§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Arnold.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to. House in Committee accordingly:
§ [The EARL OF DONOUGHMORL in the Chair.]
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved that the consideration of Clauses 1 to 19 be postponed until after the consideration of Clause 20. The noble Marquess said: In taking the course which I have ventured to indicate in respect of the Committee stage of this Bill, I may be allowed to say that such a course is not without precedent. On the contrary, it is a quite well known part of the procedure of your Lordships' House that if good reason can be shown clauses should be postponed in order that a clause late in the Bill may be taken before the others. I have ventured to call in aid that procedure on the present occasion 5 because, from the attention which I have been able to pay to the history of this Bill in both Houses of Parliament, and its character, I think we are left with a feeling of insecurity as to exactly what the Bill intends to effect, and also what are the real convictions of His Majesty's Government in respect of it. How far in those circumstances, being in that condition of doubt, shall we be justified in committing the country to a permanent Act? It is a very serious thing to do. Your Lordships are every day engaged in passing permanent laws in this country, but when—as I shall venture to elaborate in a few moments if your Lordships' will allow me—there is considerable doubt as to the real nature of the Bill, and the real opinions of its sponsors, then I think your Lordships will probably agree with me—I hope so at any rate—that the Bill should be made, not a permanent Bill but a temporary Bill, so that the country will only be committed to a limited extent to its operations.
§ I do not want to dwell upon the well-worn theme of the brevity of the time which your Lordships have been afforded to consider the Bill. I merely note that we were very hurried over the Second Reading, and, though there has been a considerable interval between the Second Reading and the Committee stage, yet that interval has not been available for much consultation between members of your Lordships' House as to what the future procedure should be. I merely note it as a special difficulty that, notwithstanding the history of this Bill and its complication's, the Government have not been willing to afford us very much time, and, indeed, only a few minutes ago, the noble and learned Lord (Lord Parmoor) said he was very anxious that this Bill should be got through within a very limited period. How do we stand about this Bill? We agreed to the Second Reading. No one can say that your Lordships showed anything in the nature of a factious opposition to the Second Reading of the Bill. It was discussed, not at undue length but I hope adequately, and it was agreed to, and now we come to the Committee stage.
§ Though we agreed to the Second Reading, it must be admitted that we were considerably startled by several of the provisions which the Bill contained. There was the fact that for the first 6 time young children are introduced to this terrible rôle which leads onward to the "dole" with its demoralising influences. I do not say the Bill as it stands enacts the "dole" for children—that is to say, the giving of a benefit without insurance—but we know the history of these things, and when once you begin with insurance on the old footing, it seems to lead inevitably to the "dole" finally; that is to say, you give the benefit even without any insurance. It is a very startling thing that we for the first time introduce children to this rôle and we do it without any apparent reason. There is no serious difficulty about unemployment with children. On the contrary, the probability is, if I may use a colloquial vulgarism, that the boot will be on the other leg—the difficulty will be in many parts of the country to get a sufficient number of children to do the work. Therefore, that is a very doubtful proposal.
§ I am not going to discuss the clauses elaborately, but I must go through them to the extent of showing your Lordships that it is necessary to make this a temporary instead of a permanent Bill. Then we come to the changes introduced by Clause 4—in the words of the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House the clause in which the onus is changed as to who is to be responsible for finding work for the unemployed man. For the first time the onus is changed. The noble and learned Lord told us so. Up to now it has been necessary for the unemployed man to make an effort on his own behalf, and, of course, in nine cases out of ten—indeed a much larger proportion than that—the workman does of his own motion make an effort. I am glad to say that is the character and temperament of our people. But there is a minority about whom that is not true, and in respect of that minority, for the first time, according to the interpretation which the noble and learned Lord puts upon the Bill the onus is changed, and there is no obligation upon them to make any effort whatever to find work.
§ These are startling proposals. But are the Government quite convinced that they are right? It is the most remarkable point in reference to this Bill that we have no assurance that the sponsors of it, some of whom sit on that Bench, are really in earnest in being in favour 7 of it. Consider for a moment the children's clause. That is not going to come into operation immediately. It is a sort of hypothetical proposal. If and when the school age is raised, then this provision is to come into operation, but we have no assurance that the age will be raised, and even if it is raised hereafter, we do not know what conditions there may be attached to the raising of the age. Is it serious legislation to ask us to remain so absolutely in the dark, and to attach these great provisions of insurance to a state of things which does not at present exist, and in regard to which we do not know the conditions in which the proposals will have effect? That does not appear to correspond to any solid foundation upon which to legislate.
§ Further, this provision of benefit for the children is intimately associated, so it is contended, with providing instruction for the children when they are out of work. That is so contended in your Lordships' House, but that was not in the original Bill. So uncertain is the course which the Government recommend to Parliament and the country that they made no such provision for instruction in the case of unemployment of children in the original Bill. That was an after-thought, or rather it was put in, I have no doubt—although I do not pretend to know—under pressure in another place. But that instruction is held to be essential. The right rev. Prelate whom I see opposite and who, if I may say so, made such a considerable contribution to the debate on the Second Reading, said that when he saw the original Bill he was filled with consternation—I think that was the phrase—because no provision was made for such instruction, the idea being that if children are out of work and receiving the "dole" they are likely to get into very bad courses unless some provision is made for them to receive instruction as suggested. And in the debate on Second Reading the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House said that this instruction, which was not provided for in the original Bill, which was forced upon the Government by independent members, was an essential point. That was the phrase, that it was an essential point.
§ Then, I would ask, has the instruction been provided? Instruction is not provided. This essential point is not to be found in the Bill. I have done my best 8 to acquaint myself with all the literature attached to the Bill and with the various Reports, or at any rate some of them, of the Committees and Commissions concerned, and I find that as late as 1928 there was provision of instruction for less than 10 per cent. of juveniles unemployed at any one time, so that except for a very small minority there is no provision for this instruction which we are told is essential. Yet we are asked to pass a permanent Act in which there is no provision for what is said to be essential and in which there are no means suggested to Parliament by which it will be provided. I suggest that that is a very strong reason for not allowing this to be a permanent Act.
§ Next I come to Clause 4, that is the clause which abolishes the genuinely-seeking-work provisions of the existing law. Is there any solid conviction in the Government about that? It is notorious that they first introduced a clause of a totally different character in another place. It is notorious that their representative, the Attorney-General, nailed his colours to the mast against any deviation from the onus being placed upon the unemployed man. Well, that has been thrown over at the last moment in another place and a new provision has been introduced. I do not in the least know what the attitude of mind of the Attorney-General is now. He is a man who has a great capacity for change. Let me put it in that way. I dare say he has accepted it. But that does not correspond, may I venture very respectfully to say, to any solid foundation of conviction upon which the Government work. Even now, even when the Bill is in your Lordships' House, does the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House show any conviction in regard to this clause? Not at all. He says it may be difficult to carry out. He says it may be in want of further consideration and adjustment. That is an optimistic attitude of mind for His Majesty's Government when promoting an important Bill in Parliament. It is quite clear that the noble and learned Lord, who has a great legal reputation, does not want to commit himself too far in favour of this eleventh-hour proposal of the Government for dealing with the genuinely-seeking-work difficulty. Surely in the face of this consideration it is almost 9 absurd to ask your Lordships to pass a permanent Act of Parliament.
Then, lastly, there is the point on which every speaker (I think I am right in saying) is substantially agreed—that the mixing up of the two matters of insurance and relief in one Fund is a condition of the law which is very much to be deprecated and which ought not to be permanently established. That again is an overwhelming reason for not passing a permanent Act of Parliament. In the face of what I have ventured to suggest to your Lordships some of my hearers may say: "Well, why in the world did you not reject the Bill?" Some of us were tempted to favour the rejection of the Bill, but we were convinced that such a course would not be wise for many reasons, amongst others that the finance of the insurance law is in such a condition that some change is necessary in order to put the Fund once more in a condition of solvency. Therefore we accepted the Second Reading. But it was certainly a very difficult decision to make and we feel great difficulty in the situation as it has resulted. What issue is to be found? I always look for guidance in these matters to His Majesty's Government. I have studied the speeches of the representatives of the Government with some care and I find that the noble Lord who is in charge of the Bill, the Paymaster-General, said on Second Reading that this was only to be passed in order to prolong the transitional period for twelve months, that the Bill was an experimental Bill and that it was not a permanent Bill. If the noble Lord challenges me I shall at once venture to refresh his memory. This is the phrase. He said:—
This is not a permanent Bill lout one to meet a special state of things.
§ THE PAYMASTER-GENERAL (LORD ARNOLD)
If the noble Marquess will permit me, may I say I think it is perfectly clear that that referred to what I had been detailing at considerable length—namely, the transitional provisions. It is perfectly clear from the context.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
It is difficult to explain away that phrase "This is not a permanent Bill," even with the dexterity of the noble Lord for which I have a great respect. I think he will have to get up very early in the morning to get rid of that phrase. But 10 if there is any doubt about it, it only strengthens my argument. Let us make certain that this is not a permanent Bill. That is the reason for the course which I am now asking your Lordships to pursue. I am asking you to postpone the earlier clauses of this Bill until we have settled this question as to whether it is to be a permanent or a temporary Bill. If your Lordships are good enough, as I hope may possibly be the case, to agree to this postponement, I shall venture to propose to you the insertion of an Amendment in Clause 20 which will have the effect of making this a temporary Bill. Then the uncertainties of the phraseology of the noble Lord, the Paymaster-General, may be definitely resolved. We are not prepared to make this a permanent introduction of children to the "dole," we are not prepared to shift the onus permanently from the unemployed man to the State, we are not prepared to accept the muddle of the mixture of insurance and relief, and we ask your Lordships with some confidence to consent to limit the operation of the Bill. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the consideration of Clauses 1 to 19 be postponed until after the consideration of Clause 20.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
Your Lordships will not be surprised to hear that the Government must resist this Motion. Before discussing in detail some of the points which the noble Marquess has raised, I think we ought to consider the principle that is at stake in this matter and the precedent which would be established. It is true, as the noble Marquess said, that a Motion of this kind cannot be ruled out under the Standing Orders. In the Companion to the Standing Orders, 1909 (p. 45), it is stated, I believe, that it is allowable that the Committee should upon Motion postpone clauses and that they should be taken up later on. But the question is: What are the clauses that are going to be dealt with in this way? I think that there is good ground for the contention that a proposal of the nature of that which is involved in the Motion of the noble Marquess is, as a matter of fact, contrary to the custom of Parliament. I do not say that there is no precedent for it, but I have been unable to find one. It would certainly be out of order in another place 11 to postpone clauses of importance, as this Motion proposes, until the discussion of subsidiary clauses has taken place.
Of course, your Lordships are not bound by the rules of another place. I am quite aware of that. In your Lordships' House the determination of points of order rests in the main with the House as a body. But in coming to conclusions in these matters your Lordships are frequently guided by precedent and by the circumstances of the case. I might quote Sir Erskine May. It may be said that Erskine May deals mainly with matters in another place, but it does happen—and I think this is worth bringing forward—that in Erskine May's book, on page 409, it is laid down that the proposal to postpone the only effective clause of a Bill until the subordinate clauses have been considered has been ruled out of order, and, though it is not quite certain, it is pretty clear, I think, from the context that, so far as Erskine May is concerned, he considers that this dictum applies to Parliament as a whole.
My contention is that the point depends upon the nature of the clause. In 1919, for instance, upon the Enabling Bill, a proposal was put upon the Paper in the name of the late Viscount Haldane to postpone the consideration of Clause 1 As a matter of fact, this was not done. The reason for that proposal, I think, was that Clause 1 was not quite in its right place. They had put the definition clause first. The Enabling Bill was not drafted by a Government draftsman. Then again, in 1927, the noble and learned Lord opposite, Lord Carson, moved an Amendment on the Committee stage of the Landlord and Tenant Bill to postpone Parts I and II of the Bill until after the consideration of Part III. That Motion stood at the head of the Marshalled List of Amendments and was passed almost without debate. It was a matter of general agreement. The reason was that the Second Reading debate had been very largely occupied with the question of the tribunal, and the noble and learned Lord moved, as a matter of convenience, that Part III of the Bill, which dealt with the tribunal, should be taken first. But there is nothing of the kind in question here. The position is totally different. I do not think that there can be any kind of argument about that. There was another case, not quite the same, that I 12 have been able to find in my researches. It occurred during debates in your Lordships' House upon the Representation of the People Bill in 1918, when there was a proposal while a clause was actually under discussion to postpone the consideration of it for some little time. Matters had got into some confusion. As a matter of fact this was not done, but it was proposed, and there seemed to be some doubt as to whether the consideration of a clause could be postponed when it had actually begun.
