I beg to move, in Clause 1, line 6, at the beginning, to insert the words:Subject to the same conditions as are provided in the case of old age pensions by paragraph (3) of Section 2 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908, as amended by sub section (1) of Section 2 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1919, and the Old Age Pensions Act, 1924, and subject as hereafter provided.Hon. Members will realise the difficulties under which we necessarily labour in coming down from the discussion of the important issues which have just engaged the attention of the House to an examination of the details of this Bill, but it is the practice of this House to deal with smaller matters in the same spirit of inquiry as they deal with larger ones, and, speaking for my friends and myself, I can say that we shall enter upon this task in no spirit of frivolity, but with a very sincere desire to mitigate, if we cannot remove, the defects which we see in this Bill. The Amendment I have moved is, I venture to say, one of profound importance. To explain how it comes to be framed, I must put some general considerations before the Committee. All will agree that this is a very costly Measure. It involves an immediate rise of £5,000,000 in the national expenditure, and the average annual expenditure over the next six years is to be increased by £8,000,000. A much greater increase is only avoided by the expedient of postponing expenditure if not for posterity at any rate for the successors of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We are told that for the next 16 years additional expenditure to the tune of nearly £100,000,000 will be involved by this Bill, and four-fifths of that expenditure is attributable to the provisions of Clause 1. Consequently great importance must be attached to any Amendment which materially alters 1341 the provisions of this Clause. The sum of £81,000,000 is large enough to give concern even to the Chancellor of the Exchequer of a wealthy country like ours. I assume that before the right hon. Gentleman gave his assent to this Bill and to this Clause in particular, he must have made a careful estimate of the resources which he intends to draw upon, and the liabilities to which he is committed.
Those liabilities are not confined to this Bill, and other liabilities may fall upon the right hon. Gentleman by reason of pledges given to the electors on other subjects in connection with unemployment, education, the coal industry, work or maintenance. Having made this careful survey, I assume that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has come to the conclusion that, roughly, the sum of £100,000,000 spread over the next 16 years was the outside limit to which he could, with a due sense of responsibility, afford to commit himself and his colleagues. I am the more confident that that was the procedure followed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, because if he had thought he could afford more than £100,000,000, of which over £80,000,000 is involved in this Clause, he would have asked for more. Therefore, I assume that this is the furthest limit to which the Chancellor of the Exchequer could go, or he would have carried out the pledge to give a pension to every widow in the land, of not 10s., but £l a week or more. The Chancellor of the Exchequer did not do that, no doubt because he felt that in this Bill he had reached the limits of his financial resources. Consequently, I arrive at this point that this Clause is a proposal to incur the expenditure of a sum of money representing the utmost limit which the Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks he can afford.
This money is to be provided entirely by the taxpayer, and it is to be distributed among a certain limited number of people. Those people have made no contribution to it, no relatives of theirs have made any contribution, and it is all to be provided by the taxpayers of the country as a whole. The question which would naturally arise in the minds of the taxpayers who are to be called upon to provide this money is, on what principle is the distribution to take place? How 1342 will you decide who are to be the fortunate recipients of this free gift?
The question arises at the very outset, and since this money is to be collected from the whole community for only a section of the community, surely there is one class who should be ruled out, namely, those who do not require the pension, that is, those who are well off enough already to do without it. Surely it would be an extraordinarily unreasonable thing to go to poor people—people who, at any rate, have had a hard struggle to carry on their lives and the lives of their families at the standard to which they have been accustomed—and say, "We are going to ask you to pay additional taxation in order that it may go into the pockets of people who are better off than you are, who have a surplus over and above what they require to keep themselves and their families at the standard to which they have been accustomed, who have not asked for it and who never expected it, and who have done nothing to give them any claim to it." I should have thought that a consideration of that kind would never have been questioned; indeed, I cannot understand hon. Members opposite objecting to it or showing any disagreement with that proposition; in fact, I do not think they could do so if they are to be loyal to their own leader, because it was the present Prime Minister who himself announced that this was the principle upon which his party would proceed. There was an article in the "Daily Herald" on the 25th April, 1928, and it was headed in very large letters:Great Charter of Social Justice.Their Need the Only Test for Widows.That was printed in the largest type available to the "Daily Herald," and it only reflected what the Prime Minister said when he was speaking of widows' pensions, and what he described as the anomalies in the Act of the late Government. The right hon. Gentleman said:We will extend the system in principle in such a way that a widow in need shall be the one test to qualify for a pension.The Prime Minister, with his wide grasp of fundamentals, saw what was forgotten when this Bill was framed, namely, that if you are to make a levy upon the people of this country for the benefit of a minority you must select that minority on some principle that will 1343 appeal to and convince the whole body of the people either on grounds of personal interest or on grounds of common humanity. There can be no question in this case of personal interest to the great body of the taxpayers and there only remains the question of common humanity. I say that the principle of distribution in the Bill is one which is not only not in accordance with common humanity, but actually out rages our sense of justice. I cannot see how it can be defended that you should be willing to take money from the tax payers as a whole and give it to those who are in far better circumstances than many of the taxpayers who have to find the money and who will have to bear this new burden which will be placed upon them. I hope I have so far carried the Committee with me in regard to the two points that I have endeavoured to put before them—firstly, that we are dealing here with a large but limited sum of money available, and, secondly, that, since that money is to be distributed as a free gift, it is essential that it should not be handed over except to those who have need of it.
I come now to the third point that I want to make. This sum of £81,000,000, which is the estimated cost for a period of years of carrying out the provisions of Clause 1, is, if a need test is introduced, too much for the purpose; it is more than is required if it is to be confined to those who pass the conditions named in this Bill. The Clause as framed contains no means test, and, therefore, every case which would be excluded from the operation of the Clause by the fact that the widow in question had already sufficient means of her own would necessarily release a sum of 10s. a week for life for that woman, which could be applied to the case of somebody who did need it. This Amendment is really an acid test of the sincerity of those who say that they would like to extend the provisions of this Bill to a wider circle than that which has been provided as yet, because, by the mere process of adopting the principle of the Prime Minister, we at once set free a sum of money which could be redistributed among people who are in real need, to whom it would be an inestimable boon, and who have been grievously disappointed because they have found 1344 themselves passed over when this Bill was framed. Therefore, I would point out to the Committee that the means test which would be set up by this Amendment may be viewed from two standpoints. It may be viewed as an act of justice to the taxpayers in general; it may also be viewed, if the Committee so desire, as a means for improving the distribution of the money which was voted when we passed the Financial Resolution.
There is one further point. If the Committee is satisfied of the necessity of imposing some means test before these pensions are handed out, what should be the nature of that test? I confess that that to me is a matter of very much less importance than that there should be a test of some kind. Nevertheless, I thought it desirable to put down in an Amendment some definite and specific proposal. I desired to make that proposal upon unimpeachable authority, and, just as I have been able to appeal to the Prime Minister himself as my authority for the principle embodied in this Amendment, so I am now able to appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as my authority for the particular method by which I propose to carry that principle into effect. Fortunately, we are not without evidence as to what are the views of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this matter. When he was in office in 1924, he had an opportunity of reviewing the whole situation as regards pensions. I am not now going to make any allusion to his failure to bring in a wider scheme of pensions; I am only concerned for the moment with his attitude towards the system of non-contributory pensions which was then all that we had. What was his position with respect to that? Of course, he recognised that to give non-contributory pensions without imposing any means test at all would be altogether unjustifiable. On the other hand, he felt that the means test which was then in existence was rather too severe, and might, indeed, do something to discourage thrift, which he himself has so often commended and recommended. And so, after a careful examination of all the circumstances, he introduced the Old Age Pensions Bill of 1924, the first Clause of which I would like to read to the Committee, and I would ask them, as I read it, to compare it with the 1345 Amendment which stands in my name on the Paper. Section 1 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1924, says this:Paragraph (3) of Section 2 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1908, as amended by Sub-section (1) of Section 2 of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1919 (which contains the statutory condition as to means), shall for all purposes have effect as though after the words 'calculated under this Act' there were inserted the words 'after deducting therefrom such part, if any, there of, but not exceeding in any case thirty-nine pounds, as is derived from any source other than earnings.'That Act was passed into law in 1924, and it has been the law so far as concerns the means test for non-contributory old age pensions ever since. I know few minds more unchanging than that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. That is one of his strengths, and it is one of his weaknesses; but I think I should be not unfair if I were to assume that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has not changed his mind on this matter since 1924, and I therefore feel certain that he would applaud the Amendment that I have put upon the Paper if he were here to-day, and that he would recognise that it is merely carrying out an idea of which he was the original source and authority.
The Committee, then, will see that in moving this Amendment I am on strong ground. I have behind me the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the two most important Leaders of the party opposite; and I think that on grounds of logic, on grounds of fairness, on grounds of humanity, I ought to have the whole of the Committee with me in support. I would only add this final observation to what I have to say upon this Amendment. The introduction of a further means test into our pensions system is no part of the Conservative policy; our policy is one of a different kind. Our policy was one of insurance, which means that those who contribute have thereby established a legal right to their pensions which is irrespective of their means, and necessitates no inquiries into their private affairs. But when you leave that principle, when you propose to distribute, free, gratis and for nothing, taxation not confined to idle rich, but distributed over the whole population of this country—for all of them, directly or indirectly, must pay their contribu- 1346 tions—then the introduction of a means test is the inevitable accompaniment; and, since the Government have chosen in this Clause to set up a new class of non-contributory pensions, we are bound to demand that they themselves should face up to the inevitable consequences.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
I think it is a regrettable thing that the first Amendment to be moved should be a restrictive one. It is incomplete enough in all conscience—
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Sir KINGSLEY WOOD
This Amendment will make it possible for those who take the view of the hon. Gentleman to give pensions to people who need them. It will release a certain sum of money which will then he available for other classes of the community which, we say, are in need equally with widows and orphans.
§ Mr. HORE-BELISHA
There is no reason that the right hon. Gentleman can give that will do away with the effect of this Amendment. If the right hon. Gentleman who moved it were really anxious to implement the Prime Minister's pledge he would be trying to extend its provisions instead of narrowing them. Because a large number of widows who are in need were not getting pensions under the Act, I think it would be a most retrogressive thing to establish in the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Bill a means Clause, which is about the most unpopular clause in the Old Age Pensions Act. It is true that the present Chancellor of the Exchequer maintains a means limit inquiry in relation to the Old Age Pensions Act, which he extended, but that is not a contributory scheme at all, and, if the State is giving a free donation, it is entitled to see that the proper people get it. This Bill, in theory at any rate, is an insurance Bill, so in theory this is a Widows' and Orphans' Contributory Pensions Bill. So was the Bill of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. That was a Contributory Pensions Bill, but certain widows who never paid a farthing, or whose husbands never paid a farthing, got benefit, provided they had children. They were not asked to undergo a means inquiry; but now, when the present Minister of Health says: "I am going to give a free pension to certain classes of widows," the right hon. Gentleman 1347 says: "You must not be as generous as I was; you must not give pensions that I gave, without a means limit inquiry. These widows have only to have pensions if you have an inquiry into their means."
I know from my own experience, in my constituency, that the most unpopular provision in any Act is that of a means limit inquiry. I am prepared to admit that in a scheme of old age pensions it may be necessary, but under this scheme it would indeed be invidious if you were to distinguish between two widows who might be living next door to each other, and you were to say to one: "Does your son allow you anything? Is your brother giving you anything? Have you had a present of geese or ducks?" That is the sort of inquiry that is made. My colleague, the Lady Member for the Sutton Division of Plymouth (Viscountess Astor) will do well to realise this, seeing that she is supporting the Amendment. They make inquiry into the question of free gifts to pensioners. Is it tolerable that that should occur to a widow who by mischance became a widow before the last Act came into operation? I would sooner have seen the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken try to make more generous pro vision for the widow, and try, if possible, to reduce the age for qualification, and bring in larger classes of persons, than try by the sort of specious argument we have had from his late Parliamentary Secretary, to pretend that he is doing something for them when he is really taking something away.
§ Mr. JOHN BAKER
As I listened to the speech of the Mover of the Amendment, I thought that for once he had adopted a vein of humour. I thought he could surely not be serious in his Amendment, or his arguments, and I would not have been the least surprised if his final remark had been: "I would prefer not to put the Amendment." He told the Committee that he had the support of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he did not tell the Committee that he had not the support of the Minister of Health in the last Government. He seemed to me to be paraphrasing speeches made from those benches when we were dealing with another Bill, and he was proposing to 1348 distribute £26,000,000 a year among the wealthy manufacturers and brewers and people of that description. He did not then propose to set up any inquiry as to their need. He told us that you could not separate them; it was a matter of broad general principle, and you ought to deal with the matter on broad lines as a matter of principle. Therefore they were to have an extra pull to help them over difficult times created by their own incompetence. But now, when it comes to distributing money for nothing to people who really need it, there has to be an investigation. [Interruption.] Where is the widow of a working man with children, who is left with means that must be investigated? Why do you not get into touch with your constituents and become informed as to their lives? The condition of the widows in this alleged Christian country is a disgrace to the nation, and I am glad that the Minister of Health is trying to remedy their condition.
I am genuinely sorry to hear gentlemen of the standing of the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) moving a restrictive Amendment of this description and forgetting all his logic of a year ago on behalf of the wealthy brewing concerns, forgetting he wanted to give £1,000,000 of public money with out investigation. Let us have some sort of seriousness if we are to discuss this matter really seriously. I believe in a non-contributory scheme, but I am not asking for that to-night. I believe in a non-contributory scheme because it is the poor people who cannot pay and who are suffering even now; and, when the Minister of Health comes forward trying to relieve their suffering, we get an Amendment like this! I wish the right hon. Member for Edgbaston might get the same type of letter that I get from women who do not want their own case taken up, because they do not give any name or address, but who say: "Please do say something for widows who are in the same position as I am. I was left 22 years ago with five children, and I have had to struggle all this time and have been unable to pay for things." I hope that the Amendment will be with drawn, and that we shall pass the Clause as it stands.
