HL Deb 13 May 1919 vol 34 cc631-45

Page 4, line 39, after ("determine") insert ("provided that in the making of any such appointment no discrimination be made for reasons of sex between men and women").


I have only to say that, this being so, like my noble and learned friend behind me I will not move the Amendment which stands in my name. I confess to being incompetent to appreciate the argument of the Goverment against the words inserted in Grand Committee in the House of Commons which my friend and I have both chosen for our Amendment; because the fact is—and every one is aware of it—that a great number of women have been engrafted on to the Civil Service during the war and are filling their positions with great advantage to the public service. No one supposes for a moment that women in the future will not be included in the list of Civil Servants.


I have an Amendment down in the same place [after "determine," to insert "including women as well as men" but I do not propose to move it, because I agree with the other opinions that have been expressed with regard to Lord Askwith's Amendment. I should only like to say that it occurred to me that there was a little difficulty about the word "discrimination," and that on the whole, when I saw Lord Askwith's Amendment down, I thought it was the best Amendment. I am very glad that it has been arranged that this is the Amendment to which your Lordships will consent.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 6, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 7:

Seal, Style, and Acts of Minister.

7.—(1) The Minister may sue and be sued by the name of the Minister of Health, and may for all purposes be described by that name.

(2) The Minister shall have an official seal, which shall be officially and judicially noticed, and shall be authenticated by the signature of the Minister, or of a secretary, or any person authorised by the Minister to act in that behalf.

(3) For the purpose of acquiring and holding land the Minister for the time being shall be a corporation sole by the name of the Minister of Health, and all land vested in the Minister shall be held in trust for His Majesty for the purposes of the Ministry of Health.

(4) Upon and by virtue of the appointment of any person to be Minister, the benefit of all deeds, contracts, bonds, securities, or things in action vested in his predecessor at the time of his predecessor ceasing to hold office shall be transferred to and vested in and enure for the benefit of the person so appointed, in the same manner as if he had been contracted with instead of his predecessor, and if his name had been inserted in all such deeds, contracts, bonds, or securities instead of the name of his predecessor.

(5) Subsections (2) to (4) of section eleven and section twelve of the New Ministries and Secretaries Act, 1916, shall apply to the Minister and the Ministry of Health, and to the office of the Minister of Health in like manner as they apply to the Ministers and Ministries mentioned in those sections:

Provided that it shall be lawful for two secretaries of the Ministry to sit as Members of the Commons House of Parliament at the same time.

LORD DOWNHAM moved the deletion from subsection (5) of the words "Provided that it shall be lawful for two secretaries of the Ministry to sit as Members of the Commons House of Parliament at the same time." The noble Lord said: After the very large majority which voted on my Amendment on Clause 6, by which it is now made impossible for the Minister to appoint more than one Parliamentary Secretary, it seems hardly necessary for the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill to defend the words I propose should be left out, and I therefore move to omit them.


It is a consequential Amendment.



Amendment moved— Page 6, line 16, leave out from ("sections") to the end of subsection (5).—(Lord Downham.)


I am not quite clear whether the Amendment that was carried will do in that phraseology, but I will inform myself, and, if necessary, communicate with my noble friend before Report.

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8:

Provisions as to Orders in Council.

8.—(1) Any Order in Council made under this Act may be revoked or varied by a subsequent Order.

(2) Before any Order in Council under this Act (other than an Order appointing a day for the commencement of this Act or any provision thereof) is made, notice of the proposal to make the Order and of the place where copies of a draft of the Order can be obtained shall be published in the London Gazette, and in such other manner as the Minister thinks best adapted for insuring publicity, and a draft of the Order shall be laid before each House of Parliament for not less than thirty days on which such House is sitting.

(3) In the case of a draft of an Order providing for any transfers of powers or duties to or from the Minister under subsections (2) and (3) of section 3 of this Act, the Order shall not be made until both Houses by resolution have approved the draft or except subject to any modifications and adaptations which may be agreed to by both Houses, and in the case of a draft of any other Order which is required to be laid as aforesaid, if either House before the expiration of such thirty days presents an address to His Majesty against the draft, or any part thereof, no further proceedings shall be taken thereon, without prejudice to the making of any new draft Order.

