HL Deb 31 July 1925 vol 62 cc650-80

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE in the Chair.]

Clause 1.

Contributory pensions for widows, orphans, and persons between the ages of 65 and 70.

1.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Act relating to the payment of contributions (including payments out of moneys provided by Parliament) and otherwise, pensions shall be payable as follows, that is to say—

(b) in respect of the orphan children while under the age hereinafter specified of an insured man or of an insured widow, a pension at the rate of seven shillings and sixpence per week for each such child (in this Act called an "orphan's pension").

LORD ARNOLD moved, in paragraph (b) of subsection (1), to leave out "widow" and insert "married woman". The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with a small point, but it raises an important principle. The point is so small and the principle is so important that I think there is a very strong case to put before the Government for accepting the Amendment. The matter is a little complicated, but I think I can explain it to your Lordships in comparatively few words. Under the Bill as it now stands, to obtain an orphan's pension the orphan must be the child of an insured man or an insured widow. That is to say, when an insured woman marries an uninsured man and both parents die, the orphan children will not get any pension or allowance unless either (1), the man dies first and the widow continues to be insured, in which case they will get pensions after the widow has died; or (2), the man becomes on marriage a voluntary contributor. There cannot, I think, be any dispute as regards the justice of what I am proposing. The difficulty raised does involve an important principle and a considerable injustice, which depends simply upon the question whether, in the case of orphan children such I have described, the husband or the wife dies first. That is the determining factor, and it is, of course, purely a matter of accident.

Consider the position. If the Bill remains as it is, the woman may be contributing under this scheme from the age of 16 until she is over 60 and, if she has an uninsured husband—that is, a man who, owing to the contributory principle about which I spoke at length on the Second Reading, does not come into the scheme and is not insured—she may contribute for all those years and, if she then dies, perhaps just before she is 65, she will not get any benefit whatever for her contributions. There would be no widow's pension and no orphans' pension if she died after her husband, and further she would get no old age pension unless she remained insured until the age of 65 or became a voluntary contributor earlier.

Let me put a specific case. Take the case of an insured woman who is a breadwinner and who has married, say, a disabled man who cannot work or can work only very little, and who is not insured. The Minister of Health in another place said, when this matter was brought forward, that the man could become a voluntary contributor. That is true enough, if he can afford it; but many of the men in these cases cannot afford it, and that fact, therefore, by no means covers the ground or meets the position. Consequently a woman bread-winner might have been paying insurance contributions for forty or forty-five years without gaining any advantage from the Bill. In particular it seems to me a very great hardship that, if she dies first, her husband dies after her and there are orphan children within the meaning of the Act, they get no pension at all.

The cases, I quite admit, must be very few, but that consideration is of great advantage from the point of view of the Government, because it means that to give this concession would cost very little. Obviously there must be very few cases of an insured woman married to an uninsured husband, where the woman dies first and there are children below the age of fourteen, or of sixteen, if still going to school. I am unable to give the actuarial cost, but it must come to very little, and there is a real grievance. This matter was brought up in another place, but in a slightly different form, which might have involved complications in the case of single women or illegitimate children. The Amendment on the Paper avoids any complications of that sort. Lord Askwith's Amendment also avoids them, and I am not sure whether, as it is worded, it is not preferable to my own, and if it is I should be very glad to give way and allow his Amendment to be inserted in the Bill.

I think I have said sufficient to show that there is a real injustice here, and there is, think, a very strong reason why the Government should accept the Amendment. The Government may say that there are administrative difficulties, that it is not easy, for instance, in the ease of a woman who dies, and then her husband dies after a lapse, say, of ten years, leaving children, and that then you have got to go back and see how the woman stood in her insurance. If that is the line which the Government are going to take, that position can be met by throwing the onus of proof upon the claimants. If they cannot make good their case then there will be no allowance paid, and they will be no worse off than they are under the Bill as it stands now, because they get nothing now. There must, however, be cases where such proof can be given, and I therefore strongly press the Amendment upon the Government.

The Bill has to go to another place, anyhow, because several Amendments are going to be inserted at the instance of the Government, and, humanly speaking, I think one can guarantee that there will be no trouble over this Amendment in another place. If I may, I would plead with the noble Marquess to accept this small Amendment, partly on the grounds which I have just stated, but also in view of the strong case which I have been able to make. He has always treated us on these Benches with the greatest courtesy, consideration and fairness. We appreciate that, and ask him if he cannot grant this Amendment as a small encouragement, so that we may feel that, although our numbers are few and we cannot prevail in the Division Lobby, yet we do not always move Amendments in vain.

Amendment moved— Page 1, line 22, leave out ("widow") and insert ("married woman").—(Lord Arnold.)


Before the noble Marquess replies, as the noble Lord has referred to my Amendment [to insert, after "widow," "or of the insured wife of an uninsured man"] and expressed his readiness to take either of the Amendments, I think I may say that I am of his opinion, in one sense, and rather agree with him that the words of my Amendment are to be preferred, because I have a feeling that the word "widow" ought to stand. I think I can put the case very shortly indeed, for I know of a typical ease in Lambeth where this sort of thing has occurred. A woman was insured for years. Her husband was a cripple and not insured, and I believe was unable to do any work. There are two children under fourteen. The woman dies, the man dies a fortnight afterwards, and the children have no allowance. That is a typical instance of the kind of case intended to be provided for by these Amendments. It seems to me that this is really a casus omissus in the Bill, which I hope the noble Marquess will see remedied.


