§ Mr. HOGGE
I beg to move, "That the Bill be read a third time this day three months."
I am quite conscious of the fact that, in taking this drastic method of drawing attention to one class of the community whose rights are continually neglected, I lay myself open to the charge of voting against supplies for the Army. But I venture to point out that there is no opportunity offered to Members of this House of putting these conclusions to a test by means of a division of this House which does not technically involve that charge. I am not prepared to deny to the men of the Navy and the Army sufficient and ample supplies for them to carry out the great purpose in which they are engaged, but I am concerned to get something like justice out of the Government for the dependants of these men. We were occupied on Friday in the House of Commons, in a very attenuated House, owing to the week-end holiday, in discussing these proposals. Some nine or ten members from all parts of the House, and from all parties in the House, brought criticisms against the proposals of the 1055 Government, and we then listened to a speech by my right hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the War Office, in which he defended the proposals of the Government and indicated that, as far as the Government were concerned, they were not prepared to accede to the very modest demands that some of us put up to the House. That made it, therefore, clear that as in discussion either on the Consolidated Fund Bill or the Vote of Credit new subjects come on after a Minister has replied, we could not raise this question in any other form than that in which I am attempting to raise it now. We have the benefit of the presence at this discussion of the Leader of the House. I should like to remind him briefly—I will not repeat the speech I made on Friday.
§ Mr. HOGGE
I should like to put a few extra points which have caused me very much concern over the week end. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman quite frankly what I think about the matter. I feel, quite honestly, that this House cannot disperse for the holidays and leave one class of dependants, whom I will specify presently, in the state in which they are now. I will tell him why, and give good reasons for it before I sit down. It is because of that concern that I am speaking to-night. There are three classes concerned—first, the childless wives; secondly, the wives with children; and, thirdly, mothers of apprentices. In dealing with the arguments put up in favour of increasing the 12s. 6d. that was allowed to the childless wife of a sailor or soldier, the Financial Secretary to the War Office said he did not see why those women should not work. He pointed out that a great many of the wives of our serving soldiers had married during the months in which the War had been in operation. I would like to remind both my right hon. Friend and the House that there are a great many childless wives who have not been married during the War. I have one letter, among a great many others which I have received to-day, which puts the point more briefly than I can, and I should like to read it. This man, writing to me, says:It is time that an increase was given to the wife. Mr. Forster, Financial Secretary to the War Office, sought shelter under the wing of the young married woman who is able to work, but this is a mean way out of the difficulty. Take the case of my wife, who is fifty-four, and 1056 who was married to me when I had only four years' service in 1889. She served seventeen years with me in the corps of the Royal Marines, and during the two years and nine months war service that I have put in received no advance in her allowance, although increases have been given to the children of soldiers and sailors serving their country. If the Government cannot recognise the claims of these able-bodied young women, they might, with all decency and respect, recognise the claims of all the wives of soldiers who were serving on the outbreak of war, also, of those who are married and recalled for service with the Colours. Wartime marriages, if desired, could be treated separately.That man puts the point quite frankly and joins issue with my right hon. Friend, who sought to shelter himself behind the argument that the bulk of these women who had been married during the War should be got back immediately to work. It was suggested that the amount they should receive should be 12s. 6d. This man draws a distinction between the two classes of women. If the Government do not agree and are not prepared to deal with the increased allowance for the wife of the war marriage, it is fair to ask them to deal with the case of the childless wife of the man who married prior to the War breaking out. Take the particular case which I have quoted. Surely it is inhuman to ask a woman of fifty-four to go out and work because the State compulsorily takes her husband. I pointed out on Friday that you had no right, at the time you were Conscripting the man for the Army or Navy, also to Conscript the wife for industrial work. I am making this fresh suggestion on that first point, that if my right hon. Friend will not consider the case of the wife married during the War, is he prepared to consider the case of the childless wife who was married before the outbreak of War?
