§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Clarendon.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I beg to ask the noble Earl at what time the Royal Commission will sit this evening.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I desire to call your Lordships' attention to the position in which we are placed. This afternoon we were told that it was absolutely necessary that this Bill should pass through all its stages to-day, in order that it might receive the Royal Assent this evening. Your Lordships can 910 see that the Throne has been prepared and everything is ready for the Royal Commission. But now we are calmly told, without a word of apology from the Government, that notwithstanding the fact that your Lordships were persuaded to suspend the Standing Orders so as to pass the Bill through its remaining stages to-day, this Bill will not be passed to-day. What is the reason for the change in the views of the Government? Where is the Leader of the House? Where is the Deputy Leader of the House? Is there no Cabinet Minister present to tell us why the House of Lords has been treated in this way?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am glad to receive that courteous intimation from the noble Earl, but your Lordships will allow me to say, very respectfully, that unless the House of Lords resists it will always be put upon. I hope your Lordships will realise that we were not so very unreasonable this afternoon, when we asked you not to agree to suspend the Standing Order. It is now quite obvious that the Government might, without any public inconvenience, have refrained from pressing their Motion, have held a sitting to-morrow, and have completed the remaining stages of the Bill then. They did not do so, and now, if you please, we are calmly told that there is to be a Friday sitting, without any notice of such sitting to your Lordships at the proper time. Noble Lords have gone away without any idea that there was going to be a Friday sitting. I do not know, and I do not anticipate, what decision your Lordships will make upon the Amendments, but if your Lordships make any Amendments the Bill will go back to the House of Commons to be dealt with by that House to-morrow.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The point is the same. Supposing the 'House of Commons think fit not to agree with your Lordships, the Bill will have to conic back to us, and there will be no House tomorrow to receive the Bill. There will, of 911 course, be a technical sitting, but noble Lords will have made no arrangements to be here, and they are not called upon to be here, having had no notice at the proper time. I think your Lordships will see that the House has not been treated with consideration in this matter. I earnestly hope I am speaking in the name of your Lordships when I say that the coming of the Deputy Leader of the House is still awaited to explain to your Lordships for what reason this change has taken place, and to express, perhaps I might say, an apology to your Lordships for the way in which your Lordships have been treated.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
My- Lords, I beg to move that this Debate be now adjourned. In the absence of the Leader of the House it is really not possible to speak on the merits of the question. I see that the Deputy Leader (the Earl of Crawford) is now returning to his place in the House and perhaps it would be only courteous that I should repeat in substance what has just been said by Lord Salisbury. By a very narrow majority the Government persuaded the House to allow them to suspend the Standing Order, in order that this Bill might pass through all its stages to-day and receive the Royal Assent. They never suggested even that your Lordships might sit to-morrow in order to have more time. Do not for one moment think I imagine that that would have been an adequate suggestion; but, at any rate, it would have indicated some attempt to give more time in which to deal with this very important Bill. We were told, in courteous but very firm, terms, that public interest demanded that this Bill should pass through all its stages, and receive the Royal Assent to-day. Your Lordships took that view. I voted differently, because if your Lordships accept this kind of treatment there is no indignity to which you will not be subjected.
Then we hear, not from the Government, and through no official channels, but quite accidentally, that there is to be no Royal Commission to-night at all—that the Bill is not to receive the Royal Assent to-day, but that this House is to meet to-morrow and the Royal Assent will he then given. Suppose your Lordships think fit to make an Amendment in the Bill, and that that is not accepted by the House of Commons; the Bill will then come back to the House of Lords to-morrow afternoon. Half of those noble Lords who were here early in 912 the afternoon have gone away, without the slightest indication from the Government that there was going to be a sitting to-morrow. It is impossible to get in touch with them. I do not blame my noble friend opposite, but I ask why the convenience of the House of Commons and of everybody else is consulted, and it is only our convenience which is never consulted. I, therefore, move that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Moved, That the debate be now adjourned.—(The Earl of Selborne.)
