HL Deb 23 January 1930 vol 76 cc161-81

Order of the Day for receiving the Report of Amendments read.


My Lords, I beg to move that this Report be now received.

Moved, That the Report be now received.—(Lord Arnold.)


My Lords, I think it would be convenient if, before we go into the details of the Report stage, I made a very short statement as to the attitude of the Government towards the Amendments which appear upon the Paper. I desire in doing this—and it is one of the reasons for my doing it—to treat the House with all respect on a complicated matter of this character. Most of the Amendments are in the name of the Leader of the Opposition, Lord Salisbury, and I think I am right in saying that all of them are in the nature of drafting Amendments.


They are all consequential.


Therefore I do not propose to put the noble Marquess to the trouble of going through them all. But on the last Amendment, at the end of Clause 19, I think a question might arise, so if he would take that by itself there are one or two matters that my noble friend Lord Arnold would tike to call attention to in connection with it. The other Amendments, however, are consequential on the Amendment which was carried on Tuesday. Of course, we cannot seek to alter the opinion of the House at this stage on a point of that kind.

There are also two other Amendments. Perhaps I may say a word on an Amendment to Clause 7 which has only just been put into my hands, in the name of Lord Cozens-Hardy. I would suggest to him that if he wants that Amendment fairly considered it would be much more advantageous for him to move it after the Third Reading, for I have not had any time to consider it. I understand also that it has not been seen by the Lord Chancellor, whose opinion we value on matters of this kind. It is well within the right of the noble Lord, Lord Cozens-Hardy, to bring it forward if he likes, although it is not among the Marshalled Amendments, but I am suggesting to him that the more prudent course, if he wants this matter fully discussed, would be not to press it at this stage but to deal with it, as he could equally well do, after the Third Reading. That is a matter for his consideration.

The other Amendment is in the name of Lord Darling, who suggests a new clause after Clause 3. We have expressed our view more than once on maintaining Clause 4 as it was placed in the Bill. We do not want to trouble your Lordships with unnecessary Divisions. We shall, of course, wait and hear what Lord Darling has to say, but I do not see that his Amendment is likely to raise any different question from that which was raised in the first instance. We shall have to insist on the form of the clause, and, as your Lordships are well aware, when this Bill goes down to another place that will be the forth that we shall attempt to reintroduce. I do not want to go into any question of Privilege, except to say that in our opinion these are Privilege Amendments. Of course, we often put in Privilege Amendments, and then put in the clause afterwards. There is no harm in that, but these are matters primarily for the decision of the House of Commons, and we regard them from that point of view. I have only said these few words in order that I might shorten the discussion as much as possible. We have a good deal more work to do to-night before we adjourn, and I hope your Lordships will consider that the course which I have suggested is a convenient one.


My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble and learned Lord for the courteous tone of his speech. With regard to the Amendments which stand in my name, they are all designed to be consequential. If it should turn out that one of them has strayed beyond that strict limit I shall be very glad to be corrected by the Paymaster-General when he comes to deal with it. With regard to the question of Privilege, everyone knows that Privilege is becoming every day more and more a sham. The Government themselves in the course of this Bill here have inserted Amendments on their own Motion which are a breach of the Privilege of the House of Commons according to the strict interpretation; that is to say, Amendments moved by the Paymaster-General would have the effect of throwing an extra charge upon the taxpayers. He did not make any apology for doing that and I did not wish him to make an apology; anyway he did not. In another place the Government of course will make no apology and the matter will be put through directly without the least trouble. Therefore, this matter of Privilege is growing more and more threadbare almost every day. I will not say that every Bill which comes to your Lordships' House, but one out of every two Bills involves Amendments in your Lordships' House which are breaches of the strict rule of Privilege. All that the House of Commons does is this: if the majority agree with the breach of Privilege the Amendments are put in and if the majority do not agree they are not put in. That is really what happens, though there is a certain form of course which is put through. I think that the great officer of State, the Speaker, calls attention to the fact of its being a breach of Privilege; but beyond the form nothing happens.