The second class of case is that of wives with children. I do not think the Leader of the House can have looked into this question of wives and children. The proposal is to give 2s. 6d. to a woman and one child and 4s. 6d. to wives who have more than one child, no matter how many there are. I will give an example of what that means. A wife and one child will now get 22s. a week instead of 19s. 6d., but the wife with six children, who previously got 37s., will now get 41s. 6d. The real meaning of that is that the woman who gets 22s. gets 12s. 6d. for herself and 9s. 6d. for the child, but the wife who has five children gets, after you have 1057 deducted the 12s. 6d. for herself, 4s. 10d. for the six children. Because she has six children the amount she gets is exactly a half per week what a wife with one child gets. I do not see how the Government can defend a position in which a woman suffers because she has a large family. It practically puts an embargo upon an increase of the birth-rate. I believe the reason for this is that the right hon. Gentleman is afraid of the Pension Warrant. If he will take the same woman I have described and look at it from the point of view of the pension, you get this extraordinarily curious result. A woman with one child, who gets 22s. when she is a wife, gets when she is a widow 20s. 6d. for herself and her child. She gets less as a widow than she will get as a wife with this increase. A wife with six children, who gets 41s. 6d. with this increase, will get 42s. 1d. when she is a widow, which really means that the value of her husband to the State works out at a penny a day—7d. difference between separation allowance and the pension—and the husband in both cases has gone.
But it is the third case which has forced me to put down this Motion. It is the question of the dependants of apprentices. The proposal of the Government is, first of all, to cost £9,000,000. Second, it is proposed to grant the mother of apprentices a flat rate of 5s. when the lad concerned has reached the age of twenty-one and is not over the age of twenty-three. That is £13 a year. If the total increase is £9,000,000 obviously there must be no fewer than 700,000 mothers of apprentices in the Army whose ages will be twenty-one on the 1st of October. Then there are all the lads between twenty-one and eighteen who are still in the Army. Owing to the pressure on the Western Front those lads have been taken at the age of eighteen and a half and put into the firing line, and many of them have already been killed and others have been wounded. There are mothers who are not in receipt of a single penny, and because there are mothers who are not in receipt of a single penny they find it extraordinarily difficult if not impossible, when the son has been killed to establish pre-war dependence enabling them to have a pension. I ask whether the House is satisfied that the Army are putting the apprentice boys of mothers into the trenches to fight to save this country, and are refusing to give 1058 those mothers enough to keep body and soul together. I do not think that can be defended. I do not feel in the least easy in going away for our autumn Recess with the knowledge that there are at least 1,000,000 mothers of apprentices to-day who are not in receipt of a single halfpenny from the Government, although the Government is making use of these men's services. The fourth and last point is that the allowances, as we said on Friday, are still prospective and are not retrospective. I do not know whether the Leader of the House is going to make any concession. I would not like to divide the House on this matter. It has not divided on a War Vote since the War began, and I should regret very much if one were pushed to the position of dividing the House. I would rather settle this matter amicably if I can. I do not know whether I might offer the right hon. Gentleman a bridge between the two opposing opinions in this House; whether, for instance, he could not make a further concession in regard to apprentices by reducing the age at which the 5s. flat rate would become payable to nineteen instead of twenty-one. We are putting these boys in the fighting line at nineteen, and I think the right hon. Gentleman might make a concession by paying the flat rate from the time they are put into the fighting line. He would be supported by the House in doing that. If he would make that one concession I should be prepared not to go to a Division. I should be content in the meantime—I do not promise to be content for ever—if he would agree to reduce the age at which the flat rate comes into operation to nineteen.
§ Mr. KING
I shall not follow the hon. Member (Mr. Hogge) in the very clear and cogent speech he has made, but I take this opportunity of returning to a matter mentioned earlier in the evening, and in regard to which I gave notice last Thursday that I should raise a question. I refer to a matter which is leading to a serious amount of excitement and feeling in Ireland—namely, the Belfast Gaol rumours. I am not going to deal at length with the matter, but I have been asking questions about it for over six weeks. Last Thursday the Chief Secretary refused to make any inquiry or give any answer whatever, but to-night he has offered an inquiry. He has entirely changed his policy, and I think it is only right that some further remarks should be made on this subject. The real story 1059 ought to be told. I believe that unless it is told and understood, the Irish question, in its present phase, and certainly the feeling in Ireland at the present time, cannot be understood. After the death of Thomas Ashe there was immense feeling in Ireland with regard to political prisoners, or persons in prison without trial under the Defence of the Realm Act charged with some political offence. The Government gave an undertaking that prisoners of this character should have definite privileges with regard to being with one another, being free from prison rules, having visits, letters, and newspapers, and also with regard to food. That arrangement had the very best possible effect. Unfortunately, it was put an end to suddenly, and without notice to the prisoners, by order of the Food Controller. The prisoners—and there was a great number of them in different prisons—suddenly found their food altogether changed, and they were put down to a diet which they declared was no better than that which was given to the lowest criminals. No explanation, apparently, was given of the change, with the result that there were strikes, outbreaks, mutinies, and revolts in several of the prisons, and in Belfast Gaol they were undoubtedly of a very serious character. There were ninety prisoners in Belfast, and they caused a great deal of anxiety. It is said that they were subdued only by having the hose turned upon them for hours, and that then they were handcuffed with their hands tied behind them. The story has been told by one of the prisoners in an affidavit, who says that they were in that condition for days and that they were taken handcuffed to receive the Holy Sacrament on Sunday.