I need not say that it is my wish, and not only my wish, but the wish of all my colleagues on these Benches, to treat not only the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, and his colleagues, but all noble Lords, with that courtesy which I am glad to say is a distinguishing mark of your Lordships' House. If I could see my way to accept the Amendment moved in such kindly terms by the noble Lord I would do so, but I would ask him to remember that it is really impossible to cover all the hard cases in a Bill of this kind. It is quite evident that under a Bill of a far-reaching character, touching very subtle points and necessarily with very subtle distinctions, you must have a certain number of hard cases, and the only point for your Lordships is whether this matter is of such substantial importance that the insertion of this Amendment in the Bill is to be preferred over the administrative difficulties which might arise under it. I think I may lay it down as the main principle not only of this Bill, but of all legislation in this country, that the man, the husband, the father, while he it; alive, is looked upon as the bread-winner of the family, and therefore on the face of it the cases which the noble Lord has put, quite fairly, of the children of a widow who survives her husband, and the children of a widower who survives his wife, are fundamentally different. The widower who survives his wife is responsible, as he always has been according to English law, for the maintenance of his children in a way far more obligatory, by our practice and theory, than is the widow, and therefore there is this distinction.

But the noble Lord thinks this case is a hard case which ought to be remedied, and he conceives the case of a family in which the wife was insured and the husband was not, the wife pre-deceases her husband, and the children lose all the rights they otherwise would have had. Well, they do not lose, as the noble Lord himself admitted, all their rights, because it is clear from the Bill that the husband may become himself a voluntary contributor, and therefore may enter into the full privileges of insurance, and of course the children after him would benefit and get the full allowances which are provided under the Bill. Therefore, from the very limited number of cases which, as the noble Lord admitted, would in any case arise, you must eliminate a further category—namely, that in which the husband avails himself of this power and becomes an insured person as a voluntary contributor.

There is left only the very limited number of cases where the widower is unable to become a voluntary contributor. But they must be a very small number of cases. The great number of instances, I apprehend, in which the wife is insured and the husband is not insured is where the husband is a man of more or less independent means, a shopkeeper or something of that kind, and the wife is insured because she was insured before she married and keeps up her insurance still. I suggest that the cases where those people are in very poor circumstances and the husband is unable to avail himself of the privilege of becoming a voluntary subscriber are very few. Then we have to balance against meeting that particular case the administrative difficulty. As I understand from the noble Lord, the pension would be suspended while the crippled husband was alive and it would only be operative when the husband followed his wife to the grave. Is that so?




So observe. The crippled husband would be able to support his wife during his life time, and one would imagine he could only become a voluntary contributor by using the same resources which enabled him to support his children while he lived. Then the administrative difficulty arises. Finally, the husband dies, perhaps fifteen years after the insured wife died. How are we to trace the history of the case? These things are scattered all over the country. No doubt the cases will not be very many, but they will not be confined to large areas where records are easily available. I am advised that the administrative difficulty would be very great indeed. We consider that for the purpose of meeting this very limited case which I have tried to describe they would be too great. For this reason we can hardly accept the Amendment. I may say that as the words stand the Amendment would really go much too far, because it would cut out the insured widow, too, but no doubt that is an accident and could be put right.


I am very much obliged to the noble Marquess for his very full reply. I am, of course, disappointed and I still think that the balance of argument is in favour of the acceptance of the Amendment. I should prefer the Amendment to be negatived rather than withdrawn.

On Question, Amendment negatived.


who had on the Paper an Amendment, in paragraph (b) of subsection (1), after "widow," to insert "or of the insured wife of an uninsured man," said: I associate myself with the noble Lord opposite and will not move this Amendment.

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 agreed to.

Clause 3:

Widows' Pensions.

(2) A widow's pension shall continue to be payable until the widow attains the age of seventy unless she re-marries before attaining that age, in which case the pension shall cease except in respect of such part thereof, if any, as is payable by way of additional allowance in respect of children.

(3) An additional allowance shall, subject as hereinafter provided, be paid to the widow together with and as part of the pension.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved to leave out all the words in subsection (2) after "cease" and also to add to subsection (3) the following proviso: Provided that if for any reason other than the death of the widow, the widow's pension ceases to be payable before the expiration of the time during which an additional allowance is payable, such cessor shall not affect the continuance of the additional allowance.

The noble Marquess said: It would probably be convenient that I should describe these Amendments together. The proviso is really directed to filling a little gap left in the House of Commons. The Amendment put in, in that House, was intended to cover this point, that where for any reason a widow's pension came to an end it was unfair—so it was thought, and rightly thought—that the allowances for the children should also come to an end and they were continued. But when the Amendment was made it was not observed that it only applied in the case of widows of insured persons who died after the passing of the Act, and there was left out the case of the children of widows whose husbands died before the passing of the Act. In that case there is a pension to the widow' of limited duration during the young life of the children, and if that came to an end for any reason—there are several reasons why it might come to an end—then, as the Bill is now drafted, the children's allowances would lapse with it. It is in order to make that good that these consequential Amendments are inserted.

Amendments moved—

Page 3, line 19, leave out from ("cease") to the end of line 21.—

Page 3, line 24, at end insert the said proviso.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 3, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 4 and 5 agreed to.

CLAUSE 6 [Special provisions as to additional allowances and widows' and orphans' pensions]:

LORD BUCKMASTER moved to add the following new subsection:— () Where on the representation by the local authority, or from any court, the Minister is satisfied that it is in the interests of any woman entitled to a widow's pension that the pension should not be paid to her but should be applied for the benefit of the widow and the children (if any), he may direct that the pension including any additional allowance shall be paid to the local authority or to some other person approved by him to be administered by the local authority or that person for the benefit of the widow and the children (if any).

The noble and learned Lord said: This Amendment seeks to introduce into the Bill a subsection which was originally in the Bill when it was introduced in another place, but with a certain modification, which, though slight, I think might have had a very material influence on the fortune of that subsection when it came to be discussed. The Amendment provides that when it is clear that in the interests of a woman her pension ought not to be paid to her it should be applied, either through the local authority or some appointed person, for the benefit of the woman and her children. At the present moment there is no such provision in the Bill at all. The nearest approach to it is to be found in Clause 6 (2) where it is provided, in respect of an additional allowance, that if a woman has deserted or abandoned or ceased to support the children or has become disqualified from receiving a widow's pension, the money may be administered in the interests of the child.

