HL Deb 29 June 1989 vol 509 cc847-60

3.36 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Skelmersdale)

My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Lord Skelmersdale.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


Clause 12 [Disqualification for unemployment benefit]:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Aberdare)

If Amendment No. 27 is agreed to I shall be unable to call Amendment No. 28.

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 27: Page 11, line 1, leave out paragraph (b).

The noble Earl said: This is, I hope, a suitable amendment with which to begin our proceedings on the Bill today. The purpose of the amendment is to remove the deletion of the word "suitable" from the requirements as regards seeking employment. I hope that it is not the Government's intention that people should have to seek unsuitable employment. However, I should say that I am not totally out of sympathy with the thinking behind the clause. I think it has been drafted in an insufficiently thought-out way and in a mistaken context. If it goes ahead as it is at present, it is likely not to have the effects intended.

One of the matters which concern us about this clause is that it is to operate in the context of the Government's philosophy that supposes that one of the main causes of unemployment is the unrealistic wage expectation of the unemployed. The London labour market survey, among others, clearly found that not to be the case. Moreover, we believe it not to be the case. If this clause is applied by those who believe that that is the explanation of present problems, we believe that there will be a pressure to validate the explanation and it may therefore be applied in a rather unsuitable spirit.

I admit that, in common with any academic over the age of 50, I have contemplated the prospect of unemployment, although I cannot match the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, who told us recently that he has actually been unemployed. In those circumstances, I would not regard it as reasonable that I should expect to continue drawing unemployment benefit until the next job in my own line of work was available. That would be likely, on past precedent, to be a matter of two or three years.

However, I would be perfectly prepared to look for any work which I thought I was reasonably capable of doing. But I cannot help having a certain suspicion that were Ito apply, for example, for a job driving a van or stacking shelves in a supermarket, I might possible find that an employer suspected that I was over qualified for the job. Therefore, he might not consider my application with the seriousness I would wish. If that should happen a great many times—and I am prepared to imagine that that is possible—I might then encounter an adjudication officer who might tell me that I was not actively seeking work. In the absence of any change of employers' attitude, there is a real risk of being crushed between the upper and the lower millstone.

When I say that I would contemplate working in such jobs, I do not altogether abandon the notion of suitability. It is a restricted notion of suitability that I am outlining here. It is different from the Bill because there is no notion of suitability on the face of the Bill. For example, any noble Lord who has seen me trying to read my notes will I am sure appreciate that—if that is the correct non-sexist term—I would not be suitable for work as a sempster and I should not be suitable for employment as a docker for reasons of back trouble.

I know that the Minister has done something to answer those questions by giving us a draft of the regulations, for which I thank him warmly. The regulations suggest that the clause would be applied having regard to skills, qualifications and mental or physical limitations. That reassures some of my misgivings on the subject. If the Minister could spell out that a little more firmly I might be further reassured.

I repeat, having things in regulations is not always an adequate substitute for having them on the face of the law. I also believe that, in the context of the explanation that the Government provide for unemployment, change in the law might serve to generate fear. It is, I suspect, the Secretary of State's intention that it should do so. In those circumstances, we shall have unemployed people putting in great floods of applications. Since the word "suitable" is to disappear from the face of the law, we shall find them putting in a great flood of unsuitable applications. The only effect I can see of that is a rapidly increasing proportion of rejections and that, for the long-term unemployed, can have a seriously discouraging effect. In the end, it will push them further back into a dependence on benefit, making it much harder for them to escape. This is legislation which is liable to produce an effect exactly opposite to that intended.

If the Government want to have a clause to roughly this effect, they need to go back and produce a new draft, incorporating some of the Minister's proposed regulations, and to put it forward in the context of a different analysis of the causes of unemployment. I beg to move.

3.45 p.m.

Baroness Turner of Camden

We support the amendment from these Benches. I realise of course that if the amendment is carried Amendment No. 28, which I have tabled, cannot be called. In tabling Amendment No. 28, I had in mind much the same purpose as the noble Earl, Lord Russell. All the amendments in the group are concerned, as I understand it, with what we believe to be the Government's intention—to tighten up arrangements for entitlement to unemployment pay.