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, I am sorry that I was out of the House when Lord Selborne began to speak. I did not know that he was going to raise the point—
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
Of course, if I had known that the point was to be raised I should have been in my place. The difficulty, I gather, is that the House of Commons cannot deal with any Amendment which we may make until eleven or twelve o'clock to-night, or perhaps one o'clock in the morning. It is a very unfortunate circumstance, and in those conditions a Royal Commission at seven or eight, or even nine o'clock this evening is, I am afraid, impossible. I presume that, on the whole, the more convenient of two very inconvenient courses is to meet to-morrow, rather than to invite your Lordships to wait until some undetermined hour in the early hours of to-morrow morning, when the House of Commons may have dealt with the Amendments made by your Lordships.
I greatly regret the circumstances, but many of your Lordships have been in the House of Commons, and all who have been there will bear me out when I say that it is impossible to tell, within from one to six hours, how long any given subject will take. That is the situation at the present, moment. It is apparently feared that the Bill on which the other House is now engaged cannot finish until quite late to night, and in those circumstances no Message from the House of Commons, in response to our Message of Amendments, can reach us until the early hours of the morning. Whether, that being so, it is necessary to stop considering the Bill now is a very different question, and I cer- 913 tainly should strongly advise your Lordships to continue the consideration of the Bill at the present moment, rather than accept the Motion that the whole debate be adjourned.
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
My Lords, I must say I feel that this Motion is a very serious one. The statement made on behalf of the Government that the postponement of the consideration of this Bill would cost the country £500,000 made a very great impression on me. I thought it was possible that they might be under some misapprehension as to the amount, but, none the less, it appeared to me that, in face of a statement of that kind, deliberately made, it became extremely difficult to oppose the Government's proposal I that this Bill should be proceeded with at once. Aral accordingly, though I could not bring myself to vote with the Government, I abstained from voting against them.
The same position arises again now. We are stilt faced with the same difficulty. If we adjourn this debate we shall incur the risk of losing the money, and I have the gravest doubts myself as to the possibility of your ever being able, by a clause in the Bill itself, to remedy the loss, if once incurred. The money will have gone, and I do not see how you are ever going to get it back by alterations of your Bill. I find that the position is this. We shall, to put it quite mildly, run the risk of incurring a very heavy financial loss—because I have not yet got accustomed to regarding a matter of half a million of money as a matter of no moment. That we have to consider on the one hand, and, on the other, we have to consider at once the proper dignity of this House and its convenience. I believe that the dignity of this House would be best asserted by assenting to the difficult position in which the Government have placed themselves, coming to their rescue, aril proceeding with this measure at once. I cannot possibly bring myself to support the Motion for adjournment in these circumstances.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am disposed to agree with the noble and learned Lord that there is no reason to press this Motion at this moment. The principal reason why my noble friend moved the adjournment was that we could not go on discussing the subject in the absence of the Deputy Leader of the 914 House. I make no complaint: he was quite unaware of it; but there was no Cabinet Minister to deal with our protest, and the natural. Parliamentary course, as every Member of Parliament of any standing knows, is to move the adjournment if you cannot get the proper satisfaction which you are entitled to receive, from the procedure which the Government are adopting. Therefore, as far as the Motion for adjournment is concerned, I do not suppose my noble friend will desire to press it.
The fact, however, remains that your Lordships were asked to suspend your Standing Orders because you were told that it was absolutely essential that the Bill should pass through all its stages to-day. Within a very few hours of that statement it turned out that it is amply sufficient to pass it through all its stages to-morrow. It is clearly so; if the Royal Assent is not given till to-morrow the thing might have been dealt with in the ordinary way of the sitting of the House to-morrow. That is the way in which the Government conduct the business of your Lordships' House, and I think we are absolutely entitled to make the protest we have made. Of course, we do not desire to obstruct the business of your Lordships' House, and there is no more to be said as far as that is concerned. But I do hope that your Lordships will take note of this for the next occasion.
§ Motion to adjourn the debate, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Motion to go into Committee agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ THE EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.