But quite apart from these considerations—though I suggest that they ought to be replied to, that they are germane considerations, that we are here on a very important Parliamentary point indeed, since you are seeking to establish a precedent which might have very far-reaching consequences—apart from that. it is surely setting a somewhat questionable precedent, without very much stronger reasons than those which the noble Marquess has brought forward, to put a time limit to a Bill—I am speaking of Bills in general and discussing it as a matter of principle—before it' is known how that Bill is likely finally to emerge, or until at any rate it has been either through Committee or largely through Committee. I think that there is an important question of principle there. I do not think the noble Marquess made it clear that the main operative part of this Bill—that is the part which deals with the transitional period—the main financial part of the Bill is temporary, under Clause 16 of the Bill as it stands. That part comes to an end, and must come up for review, practically at the same date as that which the noble Marquess has suggested. There must be some review of that matter by Parliament and some legislation will be necessary before April 18, 1931.
The noble Marquess told us that I had said that this was an experimental Bill. I was replying to him at the end of the debate, and I think it is perfectly clear that I was dealing with the point that he had made that this was the first time that there was permanent provision for the transitional period. I said that this was not so, and that the Minister of Health had stated that this part was experimental. As a matter of fact, I think it only right to point out to the noble Marquess that this particular 13 method of carrying on what is called the transitional period did not begin with the present Government but with the late Government. The late Government began it in 1927. We are only doing what they did, but we are doing it in a very much sounder way—I do not think there can be any dispute about that—because we are paying money out of current revenue whereas the late Government continued the transitional period and the liability mounted up and only added to the debt of the Fund. There really is, if I may be allowed to say so, no original sin on the part of the present Government in this matter. They are only following what was done by the late Government, but in this matter, as in many other matters, they are improving upon the method followed by the late Government. Therefore, as regards the main financial provision of the Bill, the position is that it must come up for review, and there is no need whatever for the Amendment of the noble Marquess, because Clause 16 covers his point as regards this very important part of the Bill. But it really does not in the least follow that the remainder of the Bill should come up for review and have a time limit placed upon it.
This Bill has been most fully discussed in another place, and I maintain that ample time has been allowed and is being allowed in this House for its discussion. Upon the Second Reading the noble Marquess protested in a, contrary sense, but really, if I may say so with respect, no such contention can be sustained. Far more time is being given to this Bill by the Government than has frequently been allowed by the noble Marquess himself for Bills of much greater importance. This Bill was introduced in another place on November 21, and it is hoped to get it through Parliament by the end of January. If it is judged that that is not sufficient time for a Bill of this character, Parliamentary business will become almost impossible.
The noble Marquess says that you must be in this position: It may be that the transitional period has to come up for review, but all the clauses, he says, must be open for reconsideration and decision in both Houses of Parliament. So far as His Majesty's Government are con- 14 cerned, I have to say that we are unable to assent to any such proposal. The late Government never put time limits in their Bills of this character. It is an entirely new doctrine that the whole of a Bill of this kind must come up for review, and I think your Lordships will agree that if an Amendment of this sort had been put down by noble Lords now sitting on this Bench when they were sitting on the Opposition Benches opposite, it would have received very short shrift at your Lordships' hands. I have a suspicion that this Amendment, especially taken in conjunction with what happened on the Widows' Pensions Bill, means that the Parliamentary situation is being transformed, if it has not already been transformed, and that we are again going to have two-chamber government. We really have not had that for some years, because of course the Conservative Government could always get whatever it wanted passed through this House without any difficulty. I am inclined to think that now there is going to be a change, and that we are going to have two-chamber government.
Take the Amendment upon which the noble Marquess really is basing his case. I wonder if he has worked out in detail what it would mean if the House followed his advice. I wonder whether he has gone into the chaos which this Amendment of his would produce. The effect would not be simply to bring the scheme to a standstill on March 31, 1931. The unemployment scheme will exist in an emasculated and very one-sided form. The Bill as it stands repeals certain provisions. Those repeals would remain after March, 1931. On the other hand, the new provisions contained in the Bill, several of which take the place of existing provisions, would come to an end after March, 1931. For instance, the genuinely-seeking-work provision would disappear by repeal, while the provision in Clause 4 which would take its place would come to an end. Then again the old adjudicating machinery would have been repealed and the new machinery set up by this Bill would come to an end. Consequently, there would be no legislation directing the method of determining claims for benefit. The result might well he that the collection of contributions would continue, but some benefits would not be paid. That would be a position 15 of misfortune, and I cannot imagine that the noble Marquess really seeks to bring about a state of things like that. When I turn to some of the particular points which he made I really do not think that he was on good ground in regard to what he called the "dole" for children. On the Second Reading the complaint was really that the children were being defrauded, because in all £600,000—
§ LORD ARNOLD
Both cannot be true at the same time, and I would like to know which horse he is riding—he cannot ride both horses at the same time—and then we can deal with him. As I pointed out upon the Second Reading, this proposal merely changes the date for beginning the entry into insurance. The age has been 16 for a number of years, but when we propose 15, and also propose as soon as practicable to raise the school age, we are treated as if we were proposing something heinous. One of the many advantages of this proposal will be that the insurance scheme will begin immediately the child leaves school. The gap at present existing will be bridged over, and you will begin by impressing upon the minds of the young persons the necessity of making some provision right from the start. I should have thought that that would be something which would have commended itself to noble Lords opposite, who are constantly telling us of the vital necessity of inculcating the virtue of thrift. The noble Marquess says that there is very little unemployment at these ages. That may be, but it is the custom of most insurance schemes to begin at an earlier age than that at which the assured may expect to draw benefits. The noble Marquess also says that no provision is made for the instruction of these young people, but Clause 15 says that the Minister, after consultation with the Board of Education, may make provision for approved courses of instruction for persons under 18. Therefore, as far as practicable—you cannot do a thing like this all at once—training will be commenced with as little delay as possible.
The noble Marquess next passed to Clause 4. I am not complaining, and I do not propose to detain your Lordships 16 at any great length, but if I may be allowed to say so, it really will not do for the noble Marquess to charge His Majesty's Government with inconsistency in the way he did. Admittedly we have been dealing here with a matter which required discussion, and the Minister made it quite clear, I think, from the start when the original Clause 4 was put forward that it was for discussion, and that Amendments would be accepted, and she asked subsequently for the collective wisdom of the House upon the matter. That collective wisdom was not, as somebody suggested on the last occasion when this Bill was being considered in your Lordships' House, a surrender to the Left Wing. Nothing of the sort. As a matter of fact, procedure like the new procedure was pressed upon the Government by Sir Herbert Samuel and practically the whole of the Liberal Party, and it was supported by Mr. Allen, one of the Conservative Members for Belfast, who, speaking from his own experience as a large employer of labour, made a very telling statement about the injustice which the old procedure had inflicted upon large numbers of men who ought not to have had that injustice put upon them. Not only did he speak in favour of what the Government were doing, but he voted in favour of what the Government were doing.
Really, if we are going into that question of consistency, the record of the Conservative Party in this matter, if I may be allowed to say so, is one which it is interesting to examine. When the Bill came up for Second Reading they opposed our first Clause 4. Then, when the Committee stage was reached and (in the discussion on Mr. Hayday's Amendment) the Minister asked for the collective wisdom of all Parties, what did the Conservative Party do? They did not say anything at all, and they did nothing except that one speech was made by a Conservative Member, and that was in favour of Mr. Hayday's Amendment. When the Report stage came, what happened? Why, a complete turn round of the Conservative Party. They attacked the formula which they had previously let go by default, and asked for Clause 4 in its original form, though on the Second Reading they denounced it in its original form. Now 17 can you beat that for inconsistency? That is a simple record of the facts.
Really, it gives colour to the view—I do not say this was so—that the Opposition throughout have merely been opposing the Government at any and every stage without any coherent line of their own. The late Minister of Labour himself has, in effect, condemned the notgenuinely-seeking-work procedure, and Major Elliot, speaking from the Front Opposition Bench in another place, on two occasions, or at any rate in two statements, distinctly implied that even the present Clause 4 was too strict, because he said under an insurance scheme you ought not to have any test, not even the test of whether a man is seeking a job or not. Later on he argued that there should be no work test of any kind, that all that a man should have to do was to show that he was unemployed. As regards nearly nine-tenths of the unemployed, they are covered by what Mr. Elliot said. Those in the transitional period only amount to one-eighth or one-tenth of the whole. So that, according to the official spokesman of the Opposition, what we are now proposing is too strict. Can you beat that for inconsistency? I contend that the Government has been very careful in this matter. It has taken every precaution to see that in the end the best workable scheme which could be evolved is incorporated in the Bill. A great deal more might be
§ said about this clause, but I think it has become plain, as the result of the accumulated experience of those who have knowledge of these things and of the working in the last few years of the not-genuinely-seeking-work procedure, that it has got to go, that you must now have an objective test, and that all other tests cannot properly and fairly be applied, and the attempt to apply them leads to great harshness upon large numbers of men who have done nothing to deserve such treatment.
§ Those are some of the reasons why I contend that this Bill should be allowed to proceed through Committee in the ordinary way, when Amendments can be discussed in the ordinary way. As regards the main operative part of the Bill, the financial part of the Bill, which deals with the transitional period and all those very important matters, the Amendment of the noble Marquess is already met in the Bill itself, and I would certainly ask your Lordships to consider very carefully whether it is wise to pass an Amendment of this character, which will undoubtedly establish a precedent against which, I think, there are serious Parliamentary objections.
§ On Question, Whether the Motion shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 107; Not-Contents, 18.19
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Midleton, E.||Armstrong, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Morton, E.||Ashfield, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Onslow, E.||Askwith, L.|
|Plymouth, E.||Auckland, L.|
|Camden, M.||Sandwich, E.||Balfour of Burleigh, L.|
|Linlithgow, M.||Stanhope, E.||Banbury of Southam, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Belhaven and Stenton, L.|
|Winchester, M.||Biddulph, L.|
|Bertie of Thame, V.||Byron, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Bridgeman, V.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)|
|Beatty, E.||Burnham, V.|
|Birkenhead, E.||Chaplin, V.||Clinton, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Churchill, V.||Conyers, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Falkland, V.||Cozens-Hardy, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Falmouth, V.||Cranworth, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Cushendun, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Hambleden, V.||Danesfort, L,|
|Fortescue, E.||Hood, V.||Darling, L.|
|Halsbury, E.||Knutsford, V.||de Mauley, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Leverhulme, V.||Desborough, L.|
|Howe, E.||Novar, V.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Jellicoe, E.||Sumner, V.||Dynevor, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Addington, L.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Lucan, E. [Teller.]||Alvineham, L.||Faringdon, L.|
|Macclesfield, E.||Ampthill, L.||Forster, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Annesley, L. (V Valentia.)||Gainford, L.|
|Hampton, L.||Kylsant, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Hanworth, L.||Lamington, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Harris, L.||Lawrence, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Hayter, L.||Leigh, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Heneage, L.||Lloyd, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Hindlip, L.||Lovat, L.||Somerleyton, L.|
|Howard of Glossop, L.||Luke, L.||Sudeley, L.|
|Invernairn, L.||Monkswell, L.||Sydenham of Combe, L.|
|Jessel, L.||Oxenfoord,, L. (E. Stair.)||Templemore, L. [Teller.]|
|Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)||Raglan, L.||Tennyson, L.|
|Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)|
|Sankey, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Devonport, V.||Marks, L. [Teller.]|
|Mersey, V.||Muir Mackenzie, L.|
|Parmoor, L. (L. President.)||Passfield, L.|
|Southwark, L. Bp.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Worcester, L. Bp.||Stanley of Alderlev, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|De La Warr, E. [Teller.]|
|Arnold, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Allendale, V.||Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.)||Thomson, L.|
On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Resolved in the affirmative and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 20:
§ Interpretation, repeal, application, short title and commencement.