Under the present provisions, as we have heard, unemployed persons are required to accept suitable employment. By removing the word "suitable" from the legislation the Government clearly want to leave the way open for people to be made, after a certain time, to accept work that is unsuitable. Under the present law (Section 24 of the 1973 Act) after the lapse of a reasonable period from the date upon which a claimant becomes unemployed, people are expected to accept employment outside their usual occupation so long as the rate of pay and conditions are as favourable as those generally observed or agreed by associations of employers and employees. Furthermore, a claimant with skills may specify that he or she requires a particular type of employment. After about three months, the claimant is expected to broaden his or her horizons. That period can be longer but, generally speaking, there is already provision in existing legislation to ensure that people who have been unemployed for a certain length of time are not too choosy about the kind of employment that they are offered when they apply for unemployment pay.

We ask again: why is it necessary to alter the present law? The only reason can be that the Government believe that there are people around in numbers large enough to justify a change in the legislation who are living off unemployment pay instead of getting out and looking for a job.

When the Bill was last in Committee we had a debate, unfortunately rather late at night, on the "actively seeking work" provision in the Bill, when the Government failed to answer why it was necessary to tighten up things in that way. Along with those changes goes this removal of the word "suitable" from the legislation so that people can be forced, as we see it, into low-paid employment.

There is no evidence that unemployed people are other than realistic about the wages that they would be willing to accept. A survey of 250 long-term unemployed people in Hull last year showed that over half would have been satisfied with take-home pay of less than £100 a week. Even in London, a random survey showed that a majority of the unemployed surveyed would have taken a job with take-home pay of £120 a week even with housing costs at the level that they are in London.

One member of the group surveyed had rent of £69 a week for a bedsitter, a not uncommon rent for such accommodation in London. Others were paying £35 to £40 a week in rent. What kind of wages are people to be expected to take? How is it possible to maintain even basic standards at that kind of level?

There is another question. Why should employers get away with paying substandard rates for employees? Some of the jobs are in industries where union organisation is difficult because of the shifting population and the often casual nature of the work. We have no minimum wage legislation in this country to prevent employers from exploiting vulnerable people. Why should the social insurance system help them by dragooning people into jobs which they regard as unsuitable or too low paid? All sorts of social evils flow from a system which encourages the maintenance of low pay. People should not be coerced into employment which they regard as unsuitable and which will lead them ultimately into indebtedness, a cycle of indebtedness which can, eventually, in some cases, lead to destitution and increasing numbers of homeless on our streets.

The Government argue that no one needs be worse off if he takes a job because he will be entitled to in-work benefits. But accepting a job itself involves expense—travelling to work and clothing costs, for example. People on low pay live in a cycle of debt—paying off one debt and then building up another. These new provisions, unless amended, will add to that cycle of deprivation, and therefore I hope that the Committee will agree to support the amendment. If it is carried, of course we shall not have to proceed to Amendment No. 28. All the amendments are concerned with roughly the same argument. We do not want to see people forced into low-paid, unsuitable employment by the changes in legislation envisaged in the Bill. I support the amendment.

Lord Jenkins of Putney

Are we taking Amendment No. 30 with this group of amendments?

Noble Lords


Lord Jenkins of Putney

In that case, I shall speak to Amendment No. 30. However, if either Amendment No. 27 or Amendment No. 28 is carried it would then be unnecessary for me to move Amendment No. 30 because Amendments Nos. 27 and 28 are general in their application whereas Amendment No. 30 is more particular in its application. Therefore, as the whole contains the part, I should not need to move Amendment No. 30 if either Amendments Nos. 28 or 29 are carried. However, in case that does not happen I must briefly say why it will then be necessary for me to press Amendment No. 30. I speak mainly for members of Equity whose employment pattern is quite different from that of most people. As I said on a previous occasion, they are the last remaining pool of casual labour.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary gave an assurance to a delegation from Equity at a recent interview that the Bill would not impinge on the rules on availability which now exist and that the adjudication officers would be sensitive to the individual's background and working patterns. That is the point. With particular application to Equity, he said that adjudication officers would take into consideration any very short contracts which claimants had been able to obtain when assessing the duration of the permitted period. That is quite important because if they are ignored no Equity member can re-qualify for unemployment benefit.

I am afraid that these assurances have not allayed Equity's fears as to the effects of the new clause upon their members. The present availability rules have already caused problems and difficulties. Equity members have been subject to suspension of their benefits when they have suffered a period of unemployment of over three months. It is their view that the clause will seriously exacerbate the situation and that promises of sensitivity need to be translated into legislation. Hence the need for the amendment.