§ Clauses 1 to 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5:
§ Suspension of power to make special schemes.
§ 5. The power of the Minister under section eighteen of the principal Act to make special orders approving or making special schemes shall not be exercised during the deficiency period:
§ Provided that this section shall not apply in any case where notice of a proposal to make such a special order has been published before the eighth day of June, nineteen hundred and twenty one.915
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE moved, in the proviso, to leave out "notice of a proposal to make such a special order has been-published," and to insert "application has been made to the Minister to approve a special scheme on or." The noble Earl said: The Amendment to which I ask your Lordships' attention, and which I trust you will support, is one of very great importance. I am bringing it forward on behalf of the banking associations of the Kingdom and of all the employees of all the banks of the Kingdom. It will not take long to explain the question at issue. By the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, facilities were given for the contracting out of that Act by special schemes, to be approved by the Minister. Immediately on the passage of that Act, in November last year, the British Bankers' Association, in cooperation with all the employees of the banks, set about framing a special scheme.
§ When your Lordships consider that the Bankers' Association had to deal with every bank, and with all. the classes and different bodies of organised employees of those banks, scattered throughout the whole Kingdom, you will not be surprised when I tell you that they did not get their scheme completed until a few weeks ago. But during that time, when they were strenuously and continuously at work, they were also in consultation with the officials of the Ministry al Labour, and, so far as they knew, they were proceeding in a manner which did not invite any hostile continent by the Ministry of Labour. The conclusion of these negotiations was that a banking scheme for this Kingdom, accepted by the representatives of all the banks and of all the bank employees, was framed, representing complete and absolute unanimity in the banking world. This scheme, in accordance with the provisions of the Act of last year, was submitted to the Minister of Labour for his approval on June 7.
If you turn to Clause 5 of this Bill you will see it is so worded—and I cannot help thinking that there is not an accident in the fact—as exactly and expressly to exclude this scheme of the banking profession. The words of the clause are—
The power of the Minister under Section 18 of the principal Act——
that is, the Act of last year —
to make special orders, approving or making special schemes shall not be exercised during the deficiency period.
The deficiency period is an indefinite period. It certainly will not be less than two wears; it may be a good many years. That is, the period during which this fund will probably not achieve solvency. But this proviso follows—
Provided that this section—
That is, the suspension of the power of the Ministry to approve a special scheme—
shall not apply in any case where notice of a proposal to make such a special order has been published before the eighth day of June, nineteen hundred and twenty-one.
That excludes from the benefit of this proviso the scheme of the banking profession, because, although it has been submitted to the Minister, the Minister had not published it, and therefore, if the Bill becomes an Act in its present form, this scheme, unanimously adopted by the bankers and their employees, cannot be approved by the Minister for a wholly indefinite period. I ask your Lordships to remember what the effect and intention of that provision really is.
§ Unemployment in banks is an almost negligible quantity. It very seldom occurs. Therefore, the liability to unemployment is nothing like so heavy as it is in many other professions. Under this Bill the bank will have to pay 8d. in respect of every employee, and the employee 7d. But by the scheme of the banks, accepted by their employees, the banks will pay a much smaller sum and the employees will pay nothing at all. Therefore, the question at issue is the payment of no less than 7d. a week by every bank employee for the whole of the period during which the power of the Minister to approve this scheme is in suspension. The defence of the Government is that the Fund will be insolvent, and they want to achieve solvency as soon as they can. But there are certain trades and professions in which there is much unemployment while there are other trades and professions in which there is very little. Of these the banking profession is one where unemployment is an almost negligible quantity, as I have said, and they want the bank clerk to pay for the unemployment in some other trade where unemployment is common or more usual.
§ To what does that really amount? It amounts to relieving the general taxpayer of his contribution to the solvency of the Fund at the expense of one special class of taxpayer—the bank clerk. Although a 917 certain amount would be taken from the banks, and the additional amount to be taken from the banks under the scheme of the Government is small, by the scheme of the banks the employee will pay nothing a. week, but under the Government scheme 7d. will be taken from him for the benefit of sonic other trade. Therefore, it amounts to the taxing of the bank clerk specially in respect of a burden which, if it ought to be borne at all, ought to be borne by the whole body of the taxpayers.