The excitement over this story in Ireland is indicated by a number of leaflets describing the sufferings of these prisoners, which have been circulated all over the country. I have had at least two dozen copies of these leaflets sent me by different people. The Chief Secretary himself admitted just now that the circumstances of this agitation were so serious that he was obliged at last, after six weeks, to grant an inquiry. I congratulate him, and thank him for the promise which he has made to the hon. Member for Cork, but I feel it my duty, as one who has followed this matter for six weeks, to point out how miserably foolish and inefficient the Government of Ireland is. If he had offered this inquiry at the beginning he would 1060 have saved the Government any amount of trouble and would have saved great agitation and unrest everywhere, and, most of all, he would have saved giving gratuitous assistance to the Sinn Fein movement. The best friend which the Sinn Feiners have, as I have always said, both in this House and out of it, are Dublin Castle and the present Irish Government. Everything seems calculated indirectly to serve the Sinn Fein movement. In so doing they discredit and weaken their true friends, the Irish Members. I have worked at this subject by putting questions on Thursday for six weeks past, and I feel I am only doing my duty to myself in bringing the matter before the House.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am sure the hon. Member does not expect me to reply to his observations. He has not told us anything new. He told us that, in his opinion, the Irish Government was foolish and inefficient. I understand that the Chief Secretary has actually promised an inquiry into the subject, and it is not necessary to say anything more about it at present. In reply to the hon. Member for East Edinburgh, I am sorry that it is not possible to make the concession he desires. I listened to most of his speech and I quite admit, whatever is done, that there will be cases of hardship. I go further and say that when we compare the conditions of those who are kept working at home with the conditions of those who are fighting the whole House sympathises with any demand for anything more being given to the fighting forces. The hon. Member is perfectly right when he says that if the Government granted the concession they would have the support of the House. I am sure that is true, but every Member of the House will recognise that it is the duty of the Government to weigh the cost of concessions, to know what the national credit is, and what national sums are available. I am sure the House will agree to that. Every one of the arguments put forward by the hon. Member have not only been considered by a Committee appointed for the purpose, but, after the Committee reported, the matter was brought before the Cabinet, who, after consideration, required further investigation to be made. I am bound to say that the Government have gone as far as they felt themselves justified in going. In view of that fact, I am sorry to say that we cannot make further 1061 concessions of that kind now. I appeal to the House to now come to a decision. It is not a question of discussion, because this matter was fully debated on Friday, and I think it is the wish of the House to adjourn on Thursday. The subject has been very fully discussed, and I think the House of Commons might now come to a decision on the point.
The right hon. Gentleman says the matter was fully discussed on Friday. It was discussed for two or three hours, but a great many hon. Members who wished to take part in the Debate then were precluded from doing so. I sent on Friday a letter I received from a mother of a family in my own division, for whom I have a very great personal regard, and I am quite satisfied, from the speech which the right hon. Gentleman has just delivered, that he did not fully realise how strongly many of these people feel regarding this increase which has been announced. I only want to say that if the Government imagine that this question is going to rest where it is just now they are under an entire delusion, because it will be raised constantly. I wish also to refer to the question of apprentices. Everybody knows that the length of apprenticeship now is not what it was years ago, and that men earn good money at a much younger age than formerly. Accordingly, the suggestion made by the hon. Member for East Edinburgh that you should reduce the ago to nineteen in the case of these apprentices is only fair. At this time of day it is not creditable to say that we should use these men to fight in the trenches and to take their part in discharging their duty as men and yet that their mothers shall have nothing. It is not fair to say that the country has got to consider its credit. It has first to discharge its obligations, and I am talking like this to show the right hon. Gentleman that he has not realised that this question will not rest where it is.
