HC Deb 17 December 1925 vol 189 cc1811-4

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


I want to remind the House of the promise of the Home Secretary in 1923 in accepting a Resolution of mine, the object of which was to codify the Employers' Liability Act and the Workmen's Compensation Act, which I was willing to accept because the provisions of the lesser Act art; gradually swallowing up and absorbing the provisions of the greater Act. I can only express my sincere regret that he has not kept his promise.


I understand that this Consolidation Bill went quickly through. Second Reading, and through the Committee stage, and I want to ask whether we are to understand that there is no alteration at all so far as this Bill is concerned. I notice in the Bill that it repeals the 1906 Act and one or two other Acts, but there are five or six sections in the 3923 Act that it does not interfere with. What we want to be assured of—and we do not want to object to the Bill—is that there is no alteration of the law as far as workmen's compensation is concerned.


I should like some information about the War additions and whether they are carried on. Further, I should like to knew about the industrial diseases provisions. In this new Measure there are only live industrial diseases mentioned, whereas in the old Act there were 32. I want to know whether the whole of the 32 are carried forward in this new Bill.


May I reinforce what has been said by the hon. Members near me. We saw the Bill down on the Order Paper and, to be quite candid, we were taken by surprise. Some of us are much concerned, and we frankly are rather apprehensive of the lawyers. Our plea is that the Attorney-General should give us a guarantee that the existing law will not in any way be lessened, or weakened so far as workmen's claims for compensation are concerned, and that nothing will be made worse, however much hotter it may be made by this Consolidation Bill.

The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Douglas Hogg)

I can reassure hon. Members opposite. I confess that the Bill has only reached me at the last moment, as it reached them, but it is a Consolidation Bill and nothing else. What has happened is that in accordance with the ordinary practice, the Bill has been referred to the Committee which has to sit on the consolidation of measures.

They have carefully gone through it Clause by Clause, and they have given a certificate which is corporated in the White Paper, that except in two minor matters, namely, with regard to receivers and managers, and with regard to the date of the certificate which has to be given by the registrar, it effects no alteration of any kind at all in the law as it stands to-day. It is consolidation and nothing but consolidation, and the effect is not to weaken or alter or modify the law in any respect at all. I give that assurance, not on my own examination, because I know hon. Members suspect lawyers, but I give it because I find the certificate to that effect in the White Paper and I know the Consolidation Committee sits for no other purpose except to ensure that there can be no alteration of the law brought about, under the guise of a Consolidation Bill. The simple effect of it will be to make it easier for those advising people who have a claim under the Workmen's Compensation Act, to ascertain what their rights are, and it does not alter those rights.


Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us why in this Bill five or six of the Sections of the 1923 Act are excepted?


As I understand it—and I am speaking without very careful examination—they consolidate the existing law in regard to Workmen's Compensation.


But the Bill repeals the 1906 Act and several of the others, but when it comes to the 1923 Act, there are five or six Sections in that Act it does not exempt. Why did they not incorporate those Sections in this Consolidating Bill?


It repeals all those Sections of the Acts of Parliament which it re-enacts and consolidates in this particular Bill What the particular five Sections are which it does not include I cannot tell without further reference, but it docs not repeal them, and, therefore, they remain in force.