The only other reference which the noble and learned Lord made was to the Amendment standing in the name of my noble and learned friend Lord Darling. I will not discuss it at this moment because we shall be discussing it directly. For my own part I regret very much that the Government have not seen fit to produce an Amendment in place of Clause 4 which your Lordships thought fit to strike out. I will not say more than this. No one could have listened to the debate without realising that the Government did not much believe in Clause 4 themselves. The proper method which I think they should have adopted in consequence of your Lordships' action is to have put on their considering caps and considered whether they could not produce something better than Clause 4 and place, it upon the Paper for your Lordships' consideration.


I think the noble Marquess is not justified in suggesting what our attitude has been towards Clause 4. Our attitude was very direct and specific—that Clause 4 from our point of view must remain in the Bill in the form in which the Bill came from another place. Had the noble Marquess thought it would have helped matters to try to re-insert Clause 4—




I am very glad to see that the noble Marquess shakes his head and I entirely agree with him. It would have been, I think, I will not say an insult to the House but hardly in conformity with the true dignity of the House after the very large majority by which Clause 4 was displaced to seek to re-introduce it. I think we made it clear that our policy is involved in Clause 4 and in no alteration of it. Subject to that I am obliged to the noble Marquess for what he has said, and I hope we shall not take long in dealing with the Report stage of the Bill.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and Amendments reported accordingly.

LORD DARLING moved, after Clause 3, to insert the following new clause:—

Amendment as to disqualifications for receipt of benefit.

4. If, on a claim for benefit, it be proved that the claimant has refused, and refuses, without reason, to work when employment is found for him, or if it be proved that the claimant is not endeavouring to obtain employment, he shall be disqualified from 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 be.

The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I feel that I owe an apology to your Lordships for having been so audacious as to put upon the Paper an Amendment concerning this Bill. Only forty-eight hours ago your Lordships came to a conclusion upon Clause 4 which left it out of the Bill altogether. When that had occurred there was no provision whatever for dealing with this subject of payment to people who were out of work, supposing they were not attempting to obtain it. I did not expect, I must say, that matters would have been left until now in that condition. The position was this. Here was a Bill which had received the attention of His Majesty's Government, introduced with all their authority, not in the form in which they first brought the matter before the House of Commons but in a more considered shape. After considerable debate, in which the Front Bench opposite took a notable part, Clause 4 was struck out of the Bill, and this great work appeared in the form in which people have deplored to find many another piece of our literature. A gap in those circumstances is generally marked "Hiatus valde deflendus." That was the condition in which I beheld this Bill after Clause 4 had been omitted. I was almost reduced to tears to see it in that condition, and I felt that as no one else would do anything to remedy this wrong I might be pardoned for making some slight effort to redress it.

I had naturally expected that the noble and learned Lord who speaks for the Government would have bent his mind to it. I cannot think that Clause 4 is the only way in which he can think of dealing with this matter after the criticisms that were passed. It had occurred to me that, being in earnest, as I have no doubt he is, to remedy this deficiency in the provision for these people, he would have come before your Lordships with some alternative proposal. If he would not do it I thought the Paymaster-General might perhaps do it. If neither of them was ingenious enough, there was the noble Earl who is in charge of the Bill relating to traffic who could have done it. None of them moved. I am not so surprised that my noble friend Lord Banbury, upon whose motion Clause 4 was left out, did not attempt to supply any alternative because in the technical sense he is not a learned person.


Not a learned person?


In the technical sense. The noble Lord knows many things that I have never learned, but in the technical sense what I said is correct. Therefore, I found myself in this position. I expected, as I said, some pabulum to be provided by the Front Bench opposite and there was nothing. My disappointment was such—I will not use my own words to express my feelings, but I will use those of John Milton: The hungry sheep look up and are not fed. So I tried to think of something which would escape hostile criticism from noble Lords opposite. I could not satisfy myself that I had found something which would be absolutely agreeable to them, when I read in the newspaper yesterday morning that the very White Paper for which my noble friend Lord Askwith had asked, the very White Paper which, apparently, could not be prepared until this clause was thoroughly out of the way, had been laid upon the Table; which Table I do not know, nor where, but I saw that it had been laid upon the Table somewhere. So I thought that I might possibly get some inspiration from the White Paper. I got the White Paper. I have it here. I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, has seen it yet. He had not seen it forty-eight hours ago, and it may not yet have been brought to his notice.

It is dated January, 1930, and bears the title: "Registry of Friendly Societies. Extracts from the Rules of Registered Trade Unions in respect of the seeking of work as a condition for the receipt of Unemployment Benefit." Its price is 4d., but I was given one for nothing. I read it, and I thought I might get that inspiration which had not been supplied to me from any other source. Here, I thought, might be the very food of which I was in need. Perhaps some of your Lordships have this Paper. I find on page 8 the rule upon this matter of a trade union which has 308,046 members. It is called the National Union of Railwaymen. Here, I thought, is the very thing to conciliate my noble and learned friend Lord Parmoor and the Paymaster-General and all the galaxy of talent on the Front Bench opposite, because I believe, until quite lately their colleague the Lord Privy Seal, Mr. J. H. Thomas, was the secretary of this union and must be thoroughly acquainted with this rule. As he was secretary of the society for years he must know it by heart. He must be taken to approve of it. Now, I know the noble and learned Lord, Lord Parmoor, has not seen this White Paper; he told us so forty-eight hours ago.


Forty-eight hours ago I had not seen it.


Now that I have made this discovery and bring it to his notice (I thought), he will assent without question to putting this in the place left vacant by the conduct and attitude taken upon Clause 4 by my noble friend Lord Banbury. So I simply copied this rule from the rules of the National Union of Railwaymen, merely making one or two verbal changes to fit it into the place left vacant by the excision of Clause 4. The words of the National Union of Railwaymen upon this subject are these:— Any member in receipt of donation benefit refusing, without reason— So, apparently, it is known that some of these people do refuse without reason. I have heard it questioned, but the railwaymen know they do refuse without reason, and so they say: Any member in receipt of donation benefit refusing, without reason, to work when employment is found him, or not endeavouring to obtain employment, shall forfeit his claim to the benefit …. Note the words "or not endeavouring to obtain employment." That casts upon him the doing of the act which should bring wages to him. They do not say that the secretary must go cap in hand and say: "I have found you a job; will you condescend to accept it?" No, they say: "If you who claim this benefit do not endeavour to obtain employment you shall forfeit your claim to the benefit."

In the last Session your Lordships may perhaps recollect I called your attention to a Statute of Henry VIII which is still in force, which entitles the Lord Privy Seal to come to your Lordships' House, to sit there upon the "sacks," as they are called in the Statute. From his place there, as Professor Pollard, who wrote upon the subject, believes, the Lord Privy Seal is entitled to address your Lordships. This is the Minister to whom it has been confided to solve the problem of unemployment. He was the secretary of this very union, and for all I know he may have drafted this rule. He must know of it, and he must approve of it. He must have seen it acted upon over and over again and I had hoped—but one is so often disappointed in one's dearest anticipations—I had hoped that he might have been here to contribute to this debate from the position which the Statute of Henry VIII gives him a right to occupy. He is not. But now that I have read to your Lordships this rule, and have shown you exactly where I take it from, with all humility trying to assist my noble and learned friend Lord Par-moor and his colleagues, I do hope that they will show some sense of gratitude. I hope that instead of saying: "No, we are quite content to leave this blank from which Clause 4 has been excised," they will say: "Here is a locus penitentiæ offered to us; we will take it; we will accept words which have the approval of the Lord Privy Seal; we will not put the House to a Division upon this, but we will assent to the clause being included in the Bill." I beg to move.

Amendment moved— After Clause 3, insert the said new clause.—(Lord Darling.)