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
I very much regretted to hear the right hon. Gentleman say he could make no concession, particularly on this question of students and apprentices. It is the subject which is felt most deeply, and, I think, with most justice. Whether the ordinary allowance should be 1s. or less is a nice calculation in regard to the cost of living and so on, but this case is particularly strong, and clear, and hard. You are penalising the very best of the parents in the working 1062 classes. The parents who care little about their children may put them to work early, and by the time they are nineteen they are contributing largely to the upkeep of the family, and your separation allowance and your allotment comes to a comparatively handsome sum in respect to those children, but the parents who were most careful of their children's interests, who apprenticed them and made them school teachers or students, are being penalised. They have sacrificed all these years and got nothing from their children when the other children were drawing considerable money. You now take these young lads into the Army, and you have refused to give anything unless something like destitution on the part of the parents is shown. You now propose to give 5s. when they become twenty-one. I think it is wholly inadequate and anything but a generous proposition, and I am certain that the Government will have very good reason to be very sorry for the day when they came to such a stingy conclusion.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
I desire to express my dissatisfaction with the reply given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to the request of my hon. Friend the Member for East Edinburgh. I can assure him that while the Cabinet may think that in the increase they have recently announced they have gone as far as the circumstances justify, that is not the feeling throughout the length and breadth of the country. I do not know of any question at the present moment regarding which there is more dissatisfaction than this question of the separation allowances and pensions to the dependants of our soldiers and our sailors. If we have one duty more incumbent on us than another it is that we should deal justly and generously with the dependants of the men who have left their homes and risked their lives in defence of the country. Last week after we had discussed this question I had a call from a soldier home on leave after a year or two's service in France. He had found one of his children seriously ill, and his medical attendant had told him that the illness was due to the lack of proper nourishment and attention. That was a very unpleasant home-coming for him. These cases should receive further attention at the hands of the Government at the earliest possible moment.
As a matter of fact, I go further than the hon. Member for East Edinburgh 1063 (Mr. Hogge). I suggest the mere lowering of the age at which dependants of apprentices will secure the 5s. allowance will not remove the cause of dissatisfaction. That cause lies much deeper than the mere question of the dependants of unmarried men. Much dissatisfaction is caused by the great variations in the amount of the allowance. It ranges from 30s. weekly down, and you may have three mothers in one street, one getting 30s., another 12s. 6d., and the third nothing. If the Government expect satisfaction to prevail under such circumstances, they will be greatly disappointed. Then, with regard to the cases of wives, I do not think the increase granted is at all adequate to meet the circumstances of the case. A wife with no children gets nothing with which to meet the increased cost of living. There is an increase of 2s. 6d. for the first child and 2s. for the second, but if there be more children—four or five under fourteen, say, there is no increase in respect of them. I believe the dissatisfaction is of such a character that unless the Government can see their way—and I am sorry to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot see his way to promise further consideration, that dissatisfaction will go on increasing, and it may force the hands of the Government to do much more than has already been done. They would be well advised to promise this further consideration, in that they would have the House and the country at their back in seeing that the dependants of those who are fighting for us are treated justly and generously. I conclude by making a further appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give further consideration to this matter.
§ Mr. SNOWDEN
The last two hon. Members who have taken part in this Debate will no doubt give expression to their dissatisfaction with the reply of the Leader of the House by joining us in the Division Lobby shortly. I expressed my views on Friday afternoon on this question, and I do not propose to repeat them now. The Leader of the House said that whatever scheme of separation and dependants' allowances was given, there would still be cases of hardship. That may be true, but that is no reason why the Government should be satisfied with a scheme which leaves genuine hardship unredressed. The Government have no 1064 right to be satisfied with a scheme which leaves vast numbers of people in a condition of very severe poverty. Under the amended scale it will be quite impossible for a woman with a number of children to provide a sufficiency of the necessaries of life. I had a letter from a constituent of mine this morning which, if I were permitted to read it, would appeal far more eloquently than any words I could utter. I will not read all the letter. She begins by asking about the extra allowances for her childrenI, for one, have had my husband away since 1915. He left me with four children, the youngest being nine weeks. I had to eat nothing but bread and margarine to rear the child.I am quite sure that the Leader of the House does not desire that the wife of a soldier should deny herself the bare necessities of life in order that her own child shall have more or less of a sufficiency. She goes on to relate that in 1916 she had another child, and it cost her 8s. 6d. a week for food and milk for the child alone, and, as a consequence of the deprivation of necessaries that she had to endure she has been in the hands of the doctor ever since and he tells her she will never pick up unless she is able to get more to eat. I repeat, it cannot be the desire of the Government that cases of severe hardship like that should be tolerated. The Leader of the House said they had to take into consideration the cost of these separation allowances. It is very refreshing to hear from the Government Benches any excuse grounded on economy. We have been spending the greater part of this afternoon discussing the expenditure of a Propaganda Department, which is spending more than a million pounds for what useful purpose I certainly do not know, and the only construction that can be put on the reply of the Leader of the House is that the weight of that expense must be placed on these poor people. I am very glad the hon. Member for East Edinburgh is prepared to divide on this question, and I hope he will receive such a measure of support as will convince the Government that they have made a very grave mistake in not acceding to the very modest and moderate demands.
