§ Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
I hope the interruption of our proceedings has given an opportunity for passions to cool, and that we may state what we have to say with 870 greater calm. I regret the absence of the hon. and gallant Gentleman to whom I was referring (Colonel Burton), but I am justified in saying that it is that sort of speech and frame of mind which has done more than anything else to stir up strife in industry. It is that feeling that when the workers—who after all are the producers—make a claim, bad faith comes in and they are either to be held up to scorn or else deprived of that to which they are justly entitled. I must admit that what I have to say loses a great deal of point in the absence of my antagonist. His speech was a combination of muddle-headedness and prejudice. He spoke as though, in some way, the agricultural labourer was being asked to subscribe to the cost of unemployment insurance. I have never observed the representatives of agriculture particularly reluctant to ask for Government subsidies, and he must be perfectly well aware that there is not a farthing subscribed by the agricultural labourer to the unemployment insurance fund. His argument that he could not go to his constituents and ask them to make their contributions to this scheme therefore falls to the ground because it is not in accordance with the scheme of the Bill at all.
He gave us an account of his perilous adventure in the port of London under the auspices of the Port of London Authority, and he told us that the great trouble was the question of rates and the heavy burden thus imposed on industry. That is perfectly true, but he did not tell us that under this Bill thousands of pounds every year will be taken from the workers. Then he went on to say that he wanted the Minister to have the right of waiver. The Minister told us yesterday that he wanted that right in order to exercise a judicious and discriminating kindness, but that was not the view of the right hon. Gentleman's supporter, who wanted that right to be exercised in order to sweep people off the list and save money for the purposes he had been describing. If we could only get to know in the same way the true minds of those supporting the Minister we should understand the case for this Bill a great deal better than we are able to understand it from the kindly and considerate but very restrained and discreet utterances which support it from the Treasury Bench. As far as the Division to-day is concerned, I do not agree with 871 my hon. Friends above the Gangway as to the course which should be taken. I am not going to vote for the Bill, but I am not going to vote against it, for this reason, that the Minister, as he knows, has us in a dilemma. If the Bill were destroyed, it would be possible for thousands of people to lose their right to benefit. Some hon. Members appear to think that the Minister would then be forced into the position of doing something else, but that is an arguable case. Some think it would be better to destroy the Bill and make the Minister produce something better. That certainly is an argument. He might produce something better, but, knowing him, or rather knowing the Government and his supporters, I suggest he might produce something very much worse.
However, that is a matter for argument and I am only explaining why, for my part, I cannot see my way to vote against the Bill. That is not to say that I support it or that we here approve of the provisions of the Bill. We may not have the personal experience of hon. Members above the Gangway but I certainly know from the scores of people with whom I come in contact every time I go to my constituency, that there are good workmen, people who are not "spongers" and who are not anxious to set on to the back of somebody else who will be driven to the guardians by this Bill. That is in regard to extended benefits. Nobody who does his duty as a Member of Parliament and comes into touch with his constituents, especially in large industrial constituencies, can fail to be familiar with that fact. The second object of the Bill is to deprive people of their statutory rights and is a breach of contract. Therefore, we have criticised and opposed this Bill, but realising that we are on the horns of a dilemma and that if the Bill were destroyed something worse might take its place we think it wiser not to vote against it. That attitude does not in the least mitigate the strong objection which we feel to the provisions of the Bill.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HEADLAM
The hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn) has explained his view very clearly, and has told us he is not going to vote against the Bill. I think if he disapproves of it so sincerely he might 872 register his vote against it, because his vote and the votes of his party are not likely to influence the fate of the Bill. I frankly admit that this Bill is not one which gives me any satisfaction at all, and I am convinced that the vast majority of the Members on this side of the House would prefer that it was not necessary to have the Bill. Anyone who represents a constituency where there is a great deal of unemployment—and I represent such a constituency—can look upon this Bill as nothing but an unpleasant necessity. I see case after case of men who are genuinely seeking work, and who cannot get unemployment pay under the existing Act. I have, time after time, tried to get these people their benefit, and have always found myself up against some regulation or rule. I had hoped that the Opposition, when this Bill came up, would devote their attention to insisting that the rules and regulations of the Ministry were better framed, and were more easily understood of the people. That is a personal point of view entirely, because I, myself, find great difficulty in understanding these rules, and if we devoted our attention, more especially in Committee, to trying to put that point of view forward and trying to get the Minister to see the difficulties with which we are faced, I think we should be doing more good to the unemployed than by taking up the violent attitude which it has pleased hon. Members opposite to adopt. I do not for one moment object to that attitude. No one could have listened to some of the speeches which have been delivered, without realising that Members opposite genuinely feel what they say.
I was especially struck with the speech of the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson). One could not help seeing that she was genuinely affected, but I would have her believe, and I would have all the Opposition in this House believe, that the vast majority—I should say the whole, of the party on this side—are equally anxious to do what they can to mitigate the great trouble of unemployment. It is only a question of how we are going to do it. I, myself, look upon this insurance benefit as an insurance benefit. I cannot look upon it as a dole, and it seems to me that the whole or the greater part of the arguments that have been addressed to us during the course of the passage of this Bill have been in the direction of trying 873 to make this a dole. That is not what we have in view at all, and I do not believe, from what I have seen of the unemployed —and, believe me, I have seen a great deal since I have been a Member of Parliament—that the geniune working man wants this to be anything but an insurance. He does not want it to be a dole. If it were a dole, what would be the difference between a State dole and the rates? I can see no difference. What he wants is that he should have a right to a certain sum of money in return for what he has contributed to a fund, and the only point we are in difficulty about at the present time is that the fund is not self-supporting and that it is rapidly going from bad to worse.
In a year's time the whole of this matter of unemployment benefit has to be revised again, and I hope profoundly that if it is found that this Bill, which will be carried through this House shortly, really does not work, if it is found that people are really brought to the condition which the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough so eloquently painted just now—I have not found such cases myself, I am thankful to say, but that there are such cases I am prepared to believe, as it has been stated in this House—if it is found that the Act is not working, and that the Rules and Regulations are too tightly drawn, it is always up to us, and it is our duty, in the interests of the people of this country, to see that the Act is revised. I am profoundly convinced of the truth of what I am going to say now, and that is that, at a time like the present, when the economic condition of this country is such as it is, it is no use our talking about millions as if they were mites. We are apt to talk about a few millions as if they did not matter in the least. We have to retrench in every Department, in the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, and in every Government Department. We have to cut down ruthlessly. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why do you not do it?"] I ask the same question myself. I even wrote to the papers to explain my point of view, so that it should be made quite clear. [An HON. MEMBER: "How did you vote on the Navy?"] Unfortunately, I am not His Majesty's Government; I am only a humble back bencher, trying to induce the Government to do what I believe to be right, and it is for that reason 874 because I know that we are living beyond our means, that I say we must practise economy.
Hon. Members opposite are apt to talk as if we were enormously rich. There may be a few individuals who are enormously rich, but the country, believe me, is not enormously rich, and we cannot go on spending money in the way in which we are doing now. Therefore, I feel it my duty to vote in favour of this Bill, because it stands for retrenchment, but I hope, and I hope profoundly, that it is not going to make the condition of the unemployed worse. If it is, then it will have to be altered. That is perfectly clear, but I do not think that hon. Members, if they will do their duty properly, if they will see that their rota committees are really working properly, if they will insist upon seeing that all cases which are brought to them are closely investigated, will find that this particular Bill is really going to make much difference. What we have to do is to get trade going in this country, and, after all, all contributions of this kind, all charges like the Unemployment Fund, are charges upon employment. You cannot get away from the fact that the money has to come from somewhere. It has to come from the State or from the rates, but in either case it is a charge upon industry. If we are going to get rid of the unemployed, or to reduce their numbers—which, Heaven send, we shall, and we must if the country is to go on—we can only do it by reducing the charges upon industry.
Therefore, I say, let us have ruthless economy in every Department of the State, of the municipalities, and everywhere. We must all economise. If we can do that, I believe we shall get the trade of this country going again, and with that a reduction of unemployment. Hon. Members opposite always speak from a too pessimistic point of view. They always talk as if we were always going to have this large crowd of unemployed. We have had them for the last four years, due to causes produced by the War, but there is no reason why we should always have this crowd of unemployed, of the size that we have it now, and I look forward to the day when we shall once again be in a solvent condition, when our people will be earning good money, and having what is much more important—work. There is nothing more 875 tragic than a man seeking work and not being able to find it. After Waterloo there was an unexampled period of distress, and during that period the miners of the North Country were thrown out of work, and some of them harnessed themselves to a cart full of coal, on which was a flag bearing this device: "Willing to work, but not to beg." I believe that that is the attitude of the vast majority of the working class in this country to-day There may be cases—and there certainly are, because some of them have come to my own notice—where a man has been trying to get the benefit of the dole wrongly, but I do not believe that that is true of the vast majority of the working-class, and it is certainly not true of the vast majority of the working-class in my own constituency.
§ Colonel DAY
I listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Barnard Castle (Lieut.-Colonel Headlam), especially when he touched on the question of the possibility of unemployment being reduced in the future. I also listened with great interest to the appeal that the Prime Minister made in this House to Members and to the people of the country to buy British goods and British goods alone, but last Wednesday evening, when I came into Palace Yard, I noticed 61 motor cars, all belonging to the Members of the party opposite. I counted 61 there, and I went round as a matter of curiosity to see where they were made, and I found that there were 39 American and foreign cars out of the 61. I want to ask whether the Gentlemen who get up on the other side and preach about buying British goods, and British goods alone, should not start at home, whether it is not a form of hypocrisy to advise this country to patronise British workmen when they themselves buy American and foreign cars, whether it is not a case of "Do not dc as we do, but do as we tell you," or whether it is not the case that they buy in the cheapest markets. I put a question in this House the other day in regard to matches, and the first answer that I got was that they were bought last year, but when I put a further question to the Under-Secretary, I elicited the fact that the order was given on 10th November. I only mention that to show that perhaps 876 it would be better for the Government and Members on that side to put their own house in order before advising the people of this country to buy only British goods.
I wonder how many hon. Members opposite know what it is to go hungry. [HON. MEMBERS: "DO you?"] Unfortunately I have in my past life experienced the pangs of hunger. I have known what it is to go round London looking for a job, and sleeping on the Embankment, and I am not ashamed of it. I know what it is looking for work with an empty stomach, and being without money to buy food. I have drawn attention to this House to a case, which happened last week in my own constituency in Southwark, of a responsible tradesman who had to give up his work and become a casual labourer. He was taken off the extended relief. He applied to the guardians, was refused relief by them went to the relieving officer, got no relief from him, went home, where his children were crying for food—he himself had had none for two days—went outside and committed suicide by cutting his throat. That, I say, is a disgrace to this Empire, and people who bring about such a system are murderers. To allow our people to starve in that way is a disgrace to this country. That is not the only case. It happens all over England. It is one case that has come to my own particular notice.
I heard here last night a very dramatic appeal by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury). I want to say that my views coincide with everything he said. My own opinion is that the unemployed have remained quiet too long. If the unemployed are going to be starved, as they will be by this gap, as we call it, being extended to six day's waiting period, I say now is the time for them to get up and move. Now is the time for them to bring pressure; otherwise, later on, they may be, perhaps, in the position of one of my constituents, of whom I have just told the House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite do not appreciate that starving men are angry men. They say that some of us on this side have been preaching revolution. We do not preach revolution. We try to hold it back. But if the people of this country are going to be starved, then there may be some very serious times in front of us, and the only way we can keep those people back—and we on this side 877 are just as anxious as Members on the other side to keep them back—is by seeing that their stomachs are full, for when you starve the children and the man, there is no knowing what may happen.
The hon. and gallant Member for Sudbury (Colonel Burton) spoke about agricultural workers earning £2 a day. [HON. MEMBERS: "A week."] He said a day. [HON. MEMBERS: "He corrected it."] I heard what he said. Evidently he meant to say they earned it, but did not get it. He said he was connected with a business that had paid £37,000 in wages, and made a profit of £200. All I can recommend him as a business man is to put his house in order. It is time for him to get out of the business. It is the inefficiency of the employers of this country that causes the unemployment. The finest workman in the world is the British workman, but you cannot take a British workman and give him inferior tools to work with, and expect him to turn out better work than the Continental or American worker. You cannot put a British workman into a Ford car and expect him to compete with a Rolls-Royce. But that is what the employers in this country, in the majority of cases, do. We had that proved last year in the motor car industry, when the motor car manufacturers said that if the McKenna duties were reduced it would cause an enormous amount of unemployment. But what happened?