There are one or two instances that I would like to place before you in regard to the eases which this Amendment is designed to cover. It will be observed that if the woman is disqualified the whole thing ceases, but disqualification can only take place for certain specified causes. One is prolonged and, I suppose, notorious cohabitation with some person to whom she is not married, and the others are in the Third Schedule of the Bill. Those cases are where a woman be comes an inmate of a workhouse or is detained in a lunatic asylum, or is convicted of an offence and ordered to be imprisoned without the option of a fine. Those are the only grounds for which the disqualification for the receipt of a pension exists.

Therefore, the position is that a woman may be a notorious drunkard, sentenced again and again at the police court, but not sent to prison without the option of a fine. She will still be receiving a pension and, to the knowledge of all the people in the locality, she will be completely incapable of applying that money for the purpose for which it was designed. She may be, not an inmate of an asylum, but a person of weak intellect, who cannot possibly use that money for the purposes for which the national aid and employers' subscriptions have been designed. You could also make many further suggestions. She might be in the hands of a moneylender. It is perfectly true that the pension is not assignable; but it is equally true that a woman may get into the hands of a moneylender and may be paying week after week money which ought to be used for some other purpose, under the conditions of the loan and under terms grossly extortionate. That ought not to be permitted, and I suggest there should be some means of securing that the money which is going to the woman, partly public money and partly the employers money, should be used for her benefit and the benefit of her children through the administration of the local authority or some other body—the body which is already dealing with the care of the children if she abandons them.

An objection was taken to the corresponding clause in the original Bill in another place and in the end the Government withdrew it; I never could quite see why. Having read the debate, one thing is plain—that the original debate objected to words which are not found in my Amendment. The original clause as it stood contained this provision— Where on the representation by the local authority or any court or otherwise… It was argued that "otherwise" means that any busybody might complain and that the Minister might be influenced by somebody he met at dinner, or by some other indirect means, and that you would be placing this woman at the mercy of a perfectly obscure and unknown complainant. It seemed to me that there was some force in that contention. I have left those words out and inserted in their place: Where on the representation by the local authority, or from any court… Had those words been in the Bill as originally drafted the objection in another place would not have been taken.

Once the objection was taken a considerably prolonged debate took place upon it and I am bound to say, having read the report all through, that I find very little of it directly applicable to the real point that has to be considered. But the Government said: "We will withdraw the clause." In my judgment they ought not to have withdrawn it. They ought to have modified it in the manner I suggest, or in some equivalent way, and so have retained this protection. I protest utterly against the view which found expression more than once in the debate—that because a woman had subscribed for this she is therefore at liberty to waste it exactly as she pleases. I agree that there should not be anything in the nature of inquisitorial investigations as to the way it is done; but whenever a local authority or a court says: "This woman is unfit to have the custody of this money; she will spend it in the public house and the children will never get a farthing of it"; the time has come when the local authority, or someone appointed by them, should administer that money.

It is for the benefit of the woman as much as for anybody, as the Amendment in terms states, that I am moving my Amendment. Every one of us recognises—we have all expressed our view upon it again and again—the extreme disadvantage in which this House stands in considering Bills of this consequence at this period of the year. We are all agreed about it. The Government are not to blame; they cannot help it. We know there will be this feeling. If this Amendment is put into the Bill it will go down to another place. They have already rejected something similar and it may lead to prolonged debate and they will send it back again. The Amendment is proposed in order that there should be a proper application of the funds and I trust that your Lordships will accept it.

Amendment moved— Page 5, line 43, at end insert the said new subsection.—(Lord Buckmaster.)


I need not say how cordially I agree with the closing words of the noble and learned Lord's speech concerning the great difficulty in which your Lordships' House is placed in considering very important Bills full of great complication, Bills upon which your Lordships' opinion would be very valuable because of your knowledge of affairs, at a period of the Session when it is extremely difficult to carry out our work effectually. I have often said so when holding a position of greater freedom and less responsibility and I still adhere to the view. But the noble and learned Lord has said most justly and considerately that he knows we are not to blame in the matter.

As to the merits of this Amendment, I need not say that on the face of it I have great sympathy with it, for two reasons: first, because it was subject to the very important modification to which the noble and learned Lord has called attention when the clause was originally in the Bill; secondly, because on the merits of the Amendment what the noble Lord has said has great weight. We fully recognise that in the case of the children and the additional allowances, it may be necessary, where the widow has proved herself unfit to administer them, to take them out of her hands. The noble and learned Lord proposes as it were to extend the principle so that it may touch the widow herself and not merely her children. I do not mean this quite literally, but that the broad principle should be extended, and naturally we have great sympathy with that. The noble and learned Lord has a considerable advantage over me in that he has fully read the debate in the House of Commons. I do not find the least fault with him, I need not say, for the reason I have stated, but as his Amendment only appeared on the Paper this morning I have not been able to familiarise myself with the full details of what passed in another place. I have, however, made myself acquainted with the facts to this extent.

The original clause was struck out practically by the unanimous wish of the Opposition in another place. So far as I know, there was no dissentient voice whether from the Labour or the Liberal Benches. Indeed a very eloquent speech was delivered by a very distinguished colleague of the noble and learned Lord, Sir Alfred Mond, urging the Government to abandon the clause. Therefore, it is a little difficult to ask us to go back upon the decision which was then arrived at. The noble and learned Lord said that the bulk of the debate was upon the words "or otherwise." That may be so. But I think he will agree that this was not altogether the argument. In the speech of the distinguished colleague to which I have referred, a good deal of weight was placed upon not adding complexity to an already complicated Bill. Honourable gentlemen belonging to the Labour Party were averse from leaving it in the power even of a magistrate to make representations which would put the clause in force. The noble and learned Lord retains the magistrate; but I suppose a "court" means any court of summary jurisdiction?




