§ "Paragraph (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section 8 of the principal Act shall have effect as if for the words commencing from the fourth day after being so rendered incapable of work' there were substituted the words 'commencing on the fourth day of such incapacity,' and for the purposes of that paragraph as so amended a day on which the incapacitated person was prevented by the incapacity from doing any effective work shall be, and Sunday shall not be, treated as a day of incapacity; provided that where any insured person usually works on Sunday and abstains from work on some other day of the week the society or committee administering the benefit of that person may substitute that other day for Sunday for the purposes of this Section as respects that insured person."
§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
It will be seen that this Clause attempts to kill two birds with one stone in connection 3420 with the waiting period. The first part down to the word "incapacity" makes it clear that the day upon which the person becomes incapacitated shall be counted as one of the four days of the waiting period.
At 3.55 p.m. the Committee adjourned, and resumed the proceedings at 4.10 p.m.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I was saying, when our proceedings were interrupted, that, as to the first part of the Clause which settles, if it is carried, that the day upon which the sickness commences shall be one of the four days waiting period, I do not think there will be any disagreement. But I admit that the second thing which I am trying to do in the Clause is not quite so easy. There is a good deal of difference of opinion just now as to whether Sunday shall be counted as one of the four days of waiting period, and, since I have put the Clause down, I am bound to say I have come to the conclusion I do not think I have met the difficulty satisfactorily. Perhaps the Committee will allow me to move it in an altered form which I think would settle the difficulty as far as it is practicable to do so. In the first place, I propose to leave out the wordswhere any insured person usually works on Sunday and abstains from work on some other day of the week.Then I propose to substitute the word "some" for "that" in the sentence "substitute that other day fox Sunday," and at the end of the Clause I propose to add the wordseither generally, or in respect of any particular incapacity where, in their view, the circumstances make it desirable.
The CHAIR MAN
Perhaps I had better read the Clause as amended:—Paragraph (c) of Sub-section (1) of Section eight of the principal Act shall have effect as if for the words 'commencing from the fourth day after being so rendered incapable of work' there were substituted the words 'commencing on the fourth day of such incapacity,' and for the purposes of that paragraph as so amended a day on which the incapacitated person was prevented by the incapacity from doing any effective work shall be, and Sunday shall not be, treated as a day of incapacity; provided that the society or committee administering the benefit of that person may substitute some other day for Sunday for the purposes of this Section as respects that insured person, 3421 either generally or in respect of any particular incapacity, where in their view the circumstances make it desirable.I have a manuscript Amendment handed me by the hon. Member for Wolston (Mr. Goulding) to leave out all words after the word "amended" ["and for the purposes of the paragraph as so amended"], and to insert instead thereof the words "any calendar day on which the person was incapable of work, shall be treated as a day of incapacity."
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I suggest we must come to the consideration of the matter apart from whatever our views may be generally on Sunday labour. I do not think we can legislate on that matter here. We have to treat this as an Insurance matter, and to deal with the facts as they exist. The Clause, as now amended, provides this. The general rule in effect says Sunday shall not count as a waiting day. But that would obviously be too strong a thing to make universal, where you have all kinds of societies and unions with particular classes of men who, whether we like it or not, have to work on Sundays and, indeed, in some cases, on seven days of the week. We shall have to deal with these cases when they arise. The Clause which I have now to submit will enable each society, if it consists of men who work every other Sunday, or on every Sunday, to make a general rule for its own members, dealing with each claim on its own merits. This is a case obviously where Sunday is really a working day which ought to count as a day in the waiting period.