LORD DOWNHAM moved, in subsection (3), after "Act," to insert "or for the establishment of any Consultative Council." The noble Lord said: Your Lordships will be aware that the Bill as it stands gives powers to the Ministry of Health to appoint any number of Consultative Councils. Those Consultative Councils are to be appointed by Order in Council, and the only control that either House will have over those Orders in Council will be the very feeble amount of control which resides in the power to move in either House that the Order in Council be disagreed with. In the House of Commons it is customary for that Motion to be made at about eleven o'clock at night, and any one who is familiar with the process knows how extraordinarily difficult it is to get the House of Commons to disagree with the Government at that time of night. Therefore really the power to disagree with any Order, if it consists of the ordinary procedure, is almost useless.

It was because the Government saw how useless that power was that they have generously consented to apply an entirely different procedure to many of the Orders in Council under this Bill. But on such Orders in Council as transfer certain powers under subsections (2) and (3) of Clause 3 of this Bill an entirely new process has been adopted. It will be impossible for any of those Orders to become law and to be operative until both Houses have by Resolution signified that they agree with those Orders. The object of my Amendment is that this new process, which is a process that gives real power to both Houses of Parliament, shall also apply to all these Orders setting up Consultative Councils. I think that this new process certainly ought to be applied to these new Orders. I myself think that these new Orders ought to be in the Bill itself, in the Schedule, because there may be a great number of them afterwards which we shall want to criticise. It is quite possible for every Department to set up Consultative Councils by Order in Council. We can never tell that the Order in Council will be the same as the draft Order submitted to us for criticism in a White Paper. These Orders in Council might give much larger powers to the consultative bodies which are to be set up. All kinds of things might creep into these new Orders, and we shall have no power to control them unless they are submitted to some such process as I have described. Therefore I plead with the Government to allow my Amendment to be carried, so that these new Orders in Council setting up new Consultative Councils shall be subject to Resolutions of both Houses. We shall then have an opportunity of asking the Government to defend the Orders, and if necessary they could be sent to some Committee for re-consideration, and might then appear again in a new form in which they would be more palatable to both Houses. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 33, after ("Act") insert ("or for the establishment of any consultative council").(Lord Downham.)


The Amendment, as the noble Lord has said, seeks to put the Orders in Council in regard to Consultative Councils in the same category as the Orders in Council with regard to new matters under Clause 3, subsections (2) and (3). As he rightly says, in regard to new matters which are to be placed under the responsibility of the new Minister, or other matters to be withdrawn from him, these Orders in Council are to be submitted to both Houses of Parliament instead of merely lying for thirty days on the Table of both Houses. This Amendment has been the subject of very careful consideration. What I want to submit to your Lordships is that the two cases are not on all fours one with the other. The new matters referred to in Clause 3, subsections (2) and (3), will be new matters the principle of which has not been settled by the Bill. It is in regard to those new matters that Resolutions of both Houses have been arranged for. The Consultative Councils are not such new matters. The principle is in the Bill; that is, how they are to be set up and the power to set. them up. More than that, as my noble friend has said, a copy of the draft Order, as a White Paper, was laid on the Table of both Houses as long ago as February, faulty though my noble friend considers it to be.

As soon as this Bill has received the Royal Assent, what the Government is most anxious to do is to get to work as quickly as they can, and indeed I do not think it is using exaggerated language to say that the public strongly demands this of the Government. The Consultative Councils are an essential feature of the new Ministry in the Bill, in procedure, usefulness, and effectiveness, and I do not think my noble friend below the gangway really wishes to procrastinate or unduly to delay that procedure, or make the start of the new Ministry more difficult than it is; and it is no easy matter as it is. These Resolutions could not fail to cause unnecessary delay. I submit that it is unnecessary because the Orders in Council will do no more than carry out what is laid down in principle in the Bill, and in regard to time it is not easy always to regulate time in the House of Commons.