Or two magistrates or even one magistrate?




I am afraid it would be impossible, as I am sure he will recognise, for us to accept his Amendment straight off, in face of what I have said. It is clear that an argument might be developed that all magistrates are not wise, that even two magistrates speaking together are not wise, that they might become very inquisitorial in country districts and might hold strong views on special kinds of moral obliquity which would drive them to interfere with widows who, if not perhaps perfect from the moral point of view, were not at all unfitted to look after their children and to administer their pensions.

I am afraid the noble Lord's friends in another place would be rather unwilling to give this power to the "great unpaid"—I think that is how they are described when one wishes to be offensive (noble Lords never are) to the magistrates—who might have special views of a rather inquisitorial character, and in that way these women might be exposed to a kind of persecution. I have great respect for the noble and learned Lord and his opinion, but the most I can do is to promise to consider his Amendment between now and Report. I could not possibly accept it now. I am afraid it might have a formidable effect in the House of Commons. I would look into it if he would take that amount of concession and not press it now, because I confess the Government are not oppose to the merits of the clause which formed part of the original Bill.


It is obvious from what the noble Marquess has said that there is no real answer to the clause. The objections that were put forward in another place were objections which I venture to think do not bear examination. The contention that the court would consist, perhaps, of busybodies is absurd. Moreover, it is not only the court. The court have to represent the matter to the Ministry and they have to be satisfied that it is in the interests of the woman that the things should be done. I notice that the noble Marquess referred to matters which found their way into the debate in another place. I cannot think why it was ever thought that this was intended to be some kind of a moral scourge to a woman. Indeed, it is not so. Even if the woman were living a life of open, flagrant immorality, as this clause stands, unless it was proved it was in her interest, you could not take the money away. By all means, if you think fit, extend and expand and define it in any manner you please where the woman is, by the weakness of her character, notoriously unfit to have the charge of the spending of the money. That is the real purpose of the Amendment. It is designed in the interest of the women. I am grateful to the noble Marquess for his promise to examine the matter further, and I will not put the House to the inconvenience of a Division, but I feel sure that the more this is examined the more reasons will be found in favour of this Amendment.


My Lords, I hope my noble friend Lord Salisbury will consider the proposal carefully. It seems to me that the noble and learned Lord opposite has made out an excellent case for his Amendment. I myself do not attach much importance to the fear, which apparently was expressed in another place, as to what magistrates might do. I think, taking them on the whole, they are a sensible body of people, who give fairly good decisions, but as the noble and learned Lord pointed out, they are not the people who determine this. They only recommend to the Minister. The Minister then determines. I must confess that I am not very much influenced by the fact that the whole of the Opposition in another place, including Sir Alfred Mond, were against the Amendment. I should have been rather inclined to say that that fact was sufficient evidence that the Amendment ought to be accepted.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 12 agreed to.

Clause 13 [Voluntary contributors]:


The Amendments to this clause standing in my name are practically drafting. They are in order to bring the general provisions of Clause 13 as regards exempted and excepted persons into line with the provisions of Clause 14 and Clause 15. Clauses 14 and 15 deal with people who were employed before the passing of the Act, and who have become voluntary contributors later. It is necessary to bring their case into line with that of others in Clause 13, and these Amendments are accordingly moved.

Amendments moved—

Page 12, line 34, after ("ceases") insert ("or has ceased")

Page 12, line 36, after ("ceases") insert ("or has ceased").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 13, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 14 agreed to.

Clause 15 [Persons employed in excepted employments]:


I have to propose drafting Amendments.

Amendments moved—

Page 16, line 15, leave out ("any other paragraph or")

Page 16, lines 19 and 20, leave out ("other paragraph or")

Page 17, line 33, after ("to") insert ("a")

Page 17, line 34, leave out ("paragraphs") and insert ("paragraph")

Page 17, line 36, leave out ("paragraphs") and insert ("paragraph").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 15, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 16 and 17 agreed to.

Clause 18:

Widow's and orphans' pensions when husband or parent died before the commencement of Act.

18.—A widow's pension shall be payable to the widow of a man who died before the commencement of this Act, and an orphan's pension shall be payable in respect of the orphan child of a man or widow who died before the commencement of this Act, in the like circumstances and under the like conditions as if the husband, father, or mother, as the case may be had died immediately after the commencement of this Act and had then been under the age of seventy; and the foregoing provisions of this Act relating to such pensions shall apply accordingly, subject however to the following modifications:—

  1. (a)the deceased husband, father, or mother shall be deemed to have been insured at the time of his or her death, for the purpose of this Act, if he or she would have been or would have been deemed to have been so insured by virtue of any employment if this Act had been then in force, and the decision of the Minister on any question whether a person would have been so insured or deemed to have been so insured shall be final and conclusive;
  2. (b) the deceased husband, father or mother, as the case may be, if deemed to be so insured, shall be deemed to be the person in respect, of whose insurance the pension is payable;
  3. (c) a widow's pension shall be payable only if the widow has not remarried before the commencement of this Act, and if at the commencement of this Act there is living at least one child of the marriage, or of any former marriage of either parent, under the age of fourteen: Provided that if no widow's pension is payable by reason of there being no child under the age of fourteen, but there is a child over the age of fourteen in respect of whom an additional allowance would be payable if the widow were eneitled to a widow's pension, an additional allowance shall be payable in respect of that child.
  4. (d) a widow's pension shall cease to be payable at the expiration of six months from the date on which the pension ceases to include any additional allowance as part thereof or on which the youngest child attains the age of fourteen, whichever is the earlier;
  5. (e) of the statutory conditions required to be complied with, condition (b) shall not apply, and condition (a) shall be deemed to have been complied with if the Minister, whose decision shall be final and conclusive, is satisfied that the normal occupation of the person in respect of whose insurance the pension is payable was at the time of his or her death such as would have been employment in respect of which contributions would have been payable under this Act if this Act had been then in force.