§ (2) The expression "insurance officer" in the Unemployment Insurance Acts and this Act means an insurance officer appointed under Section twelve of the principal Act.
§ (5) This Act may be cited as the Unemployment Insurance (No. 2) Act, 1929, and shall be construed as one with the Unemployment Insurance Acts, and this Act shall he included among the Acts which may be cited together as the Unemployment Insurance Acts, 1920 to 1929.
§ LORD COZENS-HARDY moved to insert at the end of subsection (2) "to examine claims for unemployment benefit." The noble Lord said: The definition of "insurance officer" in the form in which it is left by the somewhat complicated references to other Acts is, I think, worthless. An insurance officer was defined in Section 11 of the principal Act. That section has now been repealed and with it has gone the definition of insurance officer. It is true that this clause purports to give a definition, but its reference to Section 12 of the principal Act merely empowers the Minister to appoint insurance officers without any statement as to their duties. I beg to move.
Page 13, line 28, after ("Act") insert ("to examine claims for unemployment benefit").—(Lord Cozens-Hardy.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
After going into the matter and taking advice upon it, I do not consider that this Amendment should be accepted. Section 12 does not in fact say that insurance officers are to be appointed to examine claims for unemployment benefit. I really do not think there is any need to add anything to the definition of "insurance officer" as it stands in the Bill, and I am afraid that I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD ARNOLD moved, in subsection (5), to leave out "this Act shall be included among the Acts which" and to insert "those Acts and this Act." The noble Lord said: This Amendment is required simply in order to substitute the year 1930 for the year 1929. The phraseology of the Bill suggests as it stands at present, that there were two previous Unemployment Acts in the year 1929. It is not appropriate, therefore, to the Unemployment Insurance Act of 1930. It is only a drafting Amendment. I beg to move.
Page 14, line 1, leave out from ("and") to ("may") in line 2 and insert ("those Acts and this Act").—(Lord Arnold.) On Question, Amendment agreed to.
THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved, at the end of the clause, to insert as a new subsection:—
(8) This Act shall continue in force until the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-one and no longer.
§ The noble Marquess said: This Amendment follows upon the Motion I was successful in persuading your Lordships 21 to accept just now. I would say in reference to something which fell from the noble Lord in charge of the Bill, that if it be necessary to make certain changes in the Schedule consequential upon this Amendment I shall take care that the matter shall be considered between now and the next stage in order that they may be put down. The great object of this Amendment is to secure that this Bill shall be reconsidered—thoroughly re-considered—at the end of twelve months.
Page 14, line 13, at end insert the said new subsection.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
I will not again discuss the main question, for I think that was covered in the speeches which took place at the beginning. I would only submit to the noble Marquess that I believe alterations in the Schedule would not by any means be sufficient, and that other things will be required, or there will be chaos.
§ Clause 20, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ Clause 2:
§ Rates of benefit.
§ 2.—(1) In the case of persons who have not attained the age of twenty-one years and are not by virtue of the proviso to subsection (1) of Section four of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1927, entitled to benefit at the same rate as persons who have attained that age, benefit shall be at the weekly rates set out in the First Schedule to this Act, instead of at the rates set out in the Third Schedule to the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1927.
§ (2) The enactments providing that the weekly rate of benefit shall be increased in respect of certain dependants, shall be amended as follows:—
- (a) The increase in respect of dependants other than children shall be nine shillings instead of seven shillings:
- (b) Where a person entitled to benefit (not being a person entitled to an increase of the weekly rate otherwise than in respect of dependent children) has previously to becoming unemployed had in his employment and thereafter continues to employ at a rate of remuneration not less than nine shillings per week, some female person who is not residing with him to assist in the care of his dependent children, the weekly rate shall be increased by nine shillings:
- (c) Where a person entitled to benefit (not being a person entitled to an increase of the weekly rate otherwise than in respect of dependent children) has residing with him and is wholly or mainly maintaining a father or stepfather who is unable, by reason of physical or mental infirmity, to support himself, the weekly rate shall be increased by nine shillings:
- (d) A person entitled to benefit shall be entitled to a weekly increase of two shillings in respect of any dependent child of his who, having attained the age of fourteen but being under the age of sixteen, is unable, by reason of physical or mental infirmity, to receive full time instruction in a day school:
- (e) The enactments aforesaid shall have effect as if references therein to the dependent children of a person entitled to benefit included references to the younger brothers, half-brothers and step-brothers, and the younger sisters, half-sisters, and step-sisters of such a person:
- (f) For the purpose of the enactments aforesaid, an insured person shall not he deemed to be wholly or mainly maintaining any other person unless the insured person when unemployed, contributes towards the maintenance of that other person an amount not less than the amount of the increase of benefit received in respect of that other person, and when in employment (except in a case where the dependency did not arise until after the date on which the insured person became unemployed) contributed more than one-half of the actual cost of the maintenance of that other person:
Provided that the requirement in paragraph (b) of this subsection as to the employment of the female person previously to the insured person becoming unemployed shall not apply in any case where the necessity for employing such a female person did not arise until after the date on which the insured person became unemployed:
(g) In the proviso to subsection (1) of Section one of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1922, the expression "regular wage-earning employment" shall rot include employment where the amount of wage earned is less than the increase in the weekly rate of benefit, and the expression "occupation ordinarily carried on for profit" shall not include the provision of board and accommodation for not more than one lodger as a member of the family.
§ LORD ARNOLD moved to leave out the proviso after paragraph (f) in subsection (2) in order to insert it at the end of the clause. The noble Lord said: This is required merely to ensure that the proviso in question should be in the anost appropriate position. The proviso 23 relates to one of the requirements of paragraph (b) and is not directly appropriate to paragraph (f) in which it is at present. We are informed that the best place is at the end of the clause.
Page 3, leave out lines 11 to 18.—(Lord Arnold.)
§ LORD ARNOLD moved in paragraph (g) of subsection (2), after "include," to insert "the performance of work for payment which is less in amount than the increase in the weekly rate of benefit or." The noble Lord said: This deals with a point of some little substance. The position is that under the present Acts the weekly dependant's allowance of 9s. cannot be paid for a wife or for a female dependant who is engaged in an occupation ordinarily carried on for profit, and a number of cases have come to the notice of the Government in which it has been decided by the umpire and other statutory authorities that a wife or other dependent must be held to be carrying on such an occupation although in fact the profit derived is little or nothing. For instance, the allowance of 9s. per week has been withheld in the case of a wife who provided a few cups of tea once a week to stallholders in a market and at most obtained a profit of a few pence weekly. The effect of this Amendment would be to allow 9s. weekly to be paid provided the work performed by the wife brought in a payment of less than 9s. a week. It is clearly unfair that the allowance should be with held where only small sums less than the allowance are obtained by the wife or other dependants.
Page 3, line 26, after ("include") insert ("the performance of work for payment which is less in amount than the increase in the weekly rate of benefit or").(Lord Arnold.)
Page 3, line 28, insert the proviso from paragraph (f).—(Lord Arnold.)
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved to leave out Clause 2. The noble Lord said: The object of this clause is to increase the benefits which are already 24 given by previous Acts of Parliament to people who are out of work. To my mind there are two very strong reasons why this should not be done. The first reason is that it has not been shown, as far as I know, that the existing benefits are not sufficient to maintain people who are out of employment in a proper state of health; and, secondly, that if you increase the rates of benefit to such an extent that the person receiving them is just as well off, or nearly as well off, doing nothing as he would be if he was working, human nature being what it is, you give a great incentive to people not to look for work but to depend upon the State, which after all is merely the taxpayer—to depend upon the taxpayer to provide him with a comfortable and pleasant living. That is one reason why I think that it is a very great mistake to make the unemployment receipts—I will not call them a "dole" but money received by the unemployed from the Insurance Fund—too attractive, because, human nature being what it is, it leads people to say: "Well, if I can get so much a week for doing nothing, I prefer to get that sum rather than a little more by working for so many days or so many hours during the week."
§ The next reason is that this money will have to be found by the State I have observed in the Press lately that there have been many letters from all sorts of people of every Party, with the exception of the Socialist Party, pointing out that we are now spending money at such a rate that unless we can economise we shall shortly be on the road to bankruptcy; yet, though everybody says that—or everybody except the Socialists—people rarely take the opportunity of putting what they believe to be the right method into execution. Here is an opportunity by which you can show that you have a regard for the future of the country, that you are aware that the financial position of the country is bad, that instead of being, as we were before the War, a rich country we are now a poor country, that however right the system of insurance was the fact remains, as my noble friend Lord Salisbury says, that a small proportion of the working class are not anxious to look for work. I am rather inclined to think it is a larger proportion than the noble Marquess stated, but, whatever the propor- 25 tion is, there is no doubt that a certain number of the working class, and many of the young men, are being brought up to think that instead of depending upon their own exertions for their livelihood, as was the custom thirty or forty years ago, all they have to do is to say: "We do not like the particular work which is offered us; we are not going to trouble about it," and some beneficent person will give them sufficient to live upon without their making any personal exertion themselves.
§ For those reasons I earnestly hope that your Lordships will set an example and show the country that in this House at any rate we are aware of the situation in which the country is at the present moment. If I am not mistaken Lord Grey has stated that the present custom of all Parties, and I include some of the Conservative members in another House, is to endeavour with the taxpayers' money to buy votes, and not to do anything which is unpopular and which will prevent any one from receiving something for nothing. I hope we shall revert to the old principles of political economy which made this country what it was. If I can get anybody to tell with me I shall certainly divide on this Amendment.
Leave out Clause 2.—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
The position taken up by the noble Lord is really quite unsustainable. He says these rates of benefits are too high and that they ought to be left out. Let me put before your Lordships the position. Under the old rates a young woman received 8s. a week. Is that enough to keep a young woman of eighteen? Is that the position taken up by the noble Lord and by the Conservative Party?
§ LORD BANBURY of SOUTHAM
My position is that people should work for themselves and not look to the taxpayer to provide thorn with an income and a living for nothing.
§ LORD ARNOLD
People are perfectly willing to work if they can get work. The noble Lord talks as if it was a simple alternative of working or receiving benefit. If there is suitable work they must work and if they do not they 26 will not get benefit. I say that 8s. a week is far too low. It is now proposed that a young woman should receive the munificent sum of 12s. and the noble Lord complains as if some outrage were being committed. Take the other figures, the dependant's allowance, which means in nearly every case the unemployed man's wife. Take the case of an unemployed man with a wife and three children. Hitherto he has been getting 30s. a week. Now the dependants' allowance is to be increased by 2s.—that is an increase of 2s. for the unemployed man's wife in nearly every case—so that a family will receive 32s. The right rev. Prelate, who made a very telling speech on Second Reading, pointed out that it has been proved statistically that 35s. a week is the sum required for food, fuel, clothing, insurance and household expenses, apart from rent or any amenities, for a family of that size in most of our great towns and certainly in London. How can it be said that too much is being paid? As a matter of fact I believe that economically if we could afford it some of these benefits should be higher because it is not in the interest of the State that children should not have proper food and proper upbringing. We want to make them in time economic units who will be a help to the State when they are able to work. We cannot do that if they are brought up under conditions which must necessarily mean malnutrition. I say that on economic grounds this proposal of the Government can very well be defended.
As regards increased benefits to young people, in the vast majority of cases, as is well known, the children of the working classes leave school at fourteen and go out to work and by the time they are eighteen they are for all practical purposes adults. In a great many cases they are then receiving full wages or very nearly full wages. Benefits have not been what they ought to have been having regard to the facts. If I went into the figures, although they do not come out quite in the same proportion in respect of the ages fifteen to sixteen, it would be seen that as a matter of fact the Unemployment Insurance Fund—as is proper in an insurance fund in the early stages—is paying out less than the total premiums received in respect of these young people. The noble Lord 27 seems to overlook the fact that nearly all of them have paid for insurance. It is the essence of the scheme that they have paid and that is why they object, and rightly object, to the use of the word "dole." It is a tripartite scheme. Even with the modest increases proposed in the Bill for these young people the benefits they are entitled to will be less than they were getting over two years ago under the late Bill. The total cost as regards young people is £370,000 a year and the increased dependants' allowance will cost £1,750,000 making together a little over £2,000,000. The matter was very fully explained in another place, together with the various alternatives which might have been adopted for the use of this money. In the circumstances I think that good use of it has been made, and that the proposal is in the best interests of the State. We shall certainly resist this Amendment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I am not sure that the noble Lord who has opposed the Amendment moved— by my noble friend made out a very good case. The noble Lord who sits behind me has taken up a very difficult position because there is nothing easier than to appeal to everybody's sympathy; but, having regard to the facts, I think your Lordships will realise that some one must pay some attention to the finances of the country, although if we followed our own inclinations we should be only too anxious to relieve sufferings and assist in every way we could. The noble Lord who sits behind me has made a speech referring to the necessity of considering economics. A time when the country is in the economic position in which it finds itself now is hardly the time to increase benefits.
