§ Mr. RHYS DAVIES
I beg to move,That, in the opinion of this House, pensions adequate for the proper upbringing and maintenance of children should be paid to all widows with children or mothers whose family breadwinner has become incapacitated, such pensions to be provided by the State and administered by a committee of the municipal or county council wholly unconnected with the Poor Law.I have the greatest possible pleasure in moving this Resolution. I would remind the House that on 8th April, 1919, a similar Resolution to this was moved for the first time by a Member of the Labour party; and, if I were addicted to superstition, I might very well imagine that Fate had determined the 379 issue, for the Motion then was moved by my predecessor (the late Mr. Tyson Wilson) in the representation of the West Houghton Division. There is a peculiar interest, so far as I am concerned, in a Motion of this kind, because several years ago, within a few years of each other, there were buried in two small cemeteries in the heart of my division close on 200 men killed in two colliery explosions. The effect of these and other colliery explosions remains to-day, not only in my own constituency, but in other mining divisions of this country. If it were necessary to plead the cause of the widow and the fatherless child, one need hardly say more than this: that of all the tragedies that afflict the human race, there is none more terrible than the case of the widow of 30 to 35 years of age left to fight the battle of life with three, four or five little ones to maintain. Unfortunately for her, she has to battle with poverty, and in most cases poverty wins the day and she goes down in the struggle.
We do not claim that there ought to be a pension in respect of every child born of every woman. This is not in the least a plea that the woman should be endowed simply because she is a mother. The claim is that when a woman is left bereft of her husband, and she has children to maintain, that the State should take over the responsibility hitherto held by the father, and give assistance to the widowed mother to maintain her fatherless children. We want this House of Commons to adopt this point of view: that a good mother is better than a thousand schoolmasters; that a decent home is superior to the best-managed Poor Law institution in the land; that the widowed mother, however poor a manager she may be in her home, is a better guardian of her children than the most intelligent and hest-intentioned board of guardians that ever existed. That is our plea.
This is not the first time, as I intimated, that this Motion has come before the House. Possibly it will not be the last time; but, however long it may take to argue the case of these poor, unfortunate folk—it may be 10 or 20 years before the State accepts its responsibility—so far as some of us are concerned, we shall still fight on until we win. If I wanted 380 evidence to lay before the House of a desire for this reform, I need not go very far. Practically every woman's organisation in the land, not only Labour organisations, but other women's organisations of all political colours, have supported this Motion. More than that, there are responsible local authorities, boards of guardians, town councils, and, I believe, county councils, and other equally important authorities have supported this idea. I shall be able to prove before I conclude that our proposals, instead, as is imagined by some, being likely to cost more, they will be more economical in dealing with the problem of the fatherless child.
What happens to the widow? Let us look at the case for a moment or two. Her husband might be employed in a colliery or on the railway. If he dies a violent death through an accident, the widow is entitled to workmen's compensation, a very small amount, I admit. It looks a lot when she gets it in a lump sum, and unfortunately she accepts that too often. But the widow of the man who dies from natural causes gets nothing. There is nothing that has made my heart more sick than seeing a widow, a woman who once upon a time lived in a decent cottage, had good furniture and a comfortable home, when she loses her husband from natural causes becoming too often the prey of the exploiter. What happens? She does sewing, sharing, office-cleaning, and then, strange to say, when she goes to the board of guardians for relief for herself and children this sort of thing happens: A woman not far from the doorsteps of this House of Commons with eight children went to the board of guardians less than 12 months ago and the reply of the board of guardians to her was this: We will take your three youngest children away to institutions controlled by the board in order that you may go out to work to maintain the others. That sort of thing must come to an end once and for all.
We prate about our Christianity, and we sing on SundaysWhen wilt Thou save the people?Here, in my view, is a chance to put a little of our Christian sentiment into practice by helping the widow and her fatherless children. There is a new type of case to which I want to refer. Prior 381 to the War, we only had widows whose husbands had died from natural causes. Since the War this has transpired in thousands of cases, and hon. Members on both sides will, I feel sure, be able to quote similar cases. I need no better or more eloquent appeal in this connection than to read a letter that has been submitted to me; it is only one out of hundreds that have been sent to me since my Motion appeared on the Order Paper. It is a woman whose husband served in the Forces. He came back damaged and bruised after having served in the War. When he came back he returned to his usual occupation and followed it for some time. He fell ill and was attended to by the panel doctor, and later on died suddenly. Since his death the widow has appealed to the Pensions Minister and she has received the usual official reply that his death was not attributable to War service. She writes:My husband joined up in 1915. He was never ill before going into the Army, he was in Egypt for three years and died suddenly seven months after demobilisation. He did Ids hit and his best in his country's time of need and all I have now by way of compensation is two medals. I am left with tour young children, the eldest is 12, the other nine, one seven and a half and a fourth six years of age. My husband left a. good job to join the forces and when he was serving I was allowed a superannuation allowance, a civil liabilities allowance and a grant from his employers. Now that he is dead I have not one penny except that which I work for. My husband never ailed before he joined up, but afterwards he was always complaining. I spent all my savings and have to do sewing when I can get it, often working right on beyond midnight.That illustrates the type of case which I mentioned a moment ago.
I wish the House to understand this question from another point of view. It is often asked by those who oppose Motions of this kind why does the workman not save in order that there may be something left for the widow and children when he dies? Let me ask what saving is possible to-day in any working class home, not only in England, hut, so far as I understand, in any part of Europe? What thrift of any kind can there be in the ease of a workman and his wife bringing little children into the world? What is the problem that confronts us? In 1922 there were 66,755 widows with 142,000 children receiving Poor Law relief. Of those children, 7,405 382 were in institutions, and 134,610 were receiving outdoor relief.
I shall probably be asked, Where is the money to come from to deal with this problem? That is the sort of question that is put to us, and, strangely enough, the very people who put that question when we are dealing with human problems are generally the very persons who never utter a word of protest when we are proposing to spend £14,000,000 upon two new battleships. The question of proper provision for the widows and fatherless children is much more urgent than the building of battleships. At the present time there are 9,782 boarded-nut children at a cost of 10s. 6d. per week, and these are costing the country £266,020 per annum. I want hon. Members to notice the average cost of keeping these children in Poor Law institutions, because our argument is that the mother can not only look after her children better than the hoard of guardians, she can do it more effectively and cheaper than the best managed institution in the land. There are, as already stated, 7,405 children of widows in institutions costing 17s. 6d. each; the total annual amount spent in respect of them is£673,855. The total annual sum spent on all the widows and the fatherless children in receipt of Poor Law relief and institutional treatment runs into £3,466,659. I think it ought. to be made clear that what we require the State to do is to deal with widowed mothers with dependent children exactly on the same lines as the State now deals with the widows and fatherless children of the men who died in the War. I have never been able to understand why a man, for instance, from my Division if you like, who was a coalminer, who joined the Army, but never perhaps went beyond the shores of this country, but who died in khaki and probably never fired a shot, but merely because he was a member of His Majesty's Forces the State takes some responsibility for his widow and children. I have always held that there is no duty that a man could ever perform of greater value to the State than that of being a miner, a bricklayer, a farm labourer, or anything else of that kind; and we shall not be satisfied on these benches until the man is dealt with as generously by the State in his capacity as a worker as he is when he dons khaki or wears a naval uniform. 383 I believe the widow of a private who died whilst serving in His Majesty's Forces is entitled to 20s. a week for herself and 7s. 6d. per child. If we could secure for all the widows for whom I am speaking terms of that kind some of us would be highly delighted.
I have spent some time as a Member of the Manchester education authority, and I have sat on committees in some of our poorest districts compelled to judge poor widows brought before us simply because they have neglected to send their children regularly to school. I have heard cases of this kind argued. A woman informs the committee that she gets up at 6 o'clock in the morning, she calls her little ones of very tender years at an early hour in order that. they might keep awake, prepare their own breakfast, and go to school. Invariably in cases of that kind what happens is that the little ones forget about their breakfast and the school, and roam about the streets learning all the bad things that can be learned in a big city, and in the end some of them are brought before the police courts and sent to Borstal institutions and reformatory schools. There is ample evidence, not only in America, where mothers' pensions have been paid for a long time, but in this country, that the percentage of fatherless children proceeding to the police courts, Borstal institutions, and reformatory schools is higher than from other types of families. When I am told that the cost of a proposal of this kind will be enormous—I think the present Chancellor of the Exchequer said it would involve a sum of £50,000,000 a year—may I reply that I shall hope to prove it will not cost £20,000,000 a year?
I am at the moment concerned about these children of widowed mothers, who roam about the streets of our great cities, and ultimately find themselves in the police courts. I would like to ask hon. Members to follow me in finding out what it costs to maintain those. I placed a question on the Order Paper the ether night in order to secure this information It costs to keep each convict in this land about £2 2s. 6d. per week—more than the weekly wage of a miner in my Division. For all prisoners in local prisons the cost is £1 10s. per week; for preventive detention prisons £4 6s. 6d. per week, and for Borstal institutions, 384 where these youngsters go because they have not had the care of a mother or father, it costs £2 2s. 10d. per week. The average cost for inmates of reformatory or industrial schools is 25s. per week. We are wasting the money of the community and the substance of the nation by building these institutions and spending from 25s. to 86s. per week, in some cases, on the maintenance of the inmates, whereas if we gave the widowed mother part of the money to keep her little home going, it would prevent some of them, by the care and education she would be able to give, from landing themselves into any of these places. We protest very emphatically against the notion which has grown up in this and other countries that all we have to do is to allow society to develop anyhow, and if anything goes wrong, to build institutions to deal with the results. We have built workhouses, sanatoria and asylums, whereas if we understood the problem of human society better we should spend the money now devoted to these institutions upon clearing slums and building decent homes for the people, with the result that our national expenditure would be considerably less.
I must refer to what is happening in other countries in this connection. I apprehend there will be some criticism regarding the administration of mothers' pensions in the United States. I should like to mention that since the last Debate on this subject in this House there has been great progress made in this matter within the British Empire. Mothers' pensions became the law in New Zealand in January, 1912, and pensions are provided for widows and dependent children under fourteen. The whole of the expense is borne by the State and the payments are made monthly through the Post Office. In 1919–20 the cost was £185,968. The Danish law became operative in January, 1914, it goes a step further, and is more generous; half the expense in Denmark is borne by the State and the remainder by the Commune in which the widow lives. There are forty States and two territories of the United States that have adopted mothers' pensions. There are only eight States in the whole of that great Continent that do not now pay mothers' pensions. The information I have is very valuable to those who are interested in the subject. I only want to 385 mention, however, in regard to the administration of mothers' pensions in the United States, that whatever criticisms may be levelled against it, the reports of all the people connected with police courts and prisons, reform work and social services are to the effect that since mothers' pensions have been paid there has been less crime amongst juveniles and that the whole country is better off owing to the fact that things are administered cheaper and better than hitherto.