§ Captain EDEN
If the hon. Member who has just sat down had devoted as 1349 much energy to a study of the Bill and to the Amendment as he has devoted to denouncing us, he might have saved him self the trouble of making a speech which has no reasoned connection with the Amendment on the Paper. I would invite the hon. Member, before opposing us, to consider the exact terms of this Amendment, which was clearly outlined by my right hon. Friend. If I may say it to the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), he is under a misapprehension. There is a certain amount of money available under this Bill, and we seek by this Amendment to ensure that that money shall be spent as well as possible. There are two issues which this Amendment raises and they are distinct. The first is: How are we to spend the money available most fairly? If to do that we have to eliminate those who have least need of the pensions, then what is the criterion which we are to apply? I am not, personally, particularly tied to the expression of my right hon. Friend, and I shall support a later Amendment on the Paper, but it is not necessary to start denouncing the means limit. That is not the issue here. Personally, I think this Committee should turn its attention to devising some method by which we could make the best possible use of this money which, as the Bill now stands, will not be done.
It is extraordinary to me that this Bill, as it stands now, should have been brought down to this House without any provision being made to ensure that a widow who, for instance, might be comparatively well off, should not receive a pension, while others who may be in the direst need will receive no aid under the Bill as it stands. I would have hon. Members opposite believe that we are dealing with a certain fixed sum and that we want to see it used in accordance with the test of need. All that we wish to do, and, in this, the Government ought to help us, is to see how best we can find this line which I think has to be drawn. If the right hon. Gentleman does not like the terms of the Amendment, perhaps he will cast his eyes down the list and select some other which may suit him better, but let us have no partisan speeches. Let the Government devise some other form of words if they so desire.
§ Mr. J. BAKER
Mention a single class of widow who will not get a pension under this Bill that you want to see get one.
§ Captain EDEN
I do not think it is necessary for me to cite a large number of cases. His right hon. Friend on the Front Bench can give him plenty.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
I want to reinforce the point made by my right hon. Friend from the Front Opposition Bench on this Amendment. As my hon. and gallant Friend says, we are not wedded to this form of investigation as to means. The right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) has pointed out that it is no part of Conservative policy to introduce restrictions. When you diverge from that principle you get back to the principle which used to exist in the Old Age Pensions Act, that in order to give pensions to the most deserving people you have to devise some way of finding out who are the most deserving people. We still do not know of any particular reason why the age of 55, for example, should be adopted. It is a big assumption to say that every widow after 55 automatically requires a pension and that any widow under 55 should be excluded. It is in no restrictive sense that my right hon. Friend has brought forward the Amendment. It is restrictive only so far as the people are concerned whose needs are sufficient to carry on without the benefits of this pension, as it is called, but which is really a free gift coming to them through this Bill.
I have always made my own position perfectly clear, that there should not be any kind of penalisation of thrifty people and that pensions schemes should exist in such a form that the people who contribute to them should get their pensions as a right. There is no question of right about the first Clause of this Bill. It is a question of the Minister's discretion. It is a question as to whether the Minister thinks that a certain per son at a certain age may or may not be in an insurable occupation. While possibly that might be the ground for giving a pension it cannot in any circumstances in the ordinary legal sense of the word be described as the right of giving a pension. In this Clause we are doing something which the Minister deplored at an earlier stage. On the 1351 Second Reading of the Bill he said how terribly complicated were all these things with regard to the social services; how in addition we have National Health Insurance, how we have Unemployment Insurance benefits and so on, and how difficult it is for people to know their rights and obligations of any particular scheme. Unfortunately the right hon. Gentleman is making confusion worse confounded by grafting a non-contributory Clause on to a Contributory Act. That is not going to make it any easier for those unfortunate widows who are in distressed circumstances and with whom we all would sympathise. All Members of Parliament have correspondents who write to them. I do not suppose that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bilston (Mr. J. Baker) has correspondents who write to him any more or less than my constitutents. Therefore, we do know all about the position. We do not have to talk about this sort of thing at every stage of a Bill; we take it for granted. I do not suppose that at this stage I should be in order in discussing the question of contributory or non-contributory pensions at all. According to the Minister:The adoption of this scheme will bring within the pensions scheme as a whole all those women whose husbands could not participate, because they were over 70 when the Act went into operation, or because they died before the appointed day in the 1925 Act. This is the major principle of the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st October, 1929; cols. 369–70, Vol. 231.]I cannot understand the position because it is simply not true. This Clause does not bring in all those women whose husbands died before the appointed day at all. What we want to do by our Amendment is to bring in a far larger number of those who really need these pensions than the right hon. Gentleman is doing. We are really enlarging the scope of the Measure for the benefit of the people who really require pensions. I should like an explanation of what the right hon. Gentle man meant when he said that all those women whose husbands died before 1925 should come in under the Bill. I do not think that there is any justification what ever for that statement. The anomaly with regard to the elderly pre-Act widow is admitted. No one is going to say that there has not been an anomaly, but this anomaly is the automatic result of 1352 introducing any Measure through Parliament where you have to have a date from which you have to start. You cannot help that. To transfer that particular anomaly to an age limit does not change the fact that it is an anomaly; you merely change from a date anomaly to an age anomaly. We hate the idea that you should have a test of income; that there should be such a departure from the principle of the Bill which we introduced. If you look at this Clause which applies to a certain category of widows, it means that a widow whose husband died so long ago that there is some difficulty in getting evidence about his status will, though she may have become wealthy herself or her children have become wealthy and have made her an allowance, be entitled to come in under this Bill and apparently will receive the 10s. a week when there is really no conceivable justification for giving it to her. A widow, say of the age of 54, or a woman who is not a widow at all—a spinster—will not come in under the scheme. [An HON. MEMBER: "No!"] No, not at present but we hope that she will before long. That is why we say that if you are going to distribute this largesse there is some justification for extending the benefits of the Measure to these women.
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
The hon. Member can look up the word in the dictionary just as well as I can and he will see an adequate description which will cover even the sum of 1d. in certain circumstances. I would like to put it to the Minister, in case he may have overlooked the fact, that we are not doing anything very contrary to what his party thought proper when the original Bill was going through Parliament. My right hon. Friend has pointed out that in 1924 the present Chancellor of the Exchequer adopted these particular standards for the means test of the Old Age Pensions Act, 1924. My right hon. Friend has pointed out that the present Prime Minister made it quite clear during the Election that the question of need was going to be one of the tests for pensions. When the 1925 Act was going through Parliament Mr. Williams, then a Member of this House, brought forward an Amendment during the Committee stage on the 14th July of that 1353 year to extend the pension of 10s. to the childless widow of 50. The childless widow of 50 under that Amendment was going to get a pension calculated not in the same way as we propose here but in a way which we might discuss later on if the principle of the Amendment is accepted, namely in the same way as the need pensions under Royal Warrant for War pensions. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston at that time was unable to accept the Amendment on two grounds. The first was that there was no money available and the second ground was that it was against the contributory principle. Neither of these grounds are applicable to the Minister to-day, because he is finding something like £81,000,000 for this particular service. He cannot say he has no money and he cannot stand firmly on the fact that it does not come within the four corners of the Contributory Pensions scheme because he does not hold with that view.
Therefore, the two grounds on which my right hon. Friend resisted that particular Amendment are not available to the right hon. Gentleman now. I find that his own party, including the Prime Minister, voted in the Lobby in support of that Amendment. I assume that they thought the childless widow of 50 ought to get a pension and that she should be limited by a means qualification of the same kind as that contained in the War Pensions Warrant. That seems to be a very good reason for supporting the same principle when it is proposed from this side of the House and when the two hindrances in 1925 are no longer operative. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way carefully to consider this point. What we want to do is exactly what the right hon. Gentleman the Minister says is the object of his Bill. If he will turn to the OFFICIAL REPORT when the Report stage of the Money Resolution was under discussion he will see that he said:What we have tried to do with the money available is to spend it as wisely as possible, in order to assist the largest number of the most needy section of the community."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1929; col. 780, Vol. 231.]That is exactly what we are asking him to do, to make sure that it goes to the most needy by eliminating from the provisions of Clause 1 those widows who have sufficient means of their own.
§ Mr. ERNEST BROWN
I was very surprised at the speech delivered by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bilston (Mr. J. Baker). I should have thought that he would have welcomed the chance, whether he agreed with the principles of the right hon. Gentleman or not, of discussing the very vital question of the widow in need. I do not agree with the method adopted by the hon. Gentleman, but I think it is obvious that there are three ways of meeting the case of the widow in need. You can decide to have a non-contributory insurance scheme bringing in all widows, including the widows in need, or you may, as the right hon. Gentleman does in his Amendment, bring in a restrictive and limiting Amendment on a definite scale, or you may decide to enlarge the method of voluntary contributions, bringing in all such widows whether of the insurable class or the non-insurable class. Surely the hon. Member for Bilston need not display any heat about the matter because he and his party are pledged on this very basis. The Prime Minister in a speech to a Labour women's conference at Buxton shortly before the General Election—a gathering of some thousand Labour women who were going to every constituency in Great Britain to speak on the authority of the Prime Minister—laid it down that in his opinion every widow in need should have a pension. Therefore I do not understand the heat shown on the other side at the attempt that is being made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) to amend this Clause. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not think that I am patronising him in the least. Nobody could patronise the right hon. Gentleman on the drafting either of Bills or of Amendments. He is incomparable. The Committee is under a debt of gratitude to him for bringing forward an Amendment to raise this issue at this early stage, and the Minister of Health ought to be gratified. He will remember that I pursued the Secretary of State for Scotland and himself on this matter, in the later days of July. I put the follow-question:MR. ERNEST BROWN asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if any estimates has been made of the number of widows in Scotland at present in need but not in receipt of pensions; and, if so, what is the total, together with the estimated cost of 1355 including them in the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act?I used the Prime Minister's own phrase: The Secretary of State replied:MR. ADAMSON: No estimate of the nature referred to in the first part of the question has been made, and I accordingly regret that the information desired in the second part is not available."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd July, 1929; col. 1099, Vol. 230.]It was quite, obvious that the Prime Minister and his advisers on the pensions question were willing to pledge them selves to give something the nature and scope of which they did not understand, when the pledge was made. I asked the same question of the Minister of Health, and the answer I received from him was even more interesting but not quite so canny or cautious as that of the Secretary of State for Scotland. He said that no estimate had been made on this matter, and he was afraid that it was hardly capable of estimation and would involve the investigation of the material circumstances of all widows who claimed to fall within the class referred to. That is a very instructive and interesting answer both for the Committee and the country. Here we have a definite statement from the Minister of Health that his own Prime Minister made a pledge at the Election, although he did not understand the implications, that he had not worked it out, and that he had no knowledge of the scope of it. Now, we have the right hon. Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) coming forward with a considered Amendment which provides a basis for giving a test for the women in need. I do not agree with the method of it, but the subject is worthy of more than one Debate and more than one Amendment in the course of our discussions in Committee. I will trouble the Committee with an answer which was given by the Parliamentary Secretary, when I asked if she could state the estimated number of widows in England and Wales on the 30th June, 1929, and the number of such who were under 65 years of age. This is the reply:Miss LAWRENCE: The information desired is not available. The number of women in England and Wales described as widows in the 1921 Census was approximately 1,622,000, of whom about 918,000 were under age 65. It should, however, be noted that these figures include about 1356 135,000 War Widows."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd July, 1929; col. 937, Vol. 230.]Therefore, the Minister is legislating in the dark. He is legislating under the shadow of a pledge made by his own Prime Minister, and it may well be that this will have an important effect in successive pensions Bills, because the Minister says that this only a preliminary instalment of Government policy. There is a great deal of force in the argument that the 500,000 widows chosen by the methods of this Bill, to which the Amendment offers an alternative, may turn out to be not the most needy widows at all. In support of my argument, let me read from a speech made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health last Friday. She said that Paragraph (b) dealing with the Financial Resolution was a highly speculative item. We are now dealing, on the admission of the Minister, with a highly speculative item. She said:This is a most highly speculative item as indeed have been all the items under all the Old Age Pensions Acts from 1908 to 1924. Most of these people I think would have been people who, at the age of 70, would have received their pensions under the non-contributory Act, but you cannot really say. One of the surprises of the Department is the extraordinary extent to which persons even in quite an advanced age, manage to keep their heads above water by their own exertions and disqualify themselves from the operations of the non-contributory Measure. They are most surprising cases.This is my answer to the hon. Member for Bilston, and his heat:They are in the bulk very distressing cases. When these pensions were refused, I often felt that the country was simply penalising the man for his exceptional energy and enterprise."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st November, 1929; col. 501, Vol. 231.] I think the House will welcome that statement of the Parliamentary Secretary. I conceive it to be the duty of this Committee closely and carefully to examine every reasonable alternative, such as the present Amendment, in order to see whether or not, inside the limits of the Financial Resolution, this Committee can devise any constructive alter native to the admittedly imperfect and speculative finance in the Bill. I do not accept this particular form of Amendment, because we have other Amendments on the Order Paper, but there is undoubtedly great force in the case put by the right hon. Member for Edgbaston, and I hope that we shall have a very detailed answer from the Minister.
