(2) For the purposes of this Act:
(b) Two periods of unemployment of not less than two days each, separated by a period of not more than two days, during which the insured contributor has not been employed for more than twenty-four hours or two periods of unemployment of not less than one week each separated by an interval of not more than six weeks, shall be treated as a continuous period of unemployment, and the expression "continuously unemployed" shall have a corresponding meaning.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), paragraph (b), to leave out the words, "one week" ["not less than one week"] and to insert instead thereof the words, "three days."
This Amendment affects the rule as to continuous unemployment. The effect of the present Amendment is that if the workman is not employed for three days continuously and then obtains work and remains employed for a period not exceeding six weeks and then again falls out of employment continuously for three days, the two periods of three days each may be linked together for the purposes of benefit. It will not require a second waiting period of unemployment. I will deal with the whole question of this three days instead of a week at a later stage.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ CLAUSE 8.—(Disqualifications for unemployment benefit.)
(1) An insured contributor who has lost employment by reason of a stoppage of work which was due to a trade dispute at the factory, workshop, or other premises at which he was employed shall be disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit so long as the stoppage of work continues, except in a case where he has, during the stoppage of work, become bonâ fide employed elsewhere in the occupation which he usually follows or has become regularly engaged in some other occupation.
Where separate branches of work which are commonly carried on as separate businesses in separate premises are in any case carried on in separate departments on the same premises, each of those departments shall, for the purposes of this provision, be deemed to be a separate factory or workshop or separate premises, as the case may be.
(2) An insured contributor who loses his employment through his unsatisfactory conduct, or who voluntarily leaves his employment without just cause, shall be disqualified
for receiving unemployment benefit for a period of six weeks from the date when he so lost or left his employment.
(3) An insured contributor shall be disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit while he is an inmate of any prison or any workhouse or other institution supported wholly or partly out of public funds, or, subject to the provisions of this Act, while he is resident, whether temporarily or permanently, outside the United Kingdom.
(4) Where an insured contributor ceases to be employed within the meaning of this Act and continues for a period of twelve months to be a person who is not so employed, he shall be disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit until twelve contributions, exclusive of any contributions paid in respect of him before he so ceased, have been paid in respect of him under this Act.
(5) An insured contributor shall be disqualified for receiving unemployment benefit while he is in receipt of any sickness or disablement benefit or disablement allowance under the National Insurance (Health) Acts, 1911 to 1919.
Mr. T. THOMSON
I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "reason of a stoppage of work which was due to," and to insert instead thereof the words "the withdrawal of his labour in order to participate in."
The first two lines of the Clause, if my Amendment be carried, will read—An insured contributor who has lost employment by the withdrawal of his labour in order to participate in a trade dispute,and so on. This matter raises the whole question of who are to be debarred from insurance benefit. That question was referred to on the Second reading and in Committee, and was very sympathetically dealt with on both occasions by the Minister in charge of the Bill. I hope that sympathy will now extend to a practical acceptance of the principle. We all agree that those who are directly concerned in a trade dispute cannot possibly share in a State system of unemployment benefit. On the other hand, there must be a large measure of agreement that innocent victims of a dispute who are out through no fault of their own and who have contributed their weekly payments to the insurance fund are entitled to come within the provisions of this measure. They contribute to the fund not so much as employers or employed but as members of the State, and as members of the State it is immaterial to them whether the cause of their being out of work arises from the action of the employer or is due to the action of the employed. They, as con- 935 tributory members of a State scheme, are entitled to the benefit as such, apart altogether from the question where they are employed. The Minister suggested that this Clause merely carries out the principle embodied in the old Act. But since the original Act was passed the public conscience and the social conscience of the people has advanced very considerably. We realise now our responsibilities in these matters to a greater degree than we did in 1911, and, particularly during the last five or six years, our outlook has broadened in regard to these matters. The sense of responsibility of the whole community in this matter has undoubtedly grown during these years, and, therefore, merely to say that in the original Act these people were excluded is no argument for excluding them to-day.