I know there is substance in what the noble Lord has said, and he has referred to other speakers in your Lordships' House in reference to these benefits, but one matter which impresses me very profoundly is that the Blanesburgh Commission Report laid down very clearly what the members of that Commission thought the benefits should be. I am inclined to think that if a Commission composed as that Commission was of men of the world and people who had an opportunity of going deeply into these matters did not consider it necessary that these benefits should be increased— 28 in 1927 I think it was—there is no real justification for the Government at this particular time, when the finances of the country are not in the condition in which we should like to see them, to increase benefits. My noble friend the Marquess of Salisbury has succeeded in carrying an Amendment to limit the operation of this measure when it becomes an Act. Therefore as the measure will only be in operation for a limited time I would suggest to my noble friend that he should not press this Amendment, but leave the Bill to be carried into effect for that limited time as proposed by the authors of the measure. I would suggest to him that he should not press the matter to a Division.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
I always regard anything which falls from my noble friend who has just spoken with great consideration, but I am afraid that on this occasion I cannot refrain from dividing if I can find any one who will tell with me, because I think it is a vital question. It is a matter of the greatest importance. My noble friend says the operation of this Bill will be limited to one year. But just think of the position. Suppose it is put in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and I see no reason why that should not be done, is anyone going to get up and have the courage to say that while during the last year we have given these increased benefits to certain people we are now going to reduce them? It is difficult, but it is possible, to refuse to grant certain sums; but when you have granted those sums it is still more difficult to take them away. Therefore, I think if we are going to act in this matter we should do it now.
The noble Lord opposite says—I think I am correct—that the two items of increase amount together to about £2,000,000. Two millions of money! That is a very considerable sum. Not so many years ago when I was in the House of Commons with Mr. Gladstone, if anybody had proposed to increase the expenditure of the country by £2,000,000—and I would commend this to Liberal Peers and noble Lords who sit below the gangway—Mr. Gladstone would almost have had a fit. Two million pounds was an enormous sum, but now, when we are financially in about as bad a position as we possibly can be, not only should £2,000,000 not be 29 spent, but every effort should be made to decrease expenditure. The noble Lord opposite said this was not a "dole," that it was something for which people had paid. Does not the noble Lord see that people pay a certain sum per week for certain definite benefits? He is now going to increase those benefits without increasing the insurance. Is the insurance going to be increased?
§ LORD ARNOLD
If the noble Lord will permit me, he really cannot make a point of that kind and sustain it, because the position is that these benefits were higher three years ago than those proposed in this Bill. They were reduced by the Conservative Government in 1927 and they are now being put up again. I do not say that there is an exact statistical relation between the premium and the benefits. These things vary and, as a matter of fact, several matters have to be taken into consideration. I ought not to interrupt at length, but the noble Lord knows that is a deal
§ Resolved in the affirmative Clause 2, as amended, agreed to accordingly.
§ Clause 3 agreed to.
§ Clause 4:30
§ more to be said about the findings of the Blanesburgh Committee on this matter than he has said.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM
Then what I said is correct. The benefits are to be increased while the insurance money is not to be increased. That is what I said. As a matter of fact, to call it an insurance is really a misnomer, because the money that is due under the insurance expired long ago, and the only reason for the Fund being intact is that the Government have paid out of the pockets of the taxpayers money which they have never agreed to pay and which it was not intended that they should pay under the insurance scheme. I certainly hope that I shall be able to get somebody to tell with me in this Division.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 2, as amended, shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 38; Not-Contents, 34.29
|Sankey, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Mersey, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Ullswater, V.||Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.)|
|Parmoor, L. (L. President.)||Hemphill, L.|
|Bristol, L. Bp.||Invernairn, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Southwark, L. Bp.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Bradford, E.||Worcester, L. Bp.||Luke, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Marks, L.[Teller.]|
|Cranbrook, E.||Alvingham, L.||Passfield, L.|
|De La Warr, E. [Teller.]||Amulree, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Fitzwilliam, E.||Arnold, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Stanley of Alderley, L. (L. Sheffield.)|
|Allendale, V.||Clinton, L.|
|Devonport, V.||Cozens-Hardy, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Thomson, L.|
|Leverhulme, V.||Gainford, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Knutsford, V.||Greenway, L.|
|Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Camden, M.||Ampthill, L.||Jessel, L.|
|Winchester, M.||Armstrong, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Auckland, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Banbury of Southam, L. [Teller.]||Leigh, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Lloyd, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Biddulph, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Conyers, L.||Raglan, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Redesdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Morton, E.||de Mauley, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Somerleyton, L.|
|Burnham, V.||Forster, L.||Sydenham of Combe, L.|
§ Amendments as to disqualifications for receipt of benefit.
§ 4.—(1) If on a claim for benefit it is proved by an officer of the Ministry of Labour that the claimant, after a situation in any employment which is suitable in his case has been notified to him by an employ- 31 ment exchange or other recognised agency, or by or on behalf of an employer as vacant or about to become vacant, has without good cause refused or failed to apply for such situation, or refused to accept such situation when offered to him, or if it is proved by an officer of the Ministry of Labour that a claimant has without good cause refused or failed to carry out any written directions given to him by an officer of an employment exchange with a view to assisting him to find suitable employment (being directions which were reasonable having regard both to the circumstances of the claimant and to the means of obtaining that employment usually adopted in the district in which the claimant resides) he shall be disqualified for receiving benefit for a period of six weeks or for such shorter period and from such date as may be determined by the court of referees or the umpire, as the case may he.
§ (2) For the purposes of this section employment shall not be deemed to he suitable employment in relation to any claimant if it is either—
- (a) employment in a situation vacant in consequence of a stoppage of work due to a trade dispute; or
- (b) employment in his usual occupation in the district where he was last ordinarily employed at a rate of wage lower or on conditions less favourable than those which he might reasonably have expected to obtain, having regard to those which he habitually obtained in his usual occupation in that district or would have obtained had he continued to be so employed; or
- (c) employment in his usual occupation in any other district at a rate of wage lower, or on conditions less favourable, than those generally observed in that district by agreement between associations of employers and of employees, or failing any such agreement, than those generally recognised in that district by good employers.
§ LORD COZENS-HARDY moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "it is proved by an officer of the Ministry of Labour that," where those words first occur. The noble Lord said: When I saw the Marshalled List of Amendments, I confess that I felt somewhat alarmed at finding myself in such a small company, but I can assure your Lordships that the Amendments that I have ventured to put down are not aimed at the destruction of the Bill, but are an attempt to elucidate a complicated measure. I am not one of those who object to what I understand to be the general intention of Clause 4. As a member of a court of referees since the Act started in 1911, and as chairman of a local employment committee for some years past, I have had plenty of opportunities of appreciat- 32 ing the very unsatisfactory way in which the present requirements as to genuinely seeking work operate. The bulk of the claimants to unemployment benefit have always made, and I hope will always continue to make, genuine efforts to get work, at any rate until they have lost heart after repeated failures and then have perhaps, in desperation, adopted the farcical procedure of producing a list of firms that they have visited, taking care to have several names down for each day, no matter if it be common knowledge that with a great many of those firms there was not a ghost of a chance of obtaining employment. Habitual claimants soon get to realise that there is a wide difference between efforts calculated to establish a claim to benefit and efforts likely to get work. Clause 4 to my mind outlines considerable improvement. Instead of requiring a claimant, who may perhaps be at his wit's end to get work, to compile a long list of useless calls, he will only have to comply with definite directions of the employment exchange, and if it be reasonably administered I do not regard this clause in itself as being likely to reduce real efforts to find work.
§ The words which my Amendment proposes to omit seem to me to be either objectionable or quite unnecessary. If they are intended to mean that only the evidence of a person vaguely described as "an officer of the Ministry of Labour" can be considered, the words are certainly objectionable. Who is an officer of the Ministry of Labour, as distinct from "an officer of an employment exchange," which appears lower down in the same clause, or a person called "an insurance officer" in Clause 8, who is to examine all claims? Is he a different individual? Why limit the evidence in this way to that of this one vague person? Proved to the satisfaction of this individual is not enough. It has to be proved by him. I am inclined to think that these words have got into the clause by accident, or perhaps because someone at one of the conferences which evolved the revised form thought those words emphasised that the onus of proof had been taken off the claimant. Whatever be their origin, I submit that the clause would be much better with the words omitted, and I beg to move.33
Page 4, lines 1 and 2, leave out ("it is proved by an officer of the Ministry of Labour that").—(Lord Cozens-Hardy.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
I am afraid that the acceptance of this Amendment would have consequences of a far-reaching character. I am very glad to hear from the noble Lord that in the main, as I understood him, he agrees with the new procedure under Clause 4, but I am afraid that the deletion of these words would as a matter of fact remove the onus of proof from the Ministry and place it on the claimant. If that is done it would be entirely contrary to the policy of the Government, whose intention it is that the onus of proof shall be on the authorities administering the Acts, who must be required to show that the individual claimant has without good cause refused or failed to apply for a situation available for him, or to accept one when offered to him.
Apart from the question of merit, on which the Government cannot concede what the noble Lord desires, there is considerable doubt whether even if the Amendment were made it would have the effect which the noble Lord at any rate indicates. The umpire has held in a number of cases that the onus of showing that a particular disqualification applies to the claim of a given individual rests upon the administration. A distinction is drawn between the fulfilment of the conditions and the application of disqualifications. The claimant must show that he fulfils the conditions; that particular onus rests upon him. But if it is suggested that a claimant is disqualified for benefit because of something which he has done—for instance, left his employment voluntarily or committed misconduct which has justified his employer in dismissing him—the onus of proof rests with the administration. Again, the onus of showing that a claimant has incurred the disqualification imposed by Clause 4 will rest on the authorities. The words which it is proposed to delete make it clear beyond question where the onus rests, and we hold that it is very undesirable that they should be removed and thus possibly give rise to doubt.
The noble Lord criticised the actual phraseology, and asked what is meant by "an officer of the Ministry of Labour." 34 I do not think there is any practical difficulty there, because I believe that those are the very words which have been used in Unemployment Insurance Acts since 1911, and they have not led to any difficulty. What is meant, as I take it, is the person appointed for this purpose by the Ministry. At any rate there has been no trouble about those words so far, and there seems no reason to change them. In all these circumstances I certainly could not accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ VISCOUNT BERTIE OF THAME had given Notice to move, in paragraph (b) of subsection (2), before "rate," to insert "a." and to omit all words after "wage." The noble Viscount said: I have put down the two Amendments which appear in my name owing to conversations which I have had with a high legal authority. I ask leaveoto deal first with the second Amendment because if it be passed by your Lordships the first Amendment becomes merely a drafting one. The point is who is to decide about the conditions. There is no means for doing so in the Bill, and I was told by the legal authority in question that the clause would be unworkable because the conditions might have changed for various reasons. The words which by my second Amendment I propose to delete are quite unnecessary and I therefore beg to move my Amendment.
Page 4, line 30, after ("a") insert ("lower").—(Viscount Bertie of Thame.)
§ Loan ARNOLD
If we were to accept this Amendment the position really would be this, in effect: it would mean that employment would be unsuitable for the claimant if it were at a lower rate of wage than that at which he had formerly been employed. That is a thing with which one might have a good deal of sympathy, but it is open to objection because the general rate of wages may vary up and down from time to time, and it is important to retain the present words, which fix the rate of wage for which the claimant is entitled to hold out as being that which he might reasonably be expected to obtain, having regard to what he habitually obtained in his usual occupation in that district.