In effect, my Amendment is a very simple one. I propose to leave out the words, "notice of a proposal to make such a Special Order has been published" and to insert instead the words "application has been made to the Minister to approve a special scheme on or." If that Amendment is accepted, the proviso will then read—
Provided that this section shall not apply in any case where application has been made to the Minister to approve a special scheme on or before the eighth day of June, nineteen hundred and twenty-one.
It will be observed that all the Amendment does is to preserve the power given under the Act of last year for the Minister to approve of this scheme. It does not in any way fetter his discretion. If he, unfortunately, did not approve of the scheme, his discretion would remain exactly the same as it is at the present moment. But it remedies a grievance, the hardship that the bank employees are suddenly deprived of the power, which the Act of last year gave them, of making a -special scheme, which they have already made with the utmost possible expedition and care and in continuous correspondence with the Ministry of Labour. It is a very hard case for the bank clerks if this Amendment is not accepted, and I ask your Lordships to insert it in the Bill.
Clause 5, page 3, lines 31 and 32, leave out ("notice of a proposal to make such a special order has been published") and insert ("application has been made to the Minister to approve a special scheme on or").—(The Earl of Selborne.)
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
The Amendment moved by the noble Earl proposes to give the Minister power to approve any scheme w halt has been submitted for approval on or before June 8 of this year. In a number of cases draft schemes have been submitted to the Minister for approval or for the advice 918 of the Department on points of detail. The only case in which an exception to the general rule of suspension is proposed to be made is in a case where public faith has already been pledged; that is to say, it deals with the insurance companies. The Bill, which originally proposed to allow contracting out of the general scheme of Unemployment Insurance by industries which could more suitably provide for the needs of employed persons in the industry by special schemes of their own, was first introduced in December, 1919, and became law on August 9, 1920. Therefore, the industries which contemplated the setting up of special schemes have had a considerable time in which to formulate their proposals.
As has been indicated, one industry has been able to take all the necessary steps and to obtain approval before the present Bill was introduced. The industry in which the noble Earl who moves this Amendment is particularly interested—namely, the bankingindustry— submitted its draft scheme, as has been stated, on June 7. It was received at the Ministry on June 8. It is an essential condition that any special scheme shall be submitted by a joint industrial council or by an association of employers and employed which, as regards the employers, consists of persons representing a substantial majority of employers in the industry and, as regards the employed, consists of persons representing a substantial majority of the employees in the industry. I think I understood the noble Earl to say, in regard to the situation as between the employers and employed in the banking industry, that complete unanimity had been reached with regard to the scheme.
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
My information is to the contrary effect. Representations have already been received from an association of employees in the industry protesting against the draft scheme which bas been submitted. This association claims, I do not know with what force, to represent upwards of 20,000 employees in that particular industry. It would appear, therefore, that opinion in the industry itself is not ii oar tin ions as to the scheme. This would make it difficult to justify any concession confined to this particular industry, while, on the other hand, as already mentioned, it would not 919 be possible to make a concession to one industry which is not also made to others. This would be fatal to the financial basis of the Bill. It would upset all the actuarial calculations. I regret that the Government cannot accept the Amendment which has been proposed by the noble Earl, and unless he is prepared to withdraw it, I am afraid we shall have to go to a Division.
§ THE EARL OF SELBORNE
I cannot possibly withdraw the Amendment. I only wish to make two comments on the noble Earl's speech. The first is that my Amendment does not apply to banks only, but to all who have submitted schemes on or before June 8. Therefore, no special favour is asked for one trade. As to the second point, if the Minister was able to prove that my representations were wrong, and that the employees did not approve of this scheme, there is nothing here to fetter his discretion or judgment. He can approve or disapprove, just as he chooses.
§ LORD SYDENHAM
Can the noble Earl say what is the name of this association of employees which objects to the settlement which we believed had been arrived at by them all?