As the right hon. Gentleman knows, on the Second Reading of the Bill I referred to this matter mainly with the object of securing uniformity, because, in some few cases, Sunday is treated as a working day and in most cases it is not so treated. As regards the latter cases what actually happens is this: If an employed contributor falls ill on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, he has to wait four days for his sickness benefit—he has to wait four full days before he gets that benefit. If he falls ill on other days, he has to wait three full days only. For my part, I would suggest that the only proper solution is to decide once for all whether Sunday is to be a waiting day or not. If you are going to distinguish it let us be perfectly just and equitable to those people who, rightly or wrongly, work on Sundays as well as on other days of the week. Theirs is a case which, to my mind, is not adequately met by the hon. Gentleman's 3422 Amendment. There are many cases of men who work in ships who are in fact working part of every day of the week. There are others who work in fitting shops and who do their work on Sundays because the works are at rest on that day. That applies particularly to collieries, where electricians and mechanics are working especially on Sundays, although they also, work in some instances on the other days of the week. I do not want to raise the rural problem. It is a rather difficult one. In any case I do not approve of the Amendment, because I think the words "and Sunday shall not be" ought to be eliminated. Why should Sunday not be treated as a day of incapacity as regards these men to whom I have referred? It is only just and fair it should be so treated. It is one of the days which, under ordinary circumstances, would be a normal day of their employment, and if they lose that employment through illness on that day, it is only right they should obtain the sick pay after waiting three days, and not have to wait four days for it. Therefore I take, first, the simpler part of the Amendment, and I propose to move that the words "and Sunday shall not be" be omitted. I think that every working day ought to be treated as a day of incapacity.
When we come to the second half, which is rather more difficult, I would suggest that my hon. Friend has cut out a little bit too much. I may be mistaken, but I would suggest he does not want to cut out the. Words "where any insured person usually works on Sunday." I think he requires those words in order to give the full meaning to the second half of his Clause. If, on the other hand, he cuts out the words "and abstains from work on some other day of the week," I should have thought it would be sufficient for that purpose, provided he substitutes "some" for "other." I should further like to ask him what is the object of the words which he desires to tack on to the end of the Clause If the object is, as I believe it is, to give the society or committee full discretion in such a matter, I think it is wrong. In my opinion there ought to be a definite rule laid clown to the effect that a person shall, as a right, if he usually works on Sunday, be entitled to, count that day as one of the waiting days, and it should not be at the option or discretion of any society or any committee to deprive him of that benefit. It is difficult to make oneself clear on a technical subject, but I hope I have done so in this case, and I shall move the Amendments I have suggested in due course.
§ Mr. GOULDING
I moved an Amendment two or three days ago dealing with this very question so that we might have something definite, and lay down a uniform practice throughout. So far as I understand this Clause, the hon. Gentleman only proposes to deal specifically with the case of those who work on Sundays. I maintain that if we are going to do this at all we shall have to go much further in the excision of words. I hold that the sickness benefit should date from the first day of illness, and that. It is essential to rule out at once Sunday should no longer count as a day of illness or as a day of qualification, and instead of having four days running, as we do, we should only have three, and Sunday should count as a day. It is no satisfaction to an invalid to be told if he is very ill that he is to go on another day before he gets his sick benefit. His illness is going on the whole time. Therefore I have handed in an Amendment the object is to secure both ends, namely, that Sundays shall count for incapacity as a working day and also that they shall count as an ordinary day in qualifying for sickness. I shall therefore propose to omit all words after "amended" ["and for the purposes of that paragraph as so amended"] and to add the words "any calendar day on which the person was incapable of work shall be treated as a day of incapacity."
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
It is quite obvious that in order to make this Clause of general benefit those words ought to be accepted, otherwise I do not understand how the Clause would work. Take the case of the printers in London. Their customary holiday would be a Saturday. I do not see how, under the last lines of the Clause, they would be benefited at all, because Saturday might not be the day which would be useful from their point of view. The only way out of the difficulty is to put all days upon an equality. We are not dealing now with the question of the regulation of Sunday labour. You must treat all days as being equal for the purposes of the Act.