§ LORD ARNOLD
The question is one of fact—whether the wage is lower or not. I think the point is sufficiently covered by the present phrase. Then again, take the other point. The noble Viscount's Amendment would omit all references to the conditions of employment. That is wrong, because it is essential that the suitability of employment should be considered, not only from the point of view of wages, but also from the point of view of other conditions of employment, such as hours of work, meal times, and so forth. I am afraid I cannot accept either of the Amendments.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ LORD BANBURY OF SOUTHAM moved to leave out Clause 4. The noble Lord said: This clause, I think, is even worse than Clause 2. What does it do? I cannot summarise it better than by using the words of the learned Attorney-General, who was reported in the Press as having said in another place that the result of this clause would be that a man could sit in his house, smoking his pipe, and receiving money from the taxpayer which enabled him to live, while he himself need do nothing in order to obtain work. In other words he might sit in his house until somebody came round and said: "Will you please accept work on the same conditions as the last work you had, and at the same wage?" And, unless he can be offered that, he can sit still, and smoke his pipe, and enjoy himself, and do nothing. Remembering what human nature is, is it likely that a certain portion of the population in these circumstances will do anything to endeavour to find work?
§ The first part of the clause is bad, because it puts a premium upon idleness. If I were to go to a man who, I knew, had taken no trouble whatever to find work-, and I were to say to him: "Now you are sitting here taking no trouble to find work; do you think that is what you ought to do?" he would say to me: "But there is an Act of Parliament, which says I may sit here until somebody comes and offers me work which I like." When you come to the second part of the clause, if a man is offered work in another district and at a lower wage than the trade union rate he is 36 still entitled to the "dole." Another attempt on the part of the trade unions to keep up wages and make conditions difficult! At the present moment when we are competing with foreign countries the populations of which work harder, for longer hours, and at lower wages than we do, we put in a clause of this sort, which will do everything to discourage men from obtaining work and to make the conditions under which we live more difficult. I think the clause is so clear that it is unnecessary for me to discuss it at any greater length, but I hope your Lordships will support me in rejecting this clause.
Leave out Clause 4.—(Lord Banbury of, Southam.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
I need scarcely say that I must oppose this Amendment. I am glad it gives me an opportunity to clear up something which has been stated again and again in various quarters. It is really a misunderstanding, I think, as to the words which were used by the Attorney-General and the precise way in which he used them. The noble Lord said that this clause carried out the state of things indicated in a rhetorical question put by the Attorney-General. As a matter of fact, it does nothing of the sort. How could the Attorney-General be referring to the clause? The Attorney-General's rhetorical question was asked in a debate on December 5. He said:—There are a large number of unemployed, and this is the problem as I see it. Are we to legislate on the lines that these people should think that they need do nothing themselves, that they should wait at home, sit down, smoke their pipes, and wait until an offer comes to them?Yes, but the clause does not do that. That was on December 5, before the new clause had been drafted at all. The Attorney-General was not speaking about the new clause. He was asking a rhetorical question in the course of the debate.
As a matter of fact, there are several conditions in this new clause which entirely destroy the kind of impression which the noble Lord opposite has been seeking to create. First of all, it is a condition for the receipt of benefit that a person must prove that he is continuously employed. That is under the 1920 Act. Then, under Section 35 (1) (b) of the 1920 Act there is power to require 37 the attendance of insured contributors at such offices and places and at such times as may be required for the purpose of proving the fulfilment of conditions and the absence of disqualification for benefits. As a matter of fact, unemployed persons will have to go frequently to the unemployment exchanges. I believe that in quite a number of cases they have to go every day. That has led in certain places to congestion, and it has been cut down to two or three times a week. They have to go and see if there is any work, and the clause itself, I think, shows quite clearly that an unemployed person has to do what he is told by the officials with regard to obtaining work if there is work to be had. He may be notified of a specific vacancy, or of certain vacancies which he may go after. In the second place, there is the provision about finding suitable employment with the assistance of the officers of an employment exchange. Written instructions would be given indicating what should be done in that regard. Therefore, so far from the unemployed person sitting down at home and simply smoking his pipe, he has to be up and doing if there is any probability of getting work at all.
The evil of the whole system has been that thousands and thousands of men have been parading round again and again, purporting to be finding work, and trying to find work, but knowing all the time that there is no work available. It is clear that in the last two or three years the administration of this not-genuinely-seeking-work procedure has been very much tightened up, and has been administered very much more strictly. Harsh terms have been used about it. It has inflicted very great hardships on decent people who are quite willing to get work if there is work. I argued this point at great length on the Second Reading, and I do not propose to weary your Lordships again with the general case. But the underlying assumption of so much of the criticism of a clause like this is that there are a great number of vacancies available and a great number of men available, and they will not go to the jobs; they prefer to have the unemployment pay. That is absolutely untrue. Your Lordships will surely agree that there are very few vacancies in the country anywhere, and as soon as there 38 is a vacancy in the vast majority of cases it is filled, and filled instantly.
This clause will not stop shirking, which seems to be the objection of the noble Lord and those who think with him. As a matter of fact in my view statements about shirking are enormously exaggerated. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer said not long ago, probably 99 per cent. of the workers desire to get work if it can be got. This clause would not stop shirking. All it would mean in a certain number of cases is this. When there was a vacancy it might conceivably mean that the keener man got it and the other man did not. If the other man was out to shirk, he could shirk anyhow, because in certain cases he could go on the rates and in other cases he could often be kept by relatives and friends. When it is analysed, it is perfectly clear that as a matter of tact the idea that you are going to stop by legislation such little shirking as there may be is something that cannot be carried out. The simple truth is that the attempt to catch one or two shirkers has led to great injustice and great hardship to hundreds and hundreds of decent men who are only too willing to work. They have not been given the benefit to which they were really entitled. This procedure has now been developed. Every other test has been tried. The matter has been discussed ad nauseam. It is all very well to put words into an Act of Parliament, but to apply them in practice is a different thing. These subjective tests have proved to be unworkable in practice, and have been proved to cause great unfairness and great hardship.
The whole matter has been seriously discussed and carefully gone into and the Government have now set up an objective test which, I think myself, is the best thing to do. All reasonable necessities are fully safeguarded. In moving the omission of this clause and going back, as apparently the noble Lord wishes to do, to the old not-genuinely-seeking-work procedure, he is going back further than the Party to which he belongs wishes to go. Certainly, Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland, the late Minister of Labour, has indicated that in his opinion the procedure has not been satisfactory. I also ventured on the occasion of the first Motion moved by the noble Marquess to show 39 the various changes of front which the Conservative Party has made upon this matter. A great deal more could be said, but I will not say any more now. The Government must really stand firm for Clause 4.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I am rather surprised at the speech of the noble Lord. I had hoped that, on a matter of this kind which reverses the whole practice of the Unemployment Insurance Acts ever since they started, he would have favoured your Lordships with something beyond his rhetorical flourishes and general statements that nothing whatever was to be done except what we all most desire—that the genuine unemployed should receive what Parliament intended them to get. The noble Lord did not deal with one of the damaging figures put forward in the course of the discussions in another place. Let me ask him whether the estimate which at the beginning of November stood at £3,250,000 in another place, had not advanced by the time the Bill reached your Lordships' House to over £7,000,000? The Government had not the slightest idea of what they were doing. Take the figure which I believe they admit of 160,000 men who did not receive unemployment benefit before because they were not held to be genuinely seeking work, and who are going to be admitted under the Government actuary's latest view, which I will undertake to say will not come within many hundreds of thousands of pounds of being the correct figure as to cost.
What are the facts with regard to the appeals which you have now abolished? Remember that it is for the first time that we are going to say to men in this country: "You need not genuinely prove that you are seeking work; somebody else has to prove that you are not." If the Government are in earnest, if they really believe in their own case, why do they not fall back upon any one of the formulas used by the trade unions? Why do they not depend on the trade union view that a man must be genuinely seeking work according to the rules which the best of the trade unions have enforced? I ask the noble Lord to tell me of any trade union which will disburse its funds under the conditions of this clause. This case has been put to the Government. My noble friend Lord 40 Askwith asked for the rules of the trade unions on this point more than a month ago. The Government have done very well not to inform themselves in regard to them because they would have to confess that they are asking the country to do what the trade unions have all along refused to do—namely, to allow the habitual loafer to get the same benefits as the honest man.
They have abolished all the safeguards. How did those safeguards act? Last year 1,300,000 cases were referred to the court of referees. The court of referees rejected only 196,000 of them, a number which bears a very curious and close resemblance to the 160,000 who are to be added by the Bill. Of those 196,000, 188,000, who had the opportunity of appealing, did not appeal because their cases were not good enough. Is not that a convincing proof that the court of referees dealt out justice which seemed to be impartial to those who were chiefly concerned? Then, out of 865,000 cases referred to the insurance officer, he rejected 600,000, 400,000 of whom never appealed. That proves what we all know—that although, as the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition says, the majority of men are honest and industrious and wish to stand by their bargains, there is a large residuum, and we object to that considerable residuum being the recipients of benefit under the Bill.
I ask your Lordships to consider what a fraud this is on the honest man. Supposing this were an insurance company and not an Insurance Fund, and you put into it every man employed in certain trades and forced every employer to contribute, the Fund would depend upon its being properly able to meet its engagements. But time after time inroads have been made upon this Fund. The Fund is bankrupt. It is being supported solely by the contributions of the Exchequer. While it is in this bankrupt condition the Government, entirely forgetful of the honest insurer who has a right to know that the Fund is being preserved intact, is putting upon it a burden so great that every business man in the House will tell you that it frightens the employers and is almost certain to increase unemployment. I object to this particular clause not because I want to see a single man left out who genuinely has the right to 41 come under it, but because I believe that it is a purely political attempt to adapt the Insurance Fund to Poor Law relief, and I believe that this attempt at adaptation is neither politic nor statesmanlike.
Then there have been continual relaxations in regard to this clause. There has been the introduction of different parties of dependants. There has been a considerable reduction of the number of payments it is necessary to make in order to secure inclusion. But the one thing which through all the vicissitudes of the last ten years has been kept intact and inviolate, and as in the trade union rules, was the fact of genuinely seeking work. I do not think that this clause as it stands will be allowed to operate for twelve months or two years without causing so very serious a revulsion of feeling as will make the Government of to-day wish they had stood by the Bill as it originally came into the House. Nothing will reconcile me to this clause except the fact that we have just carried an Amendment to limit the Bill to one year. If, however, my noble friend goes to a Division I feel so strongly that we are taking a retrograde step and one which we shall deeply regret that I personally could not refuse to vote for him, but, under the limitations which my noble friend has imposed on the Bill, and which I earnestly hope this House will stand to in all circumstances and conditions—namely, that the Bill shall be reconsidered within a year—I am convinced that this amongst other provisions will undoubtedly have to be rectified.
§ LORD ASKWITH
The noble Lord, the Paymaster-General, said a great deal about procedure and that the kind of procedure that is laid down by this Bill was the best the Government could invent. As my noble friend Lord Midleton remarked, it is many weeks ago that I asked the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House whether he would furnish the rules of trade unions as to the conditions that they make for their members about seeking work, and after some putting off he gave me a reply that this information would be prepared and laid as a White Paper before the House. We have not that before us in order, by means of comparison, to enable us to come to any conclusion as to whether the procedure that has been put down—invented, I presume, by the Government— 42 in this Bill is the best procedure to follow. I do not know whether it is taken from the rules of any trade union or whether it is pure speculation upon the part of some official in the Ministry. The rules for which I asked would have given us some chance of being able to ascertain whether any trade union allows its members who are seeking benefit to sit at home and smoke their pipes, as my noble friend Lord Banbury remarked, or whether they impose conditions as onerous as those of the genuinely-seeking-work provision.