LORD ASKWITH moved to omit the proviso to paragraph (c) and to insert "or the age not exceeding sixteen up to which the child remains in full-time instruction in a school." The noble Lord said: I am asked to bring forward this Amendment with regard to widows of men who died before the commencement of the Act, so as to provide that when such a widow has children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, and not exceeding sixteen, and her child remains in full-time instruction in a school up to the age of sixteen, she shall have this benefit. I have taken these words from those applying to pensions that are given to orphans as set forth in Clause 1, subsection (2). That states that the specified age in relation to any child shall be the age of fourteen or the age, not exceeding sixteen, up to which the child remains under full-time instruction in a day school. I beg to move.

Amendment moved— Page 19, line 28, leave out from ("fourteen") to the end of line 36, and insert ("or the age not exceeding sixteen up to which the child remains in full-time instruction in a school").—(Lord Askwith.)


In this ease the noble Lord proposes to extend the privilege to the case of a child up to the age of sixteen who is still at school. The noble Lord ought to remember, I think, that in the case of the ordinary widow the privilege will only extend until six months after the youngest child is fourteen. The noble Lord would give a sort of preferential position to the case he mentions. That is really not defensible. Although the sum of money involved in his Amendment is not a very great one—I do not think it is more than £180,000—yet when the case of the ordinary widow is covered a much larger sum would be involved. It would involve a cost of something over £1,000,000, and I am afraid we have exhausted all our margins actuarially under the Bill, and we can hardly face an additional expense. For this reason I hope my noble friend will not press the Amendment.


After what the noble Marquess has said I cannot mess the Amendment, but I would remind him of the words of Clause 1 which specify that children from the age of fourteen and up to the age of sixteen, if they remain at school, are to be given this benefit.


I have only just looked at this Amendment, and have not been able to familiarise myself with the position as fully as I should like, but I think there is some slight misunderstanding. The noble Lord pointed out that in the ordinary case, if a child remains at school till sixteen, then the pension goes on, and this Amendment is applying that principle to the case of widows whose husbands died before the Act comes into operation. In that case the pension is to cease, I think, six months after the age of fourteen. What the noble Lord now proposes is that this case shall be brought into line with the normal case covered by the Bill. It seems to me that there are strong reasons why that should be done.


The point is this, that the subsection which the noble Lord wishes to amend only deals with the case of the child of a man who has attained the age of seventy. That would involve a small amount of money, but, consequentially, the Government would have to cover the cases or children of men who died before the passing of this Bill; and the argument is quite as strong in that case as in the other. It that were admitted then a large sum of money is involved. No doubt it is my fault for not making the matter quite clear.


Under subsection (2) of Clause 1 the orphans of a man who died before the passing of the Bill get it now between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, if they remain at school under full-time instruction.


The case which the noble Lord is referring to is that of the widow of a man who died after the passing of this Bill.


All I can do is to ask the noble Marquess to look into the matter again. The point, is much smaller than he imagines it is.


I will certainly look into the matter again.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved to leave out Clause 18. The noble Lord said: The Bill is founded on the principle that no benefit shall be given unless there is some contribution on the part of the person who is to receive benefit. That is the whole foundation of the measure. The Labour Party object to that on the ground that in their opinion a pension should not depend upon any subscription or contribution by the person who is to receive the benefit, but that it should be a sum of money given without any contribution from the person himself. The whole foundation of the Bill, and its defence by the Government, has been that this is a contributory measure. I have not looked it up, but I think one of the reasons the Prime Minister gave for bringing in a Bill of this sort was that old age pensions were not contributory and that it would he better to put the whole of the various pensions now in existence, or coming into existence, on a contributory basis.

This clause is not on a contributory basis, and the only defence made by the Minister in charge of the Bill in another place was that it was a little one. We had an example only yesterday of what occurs when you give way on a question of principle. Yesterday the noble Earl, the Lord Chairman, said that electrical fittings could be sold in certain instances and that the whole question should be looked into because certain concessions had been made to municipalities for letting electrical fittings and, therefore, that as that concession had been made it might be just as well to go a little further and see whether certain other concessions could be made to the municipalities.

If, before the Bill has become an Act, we are going to put in a clause which is non-contributory, what force will be given to the argument of the Labour Party who say that none of it should be contributory? I can foresee perfectly well that in two or three years' time people will say: We must extend this Clause 18, the principle has been admitted in this clause and it must be extended. I should not be in the least surprised, after what has taken place to-day to find that even the Conservative Party will surrender the principle and say that, having given way once, having admitted the non-contributory principle into the Bill, we had better go a little further yet. I sincerely hope, although there are not a large number of your Lordships present to-day, that the Government will consider their position and will maintain their original idea, which was that this Bill was to be on a contributory basis.

Amendment moved— Leave out Clause 18.—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)


No one can deny that the noble Lord is a master of logic as well as all the other weapons of debate, but, mercifully, your Lordships' House is like the rest of your countrymen in that you are not governed by strict logic and I shall be able to show that the application of strict logic in this case would land us in an absurdity. Let the noble Lord conceive the contrast between the case of the family of a man who died just after the passing of this Bill and the man who died just before it became an Act. There are probably children. Their mother has a pension of 10s., the eldest child has an additional allowance of 5s. until it is fourteen or sixteen, as the case may be, and the other children have 3s. each. Then you turn to the nest door neighbour where the husband died a few months earlier. There is no provision there for the children at all.