§ Mr. MARCH
I cannot understand what hon. Members opposite try to make us believe, or try to make us think, when they say that they have no particular favour towards the means test, and yet the first thing they do is to bring for ward a portion of the Old Age Pensions Act as a means test. Until 1924, the interrogatories that people had to go through as to whether they had any money, or whether they were given any assistance from their friends, was some thing terrible. Even after 1924, when 15s. was allowed as a thrift recognition, a man could only earn 10s. If he earned 10s. 2d. he lost 2s. on his old age pension. We do not want any more restrictive means tests of that character. Hon. Members should look at this Bill not in one Clause only, but in all its reservations, and they will see that there will not be much fear of many people slip ping through and getting a 10s. pension for life, without having paid something for it. They have been paying all this time for the people who have had the 10s. pension.
We are told that some wealthy people may get a 10s. pension. What do hon. Members think the Minister and his officers will be doing? The people who apply for pensions will have to fill up and sign forms and get witnesses to prove the accuracy of their statements, and if their statements are proved to be inaccurate, there will be the courts, which have before now taken action against people in regard to old age pensions. If there should happen to be a wealthy widow who manages to get a pension of 10s. a week for life, surely hon. Members would not desire to penalise other people who may be getting the pension. If a person gets the pension and she is not entitled to it, action can be taken. Some people think that the persons themselves have to make out their need, but I understand from the reservations that the need will be considered by those who are dispensing the pension. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] If a millionaire widow applies for a pension of 10s. a week, she will have some cheek.
§ Mr. MARCH
A trade union leader who may have been getting a few thousands a year. They have to make 1358 out their statement of income for the year under the Old Age Pensions Act, and if they do get £2,000 or £3,000 a year or even £100 or £200 a week and they have the audacity to go to a post office and fill up a form, and take someone with them as witness in order that they may get a pension of 10s. a week, they will deserve it. Many widows of that description would scorn the action. I have more faith in the people who have got money, to believe that they would spend their own money rather than go to the post office or anywhere else to get 10s. a week. The party opposite have kept more widows off pensions than they have taken in, and we are desirous of improving the many poor widows who have been left out. I am only sorry that the Minister has not been able to go far enough and take in all the widows in need; but on that ground I am not going to restrict those who are going to get the pension. This is the first step taken by the Minister, and further provision will be made for others. Hon. Members opposite would like to stop the lot, but we would not.
§ Sir BASIL PETO
Hon. Members opposite consider it is a very popular cry to give unlimited doles to everybody. On the present occasion they have abandoned the contributory principle, and when we desire to take steps to see that those who are to get pensions for nothing shall be those who need them most, we are told that we are trying to deprive all widows of their pensions. The Government are trying to bring in half a million widows, some of whose husbands may have died 30 or 40 years ago and could never have contributed anything towards the pension. The answer to that has been: "You did it." Because my right hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston thought it necessary in order to ease off the starting of the great new Act of 1925, which had to start, like any other Act of Parliament, on a given day, in the case of a comparatively small number of widows who had children dependent upon them and therefore could only be a charge upon the Fund for a short time until they passed school age; that is made the excuse for the proposals in the present Bill. Because we did that, the present Minister of Health seeks to extend the wholly non-contributory prin- 1359 ciple to cover not necessarily all the widows in need, but a certain section of half-a-million widows. I think we are amply entitled to say that, if you are going to deal with the strictly limited amount of money which we have voted in this House for this purpose, there is an obligation on Members of the Committee to see that it is spent in the best manner possible, but frankly I have another reason for wishing to see this provision limited to widows who are in such a financial position that they would have been entitled to pensions under the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908–24. The first Clause of this Bill alone will cost £81,500,000 out of the £98,500,000 that the Bill is estimated to cost, and, as it is admitted that this is only a first start and something to go on with in the programme of right hon. Members opposite who constitute the present Government, I am not at all convinced that by spending public money on a non-contributory basis to this extent, we are not doing a great deal more harm to the employment of the people of this country, which is the main urgent necessity, than we are doing good to the recipients of this national largesse.
I will put one final point, which to a certain extent has been made by other speakers. It has been very properly pointed out from these benches that this provision is dealing with a very limited class of people, namely, widows, but I am not convinced that even in logic there is any reason for placing a woman who has been married and who, by hypothesis, has had a man to work for her for a considerable part of her life before she became a widow, in an exceptional position simply for that reason, apart from the fact of whether she has had a family to bring up, or needy circumstances to contend with, or anything of that kind. I am convinced, if we were to seek for the most needy women, that we should not find more among the widow class than among those who have never had anyone to work for them and have had to work for themselves.
We are told that we are seeking to restrict the benevolence of the present Government, but we say, "Not at all. We are dealing with a certain sum of money, and we are convinced that this Clause has never been thought out." 1360 The right hon. Gentleman said that he was considering the whole question of the social services of the country, and he suggested that he was bringing for ward something to pay something on account of the election pledges of the party opposite. He is adopting a party cry. It would be as well to adopt the term "Woman" as the term "widow." Proverbially, the term "Widow" suggests someone with children, someone who has had someone to support her, and who has lost the head of the family, and so forth. There is nothing in the Clause which says so. When my hon. Friend the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain) brought in his proposal, he did it deliberately to meet the case of those who found themselves suddenly deprived of the head of the family. There was a definite need there, though not in the same sense as there is in this Amendment. It is quite clear that a widow with children on her hands must be in need of subsistence, and there is no need to impose any test. Hon.
Members from this side of the House have, from the time the original Old Age Pension Act was introduced, been opposed to the pension which is only granted to those who make no provision for themselves and involves inquiry and inquisition into their needs.
It is not our fault that we have to put down this Amendment; it is the fault of the right hon. Gentleman who introduced the Bill. He admits that he grafts on to a contributory scheme some thing which has nothing to do with the title of the Bill or the principle of the main Act which he is amending by this Bill, and we have to bring in something of this kind, because he is bringing in a large class of persons for whom no contribution has been made, and who have no right to be brought into the scheme of the Act which we passed in 1925. I have no hesitation from the one point of view or the other in supporting this Amendment which, if it is adopted by the Committee, will mould this Bill into something infinitely more useful to the most needy portion of the population.
§ Mr. SHAKESPEARE
I will not attempt to enter into the interesting question of who is needier, the widow or spinster. We are not considering the hard lot of the spinster, but whether a certain class of pre-Act widows shall be entitled to pensions or not. The Amend- 1361 ment is an attempt to see that the jam provided goes all over the bread and butter, and, if I believed that that would be the effect of it, I should honestly support it. I am bound to say, however, that I personally, and I think all Members on this side of the House, are very much against all this imposition of means tests. In all legislation we are gradually moving away from it. Even in the 1925 Act it was never suggested that there should be an inquisition into the means of widows with children, and we are giving a pension irrespective of incomes under the 1925 Act. I should deplore the fact if the Committee took such a retrospective step.
I believe there is no Act or restriction that Members come across that causes more heartburnings than the limit on Old Age Pensions, and it may well be that, within your net, if you give pensions to pre-Act widows, you may get a widow here or there who has bettered her position. In the last two years, we have seen two girls in the insurable class, one of whom is the daughter of a reigning King, and the other of whom is the Queen or Princess of an Eastern state. But after all when Parliament allowed Members of Parliament to receive £400 a year, there was no distinction between those who wanted it and those who did not. That £400 a year is a boon to many on these benches and on the benches opposite. It is not needed by many on these benches and on those benches, but I should deplore it if before a Member of Parliament received his £400 a year, he had to fill a form stating exactly the state of his accounts when he made his application. I consider this Amendment reactionary and retrogressive, because it sets its face against the tendency of legislation. I believe the hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) put his finger on the point. The best way of showing that a widow has a claim to a pension is to link her up with the voluntary scheme.
§ 8.0 p.m.
If you detect the motive of this Amendment it will be very easy to decide that the one thing for the Committee to do is to reject it. The case has been admitted to be made out as regards the need, but, if you examine the case underlying the Amendment, it can only impose limitations and rule people out of benefit who should be properly en titled to it. This class of pre-Act widows is a very restricted class after all, for, 1362 though it numbers at the present time something like half a million, it must in the nature of things be a diminishing class, and I suggest that it does no damage to the contributory basis of the Act because a good many pre-Act widows whose husbands did not live to 70 would have been insured previously, and it has been recognised more than once that your Old Age Pension Act starts where the National Insurance contributions cease, and contributions could be deemed to have been paid even in respect to that very large portion of the class provided for in this Act which we call pre-Act widows.
The argument has been made that unless you impose a means limit there is a danger of someone who has plenty of money availing herself of the provisions of this Bill and taking the meagre pension provided under it. I cannot see many rich widows going through the ordinary paraphernalia that is required by the Bill for qualifying for this pension, even in the absence of a means limit. I say, further, that if it were true that, of these half-million pre-Act widows who are to be brought in, a few were sufficiently void of conscience as to take something which obviously was not intended for them, I would sooner see the nation suffer that than that any necessitous widow should be left out. If there be any truth or any sincerity in the reasons for this Amendment which have been put forward by hon. Members opposite, then the Amendment must be, as has been contended all the time in the speeches to which we have listened, an Amendment to widen the scheme and increase the benefit and bring more people in. I suggest that the Amendment is not consistent with that purpose which has been spoken of, be cause if hon. Members opposite could by any possible means get the Committee to adopt an Amendment like this, then not more people but less people would be brought in. One does not need to be a very keen politician to see that this is merely a method of scoring a point against the Government for carrying out to the best of their ability, and to the extent which was possible, a very substantial instalment of the promise made that this particular class, who were so ruthlessly left out of the 1925 Act, should at the first possible opportunity, in this House and in this new Parliament, be brought in.
1363 I hope the Committee will not for one moment be misled by the effect which the introduction of this Amendment into the Bill would have. We all deprecate an inquisition and the imposition of a means limit, even in the Old Age Pensions Act itself, and in these days I think we should not go back and seek to reintroduce it. I would sooner suffer the rich widow coming in and abusing the fund by taking something out of the Fund which obviously was not in tended for her, than I would lend a moment's though or support to an amendment which, in operation, could only be restrictive all the time. I therefore oppose the Amendment.
§ Captain GUNSTON
The hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Palmer) who has just sat down, has said that he would rather that the rich widow should come into the scheme than that somebody should be left out. I agree with him absolutely; but may I put this point to him: Would he rather that this Bill should stand as it is, and that necessitous women should be left out, because that is the effect of this Bill at the present moment?
§ Captain GUNSTON
The hon. Member made a statement with which many of us will agree, namely, that he does not like a means limit clause. We all agree with him; but the Prime Minister did lay down that the only test should be the test of necessity. If the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health would suggest words which will enable us to include these necessitous people who are left out, then I believe that my right hon. Friend would at once withdraw this Amendment.
I would like, if I may, to turn for a moment to a criticism made by the hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Hore-Belisha). He seemed to suggest—and his criticism is very much the same as that of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister for Health—that this Act is only extending the class which was specially selected by my right hon. Friend the late Minister of Health (Mr. Chamberlain). The Minister of Health made that statement on Friday, but on Monday night he was not quite his usual self, and, forgetting what he had previously said, that he was 1364 extending our Act, he taunted us with a desire to restrict social services—if I may say so, a very unwise speech for any Minister to make who wants to get business through after 11 o'clock at night. His taunts made it necessary for us to answer them, and at one time it looked very likely that we would be up all night, until the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary, in her charming way, intervened and sent us home very happy, if a little resentful of what had been said by the Minister of Health.
When the hon. Member for Plymouth and the Minister of Health made the claim that this Bill extends a class which had been specially selected, I think they were neglectful of the whole idea of the 1925 Act. The 1925 Act was an insurance Act. It is quite true that we had an exception, and that exception was the widows and children; but why was that exception made? The exception was made that a fatherless child should not suffer in competition with a child whose father was alive, or with a post-Act widow. Our exception was made, to a great extent, to help the fatherless children. It is quite true to say that under our Insurance Act many classes were left out.
§ Captain GUNSTON
Because as yet nobody has been able to frame an insurance scheme to bring in these people. The hon. Lady and her colleagues have not been able to frame such a scheme; and though it might not have been any comfort to a person whose husband had been a non-contributor, and who could not benefit, at any rate it was an intelligible answer. But how are you going to explain to a person who will not benefit under this Bill when you can no longer say that it is an Insurance Act? If you are going to give this £100,000,000 from the State in 16 years, as a free gift, how are you going to defend your action to the person who is not going to benefit? The right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health, in a speech, in reply to the 1365 hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank), said, on Monday night:We are dealing with widows' pensions, and if the hon. and gallant Gentleman can tell me how that sum of £100,000,000 can be better spent on pensions, I shall be glad to listen to his views."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th November, 1929; col. 780, Vol. 231.]That is exactly what we are doing this evening. By this Amendment we seek to make it more possible for the Minister to distribute this money fairly. We recognise that the House of Commons has, by giving this Bill a Second Reading, decided to give £100,000,000 of State money, and we are not quarrelling with that decision; though, in passing, we notice that the Minister of Health says that £100,000,000 is no burden on industry. What wonderful teaching to come from the Leeds School of Economics! He said that this money would be distributed on the principle laid down by the Prime Minister. Does the hon. Lady really think that you can justify refusing a pension to a post-Act widow who may be in need and who is not insured, when you give it to a pre-Act widow who is not in need? If you are going to distribute this money according to the Prime Minister's speech, that is to say, according to need, have you any right to say that only the widow shall get it, and the spinster must not? What about the woman who perhaps has refused matrimony to look after her sick father? When you are giving this money, have you any right to refuse this free gift of the State to her? Will the hon. Lady go down to her constituency and say: "It is quite right to give this money to Mrs. Jones, though she has come into a comfortable little property since her husband died, but we will not give it to Miss Brown, who has had to look after an invalid father, or perhaps an epileptic mother"? She cannot justify it, and she cannot comfort herself once she has got away from the insurance principle.
§ Mr. BROMLEY
I should like to ask the hon. Member to tell the Committee whether he has any statistics of the number of working-class widows who have come into comfortable properties after their husband's death.