It has also been suggested that it would create an illogical position to carry this Amendment. I submit that nothing could be more illogical than the present position. Let me illustrate if I may what happened quite recently during the moulders' strike. There you had some labourers engaged in the same works debarred from the unemployment benefit while others were receiving the benefit. The labourers in the iron foundry, although they were quite innocent of the dispute and were no parties to it, were refused the unemployment benefit. On the other hand the labourers in the engineering department and steel works in the same establishment, working on the moulds that the other labourers had made, drew unemployment benefit during that dispute. Further than that members of the same labourers' union were treated on a different footing. One section, because they happened to be working in the iron foundry, got no benefit. The others who were in the engineering shops drew the benefit. One cannot conceive anything more illogical than that, and yet it is proposed to continue that system in this Bill. I submit if you want to be logical you must extend the benefit so that all the labourers who are thrown out through no fault of their own shall be treated in exactly the same way and on the same footing because they have contributed equally to the fund. In these days we want to establish a better feeling throughout the whole community, and no better way could be found to achieve that than by extending the provisions of this Bill in the way indicated in 936 my Amendment. I trust, therefore, that the sympathy which the Government have shown to the proposal will have a practical application by their acceptance of the spirit if not of the actual words of the Amendment. Difficulties were raised in Committee to the effect that key men might be used in order to throw out a large number of other men, who under this extended Amendment would receive benefit. But surely by means of some machinery, say courts of arbitration, it is not beyond the wit of man to devise a scheme whereby abuses of that kind could be obviated and at the same time insure that innocent victims of a dispute should not be debarred from participating in a fund to which they have contributed. The House must remember that those who are thrown out in a case of this sort are those least able to stand the strain and stress of unemployment. It is the weaker members of the community, the general and casual labourers, who most need this benefit and I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman, in a sense of justice, to extend the benefit to innocent victims—to those who through no fault of their own are thrown out of employment and are at present refused the assistance which they so much need, and which ought to be their right, from a fund to which they have directly contributed.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
This is confessedly a very difficult problem. When the Insurance Bill of 1911 was first introduced it contained a form of words which was very strongly objected to, and as a result an endeavour was made to secure that only those workmen who were directly interested in a dispute should be disqualified. There has always been objection taken to the disqualification of workmen who were not actually concerned in a trade dispute, but it has hitherto been impossible to arrive at any satisfactory form of words. The Act as it stands substantially disqualifies workpeople employed in an establishment in which a dispute occurs, and no satisfactory alternative has, so far, been suggested to that existing provision. It would be difficult to determine in practice whether an individual had withdrawn his labour or not. Then, again, a man who is not a trade unionist would presumably not be disqualified. I do not know whether that is the intention of my hon. Friend. 937 I do not know any better form of words than those which are proposed, and which have been taken in substance from the old amended Insurance Bill. However, if I can have submitted to me a proposal which is acceptable to the two main parties, the employers on the one hand and the employed persons on the other, if I can have placed before me an agreed proposition acceptable to both those parties, and it is workable, I shall not put any undue obstacle in the way. It must, however, be workable from the point of view of those who have to administer the Statute. In the absence of any such proposition, the best thing I think is what is contained in the terms of the Bill.
§ Mr CLYNES
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman has not gone far to recognise the substance of the claims pressed upon him in Committee, and argued to some small extent in this House. I welcome his statement of a desire to receive from those who have a right to submit language to him on this matter a suggestion to cover a point which is a growing grievance. I recognise the employer's right as well as the workmen's right to submit language to cover a paint of this sort. If they could agree upon a statement we would only be too happy to submit it to the right hon. Gentleman, but if we have finally to trust to the decision of another place, without a considerable degree of pressure and advice from the Government, I feel it would not be carried through. In the event of an agreement being reached, I hope the good offices of the Government will be used to amend the Bill in its last stage in another place.
My hon. Friend spoke more of the spirit of this Amendment than of the words. I do not know what view may be taken from the Chair as to the fate of the Amendment in my name at the bottom of the page, but I want to say a few words in support of the general principle. The whole question is whether we admit the principle of the right of a man who is not a combatant in a dispute, who is not on strike, and whose interests cannot be affected by the issues, to unemployment benefit, when thrown out through the dispute of other people. If we admit that, surely it is not beyond us to provide the necessary language to provide that the benefit shall be paid to those persons. It is 938 very often the case that the only time they are stopped is through somebody else's quarrel. If you take a large number of the lesser skilled and unskilled workers, they find themselves thrown out of employment, perhaps through some action which the employer may take on the one hand in relation to some other body, or perhaps through action which a certain section will take against the employer.
A large mass of people often find themselves helpless between these two forces, and I have known frequently cases where our own trade union has paid out a very much larger sum to men indirectly or directly stopped in their own workshop through somebody else's quarrel. This Bill compels workmen to pay unemployed contributions and it guarantees unemployed benefit in cases where they are stopped through no fault of their own, and are the victims of somebody else's action. Not only are they non-combatants, but in point of fact they are the victims of quarrels which they can neither begin or take any part in. This Measure should cover claims of men of that kind. There is a very serious sense of injustice in the mind of large bodies of workmen who in recent disputes have suffered very severe financial losses because of stoppages to which they were no parties at all.
This discrimination between the work men in one part of a shop and the workmen in another part has given rise to great irritation as well as to much injustice. There were many scenes in bit towns during the progress of that long and bitter trouble which we know as the moulders' dispute, owing to the irritation caused by the discrimination shown to workmen in different parts of the workshops. I am not blaming the officials of the Employment Exchange, nor those who are responsible for the conduct of the Ministry of Labour. They carried out the law, and they were entitled to do so. We have now an opportunity of repairing the defects of the law, and of preventing any injustice under this head in the future. We agree that men who are parties to a dispute, men whose interests are involved in the dispute, men who are part of the issue in respect of wage claims or conditions of employment, have no claim on the State for unemployment pay They must provide their own benefity—as it were, their own ammunition—during 939 the struggle in which they may be engaged. We say, however, that in the case of other men who are not parties to the dispute, who have had no voice in it one way or the other, and whose conditions of service or rates of wages are not involved, the Statute should provide that they should be entitled to benefit if they are thrown out of employment through a quarrel of their fellows. My hon. Friend is quite right in what he said as to disputes caused by the action of employers. We are thinking of what is a state of dispute, and we apply the expression "trade dispute" to a stoppage, whether in relation to strikes caused by the workmen or a lock-out on the initiative of the employer. I think we might make a considerable effort towards urging an agreement on this point if we could have an assurance from my right hon. Friend that a form of words covering the needs of the case would be favourably considered by him, and that he would use his good offices to get it accepted in another place.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I repeat what I have said, namely, that if a form of words can be found which we, as the Ministry of Labour, are agreed is workable—and I would not unnecessarily or gratuitously put difficulties in the way—I would do what I could to secure, as far as we can secure it, that such words should be em bodied in the Bill. In default of that, I am afraid I know nothing better than the phraseology of the Bill.