§ Colonel DAY
I am trying to show, in answer to the remarks made by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Sudbury, that it is not the fault of the workman, but it is the fault of the employer, and I submit that, had you not allowed him to have dealt with it in that way, I would not have touched upon it. I only wish to submit that the Government are cutting away the slight advantage that the unemployed at the present time receive from extended benefit, and are increasing the waiting period—I say it is a starvation period. I myself have experienced the fact that when I have had a very small amount of money, when the time came to be out of work before the end of the week, I was on the starvation level. I was then a single man, but had I had a family, as some workmen have with four, five or six children, I 878 should have been worse than starving. And I say, quite unblushingly, that if I were placed in that position, having to go home with no food in my house—I can see some hon. Gentlemen opposite sneering. They have not had the experience. If they had gone home to empty larders, finding children crying for food, starving themselves, having had nothing to eat for a week or more, I do not think they would have stopped where our poor unfortunates have to stop. I say, without fear of contradiction, that if I were placed in that position, I would go out and get the food somewhere, and we on these benches are trying to protect our people from having to resort to anything that may be held up against them.
§ Mr. CECIL WILSON
It is a matter of very great regret that, when we are dealing with a subject of this importance, we should have heard a speech such as that which an hon. Member on the other side delivered a short time ago. I think it is even more unfortunate that a speech of that kind should come, as is so often the case, from one who has been brought up as a son of the Church, because it has repeatedly happened in this House, that those who have been so brought up have used to us on these benches more objectionable language than comes from any other quarter of the House. The Minister last night, as I understood, referred to the fact that the increase of the waiting period from three days to six was not going to have any effect whatever so far as Poor Law relief is concerned. A few days ago, he had a letter from the guardians in the Sheffield Union, in which they said:The guardians view with very great concern the growing burden which is being thrown upon local rates by reason of the fact that men deprived of benefit, owing to their failure to comply with the requirement, are compelled to apply to the guardians for Poor Law relief, or for an increase of relief, in order to enable them to maintain themselves and their dependants. This burden is increasing the expenditure of Poor Law-authorities to an alarming extent, and in this union is having a very serious effect upon the financial position, which has, for a long time, owing to the abnormal unemployment in the city, been a cause of considerable anxiety to the guardians.We see here some effect of the stiffening up of the Regulations. There is no question whatever but that guardians all over the country are very greatly concerned as to what is going to be the effect in the 879 lengthening of the waiting period. How the Minister can come to this House and make a statement that it is going to have no effect whatever I entirely fail to see. Now let me carry the matter just a title bit further. A few weeks ago I put a question to the Minister of Health in regard to the amounts paid for unemployment benefit during the various years. The reply that I got was this:
The amount of domiciliary Poor Law relief in money or kind given in England and Wales to persons ordinarily engaged in some regular occupation and their dependants was"—Then the figures follow. Beginning with 1920 the amount was rather less than half a million (estimated). It got up to nearly £11,000,000 in 1922. Over the whole of the five years it amounted to something just short of £29,000,000, including, that is to say, persons who are ordinarily employed. A certain amount was due to sickness. Allowing for that we may take it that something like £25,000,000 additional has been spent out of the rates for the last five years in consequence of unemployment. That, however, is not quite the whole story.
Taking again Sheffield, which, I think, may be taken as typical of other unions, we find that of insured men receiving benefits in the week for which I have the particulars here, in April last, there were 1,863 uninsured persons receiving benefits and 1,088 not receiving benefit In other words, for every hundred receiving benefit, 59 were not receiving benefit. You cannot get away from figures of that kind. This was one of the results of the stiffening up to which reference has been made. Then, again, the guardians have represented to the members of the City of Sheffield, and again represented in May, the effect of this increase in the number of able-bodied men making claims upon the guardians. It was stated at that time, and not questioned by the Minister of Health, that it had amounted in Sheffield alone to £600 per week. We cannot go on having these additional burdens placed upon us in that way. I should like to ask the Minister, or the Parliamentary Secretary, as to what is meant by the statement that the increase from three to six days is not going to put a very considerable increase on the guardians?
880 1.0 P.M
May I just call attention to the question of contributions, because a good deal has been said in the course of the Debate as to the large amount of money which the Government is giving from the Exchequer to the unemployment fund. A few months ago a return was presented which showed the amount of the contributions from the employers, employed, and the Exchequer for the five years 1919-24. That showed that over that period out of every £ of contributions received, 7s. 7d. came from the employer, 6s. 11d. came from the employed, whilst the Exchequer contributed 5s. 1d. That was not the whole of that chapter of finance. The Exchequer contribution was 5s. 1d. whilst benefit paid by associations under Section 17 of the Act of 1920 amounted to 2s. 3d., or a little less than half. I want to put it, when we talk about the burdens on the Exchequer and the amount which the Exchequer is bearing for unemployment benefit—for which it is very largely responsible—is really comparatively small compared with what others contribute. For this five years the total amount from the Exchequer was rather more than £39,000,000. As has been repeatedly pointed out during the Debate, hon. Members opposite apparently are frightened about it. On the other hand they vote £58,000,000, spread over a period of five years, for war purposes and not for peace purposes !
Let me give one or two actual cases which have been brought to my notice, because I think they ought to emphasise the conditions. I do not think, in spite of all that may be said by the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle (Lieut.-Colonel Headlam), and others, that the position is in the least degree recognised. I had occasion to communicate with the Ministry in respect to a particular case a short time ago. This is the report sent by the superintendent of out-relief in regard to this particular man. He says:The man referred to … applied for relief on the 20th June last, stating that he was working alternate weeks on corporation relief work, wages £2 14s. 10d., and that he had been refused unemployment benefit for the weeks he was out of work though he produced a card showing 24 stamps to his credit. His reason for applying for relief was that having a wife and three children dependent upon him he was unable 881 to maintain them on the wages received. If entirely out of work he would have received from the guardians for the two weeks £3 8s.which is 13s. 2d. more than he was actually receiving for his work. The letter goes on to say that this manworked for the Nunnery Colliery for many years to July, 1922, having to leave the pit owing to eye trouble. Since then he has worked odd weeks for several 'builders, and for fairly long periods on corporation relief work. We are of opinion that he would take any kind of work he is able to do. We believe him to be a. respectable man.This man is refused benefit by the exchange, because he is not genuinely seeking work.
§ Mr. WILSON
Here are a certain number of other cases which I want to put to the Minister and to the House.. Here is the case of a man with a wife and six children, aged 18, 14, 12, 10, 8 and 5, earning £l 15s. a week. Here is another ease of a man with a wife and five children, aged 14, 10, 7, 6 and 3, earning £2 a week. He is a railway labourer, working away from home, and paying for lodgings in addition to keeping his own home. Here is another man with a wife and seven children, aged 16, 12, 10, 8, 7, 4 and 2, earning 38s. a week; and a man with a wife and three children earning 22s. a week as a labourer. It may be all very well to speak, as we have heard said, of the large amounts that some people are earning. Against them I put these four cases--one man earning 35s. a week, another 40s., another 38s. and another 22s. Deduct from the man's wages his rent, his insurance, his trade union contributions and certain other things, and we get down to this, that there is in one case 23s. for eight people, 28s. for seven people, 26s. for seven people and 10s. for five people. What does it work out per head? In the first case it is 5d. per day per head, in the next 7d. per day per head, in the third 6½ per day per head, and in another case 3½d. per day per head.
Men are refused benefit because they are expected to go trailing all over the district for work which they know, and the Ministry knows, does not exist, and they are reduced to living upon these small amounts. There is not a man in this House who can justify anything of the kind. When some of us speak strongly on these matters we are told we 882 are stirring up revolution. It is not we who are stirring up revolution. What we plead for is a more just treatment for these people and for things to be looked at from a practical point of view. I have a case of a boy of 18, the eldest of a family of six. That boy, with his bicycle, has been all over the district looking for work. He has fainted in the street through not having food enough. When he has got home he has refused to take food because he knows that he would be depriving other members of the family of food. He wanted to go into the workhouse, but his parents did not want him to go there. These cases are only typical of very many more. We must realise that out of those sums of 5d.. 7d., 6½d. and 3½|d. per head, they have to supply food and clothing, fuel and light, and no one knows what else. There is not a man in the House who does not know that it cannot be done. What is the attitude of the Government going to be? Is there going to be a real attitude of sympathy, or are we in a future Bill going to continue the cutting down of these benefits while there are many people in the country who have a great deal more than they know what to do with? If we could only stop wasteful expenditure on preparations for war there would never be any need to bring forward such proposals. We could find more useful ways of spending our money.
§ Sir MERVYN MANNINGHAM-BULLER
I think I have heard all the speeches made in Committee on this Bill, and most of those made in this House. There have been many hard words used, but hard words break no bones. I do not think they furnish very sound arguments, and if they give relief to the feelings of hon. Members opposite, they are welcome to use them as far as I, am concerned. But I wish to come down to facts. The first fact that emerges to-day is. that if this Amendment be carried, something like 200,000 to 250,000 men will fail to receive benefits after October 1st. That is a fact which should be made widely known throughout the whole country. Sympathy for the unemployed is not a monopoly of any one party in this House. It exists among all decent-minded men in the country. But there is another body of men whose interests are often overlooked in the Amendments which have been put forward by the Labour party—the 883 employed workers. It is out of the hard-earned wages of the working-men that a great deal of the money is found for unemployment benefit, and as long as that is the case the Government are bound to look upon themselves as trustees, and to be exceedingly careful how they expend the money. I have every reason to know that the working men of this country are the finest in the world, because I have several times been in rather tight corners with them, and it is all to their credit that they have made no objection to these deductions from their hard-earned wages to help to provide for the unemployed. But all the more, I maintain, it is the duty of any Government to see that money is spent only where it is required, and not spent where there is no necessity for spending.
Almost every Amendment moved has tended to increase the number of people to whom benefit shall be given, rather regardless at times of whether that benefit is really required. Take the case of the young man living at home with his parents who have a certain income coming into their cottage. The question arises, Are you justified in taking money which is very largely provided out of the wages of working men to find unemployment benefit for a young man living with his parents who are, for the time being, at any rate, able to help him, and are in hopes that, sooner or later, he will be able to find work? From what we have heard from the benches opposite the lot of the young man is at times rather a hard one. Most of us remember a striking speech made some weeks ago by the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley (Mr. Lansbury), a speech with which all of us were in agreement, in which he referred to the incalculable harm done to the character of young men through being out of work week after week and drawing benefit for doing nothing. I believe that at the bottom of our hearts we all agree that that is a bad thing for the character of a young man. On the other hand, we were told yesterday that if a young man lives at home and is aided by his parents for a short time he is a parasite on his family. It is rather alarming to realise that if any of us give assistance to our sons—and which of us does not if we have the chance?—we are making our sons parasites. That is not a view 884 with which most people would agree. We must never forget the fact, however great our sympathy with the unemployed may be, that we are in the position of trustees and must see that this money is expended wisely and well. If men who are in work and are making contributions towards unemployment do not in any way — and it is all to their credit that they do not—resent making payments to help their fellow men, they have every right to resent that money being spent on cases where there is no real need for it.
Many of us regret the necessity for extending the waiting period from three days to six days, but we must bear in mind that we are only reverting to what has been the practice, with a short exception, ever since 1911, when the Insurance Act came into operation: and I do not think we need anticipate that the extension will result in such deplorable results as have been outlined. The fact remains that this does assist the Government to help those who are in work by reducing the contributions they would have to pay in the future. Now I come to the Clause providing for the discretion of the Minister. The last speaker instanced some very hard cases where men had certainly on the face of it received very harsh treatment. I want to put this argument, that if you are going to tie everything up by hard and fast legislation, and allow no discretion whatever, you are always bound to find hard cases on the border-line, and therefore the cases which have been advanced by the hon. Member opposite form a very strong argument in favour of leaving the Minister a certain amount of discretion in order that he may be able to deal with those hard cases without having his hands tied by the hard letter of a rigorous law.
This discretion will work out in two ways. In the first place, the Minister will be able to see that the money found by the men in work will not be spent where there is no real necessity for it; and secondly, it will operate in the direction of seeing that hard cases which might otherwise be ruled out by the letter of the law will be given that help which they deserve. For all these reasons, personally I support this Bill, because I believe it is a fair attempt to hold the balance of justice between the unemployed and those who are in work providing the money for the benefits which are given. The Bill also has a due regard for solvency and 885 aims at a reduction of the contributions in the immediaite future. It allows a large number of men who would otherwise come off benefit to continue and it is designed in the interests of both the unemployed and the employed worker, who, I cannot help thinking, have been rather overlooked by hon. Gentlemen opposite in their great interest for the unemployed.
§ Mr. CAPE
In rising to support the Amendment for the rejection of this Bill, I feel in rather a difficult position. Having listened to a good many speeches during the Committee stage and the Report stage of this Bill, I think I have heard every argument that could be adduced by hon. Members of this House against the Bill, and every adjective that could be found has been used by hon. Members. Consequently I find myself in a difficult position to use words which express my disgust of this Bill. I take it that this is the first attempt by the Government at their policy of economy. We have heard in the country since the Election and during the Election something about the great desire for economy on the part of the present Government. Strange to say, their first attempt has been made against the very poorest of the poor, and it is a proposal to cut away £6,500,000 from those who really deserve, not only our sympathy, but our hearty support rather than taking anything away from them. As a matter of fact, they are taking it away from people who have really created this fund, because it is only by the contributions of those that need benefit that this fund can be kept in operation. We now find that the people who contribute are going to have to stand more hardships than they have experienced during the last 12 months. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Barnard Castle (Lieut.-Colonel Headlam) said he believed that we were in earnest when we expressed so vehemently our objections to this Bill, and he thought our feelings were justified in view of the large number of workers in this country who found themselves unemployed. I want to assure him that the reason why we do that is because so many of us have had the painful experience of knowing what the pangs of hunger mean. One hon. Member has already spoken about wandering through the streets of London looking for work 886 and sleeping on the Embankment with an empty stomach.