§ Captain GUNSTON
The hon. Member for Leith (Mr. E. Brown) has been trying to get some figures from the Minister of 1366 Health, but he has not yet succeeded in doing so.
§ Captain GUNSTON
Hon. Members comfort themselves, I think, on very unsafe ground if they think that there are not many of these cases in the country. They may think that there are only a few hard cases left out to-day, but when the searchlights of these Acts are turned on the country they will find that there will be hundreds to-morrow and thousands the day after.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I am afraid I am not trained in law like my right hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) who is sitting in front of me. I am afraid that however hard I worked and however hard I studied it would be quite impossible for me to understand some of the drafting of this Bill. I wish I had the facility of the hon. and gallant Member for Oxford (Captain Bourne) in understanding Parliamentary Bills, and the complicated procedure of this ancient House. Whereas I take a light novel to bed, he takes Erskine May to send him to sleep. I have asked his advice, and I understand that it is very hard to bring in by Amendment of this Bill the classes which are left out, such as smallholders, and shopkeepers, but I think this Amendment—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must remember that there is an Amendment before the Committee, and there are certain conditions implied in that Amendment; and the conditions of that Amendment and the proposals of the Government are the only matters under discussion.
§ Captain GUNSTON
I mean I should be out of order if I wanted to bring in those classes, but I was not seeking to bring in those classes. I was going to say, Mr. Chairman, if you had given me a little more time, was that I thought it would be quite proper to discuss the 1367 necessitous widow of the smallholder or shopkeeper who would come in under our Amendment. That was our point. I hope you will not think that I was wilfully transgressing. I was going to explain.
I do not imagine that I shall get much sympathy from hon. Gentlemen opposite if I give the Committee the instance of the widow of a small shopkeeper, because hon. Members opposite look upon small shopkeepers as part of the capitalist system. May I put the case of the widow of a smallholder who, whilst he was alive, worked for a long time but did not make much money in performing that most necessary of social operations, producing food for the people of this country. Her husband dies and she carries on, but through no fault of her own she falls on bad times. There is such an event as the dumping of German bounty-fed wheat into this country which sends her out of existence. She might appeal to her local Member who puts a question to the Minister of Agriculture and gets no answer. But having read the election pledges of the Socialist party and thinking no doubt that they are to be honoured by this Bill she thinks she is going to get a pension, but when it is too late finds that "at the earliest moment" in the Socialist vocabulary means step by step; the inevitability of gradualness. This woman, the widow of a smallholder produces food for the country for many years; she has rendered a social service—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must remind the hon. and gallant Member that there is an Amendment before the Committee, and I do not think the smallholder is included in it.
§ Captain GUNSTON
Of course I bow to your ruling. I will not mention the unfortunate lady any more. What about the widow of a man who was at one time employed, perhaps by a brewery company, in looking after a small inn. The widow of that man will get a pension but the other widow I have mentioned will not. Can hon. Members opposite really justify a free gift of the State to the widow of a man who sold drink and refuse it to the widow of a man who produced food? I appeal to the hon. Lady opposite. No doubt she wants to carry out her election pledges; she wants this money to go to the people who are in 1368 need. When the Conservative party were in office we listened to her many appeals for humanity and better treatment, but to-night it is not the case of judging them by their words but by their actions, and by their actions we shall be able to judge whether the Socialist party really mean to give money to people who are really in need.
§ Mr. LOUTS SMITH
I desire to intervene only for a moment or two. We on this side of the House are not unmindful of the needs of the widow and fatherless child. The widow was first included in the Act of 1925, and we certainly had in mind during the last year or two the possibility and the desirability of removing any anomalies that might exist in that Act; but we do say that insurance should be on a contributory basis. Personally, I much dislike the word "dole," and I feel that throughout the country there is a growing wish that those who receive any help or maintenance should feel that they receive it as a right and not as a charity. We are going through very difficult times and should be most careful not to add to the load which industry has to carry and which the actual worker in our factories has to carry. If women who are widows receive this £26 per year when they do not need it, it is adding a load on those who are actually working, and this Amendment is intended to remove that. It has been said by an hon. Member opposite that he would rather see a wealthy widow have the £26 per year than have any means test included in the Bill.
I wonder whether hon. Members realise what an outcry there would be in the country if many widows, possibly with £1,000 a year income, were to take this £26 as a little additional pin money when they had the opportunity. What opinion would a hard-working typist, earning her £2 per week, or a woman in a factory earning £2 or £3 per week, have if she knew that an Act of Parliament of this country allowed a widow with an income of £1,000 per year the opportunity of taking this £26 in addition? There would be a tremendous outcry in the country, and it is for that reason among others that we are moving this Amendment. We are not wishful to have a means limit in any such Bill but, owing to the fact that we are now considering an insurance 1369 Bill which is not on a contributory basis, it is absolutely necessary to include a means limit otherwise we should have most inequitable circumstances arising. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer must view this Amendment with some desire to support it. I noticed with interest some words which he used only a few days ago at Whitfield's Tabernacle. He said:The most dangerous and most menacing feature of the present time was a desire to get something for nothing. Unless social reform develops a greater sense of individual responsibility our social reform measures will never establish a co-operative Common wealth but will establish a pauper State.Those are the words of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the Amendment goes in the direction in which he wishes to lead this nation. In the present difficult times, the millions of hard working men who are at work—and there are many more at work to-day than ever in this country—when they realise that this Bill brings an added load of £80,000,000 to £100,000,000 on to their shoulders, because it is the actual production of the country which has to carry it, will feel, as I feel, that it is necessary to have some restriction in this Clause which will prevent any of those obtaining assistance who are actually not in need. The Amendment aims at giving assistance merely where there is need and of preventing the unnecessary expenditure of public money.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
While I am very anxious that this Bill should pass and do not wish to make any unnecessary speeches, I think I ought to explain why I am not going to vote for this Amendment. We ought to be very careful in spending public money and in apportioning a given sum it is necessary that we should give it where it is needed. There fore a somewhat plausible case was made out by the right hon. Gentleman in his opening speech, but I am bound to say that we are here dealing with a very trifling matter. A challenge has been made from the other side as to how many cases there are in which rich widows are likely to receive pensions. No answer has been given to that question and none can be given because nobody knows. It is quite clear, however, that only in very rare cases indeed is a pension likely to be given to a person who does not need it. The whole Debate in that respect has 1370 been very unreal because the speeches from this side of the Committee seemed to imply that a large number of people were going to be kept out of pensions owing to the fact that these richer people were not excluded.
The reason why I cannot vote for this Amendment is that while I do not want to give pensions to people who do not require them, I regard the means limit as absolutely intolerable. It is quite useless to think that you are going to impose a limitation by means of a scrutiny of the incomes of the recipients. It has been tried, and the country simply will not stand it, and quite rightly so. It is an intolerable way in which to approach the question. We have had to approach it ourselves in that way. I was in the House when the system of payment of Members was established, and if ever there was a case for a means limit it was in regard to that payment. Many Members of this House did not need £400 a year at all, yet, when the proposal was made that there should be a distinction, and that only those Members should receive the payment who were in need of it or who put forward a claim to it, the mere suggestion was sufficient to bring about the rejection of any such proposal. So it is in all these case cases, and I say to all who desire to limit expenditure and to see that the money is usefully employed, that we have to find some other means of imposing a limit than that of calling upon recipients to expose all their private affairs and go through all the long inquiry which has been found necessary in such cases. That method is out of touch with the spirit of the age, and is merely a form of class distinction. I think it would be much better to allow the Clause to go through as it stands and to trust to the good sense and honour of the people. The conditions of obtaining the pension are not so easy that claims are going to be made by rich people who do not require a pension, and the number of cases involved, as I say, will be trifling.
Dr. VERNON DAVIES
I am afraid that hon. Members opposite have not quite grasped what we mean by the Amendment. I do not, however, accuse them of lack of perception, because possibly we have not presented the case quite as plainly as we might have done. The point which we have to consider is that the Minister of Health, desiring to 1371 remove some of the anomalies of the 1925 Act, approached the Chancellor of the Exchequer to see how much money could be spared. I have sufficient faith in the financial probity and orthodoxy of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to know that he would not grant any money which the country could not afford. He found that, in this particular case, he could give in 16 years about £98,000,000, and it was then the task of the Minister to allocate that money to the best advantage. The Minister found that the Prime Minister had given a pledge that, first of all, he would like to have all widows in need included. But the Minister found that he had no criterion and no statistics on which to go on in regard to those widows. He was in the position, however, that he had £98,000,000 to spend, and he decided to extend these provisions until in time he could bring in about 500,000, and that would get rid of the money—thus doing away with the idea of the Prime Minister that the principal claim should be need. We are anxious to help the Government. We know they are limited by the terms of the Financial Resolution to £98,000,000. That money has been voted, and all that we are anxious for is that it should be spent to the best advantage. We are not asking that one penny piece should be taken from that sum, and we have not the power to add one penny piece to it. We want to work with hon. Members opposite in seeing that that money, which is all that the country at present can afford according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is spent to the best advantage.
We suggest by this Amendment that there are certain widows who are not in need and who will come under this Clause, and it follows that, if a woman who is not in need receives a pension, she is taking that pension away from another woman who may need it. We are trying to help the Government to find a test to keep out the women who do not need pensions and to bring in another class who deserve pensions. I should have imagined that such a proposal would have met with the strong approval of hon. Members opposite. I understand the objections raised by the last speaker to the means test, but we were in this position: We had to offer some solution of the difficulty, and at the present time in connection with old age 1372 pensions there is a statutory application of the means test. We do not say that it is the best test but it is the test at present carried out by Statute in this country, and we say that by bringing in this test you can remove a certain number of people from the benefits of this Measure while at the same time automatically bringing in another lot of women who to-day are not included.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The only question before the Committee is what is meant by the Amendment now under discussion and the Government's proposals.
I was simply answering the interruption of the hon. Member opposite. One would have thought that the very fact that we were trying to help find a method by which these needy widows could be assisted would have met with the strong approval of hon. Members opposite. One hon. Member asked an hon. Friend of mine earlier in the Debate if he could give an instance. I would ask him to remember that under this Bill you are bringing in a class of pre-Act widows whose husbands, per haps 30 or 40 years ago, were for a short period of time in insurable occupation. I have put down nine or 10 cases which I know from my own experience would come under this Bill, and I will give one or two of them. A father had a certain business. It was not a retail, but a producing business, and the son was put into it as an ordinary worker at a weekly wage, and if the Insurance Act had been in force he would have been in an insurable occupation. After a few years, the father died and left the business to the son who a few years ago retired with a fortune. He is still alive, but if he had died, as far as I understand the Bill, because he had been at one time in an insurable occupation his widow would have come under these provisions. [Interruption.] This man has a sister who married a working man in an insurable occupation, and he died many years ago leaving her a widow—the widow of a man who would have been in an insurable occupation. She received a 1373 fortune at her father's death, but she would have been eligible under this Bill for a pension. I have a dozen similar cases in my mind from my own experience.
We suggest this method as an easy way out of the difficulty although, perhaps, a very objectionable way. [Laughter.] I say "objectionable," because I refer to the means test, and if the time should ever come when we can remove the means test from all pensions, old age and others, I, in common with many other hon. Members, would be only too delighted. I was reading in the paper this morning that your Prime Minister, and our Prime Minister, speaking at Leicester yesterday, made an appeal to the public and said be wondered whether we could not regard ourselves in the House of Commons as a National Council and work for the Commonwealth; and yet, when we, on our side, with an earnest desire to help the party opposite and improve their Bill, make certain suggestions to that end, we are met by hon. Members opposite with charges that are not kind and not true, and very often with jeering remarks and silly laughter. That is not the way to deal with the lives and welfare of some of these widows. I have the fullest confidence that the Amendment is of benefit and that it is better than the Clause as it stands. It simply gives the pensions where they are needed, and as long as I have the power to speak in this House, I will always say that need must come first. Therefore, I have the greatest pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
The Committee has just been treated to a dissertation by a medical man. It is unfortunately true that in this House, as outside, we find two types of those who are qualified in medicine. We find the reactionary "die-hard" type, and we find the liberal, progressively-minded type. The Committee has just heard one medical man, who, contrary to the teachings and methods of his profession, completely tied himself up into a knot. He first said that this was an easy way out, then that it was an objectionable way out, and at the end he told us it would be a beneficial way out. The thing seems absurd. He first chooses the easy path way, then the objectionable pathway, and then he chooses what he says is go- 1374 ing to be beneficial to some people. The hon. Member for Royton (Dr. V. Davies), talking about finance, talked of the widow who is not in need. I have been a medical practitioner now for over 20 years, and in my general practice among the poor it is quite the exception to come across a widow who is not in need. I submit that the widow who is not in need is an exceptional person, and that the vast majority of widows will be in need and will benefit from legislation of this character. Therefore, what is the good of wasting all this time talking about a very small minority who will not be harmed in any way by the Bill, instead of getting on with the work of helping those who will need help and making their life a bit easier?
I have found that the widow seems to be the unwilling prey of all the exploiters under modern economic conditions. I find, with regard to workmen's compensation, that the widow has to fight hard every time, often under most distressing conditions, in order to get what she is entitled to, and I find the same thing with regard to War pensions, old age pensions, and health insurance benefit. If we had the means limit which is suggested by the Amendment, we should have the very inquisitorial methods which are considered necessary by the officers who have to ad minister the law; these methods are often searching and penetrating, and mean going into the most intimate details of family life, and they are resented greatly. I think we had better leave the hon. Member to stew in his own juice. The hon. Member for Barnstaple (Sir B. Peto) suggested that the means limit would be a beneficial thing because many a widow, having had a man to work for her and to support her for many years, would have some means. What is the economic position of the husband and of the bulk of the widows who will come under this Bill? Take the average weekly wage at about £2 10s., and let us suppose that the husband and wife, by the exercise of every possible degree of frugality, can save £1 a week—a perfect miracle, but let us sup pose that it is done. At the end of 20 years they will have saved possibly £1,000, and invested at 5 per cent., it would bring in £1 a week. Is the widow not entitled, after a man has given his life working for the country under the 1375 conditions in which the working-classes have to live, with bad housing and the consequent disease, the danger of infection, and the risks to which child birth is subject—
On a point of explanation. I thought the hon. Member was speaking about the man, and then he suddenly talks about matters of maternity.