I may remark in passing that Lord Banbury did not propose to put back the words "genuinely seeking work," but, if any clause was to be put in, he wanted some modification of the system suggested here rather than leaving it upon an unfortunate official of the Ministry of Labour, sitting behind a counter, who has no opportunity whatever of going out and of finding whether a man is seeking work or not, and who nevertheless would have to come to a conclusion and perhaps be rapped over the knuckles for making a complaint about a man who said he had been seeking work and that the official was turning him down. That would be a hard position in which to put any civil servant, and especially the officials of the Ministry of Labour in these labour offices where crowds of people come and where the circumstances are such that it is difficult indeed for him to come to any judgment upon the point. In those circumstances, not having the information to enable me to see whether this clause is a good one and within the rules of trade unions generally laid down, such as those of the Engineering Union, and within the rules which the Minister of Labour said in another place they had in the Ministry of Labour at the time when she was speaking, I shall vote, if my noble friend goes to a Division, in favour of the deletion of the clause.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I should like to say one word in answer to what the noble Lord has said. I do not intend to deal with the general question, my noble friend Lord Arnold having done that. The noble Lord will recollect that I informed him that in order that the cases might be obtained in reference to which he sought information a request would have to be made to the Registrar-General's office, and that it would take 43 some time to obtain it. I communicated with him that I had the information that only in about 100 cases was more than £1,000 paid out in the course of a year under the rules of unemployment, and that we would analyse those 100 cases in detail. I promised that that would be done as soon as the information could be obtained. I regret very much it has not been obtained. I had hoped that it would have been by this time. I assure the noble Lord we have made every effort to obtain the information. The Registrar-General's is not of course a Government Department. I regret personally that the information has not yet been supplied to the noble Lord, but I know there has been no negligence. It has been the difficulty of the subject. I do not know whether that affects much his attitude one way or the other, but it is the fact that everything has been done to obtain the information and I had hoped it would have been available before this day.
§ LORD GAINFORD
As to the objection generally taken to the onus being placed upon the workman, whilst many desire that the workman should make some effort to try to secure employment for himself, we are not satisfied altogether with the present system. What I rise to ask is what really is the alternative which the Government are proposing in the present Bill? They have indicated that officers are to be appointed by the Ministry of Labour whose duty is to be to ascertain whether there is suitable employment, and, apparently, they are then to communicate with the individual who is out of work. I desire to know what really the Government have in mind. Are they proposing that at every labour exchange where there is a large number of unemployed on the list, a special officer should be appointed who shall get into touch with the employers in the district in a way that the present staff in exchanges do not get into touch with them, with a view of trying to place individuals in work, or is the duty going to be placed upon the existing staff who at present are overworked on account of the very large number of men unemployed throughout the country? We want to have a little more information as to what the Government have in view in connection with the procedure they have in mind.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not think that the Government showed 44 any great forwardness in giving an explanation of the meaning of this very remarkable clause. I must call the attention of the noble Lord in charge of the Bill to a speech to which reference has been made very often in these debates—namely, the speech of the right rev. Prelate the Bishop of Southwark. The Government had not very many supporters upon the Second Reading, and they can hardly afford to ignore the observations of one of the few that they had. The right rev. Prelate made an extremely able speech, but he was not satisfied with Clause 4. May I remind the noble and learned Lord opposite what the right rev. Prelate said. I was waiting because I rather hoped the right rev. Prelate himself would have reminded the Government of what he said on the Second Reading. He said:—Nevertheless I am not at all sure about the meaning of the clause. Does it mean that a man out of work will be entitled to wait until work is sent to him? I am perfectly certain that in practice the great majority of men will be seeking for work, but will a small minority he entitled, under this clause, to wait until work comes to them, or is the burden and responsibility of finding work thrown on the exchanges? If so"—I want the members of the Government to note these words—the exchanges, as at present manned, are quite incapable of dealing with this duty.Well now, why have not the Government explained Clause 4? The question has been put to them and they have made no answer. It is quite true that the noble Lord said at the end of the debate that when we got to the Committee stage he would answer everybody.
§ LORD ARNOLD
May I say—it is quite customary in Committee to make more than one speech—that I have dealt with what Lord Banbury said. I am perfectly willing to deal with all these points at the proper time.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Then perhaps I may press the noble Lord a 45 little further? The right rev. Prelate went on to ask, and I will repeat his question—And what is meant by these words?— '… a claimant has without good cause refused or failed to carry out any written directions given to him by an officer of an employment exchange with a view to assisting him to find suitable employment.'We have all been very much mystified by the meaning of these words "written directions," which are to be given or may possibly be given by an officer of an employment exchange. What kind of directions are the Government contemplating? No explanation on that point was given, I think, in the House of Commons. It is left perfectly vague as to what these written directions are going to be. Are they going to be written directions which will have the effect of repeating the genuinely-seeking-work provisions of the present state of affairs or what kind of directions are they to be? What is contemplated? The right rev. Prelate will know that I am only repeating what he himself has said. We want to know what the Government have in mind.
What are these directions? I have no doubt that this hardworking Government have occupied the whole of the Christmas Recess in drafting these directions and I have no doubt they are ready to produce them. We want to know the kind of things they have in mind. Are they going to be vital directions, important directions, or are they going to be merely trivial matters of form? That is what we want to know. We want to know how the Government intend this eleventh-hour-drafted clause actually to work. We are profoundly dissatisfied with this clause and I agree, I will not say with every word, but with a great deal of what my noble friend behind me has said with reference to this clause. We think it is very difficult to define. It was largely for that reason that I ventured to suggest, and to suggest successfully, to your Lordships that the whole of this matter should be reconsidered within twelve months. It really is impossible upon the information which the Government have given us to accept this as a permanent arrangement. My hesitation about the Amendment—and I admit I have hesitation—is that my noble friend Lord Banbury has not made an alternative proposal. He pro- 46 poses to strike out the clause but he has not made an alternative proposal.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Nor am I. That is just the difficulty. I do not suggest that I want to be a member of a Government again immediately, but that is the difficulty. It is very difficult for independent members, members of the Opposition, without proper assistance from the official advisers of the Government adequately to draft an alternative to this clause and we have not done so. But it does remain an unsatisfactory thing to strike out a clause without producing something to put in its place. Therefore I cannot pretend that I am very enthusiastic about the proposal which the noble Lord behind me has made. If he goes to a Division I shall vote with him because personally I am wholly dissatisfied with the clause in the Bill, but I shall look upon that as a gesture. I cannot pretend that I think that striking out a clause like this and leaving a blank is likely to be the final form in which the Bill will pass.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Give the Government a chance of putting in a good one! Well, if they are capable of doing it they may try. If my noble friend is content with that gesture, then if he goes to a Division I shall vote with him because I could not be found in the Lobby in support of a clause which is open to so many objections as have been made to this clause even by the friends of the Government, even by the friends of the Bill, and on which they have not given any explanation whatever.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
If I may intervene for a moment on my noble friend's remark that no counter-proposal has been made, I think that is a most fair criticism. We none of us desire to strike out the clause if a counter-proposal cannot be found. Why should not your Lordships put in the Bill the regulations made by the Labour Government themselves in their Act of 1924 and leave it to the Government to introduce any modification which they 47 may think proper on the Report stage? The words in that Act are very brief. I will read them. They are—that he is making every reasonable effort to obtain employment suited to his capacities and is willing to accept such employment.The whole thing turns on the word "reasonable." None of us wish a man to go stumping the streets unreasonably. If the Government think the word "reasonable" is capable of further interpretation, then if your Lordships would care to put that clause in I should be very glad to move it and should be only too glad to consider any proposal which the Government may think necessary in order to improve it.
§ LORD ARNOLD
I am very glad to have the opportunity of dealing with this matter in detail. As far as I understand the procedure in your Lordships' House it would have been rather extraordinary if after the somewhat short speech of the noble Lord, Lord Banbury, I had gone into all kinds of questions which he did not touch upon. We have nothing to conceal, and if your Lordships will bear with me I will deal as fully as any noble Lord wishes with the whole of the matters raised by the Amendment. I will deal first with the point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Midleton. He seemed to indicate that 160,000 fresh persons would be brought into the insurance scheme as a result of this clause. As a matter of statistics I think if he will look at paragraph 7 of the Memorandum on the Financial Effect of Certain Amendments he will see that that is not so. The figure in paragraph 7 cuts it down to about 80,000 or 90,000, which is a very different figure. So much for that point.
Then he spoke, and Lord Askwith also spoke, about the question of trade union rules and of how much more strictly, as they seem to think, those rules would be applied than this clause would he applied. As to the White Paper not being here, I am sorry it is not ready but it is not our fault. I asked most particularly about it and I was told it would be here not later than to-day. I will make further inquiries but, as noble Lords with experience in these matters know, these things are sometimes a day or two later than expected. I do not know that these regulations will support 48 very much the views put forward. As I ventured to say on Second Reading, and I have made very close inquiries, it is not a question of particular words but of how rules are administered in practice. I am informed by those who ought to know that in practice trade union regulations will not be and are not administered more strictly than, and in many cases not as strictly as, this Clause 4 will be administered. It is not a question of trade union regulations but of what they do in practice. That really is the reply on that point.
The noble Earl, Lord Midleton, spoke to some extent about procedure. When the Labour Government came in and there were questions of claims and so forth and courts of referees, they did what they thought was the proper thing. They set up a Committee known as the Morris Committee, to go into these matters and make recommendations, and in the main they have carried out those recommendations.
§ LORD ARNOLD
In the main they are carrying them out and that will be the procedure in future on disputed claims. Then I come to what was said by Lord Gainford. Perhaps I might deal with this question in the general statement that I shall make about the manner in which Clause 4 will be worked. I understand that to be the point at issue. The noble Marquess quoted certain words which had been used by the right rev. Prelate in the debate on the Second Reading. I have no real difficulty regarding those words. The first question was whether the clause meant that a man out of work would be entitled to wait until work was sent to him. No, it does not. I think I made that quite clear. Men will have to go to the employment exchanges very frequently, sometimes every day, and if there is any possibility of work—
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
May I ask the noble Lord where this is contained in the Bill? Would the noble Lord say what provision there is in the Bill forcing a man to do this?
§ LORD ARNOLD
This is not the only Unemployment Insurance Bill. If the noble Earl opposite will go back to the 49 Act of 1920, which is the governing Act, I think he will find there, in a clause to which I have referred, the powers that require a man to go to the exchange in this connection. That is the basis for my statement. Everything is not to be found in this Bill, which is the twentieth Unemployment Insurance Bill that has been introduced since 1920. The right rev. Prelate said that he was sure that a majority of the men would be seeking work but, with regard to a small minority, would they be entitled under this clause to wait until work was sent to them? They will not. As I say, they will have to go to the exchanges and, if there is any possibility of their getting work, they will have to get that work. Then the point was raised regarding written directions. I am not trying to evade anything, but I put it to your Lordships as a reasonable position that it is very difficult to give specific instances of the exact wording of written directions. Let me take one case. There are frequently a number of vacancies at the docks. The number is not specified and nobody knows exactly how many vacancies there are. Certain men who are suitable will be told to go and stand about and be at the docks when there are vacancies and try to obtain work. I give that as one instance.
I will now read your Lordships a statement as to the manner in which this clause will be worked, in view of some of the criticisms that have been made of this part of the Bill. The noble Marquess is not very far wrong, if I may be allowed to say so, in suggesting that during the Recess noble Lords in the Government have not been entirely idle about this matter. We have been doing our best to meet all reasonable points, I hope in a reasonable way. For my part I can certainly claim that I have not been idle. Let me read the statement:—Specific vacancies will come to the notice of the Department as they do at present, and the registers of unemployed persons at the exchanges will be examined for persons suitable for the vacancies. The exchange will make an appropriate selection of one or more unemployed persons, industrial suitability being the governing consideration in the selection. The persons selected will receive from the exchange introduction cards which they will be expected to present to the employer. No doubt usually they would do so, and the employer would make a selection if he found the men suitable. He, or the men, would return the introduction card suitably noted.50If a person selected as suitable by the exchange refuses to apply for the vacancy, or if he did not refuse but in fact failed to apply for it, or again if, when he presented himself to the employer, he was offered the vacancy and refused it, knowledge of this would normally come to the notice of the exchange, and if the exchange, on examining the full circumstances in the light of the employer's report and after an interview with the claimant, consider that the claimant had not good cause for his action, the claim would be prepared and referred to the court of referees, who would decide whether or not the claimant should be disqualified for benefit.I attach great importance to the next paragraph of my statement, which does something to meet the very proper points raised by Lord Gainford:—It is the policy of the Government to develop the work-finding activities of the exchanges to the utmost. With this end in view there has been added to the Bill Clause 5, which requires the Minister to make arrangements, as far as practicable, with employers for the notification of vacancies to the exchanges and for the consultation of associations of employers and employees in that connection. Further, in some cases employers who have offered vacancies to claimants for benefit but have not submitted the vacancies to the employment exchange will, if the claimant unreasonably refuses to accept the vacancy, inform the exchange to that effect, in which case the claimant will be interviewed and his case considered. If it is thought that he has not good cause for the refusal the claim will be brought before the court of referees. Again, in some cases trade unions which have received notification of vacancies from employers will inform the exchange if a member of the union has in their view unreasonably refused to accept a job. In this case also the case would be taken up at the exchange and, if necessary, referred to the court of referees.Under Clause 4 also reasonable directions may be given in writing to a claimant by an employment exchange with a view to assisting the claimant to find suitable employment. To a considerable extent the employment exchange will become aware of the existence of vacancies, although those vacancies have not been notified by the employer to the exchange. Knowledge of such vacancies may come to the exchange by the fact that persons are going off the register to such employers, by information received from other claimants and, in many cases, by direct local knowledge. In such cases the exchange may make a selection of claimants apparently suitable for the vacancies and give such claimants directions in writing to apply to the employer or employers in question. Employers have it in their own hands—this is a very important point—to be of great assistance to the employment exchanges, both in notifying as many vacancies as possible to the exchange 51 and also by informing the exchange whenever vacancies offered by them to unemployed persons (whether such vacancies have been notified to the exchange or not) are, in their view, unreasonably refused by such persons. Whenever such information is received from an employer appropriate action will be taken at the employment exchanges.As part of the development of the work-finding activities of the exchange, they will, to an increasing extent, make it their duty to become fully acquainted with the industrial history and qualifications of the persons on the registers and the opportunities for employment occurring in the neighbourhood and, to some extent, elsewhere. In the light of such knowledge they will give what they consider appropriate directions to claimants in order to assist them to obtain suitable employment, and will observe closely the results of their efforts upon the individuals affected.In the course of this work cases will doubtless come to light in which particular claimants have failed to obtain employment in their usual occupation for what is apparently an unreasonably long time, having regard to the state of employment in that occupation. The exchange will have to consider what is the best course to adopt for such claimants, and obviously in some cases they may decide that the only reasonable chance of such persons regaining a footing in industry is for them to seek employment in some other occupation. If employment in another occupation is offered to a person and he declines it, and the exchange considers that his refusal is unreasonable, the claim would be brought before the court of referees. In the last resort the principles which should guide the Department in offering vacancies to persons outside their usual occupation and in giving them directions to seek employment outside their usual occupation will be laid down by the umpire.
§ LORD ARNOLD
It is a statement that I asked to be prepared for me in anticipation of the debate. I think that was a perfectly proper thing to do. I think your Lordships would wish to know how cases will be determined. That is why I have gone into so much detail. There is no objection whatever to the statement being published, otherwise I should not have read it.
§ LORD ASKWITH
I have no objection, but it is so long and so difficult to follow that I dare say that it will be best studied in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ LORD ARNOLD
That may be so. My position is really very difficult. First we 52 are accused of not saying anything, and when we say a lot we are told that we say too much. I do not think that my position is one that it is very easy to fill, but I have gone into as much detail as I think necessary at the moment. I will only say further that the question was raised whether this would not place further work upon the exchanges. Of course it will. It is asked whether there will be sufficient officials. I think the right rev. Prelate raised that point. I dare say there will have to be more officials, but I think that this is fully covered by the financial provisions. We are trying to make the exchanges in a greater degree what they were originally intended to be—employment exchanges for finding work for men. That is part of our policy, and that is why we have put Clause 5 into the Bill and are taking other steps. I think I have dealt with the principal points that were raised, but if there are any further questions I will do my best to answer them.
May I ask the noble Lord how he squares the procedure laid down in the earlier part of his statement with Clause 9? I understood him to say that a person who unreasonably refused written directions would be referred to the court of referees. I think he omitted to point out that the claimant would in the meantime receive benefit.
I think, if I may say so, that it would be rather better to deal with that when we come to Clause 9, on which the noble Lord has an Amendment.
THE LORD BISHOP OF SOUTHWARK
I only wish to intervene for one moment in this debate. I entirely agree with all the criticisms which have been passed upon the present procedure for testing whether a man is genuinely seeking work. I think that procedure has resulted in great hardships, and caused the widest possible resentment among genuinely hard-working men who for a time found themselves out of work. On the other hand, I cannot but feel that the present clause, even after the full and careful explanation given by the noble Lord, is a thoroughly ambiguous clause, which may mean a return to the old conditions, or may mean next to nothing. Like other noble Lords, however, I find myself in a 53 great difficulty. What will happen if we reject this clause and accept the Amendment which has been moved? Will it mean then that there will be practically no conditions for testing the man who is out of work and desires insurance payment? Shall we not be in a worse position than ever if this clause is entirely thrown out? I wish very much that during the Recess someone really conversant with the matter had drawn up a full and reasoned Amendment, and that we had
§ Resolved in the negative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.
§ Clauses 5 to 7 agreed to.
§ Clause 8:
§ Examination and determination of claims.
§ 8.—(1) All claims for benefit, and all questions arising in connection with such claim, shall be submitted forthwith for examination to one of the insurance officers.54
§ had it before us and not merely a negative. As it is I find myself in an extremely difficult position, in which I do not doubt other noble Lords who think like me are equally involved. I am unable to vote for the direct throwing out of this clause, and on the other hand I am unable to vote for it as it now stands.
§ On Question, Whether Clause 4 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 14; Not-Contents, 94.53
|Sankey, L. (L. Chancellor.)||Allendale, V.||Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.)|
|Parmoor, L. (L. President.)||Amulree, L.||Marks, L. [Teller.]|
|Arnold, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Clwyd, L.||Thomson, L.|
|De La Warr, E. [Teller.]||Gainford, L.|
|Northumberland, D.||Bridgeman, V.||Dunmore, L. (E. Dunmore.)|
|Wellington, D.||Burnham, V.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.|
|Chaplin, V.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Camden, M.||Churchill, V.||Faringdon, L.|
|Exeter, M.||Falmouth, V.||Forster, L.|
|Linlithgow, M.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Salisbury, M.||Hood, V.||Green way, L.|
|Winchester, M.||Knutsford, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Leverhulme, V.||Hanworth, L.|
|Airlie, E.||Novar, V.||Harris, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Ullswater, V.||Heneage, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Hindlip, L.|
|Clarendon, E.||Addington, L.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Alvingham, L.||Jessel, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Ampthill, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Fitzwilliam, E.||Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.)||Lawrence, L.|
|Grey, E.||Armstrong, L.||Leigh, L.|
|Howe, E.||Askwith, L.||Lovat, L.|
|Iddesleigh, E.||Auckland, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Lauderdale, E.||Banbury of Southam, L. [Teller.]||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)|
|Lucan, E.||Belhaven and Stenton, L.||Raglan, L. [Teller.]|
|Macclesfield, E.||Biddulph, L.||Redesdale, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Remnant, L.|
|Midleton, E.||Riddell, L.|
|Morton, E.||Clinton, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Cozens-Hardy, L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Plymouth, E.||Cranworth, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Cullen of Ashbourne, L.||Sherborne, L.|
|Stanhope, E.||Danesfort, L.||Somerleyton, L.|
|Vane, E. (M. Londonderry.)||Daryngton, L.||Sydenham of Combe, L.|
|Ypres, E.||de Mauley, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Dulverton, L.||Tennyson, L.|
|Bertie of Thame, V.|
§ (3) If, in the case of any claim, the insurance officer is not satisfied that the claim ought to be allowed, he shall, so far as practicable, within fourteen days after the date on which the claim was submitted to him for examination, refer the matter to the court of referees for their decision:
§ Provided that the insurance officer may, instead of referring the matter to the court of referees, himself disallow any claim for benefit if he is of opinion that the person claiming benefit is disqualified for receiving 55 benefit by reason of the provisions of subsection (1) of Section eight of the principal Act.
(5) Subject as hereinafter provided, an appeal shall lie to the umpire from any decision of the court of referees as follows:—
(b) at the instance of an association of employed persons of which the claimant is a member, in any case;
§ Provided that in any case in which a decision of a court of referees disallowing a claim is not unanimous, notice in writing of the fact shall be given by the court to the claimant within three days of the decision and an appeal under this subsection must be brought within six months of the date of the decision of the court of referees or such longer period as the umpire may in any case for special reasons allow.
§ (9) Where a claim for benefit is allowed by a court of referees, benefit shall be payable in accordance with the decision of the court notwithstanding that an appeal to the umpire is pending, unless the appeal has been brought on the ground that the claimant ought to be disqualified under the provisions of subsection (1) of Section eight of the principal Act and within twenty-one days of the date on which the decision of the court of referees was given, and any benefit paid in pursuance of the provisions of this subsection or of the next following section of this Act or under an interim determination of the insurance officer shall be treated, notwithstanding that the final determination of the question is adverse to the claim, as having been duly paid and shall not be recoverable from the insured contributor under the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Acts or otherwise.
§ LORD COZENS-HARDY moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "insurance" and after "officers" to insert "appointed to examine claims in this Act and in the principal Act referred to as insurance officers." The noble Lord said: This Amendment really deals with much the same point that I raised upon an earlier clause, and perhaps the noble Lord will give me an assurance that before the Report stage he will try to make clearer who are these various officials of the Ministry mentioned in the different clauses. We have this officer of the Ministry in Clause 4, the officer of the employment exchange in the same clause, and then one of the insurance officers in this clause, and the definition of the insurance officer does not exist now that 56 Clause 11 of the principal Act has been repealed.
Page 5, line 29, leave out ("insurance") and after ("officers") insert the said words.—(Lord Cozens-Hardy.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
The difficulty about this is that it is contrary to the scheme of adjudication proposed by the Bill, under which an insurance officer will have no power to disallow a claim under Clause 4. The Bill proposes that any claim which an insurance officer is not prepared to allow under Clause 4 must be referred to the court of referees. As regards the actual terminology, I will undertake to do this for the noble Lord, though I really have no doubt about it, because these particular words have been in Acts for a great many years, and no real difficulty has arisen about them, and if that is so, if they have worked without embarrassment or ambiguity, I suggest that it is not really necessary to make any change now. But between now and the Report stage I will certainly look into the point, though I am pretty sure that the reply I shall get is that these various definitions have not led to any complication.
My point is that the definition of the insurance officer under which you have been acting is repealed by the Third Schedule of this Bill.
§ LORD ARNOLD
Quite so, but I do not think that really alters what I have been saying. But I will look into the point to satisfy the noble Lord.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD COZENS-HARDY moved to add to subsection (3) "or of Section four of this Act." The noble Lord said: Under the Bill as it stands, except in the case of new claimants, a man's benefit cannot be suspended, however flagrant his breach may be of the very limited requirements of Clause 4 as to genuinely seeking work. My Amendment would place the continuation case on exactly the same footing as a new claimant, that is, where the insurance officer finds that the claimant has not carried out the reasonable written directions of the employment exchange as to seeking work the insurance officer might refuse benefit. Clause 4 has really so narrowed the grounds of disqualifica- 57 tion for genuinely seeking work that there can be no reasonable objection to disqualification by the insurance officer. A claimant can appeal to the court of referees under the following subsection.
Page 6, line 4, after ("Act") insert ("or Section four of this Act").—(Lord Cozens-Hardy.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
I have to some extent dealt with this under the last Amendment, but it really is contrary to the scheme of adjudication proposed by the Bill. The Bill proposes that any of the claims that an insurance officer is not prepared to allow under Clause 4 must be referred to the court of referees. That proposal gives effect to the recommendation of the Morris Committee, and in the circumstances I think we must adhere to the Bill as it stands.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD COZENS-HARDY moved, in paragraph (b) of subsection (5), to leave out "an" and to insert "a recognised." The noble Lord said: I think this is self-explanatory. I beg to move.
Page 6, line 17, leave out ("an") and insert ("a recognised").—(Lord Cozens-Hardy.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
It is not, I think, very clear what the effect of the Amendment would be, as it does not indicate by whom or by what the association would have to be recognised. The language of the Bill is practically identical with that of the existing Act in this matter, and no particular difficulty has arisen. If the noble Lord wants to limit the right of appeal to registered associations that would be much too narrow, as large numbers of trade unions are not registered. I cannot accept the Amendment.
The only object is to get over the difficulty that any small body of persons can apparently, under the Bill, call itself an association of employed persons. They are then entitled to appeal to the umpire, and until the umpire has decided their case they draw benefit, however bad their claim.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord opposite has not really ex- 58 plained to your Lordships why the Government refuses this reasonable Amendment.
§ LORD ARNOLD
The point is that the Amendment in our judgment is unnecessary. The language of the Bill is practically identical with that of the existing Act on this point, and no particular difficulty has arisen, but if the noble Marquess desires it I am quite willing to look into the matter between now and Report.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD COZENS-HARDY moved, in the proviso to subsection (5), to substitute "one month" for "six months." The noble Lord said: Surely one month is a sufficient period to allow for appeals, especially as the umpire has power to extend the time in certain cases. I see no reason why six months should be allowed for an appeal to be brought. I beg to move.
Page 6, line 33, leave out ("six") and insert ("one").—(Lord Cozens-Hardy.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
I am informed that this Amendment would fix the time within which appeals should be brought at one month. At present there is no time limit for such appeals and the Bill proposes to fix six months. The time limit of one month would be altogether too short for the purpose of enabling an appeal to be brought to the highest tribunal dealing with unemployment benefit cases. There is often congestion in these matters, and I am informed that the insertion of this Amendment would lead to very great difficulties. I think that we must adhere to the Bill as it stands.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ LORD ARNOLD moved, in subsection (9), to leave out "or under an interim determination of the insurance officer." The noble Lord said: This Amendment deals with a somewhat technical point, but I do not think there will be any very great controversy about it. It is largely a drafting Amendment. Under the provisions of the Acts as they stand at present, when a claimant has received benefit for three months out of four his case is automatically reviewed by a court of referees, even although the insurance officer is satisfied that the claimant should continue to receive benefit. No question 59 of the validity of the claim is raised by the insurance officer. The court of referees look at it and, if they think fit, see the claimant, in order to satisfy themselves that it is right that the payment of benefit should continue. It does happen that, owing to pressure of work or other causes, there is delay in getting cases before the court of referees for review. In such cases the insurance officer has power under the existing Acts to give an interim determination on the claim to continue the payment of benefit pending the review by the court of referees. By this means any prejudice to the claimant is avoided, and he continues in receipt of benefit.
§ The procedure of reviewing claims where benefit has been received for three months out of four is repealed by the Third Schedule of the present Bill under the general repeal of Section 11 of the Act of 1920. The review of claims by courts of referees was substantially part of the condition requiring claimants to be genuinely seeking work. As that provision disappears—I do not quite know where the Bill stands now and I can only deal with it as if it were a workable Bill; in our opinion it was a workable Bill—and is replaced by Clause 4 of the present Bill, the process of review which was consequent on the genuinely-seekingwork condition disappears also. Therefore this Amendment is proposed. I beg to move.
Page 7, lines 24 and 25, leave out ("or under an interim determination of the insurance officer").—(Lord Arnold.)
THE LORD CHAIRMAN
The noble Lord, Lord Cozens-Hardy, has an Amendment on the Paper affecting the word "an interim." I do not know whether he proposes to move it.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Clause 8, as amended, agreed to.
§ Clause 9:
§ Provision as to payment of benefit.
§ 9.—(1) If in any case where a claim for benefit is made by a person in respect of a benefit period immediately following a benefit period in respect of any day of which he was entitled to or received benefit, a question is raised whether the claimant has not ceased to be entitled to receive benefit either because by reason of the provisions of Section four of this Act he is disqualified 60 for the receipt of benefit or because he has failed to satisfy the condition imposed by paragraph (b) of subsection (2) of Section fourteen of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1927, the claimant shall, unless and until it is decided by the court of referees that the claim should not be allowed and if he is otherwise entitled to benefit, be treated as being entitled to receive benefit, and benefit shall be payable accordingly.
§ (2) In this section the expression "benefit period" means the period of six working days in a week in respect of which benefit is payable.
§ LORD COZENS-HARDY moved to leave out Clause 9. The noble Lord said: I attach considerable importance to this Amendment. Let me take an imaginary case. A man goes to the exchange regarding work. The exchange says: "You are exactly the man that John Smith has asked for." If the man deliberately refuses to go to that job the consequences to him depend entirely on whether be happens to be a new claimant or a continuation claimant. If he is a man who generally keeps in employment by his own efforts and is now making his first call on the employment exchange, benefit can be refused, and his case will go to the court of referees. If, on the other hand, he is a man whose first thought when out of work is to establish a claim for benefit, and to register, and who, consequently, is already on benefit, he gets better treatment than the new claimant. Benefit to that man must continue to be paid under this clause and paid to him irrecoverably until the court of referees has dealt with his case. I should have no great objection to the clause in the Bill as it stands had it been confined to the second class of case mentioned in it—namely, where the disqualification is on the ground that the man is not normally engaged in insurable employment. That is a point which is often arguable and arises far less frequently than the cases under Clause 4. I cannot conceive of any justification for giving a person who is a continuation claimant the right to receive benefit pending the decision of the court of referees, whereas the new claimant has no such right. I beg to move.
Leave out Clause 9.—(Lord Cozens-Hardy.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
This clause really carries out the views of the Morris Committee. The noble Lord who moved the 61 Amendment stated the position to some extent. This question of the suspension of benefit in cases where a doubt arises as to the validity of the claim while the claimant is actually drawing benefit was dealt with by the Morris Committee in paragraph 72 of their Report. I will not read the paragraph because it is too long. They also referred to the matter in paragraph 83, in which they say:—We recommend that when once a claim has been admitted there should be no suspension of benefit until a decision by a court of referees and that where benefit is stopped by a court of referees it shall be from the date of the decision.There are, as the noble Lord said, two classes of case; but both questions are matters which will have to be referred to the court of referees for decision, if a question is raised by the employment exchange whether the claimant satisfies the conditions. Some days may necessarily elapse before the necessary steps can be taken to bring the question before the court and obtain a decision.
The view of the Morris Committee, which has been accepted by the Government, was that the old practice of stopping or suspending the benefit of a claimant who had been in receipt of it inflicted undue hardship in many cases. It has to be remembered that the clause deals with cases where, after scrutiny of the claims, benefit has been allowed. The individuals concerned are actually attending at the exchanges and are paid their benefit once a week because it has been held that their claims were good. The view is taken that it would be wrong in a case where that decision to allow benefit has been reached, to stop the payment of that benefit because later a question of doubt has arisen on both matters—not merely on the one which I think the noble Lord said he would not object to, but the view is taken on both matters which are dealt with by the clause. Normally no considerable time will elapse between the raising of the question and the obtaining of a decision by the court of referees; but it is the view of the Government, and this was accepted by the House of Commons, that it would be a hardship to deprive the claimant of benefit for the period which must necessarily elapse between the raising of the doubt and the taking of the decision. The point is this, that it has to be remembered that in a 62 number of cases where questions arise the decision will be that benefit should continue. If, therefore, the practice were to stop benefit on a question being raised, wrong would be done to the claimant by depriving him of benefit which was subsequently held to be due to him. I think that on the balance the argument is strongly in favour of the clause as it stands.
Might I remind the noble Lord that the reference to the Morris Report is not a very good one because that Report was made without knowledge of the change of onus brought about by Clause 4?
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 9 agreed to.
§ Clauses 10 to 13 agreed to.
§ Clause 14:
§ Crediting of contributions in respect of persons continuing education.
14.(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, provision may be made by regulations for crediting with contributions any persons who, having attained the minimum age for entry into insurance, are attending schools, courses of instruction or day continuation schools recognised by the Board of Education as efficient, or junior instruction centres or classes:
Provided that contributions credited under this section shall not be taken into account for the purposes of a claim for benefit made by a person who has attained the age of eighteen years.
§ LORD COZENS-HARDY moved, in subsection (1), after "classes," to insert "so recognised". The noble Lord said: I do not think this requires any explanation. I beg to move.
Page 9, line 32, after ("classes") to insert ("so recognised").—(Lord Cozens-Hardy.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
The reply to this Amendment is that the classes are not any concern of the Board of Education, and are not, therefore, ordinarily recognised by them either as efficient or inefficient. The junior instruction school classes are set up by the Ministry of Labour, and it inspects them regularly. I cannot accept this Amendment.
§ LORD ARNOLD
I should like to have notice of that question, but I should have thought not, because it is for younger people in most cases.
§ Loan ARNOLD
In my view that would be stretching language beyond a point at which it would be sustainable in a court of law if it came to argument there.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ Clause 14 agreed to.
§ Clauses 15 to 18 agreed to.
§ Clause 19 [Transitory provisions]:
§ LORD ARNOLD
The Amendments in my name are little more than drafting. I am prepared to explain them if your Lordships desire, but there is no point of substance in them, and I merely move.
Page 13, line 2, leave out ("five and").—(Lord Arnold.)
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
Page 13, line 2 after ("six") insert ("and eight and nine")
Page 13, line 2, leave out ("twelve") and insert ("sixteen").—(Lord Arnold.)
§ On Question, Amendments agreed to.
§ Clause 19, as amended, agreed to.
§ First Schedule:
§ FIRST SCHEDULE.
§ Weekly Rates of Unemployment Benefit in Case of Persons under the Age of Twenty-one Years.
|1. Persons who have attained the age of eighteen years:||s.||d.|
|2. Persons who have attained the age of seventeen years but are under the age of eighteen years:|
|3. Persons who are under the age of seventeen years:|
|"1. Persons who have attained the age of eighteen years||13||0|
|2. Persons who have attained the age of seventeen years but are under the age of eighteen years||8||3|
|3. Persons who are under the age of seventeen years||5||6|
§ The noble Lord said: I have put down this Amendment because I do not understand the reason why this differentiation is made between the rates of benefit. I am not speaking on the desirability of bringing these children into benefit, some of whom are brought in for the first time. Your Lordships have decided to do that. The noble Lord in charge of the Bill has made it quite clear to us that the basis of the rates of benefit has nothing to do-with wages, that it is not on a wage basis. He pointed out that a man with a wife and three children was to get 32s., which I think he said was the least that would keep body and soul together. That is where the man concerned is supposed to have dependants. These children cannot have any dependants and I would like to know whether he has consulted physiologists, or what authority has been consulted who has told the Government that the sum of money required to keep together the body and soul of a boy of 15 is 1s. greater than that required to keep together the body and soul of a girl of the same age. I think it is undesirable to inculcate in these children from the start that a girl ipso facto is economically of less value to the State than a boy. I think it introduces a wrong atmosphere and produces a lamentable effect on the status of women in industry. Therefore I move the Amendment.
Page 15, leave out lines 5 to 17 and insert the said new words.—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
§ LORD ARNOLD
The effect of this Amendment would be to average the benefit rates for boys and girls and for young men and women so that the same rate of benefit would be paid to the members of either sex at a given age. Despite the pleading of the noble Lord there are other things to be taken into consideration. There are other differences besides those of sex which bear upon this matter. The rates of contribution are lower in the case of young women—
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
May I interrupt the noble Lord? I agree the rate of contribution would have to be altered. I think that would be only right.
§ LORD ARNOLD
I was dealing with things as they are now. The rates of contribution are lower in the case of young women and girls than in the case of young men and boys. Similarly they are lower for women of 20 and upwards than for men of 21 and over. The rates of contribution from employer and employed for young men and young women are respectively is. 1d. and 11d., while for boys and girls they are 7½d. and 6½d., and for men and women 1s. 3d. and 1s. 1d. respectively. Again the rates of wages vary. Speaking generally the rates of wages for young women and girls are lower than for young men and boys. The same applies to wage rates for adult men and women. I am not arguing the point now, I am merely stating the position. It would be inconsistent to make this change for young women and girls and not to make any change at all in respect of adult women. If the question is to be dealt with it should be dealt with as a whole and not piece-meal. I think that is a reply which should be made to the noble Lord, though I do not expect it will satisfy him. We really could not have imported into the scheme at this stage something which is quite different to that which has hitherto obtained.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
May I point out that in the earlier stages the noble Lord told us definitely that these benefits have nothing to do with the wage basis, but he has now founded the largest part of the case for refusing my Amendment on the fact that wages are greater for men than for women.
§ LORD ARNOLD
As a matter of accuracy I must correct the noble Lord. I did not say they had nothing to do with the wage basis. I said there was no statistical relation between contributions and benefits, which was a very different thing.
§ On Question, Amendment negatived.
§ First Schedule agreed to.66
§ Second Schedule: