HL Deb 15 March 1949 vol 161 cc349-67

5.5 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move that the Special Order, as reported from the Special Orders Committee on Wednesday, February 23 last, be approved. I think that, in the light of the discussions last week and of the considerable interest which was taken in these Regulations in another place, your Lordships would not think I was carrying out my duties satisfactorily if I were to content myself with a mere formal moving of these Regulations. Therefore, I will attempt in a very few minutes to bring to your Lordships' notice the main features of them; but first I ought to point out that there are two small printers' errors which will be corrected. On page 4, paragraph 4, the third line, the plural "regulations" should be singular; and at the bottom of page 5, in the last line of all, where it says "which the person concern" it should obviously be "which the person concerned."

These Regulations follow very closely indeed three other sets of Regulations which have been before your Lordships during recent months—namely, the National Health Service Regulations which were approved on June 22, 1948, the Transport Regulations which were approved on July 15, 1948, and the National Insurance Compensation Regulations, which were approved on December 14, 1948. On those occasions no question was raised, and as most of the matters which called for discussion under these Regulations call equally for discussion under the others, it is a little difficult to understand why this particular set should have given rise to the amount of controversy which has taken place.

As your Lordships are aware, the Regulations are laid under Section 55 of the Electricity Act, 1947, which provides for compensation to be paid to persons who have lost their emoluments or sustained losses in one way or another as a result of the nationalisation of the electricity industry. The number of persons who are likely to be affected by the Regulations is not very large. It is not possible to say exactly how many there are, but obviously this industry is one which is in a very expanding state and it is only in regard to a few directors and a few rather highly-paid members of the managerial staff who were near to the time that they would have had to retire that the problem of compensation is likely to arise. The great mass of men who have been building up this industry successfully for years past will continue to take part in this great enterprise.

The Regulations are divided into four parts. The first part is, perhaps, of greatest importance, for it concerns entitlement—the conditions which have to be satisfied in order that the claimant for compensation may put forward his claim. Your Lordships will see that the man must have served not less than eight years immediately preceding the vesting date, in order to be able to claim; and that it is not, and never has been, the intention to compensate part-timers. In order to deal with the question of what is a part-timer, I should like to draw your Lordships' attention to the proviso on the top of page 2, and I hope your Lordships will agree with the criterion established of an average weekly aggregate of thirty hours' work: there was a certain amount of discussion about that matter in another place. The claimant must show a loss of employment or loss of emolument, or diminution of emolument, or worsening of position. Those are the three alternative types of loss which he must show in order to establish his claim. There are a number of other important clauses in Part I, dealing particularly with such matters as the position of people who have been engaged in war service. I think I need not draw your Lordships' attention to them in any sort of detail.

Part II deals with the mount of compensation. There your Lordships will see that, in assessing compensation, the assessing authority must have regard to a number of considerations which are set out in the first paragraph of Regulation 6, such as "the terms and conditions of his employment, including any accrued or prospective pension rights"; the terms and conditions of any employment which he may have taken up, or of employment which he ought to have taken up, and matters of that kind which are obviously very relevant indeed to the question of assessing his compensation. Your Lordships will see that in Clause (4) of this Regulation the ceiling of £4,000 is fixed as the upper limit beyond which the Regulations will not entitle the man to compensation. A good deal of discussion has taken place about that upper limit. I would draw your Lordships' attention to the fact that it has been fixed on two, if not three, previous occasions and has always been part of the Government's policy in respect of this problem of compensation. Then in Regulation 7 of Part II we go on to the question of the immediate compensation which is payable so soon as the man suffers the loss. "Unless within one month" notice is served on him that his claim is rejected, he is entitled to an immediate compensation based on the salary which he has been receiving, which will continue until such time as his substantive compensation, which is dealt with in the next regulation, Regulation 8, has been fixed. The way in which that is done is provided particularly in Clause (3) of Regulation 8, from which your Lordships will see how the compensation will in the ordinary way be decided.

Then, in Regulation 9, we have an interesting and valuable type of compensation called residual compensation, which is provided to safeguard the man in respect of the pension rights which he would have earned if he had not become redundant and lost his position in the industry. There a useful and, I think, generous provision is made by which, in the case of men who are over forty-five, the compensating Board will be able to give them added years, so that they will in that way be able to build up their pension position. Part III deals with the assessment. The assessment will be carried through by the Board, in the first instance, but, if the claimant is dissatisfied with the decision given by the Board as to the amount of compensation awarded, then under Regulation 12 he has the right of appeal. In Regulation 11, provision is made for a review of the substantive compensation because ob- viously the position of the claimant may vary from time to time. It is only right that there should be provision for a review. Part IV is entitled "Miscellaneous." It is largely concerned with a number of miscellaneous procedural provisions which I do not think I need ask your Lordships to look at in detail. I hope that your Lordships will feel that these Regulations are satisfactory Regulations for the purpose of dealing with the compensation which, under the Act, is payable to men who have lost their positions, and that your Lordships will accept them. I beg to move.

Moved, That the Special Order as reported from the Special Orders Committee on Wednesday, the 23rd of February last, be approved.—(Lord Chorley.)

5.16 p.m.


My Lords, I think it is well known and clear to all of us that one cannot compensate a man with money for the loss of a career. It is like a wound. We all know that Dr. Watson's pension did not prevent his shoulder, or sometimes his leg, from aching in the damp autumnal nights. In this way, the money can only be a salve.


May I interrupt to remind the noble Lord that Dr. Watson recalls later, in the story The Hound of the Baskervilles, that he was reckoned fleet of foot and, although he was out-distanced by Holmes, he outdistanced the little detective.


The noble Lord is quite right, but I might draw his attention to the fact that the mist had only just reached Dr. Watson; and it is a positive fact that the dampness which brought on this disability had not yet affected the fleetness of his foot! We have to see whether, in these Regulations, something like justice is done in the matter of providing compensation for loss of earning power. It always seems to me rather strange that when we speak of justice as administered by the British courts we boast that it is better that a hundred guilty men should get off than that one innocent man should suffer. Yet, when we turn to justice as administered by His Majesty's Treasury, we take the reverse view: it is better that one hundred men should go away with some grievance, rather than that one man should suffer from over-lavishness. Therefore, we have to look at these Regulations in that light, to see what chances of injustice lie lurking in them.

I am going to show your Lordships that there are considerable possibilities of injustice. The noble Lord who expounded with clarity and brevity these extremely complex Regulations told your Lordships about the three types of compensation—immediate, substantive and residual. It seems to me an injustice that, for the purposes of calculating substantive compensation, there should be deducted the amount which has been paid as immediate compensation. To my mind, that is quite unfair. Secondly, in a calculation of substantive compensation, the Board are given a maximum. They are not given a minimum, so that in practice the compensation can vary from nil up to the level prescribed in the Regulations. There is an element of possible injustice. Thirdly, there is a Regulation to the effect that in calculating the compensation the Board must take account, not only of the diligence with which, and extent to which, a man has sought other employment, but of the emoluments which he might have obtained. There, immediately, is a possible element of injustice. The Board judge a man not on the employment that he has obtained but on the employment that he might have obtained. If the Regulation is administered properly I have nothing against it. But there is another possible element of injustice. If the Board were to offer a man a job which he could not accept without great loss of personal dignity, and then claimed that that offer constituted the measure of his worth in the open market, that would be a dastardly trick.

Those are potential injustices. In the matter of the £4.000 limit there is an actual injustice. Why is there a limit? In the Prime Minister's book of self-revelation (I think it is called The Labour Party Perspective) at about page 135, your Lordships will find that inequalities of income are to be redressed through the Budget, not through nationalisation. That is an unexceptional sentiment. But why is it that the Prime Minister can never control his lieutenants? When they have a chance of doing it outside the Budget, they always try to do so. The noble Lord, Lord Chorley, referred to this, and said that it was Government policy. If so, the Prime Minister has changed his mind. It may be Government policy, but that does not make it justice.

There is yet a fifth matter, dealing with the question of the whole-time, or one should say substantially whole-time, employees. They will have to prove that for thirty hours a week for the last eight years not only were they working on electrical work but they were precluded from engaging in any other activity in consideration of emoluments. But that is impossible to prove. They may be local authority employees engaged on gas, electricity or water works; they may be the whole-time executive directors. So it is in fact an impossible thing to prove, if the onus of proof lies on them.

Claims up to ten years from the date of loss can be covered under these Regulations, It is to be hoped that the records, which will be the sole proof of these claims and which were formerly the property of the electricity authorities, will be retained by the Board. One further point of possible injustice arises in a comparison of the Regulations with the Transport Regulations. The Minister at some part of the proceedings undertook that a man should receive compensation if he resigned owing to being offered a job not reasonably comparable to his existing job. That is embodied in the Transport Regulations, but it finds no place in these. Why, I do not know. Those are the points of potential or actual injustice.

I have a few points of detail of which I have given notice to the noble Lord, Lord Chorley. The first is: What right to compensation, or indeed pension, has a man who left an electricity authority to join a board before the vesting date and who becomes redundant or sick? I miss out my second point. My third is: Why is a limit of 5 per cent. imposed in Regulation 6 (6)? Fourth: What is the meaning of Regulation 9 (3) (b)? I cannot understand it, and the explanation of the Minister in another place did not make it any more comprehensible to me. Fifth: What does Regulation 9 (4) mean? Sixth: Will electricity boards be instructed to refrain from offering men employment on condition that they contract out of their rights to compensation? My seventh point is perhaps a minor one. The definition of war service contains a different series of services from those in the Transport Regulations. This does not include detention as a civilian overseas, service in the fishing fleet or as a member of the Women's Land Army. They may not apply to any individual concerned.

I cannot suggest to your Lordships that you should reject these Regulations. The unfortunates have waited nearly a year for them, and rejection would be a serious blow to them. I think I have said enough to show that everything depends upon the spirit in which they are administered. We can only hope they will be administered with justice, tempered with Christian humanity. That is the least we can hope for these unfortunate people who have been servants of the public and who have lost their careers through no fault of their own.

5.27 p.m.


My Lords, before I say the few words I have to say on these Regulations, I should like to clarify my position and to inform your Lordships that I am a dispossessed chairman of several electricity undertakings which were taken over under the Act; that I have no financial interest whatsoever in these Regulations, and that my interest is concerned with the employees of our companies and of other companies and municipalities throughout the country. My noble friend who has just sat down referred to the length of time it has taken to produce these Regulations. I should like to give the actual dates and what happened. The Royal Assent was given to this Act on August 13, 1947. The vesting date was April 1, 1948. During that time constant pressure was put forward in your Lordships' House to try to get these Regulations produced. The first draft of the Regulations was submitted or laid, and withdrawn, on July 10, 1948. To be perfectly fair to the Government, I understand that those Regulations were withdrawn because a good deal of opposition was put forward against them. However that may be, the final draft of the Regulations was not made until February, 1949—a year and a half after the Act was passed. During that time many employees, scattered up and down the country, have lived in a state of uncertainty and anxiety.

When the Regulations were withdrawn in July, I understand that the Government consulted certain associations and other organisations with a view to their revision. I should like to know whether those who were consulted approved of the Regulations as they have been laid to-day or whether they were forced to accept them because they were unable to get better ones. Looking at the Hansard report of the proceedings during the passage of the Regulations through another place, I note that even that staunch supporter of the Government, Mr. Palmer, the Member for North Wimbledon—who is a qualified electrical supply engineer and, I presume, in that capacity advises the Government in such matters in so far as he is able—gave utterance to some very severe strictures regarding the effect of certain of the Regulations. Unhappily, Members of Parliament to-day do not always vote as they speak. I should have thought that the Member for North Wimbledon, having regard to the strong expressions which he used, might at least have abstained from voting, and not do as he did—that is, vote for the approval of the Regulations.

These Regulations are such as one would expect from a Government who seize people's property and pay for it at a price which the Government consider proper and sufficient whilst withholding any right to arbitration, as happened in the case of the electricity undertakings. When the Regulations were being discussed in this House, the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, if my memory serves me aright, pressed the Government to frame them on such lines as were customary in regard to compensation paid by private companies or municipalities. He urged that they should not be drawn up upon rigid, bureaucratic lines. To the best of my recollection, the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor gave an undertaking that that would be done. But, as has been pointed out by my noble friend, a number of these Regulations do not conform to the undertaking which was given at that time.

Take, for instance, the Regulation with regard to the ceiling of £4,000, concerning which there has been some discussion. The noble Lord says that that figure of £4,000 was adopted in the Transport Regulations and other Regulations. Nevertheless, that is not in accordance with the customary practice of the companies of which those men were employees. I would like to put this question—I may say that I can put it in your Lordships' House, although I notice that in another place it was said to be out of order. The present Chairman of the Central Electricity Authority receives remuneration of £6,500 a year. I should like to ask the noble Lord whether that gentleman's compensation, when the time comes, is going to be based on £4,000 a year or £6,500 a year? This is an interesting point upon which many people in the country would like some enlightenment.

Then there is the Regulation 1 (1). Under this Regulation, before any man is eligible for compensation he must have served continuously in the employment, presumably, of the Area Board, or the supply company for eight years. As I read the Regulations, this one is quite rigid. There is no way of getting over it. Apparently there is no elasticity about it at all, no proviso under which a man concerned can escape the eight-year period. Suppose a man has served 7 years and 360 days. Is he not to receive compensation, although his service may have teen as adequate and perhaps even more adequate than that rendered by a man who has served for eight years? That, again, was a point which the Member for North Wimbledon emphasised when criticising the Regulations.

I would like to point out here that the old Electricity Act provided no qualifying period where the question of compensation arose, and for a very good reason—namely, that many of the employees of the electricity supply undertakings came from manufacturing concerns or other engineering concerns and might not have served a length of time which (as in the case envisaged in the Regulations) would have enabled them to claim the eight years' service necessary to receive compensation. I take it from my reading of the Regulations—and if am wrong I shall be very glad to learn that I am—that in these particular cases the Tribunal has no authority to alter that period except if war service has intervened. And even in regard to war service—according to my reading of the Regulations—there are qualifications which might render such service nugatory so far as taking it into account for compensation purposes is concerned.

I can conceive of men who, when they have served only five or six years, and having reached an age of around sixty, are discharged, and who might be very hardly hit if they were not compensated. We know well that when men reach the age of sixty or thereabouts it is extraordinarily difficult, should they lose their jobs, for them to find fresh employment. It is even difficult for men of fifty or fifty-five to find fresh employment of the kind which they deserve, having regard to their former experience and their qualifications. Such men as these, I think, may be very hardly hit when cases of that kind arise.

Then there is Regulation 6 dealing with factors affecting compensation. I do not wish to lake up too much of your Lordships' time arguing about these two Regulations, but I would like to point out that there are cases in which men may be very badly hit by their operation. For instance, in one of the companies with which I was concerned we had an employee aged about sixty-three or sixty-four. He was one of Our best men. After nationalisation took place, three undertakings were merged and he was the unfortunate man who was pushed out, for the obvious reason that he was very near an age where he would retire on a pension. He was not quite old enough for that, so he had to seek other employment. He was offered other employment, but it was of a nature which he could not be expected to accept; consequently he is still trying to find other employment in connection with manufacturing companies. The point I want to emphasise is that in the case of this man, if he had retired in our employ and so long as the company was under private enterprise, although the pension awarded him would not have been sufficient to keep him, because he had not served many years, we as a board would naturally have given him an additional sum to enable him to live after he had retired. I cannot see that elasticity allowed at all under these Regulations.

This House is in a peculiar position. Your Lordships have not the power to amend these Regulations, as my noble friend Lord Hawke has said. It is a very unsatisfactory procedure and I pointed this fact out at the time when we were pressing for these Regulations. It is a procedure which should be altered in these days where so often administrative regulations matter as much as the actual legislation itself. I know the difficulties about such a step, but I wish to press to-day that if these Regulations could have been debated in your Lordships' House, one by one, a number of them might have been amended to the advantage of the employees who are to benefit from them. The same applies in another place. A very short time after Regulations are passed, it is the printed word which will govern their application, and not the spirit.

My noble friend hoped that they will be administered in the spirit in which he himself spoke. I have no faith whatsoever in this spirit. We have had it over and over again from the Government Benches throughout this Parliament—they will see this happens; they will do that; they promise to look at this or that Regulation, and see that it is carried out in that way. It is impossible for any Minister to do that, once he has left office. We do not know how long the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, will sit on that Bench or hold his present position. Who is to look after the spirit of the conduct of these Regulations? They will go to the Department, and the Department have no option—I speak as an old departmental official—but to read these Regulations, and if they are uncertain about their application, to submit them to their legal advisers. I have said this on several occasions in your Lordships' House, and noble Lords on the Front Bench opposite may be becoming weary of my doing so, but I repeat it. I can express only a pious hope that the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, so long as he sits on the Front Bench, will see that the spirit of the Regulations is carried out, but I have absolutely no hope whatsoever that they will be after he leaves office.

5.46 p.m.


My Lords, I cannot let the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Chorley, in introducing these Regulations pass entirely without comment. While grateful to him for his brief explanation, I was rather surprised when he said that he was somewhat puzzled why these Regulations should have evoked so much debate in another place and in your Lordships' House, whereas regulations in other nationalised industries had passed comparatively easily and undebated. The reason is that there are many weaknesses in these Regulations which in debate in another place were exposed on both sides, from the noble Lord's own supporters as well as from the Opposition, and which have been exposed to-day by my noble friends Lord Hawke and Lord Elibank. There are weaknesses and possible injustices, and in these respects these Regulations differ from previous ones.

I am not going to repeat what my noble friends have said. I would put only one point, and that is, the weakness of the system in which we are taking part to-day—the system of legislation by regulation. Compensation by regulation is a comparatively new feature in our legislative life. Up to and including the Water Act of 1945 the principle of compensation was that in a Bill where a reform was taking place in the public interest, where hardship was caused, the whole or part of that hardship was made good; that was provided for in the Act itself. We have departed from the principle of incorporating in the Act the provisions for compensation, and have come to this procedure of compensation by regulation. I think the weakness of that system is shown by this instance.

First, as my noble friend Lord Elibank said, it is eleven months since the vesting date and some eighteen months since the Bill was passed. My first criticism is of the time lag entailed in this procedure. My second criticism is that if the provisions were shown in the Act, they could be debated in detail, and all those concerned would know where they stood. My third criticism is that now we can take the Regulations only in toto. We do not say that the bulk of these Regulations are altogether bad. We say they are bad here and there, and we have tried to point out in a reasonable way where the weaknesses are. I believe it would be for the good of Parliament as a whole—not from any Party point of view—were we able to get down to regulations like these bit by bit, and amend them. I believe the Government would be willing, if that were possible, to accept certain amendments. That is the third weakness.

The fourth weakness is that those who are compensated by regulation are really at the mercy of the Executive in the future in that another Minister could alter the regulations, if he so desired. As my noble friend Lord Elibank said, pledges given by a Minister are no doubt given in good faith. But Ministers come and go; the Executive remains, and those affected are left in the hands of the Executive.


Is the noble Lord suggesting that the Executive do not go to the Minister for instructions?


No. The Executive go to the Minister for instructions. Another Minister, however, might have a different personal view from that of his predecessor who had given a pledge in respect of a particular point. A Minister says that, so long as he is Minister, this and that shall not happen. But when he goes a new Minister is told by his advisers: "Here are the Regulations. Your predecessor said so-and-so, but you are not bound in any way by that. You are bound by the Regulations, but within certain limits you can interpret those Regulations as you, the Minister, think fit." I hope I make the point clear. The noble Lord may or may not agree. That is the fourth weakness.

There are many points with which one could deal in detail, but most of them have been adequately dealt with by my two noble friends to-day, and also in another place. I only wish to make the general point of the weakness of legislation by regulation on the four grounds I have put forward. I hope that, though we have to stay by this system, future regulations in other nationalisation measures will be better than those submitted to us to-day—which we approve in general, but wish to criticise in certain particulars—because we have tried to expose their weaknesses.

5.53 p.m.


My Lords, I am very sensible of the spirit in which this discussion has been conducted. I can say straight away, in answer to the last observation of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, that any criticism of a genuinely constructive nature in respect of regulations will certainly be borne in mind in connection with any further sets of regulations of this type which have to be brought before your Lordships' House.

The noble Lord, Lord Hawke, made a number of points. He said, with some force, that in the case of these Regulations there was a possible element of injustice. He pointed to one or two cases where that might be so. Of course, there is always some possible element of injustice if the Regulations are not administered in a just manner. I thought the noble Lord provided the answer in his final remarks, when he said that it all depended on whether the Regulations were, in fact, administered in a just manner. I quite agree with that. There is the possibility of appeal. If in a particular case—I hope there will not be such a case—the Board make a mistake, a claimant who feels that he has not received justice can appeal to the Referee or Board of Referees, who will go into the whole problem anew and see that justice is done.


The noble Lord will forgive me for interrupting. I would like to ask if there would be an appeal on the question of the eight years.


There cannot be an appeal on the question of the eight years. I will deal with that in a moment. The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, said that, so far as he was concerned, he did not believe it was possible that these Regulations could be administered with justice—they had to be administered au pied de la lettre. As I understood him, he appealed to me to see that the Department administered them, so far as possible, with justice. But neither I nor the Department have anything to do with the administration of these Regulations; they are administered by the Board. All the Department are concerned with is seeing that a good set of Regulations is established. After that it is for the Board to administer them and, if a claimant is dissatisfied with the decision given by the Board, he then has the right of appeal to the Referee or Board of Referees, which is established by the Minister of Labour, after consultation with the noble and learned Viscount, the Lord Chancellor.

The noble Lord, Lord Hawke, criticised the £4,000 ceiling, as have other critics of the Regulations. On the whole, I think the mass of the people in this country feel that a £4,000 ceiling is reasonable. So far as my recollection goes, until this particular occasion there has been no criticism of it whatever. The noble Lord also referred to difficulties of proof, and hoped that the Boards would keep relevant documents, as this problem may arise at any time over a period of ten years. It will obviously be necessary for the Boards to keep the relevant documents, because a claimant will come and make a prima facie case, and it will be for them to show that it is a wrong case. Naturally, they will wish to preserve the evidence on which they can base their case.

The noble Lord, Lord Hawke, asked me a number of specific questions, and I am obliged to him for sending them to me beforehand. The first deals with the rights to compensation or pension of a man who has left an electricity undertaking to join a Board before the vesting date, and who thereafter becomes redundant or sick. This question is, to some extent, taken up with pensions. So far as that side of the matter goes, it is not within the scope of this discussion, because the problem of pensions is dealt with under the Electricity Pension Rights Regulations, 1948, which have already been accepted by your Lordships' House. So far as the other side of it goes, it is most unlikely that this particular problem will arise, because only a few key men were taken on—due to the fact that they were key men—between the passing of the Act and the vesting date. It is unbelievable that such men will become redundant. But if they did become redundant, the position arising is quite clear in the Regulations themselves. Regulation 1 defines persons entitled to compensation, and in the fourth paragraph it provides specifically that any person taken into the employment of an Electricity Board in the period beginning at the passing of the Act and ending on the vesting date … who but for being taken into the said employment … would have been a person to whom the foregoing paragraphs apply, falls within the definition of those who are entitled to claim compensation. Therefore, the point is covered.

I believe the noble Lord said he did not wish for a reply to the second question. The third question is: What is the object of the 5 per cent. mentioned in paragraph (6) of Regulation 6? The answer to that is that it was felt ex- pedient to remove what might be called the petty cases. There might be a substantial number of petty cases which would clog up the machinery and would not be satisfactorily dealt with under this type of Regulation. This 5 per cent. franchise, so to speak, has been used previously—for example, in the National Health Service Regulations—and so far as I am able to judge it has been regarded as a very sensible provision. At any rate, that is the reason why it has been inserted in these Regulations.

The noble Lord's fourth question was in relation to paragraph (3) (b) of Regulation 9. The answer to that is that the Electricity Boards have taken over rights and liabilities under a large variety of pension schemes, and in those schemes there are frequently all sorts of conditions which have to be satisfied in order that the pension may be earned. The Regulation takes the generous view that these conditions shall be deemed to be satisfied. Suppose that one of the Regulations said that a man had to put in twenty years' service before he qualified for a pension, that condition is deemed to be satisfied. But it would be quite wrong to give him a pension on the basis of his actually having served twenty years and, therefore, it goes on to say that the actual assessment of the compensation shall be based on his actual service. That was the difficulty which the noble Lord had.

The noble Lord then asked for an explanation of the meaning of paragraph (4) of Regulation 9. This is the Regulation which deals with the added years in connection with residual compensation. I think the simplest way of explaining this to the House is to take an illustration. Suppose a man were to be declared redundant and, therefore, lose his employment at the age of 55, being a man who was subject to a pension scheme which contemplated his retirement at the age of 60. He would immediately become entitled to substantive compensation, but he would have to wait until he reached the age of 60 in order to receive his residual or pension type of compensation. When that time came he would have lost, so to speak, five years of service which would have qualified for pension. In order to compensate for this the Regulation provides that the Board may give him added years up to the limit of ten years in order to assist him in that way. I think the noble Lord will agree that it is a very reasonable and, indeed, a generous provision.

The noble Lord's next question was: Will the Electricity Boards be instructed to refrain from offering employment to men on condition that they contract out of their rights to compensation? All Boards have been given instructions that they are to carry on their work like model employers, and I am quite sure that no model employer would try to bribe a man out of rights to compensation which he had under an Act of Parliament or under Regulations. The noble Lord also raised a question as to the definition of "war service," which he quite correctly pointed out is slightly different from that in the Transport Act. This particular definition has been worked out in consultation with my right honourable friend the Home Secretary, and it is thought that it is better than the one to which the noble Lord referred. It is rather wider and gives better scope for the person who has, in fact, been on war service. I think that covers the questions put to me by the noble Lord, Lord Hawke.

The noble Viscount, Lord Elibank, raised a substantial number of points, and I hope I shall be able to touch upon most of them. He complained of delay, and said that these Regulations had been previously laid last summer and withdrawn. That is not so. They were not actually laid until last month. It is quite true that there were discussions last June with various interested bodies, and it was as a result of certain disagreements that there was delay. I am sure the noble Viscount will agree that it is much more important that a good set of Regulations should be produced than for them to be hurriedly brought into effect and found to be full of all sorts of mistakes and inaccuracies. The noble Viscount referred to what he said was a pledge given by the Lord Chancellor. No pledge given by the Government has been broken in any of these Regulations. The Lord Chancellor was simply referring (as an interpretation of law) to the scope of Section 55, but he did not give any pledge as to what would appear in the Regulations when they were subsequently brought before this House.

The noble Viscount spoke of the eight-year period. He referred to the compen- sation of the newly appointed members of the Board, and he wanted to know how much a member of your Lordships' House who became a member of one of these Boards would get if he ceased to be employed. Members of these Boards are not within the scope of these Regulations at all and, therefore, the noble Viscount's question does not come within the limits of this debate. He asked whether something could be done about this eight-year period. The eight-year period represents a considerable concession on the part of the Government which, first of all, intended to have a ten-year period and reduced it to eight years.


The noble Lord says that is a considerable concession on the part of the Government, but if he refers back to the Electricity Act he will find there is no period named at all. Therefore, where does the concession come in?


I think your Lordships will all agree that it is obviously necessary that a claimant to compensation should qualify by having had some substantial period of service in the industry. It was thought at first that ten years was the right period to establish, but after discussion the Government agreed to accept eight years. It is always possible to say that a man who is within a few days of eight ears is excluded. If we changed the period to seven years, the noble Viscount would have brought up a similar case of a mar having served six years and 364 days, and so on. I think eight years is a reasonable period to take, and obviously when you have established a period you have to stick to it. The noble Viscount referred to the case of a man who had unfortunately become redundant, and who had had difficulty in finding employment. He had been offered some employment which was not suitable to a man of his ability and position in the industry. If the noble Viscount will look at the Regulations he will see that there is specific reference to "suitable and reasonable employment." If the employment which the man was offered was not "suitable and reasonable," then it can be disregarded by the appeal tribunal in assessing the amount of compensation to which he is entitled.

The remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, were directed mainly to the whole problem of carrying out compensation by means of Regulations at all. With respect to the noble Lord, the matters which he raised were of great interest, but I do feel that they are a little apart from the question of whether this particular set of Regulations should be accepted by your Lordships' House. The noble Lord made one point as to the Regulations themselves. He said that the reason why they had been so much canvassed was that they were very different from the Transport Regulations.


Different in some respects.


It is quite true that in a number of details they are different. But I hope your Lordships will agree that in all the most important matters of principle they follow the Transport Regulations. Of course, the question of legislation by Regulation is a very big one. It seems to me that it would be exceedingly difficult to get into an Act of Parliament the rather complicated type of Regulation which is required nowadays. In simpler times it may have been possible to insert into the Statute itself the actual provisions relating to compensation. But if we were to take the quite bulky set of Regulations which is before your Lordships and insert it in the Statute it would make the legislation much more cumbersome and much more lengthy, and it would, I think, have the very opposite effect to that which the noble Viscount wishes, because it would make the thing much less elastic. We are able to achieve a much greater elasticity by Regulation than if we were to put these provisions into the actual sections of the Statute itself. However, I am quite sure your Lordships would not wish me to discuss in detail the very interesting problems of legislation which the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Inchrye, raised in his speech. It would quite possibly be a suitable subject for a general debate in your Lordships' House but I doubt whether I am qualified or if your Lordships would like me at this late hour to try to go into these difficult but interesting problems. I hope your Lordships will accept these Regulations.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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