A permitted period of 13 weeks is insufficient for the bulk of Equity members to obtain substantial work within their own expertise, due to irregular patterns of employment. The great majority of contracts are of extremely short duration, often only one or two days a week. As regards the bread and butter fill-in work such as commercials, videos, training films, voice work and extra work—usually for only one day—such short contracts, indeed all contracts of less than eight weeks' duration, do not constitute a break in a claim for unemployment benefit. Therefore they are not taken into consideration in assessing people. Actors may appear to be continuously unemployed when they may have obtained many short contracts in the period, contracts which keep them firmly within the entertainment industry or profession as it was called at one time.

However I ask the Minister to confirm that evidence of short contracts within the permitted period of 13 weeks would ensure that a further permitted period should be granted and that subsequent short contracts would constitute breaks in claim with a fresh review of the permitted period after each fresh contract.

The noble Lord will remember that unemployment is endemic and unavoidable in the entertainment industry and even the most established actors may suffer long periods of unemployment when there are no suitable parts available. Unlike most other people, an actor can only go for parts which are consistent with his physical appearance, age, voice and so on.

It is generally acknowledged that professional performers work extremely hard in the job searching activity. Many employ agents who seek work on their behalf, while additionally they make their own efforts. That will include placing photographs in casting directories, writing letters, telephoning casting directors for contracts, subscribing to professional journals and using the Equity job grapevine service.

The method by which employment is achieved is usually through auditions. These are more frequent than the usual job interviews and the moderately successful actor may go for two or three auditions a week, usually arranged at very short notice. An agent may ring up in the morning about an audition in the afternoon. Actors need to be available and flexible if they are to continue to attend auditions and pursue employment within their own fields.

An actor who has attended many auditions and demonstrated a high degree of job searching activity could reasonably expect to obtain employment within three months. Again, a valuation could be made on the number of very short contracts that he obtained. A combination of these factors would constitute reasonable expectations. If the noble Lord can say that that is the case then maybe it would not be necessary to pursue the matter to a Division.

Finally, a very large number of members remain committed to a profession which, apart from a few exceptions, is ill paid. A recent survey of the income of Equity members showed that more than half had an income from work of less than £5,000 a year. It is not—as I thought—a highly paid job for the majority of people seeking work in that field. If more and more people are denied access to unemployment benefit, which this amendment would provide, as a consequence the pool would be reduced.

I bring this necessarily rather detailed explanation to an end. I made it because the case is special. I hope that the Minister and the Committee will acccept the amendment, if it should prove necessary for me to move it. However, I hope that it will not.

Baroness Phillips

I wish to intervene in connection with the amendment which we originally decided to discuss, Amendment No. 27. The Bill is not only horrifying but saddening. It is a clear example of what we can only describe as a return to the 1930s when people were forced to take any kind of employment. I do not wish to say very much because my noble friend on the Front Bench has covered it all. I merely add that if people are forced to take any kind of employment, very often they find it extremely difficult to return to their original employment. Their sidelines are cut off. I plead with the Government: surely we have not gone back to a situation where we have to save through the most unfortunate group in the population, who are unemployed through no fault of their own but through circumstances over which they have no control. I beg the Government to accept these very simple but heartening amendments which would at least make us feel that the Government are not the grinders of the faces of the poor that they appear to be through this particular piece of legislation.

Baroness Faithfull

Since my Amendment No. 29 is in the list of groupings and also bears the name of the mover of Amendment No. 27, perhaps I may speak to it although I regard it as a probing amendment, particularly as it concerns two other departments—the Home Office and the Ministry of Health. I apologise to my noble friend the Minister for not having given him notice of this amendment.

The amendment has a slightly different slant on the matter. It is to prevent people being coerced into seeking and accepting employment which will lead them into debt and destitution. Last week we had a debate on homelessness. There are a number of people—particularly single people, single mothers, widows, the unmarried mother and the woman who is separated and not receiving maintenance from her husband—who, if they are offered a job which carries with it expenses for travelling, for placing their children in a nursery, a creche or with a child minder would have their income brought down to the level where they could not pay their rent, could not pay their mortgages (if they had them) and they might not even be able to feed the children. Therefore it seems counter-productive to ask these people to accept a job at a level which will bring them into destitution or into debt.

I am bound to speak personally here. I have often had to accept children into care. That costs the country a great deal of money. So looking at the problem from the country's point of view, quite apart from the point of view of the happiness of the family, it is counter-productive. However, I take this as a probing amendment in as much as I have not consulted the Minister. Further, three other departments would also need to be consulted.