My Lords, speaking for myself I am very glad indeed the noble and learned Lord, Lord Darling, has raised this question. The day before yesterday I voted in favour of the Government to maintain Clause 4, not because I was particularly in love with the wording of Clause 4 but because I thought that after this House had accepted without a Division the Second Reading of the Bill it was hardly fair to the Government to introduce what was in reality a wrecking Amendment, and not even to suggest, I will not say to move, but not even to suggest a direction in which the rejected clause might be improved. I confess it did not seem to me to be consistent with what I regard as the duty of this House as a revising Chamber, the principle of the Bill having been already accepted. Therefore I am exceedingly glad that the noble and learned Lord has enabled us to give the Government an opportunity of reconsidering the question.

I do not know that there is anything I need add to the speech of the noble and learned Lord, but I would point out—I think possibly this may commend itself to the occupants of the Government Benches—that I do not entirely agree with him as to the onus of proof in regard to the Amendment which he has put down, because, although it says, or implies, that it is the duty of an applicant for unemployment pay to be looking out for employment, yet the onus is upon somebody else to show he is not doing so. The words are perfectly clear: If, on a claim for benefit, it be proved"— That is to say, proved by somebody other than the claimant— that the claimant has refused, and refuses, without reason, to work when employment is found for him, or if be proved"— That again means proved by somebody other than the claimant— that the claimant is not endeavouring to obtain employment, he shall be disqualified from 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 be. Now I submit that this is a very proper and a very praiseworthy effort to persuade this House to put itself right not only in its own eyes but in the eyes of the public. I can hardly conceive any more unpopular action on the part of this House than that it should throw out a clause of this sort without suggesting any Amendment which would improve it and make it more workable. I shall certainly support the noble and learned Lord if he goes to a Division.


My Lords, I also am glad that my noble and learned friend Lord Darling has brought in this Amendment, but I think, although I am not learned, I can point out to him that he has made a mistake in the drafting. My noble and learned friend Lord Darling proposes that the words shall be:— If on a claim for benefit, it be proved that the claimant has refused, and refuses, without reason, …. And later his proposed new clause goes on:— or if it be proved that the claimant is not endeavouring to obtain employment …. The result of that is, as was pointed out by the noble Lord who has just spoken, to put the onus of proof upon the labour exchanges. If the noble and learned Lord will look at page 8 of the White Paper which has been just issued he will see that the words used by the National Union of Railwaymen are these. I am reading them, without any alteration, or without omitting any of them:— Any member in receipt of donation benefit refusing, without reason, to work when employment is found him, or not endeavouring to obtain employment, shall forfeit his claim to the benefit. If the noble and learned Lord will consent to leave out the words "it be proved that" in the first line and the words "it be proved that" in lines 3 and 4 of his proposed new clause, the clause would then read:— If, on a claim for benefit, the claimant has refused, and refuses, without reason, to work when employment is found for him, or if the claimant is not endeavouring to obtain employment, he shall be disqualified from 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 be. That Amendment would make the clause of my noble and learned friend correspond exactly with the words of the regulation of the Railwaymen's Union. If he would allow me, I should, if he goes to a Division with the Amendment as I suggest, be extremely pleased to tell with him. I therefore, beg to move to leave out in line 1 the words "it be proved that" and to leave out in lines 3 and 4 the words "it be proved that."

Amendments to the proposed Amendment moved— Line 1, leave out ("it be proved that"). Lines 3 and 4, leave out ("it be proved that.")—(Lord Banbury of Southam.)


My Lords, I do not think that all members of the House, unless they have studied the Bill carefully, can be quite aware of the points of difference between the Amendments proposed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Darling, and the noble Lord, Lord Banbury. The proposal of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Darling, is practically the trade union regulation, but with the additional security to the man that it is not to be alleged against him without proof that he has not attempted to obtain employment or to discharge the duties which the trade union regards it as necessary he should discharge. I do not know whether your Lordships will consider it wiser to go as far as Lord Darling proposes to go or whether you think Lord Banbury's more drastic proposal should be accepted; but there is one point I should like to put to your Lordships because it has not yet been said in the debate, and that is that one or other of these Amendments must be accepted or some similar Amendment must be put in. Otherwise the Bill would be in an inchoate state which it would not be in character with the dignity of this House to send to another place. Clause 6 of the Bill enacts a difference in the existing arrangement for testing the genuineness of the applicant. Clause 6 of the Bill is still there. Therefore, if Clause 4 remains out, without any words being inserted, there would be absolutely no process whatever which any applicant can go through to obtain any benefit that he wishes to receive. That would be an absurdity.