I was talking about the conditions under which the working-classes live, and about the savings of the man with the combined frugality of the man and wife. I never like really to ex pose in public the ignorance of my fellow practitioners. Medical etiquette forbids us doing that sort of thing as a rule, but there are times when one must admit that exceptional treatment is required, and I hope that the pill which I have administered to the hon. Gentleman to-day will have some drastic results. If people can save so that at the end of their days they receive £1 a week from their savings, they would still be worthy and entitled, preferably under a non-contributory scheme, to their 10s. a week. I hope that the Committee will not accept this Amendment, in spite of this difference between two sections of the professions of which hon. Members have had a good exhibition to-day. I hope that the Committee will see that this discussion is ended as soon as possible, so that the widows can get their pensions and we can get on with business instead of having fractious and futile opposition.
§ Captain CAZALET
However learned the hon. Member who has just spoken may be in the medical profession—and no one doubts that he is—he has misunderstood the motive which has prompted us to put forward this Amendment. He has told us that we are wasting time and trying by a few hours to deprive the widows of the pensions, but if we are to judge from the manner in which hon. Members have understood our Amendment, and from the last speech, it will be very necessary for several more Members on this side further to explain it. An hon. Member who spoke from the other side declared that we have put 1376 down the Amendment with the sole object of scoring a point off the Government. He did not elucidate what he meant, but surely hon. Members will allow us to say that this Amendment has been put down with the most sincere object of trying to make this Bill, to which we gave our assent without a Division, a more efficient Bill, and to make it a Measure better designed to give benefit and relief to those to whom it was originally in tended to give relief. The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Shakespeare) and another hon. Member from the Liberal benches tried to draw what was a false analogy between widows' pensions and the salaries enjoyed by Members of Parliament. Some of us may deserve our £400 a year, and others may not, but it is not on a par with the distribution of widows' pensions. It is a salary, and any hon. Member who applies assiduously to his constituency is worth all that meagre amount.
By passing the Money Resolution on Friday we have allocated a sum of money to the Treasury Pensions Account for the purpose of paying out pensions to certain widows. If I am not mistaken, the only method by which we can extend the class of widows to whom pensions are to be paid is by inserting this Amendment, which will reduce the number who will receive in under the Bill as it is drafted, and will thereby reduce the amount of money which the Treasury will have to expend in giving these pensions. Therefore, the surplus can be used for giving the pensions to certain other classes of widows whom we are not allowed to discuss now. Surely that is a logical, reason able and sincere argument, and it is the only method by which we can increase the number of recipients without disobeying the laws of this House and without demanding a further grant from the Treasury which would be out of order. Members of Parliament are trustees for the manner in which this public money is expended. So far from being restrictive, this Amendment is exactly the opposite. It will allow us to enlarge the number of recipients of widows' pensions. Hon. Members opposite have admitted, and no one in their senses would deny, that there must he some widows who will not, who do not, and will never require pensions as given to them under this Bill. Hon. Members opposite have laughed at the sum of 10s. If it is so small, they 1377 ought to admit that an even larger number of widows will not require such an insignificant sum, but the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary opposite will surely allow that there must be some number—
§ Captain CAZALET
Let us say there will be umpteen widows who will not require pensions under this Bill. To allow a Bill to go through Parliament giving to widows pensions which they do not require is surely bad statesmanship; it is a bad Bill and ought to be corrected, and we are endeavouring by this Amendment to improve it. I believe the number of widows in this category would be very considerable. On the whole widows are thriftly individuals. They have had to work hard in the past. In my own constituency there are a large number of widows who have set themselves up in business, whose children have helped to start them in boarding-houses, or who have become housekeepers in hotels, or whatever their occupation may be. When figures come to be examined, the number of widows who do not and will not require these pensions may be considerably larger than is believed by hon. Members opposite. Personally, I dislike the means test. I think everybody on these benches has made that point, and that ought to show hon. Members opposite with what sincerity we put forward this Amendment. The hon. Lady opposite is logical, in addition to her other qualities, and I hope she will view this thing in a logical way. Many of us on this side dislike the present methods.
§ Captain CAZALET
I went even further than that. I said that every Member on these benches dislikes the means test, and if she will use her amazing and ingenious gifts to find some other method of introducing a test which will avoid the present inquisitorial demands, we shall then be only too happy to withdraw this Amendment and insert one which no one, I am sure, could draft better than the hon. Lady herself. This is my final point. I believe that if hon. Members opposite will pass this Amendment it will be of the greatest assistance to them in their own constituencies. How 1378 can they defend the present Bill when side by side with a case of real need, which they would be the first to admit should receive benefit, they find one of our opulent widows, one of that umpteen number of widows who do not require and do not deserve the pension? All they will be able to say is that they hope that at some future time more money will be available to grant pensions to those needy cases, but that will be no satisfactory answer, no justification of the anomalies which will arise under this Bill. I say to hon. Members opposite that it is in their own interests, as well as desirable from the point of view of making this an efficient Bill, to support this Amendment, or one drafted by the Parliamentary Secretary or the Minister to carry out the same object.
§ 9.0 p.m.
§ Mr. SKELTON
It has been rather suggested by more than one hon. Member opposite that this Clause hardly merits prolonged discussion, but I cannot share that view, and I wish to submit some considerations which seem to me to make this by far the most important part of the Bill, not merely on account of the total money to be expended, but by reason of the principles embodied in it. I wish to state clearly to the Committee what are my views on this topic, because, although my views as an individual are of no importance to anybody—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"]—I thought I would get that from the Socialist benches—as one who represents a great constituency, as one who in a number of elections has received a large number of votes from the electors, it is surely one's duty, on a major issue such as this, to put one's views clearly before the Committee. In my judgment it is an undesirable thing, if it can be avoided, to distribute public money without any certainty that the distribution is being well made. In a time of financial stringency and economic difficulty, and when we are faced with all the other problems with which we are so familiar, the duty of the House to make certain that any distribution of money is carried out on sound lines must appeal to Members of all parties.
It is from that point of view that I approach the consideration of this Clause. I do not propose to quote the speeches of the Prime Minister or to throw criticisms or accusations at the 1379 opposite benches, but I am sure that if this Clause is passed in an unamended form we shall be taking a serious step in the wrong direction. If I am going to mention that it is my view that there should be some means qualification, I am sure hon. Members will not accuse me of doing it from a narrow party or class point of view. This is a most difficult issue, and we must do our best to meet it together. The Amendment proposes as a means test the means test of the Old Age Pensions Acts of 1908 to 1924. I do not myself think that that means test will do, and for this reason. The title of the Bill shows that it has nothing to do with those Acts, but is intended to be incorporated in and to have the closest resemblance to the principles and the character of the Act of 1925. I want to say quite clearly that I am in favour of a means test, and am convinced in my own mind that a means test must be introduced into the Bill, but I am equally convinced that the means test in this Amendment will not do. The curious thing is that it has not yet been said in this Debate that in this very Clause, as it stands, there is a means test, and that in all the National Health Insurance Acts since 1911 there has always been a means test. On this subject I shall try to show the Committee the line on which my own mind is trying to work.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I hope the hon. Member will not get too far away from the question before the Committee. The discussion is not upon Clause 1 but upon the points which come within the Amendment.
§ Mr. SKELTON
I think, Mr. Chair man, you will agree that up to the present moment I have not said anything that can be regarded as being out of order.
§ Mr. SKELTON
A means test is essential, because without it you cannot be certain that your distribution is as sound as it should be. There are various ways in which a means test could be applied. We have to deal with the squandering of expenditure where there is no need for it. The insurance scheme has from the first laid down the principle that only those persons come under the 1380 benefit of Health Insurance whose incomes are less than £250. It is quite clear that this Bill has to be read in connection with the Insurance Acts and not the Old Age Pensions Act. Surely the line is clearly indicated at which it would be possible to draw a means test which would be satisfactory both from the point of view of legislation and of means.
Having indicated that point of view, I want to say that there are two reasons why a means test must be applied. The first reason is the need of avoiding squandering. The answer to this argument given by hon. Gentlemen opposite is that such cases will be very few, and that the people who are rich enough to do without the pension will not go to the Post Office and ask for it. But surely that class of legislation is unworthy of a legislative assembly dealing with national finance. It is almost a commonplace that you cannot pass legislation, trusting that the people to whom you have given rights will not exercise them. I was very much impressed by an observation which has been made in this Debate, that you can not imagine any woman who would go to the Post Office and take a pension which was obviously not intended for her. It is the duty of those who pass Acts of Parliament to see that the intentions of those Acts are earned out in the words of the Bill.
My second reason is that it is essential for the welfare of this country that legislation as a whole, both remedial and social, should be founded on the basic principle that it should be used as far as possible to help people to help themselves. I think many hon. Members opposite profoundly believe in that principle, and I am quite satisfied that hon. Members opposite have as profound a knowledge of the springs of human action as we have. Amongst the springs of human action none is more invigorating than to know that in a thing which is beneficial to yourself you are taking some part and assisting to do it. That is another reason why we should have a means test, provided that it does not exclude people who ought to be included, and provided that it acts as a suitable dividing line and does not have a crippling effect. We are all agreed that there may be wealthy widows in such circumstances that you cannot 1381 expect them to help themselves, but it is necessary, where you find any member of the community in a position to help in the joint operation between himself and the State, that he should do so, and that the State should not be left to do the whole job.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite will observe that I have said nothing—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, Hear!"] There is a large number of new Members sitting on the opposite side of the House, but when they have been here a little longer they will give up what is really a schoolboy joke. It is clear that there are large gaps in these proposals, and the total sum available has been limited by the Financial Resolution. If we want to fill up some of these gaps it can be done only by transferring the money from the purpose for which it is intended under this Clause to a different purpose. The essence of the problem is, how are you going to find a test which will help those who deserve to be helped. This Clause does not enable the smallest number of those who should help to take part in the work of helping themselves.
It only remains for me to say what I propose to do with regard to this Amendment if it be carried to a Division. I shall vote against the Amendment. I think it is unsound in principle to con fuse the Insurance Acts with the Old Age Pensions Acts. I shall vote, on the other hand, for an Amendment later on the Paper which proposes another means limit. It is not that I shirk the idea of voting for a means limit. I am going to vote for a means limit, and I hope I have made it clear why I think it is essential; but I want to find one that is based on principle, and not one that is simply founded on the Old Age Pensions Acts. This is a matter in which assistance should be given from both sides of the Committee, because it is a basic principle; it is vital to decide how far we are going to distribute money gratis over a wide and unanalysed expanse, and whether we are going to restrict the gratis administration of money within limits of which all can approve. In my judgment we must find a limit, and it is to the Insurance Acts and not to the Old Age Pensions Acts that we must turn. I look with horror on the introduction into the Insurance Acts of that foolish and complicated system by which the income of the old age pensioner under the Act of 1382 1924 is decided. It was my privilege the other day to hear the regulations read, but it is not an operation that I should wish any of my friends to undergo.
That is not the kind of means limit that we want. We want the means limit, in my judgment, which is already more or less incorporated in the whole insurance system, namely, that limit whereby people do not come into insurance whose in come is more than £250 a year. I urge the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland, whose presence on the bench all of us who come from Scotland are glad to see, to begin the work of considering whether the means limit to be discussed in the future should not be put into this Bill. These decisions cannot be made in a moment. A great Government Department dealing with a very important Bill cannot be expected to make a decision like that on the Floor of the House in a moment. If a decision is to be made in favour of that larger means limit when the Amendment proposing it comes on, the Government must be thinking about it now. I urge them to think about it and to come to that decision. I am sure that no one in this House would for a moment admit the proposition that a limit of £250 for a widow's income, such as has been accepted as the whole basis of Health Insurance, is one which will cause hardship or in any way restrict the beneficial results of this Measure.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)
I think the Committee will feel that we have learned something from this somewhat lengthy Debate on this first Amendment, though I would remind the Committee that time flies and time is limited, and I hope that we may be able to come to an early decision on the Amendment. I have been interested in this Amendment as throwing light upon the attitude of mind of hon. Members opposite. I think it is perfectly clear that hon. Members in the Conservative party are desirous of sup porting an extension of the principle of the means limit, and it is as well that the Committee should have that brought to their minds. In the second place, the Committee has learnt to-night, as a result of speeches from the Conservative benches, that, much as hon. Members opposite love the theory, they are very doubtful about the wisdom of the prac- 1383 tice, and most of the speeches from the Conservative benches have hardly been enthusiastically in support of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston (Mr. Chamberlain). On the whole, it would appear to me that there is some rift in the ranks of the party opposite, because I see that a number of them do not support in any real fashion the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman, while they are anxious to cling in this Bill to the maintenance of the means limit.