§ Mr. WILKIE
I well remember that, in 1911, we kept the House a whole night on this matter, and we were then promised by those in charge of that Bill that our views would be more or less accepted. The real principle is this: It is all the same to a workman whether he is thrown out of work through want of employment owing to fluctuations of trade or whether he is thrown out of employment through a strike of others. It has been pointed out that, no matter whether we contribute directly or indirectly, labour has got to pay. My right hon. Friend the Member for Platting pointed out that, no matter what the benefit is, it is paid out of the industry. If all these directors can get their thousands out of the industry, there is no reason why the lesser workmen, and even the women who keep the managing director's office clean, should not share 940 in the fruits of that industry in the future. I hope that the Government will this time succeed in finding means of doing away with the gross injustice which has prevailed in the past. We do not ask the employers to pay men who are on strike, nor to assist them in any way at all. We do say, however, that men have been victims in the past, and have been thrown out of work through no fault of their own, and yet they have been refused the unemployment benefit for which they had paid. I would ask the House to mark that: it is we who are paying for it, not the Government. In our organisation we get as much for 3d. in unemployment benefit as the Government is giving for double that amount, but we are not raising that at the moment. We do say, however, that each industry ought to keep its own unemployed, and that the employers and the workmen should be co-partners. To maintain an industry at the highest efficiency the workers in that industry, as well as those in the higher positions, ought to be copartners, and we ought to do away with that terrible nightmare of the workers, that they never know when they will be thrown out of employment. This unemployment benefit is really the trade union benefit which was started long before the Government thought of it. In Mr. Campbell-Bannerman's time we had to urge it very strongly on the Government of that day. We held, and still hold, that the employers in industry cannot get on without the workmen, and that there is no reason why the workmen should always be paid off and left to starve every time there is a depression in trade. They cannot get on unless they can get the men later to do the work. I hope that words will be found to cover this point. We do not want benefits for trade disputes; we are ready to stand on our own feet in that respect. But we do say that, where other workmen are thrown out of work through no fault of their own, in consequence of a dispute over which they have no control, they are justly entitled to the benefit.
§ Mr. T. GRIFFITHS
I think the right hon. Gentleman stated that if we could come to some agreement in reference to the latter Amendment, standing in the names of my two right hon. Friends and myself, relating to the case of a workman not participating in a dispute occurring 941 in his own factory or workshop, he would accept it.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I drew attention to that Amendment, but I did not say that if an agreement could be arrived at upon it I would accept it. I did not bind myself; I left it open. If, however, an agreement can be arrived at which we think is workable, I will do my best to get it accepted.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
I wanted to know whether the right hon. Gentleman was referring to the general body of employers in the different trades of the country, or to a particular case. So far as the steel trade is concerned, we have an advisory committee under the right hon. Gentleman's own Department, and the matter has been discussed there between the employers and the representatives of the men. We have practically come to an agreement, and this Amendment has been drawn up by our solicitor. It will do away with the objection that, if a section of the men in the trade went out of employment, all the other men would be benefited as the result of the dispute. If you have a section of the men who will throw another body of men out of work in the same Department, this covers it. The men will be coming out on strike to improve either rates or conditions. The Amendment covers that by saying, "unless the men who are affected by the dispute are going to improve the rates or the conditions." That ought to meet the point, and the objection the right hon. Gentleman has expressed, because we have a very serious grievance in so far as some of these men are concerned. I will give one illustration of a case that happened in a steel works. I cut this out of the "South Wales Daily News" yesterday. Inferior coals were sent into the steel works. The firemen had to work three or four boilers in order to keep several departments going, and on the ground that the coal was inferior they stopped work. There may have been eight men. They stopped six mills, as the result of refusing to make steel. The firemen, who brought about the dispute, will receive no unemployment benefit, but the hundreds of men employed in the other departments, who are not parties to the dispute, will have to suffer as the result of the foolishness of these men in stopping the works.
942 These men have a grievance and you have your remedy, because when they make application for unemployed benefit at the Labour Exchange they are told either that they are entitled to it or that they are not and then they can appeal to the Referee. If you accept this Amendment the referee will have something to guide him because he will be able to judge for himself and come to the conclusion that the men were not really parties to the dispute, but were thrown out of employment on account of the action of these firemen. Perhaps this affects the steel trade more than any other, because we have so many sections of other unions working in the industry. We have bricklayers, engineers and electricians who are connected with other societies. I remember a dispute in Scotland about two months ago where a dozen bricklayers in a particular works threw 2,000 of my members out of employment. These men were not entitled to a single penny of unemployment benefit because the dispute took place in that particular Department. In South Wales I can give another illustration where they made steel bars and tin plates under the same firm. They made the tin plates in another works on the other side of the road. A dispute took place in the steel works, and because the tin platers connected with the firm are employed in the same department they receive no unemployment benefit at all, but the men on the other side of the road, who cannot get bars owing to the dispute, are paid the unemployment benefit. There is no sense in a thing like that. We simply want to use a little common sense and judgment and accept the Amendment and surely that ought to settle the matter. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment was speaking on behalf of the employing classes, I believe. Am I right?