I would make an appeal to the Government that they should give the House some guidance. We know that their view is that Clause 4 must be restored to the Bill. That view has not been supported as far as I know by any speech from any member of the Government. They have not in any way succeeded in proving to your Lordships why this drastic change which was made in the Bill during its passage in another place, transferring the onus from the man to the labour exchange, should be preferred to the trade union rule which the noble and learned Lord, Lord Darling, has proposed to your Lordships to-night. I earnestly trust that we shall hear from the Government what their view is as between the two Amendments. I trust that whether we vote for one Amendment or another, we shall at least make the Bill consonant with the views expressed.


My Lords, like the noble Lord who has just sat down I find myself in a difficulty in deciding between these two Amendments. So far I have heard arguments from only one side of the House to help me to make up my mind which is the better for the Bill. Noble Lords opposite have maintained a conspiracy of silence all through this debate. I quite understand that they may not want to disagree with their colleague, the Lord Privy Seal. I can quite see that this might cause dissension in the Cabinet, but I do hope that, even at the grave risk of any trouble like that, they will give us some idea of the arguments against the proposal of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Darling, so that we may be able to make up our minds what is the best thing to do to improve this Bill.


My Lords, before we decide the matter which is before us, I should like to suggest that we might be instructed by my noble and learned friend who moved this Amendment. It appears to me that the Amendment to the Amendment which has been proposed by my noble friend Lord Banbury would make no difference whatever to the sense of Lord Darling's Amendment. Your Lordships will see from the Amendment as it stands on the Paper that something has to be decided by the court of referees. That court will have to decide whether a claimant "has refused, and refuses, without reason," and so forth. Is that not exactly the same thing as saying: "If it be proved that"? Really, the court of referees cannot decide that question unless it is proved to their satisfaction that the claimant "has refused, and refuses, without reason to work," and it appears to me, therefore, that the Amendments proposed by Lord Banbury would not alter the meaning of Lord Darling's Amendment in the smallest degree.


My Lords, I should not like it to be thought that I was disrespectful to the House. I think I stated as plainly as I could that our view was and remains what it always has been—namely, that Clause 4 should be in the form in which it came from another place. I agree, of course, with the noble Earl that it is almost impossible to frame the language of the Bill intelligibly without putting in something in place of Clause 4. But that is not our responsibility. Whether it is a question of onus one way or another is a matter into which I will not enter. The question that Lord Cushendun has raised is not our responsibility. We have stated most clearly what our position is, and we certainly cannot alter that position at all.


My Lords, the noble and learned Lord has not contributed a very great deal to your Lordships' consideration of this matter. Of course he has contributed courtesy—he always contributes courtesy—but I say quite plainly that he has not contributed very much else. There has been a rather remarkable circumstance since the debate which took place in your Lordships' House two days ago—namely, the laying of a White Paper upon the Table. I had not seen the White Paper until I came down here, but I have done my best to glance through the rules of the trade unions. I think twenty-six examples are given here, and certainly in twenty-five out of the twenty-six it is made a provision of the granting of out-of-work pay that the unemployed workman shall have done his best to find work. In every case except one—and I am not certain that I could not include the one—an obligation is laid upon the unemployed man to do his best, in some form or other, to find work. All the diatribes about the hardships thrown upon the worker which, I have no doubt, were indulged in in another place disappear. The workers themselves, when called upon to legislate for their own relief of unemployment, use the very same method which the Opposition are denounced for advocating in Parliament. Why in the world do not the Government follow the advice and example of the trade unions? The Government have to explain that. It is no good getting up at the Table, if I may say so with all consideration to the noble and learned Lord, and saying that the Government cannot vary from the position which they have taken up.