I am not satisfied to see other countries in advance of our own. We are told sometimes that hon. Members on these benches care very little for their own country; that we are internationalists. I am very jealous of our good name. I dislike to read at any time that any other country does better, particularly for the little ones, than we are doing. I must mention something further with regard to what is done in the British Empire, because there may be people in this House and outside who will not be willing to be convinced merely because America and Denmark have adopted a proposal of this kind. Mothers' pensions are now paid within the British Empire in five out of nine Canadian Provinces; in the Union of South Africa, in four out of five States in Australia, and, as stated, in New Zealand. The age qualification in the United States ranges from 14 to 17. There is another and a very good qualification, that where a child is found to be totally crippled or mentally defective the age limit is higher and the State takes considerable responsibility for all children afflicted in that way. The largest amount of pension for a widowed mother was paid in the State of Illinois in September, 1921, when a widow with eight dependent children received the equivalent in our money of £34 for four weeks. That, I think, is indicative that the American people at any rate are paying more attention to this important problem than our own people have done.
Turning to the question of cost, in 1911 there were in this country 1,200,000 widows under the age of 70. Out of that number 900,000 belonged to the industrial classes and 300,000 were in employment. Out of the gross total 400,000 had children under 16 years of age. It may be interesting to note that at the end of January, 1923, there were approximately 124,000 widows and mothers in receipt of War pensions 386 and 325,000 fatherless children receiving allowances through the Ministry of Pensions. In order to understand this problem, I have secured further information at the only point at which analysis has been made from the 1921 census regarding widows. It refers to London alone. According to that census there were in London 223,615 widows. The children under 14 in the same area whose fathers were dead numbered 80,094. There were 21,533 whose mothers were dead, and 4,151 who had lost both parents by death. These figures are indicative of the position up to date.
I come now to my final point, namely, the cost. The 1911 census showed that there were 170,000 widows under 45 years of age, and for our purpose we need have no regard at the moment to those widows who are not within this limit of age. That, of course, will probably be obvious to hon. Members throughout the House. We have computed that there will be about 50,000 childless and widows whose incomes are such that they would not be a charge on the State if the proposal contained in our Motion ever became law. According to our figures as thus reduced, there cannot be more than 120,000 widows in this country, outside War widows, and the number of children dependent upon them is approximately 250,000. We relieve, at the moment, about 67,000 husbandless women, with 142,000 dependent children, at a cost of £3,500,000. There are, therefore, according to our estimate, about 53,000 widows and 108,000 children to be provided for. To place 120,000 widows and 250,000 fatherless children on a pension scheme similar to the War pensions provision would cost, in our view, somewhere between £13,000,000 and £18,000,000 per annum. That is the cost on the one side, but if we take into account what the State and the municipalities and the Poor Law authorities would save, we argue that the total cost would not be more than from £8,000,000 to £10,000,000 per annum. New Zealand pays at the moment 7s. 6d. for each child and 7s. 6d. for the mother, and the total cost to New Zealand is below £200,000 per annum. On that basis, and on our population, the estimate of cost for this country would not be more than £7,000,000 per annum.
I have now come nearly to the end of my argument, but there is one thing that impresses itself on my mind. I stated at the commencement that there was no 387 tragedy that I knew of more terrible than the tragedy of the widow from 30 to 40 years of age who was left with four, five or six children to maintain. She faces the struggle alone, and I know of nothing much more terrible than that. The poets have sung of the soldier's valour, the admiral's deeds, and the capacity of the captains of industry, but no one, somehow or other, has ever deemed it fit to sing or say much about this problem. It is more urgent to-clay than ever; the struggle is greater; and, if I wanted, I could quote a great statesman who once said, "If the world were put into one scale and my mother into the other, the world would soon kick the beam." I think that expresses the sentiment of every decent man and woman about their mother. Some men set forth into the world in search of wealth, which, when they secure it, they spend prodigally. Others go forth in search of power, and when they achieve it may use it mercilessly. For my part, I shall feel quite satisfied if I have done something to-night to try to secure for the widow and the fatherless child the generous care of the State.
§ Mr. LUNN
I beg to second the Motion.
I well recollect the Debate that took place in this House four years ago. I do not remember one speech on that occasion that was against the Motion, and yet it was talked out. I am sure that, if the Government to-night keep off the Whips and leave Members to act in accordance with their own conscience, or as their constituents desire that they should vote, this Motion will be carried by a similar majority to that with which a Bill passed through the House last Friday. This is a new Parliament, and many Members have come from distant constituencies. I have no doubt they have felt by now the sacrifice they are making in what they believe to be the national interest—the sacrifice of home comforts an d the company of their families. Their families, however, are not in fear of the spectre of poverty, but the case of widows with children is different. They have always a haunting fear. My hon. Friend has said that there would be something like 120,000 who would come within the scope of this Motion. Can we measure, even with the 388 greatest stretch of imagination, what the circumstances are in those homes? We have an opportunity to-night, in voting for this Motion, to give hope and encouragement in many of those homes.
The pensions that we seek in this Motion we seek as a matter of right. We wish the woman to be able to go and receive her pension, not as she now receives Poor Law relief, but that she shall retain her freedom and her independence. The pension should be adequate to the needs of the family, and no child should suffer simply because it has lost, through death, its father. The position to-day is different from that. Widows must either go out to work or must go to the Poor Law. Their homes are far from what we think of as the ideal home. What is a good home? In my opinion a good home is one where the father is in decent employment, with decent wages, and has security, and where the wife is healthy and able to care for and look after the home. But what is home without children? In my opinion it must be a most desolate place. When I am at home —which is not very often, as I am here all the week—and my family have gone out., before very long I am saying to my wife, "Fetch someone in," because I feel that I am, so to speak, dead without the children who are such a blessing and help to make the home worth living in, Despite unemployment, with all its suffering, and the lack of houses, of which hundreds of thousands are needed in order to provide homes for those who wish to make them—and this seems to be the ditch into which the Government have dropped, and from which I hope they will soon extricate themselves in the interests of the people who want homes—there are thousands of good homes in our land. I saw an advertisement the other day by people who had furniture to sell. They pictured a neatly furnished home with a young man and his wife proudly looking on their first-born child, and underneath the picture were these wordsTheir gracious home, their cheerful looks expressLife's greatest boon of wedded happiness.But this picture may be spoilt. Ill-health, disease, accident may come to the father, and then we see a different picture of home. The picture of the position of the widow is one of despair, but she faces the struggle. There is nothing, I believe, 389 that a mother will not do for her children. I do not believe there is anything in this world like a mother's love. Once lost it may never be replaced. For a time she struggles and tries to maintain the home. Kind friends render assistance, and it is pleasant to remember and to know that there are many kind people in the world. But charity is not enduring, and then the mother must seek assistance elsewhere. I have spent all my leisure time, before I came into this House, in local government work, some years of which have been in connection with the Poor Law, and I have seen many of these widows as they have come before relief committees and stated their case and made their plea. May I give one typical case? A young woman, whom I have known from a child, was left with five children. I urged her to go to the Poor Law to secure relief, but she was in fear of it, as many women are in fear to-day. After she left the committee room, she said to me: "I shall not often come here. As soon as ever I can get out of this position I shall be out of it." Talk about the sanctity of the home! We are not maintaining the sanctity of the home when we are driving young women, for the sake of bread and butter for their children, to make materialistic marriages, as many are having to do to-day.
But it is not only the Poor Law. The woman may struggle still, because the Poor Law relief will not give her every thing which is necessary for her children. She struggles and she fails in the attempt and is carried away. The children then may be sent to an institution. Many Members of this House have some knowledge of institutions. Some are good, some are bad, some arc very indifferent, but it is automatic machinery that controls institutions. You never heard hearty laughter in an institution. You never heard a lullaby sung in an institution. There is no soft-voiced mother there. I once heard the late Mr. Will Crooks say if he went into a playground where children from cottage homes were attending and children from institutions, he could pick out every child that came from an institution. There is a fear even among the children in going back to their institution. There is never after in the child in meeting its own mother, if she is a mother. We suggest that this is a 390 Motion which the House might accept. It is most economical, as my lion. Friend has shown. It is humanitarian. It is the Christian idea, and I know that if adopted it will not cost the sum that we may possibly be told from the Government Benches. The saving which has been shown in Poor Law relief will take place in the case of institutions and in the many other ways that we have to-day is a great work. But the greatest saving will be in the guarantee to the mothers that they will be able to bring up healthy, strong, tender, lovable boys and girls. What has been done in America by Judge Neil, one of the greatest men we know of this century, what has been done by the American States and by our Colonies, ought to be done by our own people. I urge that the House should pass this Motion and give hope and encouragement of a change from the sort of thing that we have at this lime. There is no question so important as the care of human life, and particularly of child life. If we pass this Resolution—and I appeal to the Government to accept it, or at least to leave Members free to vote—I am satisfied that we shall lay the foundation of a better national life than we have at present.
The Mover and Seconder, particularly the Mover, have given the House every reason for passing the Motion. I cannot speak with the floridness of hon. Members opposite, because I have been taught to appeal more to the reason than to the hearts of men it is quite natural, because I take it for granted that people in all classes have the same kind of hearts. I have never been able to classify virtues and vices like some hon. Members opposite seem so ready to do. I think the same things belong to all classes and sections of the community. We have, to look on this not only from the human point of view, but from the State point of view. Anyone who has had anything to do with these widows could simply break the heart of the House of Commons with stories of their sorry plight. The four chief causes of undeserved poverty are old age, sickness, unemployment and widowhood. Widowhood is the only one now left to be dealt with haphazardly by the Poor Law. Old age, sickness and unemployment are now dealt with by insurance. It is impossible to make provision for widows by those means. Not one of 391 the greatest friendly societies has ever attempted to provide pensions for widows. It is perfectly amazing, when one looks at this question, long before the War, how it came about that the question of widows' pensions was not a burning question. The only thing that I can put it down to is that men only had the vote. I say, with all due respect to men, that if the women had had anything to do with the running of the country they would have seen long ago, as a national economy, that the country could not afford to allow young widows with families of from two, three, four and up to eight children to go on in the way they have been going.
I will not appeal to the heart of the House, but I want to appeal to their reason. I will read one letter out of hundreds that any hon. Member will get who is interested in this subject. I received a letter from a woman:When I came out to work this morning I left my little girl crying. She had headache. There was no time to see what was the matter, as we are always confronted with the bugbear of getting the sack. Can you wonder if one gets weary of the struggle, when for the sake of a few shillings we could stay at home and bring up our children ourselves? I know what I am talking about as I have been a widow for nearly seven years, being left with a girl under two and a boy three and a half years. I went back to work when my husband died, but what did it mean? Children pulled out of bed and taken through the streets, half asleep, standing at a bench ironing all day, wondering bow the kiddies are going on. Place to keep clean. Washing, mending to do, kiddies to keep clean, clothes to make, as I used to make all their little garments, and I have never troubled the guardians once, and. please God, never shall. I know that things are very bad in the country, but surely it would he better to allow us a small pension, the same as the soldiers' widows, and let us bring up our children as we should, instead of leaving them to strangers.We so often hear nowadays in this House about the sanctity of the home. We are told about the terror of socialistic schools. If more children were properly brought up at home there would not be so many socialistic schools. [Interruption.] I am doubtful about that, but do not let us quarrel as to it now. The Report of the Royal Commission on the Poor Law in 1909 condemned, both in the Majority and Minority Reports, the conditions of widows with children, even those 392 getting out-relief. The physical conditions compared unfavourably in almost every way with ordinary children attending elementary schools. The out-relief boy of 14 was very little heavier than the average boy of 11. The out-relief girl of 14 was usually a weedy slip. A large number suffered from glands, bad teeth, eyes, ears, &c. There was a low standard of intelligence in a large proportion due to under nourishment. How much worse must be the condition of the enormous number of those who try to struggle on without relief. There are hundreds and thousands who are doing it. I have had a letter from one woman who said:I went as long as I could without applying for relief, and then I saw that it was for my children that I had to do it. The woman living opposite to me is too proud to do it, and the consequence is that her children are suffering more.Let us take the money side of it. I know it will be said: "We feel it in our hearts, and our hearts are with you, but how are we to raise the money?" The Chancellor of Exchequer gives the figure of the estimated cost at £50,000,000: but I think he has included a lot of people whom we are not asking him to include. We do not ask for the inclusion of unmarried mothers, because in their cases there is a father somewhere who ought to shoulder his half of the responsibility. We do not ask for relief for deserted wives, because of the danger of collusion. Official figures in my possession show that the real cost of giving these pensions, on the war pensions scale, would be much less than is suggested. I have worked it out, and believe it would come to about £29,000,000 at the outside, and that is without deducting what is already spent by the Poor Law on widows and children.