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
I want to know from the right hon. Gentleman if we can come to an agreement in regard to the iron and steel trades, which is a very important and complicated trade. Would you require us to get into touch say with the employers in the cotton trade, the transport trade and all other trades and come to an agreement, or would you accept it on behalf of one particular industry?
§ Colonel P. WILLIAMS
I should like to make one more appeal to the Government to do justice to this class of man. On the original Bill we fought this very point. On the amending Bill we made a very vigorous attack on the Board of Trade to induce them to recognise the claims of men who were thrown out of work by reason of a dispute with which they had nothing to do. They had not the power to say, "This dispute shall not occur." They had not a vote or anything else, and I remember quite well the arguments used on that occasion. I happen to have been an employer for many years—I offer no apology for it—and we have always been on very good terms with our workmen; but whenever a dispute has occurred we have had an ally of which we have been ashamed. We have had some disputes in the Organisation with which I am concerned, and we have always had an ally we have hated having, and that was starvation. We never wanted to starve the women and children of our workmen whatever dispute we had with them. We beg the Government to give these people a subsistence allowance, and I will suggest how it could be done. Whenever a dispute arises let the insurance books of the men go into the office, and give the employer the right to mark "dispute" on the book. You may be certain you will catch every man connected with the strike, because the employers will take care that any man who is directly connected with it will be stopped from drawing unemployment benefit. Then any man whose book is not so marked will be able to go to the Post Office or the Labour Exchange and draw his unemployment benefit. The men whose books are marked "dispute" will have a right to appeal to the Board of Trade to have their case heard, and if they are not connected with the dispute let them draw their unemployment benefit; but I beg the Government not to continue this injustice to a body of men that no one wants to penalise and whom the employers would be very glad to see brought under unemployment benefit.
§ Mr. W. GREENWOOD
I think this Amendment is a very reasonable one, and one which experience of the working of the unemployment scheme in the past two or three years shows to be very much desired and very necessary. If it be 944 pressed to a division, I shall be very glad to support it.
The right hon. Gentleman has given an assurance that if a workable form of words can be found to satisfy both employers and workers, he will accept that form of words. When will he get those words into the Bill?
The right hon. Gentleman was not here last night. Had he been, he would have realised that the House found itself in a very unfortunate position in connection with another matter. An Amendment had been proposed from this side and the Minister in charge, who was just as amiable as the right hon. Gentleman, promised that the matter should be dealt with in another place. The House found itself in entire agreement on that matter, and the undertaking was given that certain words would be put forward in another place. When the words were brought forward in another place, they were rejected, and the House last night found itself in this position, that the conclusion at which they had arrived had been upset in another place. We do not want to get into that position again. Would it not be better to re-commit this Bill on this point, in order that an arrangement may be come to upon this extremely important matter and the words inserted? After our experience last night we realise that the undertaking to insert things in another place is more shadowy than we had hoped. There is no certainty that, even after we had gone to the trouble to arrive at an agreement, there would be a chance of the thing being carried out in another place.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I hope I shall not be pressed further on this matter. We will make every effort to carry out any undertaking, if all parties be agreed that it is desirable. I cannot go beyond that.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ Mr. A. WILLIAMS
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider this matter. I understand that the Bill is to be recommitted on a later Clause, therefore there would be no great objection to including this particular point when the Bill is recommitted If he cannot see his way to do that, there is another way in which we may be delivered from the tender mercies of another place, and that is if the right hon. 945 Gentleman will agree to put words in here provisionally, subject to his right to alter them afterwards. He might insert either the words we are now discussing or the words which stand lower down on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Miles Platting (Mr. Clynes). If these words were put in we should be quite certain that the matter must be dealt with in another place, and if another place declined to deal with it the Government always has a sufficient majority in this House when the Bill comes back here to modify the words in its own way. After our painful experience with the other place recently we do not want to be put into the same position again.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
The Amendment which stands in my name, covers the same point that has been raised, and as I understand the right hon. Gentleman is going to do his best to come to an agreement with the trade unions and the employers of labour and to deal with the matter in another place, I do not propose to move my Amendment unless he is prepared to accept it.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I beg to move, in Subsection (2) to leave out the words "unsatisfactory conduct," and to insert instead thereof the word "misconduct."