4 p.m.

Lord Henderson of Brompton

I disagree, with great hesitation, with the noble Baroness on one point only. I do not regard this as a probing amendment. If this amendment does not succeed, it will be necessary for one of the alternatives which have been offered to be very seriously considered in its place. I agree 100 per cent. with everything else that the noble Baroness said. However, her cautionary words do not carry me with her. I feel this is a very important amendment, and by no means a probing one.

Lord Skelmersdale

This is an enormous block of amendments. I only hope that I am capable of doing justice to them in the way that other Members of the Committee clearly have in addressing their bits and pieces. I start by saying that the noble Baroness, Lady Turner of Camden, is quite right. Amendments Nos. 27 to 30, 32 to 34 and 56 are all to do with disqualification for unemployment benefit under Section 20 of the 1975 Social Security Act. As the Committee is aware, the present legislation requires it to be shown that employment is suitable in the case of the individual claimant before a sanction can be considered in relation to a failure to follow up the particular employment opportunity. Whether a sanction should then be imposed currently depends on whether the claimant has shown good cause for not following up the vacancy. In other words, as the noble Earl, Lord Russell, has said, the clause is about the unrealistic expectations of the unemployed. That is why we wish to change the law.

The noble Baroness quoted two recent labour market surveys. I should say straightaway that we have never suggested, even with or without the surveys, that the majority of unemployed people are not seeking work. However, the London survey found that more than a quarter of those questioned had not looked for work in the past week, and that nearly half of this group had not been seeking work in the past month. Overall, 5 per cent. admitted that they had never looked for work since becoming unemployed. This does not paint a picture of active job search among a significant minority of the unemployed. Furthermore, the Hull study, to which the noble Baroness also referred, which is sponsored by the Campaign for Work, found that 55 per cent. of people who had been unemployed for between six and 12 months had applied for fewer than three jobs in the preceding six months. Applying for one job every eight weeks—that is the average—is not very frequent.

We are concerned about those people who hold out for jobs paying wages that they can no longer command and who use unrealistic expectations so that they can continue to live off benefit. As regards the batch of amendments we are currently discussing, most of the current provisions which set down what employment shall not be deemed to be suitable all have regard to the rate of pay in the employment. While we believe it is right that, immediately after becoming unemployed, a claimant should be able to concentrate on looking for work which offers a rate of pay similar to that which he has been receiving, we do not believe that an automatic right to a certain level of pay is helpful. From what the noble Earl said at the end of his speech, I rather think he takes that attitude too. However, the law states that there is no compulsion on the noble Earl, or indeed any other unemployed or potentially unemployed person, to take that attitude. It cannot be right that people should continue to expect to be paid on the basis of a job they left months or even years previously.

Consequently, we propose to replace the two concepts, suitability of the employment and whether the claimant has good cause for failing to pursue it, by one concept, that of good cause alone. Apart from the issue of a recognised rate of pay, the two concepts are currently very similar. Recently unemployed people with skills that are still relevant to the labour market and who have experience that is still new, can reasonably expect to look for a period of time for jobs in their usual occupation at rates of pay they used to receive. This is why we are allowing a permitted period of up to three months in which claimants will be able to do just that.

The Committee will no doubt wish to have a clearer indication of the way we propose to use the powers in new Section 20(4) relating to the good cause question when a claimant fails to follow up an employment opportunity. In the regulations we shall require adjudication authorities to consider whether the job in question would be likely seriously to damage the claimant's health. We shall be providing similarly for account to be taken of a claimant's sincere religious or conscientious objection to the work, his need—I think this is important to many Members of the Committee—to care for someone else in his household, lengthy travelling time and high work expenses. These matters will be specifically mentioned because we think it is clearly right to take them into account. There will, nevertheless, remain room for the adjudication authorities to take account of other matters which they may consider relevant in any particular case. I hope that the Committee can now see that the provisions will safeguard claimants from losing benefit, even after their permitted period, if they fail to follow up employment which it is not reasonable to expect them to take.