§ Mr. THOMAS
I do not think there is any difference in the Committee upon this matter. The first object of the Clause, which need not be debated, is that which seeks to remove the injustice under which the insured persons suffer now, namely, that instead of waiting only three days and then getting their sickness benefit, the Act is being interpreted as saying that they 3424 have to wait four days. The first part of the Clause clearly seeks to remove that injustice and to place it beyond doubt. The next point is with regard to Sunday labour. If the suggestion of the hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Goulding) is carried—I agree entirely with its object—I would suggest to him that if you are going to make Sunday one of the ordinary days, how are you going to get over the difficulty of dividing the benefit by 6? If you do that you would be immediately landed in this difficulty, that if Sunday is treated as one of the ordinary days a man would not have a full week's benefit and would be penalised to the extent of a day if he came off on a Sunday. We certainly do not want to do that, but that is certainly what would happen if the words suggested were inserted. I know the hon. Member does not intend that. What we have to meet is that there are certain trades and industries where Sunday work is to all intents and purposes part of the ordinary week's work. It sometimes happens that they are penalised one day in the week because of that Sunday labour. For instance, the railway men are penalised if they work on Sundays. They are booked off one day in the week. It would be an injustice to deprive them of the benefit of Sunday if they thereby lose a day in the week. That is not what is wanted. The difficulty is got over at the present time in this way. The men who are affected by Sunday labour are in the main in certain special societies which cater for the particular trades. I think these words give those societies the opportunity of treating the special cases in the way we want them to. I think it is the only way we can deal with it, because a number of trades and trade unions at the present time ignore all the regulations, and treat Sunday as one of the three waiting days, while others do not. The Clause seeks uniformity in that respect. I think there is a fatal objection to the Amendment contemplated by the hon. Member for Worcester.
§ Dr. ADDISON
It seems to me that there is no objection to the first part of this Clause, because under Section (8), Subsection (1), paragraph (c), of the original Act, the fourth day is so interpreted that the man does not come into benefit until the fifth day; whereas Parliament intended that the man should be eligible for benefit on the fourth day. I see an objection to the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Worcester, because, as he knows, societies pay sickness benefit on the basis of one-sixth of the sickness benefit 3425 per working day. Under the suggestion of the hon. Member the man would only get one-seventh, and might suffer some deprivation. If he had only four days he would only receive four-sevenths if that were made general. I think this must be subject to some such variation as proposed. Whether this is the best form of words I do not know. What is aimed at by them is really just. If the Committee see their way to accept the Clause and it is finally decided that as proposed it is not absolutely water-tight, we could have it set Tight, if necessary—it does not seem on the face of it to be necessary—upon Report. I think that would be the wisest course to adopt. It is useful to have such a Clause as this to clear up these two difficult points.
I rise to support the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Worcester. The hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas, has referred to the case of railway men. What he says applies exactly to the men employed on the London tramways. There are 11,000 men employed by the London County Council in connection with the tramways. They have their Sunday work to do. They take it in turn and have to work one Sunday in a fortnight. I quite appreciate the difficulty with regard to the one-sixth or the one-seventh. Surely the only question to be considered is that the largest amount of benefit should he derived from the Act for the greatest number of people. You must calculate Sundays. Supposing a man is ill for six days, and one of the days happens to be a Sunday. In the ordinary course he would only receive 5/6ths of 10s. Under the provisions of the Clause, if carried, he would get 6/7ths of 10s. You cannot have it both ways. I agree that in some cases you have to take into consideration which is the best benefit for the largest number. I sincerely hope that the Amendment suggested by my hon. Friend will be carried. You have to take Sunday as an ordinary day right through the whole piece, and calculate it as an ordinary day. Having done that let us discuss whether we shall have to bring in an Amendment later as to the one-sixth or the one-seventh.