A good many of us have had to go to a hard day's work without food, leaving behind in the house the little bit there was for the children we were leaving behind. Therefore, we speak strongly on these questions because we do not want to see the present generation suffer the hardships we suffered 26 or 30 years ago. Consequently when you take from these men the right to have relief until they have qualified for six days you mean that for six days these people must absolutely starve. But does it end at six days? I want to put it in this way. Take a man thrown out of employment on the Saturday and they square up with him, and then he has to remain another week before he receives any unemployment benefit. This really means that instead of a man suffering for a week he has to suffer for a fortnight before he receives any benefit or any money to help him to maintain his household.
Another thing I want to point out is that my hon. Friend who spoke last referred to the man who had to contribute. We are all concerned for him, but this extension of the six days qualifying period means that the man who is going to contribute is one of the men who is under-employed and therefore, you find the unemployed man not only unable to receive any benefits but you find that he has to contribute for something he does not get. Hon. Members on these benches are pointing out the case of men and women with low wages working practically two, three and four days a week. I come from a district where we have suffered a great deal from under employment and a good deal of poverty arises from this cause. The result is that the working classes find themselves at the end of a week with something in the neighbourhood of £2 a week for a full week but when that is reduced by short time by 50 per cent. it means £1 a week, and the consequence is they are not entitled to receive any benefit under this Bill although they have to pay contributions towards the fund. I want to suggest that the men who are going to be hit the hardest under this Bill are really the people who are under-employed. There was a provision in the present Act whereby on a certain day 887 they would get a. few shillings to go towards the family expenses in order to help them to get through. Under this Bill, all these things are going to be wiped out.
We now come to the question of the man who is unemployed for some time, and who will have to qualify by waiting six days. It has been stated by hon. Members opposite that a man who has been in constant work for six or 12 months—and he is a very fortunate man who to-day has been employed for that period—will be able to maintain himself for a full week, but I repeat that it means that he will have to maintain himself for a fortnight. I want, however, to suggest that the wages that men are receiving to-day make it a practical impossibility for them to make any provision like this at all. What will they have to do? They will find themselves, unless the utmost care is taken, gradually drifting into debt, and, if we take away this right which they now enjoy, there will be three alternatives before them. They will either have to drift further into debt, or appeal for Poor Law relief, or go on for a fortnight suffering the pangs of hunger. Tradesmen are not prepared to allow men with no hope or security of work to get further into debt. Boards of guardians in my own locality hardly know where to turn to get money to meet the demands which are made upon them at the present time. One of the chief complaints of the board of guardians in my own district during the 1923 Act was the fact that so many of these under-employed men had to get Poor Law relief, and it is a practical impossibility for guardians to borrow money to meet the present demands.
I come now to the young men whoso case has been so very prominent in the discussion that has taken place. I suggest to the Minister that the young men are really the best source from whence his future possibilities will come. There may be three, four, five or six in a family, and the eldest may be 18 or 19. The father may be in what is called a constant job, getting a wage from £2 to £3 a week. What has happened in the past? We find that the Rota Committees cut these young men off and leave them absolutely destitute or dependent upon their father, who can scarcely maintain the younger members of the family. These young men 888 are contributors, and they will have to contribute in the future towards wiping out any deficiency that may arise in the fund. Therefore, the very men from whom you expect to get your money to wipe off the deficiency, you are penalising at the present time by putting them out of any extended benefit at all. These young men will have a bitter resentment so far as any Unemployment Insurance Act is concerned. They will not pay willingly, and perhaps force will have to be employed to make them pay.
I did expect that this Government, after all the promises that were made at the General Election, would have tried to do something to improve the present Act. We were told last night by the Minister of Labour that he had not promised any remedy for unemployment. But surely hon. Members opposite will recollect that the leading Members of the Government, in the Election campaign of last year, at any rate inferred, both by their Election addresses and their speeches, that while the Labour party had failed in nine months to solve the unemployment problem, if the Conservative party were returned to power, it would not be very long before trade was stabilised in the country and unemployment became a thing unknown. While probably there was no definite pledge, the inference to be drawn from all the speeches and manifestoes that were issued led the people of the country to think that would be an accomplished fact. Instead of that, we find that unemployment has considerably increased. [HON. MEMBERS: ''NO !"] The figures of the Ministry of Labour show that there is more unemployment today than there was 12 months ago; and, apart from the figures on the live register, it would be interesting to know how many men and women have been put off that register during the last few weeks by the rigorous methods adopted by the Rota Committees throughout the length and breadth of the country.
Probably I was one of those optimists that you do not find very often, but I did expect that this Government at any rate would have tried to improve upon what the Labour party did in 1924. My hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) says that was very foolish, and I think it was. The Act upon the Statute Book is not one which I would like to say meets all the requirements. 889 It has a good many weaknesses, and, if the Minister of Labour had concentrated his mind upon trying to strengthen that Act, and to make it more possible for the unemployed man and his family to live he would have done a more useful service than by trying to make the position worse for the unemployed man. I hope, when the Division takes place, that all those Members on the opposite side who have shown such sympathy for the unemployed men will give a practical illustration of that sympathy by recording their votes against the Third Reading of this Measure.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I rise, along with my colleagues, to oppose the Third Reading of this Bill. Hon. Members on the other side have said that they have heard most of the speeches made in the various stages of this Bill. I can safely say that I have heard practically all the speeches made in all the stages of the Bill. I attended the Committee upstairs from the first minute it sat and was never absent. During that period two things amazed me: First of all, the Minister himself, with an angelic smile and almost a heavenly look, at the same time doing the worst thing possible to the people; and, secondly, the silence of his supporters. We have now reached the Third Reading and are discussing the final stage of the Bill. I do not think the most optimistic of our people on this side of the House think that a single speech or that a single thing that we can say will alter the wording of this Measure at this stage. At least, however, we can show to our folk in the country that we are opposed to this Measure, and have done our best to kill it.
It was stated by one hon. Member opposite that, if this Bill were defeated to-day, 200,000 unemployed people would be affected by that result. But everyone who knows Parliamentary procedure knows, and I think the Parliamentary Secretary will admit, that, if our Amendment for the rejection of the Third Reading were carried to-day, what would happen would be that the Government would be defeated on a first-class Measure, and either they would have to resign or would have to take steps to bring in a Bill which would be superior to the present Bill, because the House had recorded its dissent from this Measure as too meagre in its character. There- 890 fore, the argument that, merely because we are voting against it to-day, someone would be cut off from benefit, is not correct. In any case, are we going, even if the Bill were defeated, even if the worst came to the worst, really to deprive 200,000 people of benefit? As I said last night, I gave both the Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary credit at the outset of my Parliamentary career for a great deal more sympathy and a great deal more understanding. I was the first Member of this House to raise the position of the unemployed when the new Government came into power, and on that occasion I stated frankly that I thought our Minister of Labour was an advance on our conception regarding Tory Ministers. But his actions since then have proved that my estimate of him was entirely wrong, that he has not been a sympathetic Minister, but that, on the other hand, his actions, one after another, since he has been in office, have proved that he is one of the most hardhearted and cruel Ministers that have ever held that responsible position.
I believe thoroughly that, whether this Bill be carried or defeated, the result in a, few months will be the same. A few weeks after coming into office, the Minister introduced Regulations. One of them was that you must have eight stamps, I think it was, within the last two years, or 30 since the commencement of the Act. Another was that, if you were turned down by a Committee, the manager, if he thought fit, could keep you six months without giving you another committee. Regulation after Regulation has been introduced, and, with this new power that is given to the Minister, with the extension of his right, taking his past actions into account, it will mean, within the next six or seven months, that the great number over which he is now asking for waiver rights will be dispossessed by Regulation and instruction issued throughout the country. We have to bear that in mind.
Moreover, all through the Committee stage, we have been asking, under the provision that disqualifies a young man living with his parents, what is to be the family income that is to disqualify? What is to be the income coming into the house which is to be sufficient to deny benefit to the young man living with his 891 parents? Is it to be £2? If the father has £2 per week, is that to be enough to disqualify the young man? Is it to be £3? Is it to be £4? Is it to be £5? We would like to know the sum. If it is not to be the income of the head of the family, what is to be the average income for each member of the family? Is it to be 10s. for each person in the household? Is it to be £l? Let them tell the House what is their idea of the income at which the young man will be disqualified. On that the Minister is being discreet; on that be has never said anything at all. The average income of the working people of this country, even taking a high level, would hardly work out at £3 per week. Indeed, I think I am exaggerating in saying that. Taking my own district, I represent part of the poorest district in the whole of Scotland. I represent an area in the Govan Parish Council, and in that area the average shipyard labourer earns a wage of 38s. per week, which, when deductions are made for holidays, Health Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, and so on, averages out at less than 34s. per week. Is that man's son to be disqualified because his parents can keep him in affluence and ease? Has that man such an income that you can afford for a fortnight to deprive him of even his unemployment benefit if he is thrown out of work? I would put it to the Parliamentary Secretary, how would he like, with an income of 34s. or 35s., to go for a fortnight without any income at all when thrown out of work? I wonder how other hon. Members opposite would like it?
I remember how we discussed in this House a vote of £70,000 to a Royal Prince to go abroad, and how we were told that this money was necessary. That £70,000 for a young man, the son of his father, was passed in this House without the slightest hesitancy, and now this Minister and the same Government, after asking for that £70,000, come along to other men equally as good as any prince in this country to me—it may be better men than the son even of the King—and refuse them benefit and ask that their parents shall keep them. If that law is good for the poor, why do not the Government, before they start on the poor, practise it in their midst—on those who are well-to-do, on those who are drawing incomes from the State? Let them go to their kings and 892 queens and tell them to keep their sons, as they have an income. Let them go to the rich, let them go to their own Cabinet, let them go one to the other, but do not let them come along to our poor people and ask them to do things in their extremity and poverty that they are not prepared to do to themselves.
I have heard to-day speeches from these benches pointing out what the effect will be on Poor Law rates. As I have said, I represent one of the worst districts, if not the worst, in the whole of Scotland, and what do we find there, the parish council that is responsible, since this Minister has been in office? In December of last year, the payments to unemployed people for able-bodied poor relief were £1,900 per week, and, to-day, in July, the same parish has to pay £2,450 per week. That is a net increase, since December, of £550 per week in able-bodied poor relief, or an increase of over 25 per cent. in actual payments, because of the Regulations already imposed by the present Minister of Labour. Then this Bill comes along, and asks that the local areas should bear greater burdens. I heard an hon. Member opposite speaking about the great amount of rates on industry. This Bill is going to say to the poor working people in areas that are already depressed, "You keep the poor yourselves within your own locality, while we, who can afford to live outside, bear no share or responsibility for them."
I think I heard an hon. Gentleman say that, if a parent gave something to his son. that son was not a parasite. I agree. I speak for my own home, where I have a brother and sister who had to be helped through their medical and professional career through the university. We never looked upon them as parasites on us, because we expected to get, and did get, when their career was finished, a return. But you are asking young men to live on their parents, to depend on their parents, when their parents know that, even when they get work, they can never repay any of the things that they had to give them during their period of unemployment. Hon. Members opposite say, "This must be done. We must save £6,500,000 from those people, because this nation must have economy." There is never a word about the £1,000,000 a day, the £350,000,000 a year, on War Loan, paid in 1918 when the cost of living was 150 per 893 cent. and 160 per cent. above pre-War, and paid now when it is only 80 per cent. —a net gain of 80 points. There is no word about reducing the War Loan, no word about going along to the rentier and saying to him, "Your interest is 5 per cent.; we are going to make it 2½ per cent."
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I know it is actually outside, but we were told that the country must save money. Surely I am in order in showing an alternative method which would impose less hardship on our people of saving money.