This raises an important question which is not uninteresting. The National Insurance Act, 1911, provides that in the case of misconduct there shall be a disqualification for the receipt of unemployment benefit. The present Bill proposes that instead of the word "misconduct," the words "unsatisfactory conduct" shall be used. The introduction of this phrase may be traced from the instructions which were issued when the provisions of the National Insurance Act, 1911, were made applicable to out-of-work donations. These instructions embody the same disqualifications as appeared in the 1911 Act with regard to out-of-work donations, and the instruction also provided for a form of claim to be sent in to the local office objecting to the right of the person who claimed out-of-work donation to receive it. The form provided that particulars should be given of the reason for not admitting the claim of the person to the out-of-work donation. It gave this instruction: "It should be carefully noted that the words 'unsatisfactory conduct' should always be used in- 946 stead of the word 'misconduct,' as the latter word has proved to be liable to misinterpretation when applied to women's trades." A very curious result has followed. When a woman's claim for out-of-work donation was refused on the ground of being out-of-work in consequence of misconduct, the misconduct probably being due to bad timekeeping or some actual misconduct in the execution of their work, the women thought that the misconduct meant that they had been guilty of some moral mis-behaviour, and I understand that either my right hon. Friend or his predecessor has been actually subject to threats of libel actions by young women who thought that the misconduct meant that they had been guilty of the sort of misconduct which we hear of in the Divorce Court.
The paragraph instructing the officers is given as a reason for disqualification by saying that a person is guilty of unsatisfactory conduct instead of misconduct. I think I am right in saying that there was no intention of substituting the test of unsatisfactory conduct. It was intended merely that unsatisfactory conduct should be used as an equivalent or simile for misconduct. The two words are quite different. In my experience insurance officers have always held or tried to hold that anything which is not good conduct is misconduct. That is quite a misconception, and the umpire has consistently refused to accept that meaning. The umpire has always held that there must be positive wrong-doing to constitute misconduct to disqualify a person from unemployment benefit, unsatisfactory conduct, work done badly, want of skill or minor offences. Misconduct connotes something wilful. In substituting unsatisfactory conduct for misconduct, I cannot help thinking that the Government do not intend to alter the practice, but unfortunately they are using a different word, the effect of which will be contrary to what my right hon. Friend intends. It is certain that chairmen of Boards of Referees and officials will in the course of time interpret unsatisfactory conduct in a sense which enlarges the grounds on which a man might be deprived of the out-of-work donation. It is only fair to the workmen that it should be understood, and the proper course is to show that they have the right to the unemployment donation except in cases where they have 947 been dismissed actually for misconduct. and not merely for trivial matters which might he considered unsatisfactory conduct.
A plain and simple way out of it is to inform the claimant of the particulars of any misconduct. Instead of, as in the past, merely filling in a form "disqualified or rejected on the ground of misconduct," they could put in "on the ground of misconduct, bad time-keeping" or "refusal to observe some provision of the Factory Act," or "idling," and so specify the misconduct. The most susceptible young woman will not be afraid of any imputation being made on her moral character, and it will prevent my right hon. Friend from being threatened with actions for libel and preserve the rights of unemployment donation, and it will have the advantage of informing the person whose claim has to go to the Court of Referees of the facts with which he must deal when he comes before the Court; further, it will be a notice to the chairman of the Court of Referees of the point which arises and the matter which has to be determined, and it will also help to focus the point at issue between the officials or insurance officers and the person making the claim. But apart from that, it would be a most unfortunate thing if different words were used which will certainly lead in the course of time to different constructions either by officers or in the appropriate Courts under this Bill when there is no intention to alter the practice at all. It is giving way to the wholly ridiculous susceptibilities of a very unimportant class of persons, who are a very small minority, to use the wrong word in a Bill, because the right word is misinterpreted by what, with all respect, I may call ignorant people.