In moving this Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman, in an extraordinarily clear and logical speech, such as we always expect from him, made certain points, said in the first place that the maximum amount of money has been made available, and asked, can we in some way divert some of this money in order that it might be used for other purposes within the Act which would be much more worthy? He attacked the selection of the people who are coming within the scope of the amending Bill, and, as I listened, it seemed to me that his assumption was that all the pre-Act widows in the insurable class are well-to-do people. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] That is the whole basis of his argument. [Interruption.] I do not wish to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman, but I have never heard one word from him during the Debates on this Bill in which he has admitted that one needy widow has come within the scope of the Bill. The whole story that has been told of it has been the story of the fat and pursy widow who is well off and can afford to do without a pension—
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
I am sorry the Noble Lady is getting excited, but, surely, the right hon. Gentleman's case rests upon this assumption, that a very substantial number of people who are well off are coming within the scope of this Bill, or else there is not going to be a sufficiently large sum available to be devoted to the other good purposes which the right hon. Gentle man has never taken the trouble to specify. I do not accept the view that rich widows are hung in clusters; I do 1384 not accept the view that within the insurable class, the class of society for whom the right hon. Gentleman himself made provision, there is a very large number of people who are living in the lap of luxury. If that were so, there was never any need for the National Health Insurance Act. That determined the class of people to be included, and it was upon that Act that the right hon. Gentleman built his own scheme. It is for people of that kind that we are trying to make provision in this Bill, and, if the original Health Insurance Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George) set out these categories of people who were unable to make provision for themselves, if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Edgbaston in his own Bill, founded on that Health Insurance Act, felt that it was precisely this class of people who should receive widows' pensions, why is complaint made of me? I am following the lines of a worthy tradition.
The pre-Act widow of the insurable class is on the whole no better off than the post-Act widow of that class. If that be so, then this wildly imaginative view of large numbers of well-to-do widows profiting by this Bill is obviously erroneous. The right hon. Gentleman has not put down any Amendments to indicate how he would spend the money which he proposes to save by this Amendment. He made the point about need being the test. Broadly speaking, need should obviously be the test. That was the principle on which the De-rating Act went and, when cases were pointed out not of rich widows but of other rich persons benefiting in spite of themselves, the right hon. Gentleman then said with a certain logic: "Yes, but we must deal with need as a whole. Here is industry staggering under this burden of rates and we must bring some relief. We cannot distinguish between the well-to-do firm and the firm tottering on the verge of bankruptcy. We must deal with all alike." When I, following his illustrious example, deal with them all alike, I am told I am wrong and that I am departing from the principle that need is the test. I am not; I am dealing with a class of people belonging to the insurable class of the same kind that the Liberal and Conservative Governments thought worthy of help. Like the right hon. Gen- 1385 tleman on de-rating, I am not disposed to make distinctions between individuals. Let me remind the Committee what is the essence of this Amendment. It is that all the 300,000 to 400,000 applicants who will come forward, however poor they may appear externally, should everyone be subjected to an inquisition with regard to means.
§ Mr. ALBERY
Will not they be subject to a very severe inquisition to find out if they are eligible?
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
If the hon. Member would only read the Bill and the memorandum he would find that that is not nearly so severe a strain on my Department as the proposal now made. In the case of every death since the institution of National Health Insurance there are the records to show it and, in the case of the pre-Act widows, it is in my judgment much easier to ascertain what the occupation was than to institute an inquiry into every application. It is work that cannot be shirked, for there lurks in the background the Exchequer and Audit Department which is entitled to assure itself that the proper inquisition has been made into every application.
§ Mr. WARDLAW-MILNE
Then the answer to my hon. Friend's question is that there will be an inquisition into every application?
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
There will be no inquiry into means, but an inquiry into occupation, which is an entirely different thing. We are being asked, in order to search out the relatively small number of well-off people, to put all the rest through this inquisition so as to save some money and to devote it to purposes about which we have heard nothing. In his own Bill four years ago, the right hon. Gentleman, in defending this principle, used these words:The great merits of this scheme is that you can do away with the irritating, exasperating and humiliating inquiry, an advantage which outweighs many of the so-called injustices and anomalies which hon. Members opposite profess to find in this Bill.I associate myself to the full with those words. The inquiry is no less humiliating because it is applied to an elderly widow. The right hon. Gentleman when he made this departure from his own 1386 principle of contribution, when he first stepped on the slippery slope of bringing in pre-Act widows, sold his principles and taught me the way to proceed under this Bill. I know children were the excuse, or rather, let me say, it was the children that brought them in. It still remains true that not one penny of contribution was ever paid in respect of those widows, and they were not an unsubstantial number. That was a big breach in the principle. The means limit was not applied. Why? We have never had an answer. We are told we must have the means limit applied now be cause no contributions have been paid. Why was it not applied to the widow with children in respect of whom no contributions have been paid? Is the case of the pre-Act widow with children growing up, who care for her as a rule, to be different from that of the elderly widow often without any support or assistance?
If it be right to abandon the means limit in the case of the pre-Act widow with children, what case have Members opposite for asking that we should apply it here? There is no logic in this. If there has been a departure from the principle of contribution, then the right hon. Gentleman began it. He made a breach in the wall. I admit without shame that I have widened that breach considerably, but he himself made it. He established this vicious principle of paying pensions without regard to the means of the recipients. All we are doing is to follow the trail blazed by the right hon. Gentleman, and I cannot understand what all this discussion has been about. The only two points at issue are, first, that benefit should be payable as a result of some body's contributions, and, secondly, that where benefits are payable and there has been no contribution, the means limit should apply.
I submit that the case of the pre-War widow with children destroys every word which has been uttered on the benches opposite in support of this Amendment. I hope that hon. Members opposite will realise that. It is quite clear that they are not very happy about this Amendment. Indeed, some of them appealed to me to try and find a way out of their difficulty. Delighted as I should have been to help them, I am sorry that I am unable to do so. I would ask them to go 1387 a little step further and to base them selves on the logic of the Act of 1925, and admit and agree with me that in taking the line we have taken we have made no new departure of principle at all, that what is good enough for the pre-Act widow with young children is also good enough for the elderly widow whose age is 55 or over, that the same conditions should apply, and that, if you bring within a scheme of this kind people who, unfortunately, were left out and could not be brought in on a contributory basis, they should be treated in precisely the same way as the beneficiaries who have contributed under the Act. That is all I am asking, and I submit to the Committee that it is a perfectly reasonable proposal, and I trust that the Committee will agree with me in it.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I think many Members of the Committee will agree with me that the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health has not been more fortunate in his speech to-night than he was on the last occasion when, late at night, he addressed this House. I also suggest that when he reads his speech in the calmer atmosphere of to-morrow morning he will regret many of the statements which he has made. Take his statement that an exception was made from the contributory principle in the last Act because children were the excuse—a very disgraceful thing to say. I do not think that there is any hon. Member sitting opposite who will associate him self with that phrase. It was a shameful thing to say. What, in fact, were the circumstances? The circumstances, as the right hon. Gentleman on reflection knows full well, were that under the contributory scheme which the Government of that day introduced a certain number of post-Act widows would receive pensions for themselves and allowances for their children. It was in order that children of the pre-Act widow should not suffer and be put in a worse position than children of the post-Act widow that that provision was made. I suggest that that was a perfectly proper and the only honourable course to take, and that at amply justifies the exception which was made from the contributory principle. Whether that was so or not, I say that it is a reprehensible thing to say that 1388 children were the excuse for making that exception to the Act.
There is one thing which the right hon. Gentleman has not dealt with in the course of these Debates, namely, the pledges upon which this Amendment is founded. There were particularly two pledges made at the last General Election by responsible Members of the party opposite. It is no good—and Members opposite know this as well as I do—referring to a long written document such as that which was issued by the Labour party in their Manifesto at the Election. The right hon. Gentleman has read out to us on several occasions the undertakings given in that Manifesto. But, he has deliberately refused to deal with the pledges which were given by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary at a critical time in the Election and which dealt specifically and much more vitally with the matter which we are discussing in the present Amendment. What were they? I suppose that there could have been no more explicit pledges given to a definite class of the community than those two pledges. The first pledge, which, I suppose, we must regard as being modified by the Prime Minister's undertaking, was given by the Foreign Secretary, that every widow should receive a pension. He went on to say that that pension should be increased. There was not a single limitation. He was dealing with a class of the community who, quite rightly from their point of view, were very anxious to get a pension. They were naturally looking to the respective parties to see what they were going to do, and the Foreign Secretary, a man, one would have thought, with some responsibility, deliberately gave that pledge. He said further—and this is one of the reasons for this Amendment—that there was money in the Pensions Fund which would permit not only of every widow in the country receiving a pension but of the pension being increased. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about that?"] An hon. Gentleman says: "What about that?" Let him look at this Bill to night. There was a further pledge to which the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health has not referred in any way at all. He has not given the slightest explanation of it or why it has not been carried out in this Bill, and it 1389 is on this pledge more specifically that this Amendment is being moved. What did the Prime Minister say only a very short time before the General Election?
§ Sir K. WOOD
We shall have it a good many times. He said:We will extend the system in principle in such a way that a widow in need will he the one test for qualification on the Pensions Register.As far as the Foreign Secretary's pledge is concerned, it has been flagrantly and cynically broken.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am sorry to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but it appears to me that his remarks apply neither to the Government's proposals nor his own Amendment.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Perhaps I had better explain a little more in detail. This Amendment is endeavouring to incorporate in the Bill the test of need, and the reason why I am advancing this argument is because of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that it was the Conservative party who were desirous of extending the system of means limit. My answer to that, and that is why I quoted the pledge again, was that it was not the Conservative party who suggested that there should be a test of means, but it was the Prime Minister. That is one of the reasons why this Amendment has been moved, and I would invite whoever replies finally for the Government, to address themselves to an explanation of how it is that the under taking of the Government in that connection is not being carried out. You may remember, Mr. Young, that in the course of the earlier Debate to-day on India, the Secretary of State for India referred to the position of the leaders of parties. He said that the leaders of parties, apparently those with whom he was acquainted, had to do some dirty things. It is a very dirty thing that this particular pledge is not being carried out.
Another point put by the right hon. Gentleman, was that in this Amendment the suggestion in relation to the means limit was outrageous. He says that it means an inquisition, that it means asking people what are their means, and putting them through a series of ques- 1390 tions, to which he strongly objected. Who was the person who, on the lines of our Amendment, laid down this so-called inquisition, this means limit, which we have incorporated in our Amendment. Was it my right hon. Friend the late Minister of Health? No, it was the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the present Government. I have heard all sorts of statements from hon. Members opposite during this; Debate, objecting to the inquisition, or the means limit set forth in the Amendment. Why did they not make the objections in 1924 when they actually voted for the very suggestion which is made in our Amendment?
I would make an appeal to Members of the Liberal party. In connection with a pensions scheme, you must have one of two systems. You must have the contributory principle, which is the principle and the system of the Liberal party, or you must have the non-contributory system. When the Widows' Pensions Bill was brought before the House by my right hon. Friend, the first Bill, the right hon. Member for Carnarvon Boroughs (Mr. Lloyd George), speaking on behalf of the Liberal party, com mended the Bill and commended the contributory principle. The alternative, unless you do a gross injustice, is to have, as we set out in this Amendment, a means test of some kind. That is inevitable. It is said that there are very few rich widows who would be affected by this particular provision, and why not let them have the money. The answer to that is that the alternative suggested in our Amendment follows the proposal of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer which is incorporated in an Act of Parliament as a means test. That test is that where the yearly means of the claimant do not exceed £26 5s. the rate of pension would be 10s. a week. Where the means did not exceed £42, the rate of old age pension would be 2s. a week. That separates the old people into two categories, those who come within that particular means limit and those who do not.
If you apply that particular test, as we do in our Amendment, to the provisions of this Bill, what follows? It would make available for other classes of the community, equally deserving, if the Committee desired to assist them, a large sum of money. By giving the pen- 1391 sion irrespective of the means test you do an injustice, whereas the adoption of the principle of our Amendment would mean that you would be able to give money to an equally deserving class of the community who are in exactly the same status as the people who would receive the pension under the test of means provided in the Amendment. By not putting in a means limit, it means that other deserving classes, such as the spinster class, or the woman who has an invalid husband to support, are excluded, whereas under our Amendment they might come in exactly on the same basis as the widows who come in under our particular limitation.
If you have a large sum of money, such as £80,000,000, to expend, it is not fair to say: "We are going to take a particular section of widows over 55 years of age and give them that sum, and leave all the other classes of the community to wait until an unspecified date." The fairest thing to do if you have £80,000,000 to divide, is to take the test set out in the Amendment, take all the people who have an income of, say, less than £50 a year, as specified in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's own proposal, and divide that sum of money amongst the various classes of the community who are in need. I heard one hon. Member on my own side saying that this Bill was apparently put forward as a popular proposal. There was never a greater mistake made by anyone. There is nothing popular in this proposal because it is so grossly unjust. Everyone will be supporting this Amendment before long. Every day we are get ting letters. [An HON. MEMBER: "From rich widows."] Not necessarily from rich widows. Hon. Members are still endeavouring to ride off on that phrase. I do not call a woman who has £50 a year a rich widow, but if you have a certain sum of money to divide it is only fair that it should be divided among particular sections of the community in all directions, and the suggestion that we are bringing forward this proposal because we desire to help rich widows is quite untrue as applied to the party I represent. I say it is far better to stick to the contributory principle. Let us be perfectly straightforward about this. There is no earthly chance of there being a single Member opposite who will be able to go 1392 back to his constituency in this Parliament and say that the Prime Minister's pledge has been carried out and that every woman in need will receive a pension. There is no man in this House who will say that there is even the slightest vestige of possibility of it, after spending 18 millions of money on a section of the community—widows of 55 years of age.
What about the widow under 55? I am very anxious for an answer to this question. An hon. Gentleman asks: Why are we not suggesting that widows under 55 should get a pension? We never gave any pledge. We never gave any undertaking. We were in the position that at the last election we said the finances of the country did not permit it. On the other hand we were faced with Members who said they would give a pension to every woman in need. It was a lie, because they were not in a position to fulfil the promise. What was the reason advanced against these proposals by the right hon. Gentleman the other night? He has made two replies to these proposals. He has given a reply to-night and has endeavoured to ride off on the ground that it does not matter about the rich widows. The view is, I take it, that they would ask how many Members need £400 a year and how many refuse it. He said it was a monstrous thing to impose tests of means. What did he say the other evening very late at night? He said—and this is the reason he might have advanced again if he wanted to be consistent this evening: "We are bringing in the elderly widow who is finding difficulty in the labour market and who is economically superannuated and is of all people the most pitiful."