These are Statutory Committees. It was proposed, and in the House of Commons agreed, that they should be a regular part of the new Ministry. They will replace the Statutory Advisory Committee set up under the Insurance Act of 1911, section 58, and the different Councils will have the advantage of not being too large and unwieldly. The Insurance Advisory Committee, I think, at one time numbered 150 persons, which was a drawback to that Advisory Committee. Your Lordships will remember that the normal pressure of control is secured by lying thirty-six days on the Table. Of course, your Lordships will form your own judgment. I do not wish to labour too much what happens in another place, but the matter was discussed very fully and the proposal of the Government was supported on the ground that the principle is in the Bill—the same ground as that on which I take my stand—and I ask your Lordships to support the Government in refusing to accept this Amendment.


It is always very difficult to press my noble friend opposite, because he is so extremely courteous and conciliatory in his methods of dealing with your Lordships that one always feels inclined to accept what he says. I have, however, another reason for desiring not to press him at the present moment. He is aware that many of your Lordships have very grave doubts as to this system of Advisory Councils. I will not repeat what I ventured to say on the last occasion when we considered this subject, but it was rather understood then that the whole matter would be brought up again on Report Stage, and therefore it would be, perhaps, rather a pity to force a decision now. I still entertain a hope that the Government will, upon consideration, see that some sort of concession is really required. It may be that when your Lordships come to consider the Bill upon Report, you may be unwilling to accept the proposal of Consultative Councils at all, but it is more likely that you will be anxious to have some safeguard, and if one forces the Government to say now that they will not have some safeguard we should make it more difficult to come to a unanimous decision on the next occasion. Therefore I rather hope that we shall not have to conic to a decision at this moment. I think the Government will do well to reconsider the non possumus attitude which my noble friend has thought it his duty to adopt on this occasion and on the last. The danger of these Advisory Councils is a very real one. I am not denying that they have merits, but the dangers are very real and it is, I venture to think, the duty of your Lordships' House to insert what safeguards are required, and we hope the Government will co-operate with us in trying to arrive at what these should be.


We are not now discussing, I understand, whether there should be or should not be these Consultative Councils. There will be a future opportunity of doing so, but enough was said on a previous day to show that considerable doubt exists in the minds of several of your Lordships as to whether the creation of these Consultative Councils is politic. For myself, I have the gravest doubts about their desirability. In the meanwhile, I notice that their creation is to be left to Departmental action, entirely unchecked by anything more or better than the usual perfunctory delay of thirty days. All I have to say is that that is the lowest amount of security that could be afforded to either House. We all know that the communication of these Orders in Council, with a view to laying them on the Table for thirty days, is a matter which probably takes members of either House thirty days to discover. Then somebody finds that a piece of manuscript paper has been placed in one of the libraries of the House, and when members begin to take action they see, to their dismay, that the time has run out:

What is the alternative? It is that, in a matter which the noble Viscount in charge of the Bill says is one in which the public are deeply interested, the Government should be asked to do no more than get from both Houses an affirmative Resolution in favour of the step they are taking. That will be easy to do. It will be easy to do in their own time. It will be a piece of Government business. All that they have to do is to put down the Motion on the Paper and to give, at the most, one evening. Probably half an evening will suffice; and in a great many instances, as we are told the public are keen on these things" probably there will be no debates at all. The Government, if they are doing the right thing, will get their step quite as easily as they would get it if they relied upon this very insufficient security which, I think, only tends rather to awaken the suspicions of Parliament and is really a procedure which has been very much discredited in the past.


I think Lord Salisbury has given me some excellent advice—not to press my Amendment on this occasion, but to return to the whole subject on Report. Then I shall certainly press for some limitation, both in quantity and quality, as to the Consultative Councils, to which I entertain very deep objection. I beg to withdraw.


What I thought possible has taken place. We have been discussing two things. One is the Advisory Councils, and the other is the Order in Council. I am afraid I must stick to my guns with regard to the Amendment of the noble Lord below the gangway.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

VISCOUNT SANDHURST moved, in subsection (3), to delete "or except subject to any modifications or adaptations which may be," and to substitute "nor if any modifications are." The noble Viscount said: This is merely a drafting Amendment.