§ 11.0 P.M.
Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
There can be no more important domestic aspect of the War than this question of separation allowances. It is vital to staying power in a war which depends upon endurance. No one in this House, I am sure, can accuse 1065 the Leader of the House of a lack of sympathy on this subject. But no one also, I think, can accuse him of a lack of understanding. Since the War commenced there have been numerous increases in separation allowances. Perhaps hon. Members who are responsible for guarding the Treasury may think that there is no end to the demands that are constantly being made for increases. The right hon. Gentleman, however, placed his finger upon the real difficulty and the real source of dissatisfaction of the unrest in this matter when he showed the disparity existing between the, I will not say the reward, but the comfort and maintenance which is accorded to the soldier and his dependants, and the reward which accrues to those that remain at home, and are working on munitions and in other spheres of work. There can be no doubt but that the soldier is rendering the major service, and one entailing the greatest sacrifice. He gives everything. He endures everything. He makes the supreme sacrifice. His dependants receive a reward of 12s. 6d. or £1, or 30s., whilst those who are bearing a somewhat similar part at home earn £3, £4, up to £10 per week. That burns itself into the others. The irony enters into the soul of the people whose dear ones pay the supreme sacrifice at the front. They are on the border line of starvation; these others are in comparative luxury. No doubt to a large extent it is incidental. If this War could be looked upon as ending in six months or a year, no doubt we could look upon this as a temporary emergency. Sacrifices could be borne as a temporary emergency. But who is to guarantee that the War will be over in six months, or a year, or two years, or five years? We are in a war of endurance, a war in which staying power is essential. We have by some means or other to get rid of the deep-ingrained sense of injustice which is sapping that staying power. I will not now suggest how it is to be done. There are various ways in which it can be done. But in the past the highest honours have been paid to those who paid the great sacrifice—such are those in the struggle in which we are now engaged. Something more must be done for these people in the way of cheapening the cost of living. Whether it is to be done by further controlling the essential articles of food and the necessities of life or by an increase in the allowances paid to these 1066 persons I do not know, but something more must be done in the way of securing for the men who are fighting at the front the knowledge that when they return they will have some reward and some share in the national wealth commensurate with their sacrifices, and there should also be some share for the dependants of those who have perished in the course of that task. This question has been faced up to the present as a hand-to-mouth and an emergency problem, but we have to recognise that it is no longer a mere temporary war emergency, but so far as this generation can see a permanent element in the social life of this country. I think my hon. Friend said he intended to take a Division, but I regard this measure as a Vote for carrying on the War and I do not think it would be a proper course to take a Division. Nevertheless, I desire to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the feeling which many hon Members have expressed that this subject has not been adequately dealt with, and has been treated too much as an emergency measure instead of upon a permanent basis.