That is supposed to be the answer to the Amendment this evening. He is choosing the elderly women of 55 rather than giving the pension to the largest number possible, because they are the persons most in need. Do hon. Members agree to that? It is a strange suggestion that of all the people in this country it must be the widow of 55 years of age and over who is the worst off. I will give a reply to that, because it has a direct bearing on the Amendment. I will read this to the Committee and ask hon. Members if they agree with it:The position of a woman with a bed ridden husband and a number of children 1393 is infinitely worse than that of many widows, because she has not only cast upon her the support of herself and children, but the sup port of her ailing husband.I thought that the person who of all persons was the most pitiable was the elderly widow, and yet, according to this statement which I have just read and which is the utterance of the same Gentleman, the position of a woman with a bed-ridden husband is much worse. I will take another case, as I have been invited to do so. I will read to the House another statement and hon. Members will see if they agree with it or not:For the life of me I cannot understand why there is not included in the Bill the case of women who are even worse off than if they were widows with children. Take, for instance, the case of a woman whose husband is in a lunatic asylum, with three or four children. Her case is immensely worse than even if she were a widow.Does anybody dispute that? And yet the right hon. Gentleman to-night has told us that the reason why he has neglected this class and will not accept the Amendment is that he thinks the widow over 55 is worse off than any other person in the community—a ridiculous, stupid, monstrous statement.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman if the Minister will include the cases he mentioned just now in his Bill, will the right hon. Gentle man agree that his party will give sup port to the Bill and to the additional charge that will be necessary?
§ Sir K. WOOD
I shall be very glad to convey that question to the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health. I understand that perhaps communications are not so free between the hon. Member and the Minister as they are between the Minister and myself. When the right hon. Gentleman answers the first part of the question, I will consider the second. But I do not want to be diverted even by an interruption of that kind. So rarely does the hon. Member come to the assistance of the hon. Gentleman, that I felt bound to give way, but I must continue this argument, because it goes to the very root of the Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman says that the elderly widows are the greatest sufferers, and that he must assist them. Do hon. Members who sit beside him agree or 1394 not? There are cases of husbands suffering from epilepsy, cancer, diabetes, and diseases of a lingering kind, whose wives have to support them—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must point out to the right hon. Member that the instances which he is giving are not covered either by the Amendment or by the Bill as introduced, and he is therefore out of order in discussing them.
§ Sir K. WOOD
I was only responding to the invitation which the right hon. Gentleman gave me, but I say at once, Mr. Chairman, that it is only necessary for you to intimate that you think I am even in the slightest degree out of order and you know that I shall be only too happy to fall in with your ruling. I only want to say that I trust hon. Members who sit on the Liberal Benches will reconsider their attitude towards this Amendment. I believe that they with us—at any rate if the word of their leader is to be taken—believe in the contributory principle; and that contributory principle has not been adopted as regards the particular matter which we are discussing at the moment. What is the alternative? I am sure that hon. Members who sit on the Liberal Benches would not agree that £80,000,000 should be given to a selected class of women, picked out because they are over 55 years of age, without any test, and that by that means other people equally deserving should be deprived of any benefit. That is the proposal.
§ Mr. R. A. TAYLOR
On a point of Order. Is it in order for the right hon. Gentleman continually to repeat the same argument?
§ Sir K. WOOD
Why the hon. Member should not be prepared to listen to this argument I do not know, because you, Mr. Chairman, will, I am sure, remember the days when my right hon. Friend the late Minister of Health (Mr. Chamberlain) and I listened with very great patience to the arguments of hon. Members opposite. I hope hon. Members on the Liberal benches will reconsider their position on this matter. I feel sure that they do not want to prevent, as this Bill does prevent, other sections of the com- 1395 munity from sharing in the benefits of pensions. I am sure they will come to this conclusion in the end: that there is no chance for other people to share in this large sum of money and apart from the contributory principle; and even if you have to impose a means limit it is far better that you should be able to give money to other deserving sections of the community. It is true that they, with us, object to the imposition of the means limit, and a contributory scheme would avoid that. If they are challenged about that all that they need say in answer to the criticism is that it is the suggestion of the Prime Minister himself, and there fore no one would object to it. I hope we shall have with us all those who want fair play so far as the distribution of this money is concerned.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for SCOTLAND (Mr. Johnston)
Surely for fantastic irrelevance the speech to which we have just listened—
§ Lieut.-Colonel Sir LAMBERT WARD
On a point of Order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to refer to another hon. Member's speech in the terms which the hon. Member has just used?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I did not catch the expression which the hon. Member used, but if it was unparliamentary I am sure he will withdraw it.
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I bow to your ruling. You said, however, that you did not catch the words which I used. The words I used were that for fantastic and continuous irrelevance surely the speech to which we have just listened—
§ Captain CROOKSHANK
On a point of Order. If the speech had been irrelevant would not you, Mr. Chairman, have stopped it?
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I was going to proceed to say that I was partly basing my observation on the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had been called to order by the Chairman two or three times during the course of his speech. What is the point which we have been discussing for some time? The point is whether or not we shall have a means test; and certain hon. Members opposite, I think, have declared that while they themselves 1396 are in favour of some kind of test, they are not in favour of the particular kind of test which has been moved from their Front Bench. I should like the Commit tee to consider with us the difficulties by which we are all faced in this matter. I suppose there is no one in any quarter of the House who desires that there should be any expenditure of public money to persons who do not require it. With that principle I take it there is general agreement. I should have liked to have seen a keener appreciation of that principle during the time while the Derating Bill was being passed in this House. At that time, hon. Members will remember, large sums of public money were handed out to classes in the community irrespective of the needs of those classes. It was not a case of giving an income of one shilling or two shillings to some poor widow; it was a case of handing out thousands of pounds, if you please, to wealthy corporations.
§ Mr. REMER
May I ask, on a point of Order, whether it is in order to discuss the De-rating Bill upon this Amendment?
§ Mr. JOHNSTON
I was observing that we should all be happy if the principle that public money should be spent only upon the needy classes in the State had been ruthlessly applied by our predecessors in office during the past four years. What are the practical difficulties about this means test? First of all, if the Amendment is carried it will, as my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has said, involve an inquisition into the affairs of some 300,000 or 400,000 applicants. The affairs of every one of them will require to be examined, and that will involve an extraordinary expenditure of public money in examination only. It will involve, further, an extraordinary delay in the payment of pensions, for it is absolutely impossible for the present administrative machine to undertake an examination into the financial affairs of all the applicants covered by this Bill, and for the machine also to be in a position to pay the pensions at the time provided by the terms of this Bill. There fore if this Amendment is carried we 1397 shall certainly require to re-cast the dates upon which pensions shall be paid, and delay the payment of those pensions for periods which may mean six months or even more.
Will right hon. and hon. Members consider what this inquisition means? There have been inquisitions under the Pensions Acts. They exist now. What do they mean? They mean a perpetual examination into the affairs of the old man or the old woman, and into the affairs of their sons and daughters. Does a postal order come from Canada every week; is there a daughter in service, or a son at work, supplying them with regular financial assistance; do they get regular assistance in the form of goods or old clothes, or in the payment of rent; do they get Sunday meals. All this has actually to be calculated in a means test. And this House is asked to multiply this inquisition into the affairs of 300,000 households in this country. That is the contribution which the Conservative party makes to the extension of pensions. I do not know what the Treasury might save if the Amendment is carried. We do not know. Questions have been put in this House for an estimate, but no one can even guess the amount that might be saved. In some cases we might save a shilling. The right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) talked about the means of a per son with £49 a year. What would the State save there? It would save a shilling. When the income if £31 10s. the weekly rate of pension becomes 8s., and the State would save 2s.
No amount of quotations from speeches or election or other literature can get round the fact I am putting before the Committee, that the Amendment pro posed will save very small sums of money indeed at the best. The Minister of Health is maintaining in fact the pledge made by the Prime Minister when he said that it was the widow in need who would be dealt with. It is the insured class which are being dealt with under this Bill, and it is the insured class as a whole which is the class in need. A woman who reaches the age of 55 and is a widow, and who is insured, is the person who is in need. Here and there there may be exceptions. As one hon. Member said, there was a woman in the insured class who became an Eastern 1398 Princess. A woman who is in the insured class now might become the legatee of a South American millionaire, but these are units among thousands, and the suggestion of hon. Members opposite that, without a test as to means, there will be placed on the pensions list, out of the insured class, multitudes of wealthy widows is a fantasy. We oppose the Amendment on the ground of cost. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Yes, we oppose it on the ground of administrative cost, on the ground of delay, and on the ground that it will involve a shameful, irritating, and useless investigation into the budgets of thousands of poor folk in this country. We believe that when the full facts of this Measure and of the opposition to it are placed before the 500,000 homes in this land which will benefit under the Measure many hon. Members opposite will be sorry for the speeches which they have made this afternoon.
§ Sir ASSHETON POWNALL
The hon. Gentleman who spoke last was a little vague with regard to the Prime Minister's speech which he professed to quote. May I give the actual words? Speaking at Buxton on 24th April the Prime Minister said:We will extend the system in principle in such a way that a widow in need will be the one test of qualification for the pensions register.Our point is, that women in need in many cases would not get pensions and that many people who are not in need would get pensions.
§ The CHAIRMAN
That is not the point before the Committee. We can only deal with what is contained in the Amendment. The hon. and gallant Gentleman is raising a Second Reading point.
§ Sir A. POWNALL
I am trying to explain the Amendment as I understand it. It is intended to ensure that widows who are not qualified under the means test, and are not entitled to pensions, shall not have pensions, and that there shall be a scale with regard to those who have pensions.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I would point out to the hon. and gallant Member that while this Amendment might be accepted, it does not necessarily follow that the other Amendments on the point will be accepted.
§ Sir A. POWNALL
Anyhow, I want to appeal, if I may, to the Liberal party for their support. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones) said he was not in favour of the Amendment because there was no means test in connection with the payment of salaries to Members of Parliament. I submit that that is not an analogous case. A much more analogous case is the Old Age Pensions Act of 1908 passed by the Liberal party, of which the right hon. Gentleman was a supporter in this House at the time. I submit that is a much more pertinent comparison and that this Amendment deserves Liberal support because we are taking a leaf from the Liberal book. As regards the parentage of this Amendment I may indeed say that it is taken not only from the Liberal party but also from the party opposite. The other parent of this Amendment is a Socialist parent, based also on the Old Age Pensions Act of 1924, and therefore it is not unfair to say that in putting down this Amendment we are merely carrying out the principle adopted in the first in stance by the Liberal party 20 years ago and then adopted by the Socialist patty five years ago. It is not often that two great parties disown their legitimate off spring as has been done in this instance.
We have heard a good deal with regard to inquisition, but I could not help feeling when I heard those remarks that the hon. Members who made them could not have the same acquaintance with Income Tax forms that some of us have had the misfortune to have. One hon. Member said that questions about sons and daughters might be raised. In connection with the Income Tax, you have to put down the exact ages of your sons and daughters, and so far is inquisition carried that you have to say whether you are living with or separate from your wife. Furthermore, every investment you have and the exact dividend received from it is asked for by the representatives of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If that is the case with those who con tribute to the national revenue many hundreds of millions of pounds, surely it is not unfair to ask that those who are going to receive this money should give particulars with regard to the amount of their incomes. It seems to me a perfectly fair Amendment, and I hope it will 1400 be pressed to a Division. I fail to see the objection of hon. Members opposite to it.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I am not sure if my point will be in order, but I hope it will. I want to ask one question with regard to widows of 55, who are now in the position of being able, if they are out of work, to receive unemployment benefit. If this is carried, does it mean that the widow of 55 will be deprived of that benefit and can only draw an old age pension? The second point is in connection with this Debate. It seems to me, from the last hon. Member's speech, that if he and his colleagues who pay Income Tax want to get out of doing so, there is a simple way, and that is to pay what they are asked. They do not need to fill up any forms. There is no inquisition made if they do that. The only Income Tax form I get is in connection with my salary, and I always fill it up. If I do not, the tax is immediately stopped from my wages, and if I do not want an inquisition I need not fill up the form.
The speech of the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland was, in my view, unanswerable, because the cost of administration would far outweigh any real saving under this Amendment. The late Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health asked what about this widow being left in and that widow being left out. If you start a means test, you would have one person just left out on the border line and another person just brought in, and that does not satisfy the position at all. In my view, the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland has made an unanswerable case for bringing in a small non-party Bill for abolishing the means test for old age pensions as well. I hope that before Parliament adjourns, the Government, having got an almost unanimous approval of the House, and particularly of the Liberal party, against the means test, will take the opportunity of introducing a Bill to give the old age pension without any inquisition at all.
§ Mr. MELLER
I listened with great interest to the discussion on this Amendment, and I was surprised to hear the Minister say that the burden of the speeches from this side have been on the question of the extension of the means test. If I understand the other side, the burden of their speeches have been to 1401 object to a means test. If there be any unanimity required in the House, we have it in the agreement that a means test is an undesirable thing. Any Member who has served on a pensions committee cannot but regret that it is necessary before the conferment of an old age pension, that the means test should be applied, and if it were possible to remove the means test for old age pensions, I am sure that there would be a strong body of support in the House. May I recall to hon. Members who were here in 1924 that the present Chancellor had an opportunity of carrying out what seems to be the wish of the Members on his side, and I remember a strong discussion which took place, and earnest appeals were made from his own party and from other Members that the means test for old age pensions should be abolished. There was, however, no response from the Chancellor of the Exchequer at that time, his great excuse at that time being that they had not the money with which to do it.