§ THE EARL OE CLARENDON
I am afraid I cannot give the name at this moment, but if the noble Lord desires it I can obtain it for him.
§ LORD ASKWITH
I think I can satisfy the noble Lord as to the name of the association. It is the Bank Officers' Guild. My information is much the same as that of the noble Earl on the Treasury Bench—that there is not complete unanimity, and that the foreign and colonial banks are not in this scheme. There is sonic doubt also whether Barclay's Bank is in entire unanimity with it, and that is one of the five big banks. I most certainly support the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, although I go further than he does in the Amendment which I have put upon the Paper, because I propose to omit Clause 5 altogether. The effect of leaving out that clause would be that Lord Selborne's Amendment, which is a smaller one than mine, would also be covered. In the event of the Minister turning down a particular scheme which has been put before the Ministry, it would be possible to amend that scheme, bring it up again, and get approval of it.
920 It is said by the noble Earl on the Treasury Bench that a long time has passed, and that only the insurance companies have come forward with a scheme for employers and employed insuring in their own industry. To me that seems no answer at all, These schemes take a long time to prepare. They have to be carried out with the greatest consideration for finance, and with a view of getting in every person concerned, and also of securing the assent of those employers who do not at first see the advantage of a special scheme. It may also be necessary to get the consent of a great many or the employed. The fact that the insurance companies have prepared a scheme within a year or eighteen months is a sign that those who understand the financial aspects of insurance best think they can do much better by keeping out of the Government scheme and having one of their own. They have gone upon the policy of the industry insuring itself. I am sure that is an aim which ought to be encouraged, and that it is one which, if carried out, will be most valuable to the industries concerned.
This is not a change of policy on the part of the Government. They have merely changed their method. When you have once started upon a policy of this kind, when, as in the case which Lord Selborne mentioned, trouble, expense and consideration have been given to the principle of employers and employed insuring in their own industry, it is only fair that there should be permission to go on. There should not he a cutting off in the way that the Government now proposes. That it would cost money, that it would upset the actuarial schemes, again seems to be an argument that can scarcely hold water. The subscription of the State to the schemes under which people may insure out of the State scheme is less than it would be to those schemes which are under the State. Every industry that insures out of the State scheme would reduce the number of Government officials required to deal with the insurance problem. Every industry that insured apart from the State would be an example to other industries. If you once start upon this and get it carried out by some of the big industries, St ate insurance will be very much minimised, or brought within a more reasonable compass. Although I shall support the noble Earl's proposal I would prefer that he should support my Amendment, which is of a more comprehensive character.
§ LORD EMMOTT
I hope your Lordships will support the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, in his Amendment, which it seems to me perfectly right and just to accept. The noble Earl himself has already pointed out that the two objections urged by the noble Earl who speaks for the Government do not hold ground against this Amendment. It is an Amendment which in no sense applies to the banking industry only. The question of whether there is adequate support for this particular proposal may affect, the question whether approval should be given to the scheme, but it does not affect the Amendment that is proposed. To say that to do what is right and just in reference to a particular matter will upset the whole of a scheme, seems to me—I do not want to use hard words—in the nature of one of those Government apologias with which we are too familiar, and which would sacrifice right and justice to a mere matter of actuarial calculation. I hope the I louse will support the Amendment.
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
As the point about actuarial calculations has been raised, I should like to give your Lordships sonic further information upon it. Clause 5 of the Bill is the security to the Treasury for the repayment of the loan of £20,000,000.
§ Resolved in the negative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.922
§ All the actuarial estimates have been framed on the assumption that up to July. 1923, the trades with light risks will remain in the normal scheme of the Bill, and by their contributions help to repay the debt. There are, in all, 1,750,000 people who may be expected eventually to go out under special schemes. If Clause 5 is deleted and these people go out at once—and the incentive to do so will he very strong, now that the benefits are reduced and the contributions increased—the Fund will lose £5,000,000 a year, arid it will take at least one year more to pay off the debt, or three years in all. It is a dangerous assumption to make that three years will elapse before there are further economic or industrial disturbances. Further, if there is an exodus of 1,750,000 people, the Fund will not get through the first year with a borrowing power of £20,000,000, and, with this limit in the Bill, the scheme would again break down early in 1922. In view of what has been said on these actuarial calculations I thought it only right to give your Lordships this further information.