No, I think not. In that case any Member who objected to Government expenditure would be entitled to discuss any item of expenditure whatsoever.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
It would be much better for the Government, to take £150,000,000 a year from the rich, comfortable people than this £6,500,000 from the poor. I never knew a Measure that was so underhand as this. Look at our comrades on our own benches. I have £400 a year. I keep a home in Glasgow and live in London. I have a host of things to do. It is only a narrow life at the best, but it is a hundred times better than the lives of the poor people you are now proposing to rob. Hon. Members opposite are better off than I am. The Parliamentary Secretary, whose wife and children have never known the pangs of want and hunger, comes along to do to these children what he would rebel against being done to his own. It is the most shameful and cruel thing I have known. A few years ago it was your King and your country. Even your thieves and criminals were turned into first-class men, and they were to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Now they are treated worse than the average Member opposite would treat the lowest animal. I know our vote will meet the fate of all other votes, but we refuse to accept this as the final word. Under this business of disqualifying people you are going to authorise inspectors and Labour Exchange officials to inquire into every minute detail of their family life. I heard the Noble Lady introduce a Bill to deal with the unfortunate women who walk our 894 streets and to ease their lot. I never opposed it. If we can do anything to help them we ought to do it. What do the Parliamentary Secretary and his chief think they are doing to-day? What docs the Noble Lady think is the effect of depriving women of their income? Does she know the effect of that? Does she know the effect of telling a young lass that she must live on her parents. While they can and do give her food, every woman is entitled to dress. Your women dress, why should not ours? Your women can parade the Terrace beautifully dressed. Why should ours not have the elementary right of dress? The Noble Lady and her colleagues are doing more to create the problem of our streets than all the other Measures I have known. We refuse to accept this as the final word. Speeches and Parliamentary action have been of no avail. The Parliamentary Secretary and his chief are doing the most contemptible, cruel and cowardly thing that two human beings could do to their fellow beings in this my native country.
§ Lieut. - Colonel HENEAGE
After listening to the speeches in Committee to which reference has been made, and to the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), I think the House will agree that the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Sudbury (Colonel Burton), to which objection was made, was mild in comparison. I ask the House to turn to a speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn), which cut all our hearts. It was on the subject of naval expenditure, and an extract from what he said then is peculiarly applicable to our industrial problem. Speaking of our soldiers and sailors he said:They went to War for various reasons. Some did not know what the War was about, but others, the best of them, went because they believed that by this sacrifice they would put a better order in the world. That is their testament. We are the executors of that testament. It is a very difficult job indeed, none the less it is a sacred duty to try and carry out the testament of those brave men and women who made that sacrifice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th July, 1925, col. 559, Vol. 187.]We are executors in the matter of social reform, just as we are executors in regard to expenditure on armaments. The simile of executors is a happy one. There are two kinds. There is the friend of the family who seeks a short cut to wealth and is liable to make rash invest- 895 ments, or shall we say in the case of the present situation a short cut to industrial peace or to measures for social reform. There is the other executor, a legal gentleman, who realises that there are none of these short cuts and that you cannot put all your money into one basket. It is our duty to see how much can be devoted to social reform, and how much money is available for armaments. If we are to put all our money into social reform or all our money into armaments, the whole structure of the nation as we know it will come tumbling down.
It is all very well to talk about unemployment and to picture hard cases in the extremely able and lucid manner of hon. Members opposite, but the unemployed are not everybody. We have to balance the money to be spent on the unemployed and the money that can be spent with a view to giving increased employment. From some of the speeches that are made by hon. Members opposite, the people of the country may well consider that they take more interest in unemployment than in employment. We on this side say that we must strike the balance between the two. We have to realise that if we are to do away with unemployment we must increase employment.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Can the hon. and gallant Member tell us anything that has been done by the Minister of Labour to increase employment?
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
The hon. Member with two other hon. Members from Clydeside may be regarded as the "Three Musketeers." They illustrate our social system extremely well, and if I take the illustration of, say, an egg to be cooked for the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) the House will perhaps understand my point. If the hon. Member had only one egg for breakfast, he would say to the hon. Member for Bridgeton: "One egg is not enough for a grown man."
§ 2.0 P.M.
§ Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE
It is possible that the hon. Member would say in answer, "You toil not, neither do you spin." Then I could imagine the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) 896 saying, "I see the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) flaunting his wealth in the smoking-room. Let us see if we cannot get more money into the Exchequer, so that we can give more for our social reform." There is only a certain amount of wealth in this country. The extract which I have read from the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith regarding the War gives a reason why we are not able to provide more money for social reform than is allowed by this Bill and the other Bills that have been brought forward. It is a curious fact that it is not simply the loss of men, women and children caused by the War that we are suffering from now, but it is the dearth of money for social expenditure, caused by the immense destruction of capital and wealth. What we have to do, in order to provide more money for these and other schemes which we are hoping to produce, is to build up the capital and wealth which has been destroyed, and which hon. Members opposite are doing their best to prevent our building up in the future. I would ask hon. Members opposite not to base their criticism of this Unemployment Insurance Bill and other Unemployment Insurance Acts on two, three or 30 hard cases, but on the good- or ill-effect of such legislation on the whole community. It is not on the hard cases that these Bills are to be judged, but on the bad or good effect which they have on the community as a whole.
§ Mr. SHORT
I was a Member of this House in the somewhat hectic days of 1918, and I know that no Bill which has been introduced has aroused the indignation of good-thinking and well-meaning people or has outraged the sense of decency of our people more than this Bill. I do not know of any Bill more calculated to arouse and to maintain that spirit of revolt, which is growing in strength and magnitude amongst the working classes, so far as the maintenance of the economic and industrial system is concerned. I could not help being amused when the hon. and gallant Member for Louth (Lieut.-Colonel Heneage) made a statement that relief of unemployment meant that we must obtain employment. That is a truism. My mind sought to recall any action or any scheme of the present Government during this Parliament, or any policy 897 enunciated by the Minister of Labour, which would put one single unemployed person into employment. What have they done to assist in the promotion of trade or in the finding of a solution for the unemployment problem? As far as I am aware, they have done nothing. They have sat with idle hands for eight months, seeing the army of the unemployed, which was being gradually reduced when the Labour Government was in office, being steadily increased, followed in its train by increasing poverty and destitution and by moral, mental and physical degradation.
We have heard this afternoon about the conditions prevailing in the Port of London. I have had some experience of the Port of London Authority. If the dockers' tanner of 1889 is a thing of the past, if their conditions have improved and their wages are better now than they were, we have not to thank the Port of London Authority. We have to thank the Tom Mann's, the Ben Tillett's and many of my colleagues on these benches, and the sacrifice of the dockers, their wives and children who have had to fight every inch of the way in order to secure even the paltry £3 wage which is now dangled before us. Whether the docker gets £3 or £5, we have to remember that the Duke of Northumberland, when he gave evidence before the Coal Commission, stated that he received £82,000 each year in royalties, largely from the labour, skill and sacrifice of the miners underground.
We have heard from another hon. Member of the necessity for retrenchment. Let us save £6,500,000 under this Bill. Take it from the working men and women. Compel the single youths to be kept by their parents who are receiving 30s. or 40s. a week. Let us retrench at the expense of the unemployed. No doubt the hon. Member was found voting £58,000,000 for the Navy. He says nothing about the degradation, demoralisation, suffering and misery which will be entailed by the policy enunciated in this Bill. I should have thought that with the growing amount of unemployment, the Government would have directed its attention to improving the machinery of the Unemployment Insurance Act on the one hand and providing employment on the other. But this Bill is in harmony with the political morality of the Tory party. It is a Bill, as has been said by the hon. Member for 898 Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson), who speaks with some knowledge and authority, for the propagation of prostitution. Many of its provisions are extracted from the cesspool of political immorality that is the asset of the Tory party. [A laugh.]
The hon. Gentleman can laugh. That is about all he can do, especially when he comes up against me politically. It is a Bill full of political inhumanity. He was very fond, during the Election, of speaking about the policy and the theories of the great Benjamin Disraeli. What would Benjamin Disraeli think about the provisions of this Bill? This Bill will have a disastrous effect upon the homes of the people. 300,000 or 400,000 homes will suffer in consequence of this unique innovation of social reform. I have in my constituency—and this is true of all our great industrial centres—large numbers of workmen, labourers skilled and semi-skilled, and craftsmen who have been out of work for three years. They have been getting assistance from boards of guardians on loan, which they have had to repay on getting a job. After a few weeks they are thrown out of work. The right hon. Gentleman says, "You can stand idle. You do not want any money." What does he do for them? He has produced the bludgeon forged in the office of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
This country pays a heavy price for the political services of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We have to pay a still heavier price for the moral degradation and suffering of the people. He will go down in history as the gambler of Gallipoli and the adventurer of Antwerp. He is within the fold of no political party and has no political principles—a Tory and then a Liberal. A Liberal, then a Coalitionist. A Coalitionist and then a Liberal. Then an Independent, then a Liberal Free Trader, and now a Tory that is the new leader of the Tory party. Let us, he says, reduce the unemployed to 800,000, a burden which industry can carry, and reduce it not by finding employment but by more rigorous administration. Give the Minister discretion, put him in a position where no one can interfere, so that he can strike a few more off the register. Let us reduce the unemployed not by providing work but by 899 referring them to the boards of guardians, throwing them upon the rates and upon the local authorities already too heavily burdened.
The Minister of Labour is there as a hireling of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has not had the courage to stand up and fight for those whom he has been put in office to represent. We have no room for him or any of his kidney. We have no room for the Tory party. The right hon. Gentleman can take it from me that these are words, spoken by a serious-minded man who has been in public life all his life, a man who has been in this House since 1918, who is regarded by many here as a moderate and not an extreme man. But we are not going to tolerate this inhuman treatment of those who are the produce of an inept industrial system. It is the system which you stand by and defend as the only possible system. You refuse to have any interference with it, but when you defend your system we will not allow you to browbeat and bludgeon the workers and throw them still more into the morass of poverty and destitution. When this Bill goes through —for nothing which we say will alter the course of events so far as this Parliament and this Bill are concerned—we, at any rate, who have spirit, who have courage, and some audacity, will go to the country and organise the unemployed, and not only the unemployed but the employed. We will indicate to them what is their future, so long as you are in office, and I have no doubt that the day is not far distant when we shall see not merely the destruction of this foul, inhuman, economic system, but also the disappearance from the political stage of men unworthy of power, unworthy of office, men who are disposed to secure political preferment at the expense of the sorrow and the anxiety of men and women.
§ Mr. L. THOMPSON
I thought last night, when we were on the Report stage of the Bill, to have said something on the Amendment which I had put down, and, had I not been ruled out of order by the Speaker, to have stated the views which I had on the Clause to which it referred. I, however, had the satisfaction of knowing that if the Amendment, which I moved, was not received in its entirety, the Minister acknowledged the attempt to 900 set the date back a considerable period and that he met us to some extent. I have been listening with great interest to most of the speeches on this Bill. While the last hon. Member was speaking I had to take a second glance at the Treasury Bench to assure myself that the Minister of Labour had not developed horns. I was satisfied when I looked again that he was the same beneficent and kindly-looking gentleman that he always is. I am sure of this, that nothing can be added to the value of these Debates by such vitriolic speeches as that which has just been made. This question is too serious for any hon. Member to indulge in these by-plays.
Anyone who represents a considerable industrial constituency, as I do, must have a reason for stating the views which I wish to place before the House. Although what I am about to state may not find acceptance in various parts of the House, it is one of the traditions of this House that hon. Members are ready to listen to those who differ from them. As a representative of an industrial constituency, I had to ask myself whether or not I could give adherence to this Bill. I say, frankly, that I think the Minister would have been well advised had he, in the first instance, extended the waiver period, with one or two minor additions. To my regret there have been added to the Bill certain other Clauses with which I disagree. Let me state my reasons. First, I profoundly disbelieve in the value of the extension of the waiting period, as set forth in Clause 3. There seems to be considerable ambiguity about the working of the waiting period. In this House and outside it, there is an idea that by extending the waiting period from three days to six, you so tighten up the system that it may be impossible for men to be continuously working three days on and three days off. But that is not what will happen in the extension of the period.
The continuity rule simply says that within any three days of a consecutive period of six a man may qualify. What we are doing is simply to extend the waiting period from three days to six, after which, as I understand the Bill, the insured person will get the benefits of insurance in the same way and to the same degree as he does under the present system. What I am concerned about is the effect of the alterations 901 from three days to six. It is true that for years many thousands of men have been out of work. I have 19,500 unemployed in my constituency, the major portion of whom this Bill will not affect. They are already qualified for their waiting period, and, so long as they maintain the distance between the six weeks, will have a continuous waiting period. But this fact remains, that there is coming on to the new waiting period week by week some hundred or more men who will automatically have to qualify. Whether in my constituency or other constituencies they will be affected to a large degree or not, the main fact emerges, that we are to get £5,000,000 towards the Insurance Fund from the extension of this waiting period.
As an employer I look at the question from the standpoint of industry and from the standpoint of personal and I hope humane interest. On the 4th July my contributions will, together with the employés, be reduced by an amount of 2d., but I have the knowledge that before that period, if any of my workers get out of work, they will have to contribute to the fund to the amount of an extra waiting period of a week, and with that I disagree. I disagree because I believe it was unnecessary. As next year this Act will come up for fresh consideration, I sincerely hope that instead of reducing the annual amount of contributions by £6,800,000, which will come into operation after 4th January, that at least these contributions should have been maintained from some period longer, whereby we might have known whether unemployment was likely to decrease or not. There is in the White Paper a point that has scarcely been touched upon during the whole of these Debates. It is this, that in the third hypothesis, when the live register is reduced to 1,100,000, this fund will automatically right itself. I think it is reasonable to hope that something might have accrued to the benefit of this fund in this direction during this period of six to nine months. For that reason it would have been advisable to have attached legislation to the waiver period alone.
Another consideration weighs with me. Whatever we may say, whether the guardians suffer to any great extent or otherwise, the majority of these men will be compelled to go to the guardians for relief. I am faced with this position. I 902 have been sitting on the Committee that is considering the Rating and Valuation Bill. One of the main clauses raises the question whether machinery shall be rated or whether it shall be disrated. From every quarter I have had this question brought before me. I have been speaking on platforms time and time again urging the necessity for reducing Imperial taxation and reducing the burden on industry caused by excessive local rates so that we may get on to a better footing. That is a sound argument. I am satisfied that the greater element in the burden of rates is due to the excessive poor rate of today. If you have to throw an appreciable number of men on to the rates again you are adding to the burden of industry, and as an industrialist I say that that is entirely undesirable. For these reasons I oppose Clause 3. Those who support the Government are faced with a very great difficulty over this Bill. I agree that if this Amendment were carried the effect of it would be that 200,000 men would suffer hunger. The point has not been made that it is because of the legislation of the late Government that we are legislating now. If it were not for this waiver, if the Minister himself carried out the Regulations of the 1924 Act, many thousands of men would have been disqualified from benefit. But in his wisdom and generosity he has made it eight weeks instead of 30 weeks. Otherwise he would have had no alternative but to apply the statutory condition as to 30 stamps within the period. Therefore it was imperative that new legislation should be introduced. I find myself in the position of having to decide whether to vote for the Amendment or against it. On a clear issue I would be prepared to vote against the extension of the waiting period in Clause 3, but I have to consider the alternative, if this Bill as a whole is not passed, and, having made an honest protest against the points to which I object, I can do nothing else, save oppose the Amendment. In doing so, I express the desire that we shall in the immediate future look into this whole question of industrial insurance. I am satisfied from what I know of unemployment insurance —and I have devoted some time to its consideration—that we have not yet arrived at a perfect system, and it is no use going on year after year patching the system. We want to arrive at definite and permanent legislation which 903 will give general satisfaction, not only to the country at large, but to the workers who are to benefit by it.
§ Mr. W. C. ROBINSON
I desire to state my reasons for opposing this Bill. I take serious exception to the proposal that the decision of these cases should be left in the hands of one man, because it is impossible for any one man to understand the conditions of trade in various industries. Anyone acquainted with the textile industry knows how the textile worker is going to suffer by the extension of the waiting period to six days. A worker may take some eight or nine weeks to get the necessary qualification; then he puts in his claim, but he has to wait for six days. That man may come out again, and perhaps in seven weeks it will be necessary for him to claim again, then he will again have to wait for a period of six days. That is one of the conditions which compel me to oppose the Bill. Unlike the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn), I am going to vote against it, and I do so because of the hardships which it will involve. As I said previously, I often wonder whether this Bill is not already in operation. I know cases of textile workers who have been unemployed so long that they have drawn all they are entitled to unless they get extended benefit, and I know how they are affected at present.
Reference has been made to prostitution and other serious social consequences arising out of this matter. I give the House the case of a young girl who is living in lodgings. She owes five weeks for her lodgings. She has had her money stopped by the Exchange on the ground that she has not been seeking work, and yet I have six post cards and two letters from employers certifying that she has been from time to time at their mills seeking work. The Rota Committee decided to continue her payments, but an inspector is going around—a Government official—and that girl has been struck off benefit. What is a girl in that position to do when she is owing money for her lodgings? Were it not for the fact that the woman with whom she is lodging acts in the place of an affectionate mother to her, we do not know what fate might befall her. I have had considerable experience in connection with the Employment Exchanges, and I can say there 904 never was so much unrest as there is to-day. People have to stand for hours in queues; they are sent home, they come back to the Exchange in the afternoon, and again stand in queues, and when they come for their money, they are probably told that this Government inspector has struck them off the list. That is a bad position of affairs, and I fear we shall make it worse if we leave the decision of these cases in the hands of men who cannot hear the cases.
Some hon. Members here think that we ought not to make any appeals in a matter of this kind, but I am always prepared to appeal if I can get something by doing so, and I hope and trust that the Minister will see the hardship which is going to be inflicted upon the people by this Measure. As an instance I give the case of a. man who worked for 33 years in one firm, and whose eyesight failed, and this inspector has said that that man will have to go to the Poor Law guardians. I think that is a shame. It is a shame in the first place that any employer should dismiss a man because his eyesight has failed after 33 years' service. We have some good employers and some bad employers, but this is the case of an employer who attaches no consideration to long service. A man like this goes on the Employment Exchange, the Rota Committee decides in his favour, he goes up for his money— perhaps only extended benefit—and then this inspector comes round and decides that he is not to draw benefit. I know of seven women in one locality who have been struck off, though they have had to pay money towards the scheme, and will have to pay again when they go back to work, but they are refused benefit because their husbands happen to be receiving a few shillings a week more than some other men.
There are cases in the same district of either six or seven men who are over 60 years of age and who have been held to be no longer fit for work, and not insurable. What is to happen to such men? There are many Members of this House who would not like to be told that they were not fit for work at the age of 60. There are men of 60 working in our mills who are more capable and more able than many men of 40. Indeed, if you take the card room industry, you find men of 40 who are nearly done, as far as work is concerned, because of the effect of constantly inhaling dust. But these men, after 905 paying all these years, are told that they must go to the guardians or on to "the Lloyd George," as they call it, or, as I call it, health insurance. I have a great interest in health insurance and a great admiration for it, but I think we ought not to try to escape our obligations in respect of one fund by putting them on another fund. That is what is being done, and for these reasons I intend to vote against the Bill, and I only wish we could defeat it. The Minister would have to do something to provide for the situation, but as regards this Bill it is a pernicious Bill and a dangerous Bill, and there are thousands of poor people who will suffer in consequence of it.
§ Mr. H. WILLIAMS
We have listened with more pleasure to the last speech than to a good many of the previous speeches, and we were much more impressed by it because it was a quiet deliverance, a human deliverance, because it was not full of passion and froth. I do not know whether other hon. Members differ from me, but I am never much impressed by a man who tears a passion to tatters when he makes a speech. I was anxious to say a few words on the Third Reading of this Bill, because I was deprived of the opportunity of saying anything on the Second Reading by the clamour, shall I say, which for some mysterious reason rose from the benches opposite at about 20 minutes past 11 one evening. The speeches that we have listened to attacking this Bill must, I think, have all been composed by the same individual, because there has been nothing very fresh after the first one. The phraseology may have varied a little, but they have all told us that we, on this side, have no experience of either our own hardships or those of anybody else. Perhaps we do not indulge in quite so much personal detail about ourselves, and our vanity does not take that particular form, but T think it is a profound delusion to imagine, as so many hon. Members opposite do, that they alone know all about the social conditions of the people.
My hon. Friend and former opponent the Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Short) was a little cross because I laughed when he was at the height of his eloquence. I was not laughing at what he said, but at the way he was saying it. I have had a very extensive experi- 906 ence in that particular constituency, a longer one than his, though for some reason they prefer him to me. I know it is one of the, I think, dozen worst patches in this country, and it is obviously the case that in a constituency like that the problem is profoundly different from that in many other constituencies. If I were responsible for the administration, I should be inclined to see if I could not frame different sets of regulations—written a little more intelligently than Government Regulations are written, whatever Government be in office—to meet the case of those districts where unemployment is so bad that you can say with truth that it is practically impossible for anyone at the moment to get a job. There are constituencies in this country where there is a certain volume of unemployment, and where, at the same time, there is a large number of people drawing benefit who ought not to be drawing benefit, because they are making no real effort to obtain employment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where?"]
If hon. Members want to have exact details, if they will give me a list of any number of towns they like, I will tick off a selection, to enable them to make investigations. [An HON. MEMBER: "I will give you Bradford !"] I am not particularly well acquainted with Bradford, but I am saying that which is true, and it is manifestly absurd to say that there are no people getting benefit today who ought not to be deprived of that benefit. Too many of us have information and experiences on the subject, and I am not going to base myself on the somewhat extravagant letters which one sees in the Press from people who are always denouncing the dole. I never use that word. It is a misleading and an unfair word, but I am denouncing some of those who have made it a practice— it is not entirely their own fault, as we have bred it up in them by our methods —of avoiding work so long as they can draw benefit from the Exchange.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I did not say they were not. I know very well that the vast majority are clean, straight, fellow-countrymen of ours, seeking work, but it is hypocrisy to pretend that there are not 907 others who are trying to avoid work and yet get benefit. That is what we are up against, and those who take a different view from mine are, no doubt, opposed to this Bill. But this Bill has a justification entirely apart from the purely financial justification which has been referred to in this Debate. While the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Cape) was speaking, he said that unemployment was substantially higher now than when this Government came into office, and I interjected "No." He then said, 'It is much higher than it was a year age," which, of course, is a different thing. As compare,' with a year ago, unemployment is about 180,000 up, according to the weekly figures which are published; as compared with the time when this Government came into office, it is less by a few thousands, and the increase, as compared with a year ago, took place between the period a year ago and when the late Government left office. On 21st July, 1924, there were 1,041,000 registered unemployed, and on 3rd November, 1924, 1,228,000. That was where the increase took place. At the Election some of us made some comment on these figures, and we were told that part of the increase was due to certain changes made in the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1924, by the right hon. Member for Preston (Mr. T. Shaw) on the front Opposition Bench. Why should any changes affecting benefit in any way alter the number of people registered as unemployed?
§ Mr. T. SHAW
Is the hon. Member aware that the Prime Minister stated about 10 days ago that 80,000 persons had been put on the register by the 1924 Act?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for supplying me with the figure of 80,000. The "Labour Gazette" has usually placed it at 70,000. I have been well acquainted with that figure for nine months. I have pointed out that the figures published week by week are the figures of persons on the live register, because they are seeking work. Why should those numbers go up because more people are in receipt of benefit? The figure must have gone up by 80,000, because people registered, not for work, but for benefit. I deliberately stated these 908 figures in the way that I did. I have in my hands the figure of 70,000 added by the Act of 1924, and I was perfectly well aware that if I left it someone would supply the information that I wanted. The live register is the register of those seeking work. Why should the register of those seeking work be altered in total by the total of those to whom you are paying benefit? If you will take the trouble to analyse the figures in the "Labour Gazette" month by month, you will find that there are in fact a very large number of people who register, though they are not in receipt of benefit. They are the people who are really trying to get work, and that is the object of their registration. It is not primarily to get benefit, but to get work. There are over 100,000 of those, as you will find if you study the "Labour Gazette."
§ Mr. MACKINDER
Are the numbers on the live register, if they are not receiving unemployment benefit?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I took the trouble, in order to confirm the impression I gained as the result of my investigations, to address a question to the Minister of Labour two or three weeks ago as to how many persons on the live register were, first of all, persons not insured at all, and, secondly, persons who, though they were insured, were not in receipt of benefit. I am not personally engaged in the detailed administration of this matter to the same extent as some hon. Members opposite, who have to do with it because they are trade union officials, but for anybody to say that the only people included on the live register are insured persons in receipt of benefit is to display an ignorance of the methods and of the statistics that are compiled which astounds me, and which indicates, possibly, why some of those people have become Socialists instead of Tories.
We in this country are face to face with a profoundly difficult problem. The object of this Bill is not, of course, to provide employment: it is to deal with conditions under which we alleviate the sufferings of those who are deprived of the opportunity of earning a living. But we must, when considering such a Bill, think of the other aspects, and try to think that we are face to face with many problems. Most people who speak of unemployment have their pet theory, and they put down 909 unemployment to one particular cause which impresses them. Everyone must know that there are a great variety of causes, and our troubles to-day are due, perhaps, to the fact that a number of causes are all at once superimposed, instead of being spread over a number of years as has generally happened. There is a grave decline in the effort of many of our people. There are too many employers who knock off work on Friday to play golf. There are too many manual workers who do not give the same output of work as they did in 1914. The lack of efficiency on the part of large numbers, but not all, of employers and others in responsible positions, and the lack of responsibility on the part of large numbers of our manual workers, is one of the outstanding causes of the distress from which we suffer, and until our people of all classes are prepared to put their backs into their jobs better than they have been doing in the last five years, neither this Bill nor any other Bill will get us out of our troubles.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I do not think the last speech is a very helpful contribution to what is, undoubtedly, a very difficult problem. For the last 20 years I have been intimately associated with a district that is entirely working class, which I now represent in this House. The ordinary working man is often pictured as being full of unrest, revolutionary, Socialistc and full of violent tendencies. On the contrary, he is very little concerned with politics. His main interest in life is to make two ends meet, to keep his home together, to be in regular employment and to get security. His main terror in life is unemployment, and when you hear violent abuse and wild talk, it is not because the Englishman, at any rate, is in favour of any doctrinaire theory of politics or government, but because he is worried and concerned by this constant fear about work, wages and regularity of employment. I have been trying, with some success, perhaps, to educate the electors in the idea of insurance. I have been trying to explain to them that the real way to get over our present difficulties is to get security against unemployment in the same way as you get security against fire, accident or illness, by a generous system of insurance. Unfortunately, this Bill I consider a bad friend, an enemy of the idea of 910 insurance. If a man enters into an insurance for any risk at Lloyd's, or in an industrial company, the first thing he wants to find out is whether the policy gives security for risks for which he is paying, and, secondly, what are the benefits, and whether those benefits are definitely detailed in the policy, so that he will be sure that, having paid his money, he is to have the advantage of his insurance, and that he will get the compensation to which he is entitled.
I maintain that this Bill does not answer either of those two requirements. In the first place, the benefits are not definite; they are not clearly detailed. They are left largely to the discretion of the Minister, and they do not give the man that security against unemployment that is the justification for an insurance scheme. [An HON. MEMBER: "Are you going to vote against it?"] I think all my arguments are in favour of my voting against it, and if there is to be a Division, I certainly shall do so. I think it is an unsatisfactory scheme, and that it strikes at the very root against the insurance idea. That does not say I am not in favour of unemployed insurance. On the contrary, if a Bill had been brought in merely to continue the term of the last Act passed last year, no one would have been louder in praise of it, no one more willing to support it, than I. I know the root of the objection of some Members, the case that they have against the Insurance Scheme, is that there is a suspicion that some men are getting benefit to which they may not be entitled. You cannot devise any scheme which is watertight. Even with industrial insurance, any company will tell you that, however tight the insurance policy is drawn, there is always the danger of leakages, some insured people getting benefits to which they are not definitely entitled. But that does not say, that because of that, you should have unsatisfactory terms for all the insured persons. That is to discourage the whole system of insurance.
With very great respect to the Minister, I think he is working on the wrong lines. If he is not satisfied that insurance is working smoothly, or that the right people are getting benefits, he has to look to a reorganisation of the Employment Exchanges. Part of the duty of the Employment Exchanges is, of course, to pay over the money. Another part 911 of their duty is to find out that no people get benefits to which they are not entitled. Unfortunately, the machinery in the latter direction has broken down. The only practical way of securing that only those people shall get benefit who really cannot find work is to make the Employment Exchange a really work-finding organisation. Anybody who has gone closely into the Employment Exchanges, as I have in London, must know that in that direction the machinery of the Exchanges has entirely broken down. Not that it is the fault of the staff. On the contrary, as I have pointed out on more than one occasion, the staff is overworked, overstrained and unable to fulfil its functions as a work-finding organisation, because all its time is occupied with the business merely of paying out the money across the counter. The machinery was organised for a very much smaller percentage of unemployed. Unemployment is swollen to an immense degree, and the machinery has not expanded to the increased number of men on the roll. Part of that is due to the pressure from the House to keep down the expenses of the Employment Exchanges, and to the agitation some two or three years ago for reorganisation in view of the extravagant staffs and the large number of Exchanges. The result is that no new Exchanges have been built. No new staffs have been engaged. If you go to any Employment Exchange you will find in almost every case the clerks have no time really to inquire into the personality and character of the men applying for work. All they have time to do is to fill up the forms and to keep going the card system. The Minister of Labour will help the insurance scheme by reorganisation of the Employment Exchanges, and he will also help industry as a whole.
The original idea of those who conceived the Employment Exchanges was that there should be attached to each of the Exchanges a highly skilled man, full of knowledge and of the history of his own particular neighbourhood, and the area under his control. The manager has no time to do any of these additional functions; no time to inquire into histories, very little time to visit the employers, or to assist the workers to find employment. I know so many cases of men going week in and week out and asking for work after fruitless effort them- 912 selves to find employment. They are told at the Exchanges that there are no openings. The answer is inevitable but it should not be given until every opportunity has been tried. The clerk at the Exchange has no right to say that because he has not got the knowledge or the information and he has no time to acquire the knowledge or the information. The Minister might be doing a good turn to the whole of this problem, to the whole of the scheme, if he would appoint a Committee to inquire into the working of the Exchanges so far as they are associated with insurance and certain causes of unemployment. He is far more likely by that to delve into the employment side of the Exchanges, and more likely to prevent instances of the kind he is suspicious of, and at the same time to help unemployment. To make a mean, poor system of insurance, as he is doing by this Bill, is to make unemployment insurance popular, and to make the workers look to more dangerous remedies in view of this constant haunting terror of finding themselves out of work, and unable to keep their home together, and of having to go to the boards of guardians for assistance. I think it is on wrong lines, and he is taking a wrong direction in this Bill; and for these reasons I shall, with my hon. Friends above the Gangway, vote against it.
§ 3.0 P.M.
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR(Sir Arthur Steel-Maitland)
We have had some interesting speeches this afternoon, and, if the hon. Gentleman for South-West Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris) will forgive me for saying so, we have listened to an interesting speech quite recently from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Reading (Mr. H. Williams). All through there has been am air of unreality about this Debate. It started with the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood), who opened it. He began as an amateur detective. He went through a flood and deluge of articles on doles in newspapers, which he said were inspired articles. Then he drew inferences from them and wound up with interesting discoveries about Scottish gillies. But for all this piece of amateur detective work there was no shadow of a foundation of any sort or kind whatever.
§ Sir A, STEEL-MAITLAND
We have had the usual stock epithets which we heard in Committee repeated with very-little variation. It reminds me of the rhyme of Lewis Carroll—And, fourthly, there are epithets,that suit with any word;As well as Harvey's Reading saucewith any fish or bird;'Mean,' 'callous' and 'contemptible,'are much to be preferred.The speech of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Short) was referred to by an hon. Friend as being vitriolic. To my mind there was no element of hot liquid in that speech at all. We have had phrases illustrative and significant of other occasions—"the usual political humbug," "depths of political depravity," and so on. They are a perfect and grotesque travesty of the whole business. Anyone who has listened to the Debate to-day, or anyone who listened to the proceedings in Committee, would hardly realise there is anything in the Bill about reductions of contributions; anything in the Bill about what has been done as regards the extension of waiver; anything in the Bill about what is being done by increased contributions from the Exchequer? Surely some hon. Members and right hon. Gentlemen have a rooted objection to figures. I do not like figures, but I am interested, and always influenced by what figures, proper figures, really mean. It is no good for anyone to say that they are ready to dismiss figures, that they are ready to dismiss sordid questions of gold, that they only want to get the human side. The person who says that is really bankrupt in statesmanship. It is the people who do think of figures, and do think of money, and do think of the human side at the same time, who are really doing much more for the human side by taking all the factors into account. You get wrong if you do not take figures into account.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
As an illustration of what I mean, may I remind hon. Friends on the other side and on this side of Kingsley's Water Babies. They will find there two people, one of whom said: "Do as you would be done by," and the other: "Be done by as you did." Those who have read that book 914 will realise that the one who was not the most charming, nor the most attractive— at first sight—but who ultimately was the better friend.
Now let me get down, and quickly and briefly, to the actual facts, about which we have heard too little. The Bill deals with the question of my discretion. It deals with the extension of the waiting period. It also deals with the waiver, and the reduction of contributions made possible by further assistance from the Exchequer. Let me take briefly the question of discretion. The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, the Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Harris), a solitary sentinel—I have watched the opposite benches from time to time—the others relieve themselves of their speeches and then relieve one another and go away and are no more seen—that hon. Gentleman said that he wanted insurance to be safeguarded. Let me deal with the use of my discretion first. I have said again and again that extended benefit is different from standard benefit—I said it on the Second Reading—because it is an insurance given upon credit and governed by different conditions to the standard benefit. The hon. Member who has just spoken from the Liberal Benches said in dealing with the questions of insurance that benefit was in return for payment made. I think he has forgotten that in this question of discretion he is not dealing with payments made, but with payments that have not been made, payments which we may hope to get in the future. That differentiates this insurance scheme entirely from the other insurance systems of which be was speaking. When you are dealing with insurance upon credit you are not only entitled, but you ought, to look to the circumstances of the persons to whom credit is to be given, to see not only whether they are entitled to credit from the point of view of their substantiality, so to speak, but also from the point of view of their need. I have dealt with that before, and I only repeat it quite briefly this afternoon. May I, only in passing, refer to the other reason of the hon. Member for objecting to this system and for preparing to vote against the Bill—it is not quite a united Liberal party in this matter— That was that the Exchanges do not fill enough vacancies. I wonder whether he 915 realises how many vacancies are filled? Did he know before he made that criticism?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Has he got the figures at home? For some time past the Department has been filling vacancies at the rate of a million and a quarter a year, a number that is as great as the number on the unemployed register at any one moment.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
I will turn now to the criticisms on the question of discretion. The first and the main criticism was that of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood). As I took his words down, he spoke of young men contributing to a scheme from which they do not get benefits. The whole point is that in these cases where discretion will be exercised they have not paid contributions in respect of which they are entitled to benefit.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
They will have to pay for the extended benefits which they have not received when they do get work.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
There we get to the point of it. Hon. Members talk, the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne talked, and the hon. Member who interjected a remark just now talks as though they were under the impression that these people had paid their contributions. Let us make it quite clear with regard to this, that people in respect of whom that discretion is to be used are people who have got no contributions standing to their credit.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me to interevene for a moment? Take the case of the young man who is denied extended benefit because he lives with his parents. When he gets work he will have to do exactly 916 what the man who gets the extended benefit does, that is, help to make up the deficiency.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
That is perfectly true, and that is what I am laying down. As far as he has paid his contributions, there is no question of discretion; he is entitled to his benefits. But as far as he has not paid in the past, then discretion is used. Everyone knows quite well that, though we hope and expect to get contributions from those people as insurable persons, it is idle to think that we shall get contributions in the future for all the extended benefit that has been paid from the individuals who received it. No one imagines that for a moment. Therefore, from that point of view, it is not a valid criticism to look to the fact that these people may pay contributions. They have not paid contributions, and any contributions they may pay afterwards are a matter of hope and not of certainty.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
Is it under your discretion that 500 men have been swept off payment in Merthyr this week?
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
May I deal with another criticism that was made by the vanished Member of the Liberal party, the hon. and gallant Member for Leith (Captain Benn)? I only do it because he used his opportunity as a means of attacking the hon. and gallant Member for Sudbury (Colonel Burton). He accused him of being muddle-headed and prejudiced. If I may say so, the misconception has arisen on the part of the hon. and gallant Member for Leith himself. The hon. and gallant Member for Sudbury never complained of anyone getting high wages, which is what he was criticised for. What he said, and quite rightly said, was that a man who was getting as high wages on short time the figure he gave ought not to get extended benefit also. With that I absolutely agree, and so do many others. The hon. and gallant Member criticised him, and said what a difference there was between my hon. and gallant Friend and myself, for example; that I wanted, or said that I wanted, the discretion in order to make things easier and get some people on benefit, and that 917 my hon, and gallant Friend wanted it to take people off. That is a complete misconception. What I wanted last night was not to have Regulations laid on the table because in proportion as Regulations were strict and inflexible they would work harshly, and because there were cases which could only be dealt with if there was a flexibility which could not be put in an ordinary Regulation, as anyone knows who has bad any experience of the principal Act. Here, again, it is quite remarkable how the type of criticism adduced against this Bill tends to destroy itself. The best illustration I could wish of the need for this flexibility was given by the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) in her speech to-day. She gave the case of a girl who was living with her parents, in which case there was cruelty on the part of the parents. That is just the case we want to provide for by being able to deal with it flexibly. It is for that kind of case that we want flexibility.
NOW I come to the next point, which is that of the waiting period. Our proposal has been described as disastrous, devilish, callous, etc. I ask, does the increase of the waiting period deserve all those epithets? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes."] I will put one further question. If it does deserve all those epithets, why did not my predecessor put it in the first draft of his Bill last year? I am not talking about what happened on the Committee Stage or the Third Reading, but the original draft of the Bill. If it was thought that the reduction of the waiting period was so necessary, as is implied by the suggestion as to the disastrous and devilish character of this extension, it would certainly have been in the first draft of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill. If that is so, then his intention was equally disastrous and devilish.
Now I get back to a phrase which I heard at the beginning of this Debate, namely that our proposal was "sheer political humbug." If it had all those qualities which hon. Members opposite have urged, surely it was the bounden duty of the right hon. Gentleman to have at least put it into the first draft of his own Bill.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
If he can say he did not have a chance of getting it, he could, at any rate, have looked for support from those benches; and I say that the truth of the business is really this. Had there been a tithe of truth in what is asserted by hon. Members opposite, the right hon. Gentleman would at least have put it into the first draft of his Bill, so that the House of Commons could have seen it.
I now go on to deal with the other part of the Bill. We have heard very little of the fact that it has been possible, largely through an increased Exchequer contribution, to diminish the contributions both of employers and of men. I say, candidly, that I think that reduction of contributions is a thing devoutly to be wished, and I only hope that it may be carried further. Then I take the question of the waiver. It has been said by the right hon. Gentleman and by others that all they would have done would have been to extend the waiver without doing anything else. I say that all the provisions of the Bill have to be taken together. The extension of the waiver means a cost of £10,000,000 a year. If the right hon. Gentleman would certainly have done it, again I ask why on earth did he put the date of 1st October into his original Bill? There was only one reason that I can imagine for his putting it in his original Bill, and it was that he, perhaps with a sense of the responsibility of power which I hope he will show when he answers in opposition, realised that the rates of benefits and conditions of trade were all related to one another. He looked forward to there being such a diminution in unemployment that the increased benefits given all round in last year's Act could be continued without the fund, which is composed of contributions from employers, employed and the Exchequer, showing a worse deficiency and getting into a state that would really not be justifiable. The only reason why the date of 1st October could have been put in his Bill was that it should be reviewed in the light of events—that 'benefits and the rate of unemployment would be likely to react on one another, and that, while hoping the state of affairs might justify their continuance, the matter should be reviewed in the light of events on 1st October this year. That is exactly what is the case. You have got to review 919 the two together, and you would have had to do so on 1st October this year. The absence of improvement in the unemployment situation does mean that you cannot go on with the whole system of benefits all round as you could have done on the much more hopeful hypothesis on which last year's Bill was framed. Therefore, I say that what we have done has been to continue extended benefit at the cost of the waiver, which is £10,000,000 a year, in order, so far as it is financially possible, with the Exchequer grants, to give the benefits that are most needed and to make the economies where they would be least likely to be felt.
I will deal with one or two more points that have been raised in the course of this Debate. It looks to me as though the attitude of many Members opposite, if it were actually carried out in practice, would have two results. One would be to destroy the proper and fair administration of the Insurance Act altogether as an Insurance Act. I take as a sample the criticism of the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) of the rota committees and the Exchange officials. The hon. Member stated that the rota committees were prepared to turn off benefit—I think I have the words correctly; I took them down as well as I could—as many as were required to be turned off benefit. The only possible inference from that was that the rota committees or the Exchange officials, or both, are prepared to turn people off benefit irrespective of whether they fulfil the conditions or not, whether they ought to get benefit or not, in order to reduce the figure at the dictation of the central administration. I say that that is wholly and absolutely untrue, and, what is more, I here acknowledge myself the debt that we owe to the members of the rota committees. They are not by any manner of means all of one political party or the other. There are some rota committees on which there may be more people who are not Labour, and there are others on which there are more people who are Labour, but I do say that, as far as I know, the vast majority of them are people who do their duty on these rota committees fairly and impartially. To charge the rota committees with being ready to turn off as many people as may be required, is to cast a 920 slur upon them which I repudiate. If that attitude is persisted in, it will only tend to destroy the administration. I take just that criticism as my sample. I noticed that the hon. Member stated that she was ready to hold classes to teach people how to qualify for benefit, and she went on a little later to say that the artistic liar could always get benefit. All I can say is that that sort of thing goes completely to the root of fair and just administration.
§ Mr. WALLHEAD
As the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough (Miss Wilkinson) is not here to speak for herself, I want to say that she said she was prepared to hold classes to teach people how to qualify because of the complexity of the continual Regulations that were being issued. [Interruption.]
§ Sir A STEEL-MAITLAND
If anybody thinks I meant to assert that the hon. Member is going to tell people to lie, I never intended that for a moment, and let me say at once that, if anyone drew that inference from what I said, I absolutely and unreservedly withdraw it. I am sorry if I conveyed any impression of that kind. I say that the type of criticism made by the hon. Member for East Middlesbrough will go to the bottom of really fair and just administration. I will go on, so far as I can, after the Committee is set up, as before, to help the rota committees to see that, if people have qualified for benefit, they should get it, and that if people have not properly qualified they should not get it. That shall be my own principle now, as always, in dealing with cases that are passed on to me for review.
§ Mr. CHARLES EDWARDS
They are turne1 down to-day although the rota committee are unanimous in recommending payment.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
Cases of standard benefit go to the Umpire, and other cases come to me, and I undertake to go into any other cases. With regard to another way in which the insurance scheme could be broken down, if the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. A. Greenwood) had his way he would turn It from an insurance system into merely a system of Poor Law relief paid by the State, just as Poor Law relief is now paid by the guardians. That is the perfectly natural result of what the hon. 921 Member said, namely, that there was no good in not giving benefit to anyone who was genuinely unemployed. I shall be glad to get as many genuinely unemployed people as possible brought under the insurance scheme and made an insurable proposition, but you break the scheme down entirely, and turn it from an insurance system into a system of Poor Law relief, unless you give benefit simply to insurable people. From that point of view it should be kept an insurance system, and, so long as I have anything to do with it, it will be kept an insurance system.
There are some other points, but I do not want to weary the House with them further on this occasion, except to say this: Here, as in Committee, and last night, there has been the same general type of criticism. I have heard throughout that men are unfairly dealt with, that returned soldiers from the War are unfairly dealt with, and that disabled soldiers are unfairly dealt with. I will challenge anyone anywhere to ask the King's Roll Committee who has been the most anxious to help them. So far as returned soldiers are concerned, the figures speak for themselves. When this and all past Governments are regarded as being niggardly in the matter, the plain figures again are the best refutation. In the eight years from 1913 £3,000,000 was spent on benefit. In the last five years £200,000,000 has been spent. No one can truthfully say in the light of those figures, either that there is niggardliness or lack of generosity or that this country, and the administration as it is at the moment, does not compare favourably in that respect with any other administration in any other country in the world.
§ Mr. SHAW
If the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to make a hasty answer to one or two things, so that I may pass on to the Bill, I shall be pleased to do so. He knows perfectly well what the position of the Labour Government was. We had one-third of the Members in the House. He knows perfectly well that in my speech introducing the Bill I said definitely that it did not represent what I thought was necessary, but what I thought I could get from the House we were in. He knows perfectly well also that in Committee there was a difference of opinion amongst the Liberal Members, and that as soon as we found we could 922 get a majority for the three days' waiting period, we reduced the period. All these things the Minister knows perfectly well. I call his attention to them again in order that if he has forgotten he may be reminded of them. He also made a rather scathing reference to figures and to people who had a contempt for figures and saw only human beings. I will give him one or two examples of his own method of dealing with figures. First of all he brings to the House an Actuary's report, and this is what it says:I estimate that the relief to the Fund derived from the new restrictions upon the grant of extended benefit, and the extension of the waiting period, is equivalent to £6,500,00 a year with a live register of 1,300,000.The actuary says no word as to what figures his estimates are based on, what the Minister has said to him, how much he estimates from one source and how much from another, and the Minister, in his initial speech, never himself gave us these figures, so when it comes to a. question of figures, I think Satan reproving sin is a very mild thing in comparison with the Minister himself
I am going to deal with the Bill from the point of view of the rights of the people under it, and how they will be affected by it. Surely in a country like ours at this time there is no Member in the House who will say unemployed people should either be driven to the guardians or go short of food and clothing. I am going to try to demonstrate that this Bill will inevitably drive people either to the guardians or to go short of food. Is deprivation to a large extent good for the people of this country? Is there any right hon. or hon. Member who will deny that long-continued poverty not only saps the morale of the people but leads to a despondency that prevents certain persons ever regaining their morale? If that be the case, and it is a proposition that is unanswerable, I submit that that is a state of things which exists now, that people are going through year after year, and that such a state of things not only destroys their morale but drives them into a state of despondency which will make it extremely difficult for them ever again to become the self-respecting citizens that they were before unemployment fell upon them.
What is the Bill going to do with regard to the people who are in that condition? 923 It will take £6,500,000 from the unemployed. That is certain. You can juggle with figures, and talk about figures, and quote actuaries reports until the end of time, but if you take £6,500,000 from the unemployed they are poorer by that amount than they are now. They are poor enough now as to be sinking deeper and deeper into the morass of despondency. We say that this is not an ordinary insurance scheme. Over and over again we have called attention to the fact that these people were promised when they came back from the War, hundreds of thousands of them, that they would be decently treated. We say that the unemployment is a result of the War, that the people who are unemployed are innocent, that they have no responsibility for their unemployment, and that the nation is pledged up to the hilt to see that the condition of the workers of this country is better than it was before the War. Every Member of the present Cabinet, every Member of the last Cabinet, every Member of the Cabinet before the last Cabinet, was pledged up to the neck in that way to the workers. To turn round now and to say that when they have paid so many contributions they are only entitled to so many benefits is the merest, sheerest shirking of the issue. The real issue is, Are we keeping our promise to these men? Are we doing what we said we would do? Have they a right to look to us to do this thing? If they have a right, what is the use of our saying that a man has not paid a certain number of contributions and is not therefore entitled to certain benefits? He is entitled to the benefits on the ground of the promises made to him over and over again by every prominent politician in this country. To talk about paying so many contributions if you are to be entitled to so many benefits, is to talk to me stuff that is hollow and unreal, and evidence that pledges and promises made are not to be thought of as soon as you can get out of responsibility.
Let me deal with the position of the unemployed. The condition of unemployment is growing worse and worse. It is admitted by every social worker in the country, and it is particularly the case in our great industrial centres, that workers are short of the amount of food needed to keep a healthy human body, and precisely at this moment the Govern- 924 ment, having miserably failed to deal with the problem, having no solution of the problem, having no proposition for dealing with the problem, having sat for nine months and done nothings say, "We cannot help you. We are helpless and hopeless, but one thing we can do. We can make a financial rearrangement and can take £6,500,000 from you." That is the work of this splendid Government, full of young Tory reformers, young men of promise who were going to make their party march towards the light, going to produce a Heaven on earth and show the country what the Tory party could do.
This is what it has done on unemployment, after nine months of preparation It is to take £6,500,000 from those who are unemployed. What a brilliant result! What a fine conception! What marvellous brain-power God has given them! The Minister knew that the Act of 1924 would expire next year, but this was too long to wait. The unemployed must be pinched before that time. He could have solved the problem by a one-clause Bill which would not have taken 10 minutes in the House, and his difficulties would have ended until the lapse of the 1924 Act, but he started months ago. We have not been talking about whether the Minister is sympathetic or not. We have seen his work, and months ago he started on the process of cutting people out of benefit, so we know what are his sympathies and we know what his actions are without asking any questions about them.
Then we get the extraordinary proposition that when young people are living at home they must fall under the Minister's lash, and the Minister's lash is much longer than he has (given the House to understand. He talked to the House about 70,000 people, but the Bill says over 200,000. When we talk about figures it is as well to know what they mean. There is nothing about this 70,000 in the Bill. The Bill is 200,000 odd, over whom the Minister will literally have power of life or death. They say that if you are living with your parents and they are able to support you you must not have any benefit. You must pay when you work like anybody else, you must go on paying when normal times come to clear off this deficit, but you must not have any benefit. Look at Bumbledom in excelsis. Never was Bumbledom so enthroned as by this Bill. 200,000 people 925 are to have an inquisition into all their family circumstance's. What a field for the bureaucrats and for the old women of both sexes who love to pry into the affairs of poor people. What an object lesson in the methods of the grand old party. 200,000 people are to have all their circumstances inquired into before any payment is made, in spite of the fact that the working people of this country were told of all that would be done for them when the War was over. That is the position of affairs.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Hung up you ought to be. You should be hung up on the scaffold. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order !"]
§ Mr. SHAW
After that interlude, my argument is that these young people who are to be refused benefits are precisely the people who will have to pay for the deficit. They are the best lives in the insurance scheme. I will accept for the moment the suggestion that there is any credit about this business. I hope that there is no credit, that we are merely fulfilling a national duty in keeping these people from deteriorating. But assume that there is credit. Is there a business concern in the world that has said, "We will not advance you pay, but we will make you pay for the credit we advance to your neighbour." That is the Bill—no credit to be advanced, but you must pay for the credit that we have given to your neighbour. That is the beautiful principle of the Bill. As to the Poor Law aspect, there is no question. There is an official report in the Ministry of Health, and probably in all other Ministries, made by the very excellent permanent officials who were interested in insurance work. That report openly admits that this method has a taint of the Poor Law. I am not speaking my 926 own opinion, but I am giving you the cold and calculated opinion of a civil servant who admits that this method has a Poor Law taint.
You refuse the benefits to these young men and women. What state of things do you bring about? None of them can be in this condition except after a very long time of unemployment. None of them can come under the Minister's lash except under circumstances that make it almost inevitable that every penny of their resources is gone. You throw these young men and women on one side to become literally parasites on their parents, and, if we have to judge from past experience, often parasites on parents who cannot get enough food and clothing and amusement for themselves. You have them running up debts to their parents for their board and their clothing, and at the end of it all, when they get work, still bearing a crushing load of debt, they have to pay for the benefits that have been refused. That is what is to be done. I have never known an unfairer suggestion in my life than that contained in the Ministers discretion. It makes fish of one and flesh of another. It says to one girl who is living in lodgings, "You can be paid," and to the other girl who is living with parents who are not able to give her food and clothing, "You must not be paid." Yet both of them are in exactly the same condition.
The only argument for the Bill is that it will save £6,500,000—at the expense of the poor. When you have juggled with figures as much as you like there remains that figure of £6,500,000, which means that you are taking an average of £5 a year from every unemployed person on your live register. A simple calculation will prove that that is true. The total sum is £6,500,000, and there are 1,300,000 on the live register. They are not the same all the year round, but the actuary says that you will take £6,500,000, whether they are all the same or not. That is what we have come to in 1925. What we shall come to in 1926 I suppose must be left to Providence. It is not a very beneficent Providence so long as we have this kind of Bill brought before the House.
I think the Bill shows a lack of sympathy which is regrettable. There is not a big trade in the country where the workers already by dint of unemployment and reduction in wages are not at the 927 bottom. You say to them that three days without wages is not enough, and that if they are unemployed, they must remain six days without wages. Why? Has the Government need for this £5,000,000? Here again we had bettor use figures correctly. This £5,000,000 is not paid by the Exchequer. Roughly speaking, the Exchequer pays £1,250,000, and for the sake of £1,250,000 to the Treasury these people have to spend a full week of unemployment without any payment at all. What a brilliant brain wave is that? Save £1,250,000 and punish hundreds of thousands of unemployed in order to do so! What a lack of realisation of the position of the people is displayed. What a lack of civilised feeling, and what a lack of understanding of the future is displayed. The best thing to do with the unemployed man is to give him enough to see that he gets decent food and clothes. We had a speech from the hon. and gallant Member for Sudbury (Colonel Burton), who gave one or two examples of extraordinary wages. If I cared to give him one or two examples that I know ofI could a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up his soul, freeze his young bloodand would makeEach particular hair to stand, on end Like quills upon the fretful porcupine.That is about the only animal that could get through the skins of some people. It would certainly need something rather sharper than my tongue to do so. This Bill seems to be drawn without regard to the human element at all. The Minister was a little below his usual standard when he said that some people were not able to see figures and could only talk about humanity. This Bill should be a human Bill. What is £1,250,000 to the State in view of the suffering that is taking place? What is this saving to the Treasury in comparison with the suffering which the withdrawal of the money will entail? To tell us the country cannot afford it is to tell us something we do not believe. Only this week we were talking in terms of £58,000,000. Now we jib at £1,250,000. We are told that everything has to be balanced together. We ask the Government to balance everything together and to balance the human element 928 as well as these figures. Really, there is a tremendous amount of suffering in the country. The unemployed are in many cases at the bottom, and, in effect, this money can only be taken from these people by depriving them of the necessities of life. Do you expect us to vote for a Bill of this kind? If the Minister had waited until the 1924 Act ran out and had then brought forward a Bill for a better system one could understand it. Why should this House penalise the unemployed? Is the intention, by cutting people off the register, to make a better-looking statement as to what unemployment is? Is the reason that the people are so wealthy that they can go without benefit? Is the reason that the people are so well off that every working man can afford to keep his boy or girl who happens to be unemployed, or is the reason that we have lost our sense of sympathy and our sense of responsibility?
We have a responsibility in these matters that we cannot get out of. The live register is really a live register to all of us in this House who have been brought into active personal contact with the unemployed themselves, and I am not assuming that other hearts are not as good as mine. I believe that, if we had eloquence enough to put before the House the case we have, this Bill would be withdrawn. It is because we lack that eloquence, it is because we cannot paint in words the sufferings of the people, the degradation that is going on, and how much better it would be to extend sympathy, rather than this cold comfort of reduction in the benefits, it is because we cannot find eloquent terms enough to get to the hearts of the Members of the House, that this Bill is going to be passed. For our part, there can be no question as to the attitude we must adopt. We cannot consent to vote for a Bill which, in our opinion, takes from the poor when they ought to be having an addition to their income, and which, in our opinion, is under, very much under, the expectations we had from this Government. Anything to help, we should agree with, but anything to hinder we shall vote against.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 263; Noes, 98.931
|Division No. 336.]||AYES.||[3.53 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Fielden, E. B.||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Alexander, E. E. (Layton)||Finburgh, S.||Malone, Major P. B.|
|Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Centr'l)||Fleming, D. P.||Manningham-Buller, Sir Mervyn|
|Allen, J. Sandeman (L'pool, W. Derby)||Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Margesson, Captain D.|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Forrest, W.||Meller, R. J.|
|Applin, Colonel R. V. K.||Foster, Sir Harry S.||Merriman, F. B.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W.||Foxcroft Captain C. T.||Meyer, Sir Frank|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mitchell, S. (Lanark, Lanark)|
|Atkinson, C.||Gadie, Lieut.-Col. Anthony||Mitchell, W. Foot (Saffron Walden)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Ganzoni Sir John||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. B. M.|
|Balniel, Lord||Gates, Percy||Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)|
|Banks, Reginald Mitchell||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Moore, Sir Newton J.|
|Barclay Harvey, C. M.||Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John||Moore-Brabazon, Lieut.-Col. J. T C.|
|Barnett, Major Sir Richard||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison, H. (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Barnston, Major Sir Harry||Goff Sir Park||Morrison-Bell. Sir Arthur Clive|
|Beckett, Sir Gervase (Leeds, N.)||Grant. J. A.||Neville, R. J.|
|Benn Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Greene, W. P. Crawford||Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)|
|Bennett, A. J.||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Sir H. (W'th's'w, E)||Nield, Rt. Hon. Sir Herbert|
|Bethell, A.||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||O'Connor, T. J. (Bedford, Luton)|
|Betterton, Henry B.||Grotrian, H. Brent||O' Neill, Major Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Guinness, Rt. Hon. Walter E.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bird, Sir R. B. (Wolverhampton, W.)||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Blundell, F. N.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Boothby, R. J. G.||Hall, Vice-Admiral Sir R. (Eastbourne)||Perring, William George|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Hall, Capt. W. D'A. (Brecon & Rad.)||Philipson, Mabel|
|Bowater, Sir T. Vansittart||Hanbury, C.||Pilcher, G.|
|Bowyer Capt. G. E. W.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Pilditch, Sir Philip|
|Boyd-Carpenter Major A.||Harland, A.||Power, Sir John Cecil|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Harland, A.||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Brocklebank, C. E. R.||Harrison, G. J. C.||Price, Major C. W. M.|
|Broke, Brigadier-General C. R. I.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Ramsden, E.|
|Broun-Lindsay, Major H.||Haslam, Henry C.||Rawlinson, Rt. Hon. John Fredk. Peel|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, New b'y)||Hawke, John Anthony||Reid, Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)|
|Buckingham, Sir H||Headlam, Lieut.-Colonel C.M.||Reid, D. D. (Country Down)|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Henderdson, capt. R. R.(Oxf'd,Henley)||Remer, J. R.|
|Bullock, Captain M.||Henderson, Lieut.-Col. V. L. (Bootle)||Rentoul, G. S.|
|Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arther P.|
|Burgoyne, Lieut.-Colonel Sir Alan||Henn, Sir Sydney H.||Rhys, Hon. C. A. U.|
|Burney, Lieut.-Com. Charles D.||Hennessay, Major J. R. G.||Rice, Sir Frederick|
|Burton Colonel H. W.||Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'ts'y)|
|Butler Sir Geoffrey||Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Adm. Sir A.||Roberts, E. H. G. (Flint)|
|Butt Sir Alfred||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Roberts, Samuel (Hereford Hereford)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Herbert S.(York N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Robinson, Sir T. (Lancs., Stretford)|
|Campbell E. T.||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S J. G.||Rye, F. G.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D.(St. Marylebone)||Samuel, A. M. (surrey, Farnham)|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Holt, Captain H. P.||Sandeman, A. Stewart|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Homan, C. W. J.||Sanderson, Sir Frank|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hopkins, J. W. W.||Sandon, Lord|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Howard Capt. Hon. D. (Cump., N.)||Sassoon, Sir Philip Albert Gustave D.|
|Chamberiain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M.(Hackney, N.)||Scott, Sir Leslie (Liverp'l Exchange)|
|Charteris, Brigadier-General J.||Hume, Sir G. H.||Shaw, R. G. (Yorks, W.R., Sowerby)|
|Chilcott, Sir Warden||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Shaw, Capt. W. W. (Wilts, Westb'y)|
|Christie, J. A.||Huntingfield, Lord||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer||Hurd, Percy A.||Shepperson, E. W.|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hurst, Gerald B.||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hutchison, G. A. Clark (Midl'n & P'bl's)||Sinclair, Col. T.(Queen's Univ., Belfast)|
|Cochrane, Commander Hon. A. D.||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.||Sianey, Major P. Kenyon|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Jackson, Sir H. (Wandsworth, Cen'l)||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Jacob, A. E.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||James. Lieut.-Colonel Hon. Cuthbert||Smithers, Waldron|
|Cooper, A. Duff||Joynson-Hicks, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Courthope, Lieut.-Col. Sir George L.||Kennedy, A. R. (Preston)||Spender Clay, Colonel H.|
|Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||King, Captain Henry Douglas||Sprot, Sir Alexander|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stanley, Col. Hon. G. F. (Will'sden, E.)|
|Crookshank, Col. C. de W. (Berwick)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Lamb, J. O.||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. Westm'eland)|
|Cunliffe, Joseph Herbert||Lane-Fox, Colonel George R.||Steel, Major Samuel Strang|
|Curzon, Captain Viscount||Lister, Cunliffe-, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Storry Deans, R.|
|Davidson, J. (Hertf'd, Hemel Hempst'd)||Loder, J. de V.||Stott, Lieut.-Colonel W. H.|
|Davies, A. V. (Lancaster, Royton)||Looker, Herbert William||Stuart, Crichton-, Lord C.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lord, Walter Greaves-||Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Dawson, Sir Philip||Lougher, L.||Styles, Captain H. Walter|
|Dean, Arthur Wellesley||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Vere||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser|
|Doyle, Sir N. Grattan||Luce, Major-Gen. Sir Richard Harman||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid|
|Drewe, C.||Lumley, L. R.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||MacAndrew, Charles Glen||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, S.)|
|Elveden, Viscount||Macdonald, R. (Glasgow, Cathcart)||Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. Mitchell-|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||McDonnell, Colonel Hon. Angus||Tinne, J. A.|
|Evans, Captain A. (Cardiff, South)||McLean, Major A.||Wallace, Captain D. E.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Macmillan, Captain H.||Warner, Brigadier-General W. W.|
|Fairfax, Captain J. G.||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Falle, Sir Bertram G.||McNeill, Rt. Hon. Ronald John||Waterhouse, Captain Charles|
|Fanshawe, Commander G. D.||MacRobert, Alexander M.||Wells, S. R.|
|Wheler, Major Sir Granville C. H.||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|White, Lieut.-Colonel G. Dairymple||Wolmer, Viscount||Worthington-Evans, Rt. Hon. Sir L.|
|Williams, Com. C. (Devon, Torquay)||Wood, Rt. Hon. E. (York, W. R., Ripon)||Wragg, Herbert|
|Williams, Herbert G. (Reading)||Wood, E. (Chest'r, Stalyb'ge & Hyde)|
|Wilson, R. R. (Stafford, Lichfield)||Wood, Sir Kingsley (Woolwich, W.).||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Winby, Colonel L. P.||Wood, Sir S. Hill- (High Peak)||Colonel Gibbs and Major Cope.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Hayday, Arthur||Rose, Frank H.|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Hayes, John Henry||Salter, Dr. Alfred|
|Ammon, Charles George||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Scrymgeour, E.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Sexton, James|
|Baker, Walter||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Hudson, J. H. (Huddersfield)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Barnes, A.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Slesser, Sir Henry H.|
|Barr, J.||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Batey, Joseph||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish-||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Buchanan, G.||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Snell, Harry|
|Cape, Thomas||Kelly, W. T.||Spencer, G. A. (Broxtowe)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Lansbury, George||Stamford, T. W.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Lawson, John James||Stephen, Campbell|
|Cove, W. G.||Lee, F.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Crawfurd, H. E.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|Dalton, Hugh||Lunn, William||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Mackinder, W.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. C. P.|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||MacLaren, Andrew||Viant, S. P.|
|Day, Colonel Harry||March, S.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Dennison, R.||Maxton, James||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Duncan, C.||Montague, Frederick||Webb, Rt. Hon. Sidney|
|Dunnico, H.||Naylor, T. E.||Wedgwood, Rt. Hon. Josiah|
|Gibbins, Joseph||Oliver, George Harold||Whiteley, W.|
|Gillett, George M.||Paling, W.||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Gosling, Harry||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Greenall, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Potts, John S.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Purcell, A. A.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Windsor, Walter|
|Groves, T.||Riley, Ben|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Southwark, N.)||Ritson, J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. F.O.(W. Bromwich)||Mr. T. Kennedy and Mr. Charles Edwards.|
|Harris, Percy A.||Robinson, W. C. (Yorks, W. R., Elland)|
§ Bill read the Third time, and passed.