§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (LORD STRACHIE)
My Lords, this Bill is necessitated by the war, and its principal object is to give a much-needed relief to approved societies under the National Insurance Act. The position of soldiers and sailors under that Act is somewhat different from the position of ordinary civilians. When a man who is already a member of an approved society joins the Colours his contribution becomes only 1½d. a week to the society, and his employer—that is, the War Office or the Admiralty—pays another 1½d. The contribution from the State is paid to the Navy and Army Insurance Fund, and not to the approved society. It is quite true that the friendly society, as long as the man is serving with the Colours, is not in a had position, because the soldier or sailor is unable to make any claim upon his friendly society except with regard to maternity benefit, all other provision being made for him, of course, by the respective Services. But when a man is invalided and leaves the Colours he then comes down upon his approved society.
667 The Select Committee of the House of Commons recommended that in the case of total disablement the soldier or sailor should receive a pension of 25s. a week, and that has been confirmed by the House of Commons. Therefore, except for this Bill, the position of a friendly society would be this. The man would be receiving a pension of 25s. a week, but the friendly society would have to pay 10s. sickness benefit for twenty-six weeks, and at the end of that time they would have to give him permanently 5s. a week disablement pay. The Select Committee of the House of Commons originally recommended 20s. a week as the pension, but the amount was increased to 25s., and at the same time it was resolved to recommend that the friendly societies should be relieved of 5s. of the sickness benefit and should be relieved entirely of the disablement benefit. The Bill further provides that, in a case where the pension is retrospective and where benefit at the unreduced rate has been paid by the friendly society, the amount of the difference between the benefit at the unreduced rate and at the reduced rate shall be recoverable by the friendly society.
There is also in the Bill a provision enabling the friendly societies to receive the State contribution instead of its being paid to the Navy and Army Insurance Fund. I believe that the reason why originally the provision was made that the State contribution should go to the Navy and Army Insurance Fund was that those who brought in the original Bill were under the impression that no soldiers or sailors would join approved societies but would all belong to the Navy and Army Insurance Fund. In practice, however, that has not been found to be the case. Clause 2 of this Bill is simply an extension of Section 11 of the principal Act to persons affected by the special measures passed in consequence of the war. That Section provides that a man cannot receive sickness benefit at the same time that he is receiving benefit under the Employers' Liability Act.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.— (Lord Strachie.)
§ On Question, Bill read 2a.
§ Committee negatived: Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX. having been suspended) Bill read 3a, and passed.