§ On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the clause?—
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 30 Non-Contents, 48.923
§ LORD ASKWITH moved to omit Clause 5. The noble Lord said: If this clause should drop out it will still allow Lord Selborne's scheme to go forward with such Amendments as are found necessary. The deficiency may continue for a considerable time. Sonic actuarial figures have been given to show that if this clause is omitted it would be serious for the finance of the Bill, but it is very difficult—and this illustrates the inconvenience of considering these matters at such short notice —to understand how that can be so. It is certain that under any scheme continuity would probably avoid many strikes, and it is fair that those persons who may, in the immediate future, have their schemes ready, should have a chance of going before the Minister for him to judge whether the schemes are fair or not. It may also be fair that he should have a chance of influencing the finance of the scheme in the way suggested, but it does not seem to tally with the noble Earl's remark that during about fifteen or eighteen months only one scheme has been got through. Let the employers and the employed, in industries where it is feasible, go on discussing, and, if they can, try to get out schemes of their own.
Leave out Clause 5.—(Lord Askwith.)
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
I will only say that, although the clause is amended, the Government prefer to keep it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not know what course my noble friend above the gangway proposes to take as regards pressing his Amendment, but I am inclined to counsel moderation in respect of this clause; not that my opinion is against the views of my noble friend, for I think he is very likely entirely right in his contentions, but the House has arrived at an agreement on the moderate Amendment moved by my noble friend, Lord Selborne, and that, I think, does constitute a distinct judgment of the House in favour of a middle course. It is a course which can be recommended on many grounds. I think your Lordships are aware that the House of Lords has been very badly treated over this matter, but there is no reason why we should be cross about it, or sulk, and we must do the best we can to get the business through. I think this is more 924 likely to be a course which will recommend itself to Parliament as a whole than the course proposed by my noble friend above the gangway. I would, therefore, suggest to him that we should be content to stand upon my noble friend's Amendment. And I would suggest to the Government that, in all the circumstances, and in view of the extraordinary way——
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I have no doubt the Lord Chancellor has been informed of the circumstances concerning which we have had occasion to protest since he left the Woolsack, and I am sure he will recognise—for he is very fair in all these matters—That the House of Lords has been extraordinarily badly treated. In these circumstances, I think we may properly claim that he and his colleagues should exercise their great influence to see that this Amendment, which has now been inserted in the Bill, is agreed to by the Government, in another place. We really have not had a fair chance of discussing this Bill, and we shall not have a fair chance, unless a course is taken such as I venture to suggest. I am inclined to hope that, in view of all the circumstances, my noble friend, Lord Askwith, will not press his Amendment, not, as, I have said, because I disagree with him, but on the ground that we have arrived at a compromise.
§ LORD ASKWITH
I am not prepared to risk Lord Selborne's Amendment being thrown out in another place, particularly after what the noble Earl on the Treasury Bench said when he remarked that he was prepared to keep the clause, even as amended, which is practically an accept——
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I think that is really a misunderstanding. Lord Selborne's point was different. I am afraid that, as we have just divided against it, that gives an indication that the Amendment was unacceptable.
§ LORD ASKWITH
The Amendment was unacceptable, but more acceptable than the loss of the clause altogether.
§ LORD ASKWITH
As I think there is more chance- of Lord Selborne's Amendment getting through the House of Commons, if it. is left as it is, I am prepared to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause 5, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8:
§ Provision for temporary payment of benefit.
§ 8. Where it is not practicable to ascertain in the case of any person who would, if the provisions of this Act relating to disqualification for the receipt of unemployment benefit and repealing section forty-four of the principal Act, had not passed, have been entitled to receive such benefit, whether he does or does not satisfy the requirements of section three of the Act of 1921, the Minister may during the period of six weeks next after the passing of this Act authorise payment of benefit to that person as if he were a person who had complied with those requirements.