That is a contrast which I am quite sure could not be sustained in any argument upon any platform in this country. It is not the case of the woman, hard though that ease be. She is probably a young woman, and may be expected to be able to earn something. It is the case of the children. A woman only has a pension, in the case contemplated by Clause 18, so long as her children are of tender age, that is to say, the pension is granted, not to her, she has it in right of her children so that she may be able to protect them. But the children themselves are to be, and quite illogically, agree, treated in a special position.

When I spoke on the Second Reading to the Bill I said that one of its objects was to protect the rising generation, to take care that they had a chance of being brought up, not only in their own interest, but in the interest of the country, under conditions which might lead to their being healthy and efficient citizens. If this Amendment is carried that would have to be abandoned in respect of all those children whose fathers died just before the passing of the Bill into an Act. And that would be an application of logic from which your Lordships will shrink, and as far as His Majesty's Government are concerned they can have nothing whatever to do with the Amendment of the noble Lord.


May I remind the noble Marquess that only a moment ago, when the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, moved an Amendment, he rejected it on the ground that no doubt it was a hard case which he would like to meet, but that there must always be hard cases?


I said it was a very rare case.


Yes, hard and rare. Still it was a hard case, and the Amendment was rejected on that ground. No doubt if my Amendment were carried and the clause left out there would be certain harder cases, but that you cannot help. If the Bill has been introduced in order to deal with every hard case, I do not know where the money is coming from.


The noble Marquess has pointed out with great truth that my noble friend is a master of logic. May I appeal to him on this ground: that the sooner we allow this Bill to come into operation the fewer people there will be for this clause to apply to?

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 18 agreed to.

Clause 19:

Pensions of widows and orphans of men over seventy at commencement of Act.

19.—(1) A widows pension shall be payable to the widow of a man who dies after the commencement of this Act and who had attained the age of seventy before the commencement of this Act, if at the time of his death her husband was, or would had he survived the second day of July, nineteen hundred and twenty-six, have been, entitled to an old age pension under the Old Age Pensions Acts, 1908 to 1924, by virtue of the next succeeding section, and if there is living at the time of his death at least one child of the marriage, or of any former marriage of either parent, under the age of fourteen:

Provided that such a pension shall cease to be payable at the expiration of six months from the date on which the pension ceases to include any additional allowance as part thereof or on which the youngest child attains the age of fourteen, whichever is the earlier.

THE MARQUESS Or SALISBURY moved, in the proviso of subsection (1), after "Provided that," to insert: (a) if no widow's pension is payable by reason of there being no child under the age of fourteen, but there is a child over the age of fourteen in respect of whom an additional allowance would be payable if the widow were entitled to a widow's pension, an additional allowance shall be payable in respect of that child; and (b

The noble Marquess said: This deals with the case where the children are between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, and the Amendment is really consequential. It is designed to cover the special case of wives of men who are over seventy at the commencement of the Act, and it brings them into line with the others.

Amendment moved— Page 20, line 21, after ("that") insert the said words.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to

Clause 19, as amended, agreed to

Clauses 20 and 21 agreed to

Clause 22:

Residential qualification of pensioners, &c.

22. A sum shall not be paid on account of a pension—

  1. (a) to or in respect of any person while that person is absent from Great Britain; or
  2. (b) if payment of the sum is not obtained within three months after the date on which it has become payable.

EARL BEAUCHAMP had given Notice to add to paragraph (a): "except when resident in another part of His Majesty's Dominions" The noble Earl said: Having regard to the very welcome statement made by the noble Marquess on the, Second Reading, I do not propose to waste your Lordships' time by moving this Amendment.

Clause 22 agreed to.

Clauses 23 to 28 agreed to

Clause 29 [Claims and Appeals]:


I have a consequential drafting Amendment to this clause. The words "or decision" were inserted in subsection (3) but were omitted from the proviso, and I propose to put them in here.

Amendment moved— Page 30, line 40, after ("award") insert ("or decision").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 29, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 30 to 36 agreed to.

Clause 37:

Termination of certain benefits and contributions of persons over sixty-five.

37.—(1) As from the appointed day the right to sickness and disablement benefit under the Insurance Act and to unemployment benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, 1920 to 1924, shall cease if the person insured thereunder has then attained or on his attaining the age of sixty-five.

(2) As from the appointed day no contributions under the Insurance Act shall be payable by or in respect of a person who has attained the age of sixty-five.

LORD ARNOLD moved to omit from subsection (1) the words "and to unemployment benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, 1920 to 1924." The noble Lord said: This is, if I may say so, an Amendment of great importance. It deals with a situation which I described to your Lordships upon the Second Reading. Briefly, the point is that, under the Bill as it now stands, an insured man who reaches the age of sixty-five is entitled to a pension of 10s, a week for himself, but he is not entitled to a pension of 10s, a week for his wife if she is below the age of sixty-five. As the result of getting this pension of 10s, a week for himself, he falls out of the unemployment benefit altogether, if he should become unemployed. That means that a man may have been paying unemployment contributions under the Unemployment Insurance Acts for a long term of years, contributions which, in the event of unemployment, would entitle him to 18s, a week for himself and 5s, a week for his wife, that is 23s, a week in all. Under this Bill that 23s, a week is to be cut down to 10s, a week. I think that this is an extremely unfair position.

In reply to my observations on the Second Reading, the noble Marquess said that actuarially, looking at the matter as a whole, the benefits which a man will get under this Bill are three and a half times as great as that which he will lose under the unemployment scheme. That statement requires a great deal of qualification and it makes very wide assumptions. Let me take a specific case. Take the case of a man who becomes sixty-five and at once falls out of employment. Naturally, when a man reaches the age of sixty-five he is very much more likely to be without employment than is a younger man. That man lives, let me say, until he is sixty-seven, his wife being five years younger than he. Under this Bill all that he will get is 10s, a week, whereas he would have got 23s, a week, if he were entitled to unemployment benefit, for as long a period as he was entitled to it. There would therefore be a clear loss to this man of 13s, a week, which is a very serious matter. In short, he loses the benefits which he ought to have secured on account of his unemployment contributions and which, without this Bill, he would have secured. The man is definitely put in a worse position owing to this Bill. That is the point that I wish very strongly to impress upon your Lordships.