§ Mr. SUGDEN
I beg to second the Amendment.
I do so purely from a business, and in no sense from a legal point of view. Some of us unfortunately have had some knowledge of legal procedure in respect to workmen, and when one considers the tremendous uncertainty which obtains in reference to a single word, I suggest that workmen should be protected as far as possible by this House. I have been endeavouring to ascertain what is the meaning of "unsatisfactory" in a legal sense. I applied to seven lawyers, and got six different 948 kinds of opinion as to the meaning and application of the word "unsatisfactory." As a business man, I would prefer the word that is substituted by my hon. and learned Friend.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
The words "unsatisfactory conduct" were substituted in connection with this Bill, because it was found rather embarrassing, as my hon. and learned Friend pointed out, in the case of women, and the misunderstanding was so serious, as he says, that on more than one occasion there was talk of a libel action. My hon. and learned Friend referred to the ridiculous susceptibilities of ignorant people, but if, as the Mover and Seconder suggest, doubts arise through the use of the word "unsatisfactory," I am willing to substitute another word if it will not trench upon the susceptibilities of ignorant people. I do not want to do that, but it has been made sufficiently clear to-day what is meant by the word "misconduct" in this connection, and I do not suppose that the susceptibilities of anyone will be in any way hurt by the use of the word. Therefore, I accept the Amendment.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I beg to move in Sub-section (2), after the word "weeks," to insert the words "or such shorter period, not being less than one week, as may be determined under the provisions of this Act."
The hon. Member for Bristol (Mr. Inskip) has an Amendment on the same subject; but I think that this will meet his object.
§ Mr. INSKIP
I am prepared to allow the right hon. Gentleman to move his Amendment. It meets my point.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
It is an Amendment which, I think, is more suitable than the proposal of the learned Gentleman. As the Bill stands, there is a penalty of six weeks' disqualification for losing employment owing to unsatisfactory conduct or without just cause, the Amendment would impose a smaller penalty. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Bristol is not quite satisfactory in its form. But the main point is that my Amendment enables the period to be reduced to one week from six weeks, and then is an appeal to the Umpire.
§ Amendment agreed to.949
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I beg to move, in Sub-section (4), to leave out the wordsan insured contributor ceases to be employed within the meaning of this Act and continues for a period of twelve months to be a person who is not so employed, he shall be,and to insert instead thereof the wordsany person ceases to be an insured contributor and continues throughout an insurance year to be a person who is not an insured contributor, he shall, unless he ceased to be an insured contributor by reason of sickness.The existing provision sets out a period of 12 months. It is essential that we should substitute "an insurance year." Other Amendments would make it clear that an insured person cannot come under a general scheme from a particular scheme, until he has paid a number of contributions.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (4), to insert the words "and an insured contributor in respect of whom no contributions have been paid during a period of five insurance years shall, if he subsequently becomes an insured contributor, be treated as if he had not previously been an insured contributor."
§ Mr. HAYDAY
I should like to ask a question. After the 12 months has expired, and re-qualification has taken place, will the insured person have his added accumulation credited to him?
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I beg to move, in Sub-section (5), to leave out "1919" ["1911 to 1919"], and to insert instead thereof the words "1920, or while he is in receipt of an old age pension."
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
It is a consequential Amendment, but it is one of considerable substance in connection with other Amendments. In Committee upstairs a change was made, and it was agreed that a person over 70 years of age, other than an old-age pensioner, should be eligible. I am carrying that out in this Amendment, and extending the 950 benefits above the age of 70 years, except in the case of old-age pensioners.
§ Amendment agreed to.