On the other hand, there is something that we cannot get from statistics. We cannot get the statistics of the real danger to the community. The Mover of the Resolution spoke about the Borstal system. Anyone who has had anything to do with juvenile offenders realises how many of them are brought up away from home. The State depends on the moral and physical strength of its people. Any human being who knows anything about children knows that a mother is far and away the best influence in the world for children. I believe that this side of the House has more courage in speaking about these questions. [HON. MEMBERS: 393 "No!"] Well, all parties are agreed about these matters, but some have the courage to say what others are thinking. I feel very keenly on the question of women, and I know that there are men in this House who were returned through saying that they were keen in regard to women's questions, and when they come here they will vote but they will not fight. My die-hards and dug-outs are quite candid. They say, quite candidly, that the woman's place is in the home.
I ask the House to give a chance to the women of the country. I do not think that there is any more pitiable case, or anybody who suffers more, than the widow struggling to bring up young children. I know how difficult it is to leave my children, with every care. I cannot conceive of any greater misery than leaving my children with no care. That is a thing that only a mother can feel. Fathers may feel it dimly, but if they had had imagination we should have had widows' pensions long ago. We ought to realise the terrible sufferings that are borne by so many of these splendid women throughout the. country, women who are too proud to go to the Poor Law, and who go on working until finally they break down, and they sink lower.
We were told during the War that we could not afford to have a C3 population. We cannot afford to have it now. We have to meet an enemy almost as dangerous as the Germans were in war. We have to meet the enemy of world competition, and the only way we shall be able to meet that enemy effectively is by having a strong, virile nation. I appeal to the Government, if they cannot go the whole way and grant pensions to widows on the lines of pensions to war widows, to let us try the New Zealand plan. The Mover of the Resolution said that that would cost from £8,000,000 to £10,000,000. I do not believe we should have any great difficulty in raising £8,000,000 to £10,000,000. If the electors were organised and they agitated for something that would cost no more than £10,000,000, we could get it from any Government. I beg of the Minister in charge to lend a sympathetic ear to our appeal, and to look at the matter, not simply from the point of view of pounds, shillings and pence, but from the point of view of the kind of nation we want, and I ask him to realise that the best 394 citizens that the nation can have are citizens who have been brought up by their mother's side.
I am very glad that in this, my first intervention in the Debates of this House, I should have the opportunity of supporting the Motion which has been so eloquently submitted by the hon. Member for West Houghton (Mr. Rhys Davies). The justice of this Motion seems to be universally recognised, and the whole question now resolves itself into one of cost. As the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) has stated, the Chancellor of the Exchequer has expressed the opinion that the cost of the proposed reform will amount to £50,000,000 per annum. We who believe in the principle of mothers' pensions are entitled to ask what is the actuarial basis which enables the Chancellor of the Exchequer to come to that conclusion? Who, for instance, would receive the benefit? Would all mothers receive the pension, regardless of the income which they might possess? What would be the scale of benefits, and at what age would it be expected that the children would be able to take care of themselves?
We should pause to consider this matter a little more seriously, as we might be inclined to dismiss the proposal lightheartedly by having an exaggerated idea of the actual cost to the State. In 1903 it would have been easy for a Chancellor of the Exchequer to proclaim to the country that the cost of giving old age pensions would have amounted to £212,000,000 per annum. We should have stood aghast at the contemplation of that figure which might have ruled out old age pensions from practical politics. Yet we know that such a statement could have been made without exaggeration, as it would have cost the nation about £212,000,000 to provide a pension of about £1 per week for everyone at the age of 60. We all know that last year the cost of old age pensions in this country amounted to £22,500,000, and that when they were first instituted the cost was only £7,500,000. I think that the Treasury has laid itself open to the charge of putting the cost of this proposed reform at a prohibitive figure, and taking advantage of that prohibitive figure to avoid the possibility of 395 an inquiry into the whole subject.. There is a Spanish proverb which says:Better a slow walk which lasts, than a trot which tires.This country having always proceeded cautiously in the matter of social reform, can proceed equally cautiously with the reform suggested in this proposal. Mothers' pensions can be divided into four sections; first, the mothers whose husbands have deserted them; second, unmarried mothers; third, mothers whose husbands are incapacitated and who have children to maintain, and fourth, widows with children. We may strike out for the time being the two first Sections. The Motion deals more particularly with the other two, and it would be very much easier for us to get those dealt with in the Motion put forward. The Mover of the Motion gave the maximum cost as about £20,000,000 per annum, and suggested that there might be 120,000 widows and 250,000 children dependent, upon them. I have taken out figures and I find that if we make provision for 100,000 widows at the rate of about, say, 25s. a week, and 250,000 children dependent upon them at a pension of 10s. a week, the whole cost to the State would amount to £13,000,000 per annum. But, as other speakers for this Motion have so well pointed out, we must not jump at the conclusion that this is £13,000,000 of new money, because we have to take into consideration—and this is a fact which needs emphasising—that we are already paying very substantial sums for Poor Law allowances, reformatories and children's institutions, to say nothing of the enormous advantages that would accrue to the nation, by enabling the mothers to bring up more healthy, more productive children for the benefit of the nation, all of which are calculations impossible to measure in any monetary sense.
I do not like making comparisons with America. I am not going to say that we in this country are not so sympathetic for our people as the other nations of the world, but in the matter of mothers' pensions, we can take a lesson from America, and I believe that we shall be prepared in this country to take a lesson from any country which we can assimilate to our own advantage. In America they have already on the Statute Book an Act to 396 provide for dependant children, and an aid to mothers' law. I do not know whether America has been actuated more by humanitarian or material considerations. But I do suggest that in this proposed scheme of mothers' pensions we have a wonderful combination of humanitarianism and materialism. Some people argue that the provision of pensions, as suggestion in the. Motion, will have a tendency to increase the birth rate. I am not going to elaborate upon that very interesting question, but to those who might give as their reason for not supporting this Motion, that it might have that effect I would only say that all the evidence goes to prove that any improvement in the standard of life is invariably accompanied by a decreased birth rate. The higher the efficiency of the individual, whether brought about by individual action or legislative action, the greater the effect in decreasing the birth rate. We know that the poorer the people as a general rule the larger the family, whereas with more education very often the smaller the family.
I believe that these pensions would make for increased efficiency in the homes of the country, and certainly make for the increased education of the children of the widows who would be dependent upon those pensions. We have the fact that in France maternity benefit has not prevented a decline in the birth rate. So if hon. Members may be inclined to vote against this Motion, because of the possibility of ifs effect upon the birth rate, I would ask them to consider the suggestions which I have just made. I know that, generally speaking, it, is impossible for the average working man to make provision for himself. Though I happen to he of the same nationality as the Mover of the Motion, I represent a constituency away from my native country, and I come into contact with a large section of agricultural labourers, and there is no one in this House who will suggest I hat, however thrifty a farm labourer may be, it is possible for him, even if he lives to a ripe old age, to make provision for his widow and children, in the event of his premature decease.
Moreover we have this difficulty in country districts. If by misfortune a farm labourer's wife should become a widow, by the system of tied cottages which prevails she would be turned adrift from that 397 locality in which she is known and she would have greater difficulties to face in obtaining employment for the maintenance of her family. Therefore out of those humanitarian considerations we ought to support this Motion. One argument used against pensions is that they would have a tendency to discourage thrift. I do not think that that could be said about mothers' pensions. These certainly would not discourage thrift in a thrifty husband because it would be no comfort for him to know that, if anything happened to him, his widow would be getting a pension from the State. He would he saving in anticipation of getting some comfort from his thrift in his old age, and it is no argument to bring against the granting of widows' pensions to say that the husband might become less thrifty as a consequence of this proposal. Moreover, medical evidence is certainly strongly against mothers with children being compelled to go out to work in order adequately to protect the interests of those children. It is not good for the health of the children themselves, and even from that consideration alone we ought, very willingly, to make any sacrifice that may be necessary to provide for pensions for the widows who are bringing up families. The Motion before the House really means that the State takes the responsibility as a. sort of foster parent; it takes the place of the father until the children reach an age when they are able to fight for themselves. It is no use, as the Mover of the Motion so eloquently said, praying for the fatherless and the orphan unless we are willing to do something for the fatherless and the orphan. An ounce of help, after all, is very much better than a. ton of sympathy.
Pensions ought to be given, not as a charity but as a right, and I am very glad that in this Motion there is a suggestion that they should be administered altogether outside of any question of the Poor Law, because the really decent woman has a horror of Poor Law relief. If we grant these pensions as a right, there is no reason why they should not be administered quite outside any question of the Poor Law. I know the situation in this country is very difficult, and that the economic position is unprecedented. We are labouring under a very oppressive burden of taxation at the present moment, but I am sure there is no 398 right hon. or hon. Member in this House who does not desire to do everything possible to bring some comfort and solace to those widows who, unhappily bereaved of the breadwinner, are trying to do their best to bring up their families in such a way as to reflect credit upon themselves and to make them useful citizens of this country of ours. I very warmly support the Motion before the House.
§ Mr. GERALD HURST
The House will congratulate the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken on his very able and well-informed speech. Indeed, all the speeches we have heard this evening have been of a very persuasive character. Although I have objections to make to this Motion, I do so fully impressed by the humanity and high temper which have characterised the admirable speeches of the Mover, the Seconder, and the supporters of the Motion. This is an appeal. If it were an appeal purely to the sentiments, I have no doubt it would be unanimously supported by all parties here, It is not, however, a question of sentiment:, but a practical question. Because it is a practical question, I wish to put forward certain difficulties in the way of the Motion which, I hope, will be met by some of the speakers who are going to join in the Debate, in support of the Motion, later on.
First of all, two false points have been made in support of the Motion. The Mover of the Motion said that the position of a family who bad lost their breadwinner ire civil life was absolutely the same, in its claim upon the State, as that of a family, the breadwinner of whom had fallen in action or died in the service of the State. That is a false analogy, because the reason why the State pensions a family the head of whom has fallen in the State's service is that that is one of the conditions of his employment. The soldier takes much less pay than the man who earns his living in civil life, and he incurs much greater risk. It is because his pay is less, very often for a long period of years, and because his risk is so much greater that the State pensions his family. I agree, of course, that there is considerable risk in civil employment, but, normally speaking, the risk of the soldier is greater and the pay is much less than are the risk and the pay of the ordinary civilian. Therefore, 399 I think, with great respect, there is no point in that analogy.