Amendment No. 30 is to do with the permitted period. During this period a person will be able to escape disqualification for unemployment benefit if he turns down or fails to take up an opportunity of employment if that employment is not in his usual occupation or is at a level of remuneration lower than he is accustomed to receive. The amendment seeks to extend this period if this person can reasonably expect to find employment in his usual occupation within three months. This I think will go some way towards helping the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney. We think that three months is sufficient. The amendment however would encourage claimants to be less flexible in their efforts to find work than we think reasonable. It could enable someone who can pick up the occasional very short period of employment, for example, to go on receiving benefits month after month.

The noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, specifically asked me a question about members of Equity's short-term contracts, and referred to what my honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State had said and written both in another place and from the department. The key question of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkins of Putney, concerned whether actors would receive a new permitted period after short contracts. The answer is "Yes". We intend to provide in the regulations that a claimant may obtain a new permitted period after each period of employment, however short that may be.

The measure is not designed to penalise unemployed people but to encourage them to be more realistic about the sort of labour market potential they have. Bearing in mind the helpful addition of the new Section 20A on page 11, line 24, opening the possibility for claimants to have repeated periods of three months to look for the sort of job they did previously, and to reject any job which is not in this category, does no one any favours and is fair neither to the contributor nor to the claimant.

Amendment No. 34 seeks to provide that the definition of "employment" means employment that is appropriate to the claimant having regard to his age, qualifications, experience, skills, rate of remuneration and other relevant factors. I cannot support the amendment, but I think that what I have already said on the subject of the permitted period and good cause will have helped convince the Committee that the amendment is unnecessary. The Employment Service will act in good faith in seeking to offer vacancies that are within a person's skills and capabilities and which are, in terms of pay and conditions, generally within the range of what is representative in the local labour market in the occupation concerned.

The Employment Service will be the final arbiter in this matter. I have said it will act in good faith but, more importantly, no job will have to be accepted unless the employment agency says it is reasonable. Suggestions have been spread around that this measure will force people into starvation wages. I wish to make it quite clear that the Employment Service will not allow that under any circumstances whatsoever.

Amendment No. 33 seeks to add an additional set of circumstances in which an adjudication officer would be required to determine a permitted period. The Bill provides that this period will only be determined if a question of disqualification for unemployment benefit is put to the adjudication officer. The amendment seeks to provide that a person should be able to request that the question of his particular permitted period should be adjudicated on before any question regarding disqualification under Section 20 has arisen. The purpose, no doubt, is to ensure that claimants are clear as to their position when the Employment Service has advised that the period will be less than 13 weeks. I believe that to be an unnecessary procedure.

We shall ensure than an unemployed person is given suitable advice about the likely effect of the permitted period provision in his particular circumstances in a relaxed atmosphere. Claimants know where they stand.

No one has spoken to Amendment No. 56 and therefore I think that it would be helpful if I did not refer to it at this stage.

Baroness Turner of Camden

It is consequential.

Lord Skelmersdale

My noble friend Lady Faithfull spoke to Amendment No. 29. I undertake to look very much further at that amendment, in conjunction with the other departments which she mentioned. I regret that I have not yet been able to do so.

I have to confess that, unlike some amendments that have been put down to this Bill, I readily understand what my noble friend and her supporters are getting at here, but I find it very novel. This amendment seeks to introduce into legislation a new concept of assessing the claimant's financial situation once he is in work against a level of what the amendment calls "sufficiency". That is not defined in the amendment and gives me my first difficulty. The amendment would allow a person to turn down a job without risk of benefit penalty if, taking account of working expenses, his new income was insufficient to support himself. While the thought behind the amendment seems at first sight to be eminently reasonable, there are a number of problems with this approach.

It suggests that if the claimant takes up the job in question there can be a precise calculation of the amount which is sufficient for the claimant's support. Who is to decide? If the adjudication officer is to rely on the claimant's assessment, clearly there would be cases where the claimant inflates the amount and there would be an unreasonable, inflated cost to the public funds. On the other hand, if the adjudication officer were to decide on his own, it might easily be unfair to the claimant. Whichever route is chosen, and the amendment does not specify whether one of my alternatives or a third or even a fourth is intended, one could never achieve the 100 per cent. reliability in the calculations which would be necessary if benefits were to depend on them.

The amendment also refers to income. On that side of the equation the first problem that arises is to know in advance of getting the job precisely what the take-home pay and in-work benefits will be. There are many jobs where pay varies from week to week because of special payments, hours of work available including overtime, tax fluctuations, special deductions and so on.

I fear that the amendment would lead us into a minefield of problems and would be relatively unfruitful. Because of the availability of housing benefit and family credit, which goes well up the income scale, to say nothing of reductions in income tax and national insurance contributions, nearly everyone is now better off in work than on benefits. The amendment, even if it offered a workable arrangement, would, consequently, be of very little effect. However, I repeat that I am perfectly prepared to undertake discussions on that particular amendment.

We are very proud of our proposal in Clause 12, which is very germane to this set of arguments, that people who have been unemployed for at least 26 weeks and who have recently gone back to work will be able to leave the job between the sixth and twelfth week after starting it without benefit penalty. This provision is a helpful reassurance to claimants should they fear that a job might not work out for them, and an encouragement to overcome doubts about their ability. I would expect this to be the normal scenario within which the new provision would operate. But there is another type of situation in which we want to be helpful.

Let us suppose that an individual who has recently taken a job is having doubts about it. His employer becomes aware of this and is able to offer him alternative work within the organisation. After considering the position, the individual decides that he does not want to take up the offer and leaves the employment. I recall a case, which I believe was widely reported in the newspapers, where exactly that happened. Someone was promoted from a job with a weekly wage to one with a monthly salary and found it very difficult in those circumstances and ultimately left that employment.

The individual then runs the risk of being disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit because he has neglected to avail himself of a reasonable opportunity of employment. This disqualification would be under Section 20(1) of the 1975 Social Security Act. However, we have sought to provide for this sort of case in new Section 20A(2)(b).

There is an amendment which seeks to remove that provision. I cannot believe that that is intended. If the amendment were accepted it would mean that the claimant I have cited would be at risk of being penalised, although he may well have been under stress from the job he was already trying. While the adjudication authorities could take this into account in determining whether disqualification was appropriate, and if so, for how long, we think it more desirable to avoid the question completely. Thus the proposal is entirely beneficial to claimants.

There is one last question which must answer and which was raised by my noble friend Lady Faithfull. Lone mothers with child-minding expenses cannot, she suggested, afford to go to work. They are not required to be available for work and can, therefore, claim income support. I hope that that will help my noble friend.

The Members of the Committee who have participated in this debate feel very strongly about the particular amendments to which they have spoken. This is a complicated subject, and that is why I have taken some time to discuss it. Members of the Committee may therefore feel that they would be better advised to take the matter away and consider it further, in the same way as I have said that I will look at the amendment of my noble friend Lady Faithfull, and, if necessary, come back to the various amendments at a subsequent stage. However, I am in the hands of the Committee.

4.15 p.m.

Earl Russell

I should like to thank the Minister for the care and the detail of that reply, which contained many things which will be worth studying. Nevertheless, so far as concerns Amendment No. 27, I am afraid that the Minister lost me before he was through his first paragraph. Dr. Johnson's famous phrase: the triumph of hope over experience is, I think, not an appropriate description of a second marriage. But I think that it is an appropriate description of the Minister's first paragraph.

The Minister again repeated the belief about the unrealistic expectations of the unemployed. I know the passages in the London labour market survey which the Minister quoted. Like the Minister, I regret them. But it seems to me that those passages go to show that a great many of the long-term unemployed have the expectation that employers will not look at their applications. I hesitate to describe that as an unrealistic expectation. I should be delighted to be persuaded otherwise.

That survey also draws attention to the fact that London fares are in danger of becoming a new poverty trap. The figure it gives for the average wage expected by the London unemployed is £118 a week. Taking account of the cost of living in London, I find that very hard to regard as unrealistic.

We have here a clause which is being put forward to validate a dogma—a dogma which is in danger of collapse in the face of the evidence. I have seen a great deal too much of the way in which people whose theories are collapsing underneath them desperately try to create validation for them to be happy with the way this kind of clause would be administered if left in law. I commend the amendment to the Committee.

4.18 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No. 27) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 95; Not-Contents, 115.

Addington, L. John-Mackie, L.
Airedale, L. Kennet, L.
Amherst, E. Kilbracken, L.
Ardwick, L. Kilmarnock, L.
Aylestone, L. Leatherland, L.
Blackstone, B. Listowel, E.
Blease, L. Llewelyn-Davies of Hastoe, B.
Blyth, L.
Bonham-Carter, L. Longford, E.
Boston of Faversham, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Bottomley, L. McIntosh of Haringey, L.
Briginshaw, L. McNair, L.
Broadbridge, L. Mayhew, L.
Bruce of Donington, L. Milner of Leeds, L.
Burton of Coventry, B. Mishcon, L.
Campbell of Eskan, L. Molloy, L.
Carmichael of Kelvingrove, L. Mulley, L.
Northfield, L.
Carter, L. Ogmore, L.
Cledwyn of Penrhos, L. Peston, L.
David, B. Phillips, B.
Dean of Beswick, L. Pitt of Hampstead, L.
Donaldson of Kingsbridge, L. Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.
Dormand of Easington, L. Prys-Davies, L.
Elwyn-Jones, L, Rathcreedan, L.
Ezra, L. Rea, L.
Faithfull, B. Reilly, L.
Falkender, B. Robson of Kiddington, B.
Falkland, V. Rochester, L.
Foot, L. Rugby, L.
Gallacher, L. Russell, E. [Teller.]
Galpern, L. Sainsbury, L.
Gladwyn, L. Seear, B.
Graham of Edmonton, L. [Teller.] Seebohm, L.
Serota, B.
Grimond, L. Shepherd, L.
Halsbury, E. Stallard, L.
Hampton, L. Stedman, B.
Hanworth, V. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Hatch of Lusby, L. Strabolgi, L.
Hayter, L. Tordoff, L.
Henderson of Brompton, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Hirshfield, L. Underhill, L.
Houghton of Sowerby, L. Wallace of Coslany, L.
Hunt, L. Whaddon, L.
Ilchester, E. White, B.
Jay, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Jeger, B. Willis, L.
Jenkins of Putney, L. Winterbottom, L.
Aldington, L. Balfour, E.
Alexander of Tunis, E. Bathurst, E.
Alport, L. Beaverbrook, L.
Arran, E. Belhaven and Stenton, L.
Auckland, L. Bellwin, L.
Beloff, L. Layton, L.
Belstead, L. Long, V.
Bessborough, E. Lucas of Chilworth, L.
Blake, L. Mackay of Clashfern, L.
Blatch, B. Macleod of Borve, B.
Borthwick, L. Marley, L.
Boyd-Carpenter, L. Massereene and Ferrard, V.
Brabazon of Tara, L. Merrivale, L.
Brougham and Vaux, L. Monk Bretton, L.
Bruce-Gardyne, L. Monson, L.
Butterworth, L. Mountgarret, V.
Caccia, L. Mowbray and Stourton, L.
Caithness, E. Munster, E.
Caldecote, V. Murton of Lindisfarne, L.
Campbell of Croy, L. Nelson, E.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Norfolk, D.
Carnock, L. Onslow, E.
Carr of Hadley, L. Orkney, E.
Coleraine, L. Oxfuird, V.
Colwyn, L. Pender, L.
Constantine of Stanmore, L. Penrhyn, L.
Cranbrook, E. Peyton of Yeovil, L.
Cullen of Ashbourne, L. Plummer of St. Marylebone, L.
Davidson, V. [Teller.]
Denham, L. [Teller.] Porritt, L.
Dilhorne, V. Pym, L.
Dundee, E. Rankeillour, L.
Eccles, V. Reay, L.
Eden of Winton, L. Reigate, L.
Ellenborough, L. Renton, L.
Elliot of Harwood, B. Rochdale, V.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Rodney, L.
Erroll of Hale, L. St. Davids, V.
Ferrers, E. St. John of Bletso, L.
Fortescue, E. Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly.
Fraser of Kilmorack, L. Sanderson of Bowden, L.
Gainford, L. Sempill, Ly.
Gardner of Parkes, B. Shannon, E.
Gisborough, L. Skelmersdale, L.
Glenarthur, L. Somers, L.
Grimston of Westbury, L. Strange, B.
Hacking, L. Strathclyde, L.
Hailsham of Saint Marylebone, L. Strathspey, L.
Sudeley, L.
Hankey, L. Terrington, L.
Hardinge of Penshurst, L. Teviot, L.
Henley, L. Thorneycroft, L.
Hesketh, L. Trafford, L.
Hives, L. Trumpington, B.
Hood, V. Vaux of Harrowden, L.
Hooper, B. Whitelaw, V.
Hylton-Foster, B. Wise, L.
Killearn, L. Wyatt of Weeford, L.
Lauderdale, E.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

4.26 p.m.

Lord Henley

I think that this is a convenient moment for the Statement to be made. I therefore beg to move that the House do now resume.

Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

House resumed.