Now I come to the argument of the noble Marquess on the Second Reading, which was to the effect that this Bill, on the whole, gives greater benefits than those which are taken away. I think I am putting his point fairly. As I have said, there has been a good deal of argument about that point, with which I will not detain your Lordships, but even if, for the sake of discussing the problem. I admit the statistical contention, it was really a very extraordinary doctrine that the noble Marques propounded, as I think I can very easily demonstrate to your Lordships. What does it come to? This Bill is a new social reform measure, and the Government apparently takes up the position that when a new social reform measure is introduced, or when some new benefit of one kind or another is conferred by the action of the central Government upon a certain class of the population, then the Government is quite at liberty, without consulting these people at all and without giving them the slightest opportunity of saying whether they approve or not, to announce their intention to take away some pre-existing benefit. That is the position which the Government has got itself into.

In this connection let me take an example. Last year the Labour Government made a very great advance in the direction of the free breakfast table. They remitted a very large amount of taxation, thus helping the workers to the extent, probably, of £20,000,000 to £25,000,000 a year. Would it therefore have been competent and proper for the Labour Government to say: "We have given the workers £20,000,000 a year and therefore we will stop unemployment benefit for a number of years; on the whole they will be better off, and so it is quite all right"? I say that this is an impossible position for any Government to take up; but it is precisely the position which this Government is taking up. The more the matter is examined, the more clear, I am certain, will it become that their position is quite untenable.

Before sitting down, I think I can put the matter quite shortly in three or four points. First of all, I repeat that no one ought to be placed in a worse position owing to this Bill. At any rate they ought not to be placed in a worse position unless they have been consulted and have agreed to take the risk. In the second place—and this is a vitally important point and one which, if I may say so, ought to appeal to your Lordships very strongly, because it is a point which is brought up so often in connection with the various problems which come before us—what the Government is doing is to commit a breach of contract. There can be no dispute about that. These workers have paid this money over a series of years in order to get certain benefits. That was the contract. Now they find that the benefit is to be taken away from them. That is the position, and although it may be true that in some cases they will be actuarially better off, in other cases they will not be better off, as I have pointed out to your Lordships.

But even if the contention of the noble Marquess be admitted—and I do not admit it for a moment—these people certainly ought to be consulted. This is a very bad precedent that the Government is setting. It is a precedent which may well be brought up again and again in future years. The workers will not know where they are. They will not know whether, some years hence, another social reform measure may not be brought in which may be beneficial to some of them in certain ways, but under which they are to be deprived of benefits to which they ought to be entitled because of the payments which they have made. May I put this point—and it is virtually my last point—What would be thought in this House if, for instance, some future Government said they would reduce the rate of War Loan interest; that since the Loan was issued circumstances had changed a great deal, prices had fallen and the purchasing power of money had increased greatly, and that therefore it was a perfectly proper thing to reduce the rate of interest: that it was not necessary to ask the holders of the Loan for their consent because they could be shown actuarially to be better off? What would noble Lords say if that were to happen? I can clearly picture their attitude. I can think what would be said in this House about breaches of contract, the blow to confidence, that people did not know where they were, and so forth. But that is exactly what the Government are doing with regard to the workers. They are breaking the contract and the people who are paying these monies will have no certain assurance that the benefits to which they are entitled will be forthcoming.

Finally, the position of the Government is quite illogical. The noble Marquess said on the previous Amendment that you cannot be altogether logical in these matters. I am not disagreeing with that observation, but it is quite illogical to say that because people over sixty-five will actuarially, or some of them will or may, get certain benefits therefore you may dock these unemployment benefits. If you are going to work the scheme on that basis then people below sixty-five ought to have something taken away. I do not want to use strong language, but I think it is a very mean and shabby provision which will work very hardly in certain cases. It is an injustice which ought to be put right, and I hope that this opportunity which I am affording the Government of putting it right will be taken advantage of.

Amendment moved— Page 36, line 5, leave out from ("Act") to ("shall") in line 6—(Lord Arnold.)


I am sorry to have to trouble your Lordships with these very intricate financial points, but I must do my best to answer the noble Lord. Let me, first of all, deal with his charge that we are sanctioning a breach of contract. I really do not think that that is so. Your Lordships will remember that the only contract is with reference to covenanted benefits. The uncovenanted benefit is a purely free gift, so far as the country is concerned, and the only covenanted benefit which a man is entitled to is twenty-six weeks' benefit. Therefore you have to compare the twenty-six weeks' benefit with the pension of 10s. per week for life. That is the only fair comparison.

The noble Lord, of course, has assumed the strongest case for his argument, and he has assumed that the wife of the old age pensioner would not also be getting the pension—that she would be under sixty-five years of age. He must, however, also contemplate the case where she would be sixty-five, too, and where the family would be getting, not 10s, but twice 10s, namely, £1 per week for life. That has to be compared with the very limited benefit which unemployment benefit would constitute. But there is more, because it is the very essence of the unemployment benefit that it is really given in contemplation of the man being employed again. That is the whole point of it. It is to bridge over a period of unemployment. That is the fundamental conception of it; whereas in the case which the noble Lord has contemplated it is clear that in all probability the man will never be employed again. That is another consideration. Then there is a quid proquo. There is a penny taken off the unemployed contribution. Under the Bill, as the noble Lord knows, there is a diminution in the contribution hitherto paid as a set-off to the much larger contributions made under this Bill. That has to be taken on the other side.