§ LORD ASKWITH
May I ask the noble Earl what the meaning of Clause 8 really is? I have tried very hard to make out what it means, but it has a great many references. Does it mean this: that whether a man or woman does or does not satisfy the requirements of Section 3 of the Act of 1921, the Minister may for six weeks give payment of benefit according to his discretion? If so, it would mean that any one who chose, either through stupidity or on purpose, to go and tell a few stories at the Employment Exchange, would satisfy the requirements of Section 3 and would be able to get paid. This would increase the objectionable system of the wrong people getting grants. I cannot understand the clause.
§ THE EARL OF CLARENDON
I endeavoured to explain the meaning of the clause on the Second Reading, and if I may be allowed 40 do so, I should like to repeat the explanation. It enables the eight weeks' benefit to be continued for the time being, where it is already being drawn, whilst inquiries are being made as to the other qualifications of the applicant for benefit.
§ Clause 8 agreed to.
§ Clauses 9 and 10 agreed to.
§ Clause 11:
§ Amendment of Part II of First Schedule to 10 and 11 Geo. V., c. 30.
§ 11. Part II of the First Schedule to the principal Act as amended by the Second Schedule to 926 the Act of 1921, shall have effect as though there were inserted at the end of paragraph (d) thereof the following words: "and provided further that in the ease of employment under a local or other public authority relative to the superannuation of persons in that employment, the Minister may, if any enactment provides for the aggregation of service in that employment under two or more employers, whether the service has been continuous or not, treat such service for the purposes of the foregoing provision as if it had been service in the same employment."
THE EARL OF CLARENDON moved, after "inserted" to insert—
therein after paragraph (c) the following new paragraph—
(cc) employment otherwise than in a temporary capacity as a member of any police force to which the Police Act, 1919, applies:
and as though there were inserted therein.
§ The noble Earl said: This Amendment is intended to have the effect of excepting from the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act permanent members of the police force. Under Part II of the First Schedule of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920, there are two classes of employment excepted from the provisions of the Act. The first class is definitely excepted under the provisions of the Schedule, in which every class of employment is included; in paragraph (d) of the Schedule, the Minister of Labour has discretion to grant exception when certain conditions are satisfied. It has been represented by police authorities in the country that the police force as a whole should be brought within the class of employment which is definitely excepted by the terms of the Schedule, and taken out of the class in respect of which the Minister has discretion. The clause was inserted in the Report stage in another place, and the Minister gave an undertaking that he would endeavour to secure the Amendment. The 'Ionic Office agree with the proposal, which we made to give effect to the Minister's undertaking.
Clause III, page 5, line 26, after ("inserted") insert the said words.—(The Earl of Clarendon.)
Page 5, line:36, at end insert ("and paragraph (ii) of paragraph (d) of the said Part II. is hereby repealed").—(The Earl of Clarendon.)
§ Clause 11, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clauses 12 to 14 agreed to.927
THE EARL OF CLARENDON moved, after Clause 14, to insert the following clause:
15. For the purposes of section six of the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, this Act shall be deemed to be an Act passed before the appointed day.
The noble Earl said: Power is taken under the Government of Ireland Act to enable the Irish Government by Order to make the necessary adaptations in applying the Act to Ireland before the Appointed Day. The present Bill will become law after the Appointed Day. This clause is therefore necessary to bring it within the general provisions under which the Irish Government are given power to adapt the Statute administratively without fresh legislation.
After Clause 14 insert the said new clause.—(The Earl of Clarendon.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I hope the Lord Chancellor will be good enough to explain the real meaning and import of this clause. I do not pretend that I fully understand it, but it is proposed by this clause that the Bill, so far as it relates to Ireland, shall be deemed to have been passed before the Appointed Day. That is to say, that it shall be brought into the same category as all Acts of Parliament which were passed before the new state of things in Ireland. I should certainly have thought that the simplest Amendment would have been that "This Bill shall not apply to Ireland." Why should we go on legislating for Ireland? What in the world is the good of all the trouble we took in the autumn it we are going to legislate for Ireland instead of saying simply that henceforth matters which concern Ireland alone shall be dealt with by the Irish Legislatures? Why have this wonderful process, that an Act of Parliament passed after Home Rule, shad be deemed to have been passed before Home Rule, in order that the Irish Parliament should in some way be relieved of the necessity of dealing with this subject?