Nor, again, is it fair to draw an analogy between conditions in England and conditions in the United States. In the United States, the State can afford to do things far beyond the powers of the State in this country. Had America taken its due share in the world War, and had it shouldered its due responsibilities after the War, instead of shirking them, it would not be able to be as generous as it is to its people—[An HON. MEMBER: "Before the War, too!"] Before the War it was a far richer and more prosperous country than Great Britain—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not at all!"] That is common knowledge. The wealth of America is infinitely greater than that of England. Moreover, the position of New Zealand and other Dominions is very different from our position. There you have small populations and generally a much higher level of prosperity. You do not get so many rich people as in England, but the general level of prosperity is very much higher than that here, and the State can therefore afford to do more.
Having brushed aside two points, which are false points, and which cannot carry weight, let us get to the real gist of the Motion. It has been said by hon. Members in supporting the Motion that the reform therein advocated is desired by a large number of people in the country, particularly by the widows. Naturally, because everybody who is in difficulties would be very glad to receive State assistance. Every argument which has been advanced this evening on behalf of widows and their families, could be advanced equally well on behalf of old age pensioners, of all other pensioners, and of all people who have not pensions at all; on behalf, in fact, of everybody who is in difficulty or suffers poverty, or theslings and arrows of outrageous fortune.It is no argument to say that the fact of a Motion of this sort would give hope and encouragement to the particular class in whose interests it was framed. Of course it would. We have to look at it, not from the point of view exclusively of them, but from the point of view of the country. It. is quite true that the passing of this Motion would be popular. I also think it would win a great many votes, 400 which is also, no doubt, a material consideration. I have come across widows in my own constituency who say that they have joined the Labour party because this question of mothers' pensions forms a plank in the Labour party's programme, and not in the programme of others. I quite realise that it does catch votes, but, after all, we have to look at it, not from the point of view of vote catching but from the point of view of the nation, and we must take a long view.
One speaker rather scoffed at opposition to this Motion, on the ground that any opponent of it was treating the matter as merely one of pounds, shillings and pence The last hon. Gentleman who spoke said hr would not mind making a sacrifice for so good a cause. It. is all very well talking glibly—if I may say so—about sacrifices or about mere questions of £ s. d., but the money has got to be found. There is no bottomless well from which we can draw our resources. What the citizens had to decide at the last Election, and will have to decide for many years to come, is whether they are going to take a short view, and support each and every scheme of social reform put before them, merely because it is desirable, popular and attractive; or whether they are going to take a long view, and realise what increased taxation means to the well-being of the country. Most Conservatives in this House and in the country have never barked this issue. I can say quite frankly for the City of Manchester, one of the divisions of which I represent that we put it quite clearly before our constituents throughout the city at the last Election that, if they voted for us, they would get no social reform; they would get economy and stability, and nothing else.
§ Mr. HURST
No, they will not. The result of putting that issue honestly and fairly before the constituents of Manchester was that, we won seven seats out of ten. [represent one of the poorest constituencies in Manchester I told my constituents—I am not ascribing any virtue to myself, but I am saying what was done by our party throughout that portion of Lancashire—we told them that in the long run these schemes of social reform, no matter how popular they 401 were, all meant money. If more money comes from the Exchequer, it means a greater burden upon the community. The greater the burden on the community the higher the cost of production. If we want to see a trade revival, and if we realise that employment is, after all, much more important than doles and temporary gifts and things of that sort, we must realise that it is far better to lay aside all these alluring schemes of social betterment, which mean the extraction of money from the taxpayer, in order to concentrate on the far more vital point of reducing the burden on the taxpayer, reducing the cost of production, and enabling this country once more to hold its own in the neutral markets of the world. That is the real way towards salvation. At present the great difficulty of our export trade from England, and particularly from the North, is that the foreign buyer cannot afford to pay our prices. The raw products of Asia and Africa remain at the price at which they were in 1914, whereas our textiles sent in exchange for these raw products can be bought only at two or three times the price that was asked in 1914. The main cause of the increased cost of our goods is the increased burden of taxation. If you want to get that burden of taxation reduced so as to regain our foreign markets and find employment, the one way is to abstain, however unpopular it may be for the time being, from all schemes of social reform which place a greater burden upon the community.
If working people took a long view and realised that their interests were bound up with the revival of trade and that that was much more important than an increased pension here or an increased dole there, they would follow the lead which was given to them by the present Government at the last Election, when no promises were made. [Interruption.] There were promises of tranquillity and economy neither of which costs money, and the reason why that programme made such a tremendous appeal to those working people who can think was that they realised where their real interests in the national life lay. It is on that ground and on that ground alone—while, of course, recognising the great boon that mothers' pensions would be—that we feel there is a bigger national interest in opposing the Motion than in supporting 402 it. It does not follow that something cannot still be clone in the way of help for mothers and fatherless children. An hon. Member referred to the care of children in cases where the mother was at work. Everybody knows that there is a great growth of day nurseries and crêches which are supported by voluntary agencies in the great cities. Many of them are provided by the municipalities, which are already meeting that particular need. If we could get good trade again it stands to reason that with lower taxation we could afford to indulge in some of these experiments in social reform—experiments which at the moment are inopportune but which in time to come may be both expedient and wise.
I must plead guilty to belonging to that class of people who may be regarded as sentimentalists. I support this Motion because I feel that it should be supported by all parties. I hope that every Member, upon thinking of the subject, will feel that he must support it in the Division Lobby. Necessity is the first thing I wish to refer to in relation to this Motion. At present there is in operation no scheme that, in the ordinary course, provides a sufficient income for a widow and family when the bread-winner is taken away. The tendency of the time is to cut out married women from the labour market. But when a woman becomes a widow, of necessity she has to turn out in order to earn her living and. to keep her children. Such a woman is generally a most deserving woman. She would rather starve than accept Poor Law relief. She works hard and often loses her health and spirits. Her history is generally one of marriage at 22 or 23 years of age, then four or five children, and no opportunity to save during her married life. Probably on marriage the furniture was procured on the hire system. The bread-winner dies and she is called upon to act in the capacity of father and mother in the home. She has to try to earn all the money she can by casual labour, such as charing, odd sewing, or work of that kind. What is her alternative? She must accept Poor Law relief, which is a great stigma to which she objects. I heard the other day of a relieving officer suggesting, in reference to a requisition for help, "Why, if you 403 are not careful you will make that widow as comfortable as the rest of us."
If a widow does not obtain Poor Law relief, she has to depend on charity organisations. Possibly a concert is arranged in the village or town where she lives, or a whist drive or other kind of charitable effort is organised. Failing these, she may possibly have to depend on the charity of relations. That is not always easy to obtain, because the relations are generally as poor as herself, and they often live at some distance and it is impossible to go to them. The scheme suggested in this Motion is to give the widow an allowance for all children under 14 years of age. This would not require any fresh machinery, because for the children under five [...] could be done through the welfare centres, and for the children from 5 to 14 years of age it could be done through the education authorities. The amount paid would be based on the present sum allowed to widows of ex-service men. Other countries which have adopted this scheme are numerous and not one of them has repealed it.
Objectors to the scheme say that it is likely to pauperise the people. That was said of old age pensions and it has no significance. Other objectors say that it would release the relatives from their duty towards their poor kinsfolk. As I I have said, the relatives are generally too poor to help. A third objection, which we have heard on all hands, is that the scheme would be a burden on the taxpayer. I will not attempt to go into the figures. They have been dealt with satisfactorily by the Mover of the Motion, but they are very often misjudged. I cannot grasp very quickly figures in millions, but I do say that as to-day we are spending about 17s. 6d. on each child under the Poor Law, it would be a better proposition to give the widowed mother 10s. for each child and allow her to keep it at home. The right person to care for the children is undoubtedly the mother. A mother is doing the greatest service to the State in bringing up her children. In most cases the widow left with children has no income. Very likely she has had to nurse the breadwinner through a long illness. Probably, too, debt has accumulated, and she is left in an unsatisfactory position from 404 the point of view of health. She is left in this position. She probably has debts to face, and she has to work hard to try and earn money. She loses her strength and health and, above all, she loses her spirits. The children are deprived of the vital necessities of life; before long they swell the ranks of the ill-nourished and unhealthy children, and very soon they become chargeable to the rates or have to go to some institution, hospital, etc. We do not want these children to have their strength undermined. We want the widows to have the means and the possibility of bringing these children up in the home as a family in a way which will fit them to be proper citizens of the community. The future of the community and the chances of our having an Al nation depend upon the health and strength of the children, and I hope the House will support the Motion, which seeks in this particular way to bring about the betterment of our country.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
I desire to join with the other speakers who have supported this Motion, because I feel I cannot give a silent vote on the question involved in the Resolution before the House. The opinions I hold on this subject are not newly formed. They have been gained in the hard school of practical experience as a Poor Law guardian. Too often have I seen these people in their distress coming before me as a guardian, and I wish to remind the House that widows left with children and without means have no security whatever miler the law as it stands. The widow with children under 14 years of age is, Ls a rule, herself under 60 years of age and able-bodied, and therefore the guardians are precluded by the law from giving her any relief. Such a woman is compelled to leave her children and to go out, as the hon. Member for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham) has said, as a charwoman or doing washing or some other menial work, while the children are practically uncared for during her enforced absence. We on these benches consider that state of affairs to be a crime and a sin in a Christian country, and we ask that this great blot should be removed from our country's record as early as possible. I feel sure we can all picture the position of the children of a widow in these circumstances. Because of the poverty of 405 their mother the are driven in to the streets to sell matches and papers so as to earn a penny to obtain another crust to eke out their scanty food. Their health becomes undermined through underfeeding and lack of clothing, they never get a chance to secure any kind of employment or to become good citizens, and, finally, as I have said before in this House, they find themselves on the human scrap-heap. That is how I described the market for general labourers, which is always so overcrowded. In that way much more unemployment arises, and it does not end there. These children are driven into blind-alley employments, and they grow up without any useful occupation. No chance is given to the children of the bread-winner who has been taken away.
They may, of course, get help occasionally from generous people and, after all, the poor are generous, but it is only the poor who help the poor. Usually speaking the people who could afford to give something never know of these cases. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I do not accuse hon. Members of not trying to find out about these cases, but usually news about them does not reach that quarter and it is only the people who reside among the poor who know what is going on and what is being done. As a guardian I have stretched the Jaw to help them and I am afraid, if I were a guardian again, I should deliberately break the law in order to give relief where it is so urgently required despite the threat of the auditor to surcharge me. I have had that threat made to me before to-day when I have sought, in spite of the law, to give something to these poor people so that they might have some bread to eat and some clothing to wear. If the law is not altered, I am afraid it will be broken in the effort to help such cases. I appeal to hon. Members to show a little humanity in this matter and to remember that after all the cost involved in the Resolution cannot be so very much more than the cost to which the community is liable now. We have already heard that 17s. 6d. per week is charged if a child is adopted by the Poor Law and taken into the workhouse. I think that could with advantage be given to the mother of the children. After all she is the natural guardian and the person who will see that they are brought up good citizens.
406 We ask that that aspect of the question shall have first consideration. The love of a mother for her children cannot be destroyed, and no matter where her children go, her love follows them. It is her care that the children require if they are to grow up as good citizens. I urge the House as I have urged it before to deal with this question because the Poor Law does not meet it. The guardians have no power whatever to help these people except at the risk of breaking the law. I feel strongly on this subject; my whole soul is in what I am saying because I have seen so much of the misery suffered by widows and children. No one can wonder at my being sincere in regard to all that appertains to such cases as could be laid before this House regarding these children—how they are driven from one place to another, how guardians actually tell the widow to get out of the decent house which the father thought a fit place for his wife and family and to go into slums where the rents arc cheaper in order to save the ratepayers' money. What difference is there between asking local authorities to keep such a woman and her children and asking the State to take it on? Surely the father of these children has not committed any crime because he died, yet apparently as the law exists, he is regarded as having done so and as we cannot visit it on the dead man we visit it on his widow and family. That is the position which we, as Christians have taken up. Much has been said here about Christianity. I ask are we all Christians? Do we believe in the Sermon on the Mount? Do we believe we are all of one family? Do we believe that there is one Father over all. If so, then we should change our methods. As it is, what a family we are—misery on the one hand and wealth on the other—yet we are one family. We on these Benches are desirous of changing this state of affairs, and becoming that real family that Christ intended the world should be when he delivered that memorable Sermon on the Mount. We believe we have the sympathy of the House in every quarter, and we are asking that we should be given practical sympathy on this occasion, and that the House should accept the Resolution, and I feel sure I can, without hesitancy, say that they will earn the good wishes of at least 75 per cent. of the people of this country by doing this 407 for the widows and children. I heartily support the Resolution, and hope the House is going to accept it.
§ Mr. GEORGE THORNE
It was my privilege to take some little part in the first Debate on this subject about four years ago. That discussion was introduced by our late colleague, Mr. Tyson Wilson, and I should like to be permitted to take this opportunity of expressing what I believe is the great regret of the whole House at his sudden and early death. The matter then was fully discussed, so far as the time at our disposal permitted. Before I took part in that Debate I had had the privilege of personal converse with the man who was the first originator of what are now known as mothers' pensions, Judge Neil, who is regarded as the father of the mothers' pensions, and the conversations I had with him removed from me all thought of regarding this question from the standpoint of sentimentality, and put it purely as a practical matter.
The point of this discussion is not from the standpoint of the mother, but from the standpoint of the child. It is in the interests of the children, who are the future citizens, and it is not only the interest, but it is the duty, of the State not only to educate its future citizens, but to make sure also that physically they shall be qualified for the responsible duties which lie in front of them. Consequently, I do not regard this as a sentimental matter, but as a matter in which the whole interests of the State are involved, and I believe it is a practical measure in some way to see that the little children grow up under conditions which will make them good citizens of the State. We have already had reference to what we all know is the appalling waste in money, but to me, appalling as it is, it is nothing to the appalling waste in human life. We have it in our fearful state of unemployment, but we have it also, in the matter now before the House, in the waste of human life in little children growing up under conditions in which they have no chance to qualify themselves for their responsibilities. I am one of those who have sufficient faith to believe that in the very interests of the State, some day we shall judge all our legislation from the standpoint of the child, and I believe it is only in that way that in the long run we 408 are going to secure economy of men as well as of money.
10.0 P. M.
I did not, however, rise to take part in the essentials of this Debate. It seems to me that all that has been covered already, and admirably covered, by speech after speech. I rose to refer to one or two points arising from the last Debate on the subject. The first point is this. We have had only one discussion in this House on this subject, and we were cot allowed to have a Division on that occasion, because it was talked out I respectfully appeal to the Government that on this occasion they will give us a chance, a free and open chance, of saying what we believe ought to be done in regard to this great and vital question, and I trust, therefore, that from no section of the House will there be any attempt to talk this out for the second time, but that we shall have an opportunity of deciding the issue by a Division. The other point is this. The representative of the Government on the former occasion was the then Home Secretary (Mr. Shortt). I know he did not represent the Government in power to-day, and I dare say they will not accept any responsibility for his views, but I want to press on the Government that this is not a matter only for the responsibility of the House. It is a matter for the responsibility of the Government itself. In watching the true interests of this country, this is not too small a matter to come under their purview. Mr. Shortt, in winding up the Debate on that occasion, used these words in reference to a Motion the terms of which wore almost precisely the same as the terms of the Motion now before the House. He said:We cannot accept these words, but the Government accepts the principle behind themI want to know whether the present Government, like the last Government, in the words of the thon Home Secretary, accepts the principle behind the words. Mr. Shortt went on to say:and hopes something of the kind may be done."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th April, 1919; col. 1996, Vol. 114.]That was four years ago. Nothing has been done. I earnestly trust that the Government is not going back upon its predecessor, but will go one better and will say that it not only agrees with the principle and that something shall be done, but will be prepared to-night to 409 tell ns what that something is, so that we may make some practical step forward in the interests of the little children.
§ Sir WILFRID SUGDEN
It is with very great pleasure that I speak for the principle of this Motion, and while there are certain sections of the Motion that I am not prepared to support, at any rate, the principle of widowed mothers' pensions to my mind, and to that of every economist and every man who is properly considering the taxpayers' pockets, should receive support. I want to take one or two points made by the hon., learned and gallant Member for Moss Side (Mr. Hurst) who spoke in respect of his constituency in Manchester. I want to speak for mine, a constituency which is an industrial one, and in which there is, perhaps, more married woman labour than in most other constituencies in Great Britain. First, I want to say that it would be cheaper for the taxpayer to have a contributory scheme of mothers' pensions, which might be actuarially calculated and paid by the husband when he marries. It might be contributory by the employer, husband, and then, to a certain extent, by either the municipality or the State. I am not concerned for the moment to show an exact actuarial calculation to prove that the taxpayer would be relieved of what is supposed to be a heavy burden, should the question of mothers' pensions be accepted and settled. But what I am prepared to say is this, that in respect of the tuition and education of children up to the age of 7, it would be a lessening in regard to the cost of education of not less than £6,000,000 taking both the industrial and agricultural districts of England, because what obtains is that the child of sometimes even 4 years of age and above, while the mother goes out to work in the cotton mills—as she is compelled to do to assist with upkeep of the home in many industrial districts in Lancashire —she sends her children to school even At such an early age so that they may have some sort of care and tuition—tuition and care that she herself would give gladly were it possible and if such pensions were available would indeed make possible. It would thus lift the cost of tuition from the present cost of education which I assert—and I have had in respect of this calculation support from certain authorities—would cost no less 410 than £6,000,000. I do suggest that as a fair economic consideration mothers' pensions should have consideration in respect to relief of the taxpayer municipal and national. There is another matter, namely, that it would have a bearing on the cost of our production. When we remember the young men and youths who are kept out of employment by married women taking their jobs and I do suggest that, with regard to a man trained in certain spheres of trade, if an employer has to choose between a young man thoroughly trained and a married woman who has necessarily and properly her mind on her children and home, the young man is more technically efficient and better in relation to output than the woman, and I suggest it is a more economic way and would mean better home conditions for all were our young manhood able to take the place of married women in our factories. By no means am I going to prevent the work of married women in our mills, for they are compelled to do so in many cases in support of their homes.
§ Sir W. SUGDEN
I agree, but unfortunately it prevails. I have some little knowledge with respect to the education of children. I was on an educational authority both in respect of defective children and in respect of normal children for eight or nine years, and I want to say this, that defective children in some cases arc the result of married women and mothers having to work. In respect of the cost of the education of defective children, due, as I said before, in some eases as the result of married women having to work, there would be a saving to the Exchequer in respect of the educational grant, and also in respect to the general cost of our scattered homes, of between£3,000,000 and £4,000,000 a year, so again I say that from the 'taxpayers' point of view it would be a healthy, useful and proper consideration were His Majesty's Government to accept a contributory scheme of mothers' pensions. I do respectfully suggest that the latter part of this Motion is not in the best interests of the reform we have in view,such pensions to be provided by the State and administered by a committee of the 411 municipal or county council wholly unconnected with the Poor Law.I suggest that the State, the employer and the husband should contribute something towards this, that it should be in the form of State insurance or something of that nature.
I have spoken first in respect to the economic consideration, but I desire also to speak from the higher moral and ideal standpoint. I should like hon. Members opposite to understand that the very essence of feeling and high moral tone is not the special virtue of people across the Gangway. There are men equally with high ideals on this side, and because we do not wear our hearts on our sleeves you must not imagine that we do not take a very definite idealistic and practically sympathetic view in respect to our duties as employers to our women employés who support us by their labour and help to make the trade of the country. This country is a land of homes and its character has been built in its home life; and when we consider how the hustle and Americanisation of industry is upon us, let us remember how vital it is that the morale; the well-being of the nation, to have the home life conserved, should be preserved arid lifted to its highest ideal. I am not prepared to admit that Canada, and the United States of America, are able to show us anything in respect of home life, but I do see a difficulty and a danger if the home life is broken up, and the responsibility of parenthood to early child life is removed and the natural spirit between the parent and the State is divorced, by married mothers having to leave their children for work. If we are to have that high ideal for which that great thinker of the Roman Catholic Church said, "Give me the children up to seven and you can have them for the rest of their lives "—if we are to have that high moral tone in our natural life., if the mother is to be the greatest guide and educator of the child, then indeed we shall be a nation worthy of our great forebears, and capable of facing the great future which this Empire and country has to face. I do support a Motion for mothers' pensions, but I regret that I am not prepared to support the whole of the Motion on the Paper.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
I do not make any apology to the-House for taking 412 in the discussion this evening what is, apparently, the unpopular view. It is sometimes necessary to have the courage of one's convictions, and to express one's views, even if those views may for the moment be unpopular, and I take this opportunity, because at the last General Election my opponent made a very great point of the promise of mothers' pensions, among innumerable other offers. I, on the other hand, refused to make any promises of that kind, and the result, so far as I was concerned, was eminently satisfactory. I had some hesitation about joining in this Debate. I was thinking once or twice whether I ought not to take the advice of Mr. Weller, and say to myself, "Samivel, beware of widders." But it is a matter of great importance, and it is a matter in which I, as the hon. Gentleman who spoke on the Front Bench opposite, had the opportunity of discussing with Judge Neil, of Chicago, when in England. I had the privilege of entertaining him for the week-end, and I tried to get him down to the actual facts of the case as they were in America, to see where the differences were between the American system and the system we have in this country, or lack of system if you like to call it so. In America it varies in various States, but in some of the States there was a regulation that the orphan child was looked upon as a ward of court, and the children's courts were responsible for those children. There were also a very large number of societies in America—welfare societies and so forth—which were always watching the interests of these children, and continually dragging the mothers before the courts, over one of which Judge Neil presided, claiming that the mothers were neglecting their children, and they were being sent off in increasing numbers to institutions which were being carried on at a very great expense to the American people. When it was boiled down to the actual is me in America, it came to this: Was it cheaper to pay a reasonable amount to the, mother to keep her children at home, or to keep going these expensive, State institutions which were rapidly increasing all over the country?
Judge Neil was able to prove to the American people—who have an eye to a bargain—that in the particular circumstances of the case over there it would be practically as cheap for them 413 —in some States, may I point out, that payment is only made where there are more than two children—if not cheaper, to pay the mother a reasonable allowance to keep her children than to put them into an institution. Things are very different here in this country. For the last 15 years or so I have had the privilege and pleasure of being connected with an institution which has been running in this country for over a hundred years, where fatherless boys are taken in, well fed, looked after and given an admirable education, found a job in life afterwards, and many of them have done extraordinarily well. All this has been done without a penny cost either to the ratepayer or the taxpayer.
§ Mr. R. RICHARDSON
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us what is the percentage that they get into that home?
But I mean what proportion of the boys in Sheffield who are inside this kind of home—those that would generally come under the Poor Law guardians?
§ Mr. ROBERTS
At the present, moment we are practically able to take in all the applicants. The school has an extraordinary good reputation in the neighbourhood and the boys who have gone from the school have done, many of them, extraordinarily well in life. That has been clone without State or rate-aid but by benevolence—I will not use the word 414 charity—the benevolence of people who for years and years have taken an interest in the orphans. Some hon. Members opposite seem to think that because some of us resist the State paying benevolence of the kind, that we object to benevolence in itself. The hon. Gentleman for one of the Durham divisions was talking of Christian charity; but whenever the text he mentioned is rolled out from the benches opposite it is misinterpreted. The text is "Let him that bath two coats give unto him that hath none." That is the correct translation. It is not take away from him who has two coats and give to him that has none. That is not Christianity. It is a free gift that is meant, not taking by force.
However, I have got rather taken off the point, which was about the applications that come in for boys to come into this particular school. It has been one of my painful duties to listen to the applications of the mothers coming with children and asking for a boy to be taken into the school. One finds that in the usual way, where there are one or two children, the mother is working in some way, the children are very often looked after by a grandparent or other relatives while the mother is working. In other cases the home is kept going by taking in lodgers where there are, say, two children. Where you get a larger number of children you find usually (where the guardians are administering, and doing their work, as the hon. Member said, in a humane way) that the hulk of the income coming into the home is coming from Poor Law relief. I do not think there is very much difference of opinion between myself and hon. Members opposite upon this Motion. The whole thing really comes down to the sentimental point of view of Poor Law relief. If the Poor Law were broken up, as suggested in the Majority Report of the Commission, and these payments were taken out of the Poor Law and put under some different local authority it would apparently satisfy hon. Members opposite. My point of view—and so far as I know of many others—is that it does not matter in the least whether it is called Poor Law relief, or whether it comes under a committee or a local authority. We admit that the relief has to be given. It is relief of the poor which ever way you look at it, and "a rose by any other name 415 will smell as sweet." Poor Law relief and Poor Law guardians arc unpopular because in past times the people of this country strongly objected to receiving public money. There has been in the past an abhorrence amongst the majority of people in regard to receiving Poor Law relief, but that abhorrence in many districts is gradually disappearing. The abhorrence, however, remains towards the hand that distributes the relief.
I think everybody admits that where there is a widow with three or four children which she is unable to maintain, it is cheaper for additional relief to be given, and nobody would argue that she ought to be left to starve. In such cases it would be cheaper to make payments in the way that has been suggested. There are, however, one or two difficulties on which I should like some explanation. Is it proposed to deal by this proposal with widows, no matter how many children they have, or only where there are a certain number of children? Secondly, is there any question of a means limit, or are you going to pay this money to widows whether there is need for it or not? These are questions on which we are entitled to have some information from the Mover of the Resolution.
There is another point upon which desire some further information. If you are going to maintain the children and the widow until the children are 16 years of age, what is going to happen to the widow afterwards It is easy to say that the children may then be in a position to maintain her, but there may be a long period to provide for between the children attaining 16 years of age and the widow attaining 70 years of age. I think that is a question on which we are entitled to have some answer. In the Debate which took place four years ago the figure given by the late Mr. Tyson Wilson as to the cost of these proposals was £25,000,000. The representative of the Government at that time placed the figure somewhat higher, but I think we may take it that the cost would be fairly put down at about £20,000,000. I ask is it possible at the present moment to reasonably expect, burdened as we are with high taxation which we are trying to get rid of in every possible way by cheese-paring, to take a large sum like£20,000,000 416 and put it on the backs of the taxpayers of this country? I should be very interested to keep a little ledger of the cost of the various proposals put forward by hon. Gentlemen opposite. A fortnight ago they had one involving an expenditure of £17,000,000. To-night they want to spend another £20,000,000. If they go on in this way we shall soon have a liability of about £1,000,000,000, and the total sum will he such that anyone who looks at the proposition will come to the conclusion that the result would be absurd. If anything can be done in this matter of mothers' pensions it will be done by a a method alluded to by a previous speaker —by something in the way of mutual insurance. In that way possibly something can he done, I hope, when better times arrive.
§ Mr. TREVELYAN
I hope that, after the Debate we have had to-night, the hon. Gentleman who will reply for the Government will do his best to give us something. He has seen that on principle it is very difficult to argue against this proposal. There has only been one argument of principle put forward. It has been urged that the widow of a soldier who died for his country is more deserving than the widow of the workman who dies at his work. In these days we think, perhaps, more of war, but when we are dealing with a period covering many years, most of which were peace years, surely it is pretty clear that the matter must be regarded from the point of view of the civilian rather than of the soldier. I wish to urge that the great consideration is not whether the dead father was deserving, but whether the children are needy. The great overriding interest we are arguing for is the interest of the children. There has been one other question of principle raised. It was suggested that we on this side of the House' were not as careful as we ought to be in divorcing the mother from the children. The suggestion was that Socialism tends in that direction. I will not stay to argue that point, but surely of all the great industrial countries in the world at the present time the United States of America is the least inclined towards Socialism, and yet that is the country where, with extraordinary rapidity, this movement has made its way. Let me take the actual data. In the United States of America 417 the movement was begun in the year 1909. It was taken up by President Roosevelt, who was a man guided by generous motives of humanity and not by economic theory. Now. as we have been told to-day, there are 40 States out of the 48 in America. which give mothers' pensions, and in many cases on an even more generous scale than is hinted at in this Motion.
It is clear that what is likely to weigh most in the minds of those who have doubts on this proposal is the question of cost. I daresay the lion. Baronet who will speak for the Government is going to give us Government figures. On the Government figures we have heard that it will cost £50,000,000, which rather surprises those of us who have been studying the question. Government figures, however, are not always reliable. Perhaps I may give one instance from my own Parliamentary experience. When we were discussing in past times what Super-tax would bring in, if it were imposed, the Treasury told us that we might get £3,000,000 a year. I think the figure put forward by my hon. Friend who moved the Motion was that it would cost £18,000,000, and that, with the saving in rates, the total increase of taxation of one sort and another would be £8,000,000 and that, I believe, is the figure adopted by the women's organisations who have worked out the cost.
I wonder whether the Government would not think it worth while, as a minimum, to offer the House at the present time some sort of open inquiry as to how much this was going to cost? Everyone wants to do something. The late Government, as was said just now, although they made no promise, took a most friendly line towards the Motion, and said they hoped it would be possible to do something; and I think this Government, four years afterwards, ought, if possible, to do something better. It is true, as the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. S. Roberts) said, that possibly, if he takes all the expenditure which all the Resolutions moved from this side of the House would involve, it would total up to a very large sum. Yes, but there is the other point or' view. Are the Government going to meet every one of these. Resolutions with the same answer: "No; our present expenditure is so enormous, and we see, absolutely, no way 418 out; we have no financial solution"? Are they, in every single case, going to say that? Of course, I know, that it is agreeable to some hon. Members, but I am certain it is not. agreeable to all. I think the Government, somewhere or other, will have to begin to distinguish between those great social reforms which are most needed and those which are a little less needed. They cannot simply go on every time saying "No, no, no!" to every one of these Resolutions.
§ Sir WILLIAM JOYNSON - HICKS (Secretary, Overseas Trade Department)
I think I ought to say, first of all, that I cannot bind whoever may be appointed Minister of Health. I am only temporarily in this position. Having said that, I should like to congratulate Members of the House on the way in which they have approached this problem. There was a certain amount of sentiment, and with a great deal of what has been said as to the value of the English home and the English mother I am in entire agreement. I have the honour myself to this day of having the benefit of a mother, and I can speak quite as feelingly as any hon. Member opposite as to what I owe to her. [An HON. MEMBER: "Can you imagine your mother in such circumstances?"] I hope that on reflection the hon. Gentleman will rather regret having said that [HON MEMBERS: Hear, hear!"] I want to call the attention of the House to the discrepancy between what has been said about the Poor Law question and the actual facts. A great deal has been said, particularly by the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. R. Richardson), who told us that he had broken the law on several occasions when sitting as a guardian, and almost inferred that guardians did not relieve this class of case at all. I could not quite understand what the hon. Member meant, and why it was necessary for him to break the law in giving relief to widowed mothers and their children.
§ Mr. LANSBURY
The real fact is that the auditors determine the amount that shall be given to a mother, and very often guardians are absolutely afraid to give what they know they ought to give, because of the Local Government. Board auditor.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am coming in a minute to the views of what the hon. Member calls the Local Govern- 419 meat Board. Let me give—I am bound to give Government figures in spite of semi-taunts of the hon. Member who preceded me—the number of people who are really affected. It was suggested to us that a large number of the children of widows go into Poor Law institutions of various kinds. There are, apart from unmarried mothers, 61,600 husbandless women in receipt of Poor Law relief in England and Wales, and they have 135,501 children. Of these children only 3,331 are in institutions of any kind. That means that as against 3,300 children who have had to go into homes or institutions under the Poor Law, 132,000 have got outdoor relief, and that does not look as if the work of the guardians was the utterly heartless and soulless mode of working which has been suggested. Out of that number of 3,300 some are the children of mothers who are at work and are unable to take care of their children, and a certain proportion are the children of mothers who, I regret to say, are not fit to take care of their children, and they have been taken from them and put into Poor Law institutions. But the great bulk of the children who are receiving Poor Law relief are receiving it in their own homes, and are kept there because the Ministry of Health and the old Local Government Board have over and over again emphasised the importance of the home as against. Poor Law institutions.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I will tell the House the view of the Ministry of Health. They cannot absolutely control the guardians, but they can do their best. The existing circular, which was issued by the Local Government, Board some years ago, and which is still in force, quite distinctly lays it down that the guardians, under the advice of the Ministry of Health, are to regard the home life as far preferable to institutional life. I should like to call attention to the circular so that hon. Members may realise the view of the Ministry of Health on this question and the view which is being carried out by the great bulk of guardians—The value of home life in the education and training of the child is admittedly so great that wherever the elements of this 420 are already in existence the guardians would do well to offer it every encouragement and to take such action in regard to the granting of relief as will!east interfere with the unity of the family.That is the considered decision of the Ministry of Health which is being acted on to-day. The circular goes on:When the child is living with its parents the mother must naturally be regarded as primarily responsible for its welfare, but it the guardians give relief to the parents they are hound to see that the relief is properly applied and the child is not neglected.This is from a paragraph headed "Sufficiency of Relief":The guardians should ascertain by careful inquiry what is the normal standard of income on which a woman may reasonably be expected to bring up her family, regard being had to the cost and general standard of living and the rates of wages in the locality, and should use that standard as the criterion of the needs of each case.If any hon. Member opposite were in office as Minister of Health and was laying down conditions on which he desired the guardians to act in dealing with cases of widows and their fatherless children, he could not put it more admirably than it has been put by the Minister of Health in this circular, which I am sure is known to the hon. Member for Bow and Bromley.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Some of the hon. Member's colleagues have been saying that the guardians and the Ministry of Health have no bowels of compassion, and that whenever they get hold of the unfortunate children of widows, they cram them into institutions where they cannot be brought up with the nurture and help of the mother in the home. That is quite contrary to the facts.
Now I come to the question of cost. I have had a very careful inquiry and estimate made, and the figure given by the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. S. Roberts) is well below the mark. The figure given by the husband of the hon. Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) four years ago was £25,000,000.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
I am going to say more than £50.000,000. I will 421 tell the House how the figures are made up. The number of widows was given from the opposite benches as between 1,100,000 and 1,200,000. So far as I can estimate, about one-third of that number have children dependent upon them. At the present time, the number of widows with children depending upon them is estimated by the Department of the Ministry of Health and by their officials at about 400,000, and the number of children under 16 at 750,000. Everybody who has a soul or a heart would desire that this reform should be carried out if it can be done. Even a small pension of 7s. 6d. a. week, and 2s. 6d. for each child, would cost £10,500,000 for Great Britain alone after making liberal deduction for women who might be excluded on income grounds.
In the Debate to-night it has been said that it is the interests of the child and not of the widow that are important, and if we take into account the wives who have to look after a maimed or ill husband, the former bread-winner, the House must realise that the children in such a case are of as much importance to the nation as the child of the widow. If we add to the calculation the children of the wives of incapacitated men, it would mean at least another £2,000,000, bringing the total up to £13,000,000 for Great Britain, with a pension of only 7s. 6d. a week. The whole thing stops when the last. child reaches the age of 16. What are you going to do with the widows then? Here is a widow who, according to the scheme suggested to-night, would get £1 a week, and 10s. or 7s. 6d. for each child. If she had four children she would he in fair comfort during the period of her widowhood, until the last child reached the age of 16.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The widow will have to go out to work in order to devote herself to her children.
How is it possible for her to go back to the labour market, having lost all her ability to earn, having lost, if she is one of those Lancashire women to whom an hon. Member referred, all the technical skill which she had 10 or 15 years previously? It is impossible. If the scheme 422 is to be carried out at all it must go on after the child has attained the age of 16 until the date when the woman receives the old age pension at the age of 70. You cannot say to a woman who in the interests of the State has brought up her children well, and trained them morally and physically until they ate fit to be responsible citizens of this country, when she is about 45 years of age and the child is done with: "Go back to work. We are going to take your pension. "If that is admitted as it must be, it will be found that the amount will be £13,000,000, on those figures, which will come to well over £20,000,000 in the course of a few years. [HON. MEMBERS: "It is worth it!"] That is not the point. I want the House to realise, before voting for it, what it is going to cost.
Sir W. J OYNSON-HICKS
The figures for all widows were given, but I said that only about 400,000 widows would come under this scheme. The scheme put forward was £1 a week and 10s. or 7s. 6d. for the children. I think you would have to include the wives of disabled men, and also the deserted wives. It is no good in saying, as one hon. Member did, that if you admit deserted or divorced wives you would get into the mire of collusion between husband and wife. The question debated tonight is the interests of the child, and the interests of the child whose parents are divorced or separated are every bit as great as the interests of the child whose mother is a widow. You cannot logically give a pension to the child of a widow and not. to the child of a divorced or separated woman. Then you have got to include the children of the unmarried mother.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
They have got fathers, hut it is not always easy to find them or to make them pay. As a social reformer myself, I know that if you are going to do the thing at all you will have to include the children of the unmarried mother. You cannot logically leave them out. Including those here is the estimate given by the Government. On the basis which hon. Members opposite have laid down to-night in regard to the amount, that is to say, to put them 423 on the same basis as the war widow and the war pension, the cost was found to be over £50,000,000 a year, on the scale in force before the increases granted in 1919, and would be substantially more on the current scales.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
£50,000,000 a year, gross. There would be a small saving on the Poor Law, but it would not be very much. Whether it be through the charity which the hon. Member for Louth (Mrs. Wintringham) mentioned—and there is no charity so great, I willingly admit, as the charity of the poor to the poor—or from other causes the proportion of widows and of orphans who are to-day receiving Poor Law relief is certainly not 20 per cent. of the total who would come under the provisions of this proposal if they were carried out. Therefore the amount of saving from the Poor Law relief would be very small indeed.
Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I would remind the hon. Gentleman that we were told exactly the same thing when old age pensions were introduced. We were told that it was going to cost £6,000,000, and that there would be very little saving.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
It is because of that that I am giving the actual figure and asking the House before they vote on this question to realise quite frankly what the proposals are. When an hon. Member comes here, as one or two hon. Members have, and says that the proposals, if carried out, would cost about £8,000,000, it is not fair to let the House go to a Division with anything like that figure in their minds. In the Department of the Ministry of Health it has been investigated most thoroughly, not hostilely, but with a real desire to ascertain the facts. Whether there is a small saving in Poor Law relief; whether the amount is £55,000,000 or £45,000,000 does not for the moment really matter, but it will he undoubtedly as high as £45,000,000 a year if the scheme put before the House to-night were carried out.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Member for Louth has explained that they are helped by their relatives in various ways.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
It comes on the community, but it does not come in actual payment out of public funds. What we have to find out to-night is what will come in payment from public funds That is clearly the amount, that this House will have to provide for if it passes this Motion.
What position, then, must; the Government take up? What are we to ask those who have been returned to Parliament, on pledges of economy to carry out? The Chancellor of the Exchequer, only a week ago, had to deal with this same question in regard to a matter of old age pensions. with which many of us feel in sympathy.
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
Many of as, sitting on the Government Benches, are just as keen that the honest—[An HON. MEMBER: "YOU do not show it!"]. I am not quite so sure about that. We try to be honest in doing—
§ Sir W. JOYNSON-HICKS
The hon. Member may make a cheap score by statements of that kind. I have never said that hon. Members opposite did not try to be honest. I have never said that of my political opponents. I respect their views, and I ask the same respect from them for my views. We have gone to the country again. Hon. Member after hon. Member —two at least said that they openly had opponents who were in favour of these widows' pensions—honestly went to their constituents, and said, "We cannot afford them, we will not vote for them." If they vote for them to-night, what will their constituents say? What right has anybody on our side of the House, who has gone to his constituents on a policy of economy and retrenchment, to vote for a scheme of this kind because his heart is in it?
Hon. Members opposite would not like to break their pledges and I appeal to them not to ask us to break ours. The Government has entered into this policy of retrenchment. There has been retrenchment in every possible way. If hon. Members were in Government De- 425 partments they would know quite well that the axe of the Chancellor of the Exchequer is falling on nearly every Department, and has been falling on nearly every Department in the last few weeks, in order to cut the Estimates down. While we have been dismissing people in the public employ, what right have we to come down and, because our sympathies may be in favour of this scheme, to say we will vote for a thing for which we know we cannot get the money? It is so easy to say "Take off the Whips. Let every hon. Member vote as he likes, as his sympathy and heart dictate," though we know perfectly well that he will go into the Lobby and give a heart vote, which is not a pocket vote, a vote in accordance with what he would like to do if he had the money, and a vote based on the knowledge that his will not be the responsibility for finding the money. Yon would be merely telling the widows and orphaned children that the House of Commons had passed a scheme which it knew full well could not be put into operation for many years to
§ come. I ask the House, particularly the supporters of the Government, quite frankly to realise that they were returned here on a policy of economy. [HON. MEMBERS: "You took a shilling off the Income Tax."] This would cost twopence off the Beer Duty. There are certain services that have to be provided by the Government and there is no money left for this purpose. We want to reduce taxation, because we believe that it is a burden on trade. We believe that only by getting rid of the burdens on trade will our trade revive, and only in that way will we get rid of the greatest burden of all—the burden of unemployment.
That, in the opinion of this House, pensions adequate for the proper upbringing and maintenance of children should be paid to all widows with children or mothers whose family breadwinner has become incapacitated, such pensions to be provided by the State and administered by a committee of the municipal or county council wholly unconnected with the Poor Law.
§ The House divided: Ayes, 184 Noes, 248.429
|Division No. 23.]||AYES.||[10.59 p.m.|
|Adams, D.||Entwistle, Major C. F.||Jowett, F. W. (Bradford, East)|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. William||Fairbairn, R. R.||Jowitt, W. A. (The Hartlepools)|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Falconer, J.||Kelley, Major Fred (Rotherham)|
|Alexander, Col. M. (Southwark)||Fildes, Henry||Kenyon, Barnet|
|Alexander, A. V. (Sheffield, Hillsbro')||Foot, Isaac||Kirkwood, D.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Ford, Patrick Johnston||Lansbury, George|
|Attlee, C. R.||Gilbert, James Daniel||Lawson, John James|
|Barker, G. (Monmouth, Abertillery)||Gosling, Harry||Leach, W.|
|Barnes, A.||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Lee, F.|
|Batey, Joseph||Graham, W. (Edinburgh, Central)||Lees-Smith, H. B. (Keighley)|
|Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)||Gray, Frank (Oxford)||Linfield, F. C.|
|Bonwick, A.||Greenall, T.||Lowth, T.|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Greenwood, A. (Nelson and Colne)||Lunn, William|
|Broad, F. A.||Grenfell, D. B. (Glamorgan)||McCurdy, Rt. Han. Charles A.|
|Bromfield, William||Groves, T.||MacDonald, J. R. (Aberavon)|
|Brotherton, J.||Grundy, T, W.||M'Entee, V. L.|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Guest, J. (York, Hemsworth)||Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)|
|Buchanan, G.||Hall, F. (York, W. R., Normanton)||Malone, Major P. B. (Tottenham, S.)|
|Buckle, J.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||March, S.|
|Burgess, S.||Hancock, John George||Marshall, Sir Arthur H.|
|Burnie, Major J. (Bootle)||Harbord, Arthur||Martin F. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dlne, E.)|
|Buxton, Charles (Accrington)||Hardie, George D.||Maxton, James|
|Cairns, John||Harney, E. A.||Millar, J. D.|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Percy A.||Morel, E. D.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Hartshorn, Vernon||Morris, Harold|
|Chapple, W A.||Hastings, Patrick||Muir, John W.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hayday, Arthur||Murnin, H.|
|Clarke, Sir E C.||Hemmerde, E. G.||Murray, John (Leeds, West)|
|Clynes. Rt. Hon. John R.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (N'castle, E.)||Murray, R. (Renfrew, Western)|
|Collison, Levi||Henderson, T. (Glasgow)||Newman, Sir R. H, S. D. L. (Exeter)|
|Cowan, D. M. (Scottish Universities)||Herriotts, J.||Nichol. Robert|
|Darbishire, C. W.||Hirst, G. H.||O'Grady, Captain James|
|Davies, Evan (Ebbw Vale)||Hodge, Lieut.-Col. J. P. (Preston)||Oliver, George Harold|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Hutchison, Sir R. (Kirkcaldy)||Paling, W.|
|Davison, J. E, (Smethwick)||Irving, Dan||Parker, H. (Hanley)|
|Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)|
|Duffy, T. Gavan||John, William (Rhondda, West)||Parry, Lieut. Colonel Thomas Henry|
|Duncan, C.||Johnston, Thomas (Stirling)||Phillips, Vivian|
|Dunnico, H.||Johnstone, Harcourt (Willesden, East)||Ponsonby, Arthur|
|Ede, J. C.||Jones. G. W. H. (Stoke Newington)||Potts, John S.|
|Edmonds, G.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Pringle, W. M. R.|
|Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty)||Jones, R. T. (Carnarvon)||Rees, Sir Beddoe|
|Emlyn-Jones, J. E. (Dorset, N.)||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)|
|Riley, Ben||Spencer, H. H. (Bradford, S.)||Wedgwood, Colonel Josiah C|
|Ritson, J.||Stephen, Campbell||Weir, L. M.|
|Roberts, Frederick O. (W. Bromwich)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Westwood, J.|
|Robinson, W. C. (York, Elland)||Strauss, Edward Anthony||Wheatley, J.|
|Rose, Frank H.||Sullivan, J.||White, H. G. (Birkenhead, E.)|
|Royce, William Stapleton||Thomas, Rt. Hon. James H. (Derby)||Whiteley, W.|
|Saklatvala, S.||Thomson, T. (Middlesbrough, West)||Wignall, James|
|Salter, Dr. A.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton, E.)||Williams, David (Swansea, E.)|
|Scrymgeour, E.||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Lianelly)|
|Sexton, James||Thornton, M.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Shaw, Hon. Alex. (Kilmarnock)||Tillett, Benjamin||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Shinwell, Emanuel||Tout. W. J.||Wintringham, Margaret|
|Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Trevelyan, C. P.||Wood, Major M. M. (Aberdeen, C.)|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Turner, Ben||Wright, W.|
|Simpson, J. Hope||Wallhead, Richard C.||Young, Robert (Lancaster, Newton)|
|Sitch, Charles H.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancaster, Ince)|
|Smith, T. (Pontefract)||Warne, G. H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Snell, Harry||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)||Mr. T. Griffiths and Mr. J.|
|Snowden, Philip||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)||Robertson.|
|Spencer, George A. (Broxtowe)||Webb, Sidney|
|Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte||Curzon, Captain Viscount||Howard-Bury, Lieut.-Col- C. K.|
|Ainsworth, Captain Charles||Davidson, J. C. C. (Hemel Hempstead)||Hudson, Capt. A.|
|Alexander, E. E- (Leyton, East)||Davidson, Major-General Sir J. H.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Davies, Alfred Thomas (Lincoln)||Hurd, Percy A.|
|Ashley, Lt.-Col. Wilfrid W.||Davies, Thomas (Cirencester)||Hurst, Lieut.-Colonel Gerald B.|
|Astbury, Lieut.-Com. Frederick W.||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hutchison, G. A. C. (Peebles, N)|
|Baird, Rt. Hon. Sir John Lawrence||Dawson, Sir Philip||Hutchison, W. (Kelvingrove)|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Doyle, N. Grattan||Inskip, Sir Thomas Walker H.|
|Banbury, Rt. Hon. Sir Frederick G.||Du Pre, Colonel William Baring||Jackson, Lieut.-Colonel Hon. F. S.|
|Banks, Mitchell||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Jarrett, G. W. S.|
|Banner, Sir John S. Harmood-||Ednam, Viscount||Jenkins, W. A. (Brecon and Radnor)|
|Barlow, Rt. Hon. Sir Montague||Elliot, Capt. Walter E. (Lanark)||Jephcott, A. R.|
|Barnett, Major Richard W.||Ellis, R. G.||Jodrell, Sir Neville Paul|
|Barnston, Major Harry||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Johnson, Sir L. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Becker, Harry||Erskine-Bolst, Captain C.||Johnson-Hicks, Sir William|
|Bell, Lieut.-Col. W. C. H. (Devizes)||Eyres-Monsell, Com. Bolton M.||Kennedy, Captain M. S. Nigel|
|Benn, Sir A. S. (Plymouth, Drake)||Falcon, Captain Michael||King, Captain Henry Douglas|
|Bennett, Sir T. J. (Sevenoaks)||Fawkes, Major F. H.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Berry, Sir George||Fermor-Hesketh, Major T.||Lamb, J. Q.|
|Birchall, Major J. Dearman||Foreman, Sir Henry||Lane-Fox, Lieut.-Colonel G. R.|
|Blades, Sir George Rowland||Forestier-Walker, L.||Law, Rt. Hon. A. B. (Glasgow, C.)|
|Blundell, F. N.||Foxcroft, Captain Charles Talbot||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)|
|Bowyer, Capt. G. E. W.||Fraser, Major Sir Keith||Lloyd, Cyril E. (Dudley)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Major A.||Frece, Sir Walter de||Lloyd-Greame, Rt. Hon. Sir P.|
|Brass, Captain W.||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Lorden, John William|
|Brassey, Sir Leonard||Furness, G. J.||Lort-Williams, J.|
|Bridgeman, Rt. Hon. William Clive||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Loyd, Arthur Thomas (Abingdon)|
|Brown, Major D. C. (Hexham)||Ganzoni, Sir John||Lumley, L. R.|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. Clifton (Newbury)||Gates, Percy||Macnaghten, Hon. Sir Malcolm|
|Brown, J. W. (Middlesbrough, E.)||Gaunt, Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, Canterbury)|
|Bruford, R.||Gray, Harold (Cambridge)||Maitland, Sir Arthur D. Steel-|
|Buckingham, Sir H.||Greaves-Lord, Walter||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Buckley, Lieut.-Colonel A.||Greene, Lt.-Col. Sir W. (Hack'y, N.)||Manville, Edward|
|Bull, Rt. Hon. Sir William James||Greenwood, William (Stockport)||Margesson, H. D. R.|
|Burn, Colonel Sir Charles Rosdew||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Mason, Lieut.-Col. C. K.|
|Burney, Com. (Middx., Uxbridge)||Gretton, Colonel John||Milne, J. S. Wardlaw|
|Butcher, Sir John George||Guest, Hon. C. H. (Bristol, N.)||Mitchell, W. F. (Saffron Walden}|
|Butler, H. M. (Leeds, North)||Gwynne, Rupert S.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Button, H. S.||Hacking, Captain Douglas H.||Molloy, Major L. G. S.|
|Cadogan, Major Edward||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Molson, Major John Elsdale|
|Campion, Lieut.-Colonel W. R.||Hall, Rr-Adml Sir W. (Liv'p'l,W.D'by)||Moore, Major-General Sir Newton J.|
|Cassels, J. D.||Halstead, Major D.||Moreing, Captain Algernon H.|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Sir Evelyn (Aston)||Hamilton, Sir George C. (Altrincham)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)|
|Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Murchison, C. K.|
|Chadwick, Sir Robert Burton||Harmsworth, Hon. E. C. (Kent)||Nail, Major Joseph|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Ladywood)||Harrison, F. C.||Nesbitt, J. C.|
|Churchman, Sir Arthur||Harvey, Major S. E.||Newman, Colonel J. R. P. (Finchley)|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hawke, John Anthony||Newson, Sir Percy Wilson|
|Clayton, G. C.||Hay, Major T. W. (Norfolk, South)||Newton, Sir D. G. C (Cambridge)|
|Coates, Lt.-Col. Norman||Hennessy, Major J. R. G.||Nicholson, Brig.-Gen. J. (Westminster)|
|Cobb, Sir Cyril||Herbert, Dennis (Hertford, Watford)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Cockerill, Brigadier-General G. K.||Herbert, S. (Scarborough)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Colfox, Major Wm. Phillips||Hilder, Lieut.-Colonel Frank||Paget, T. G.|
|Collie, Sir John||Hiley, Sir Ernest||Pease, William Edwin|
|Colvin, Brig.-General Richard Beale||Hogg, Rt. Hon. Sir D. (St. Marylebone)||Pennelather, De Fonblanque|
|Conway, Sir W. Martin||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Penny, Frederick George|
|Cory, Sir J. H. (Cardiff, South)||Hood, Sir Joseph||Perkins, Colonel E. K.|
|Craig, Captain C. C. (Antrim, South)||Hopkins, John W. W.||Peto, Basil E.|
|Croft, Lieut.-Colonel Henry Page||Hopkinson, A. (Lancaster, Mossley)||Pielou, D. P.|
|Crook, C. W. (East Ham, North)||Houfton, John Plowright||Pollock, Rt. Hon. Sir Ernest Murray|
|Crooke, J. S. (Deritend)||Howard, Capt. D. (Cumberland, N.)||Pownall, Lieut.-Colonel Assheton|
|Privett, F. J.||Singleton, J. E.||Turton, Edmund Russborough|
|Raeburn, Sir William H.||Skelton, A. N.||Vaughan-Morgan, Col. K. P.|
|Raine, W.||Smith, Sir Allan M. (Croydon, South)||Wallace, Captain E.|
|Rankin, Captain James Stuart||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Ward, Col. L. (Kingston-upon-Hull)|
|Rawson, Lieut.-Com. A. C,||Somerville, Daniel (Barrow-in-Furn'ss)||Watts, Or. T. (Man., Withington)|
|Reid. Capt. A. S. C. (Warrington)||Sparkes, H. W.||Wells, S. R.|
|Reid, D. D. (County Down)||Spears, Brig.-Gen. E. L.||Weston, Colonel John Wakefield|
|Rentoul, G. S.||Stanley, Lord||Wheler, Col. Granville C. H.|
|Richardson, Sir Alex. (Gravesend)||Steel, Major S. Strang||White, Lt.-Col, G. D. (Southport)|
|Richardson, Lt. Col. Sir P. (Chertsey)||Stephenson, Lieut.-Colonel H. K.||Whitla, Sir William|
|Roberts, Samuel (Hereford, Hereford)||Stewart, Gershom (Wirral)||Wilson, Col. M. J. (Richmond)|
|Robertson, J. D. (Islington, W.)||Stockton, Sir Edwin Forsyth||Winterton, Earl|
|Roundell, Colonel R. F.||Stott, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Wise, Frederick|
|Ruggles-Brise, Major E.||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Sueter, Rear-Admiral Murray Fraser||Wood, Rt. Hn. Edward F. L. (Ripon)|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Sutcliffe, T.||Wood, Sir H. K. (Woolwich, West)|
|Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)||Sykes, Major-Gen. Sir Frederick H.||Woodcock, Colonel H. C.|
|Sanders, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert A.||Terrell, Captain R. (Oxford, Henie)||Yerburgh, R. D. T.|
|Sanderson, Sir Frank B.||Thompson, Luke (Sunderland)|
|Sandon, Lord||Thomson, F. C. (Aberdeen, South)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Shakespeare, G. H.||Thorpe, Captain John Henry||Colonel Leslie Wilson and Colone|
|Shepperson, E. W.||Titchfield, Marquess of||Gibbs.|
|Shipwright, Captain D.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|