Lastly, the noble Lord talks as if the Unemployment Insurance Act was sacrosanct and had never been modified. It has been modified over and over again since, it was passed. It was modified by the Labour Government. Under the administration of the old Act there were certain refunds paid, I think, to pensioners over sixty. The noble Lord and his colleagues thought nothing of taking away that refund. They did not think it a breach of contract at all. They did it without winking. The noble Lord never blushed when he did it, and yet we are accused of a breach of contract because we modify the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Acts. These things are very difficult and very intricate, but I will revert in one sentence to the argument which I ventured to advance on the Second Reading—namely, that on the whole the benefits secured by this Bill are actuarially worth three and a half times what is being lost under the modification of the unemployment benefit. It is not a bad bargain for the recipients and I am afraid I must resist the Amendment.


I do not propose to trouble your Lordships with more than a few words, because the Government are not going to accept the Amendment and the matter is extremely controversial I might have a great deal to say with regard to the noble Marquess's reference to our breach of contract, but I will not take up the time of the Committee in doing so. Everybody knows it is the case that very often the wife is a few years younger than her husband, and therefore there are quite a number of cases in which a man comes to be sixty-five, lives two or three years, and during that time the wife is not eligible for the pension of 10s. per week. I also feel that the doctrine of the noble Marquess with regard to what the unemployment benefit is intended to do, contains some rather novel features. It may be that it is intended to "tide over" in the case of younger men, but one of the benefits of the Act is that when men get to an age when they are most likely to be unemployed they will get help. I can only express my regret that the Government have not seen their way to accept this Amendment, and I warn the Government that they have not seen the last of this matter. The Government will hear more about it, because there is a very strong feeling in the country with regard to this particular provision. I certainly, cannot see my way to withdraw the Amendment, and would prefer to have it negatived.

On Question, Amendment negatived.

Clause 37 agreed to.

Clauses 38 to 42 agreed to.

Clause 43:

Decennial reports and revision of contributions.

(2) Unless Parliament otherwise determines, during the decennial period commencing the first day of January, nineteen hundred and thirty-six, the ordinary rates of contribution shall be increased in the case of men by twopence a week (of which in the ease of employed persons one penny shall be payable by the employer and one penny by the employed person), and in the case of women by one penny a week (of which in the case of employed persons one halfpenny shall be payable by the employer and one halfpenny by the employed person), and similar additional increases shall be made in the contributions at the beginning of the decennial periods commencing the first day of January, nineteen hundred and forty-six, and nineteen hundred and fifty-six.

LORD ARNOLD moved to leave out sub-section (2). The noble Lord said: This Amendment is proposed with the object of removing increases in contributions, which would bear upon the fact that in due course the present non-contributory old age pensions for people over seventy will become contributory. That is what will happen in due course. It is a provision to which we in the Labour Party are stoutly opposed. We have had these non-contributory old age pensions for seventeen years, and to take them away, as this Bill will in due course do, is, in our view, a thoroughly reactionary step in social legislation. The noble Lord, Lord Banbury, has always been opposed to these, pensions, and said so on the Second Reading, but I was a little surprised to hear that the noble Marquess who leads the. House seemed to welcome with a good deal of enthusiasm the fact that in due course non-contributory pensions will become contributory. This is a provision of the Bill about which not much was said in another place. Ministers there, I think, thought it best to speak in a very measured degree about it, because it is realised there that this is a provision about which a great deal will be heard as time goes on.

But perhaps more surprising still was the attitude of the Liberal Party. These old age pensions were introduced by the Liberal Party in 1908 and I did hope on this point that I night have had a little support from the Liberal Party on the Second Reading. But that support was not forthcoming; on the contrary, we were told, in effect, that the Government were doing good work and the hope was expressed that they would go on doing their good work. That is very astonishing, seeing that this Bill will in due course abolish altogether the chief contribution which the Liberal Party has made to social reform—and it was a great contribution. However, with both the Government and the Liberal Party taking a different view from me, I am afraid there is not much chance of my carrying this Amendment. At the same time, I move it because I shall be interested to hear what the Government has to say on the matter.

Amendment moved— Page 41, line 31, to line 2 on page 42, leave out subsection (2).—(Lord Arnold.)


I am afraid that I have nothing to say, unless I were to go to the abominable length of repeating exactly what I said on the Second Reading. It is of the very essence of our scheme that there shall be these revisions at each decennial period. As a matter of fact, this subsection only provides for one revision—

A NOBLE LORD dissented.


I may be wrong about that, but I think that is so. However that may be, the awful consequence which the noble Lord anticipates will not accrue in the first decennial period. It will only be if, at later decennial periods, the same process is repeated, that the old age pensions, including the ones for people over seventy, will become contributory. But I do not recede a single hair's breadth from the line I took on the Second Reading. In our view the class for whose benefit this Bill is passed do not desire, or ought not to desire, to have a non-contributory pension. That sort of thing belongs to the Poor Law. It is outdoor relief, and that is not the true road of advance. The true road of advance is to help people to help themselves. That the principle to which the Government adhere.


The closing words of the noble Marquess open up very big issues, which I do not wish to discuss now. With regard to the details of this matter, I think I am correct in saying that the young entrants into the scheme, who come in at sixteen, will begin contributing to their old age pension for people over seventy in the year 1936, and I think their contributions will then, as time goes on at any rate, go to cover part of the cost of old age pensions, and under the whole scheme of the Bill the pensions will become contributory, whereas at the present time these pensions are given for nothing. But I do not propose to carry the matter further, because there seems to be a complete difference of principle here. Again, however, I would like the Amendment to be negatived.

On Question, Amendment negatived

Clause 43 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedules agreed to.


May I ask on what, day it is proposed to take the Report stage?


I propose to take the next stage on Tuesday if that is convenient to the noble Lord.