There may be a good reason for it, but surely it is not the kind of clause which is passed at the end of a sitting, without any explanation being given. The noble Earl—may I tell him with respect that he has conducted the Bill with great ability and lucidity all through—really did not give any reason at all for this Amendment. 928 It is not a purely drafting Amendment which may be inserted at any time. It is an Amendment which is to relieve the two Legislatures of Ireland of the necessity of dealing with this subject. I should have thought it was a matter of great importance, because what has really happened is that the Government forgot about Ireland. This wonderful Government, whose Departments do not consult one another, had forgotten about Ireland, and did not remember when they drafted this Bill that the Home Rule Act had become law. I imagine that was the reason. Then they had to produce this Amendment.
I do not complain of their producing this Amendment, but I should have thought that the simple course was to say that "This Act shall not apply to Ireland," and then the Ulster Legislature would deal with the subject in Northern Ireland, and the Crown Colony Legislature would deal with it in Southern Ireland. Or is this really a way of conferring some financial benefit upon Ireland? I cannot help guessing that is the reason, because I always notice that when this sort of clause is inserted it is generally to save the Irish people money, or to confer money upon them. Now that we are starting two domestic Legislatures in the country why should this be done?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am so crushed by the sarcasm with which the noble Marquess alluded to the wonderful Government of which I am a humble member, that I address myself with anxiety to the question which he has asked. I am sure, if the noble Marquess will continue to brood over our excellences, he will gradually become even more genuinely convinced of them. As to the particular illustration of them which he invites me to give, let me disarm criticism by saying that on the general principle I am entirely with him. We passed the Government of Ireland Act without any very constant or enthusiastic support from the noble Marquess, but that circumstance, of course, does not disentitle hint from arguing that, when once we have passed it, it is our duty to let those whom we have, so to speak, set, up in life with an establishment, address themselves to their own business. It would, of course, be an incomplete answer to say that the establishment which we provided for the South of Ireland has up to the present not been tenanted by those for whose convenience it was provided.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I know, but the number is inadequate, as the noble Marquess will recall, under the terms of the Act itself; but the real explanation of this provision is an historical one. The House will remember that in the Government of Ireland Act power was taken to enable the Irish Government, by an Order, to make any adaptation in a very convenient form that might be necessary in applying to Ireland Acts passed before the Appointed Day. We did not think it necessary to deprive the Irish Parliaments of a convenience of which, if and when they are set up, they will certainly avail themselves, and, although the present Bill will become law after the Appointed Day, there were commitments in relation to it of a kind which one always finds in a Bill which is riot an original Bill but the creature of an earlier one. The principal Bill, indeed, carried this Bill in its womb, in the sense that it was, on the face of it, a Bill which could not finally deal with the difficulty; and I have not the least doubt that other progeny in time will be born, even of this Bill.
I think nobody will dispute the reasonableness of bringing this Bill within the operation of the general provisions under which the Irish Governments are given power to adapt Statutes administratively without fresh legislation. That is really all that this clause does, and as showing how unobjectionable the clause is, let me remind the noble Marquess that a Bill recently passed through this House which I think engaged the attention of the noble Marquess himself—I mean the Dentists Bill. That Bill contains precisely the same clause, and for precisely the same reason. So far as I remember the noble Marquess received it with a ready and cheerful assent, or at any rate without open protest, and the reason in this case is just the same as the reason for accepting it in the case of the Dentists Bill.
§ Clause 15 agreed to.
§ The Schedule agreed to.
§ Then (Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended) Amendments reported; Bill read 33 and passed, and returned to the Commons.