Well, they cannot. That is true. They will not.


They will not?


They cannot.


It is much more likely to be "cannot" than "will not."


Both of them.


The Government are called upon to defend this before Parliament and the country. They have not followed the practical advice of the trade unions. It is sometimes thought that noble Lords who sit on this side of the House are in some way opposed to the trade unions. I can assure the noble Lord that, so far as I aim concerned, that is not the case. I believe that the trade unions are an essential part of our industrial equipment and that we could not do without them. I have always said so. For my part I should have been ready to avail myself of their assistance far more than the Government have shown themselves ready to do. If the Government had definitely included in the Bill provisions under which they would have used the trade unions as intermediaries through whose agency they could have ascertained whether a particular unemployed man was genuinely seeking work or not, personally I should have been very glad to consider that suggestion in the most favourable spirit. I see no reason in the world why we should not avail ourselves of the co-operation of the trade unions in matters of this kind. After all, they are very well acquainted with the work. They do it every day and they know far better than most people what is in the mind and what are the convictions of the working class. Why should we not have availed ourselves of them? I have always been in favour of that, and there is an example.

Here are the trade union rules, in the White Paper laid before Parliament, in which in every single case except one—and I am not quite sure about that one—the rules provide that the unemployed worker, before he receives any benefit, is to have shown some evidence of his efforts to find work for himself. Why is that ignored? Why have not the Government anything to say in explanation of their inconsistency with the trade union example? There they are, a number of very able men sitting in a row, and yet they have nothing to say except that all is done that can be done. We want to know why the trade union example has not been followed. My noble and learned friend comes before your Lordships' House and proposes to embody, in a substitute for Clause 4, phraseology taken out of one of the trade union rules. I think that the drafting of such a clause can be properly undertaken only by the Government itself. We have not access to all the information which is at the disposal of the Govern- ment, and personally I should not like to be responsible for advising your Lordships to adopt any particular form of words in substitution for Clause 4. But that does not prevent my saying that Clause 4 is a very bad clause, and that your Lordships, if I may say so respectfully, did very right in striking it out of the Bill. That clause has gone. We call upon the Government to consider once snore their position. We call upon them to read the White Paper themselves, and we call upon them to provide some further guidance to your Lordships than the speech to which we have just listened from the Leader of the House.


My Lords, I have listened to this debate with feelings of very real apprehension and fear. It seems to me that the noble Lords beside me are gradually drifting into an opposition, a constant and irreconcilable opposition, to His Majesty's Government such as they were drifting into twenty years ago in this House. In the end it led to a clash, the result of which I believe every member of your Lordships' House sitting on this side deplores profoundly to-day. I do hope we shall take a lesson from what happened twenty years ago and not act in the same way as certain of your Lordships did on that occasion. If I might say something more particularly in regard to this Bill, it is to support His Majesty's Government in their position. This position happened over and over again twenty and twenty-five years ago. The Opposition of that day constantly took out provisions of a Bill which were thought vital and the omission of which was fatal to the Bill. On many occasions noble Lords on this side of the House used to implore us to amend their Amendments so as to make them more practicable and useful than they were. I do not think on any occasion we assumed such a responsibility. We said then, as I believe His Majesty's Government say now, that it was no part of our duty to amend Amendments with the very principle of which we profoundly disagreed. If they put an Amendment in the Bill vitally altering it, then the responsibility lies with those who make the Amendment and it is for them to introduce such alterations as are necessary to bring it into harmony with the rest of the Bill. Therefore I have some sympathy with the Government in this respect.