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 35, leave out from ("draft") to ("agreed") in line 36, and insert ("nor if any modifications are").—(Viscount Sandhurst.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

VISCOUNT SANDHURST moved, in subsection (3), after the words "agreed to by both Houses," to insert "otherwise than as so modified."

Amendment moved— Page 6, line 36, after ("Houses") insert ("otherwise than as so modified").—(Viscount Sandhurst.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 9 agreed to.

Clause 10:

Application to Ireland.

10.—(1) For the purpose of promoting the health of the people in Ireland and exercising the powers conferred on him by this Act the Chief Secretary shall be the Minister of Health for Ireland, and it shall be his duty as such Minister to take all such steps as may be desirable to secure the effective carrying out and coordination of measures conducive to health, including measures for the prevention and cure of diseases, the treatment of physical and mental defects, the initiation and direction of research, the collection, preparation, publication, and dissemination of information and statistics relating thereto, and the training of persons for health services.

(2) The provisions of this Act with respect to consultative councils shall apply to Ireland with the substitution therein of the Lord Lieutenant for His Majesty and with the addition of the following provision—

For the purpose of giving advice and assistance and making proposals to the Chief Secretary in connection with his powers and duties under this Act a council shall be established (which shall be called the Irish Public Health Council) consisting of the following persons—

  1. (a)The Vice-President and the two other Commissioners of the Local Government Board for Ireland;
  2. (b)The chairman and such two others of the Irish Insurance Commissioners as may be nominated by the Chief Secretary;
  3. (c)The Registrar General of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Ireland;
  4. (d) A registered medical practitioner, who shall act as chairman of the council under the direction of the Chief Secretary, and three other registered medical practitioners, one of whom shall be a woman and one of whom shall be a medical practitioner who is registered on the Medical Register in respect of a diploma in sanitary science, public health, or State medicine;
  5. 640
  6. (e) Six other persons having practical experience of matters relating or incidental to or affecting the health of the people.

(3) The Chief Secretary shall from time to time nominate the persons who are to be members of the Irish Public Health Council under paragraphs (d) and (e) of the preceding subsection, including the chairman.

(4) The expenses of the Chief Secretary and of the Irish Public Health Council under this Act, including a salary to the chairman of that council of such amount as may be determined by the Chief Secretary with the approval of the Treasury, and reasonable compensation to the other members of that council for loss of remunerative time, shall be paid in like manner as the expenses of the Ministry.

(5) Save as aforesaid, or as otherwise expressly provided in this Act, the foregoing provisions of this Act shall not apply to Ireland.

VISCOUNT SANDHURST moved, in subsection (2), after the words "the Lord Lieutenant for His Majesty," to insert "of Ireland for England and Wales and of the Dublin Gazette for the London Gazette." The noble Viscount said: This is a verbal Amendment which supplies appropriate language in regard to Irish matters. I do not think I need further explain.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 12, after ("Majesty") insert ("of Ireland for England and Wales and of the Dublin Gazette for the London Gazette").—(Viscount Sandhurst.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

THE MARQUESS OF ABERDEEN AND TEMAIR moved, in subsection (2) (e), to substitute "Ten" for "Six," and, after "persons," to insert "half of whom shall be women." The noble Marquess said: I wish to explain that this Amendment does not emanate from any mere individual opinion. I speak, and I feel it a great privilege to appear in that capacity, as the spokesman and representative of a large number of societies, all of which have taken part in one way or another in the great national work of promoting public health. With your Lordships' permission I will recite the names of these bodies. They are the Women's National Health Association of Ireland, the National Council of Women of Great Britain and Ireland, the United Irishwomen, the Irish Women's Suffrage and Local Government Society, the Belfast Women's Political League, Lady Rhondda's Watching Council on Ministry of Health Bill, the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship and the Women's National Liberal Federation. Of course, they represent a very large body of opinion, as I have indicated of informed opinion, the opinion of persons of experience in regard to the great subject we are considering.

I would point out that in this clause there are three elements represented—what may be called the official element, then the professional, and, lastly, the general—in connection with the selection of those considered suitable for membership of the body to which reference is made. I have suggested that the number of six should be increased to ten, and that half of the members should be women. I do not urge this on what is called the ground of sex. I am more concerned with considerations of efficiency, and I move the Amendment with a view to securing the best material for working out this great subject. I dare say my noble friend the Lord Chamberlain will tell me that the Chief Secretary, who has the absolute authority in this matter, will be entirely disposed to give ample representation to women. I quite accept that, but men may come and men may go; and they do change in various Offices, including that of the Chief Secretary.

I urge that it will be well to have a declaration and an enactment that one-half of this body should be composed of women. I say that, not because they are women, but because women have taken such a very prominent part already in the promotion of public health. Take the example of the association that I first mentioned—the Women's National Health Association of Ireland. It has about ninety branches throughout Ireland, every one of which is concerned in a practical manner with the promotion of health. It is admitted that it was mainly due to that Association that there was such an immense reduction in the mortality in Ireland from consumption during the first seven years of its existence. That is to say that in seven years the mortality from that terrible disease was diminished to the extent of 2,500 per annum, and added to that we have the vast number of people who obtained alleviation from the disease and wholly or partly recovered from it. With a view of securing the best work and the best material, definite recognition should be given. I quite understand that there is an option on the part of the Chief Secretary and that he can appoint the whole of this body (which I suggest should be ten instead of six) of women. Although women are now recognised as suitable for all sorts of offices there is still a certain amount of prejudice, and in this case men are so predominant that it is a supposition that the majority of the Council will be composed of men.

Amendment moved— Page 8, line 33, leave out ("Six") and insert ("fen") and after ("persons") insert ("half of whom shall be women").—(The Marquess of Aberdeen and Temair.)


I rise to support the Amendment of the noble Marquess. I do not myself lay very great stress upon the six or ten, but what I lay stress upon is that half of the number shall be women. Personally I should perhaps be better pleased if your Lordships considered ten as preferable to six. After the decision your Lordships have given on Clause 6, I do not suppose there are many who still desire to keep out women from taking part in this Consultative Committee. It is now many years since I broke my first lance in favour of women being permitted to take larger a larger share in public affairs. It has been a great pleasure to me to find how that idea has spread, and I have lived long enough to see women in possession of the vote. It is rather amusing to me to see three or four noble Lords competing as to who should have the credit of bringing in the women as far as secretaries are concerned, and I hope there will be the same competition in dealing with the Consultative Committee. It is not necessary in these days to dilate on the magnificent work that has been carried out during the war by women, not only in regard to the health of the Army but also in regard to the health of the people generally. Therefore I feel certain that your Lordships will grant to Ireland what I believe is the first demand that has been made with a united front by the Irish people. We have not heard, as far as I am aware, a single word of opposition either from the north or from the south of Ireland. The noble Marquess is a Home Ruler, and I have been a Unionist; but in this I support the noble Marquess. I hope on this occasion we shall be united in permitting at all events half of the members of this Consultative Committee to be women.


I wish very strongly to urge on the Government the acceptance in principle of the Amendment which is proposed. There are practical reasons why it might be done. In the Bill in a previous clause the presence of women in some capacity is upheld, and even in this particular matter of the application of the Bill to Ireland in the immediate preceding clause, dealing with medical representation, there is a provision that one shall be a woman. Perhaps I might be pardoned for saying that I think it will really depend much more on the practical enthusiasts working this Council than on any merely official representation. I suggest that the same principle which is adopted in the Bill with regard to registered medical practitioners should be extended to these outside members of the Consultative Council. It is not an answer at all to say that the Chief Secretary can if he likes select women. There are very special reasons in Ireland why women ought to be named specially as being on the Council. At a time when there was not the same attention directed to this matter in England women of all classes of society and politics threw themselves enthusiastically into the question of promoting public health. They showed that they were not only fitted and able to do the work but they demonstrated that they really were the persons who were able to do it. If I had any personal view on the matter I should be rather inclined to urge that the whole of this outside body should be selected from women, because really in Ireland they have had a practical experience of the subject which is being dealt-with. On those grounds I earnestly hope that the Government will accept the principle of the Amendment.


I sympathise very much with what has been said by the noble Lords who have addressed us as to the value of women upon these various bodies. I must remind your Lordships, however, that the Irish clause of this Bill was finally settled in its present form in Committee of the other House after consultation with Irish Members of all sections and deputations from various medical and other bodies interested in health matters in Ireland. This applies particularly to the constitution of the Irish Public Health Council, and any material change in its constitution would upset the arrangement made between numerous conflicting interests. Taking the two proposals of the Amendment, the first is a proposal to increase the total number from seventeen to twenty-one. It is not at all desirable that the membership should be increased. In fact, it has been criticised as being too large. The second proposal is to add five more women to the Council. As the Bill stands there is little doubt that the Irish lady Insurance Commissioner will be a member of the Council under paragraph (b), and amongst the six persons to be nominated by the Chief Secretary under paragraph (e) it may be assumed that women will be included. Further the Irish clause incorporates the main provision of the Bill as to the Consultative Council and they must under Clause 4, subsection (2) include women. Therefore, I submit to your Lordships, while I sympathise with much that has been said, that women's interests and representation in Ireland are amply provided for under the Bill as it stands. After all the consultations and conferences which have been held, I am not at liberty to re-open the question and must ask your Lordships to resist the Amendment.


I think my noble friend Lord Aberdeen would be well advised not to press his Amendment. In the first place, the remarks of the noble Viscount are so far satisfactory as to amount to a pledge that women will be adequately represented on this body. In the second place, I have had representations from influential women and from organisations to the effect that the last thing they desire is to have a proportion on these Councils set aside for members of their own sex. The very thing they have in view is to get rid of discrimination between the sexes. If you say there are to be six members, all women, it implies some difference between women and men. Although, of course, every step ought to be taken to ensure that women are represented, to say that any definite proportion of any body is to be made up of women only is contrary to the very spirit in which this movement is going on. Therefore I feel that it would be best to be content with what the noble Viscount has said, and not to try and put this in a rigid form.


I should like to explain that my noble and learned friend should not attribute to me the view that he seems to attribute to me—namely, a desire to discriminate between men and women in the sex sense. I think that we have got past that to a large extent. Nevertheless he will agree with me that a large number of societies have expressed their support of this Amendment, although they agree with the noble and learned Lord in not approving of what may be called the more old-fashioned plan of giving women one treatment and men another. I do not press the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 10, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 11:

Short Title, Commencement, and Repeal, and Interpretation.

11.—(1) This Act may be cited as the Ministry of Health Act. 1919, and shall come into operation upon such day or days as may be appointed by Order in Council, and different days may be appointed for different purposes and provisions of this Act:

Provided that the latest day for the transfer of powers to the Minister under subsection (i) of section 3 of this Act shall not be later than one year after the passing of this Act:

Provided that the day appointed for the transfer of the powers of the Minister of Pensions shall not be earlier than one year after the termination of the present war.

(2) The enactments mentioned in the Second Schedule to this Act are hereby repealed to the extent specified in the third column of that schedule.

(3) For the purposes of this Act Monmouthshire shall be deemed to form part of Wales.

(4) The expression "Government department" includes the Insurance Commissioners, the Welsh Insurance Commissioners, and any other public department and any Minister of the Crown acting as the head of a Government department.

VISCOUNT SANDHURST moved, in the second proviso to subsection (1), after the words "shall not be earlier than one year," to insert "or later than three years." The noble Viscount said: This is an Amendment to ensure against dilatoriness in regard to the inclusion of pensions in the Bill. It was an Amendment passed by the House of Commons, and for some inconceivable reason did not find a place in the reprint of the Bill. I do not think it is a matter that any one would object to.

Amendment moved— Page 9, line 18, after ("year") insert ("or later than three years").—(Viscount Sandhurst.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.

Schedules agreed to.