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I am very much in the hands of the Committee in this matter. I am also very anxious to maintain the principles of the Approved Societies, who really are concerned fundamentally in the matter. My hon. Friend, the Member for Hoxton (Dr. Addison), was quite right when he said that the first part of this 3426 Clause is designed to meet a difficulty which has arisen, which may seem to make a man wait longer than the Act intended, owing to the words "commencing from the fourth day after being so rendered incapable of work." We make it quite clear in this Clause that it is to commence on the fourth day after the incapacity. I believe that is desired by everyone of us. As to the Sunday question, we have to remember that it has been an invariable practice—I shall be corrected if I am wrong—of the friendly societies and the trade unions to pay one-sixth of a week for every working day lost, and Sunday does not count as a working day. I am quite sure that if the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Hall) is considering the greatest good of the greatest number he will not vote against the friendly societies' practice in this matter, but will allow it to continue, with, perhaps, one possible exception, an exception which has already been pointed out by my two hon. Friends. Where men are working on Sunday then Sunday ought to count in some way as a working day. If a man is ill during a Sunday when he is working on the Sunday, he ought to receive sick pay for that Sunday.
§ Mr. GOULDING
Would domestic servants conic into that, as working on the Sunday? Would Sunday be included in the working days?
§ Mr. MASTERMAN
I feel quite sure that domestic servants would be included as working the day on Sunday, and the society would make Sunday a day.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The second part of this Clause really places an insured person in a very much worse position than he is in under the principal Act. Under the principal Act he is entitled to benefit for Sunday and every day. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman has considered that or not. Section 8, Subsection (1), paragraph (c), provides that an insured person is entitled toPeriodical payments whilst rendered incapable of work by some specific disease or by bodily or mental disablement, of which notice has been given, 3427 commencing from the fourth day after being so rendered incapable of work.We are now going to adjust the question of the fourth day. That is perfectly right. As from the fourth day a person is entitled to sick pay, and Sub-section (2) of Section 8 provides:Subject to the provisions of this part of the Act, the rates of sickness benefit and disablement benefit to which insured persons are entitled shall be the rate specified in Part I. of the Fourth Schedule to this Act.If you turn to Part I. of the Fourth Schedule the rate isSickness benefit; for men, the sum of 10s. a week throughout the whole period of twenty-six weeks.How can you say that the whole period of 26 weeks does not include Sunday? If any society refuses to pay for the 7 days, all I can say is I do not know what justification they have for such refusal. If you once begin to cut into the question of what is the number of days a matt works, you find that some people only work three or four days a week. Why should they get pay for the days upon which they do not work? There are a great many people who only work 5 days a week, and it may be some only work 4½ days. The only sound principle to adopt is to make the interpretation which I am giving to the Schedule effective by securing the benefit for the whole period of 26 weeks. I do not know whether the Insurance Commissioners take the view that they are not entitled to it.
At 20 minutes before 5 o'clock the Committee adjourned until 10 minutes after 5 o'clock, when the proceedings were resumed.
§ Mr. CASSEL
Before the adjournment I was trying to make it clear that, as the Act was originally framed, Sunday was clearly included in the week, and I think that it is equally clear that it was included in the four days. It was included in the Act as it originally stood in calculating the four days. Under this Amendment, instead of leaving it to be included in all eases, you are giving an option to the societies to deprive the insured of that benefit. That is my ground for saying that you are making the position worse for the insured than it is at the present time. At present, if an insured person claims it, you are bound to reckon Sunday in calculating the four days. There is no reason why you 3428 should not count Sunday just as much as any other day, and, if you ate going to give that option, you are certainly making the position worse than it is. It seems to be doubtful whether this will have any effect after the fourth day in calculating the twenty-six weeks. It is just possible that in reading the paragraph as amended you might also apply it to the period of twenty-six weeks. I rather doubt whether it would apply to the twenty-six weeks, but, if it did, it would be against the insured person, because in any case you would exclude Sunday. You would have to reckon your seven days without counting Sunday at all. Therefore, if a man were ill for fourteen days, it would only count as twelve. Really the best thing to do would be to stop at the word "incapacity" ["commencing on the fourth day of such incapacity"]. That would establish one thing clearly, and, if you wanted to add anything else, I would suggest that you should add that in calculating the period up to the fourth day, Sunday should be included.
§ Mr. CASSEL
If there is a doubt, make it perfectly clear by saying "in every case Sunday shall count." With regard to the period of 26 weeks, the only point is when you come to a broken week. So long as you have a full week there is no doubt at all. I agree that in the ease of a broken week it is more advantageous to divide it into six than seven. I think that the Amendment as it stands is worse than the present position unless you stop at the word "incapacity." I think the best thing to do would be to stop at the word "incapacity." and to add, in order to make it quite clear, that "in every case Sunday shall count in calculating the four days."
§ Mr. G. H. ROBERTS
The difficulty arises very largely from the fact that payment is not made as from the first day of sickness, but I think that the practice of friendly societies may be some guidance to us in the matter. Friendly societies in calculating sickness have always contemplated a six days week. The sickness benefit of course is designed to compensate for the loss of wages and in their estimation of the sickness benefit they have always divided the weekly benefit by six. The 3429 society of which I am a member and of which I used to be an official calculate the sickness benefit of 12s. as 2s. per day for six days in the week. I recognise, of course, that the Insurance Act has altered circumstances because of the necessity of the man standing off for three days, and I quite agree that it is just where Sunday is ordinarily a working day that it should be estimated as one of the standing days, but I do not think that we should be wise in going further than that. After all, if we make the benefit dividable by seven, we are enormously complicating the administration of the Act. It is not an easily dividable figure. That is apparent to everybody. Furthermore, I apprehend a very great difficulty. It would act unjustly towards the man who is on less than a week, because, instead of getting his 1s. 8d. a day, he would get approximately 1s. 4½d. a day. It would be unjust in that case. There would always be an inducement on the part of a man who might otherwise come off at the expiration of four days in the week to remain on in order that he might get the larger sum, and this, of course, would impose a much larger liability on the respective friendly societies. In experience Sunday has never been a calling on day or a calling off day in any friendly society. If I am able to interpret the general desire of the Committee, we want to make a further concession to the insured person and to provide for two such cases as I am interested in. Men of my own trade engaged in newspaper offices work on the Sunday and have either Saturday or Monday off. In London it is mainly Saturday, and in the provinces it is very often Monday. The concession we propose to make is that where a man loses the Sunday as a working day it should be taken into estimation. Further than that I am sure we should be unwise to go, and I should certainly feel it necessary in the interests of approved societies, both administratively and in regard to the further liability imposed upon them, to oppose dividing the benefit into seven.
§ Mr. GLYN-JONES
I have already made two attempts to deal with the second part of the Clause, and I have put in one Amendment. During the tea interval I have been satisfied that even my second Amendment is not likely to meet with universal approval, and I have been shown words by the right hon. Gentleman which I think would be more likely to meet with the general approval of the Committee. It seems a pity that we should go on dis- 3430 cussing an Amendment which I realise will not meet with the general approval of the Committee, and I should therefore be prepared to withdraw it.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have not seen the Amendment to which the hon. Member alludes, but I would suggest that we should read the Clause a second time down to the word "incapacity" ["commencing on the fourth day of such incapacity"], and then add any words the Committee think fit.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I wanted to make a suggestion. As far as I can gather, we are agreed on the Clause down to the word "incapacity" ["commencing on the fourth day of such incapacity"], and that it should be "on the fourth day" and not "from the fourth day" I think that we are all very nearly agreed on the next point. The hon. Member for Worcester (Mr. Goulding) and the bon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel) says that you ought to count Sunday under all circumstances.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
My hon. Friend the Member for Norwich has shown exactly what the effect of that would be both on the, men and on the practice of the friendly societies. Therefore, however, much my prejudice might be in the direction of counting Sunday whether it is a working day or not, I think it is quite impossible. Then I come to the next point on which I think we are all agreed, and that is that Sunday should count as if it were a day on which the men habitually work. When the proper time comes, I have a suggestion to make to carry out those two principles, no more and no less than that.
§ Clause, by leave, withdrawn.