Is there not something in what the noble Marquess has said which would really persuade him that this is not the proper place to deal with this question? He has called attention to the practice of a number of trade unions. Are there not in another place members of trade unions intimately acquainted with this question, who are accustomed to administer the very regulations to which he has drawn attention Would it not be better for them to be asked to make such Amendments if they think Amendments are desirable in that House, whether the Amendments are in accordance with the provisions of the Bill introduced by His Majesty's Government or not? It would be an admirable thing if these people, who are intimately acquainted with this very position, were asked to deal with it rather than that we should be asked to deal with it. It is evident from the very nature of the thing that these regulations drawn up by members of trade unions for members of trade unions would find much more able technical critics in another place than we can find here. Therefore, I hope His Majesty's Government will not think it necessary to make any alterations or suggest any Amendments beyond the Bill as they have introduced it into your Lordships' House.


My Lords, I am really astonished at the speech of the noble Earl, the Leader of the Liberal Party. He seems in a very timorous mood this afternoon. I do not know what has made him adopt this attitude. Perhaps it is that so few of his followers followed him into the Lobby on this very Amendment. I believe they were only two or three and now one of his supporters, Lord Sandhurst, says this afternoon he was very sorry he did go into that Lobby. The reason the noble Lord gave was that there was nothing in the Bill in place of the omitted clause and as far as I understand the noble Lord is now going to vote for one of my noble friends' Amendments. It is not a very wise or courteous course for this House to send back this Bill to the other place without Clause 4. It makes the Bill look foolish and all we are trying to do is to remedy a gap which the Government ought to make good. The noble Lord has told us that we must always agree, but I always thought that this House was a House of revision. What are we here for if we are always to agree with what is put up by the other House? We might as well be abolished at once, and I would prefer that rather than come here and be told we must always agree with whatever Amendment or proposal is put forward by whatever Party is in power.

That is not the right way to deal with public business. I suggest we should make good the gap this afternoon and I am really astonished that the Government have not told us whether these rules of the trade unions were considered or were known to them when the Bill was passing through the House of Commons. Were they or not? We have never had an answer on that point. They are laid before us marked "January." It is most important for us to know whether these rules were present to the minds of the Cabinet when the measure originally came before the House of Commons. After all, this Party has never been against trade unions. These rules were made by those who know the work of workmen best, the trade unionists themselves. They are made to protect those men who are working or genuinely seeking work from the depletion of their funds by those who are unworthy of support. In the same way it is our duty here to protect the public purse from people who are making inroads upon it that might not to be made. I am really surprised at finding that the Government do not deign to answer our question. There are eight noble Lords on the Government Benches at this moment and they remind me of Mr. Disraeli's phrase: "A lot of extinct volcanoes." I am sorry it has come to that so early in the history of this Government and I hope that, before the debate closes, the Paymaster-General, who knows everything about this Bill and even corrected the Leader of the House about the Amendment on the Paper, will tell us this afternoon whether that White Paper, which has been so grudgingly furnished to us this afternoon at the latest moment, was in possession of the Cabinet when the Bill was discussed in another place. We are entitled to an answer on an important question of that kind, because then the House can decide what it is going to do on the respective Amendments.


My Lords, may I point out that on page 2 of the White Paper Sir George Robertson's letter is dated "January 15," a, week ago?


My Lords, I hardly agree with my noble friend's comparison of the Government Bench to a range of extinct volcanoes. Volcanic they may be, but some of them have never begun to erupt at all. I think that they must be internally bubbling with heated convulsions about this question on which, I suppose, they are putting a stopper by the process of sitting on one another and keeping it down. The fact is that without further communication with another place, without seeing what is going to happen there, the Government Bench here are not going to commit themselves to anything. They take refuge in the legal question, which is embodied in the old Clause 4, and that is the burden of proof. Which of two parties is the one to begin? It is often a very nice question in litigation, and the person who can hold the tongue the longer is sometimes at considerable advantage; but it is not a position of great dignity for Ministers of the Crown in your Lordships' House to be doing their very best to keep to themselves the policy which they propose to lay before the Government in the event, which they have no right to exclude, of your Lordships' action in striking out Clause 4 meeting with acceptance in another place.

The Lord President is not only a most prominent and influential and experienced member of the Government, but he is also Leader of this House, and we are entitled to look to him for guidance, and to his colleagues for assistance, but he has taken up the attitude—not without some encouragement from, I hardly venture to call him his ally, but from his friendly critic—of saying: "We will have our own way or we will have none, and you may say what you like about Bills in this House, but when we get them back to another place nothing will come of it, and we will have our own way as before." However it may be dressed up in words, that is not, I venture to say, the way in which to treat your Lordships, and I do not think you ought to be intimidated when it is practised upon your Lordships, by your being told that if you are not careful the events of 1911 may recur. There are some people who never can forget the events of 1911. Like the words of Mr. Cobden, they seem to be an obsession.

It is obvious that this Bill is an administrative measure, difficult to work if there is nothing corresponding to Clause 4. But why is the Government, which said that this Bill was necessary and brought it before the Legislature, to refuse now to withdraw the Bill and yet say it will have no more to do with it? Why is it to be allowed to contend that a Bill, owing to a perfectly legitimate Amendment, has been interfered with, and say: "Unless we have Clause 4 as it came to this House, we will not say another word in your Lordships' House at all"? Clause 4 in this House is not the clause as it started in another place. Second thoughts may be best, and this was a second thought. Nobody exactly knows how the original Clause 4 suffered change and became the deceased Clause 4. The attitude which the Government take up by the mouth of the Lord President is that they will have no more to say about Clause 4 No. 2, mark you, not about Clause 4 No. 1. Of course, debate is killed under that system. If there are two sides, but one side will not say anything, you cannot have debate. You can only have dissertation, and I think it is contrary to the place which your Lordships' House is entitled to hold in the legislative system that we should be treated in this way.

On Question, Amendments to the proposed Amendment negatived.

On Question, original Amendment agreed to.

Clause 5 [Repeal of fourth statutory condition]:


My Lords, my Amendment is purely consequential.

Amendment moved— Page 4, line 16, at end insert ("until the first day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-one").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendment agreed to.

Clause 7 [Examination and determination of claims]:

LORD COZENS-HARDY had given Notice of two Amendments, including one to insert a new subsection after subsection (2). The noble Lord said: My Lords, the Amendment which I have ventured to put down is one which does not contain any principle to which I think the Government would object. It has reference to the definition of "reasonable" under trade union rules. I hope that time for consideration will enable the Government to accept the Amendment in some such form as I propose. Therefore I accept the suggestion of Lord Parmoor and do not press the Amendments now.

Clause 15 [Further amendment of s. 14 (12) of 17 & 18 Geo. 5. c. 30]:

Amendments moved— Page 10, line 17, at end insert ("Provided that no person shall be entitled to receive benefit under the said subsection (2) of Section fourteen of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1927, as extended by the Unemployment Insurance (Transitional Provisions Amendment) Act, 1929, or by the present Act, after the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-one"). Page 10, line 42, at end insert ("until the first day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-one").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 16 [Minor Amendments]:

Amendments moved— Page 11, line 20, leave out ("be made") and insert ("have effect") Page 11, line 22, at end insert ("until the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-one").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

Clause 19:

Interpretation, repeal, application, short title and commencement.

(8) This Act shall continue in force until the thirty-first day of March, nineteen hundred and thirty-one, and no longer.

Amendments moved— Page 12, line 30, leave out ("are hereby repealed") and insert ("shall") Page 12, line 31, at end insert ("cease to have effect until the first day of April, nineteen hundred and thirty-one").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)

On Question, Amendments agreed to.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved, at the end of the last subsection, to insert "and thereafter the Unemployment Insurance Acts, 1920 to 1929, shall have effect as if this Act had not been passed." The noble Marquess said:

My Lords, I understand that the Government have some observations to make upon this Amendment, and, of course, I will be willing to be guided by them.

Amendment moved— Page 13, line 15, at end insert ("and thereafter the Unemployment Insurance Acts, 1920 and 1929, shall have effect as if this Act had not been passed").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


My Lords, the only observation I have to make is that we shall be prepared to go to a Division upon this Amendment.


I had not intended to say anything disrespect

Resolved in the affirmative, and Amendment agreed to accordingly.

Second Schedule: