, Harold|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Knight, Mrs. Jill||Speed, Keith|
|Cooke, Robert||Knox, David||Spence, John|
|Coombs, Derek||Lambton, Antony||Sproat, Iain|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Lane, David||Stainton, Keith|
|Cormack, Patrick||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Stanbrook, Ivor|
|Costain, A. P.||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)|
|Critchley, Julian||Le Marchant, Spencer||Stokes, John|
|Crouch, David||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom|
|Crowder, F. P.||Longden, Gilbert||Sutcliffe, John|
|Curran, Charles||Loveridge, John||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Luce, R. N.||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)|
|Dean, Paul||MacArthur, Ian||Tebbit, Norman|
|Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F.||McCrindle, R. A.||Temple, John M.|
|Dixon, Piers||McLaren, Martin||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Drayson, G. B.||McMaster, Stanley||Thompson, Sir Richard (Croydon, S.)|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||McNair-Wilson, Michael||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Dykes, Hugh||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)||Trew, Peter|
|Eden, Sir John||Maddan, Martin||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Madel, David||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Marten, Neil||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Eyre, Reginald||Mather, Carol||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Farr, John||Maude, Angus||Waddington, David|
|Fell, Anthony||Meyer, Sir Anthony||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Fenner, Mrs. Peggy||Miscampbell, Norman||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Mitchell, Lt.-Col. C. (Aberdeenshire, W)||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Walters, Dennis|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Moate, Roger||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Foster, Sir John||Molyneaux, James||Warren, Kenneth|
|Fowler, Norman||Monks, Mrs. Connie||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Montgomery, Fergus||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Glyn, Dr. Alan||More, Jasper||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Goodhart, Philip||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)||Wilkinson, John|
|Goodhew, Victor||Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Gorst, John||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Gower, Raymond||Mudd, David||Worsley, Marcus|
|Green, Alan||Murton, Oscar||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Grieve, Percy||Neave, Airey|
|Gurden, Harold||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Normanton, Tom||Mr. Clegg and|
|Hall-Davies, A. G. F.||Onslow, Cranley||Mr. Tim Fortescue.|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Hannam, John (Exeter)|
§ 10.55 p.m.
§ Sir K. Joseph
I beg to move. That the Bill be now read the Third Time.
After the deeply felt debates today, I do not think that the House would wish me to repeat the arguments in detail. I have to explain once again that this Bill seeks to bring about two groups of changes. The first is to bring to an end a small number of abuses which have crept into the social security system, and the second group is to bring to an end a small number of methods of spending the contributors' money, which no longer have the high priority they originally had, and to make more priority use of the money elsewhere.
We have discussed each of the changes at length and with deep feeling and with much experience, particularly from the other side of the House, during the Committee and again today. The arguments for the changes have not been penetrated by arguments from the Opposition. The Opposition have had this difficulty: that with one exception, there is no change proposed in this Bill which was not proposed, even if not carried through in principle by the Opposition when they were in Government.
In the deepest sense, our proposals are all precedented and precedented by those who are now telling us that our proposals are divisive and wrong. They introduced them, even if their Government did not always have the willpower to carry them through.
Because we have had the will power to carry them through, we are able to do more in certain directions more quickly than the last Government. I do not think it is necessary to make a long speech now, but I want to put my view of what has happened over the last months as succinctly as I can. I do not believe that in that remote day when a Labour Government are once against returned to office, that it will be any priority for them to reverse the changes made in this Bill. We shall have moved by then to a recognition of a totally different range of priorities. We shall be more deeply aware of gaps which perhaps we do not even identify now because I hope that successive Conservative Governments will have done much to remedy gaps of which 1670 we are all too well aware now, and when the time comes our more sensitive eyes will see gaps which will come far more clearly to attention, however strongly the Opposition may feel now about reversing the changes the Government are proposing in this Bill.
I thank my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for his constant, courteous and sustained performance in Committee. I thank my hon. Friends, who have generally by their silence, sometimes by their support, and occasionally by their criticism, made this Bill, perhaps, more easy to steer. I pay tribute to hon. and right hon. Members opposite, Front Bench and back benches, for the way in which they have brought the debates to life. I feel that many of their arguments have been falsely based, but I know that they have been sincerely put, in many cases from personal experience. What they have not taken into account is the change which has taken place in the context in which those experiences occurred to them.
The Bill is part of a radical redeployment of resources to meet a higher set of priorities and to remove abuses which have become deeply repugnant to the public, including members of the Labour Party as well as of the Conservative Party.
§ 11.1 p.m.
§ Mr. O'Malley
The Secretary of State ended by thanking both sides of the House for their contributions to the discussion of the Bill. In the same way, I begin by thanking my right hon. and hon. Friends for the weighty contributions, based on real experience, which they have made, contributions not matched in experience by those from the Government side. Second, I thank the Secretary of State and the Under-Secretary for the courteous way in which they have not answered the questions and arguments which we have put to them.
The Bill is based on a philosophy which is anathema to the Opposition. I described it earlier today as a philosophy of robbing the sick in order to help the poor. The Bill gives nothing to anyone. On the contrary, it worsens the lot of large numbers of sick, industrially injured and unemployed people. It abandons 1671 any pretence of neutrality in industrial relations, contrary to the practice of successive Governments of both political complexions over many years.
The Secretary of State has made clear that the purpose and strategy of the present Government is to help the better off at the expense of those less fortunate, and he claimed—we strongly disagree with his claim and his priorities—that in order to improve some parts of the National Insurance Scheme others must be worsened.
It is a Bill which increases the amount of selectivity in the social services and social security system, at a time when, in our view, selectivity has already gone far enough and the aim of any Government's policy should be to see whether, how and to what degree selectivity in the social services can be pushed back rather than increased. The present Government have already pushed the principle of selectivity far beyond any sensible limits.
§ The principle of local participation, which is important and will become increasingly so in the 1970s and beyond, has been summarily rejected by the Government's cavalier proposal to wind up the local advisory committees. The Bill will certainly worsen industrial relations.
§ The history of the Bill, right from its conception within the Department, has been marked by an almost complete lack of consultation with anyone, including the Supplementary Benefits Commission which will have to operate part of its provisions. By their conduct throughout, the Government have demonstrated that they will brook no arguments, however strong, once they have taken a rigid and dogmatic attitude, as they have on this Bill.
§ The average wage earner and his family will suffer as a result of the Bill. It is a bad Bill, produced by an insensitive Government, and we strongly oppose it.
§ Question put:—
§ The House divided: Ayes 199, Noes 167.1675
|Division No. 421.]||AYES||[11.6 p.m.|
|Adley, Robert||Dykes, Hugh||Howell, Ralph (Norfolk, N.)|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Eden, Sir John||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rve)|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||James, David|
|Archer, Jeffrey (Louth)||Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.)||Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)|
|Atkins, Humphrey||Eyre, Reginald||Jessel, Toby|
|Balniel, Lord||Farr, John||Jopling, Michael|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Fell, Anthony||Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Fenner, Mrs, Peggy||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.)||Finsberg, Geoffrey (Hampstead)||Kellett-Bowman, Mrs.[...]|
|Body, Richard||Fisher, Nigel (Surbiton)||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Boscawen, Robert||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Kilfedder, James|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Fortescue, Tim||Kimball, Marcus|
|Bowden, Andrew||Fowler, Norman||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & stone)||Kinsey, J. R.|
|Braine, Bernard||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Kirk, Peter|
|Bray, Ronald||Goodhart, Philip||Kitson, Timothy|
|Brocklebank-Fowler, Christopher||Gorst, John||Knight, Mrs. Jill|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Gower, Raymond||Knox, David|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N & M)||Lane, David|
|Buck, Antony||Green, Alan||Langford-Holt, Sir John|
|Burden, F. A.||Grieve, Percy||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry|
|Carlisle, Mark||Gurden, Harold||Le Marchant, Spencer|
|Channon, Paul||Hall, Miss Joan (Keighley)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Chapman, Sydney||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Luce, R. N.|
|Chataway, Rt. Hn. Christopher||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||MacArthur, Ian|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Hannam, John (Exeter)||McCrindle, R. A.|
|Churchill, W. S.||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||McLaren, Martin|
|Clarke, Kenneth (Rushcliffe)||Haselhurst, Alan||McMaster, Stanley|
|Clegg, Walter||Hastings, Stephen||McNair-Wilson, Michael|
|Cooke, Robert||Havers, Michael||McNair-Wilson, Patrick (NewForest)|
|Coombs, Derek||Hayhoe, Barney||Maddan, Martin|
|Corfield, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Heseltine, Michael||Marten, Neil|
|Cormack, Patrick||Hicks, Robert||Mather, Carol|
|Critchley, Julian||Higgins, Terence L.||Maude, Angus|
|Crouch, David||Hill, James (Southampton, Test)||Meyer, Sir Anthony|
|Crowder, F. P.||Holland, Philip||Miscampbell, Norman|
|Curran, Charles||Holt, Miss Mary||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. John (Knutsford)||Hordern, Peter||Moate, Roger|
|Dean, Paul||Hornby, Richard||Molyneaux, James|
|Dixon, Piers||Hornsby-Smith, Rt. Hn. Dame Patricia||Monks, Mrs. Connie|
|Drayson, G. B.||Howe, Hn. Sir Geoffrey (Reigate)||Montgomery, Fergus|
|du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Howell, David (Guildford)||Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh)|
|Morgan-Giles, Rear-Adm.||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Trafford, Dr. Anthony|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Trew, Peter|
|Mudd, David||Russell, Sir Ronald||Tugendhat, Christopher|
|Murton, Oscar||Scott, Nicholas||Turton, Rt. Hn. Sir Robin|
|Neave, Airey||Scott-Hopkins, James||Vaughan, Dr. Gerard|
|Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Sharples, Richard||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Normanton, Tom||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Waddington, David|
|Onslow, Cranley||Shelton, William (Clapham)||Walder, David (Clitheroe)|
|Oppenheim, Mrs. Sally||Simeons, Charles||Walker, Rt. Hn. Peter (Worcester)|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Sinclair, Sir George||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Page, Graham (Crosby)||Smith, Dudley (W'wick & L'mington)||Waiters, Dennis|
|Parkinson, Cecil (Enfield, W.)||Soref, Harold||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Peel, John||Speed, Keith||Warren, Kenneth|
|Percival, Ian||Spence, John||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Pike, Miss Mervyn||Sproat, Iain||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Pounder, Rafton||Stainton, Keith||Wiggin, Jerry|
|Price, David (Eastleigh)||Stanbrook, Ivor||Wilkinson, John|
|Stewart-Smith, D. G. (Belper)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Pym, Rt Hn. Francis||Stokes, John||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Stuttaford, Dr. Tom||Worsley, Marcus|
|Redmond, Robert||Sutcliffe, John||Wylie, Rt. Hn. N. R.|
|Reed, Laurance (Bolton, E.)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Rees, Peter (Dover)||Taylor, Robert (Croydon, N. W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Tebbit, Norman||Mr. Jasper More and|
|Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Temple, John M.||Mr. Victor Goodhew.|
|Ridsdale, Julian||Thomas, John Stradling (Monmouth)|
|Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Thomson, Rt. Hn. G. (Dundee, E.)|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Hart, Rt. Hn. Judith||Mikardo, Ian|
|Archer, Peter (Rowley Regis)||Heffer, Eric S.||Millan, Bruce|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Hooson, Emlyn||Milne, Edward (Blyth)|
|Atkinson, Norman||Horam, John||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)|
|Barnett, Joel||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)|
|Bennett, James (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||Huckfield, Leslie||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Hughes, Rt Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Morris, Rt. Hn. John (Aberavon)|
|Bishop, E. S.||Hughes, Mark (Durham)||Moyle, Roland|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Hughes, Robert (Aberdeen, N.)||Murray, Ronald King|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Hughes, Roy (Newport)||O'Halloran, Michael|
|Booth, Albert||lrvine, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)||O'Malley, Brian|
|Bradley, Tom||Janner, Greville||Oram, Bert|
|Brown, Ronald (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Orme, Stanley|
|Cant, R. B.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n & St. P'cras, S.)||Owen, Dr, David (Plymouth, Sutton)|
|Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Paget, R. T.|
|Cohen, Stanley||John, Brynmor||Palmer, Arthur|
|Cox, Thomas (Wandsworth, C.)||Johnson, Walter (Derby, S.)||Pavitt, Laurie|
|Cronin, John||Jones, Barry (Flint, E.)||Pendry, Tom|
|Cunningham, G. (Islington, S. W.)||Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Pentland, Norman|
|Davidson, Arthur||Jones, Gwynoro (Carmarthen)||Perry, Ernest G.|
|Davies, Denzil (Llanelly)||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, W.)||Prentice, Rt. Hn. Reg.|
|Davis, Clinton (Hackney, C.)||Judd, Frank||Prescott, John|
|Davis, Terry (Bromsgrove)||Kaufman, Gerald||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Deakins, Eric||Kerr, Russell||Probert, Arthur|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Kinnock, Neil||Reed, D. (Sedgefield)|
|Dell, Rt. Hn. Edmund||Lambie, David||Rees, Merlyn (Leeds, S.)|
|Dormand, J. D.||Latham, Arthur||Rhodes, Geoffrey|
|Douglas-Mann, Bruce||Leadbitter, Ted||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Dunnett, Jack||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick||Roderick, Caerwyn E. (Br'c'n & R'dnor)|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Lestor, Miss Joan||Roper, John|
|Ellis, Tom||Lever, Rt. Hn. Harold||Rose, Paul B.|
|English, Michael||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Sandelson, Neville|
|Evans, Fred||Lipton, Marcus||Sheldon, Robert (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Fernyhough, Rt. Hn. E.||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Shore, Rt. Hon. Peter (Stepney)|
|Fisher, Mrs. Doris (B 'ham, Ladywood)||Lomas, Kenneth||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'He-u-Tyne)|
|Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Loughlin, Charles||Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)|
|Foley, Maurice||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Silkin, Hn. S. C. (Dulwich)|
|Foot, Michael||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Silverman, Julius|
|Ford, Ben||Mabon, Dr. J. Dickson||Skinner, Dennis|
|Forrester, John||McBride, Neil||Spearing, Nigel|
|Fraser, John (Norwood)||McCartney, Hugh||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Freeson, Reginald||Mackenzie, Gregor||Stallard, A. W.|
|Garrett, W. E.||Mackie, John||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael (Fulham)|
|Gilbert, Dr. John||Maclennan, Robert||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.|
|Ginsburg, David||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)||Thomas, Rt. Hn. George (Cardiff. W.)|
|Golding, John||McNamara, J. Kevin||Thomas, Jeffrey (Abertillery)|
|Grant, George (Morpeth)||Mahon, Simon (Bootle)||Tinn, James|
|Grant, John D. (Islington, E.)||Marquand, David||Torney, Tom|
|Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside)||Marsden, F.||Urwin, T. W.|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Marshall, Dr. Edmund||Varley, Eric G.|
|Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Meacher, Michael||Walden, Brian (B'm'ham, All Saints)|
|Hamling, William||Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert||Wallace George|
|Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)||Mendelson, John|
|Watkins, David||Whitlock, William||Woof, Robert|
|Weitzman, David||Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)||Mr. J. D. Concannon and|
|Whitehead, Phillip||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)||Mr. James A. Dunn.|
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.