Mr. T. WILSON
I would like to endorse what the last speaker has just said. I know of young men who joined the Army at the age of eighteen or eighteen-and-a-half who made an allotment of 6d. per day from their pay, and now after serving eighteen months or two years they will not be included in the contribution of the State. They claim, and their parents claim, that if they had served a year or eighteen months or more in the Army, and they had been contributing 6d. per day and the State had been making no contribution at all, that the State ought to take over the responsibility for the 3s. 6d. per week. It seems to me, if a boy has served twelve or eighteen months, and the only contribution that the parents have received has been the 6d. per day out of his pay, that the State ought to take over the responsibility as well as make the flat rate contribution of 5s. per week. The Finanical Secretary to the War Office, in reply to a question last Thursday, said that the State could not take over the responsibility. In my opinion, they ought to do so. They will pay the flat rate of 5s. to the dependants of men who have never been to the front at all, but they refuse to contribute the 3s. 6d. which the soldier has allowed from his pay to his parents for men who have been fighting in the trenches for eighteen months. It is not 1067 fair. There is another point Mothers who have married between the date of their son's enlistment and the date on which their sons have been killed are not recognised as persons to whom pensions should be granted. I cannot see why. I will give a case which came to my knowledge yesterday. A soldier had made his mother an allowance of 3s. 6d. per week from his pay, and the State had allowed 9s. After the soldier enlisted, the mother got married again. Subsequently, the soldier was killed. The Government said that the only compensation to which she was entitled was £16 5s. At the time the soldier was killed, the mother was receiving 12s. 6d. per week allowance. Afterwards, the State repudiated all responsibility so far as the mother's pension was concerned. Personally, I cannot see the logic of it at all. I think the State ought to recognise that this woman is entitled to a pension. I would like to say that I am afraid that the various Government Departments cannot, or will not, recognise that their action in cases of this kind has something to do with industrial unrest. The civil workman has cases of this kind brought to his notice, and he sees that the Government are not treating equitably the parents of men who have been killed. These cases are brought to the notice of men at mass meetings.
They have undoubtedly a certain influence on the minds and the votes of men who are interested in industrial questions. If the Government would simply recognise that, and deal with the cases I have mentioned in a just and equitable manner, it would very probably avoid industrial disputes. I would press on the right hon. Gentleman the necessity of recognising the fact that men who joined the Army eighteen months ago, and who, because they were apprentices when they joined, only contributed 12s. or 14s. a week to the household expenses, and therefore on account of that their mothers or sisters or fathers were not allowed more than the allotment of the soldier, would now Be contributing probably 25s. or 30s. a week to the upkeep of the home. I urge the necessity of the Government recognising that by taking over the responsibility of paying the soldiers' allotment of 6d. a day. If they would do that they would do a great deal to allay industrial unrest, and would simply be doing justice and equity to the boys or men who, under circumstances over which they had no con- 1068 trol when they enlisted, were not contributing the same amount to the upkeep of the home as men engaged in unskilled operations. Therefore I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will give some consideration to the points I have mentioned. If he does that he will simply be doing an act of justice—I will not say generosity—to the parents of those boys who were unable, at the time of their enlistment, to contribute more than a small amount to the home expenses.
§ Mr. SCANLAN
I do not want to delay the House for long, but I think, as the subject is a very important one, none of my hon. Friends on the Benches opposite will feel impatient if I venture to address a few words to the House. I feel certain that right hon. and hon. Gentlemen upon the Treasury Bench recognise the importance of this subject and the degree to which it interests everyone who is anxious to secure fair and just treatment for those serving and those at home who are dependent on them. There is one branch of the subject which interests me very much, and that is the position of apprentices, and the way in which they are at present treated. I agree with everything which the hon. Gentleman who last spoke said on this subject. He has stated the position so clearly that I certainly hope that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions, if he is replying, will see fit to make a declaration on behalf of the Government that it is their intention to give fairer recognition to the position of apprentices whose pay, it is true, was small when they joined the Army, but who, if it had not been for the circumstances of their fighting, would be receiving wages to a very considerable amount at the present time. I wish to point out something which, in my own experience of the Pensions Ministry, deserves consideration, and I think I may ask the representative of the Pensions Ministry to pay attention to this point. I believe a great improvement in the position has been made since the Pensions Ministry was set up, but abuses are as liable to creep into the Pensions Ministry as into any other Department of the State, and I should be surprised if the Pensions Minister or his Parliamentary Secretary felt themselves immune from legitimate criticism in this House. I have known various cases in which a request is made to the Ministry of Pensions for the consideration of a case, for consideration of the claim, say, of a 1069 mother, a widow, a sister, or of some other dependant, as the case may be. The first thing that happens is something like this: A Member writing to the Ministry receives a printed acknowledgement saying that the letter will receive immediate consideration. No consideration, as a matter of fact, is given to it for, say, three months. It may be six months, because I have known cases to be so long delayed. At the end of that time the Ministry of Pensions say "We now recognise this case, and we realise that the claimant is entitled to a pension." The rate is fixed at 3s. 6d. or 5s. per week. That is not made retrospective to the date when the claim for a pension or gratuity arose. That is a flagrant injustice. We should have a declaration from the representative of the Ministry of Pensions that when such cases arise the pension or gratuity will be made retrospective. I have known several cases where a man, who was obviously of a low medical category, was taken into the Army and, after a few months, was found to be unfit for further service and discharged. When an application has been made by him for a pension he has been told that his disability was in no way due to his service with the Forces. It ought to be acknowledged as a principle by the Government and the Ministry of Pensions that once a man is accepted for service and has served a certain time—he being ex hypothesi and by their decision a fit man—the fact that he has become unfit after a short period of service should entitle him to a pension or gratuity, and the War Office or the Ministry of Pensions should not be able to say "Your condition was bad when you joined. Your service with the Colours has had nothing to do with your present illness or incapacity." I trust that we shall have an assurance that these considerations will receive attention.
§ Major TRYON
I feel with regard to the question of allowances, particularly to the families of men serving overseas
§ and also in respect to the question of apprentices, that this fact ought to be taken into account by the House. There is undoubtedly industrial unrest in the country at the time. A great deal of that unrest is caused not so much by the actual amount of the payment received, as by the very great contrast there is between what one man is receiving and what is received by another. That has been responsible for some of the strikes. But the contrast with industry is nothing compared with the contrast on a broader basis which exists between the payment given to those who are fighting for their country and those who are in munition works. Those men who are fighting will go on doing their duty whatever their pay, but it is not desirable in the interests of the country and of justice that their families should be so much worse off than the families of men who are doing work which is not so important for the country and is very much safer. A larger increase was made recently in miners' wages, which falls on the whole community in the form of a tax through the increased price of coal. I would urge that if any future increases are to fall on the country they should not go to people at home but to the families of the men who are fighting overseas.
Mr. CARADOC REES
Under the Workmen's Compensation Act if an apprentice gets injured and his compensation is fixed at the rate of wages he is earning at the time he is injured, when he becomes twenty-one the compensation is raised and the Court takes into consideration the amount of wages he would have been earning at the age of twenty-one. I should think the same principle might well apply to apprentices who are in the Army.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 90; Noes, 26.1071
|Division No. 79.]||AYES.||[11.29 p.m.|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Bryce, John Annan||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling||Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Cator, John||Fell, Sir Arthur|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Colvin, Brig.-Gen. Richard Beale||Foster, Philip Staveley|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick||Cotton, H. E. A.||Gibbs, Col. George Abraham|
|Barnett, Capt. Richard W.||Craig, Col. Sir James (Down, E.)||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. John|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Gretton, John|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-||Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Currie, G. W.||Haslam, Lewis|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirk'dy)||Henry, Denis S. (Londonderry, S.)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert||Strauss, E. A. (Southwark, W.)|
|Hope, Lt.-Col. Sir J. (Midlothian)||Newman, Sir Robert (Exeter)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Jackson, Lt.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Pease, Rt. Hon. H. P. (Darlington)||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, E.)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Walker, Col. W. H.|
|Jones, Wm. Kennedy (Hornsey)||Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancashire, Ince.)|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Pryce-Jones, Col. Sir E.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Pulley, C. T.||Weston, John W.|
|Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle)||Rea, Walter Russell||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir F.||Rees, G. C. (Carnarvon, Arfon)||Wilson, Lt.-Col. Sir M. (Bethnal Green)|
|Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert||Richardson, Alexander (Gravesend)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury)||Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M.||Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)|
|McCalmont, Brig.-Gen. R. C. A.||Samuels, Arthur W. (Dublin U.)||Worthington-Evans, Major Sir L.|
|McNeill, R. (Kent, St. Augustine's)||Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Maden, Sir John Henry||Scott, A. MacCallum (Bridgeton)||Younger, Sir George|
|Maitland, Sir A. D. Steel-||Shortt, Edward|
|Malcolm, Ian||Somervell, William Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Pratt.|
|Marshall, Sir Arthur Harold||Stewart, Gershom|
|Boland, John Pius||Keating, Matthew||Reddy, Michael|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kilbride, Denis||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Cullinan, John||King, Joseph||Sheehy, David|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lundon, Thomas||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Doris, William||M'Ghee, Richard||Snowden, Philip|
|Duffy, William J.||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Whitty, Patrick Joseph|
|Hackett, John||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Harbison, T. J. S.||Molloy, Michael||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hogge and Mr. Jowett.|
|Hazleton, Richard||Nolan, Joseph|
|Joyce, Michael||Nugent, J. D. (College Green)|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read a second time, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House for To-morrow.