Under this Bill, a certain amount of money has been placed at the disposal of the Department for the purpose of dealing with pensions, and I should have thought that the first thing the Government would have done before they attempted to disperse money in a generous way, would have been to adjust some of the grievances which exist under the Old Age Pensions Act. On the Second Reading of this Bill, I said that it would have been a good thing if the Government had applied themselves to that maxim which says that you should be just before you are generous; and I suggest now with stronger emphasis that there are a number of men and women of a most deserving class who have passed the age of 70, and who are denied even the benefit of a 10s. pension, because of some small amount which they may have of their own. Is not the case of a per son over 70, who is deprived of the opportunity of working, even harder than the case of a woman of 50, 55 and up wards. The Government would have done well and would have caused greater satisfaction than they will do under this Measure, if they had met the case of those people.
On the Second Reading, I suggested that the proposals of this Bill would 1402 cause a great amount of dissatisfaction. I repeat what I said then, that there are a number of women who are not in need of the particular benefit which is being given under this Bill. The Bill brings in a class of person whose husbands have either shown that they were in the employed class, and therefore insured, or that, if the Insurance Act had been in operation at the time when these men were working, they would have been insured persons. The limitation under the insurance scheme is £250, and the period of years over which you pro pose to spread this Bill in order to bring in widows is anything from 30 to 40 years. I want hon. Members opposite to consider what class of people would have been brought within the ambit of the health insurance scheme 30 to 40 years ago. Think of what £250 a year meant then, and then ask yourselves how many men 30 or 40 years ago who got £250 a year were unable to provide something for their widows. What we say is, "If you have the money to spend let your generosity be shown to the class that needs it; save as much as you can on those who do not need it."
The proposals in this Amendment ought to receive the very serious consideration of hon. Members opposite. What is the main burden of the objection raised by the Minister and the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland? I understand the Minister's justification for objecting to the Amendment is that every application for a pension would require examination, and said that would be placing such a burden upon his Department that it would be unreasonable to set the machinery in motion. Is that the sort of answer we are to have? When we propose to safe guard either the collection of the revenue or the paying out of public moneys, are we to be told that we are not to take any precautions because of the cost? It is the first time I have ever heard that principle introduced by a responsible Minister. We are further told, "See what time will be lost if we are to apply these tests; see how many people will have their pensions delayed." If the Minister and the Under-Secretary will look at their Measure, they will see they have made provision for the payment of claims should there be undue delay in their examination. Neither of their excuses is a good answer to the proposals we put forward.
1403 In this Amendment we are endeavouring to confer the greatest amount of good upon the largest number of people, whereas hon. Members opposite only desire to be able to go to the people and say, "See what we are doing to you. All of you, whether you are in need or not, should join us, because as soon as you join us you will get money for nothing." This is another of the alluring and attractice proposals which the Socialist party put forward in order to draw people to their side, but I am convinced that there well be an upheaval of opinion against the Labour Government for introducing a Measure which throws away public money indiscriminately, which
§ gives to those not in need and leaves out a number of persons who are in need. This Government ought at least to have been honest to their own people, honest to the views they have expressed in past Parliaments, and, before distributing money in this generous way, they ought at least to have removed the injustices, the inequalities and the inquisitions of the 1908 Act.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 291; Noes, 126.1407
|Division No. 10.]||AYES.||10.42 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)||Hore-Belisha, Leslie|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Dickson, T.||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Alpass, J. H.||Dudgeon, Major C. R.||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.|
|Ammon, Charles George||Dukes, C.||Isaacs, George|
|Arnott, John||Duncan, Charles||Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Ede, James Chuter||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Edmunds, J. E.||Johnston, Thomas|
|Ayles, Walter||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)||Jones, F. Llewellyn-(Flint)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Egan, W. H.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Elmley, Viscount||Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Barr, James||Foot, Isaac||Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)|
|Batey, Joseph||Forgan, Dr. Robert||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Freeman, Peter||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Bellamy, Albert||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Kennedy, Thomas|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||Kenworthy Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Gibbins, Joseph||Knight, Holford|
|Benson, G.||Gibson, H. M. (Lanes. Mossley)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Glassey, A. E.||Lang, Gordon|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Gosling, Harry||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Gossling, A. G.||Lathan, G.|
|Blindell, James||Gould, F.||Law, Albert (Bolton)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Law, A. (Rosendale)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Granville, E.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Gray, Milner||Lawson, John James|
|Bromfield, William||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)|
|Bromley, J.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Leach, W.|
|Brooke, W.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Lees, J.|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Groves, Thomas E.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Grundy, Thomas W.||Lindley, Fred W.|
|Buchanan, G.||Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Lloyd, C. Ellis|
|Burgess, F. G.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Longbottom, A. W.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Lunn, William|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Caine, Derwent Hall-||Harbord, A.||MacNeill-Weir, L.|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hardle, George D.||McElwee, A.|
|Cape, Thomas||Harris, Percy A.||McEntee, V. L.|
|Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Mackinder, W.|
|Charleton, H. C.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||McKinlay, A.|
|Chater, Daniel||Haycock, A. W.||MacLaren, Andrew|
|Church, Major A. G.||Hayday, Arthur||McShane, John James|
|Clarke, J. S.||Hayes, John Henry||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)|
|Cluse, W. S.||Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Mansfield, W.|
|Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.||Henderson, Arthur, Junr. (Cardiff, S.)||March, S.|
|Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Marcus, M.|
|Compton, Joseph||Herriotts, J.||Markham, S. F.|
|Cove, William G.||Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Marley, J.|
|Daggar, George||Hoffman, P. C.||Mathers, George|
|Dallas, George||Hollins, A.||Matters, L. W.|
|Dalton, Hugh||Hopkin, Daniel||Maxton, James|
|Melville, J. B.||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Taylor R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Messer, Fred||Ritson, J.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Middleton, G.||Romeril, H. G.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H, (Derby)|
|Mills, J. E.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Montague, Frederick||Rothschild, J. de||Tillett, Ben|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Rowson, Guy||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Morley, Ralph||Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)||Toole, Joseph|
|Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Tout, W. J.|
|Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Townend, A. E.|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Sandham, E.||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|Mort, D. L.||Sawyer, G. F.||Turner, B.|
|Moses, J. J. H.||Scurr, John||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Sexton, James||Viant, S. P.|
|Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Walker, J.|
|Muff, G.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Wallace, H. W.|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Sherwood, G. H.||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Murnin, Hugh||Shield, George William||Watkins, F. C.|
|Nathan, Major H. L.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Shillaker, J. F.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Noel Baker, P. J.||Shinwell, E.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Palin, John Henry||Simmons, C. J.||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Paling, Wilfrid||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||West, F. R.|
|Palmer, E. T.||Sinkinson, George||Westwood, Joseph|
|Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Sitch, Charles H.||White, H. G.|
|Perry, S. F.||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Phillips, Dr. Marion||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Picton-Tubervill, Edith||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Pole, Major D. G.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Potts, John S.||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Price, M. P.||Sorensen, R.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Pybus, Percy John||Spero, Dr. G. E.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Quibell, D. J. K.||Stamford, Thomas W.||Wise, E. F.|
|Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Stephen, Campbell||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Rathbone, Eleanor||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Raynes, W. R.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Richards, R.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Sullivan, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Sutton, J. E.||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. T. Henderson.|
|Albery, Irving James||Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Ganzoni, Sir John||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)|
|Atkinson, C.||Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Gower, Sir Robert||Muirhead, A. J.|
|Balniel, Lord||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Oman, Sir Charles William C.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Peake, Captain Osbert|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Penny, Sir George|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)|
|Bracken, B.||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l d'., Hexham)||Hammersley, S. S.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Purbrick, R.|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hartington, Marquess of||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Butler, R. A.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Remer, John R.|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Herbert, S. York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Ruggles-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Christie, J. A.||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Cranbourne, Viscount||Iveagh, Countess of||Salmon, Major I.|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Knox, Sir Alfred||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Dixey, A. C.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Lymington, Viscount||Smithers, Waldron|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Mac Robert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Margesson, Captain H. D.||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Meller, R. J.||Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Ford, Sir P. J.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Wayland, Sir William A.||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)|
|Todd, Capt. A. J.||Wells, Sydney R.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Turton, Robert Hugh||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley||Captain Wallace and Sir Victor|
§ Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."1408
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 127; Noes, 293.1409
|Division No. 11.]||AYES.||[10.54 p.m.|
|Albery, Irving James||Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London)||Purbrick, R.|
|Astor, Viscountess||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Ramsbotham, H.|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Remer, John R.|
|Atkinson, C.||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Rentoul, Sir Gervais S.|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet)||Hammersley, S. S.||Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell|
|Balniel, Lord||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry||Ross, Major Ronald D.|
|Bevan. S. J. (Holborn)||Hartington, Marquess of||Ruggies-Brise, Lieut.-Colonel E. A.|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)||Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley)||Salmon, Major I.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.||Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)|
|Bracken, B.||Herbert, S. (York, N.R., Scar. & Wh'by)||Samuel, Samuel (W'dsworth, Putney)|
|Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham)||Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G.||Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K.||Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer||Simms, Dr. John M. (Co. Down)|
|Butler, R. A.||Iveagh, Countess of||Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)|
|Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward||Kindersley, Major G. M.||Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||King, Commodore Rt. Hon. Henry D.||Smith-Carington, Neville W.|
|Cazalet, Captain Victor A.||Knox, Sir Alfred||Smithers, Waldron|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston)||Lamb, Sir J. Q.||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)|
|Chapman, Sir S.||Leigh, Sir John (Clapham)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)|
|Christie, J. A.||Leighton, Major B. E. P.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.|
|Cranbourne, Viscount||Lewis, Oswald (Colchester)||Stanley, Lord (Fylde)|
|Croft, Brigadier-General Sir H.||Little, Dr. E. Graham||Stanley, Maj. Hon. O. (W'morland)|
|Crookshank, Cpt. H. (Lindsey, Gainsbro)||Llewellin, Major J. J.||Stuart, J. C. (Moray and Nairn)|
|Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Lymington, Viscount||Thomson, Sir F.|
|Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip||MacRobert, Rt. Hon. Alexander M.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham)||Todd. Capt. A. J.|
|Davies, Dr. Vernon||Mason, Colonel Glyn K.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Meller, R. J.||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon|
|Dixey, A. C.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.||Ward, Lt.-Col. A. L. (Kingston-on-Hull)|
|Dugdale, Capt. T. L.||Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Eden, Captain Anthony||Morrison, Hugh (Wilts, Salisbury)||Wayland, Sir William A.|
|Edmondson, Major A. J.||Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Everard, W. Lindsay||Morrison-Bell, Sir Arthur Clive||Windsor-Clive, Lieut.-Colonel George|
|Ferguson, Sir John||Muirhead, A. J.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Fison, F. G. Clavering||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)||Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley|
|Ford. Sir P. J.||Oman, Sir Charles William C.||Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)|
|Forestier-Walker, Sir L.||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Ganzoni, Sir John||Peake, Capt. Osbert|
|Gault, Lieut.-Col. Andrew Hamilton||Penny, Sir George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Glyn, Major R. G. C.||Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)||Captain Wallace and Captain|
|Gower, Sir Robert||Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)||Margesson.|
|Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Bowen, J. W.||Cove, William G.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Daggar, George|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Broad, Francis Alfred||Dallas, George|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro')||Bromfield, William||Dalton, Hugh|
|Alpass, J. H.||Bromley, J.||Davies, E. C. (Montgomery)|
|Ammon, Charles George||Brooke, W.||Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)|
|Arnott, John||Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Denman, Hon. R. D.|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Dickson, T.|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Brown, James (Ayr and Bute)||Dudgeon, Major C. R.|
|Ayles, Walter||Buchanan, G.||Dukes, C.|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Burgess, F. G.||Duncan, Charles|
|Baldwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Ede, James Chuter|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Buxton, C. R. (Yorks. W. R. Elland)||Edmunds, J. E.|
|Barr, James||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Edwards, E. (Morpeth)|
|Batey, Joseph||Caine, Derwent Hall-||Egan, W. H.|
|Beckett, John (Camberwell, Peckham)||Cameron, A. G.||Elmley, Viscount|
|Bellamy, Albert||Cape, Thomas||Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.)|
|Bonn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Foot, Isaac|
|Bennett, Captain E. N. (Cardiff, Central)||Charleton, H. C.||Forgan, Dr. Robert|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Chater, Daniel||Freeman, Peter|
|Benson, G.||Church, Major A. G.||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)|
|Bentham, Dr. Ethel||Clarke, J. S.||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Cluse, W. S.||Gibbins, Joseph|
|Birkett, W. Norman||Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs. Mossley)|
|Blindell, James||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Glassey, A. E.|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Compton, Joseph||Gosling, Harry|
|Gossling, A. G.||McElwee, A.||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis|
|Gould, F.||McEntee, V. L.||Sherwood, G. H.|
|Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Mackinder, W.||Shield, George William|
|Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.)||McKinlay, A.||Shiels, Dr. Drummond|
|Granville, E.||MacLaren, Andrew||Shillaker, J. F.|
|Gray, Milner||MacNeill-Weir, L.||Shinwell, E.|
|Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne).||McShane, John James||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)|
|Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Simmons, C. J.|
|Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Mansfield, W.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John|
|Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||March, S.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Groves, Thomas E.||Marcus, M.||Sinkinson, George|
|Grundy, Thomas W.||Markham, S. F.||Sitch, Charles H.|
|Hall, F. (York, W.R., Normanton)||Marley, J.||Skelton, A. N.|
|Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Mathers, George||Smith, Alfred (Sunderland)|
|Hall, Capt. W. P. (Portsmouth, C.)||Matters, L. W.||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)|
|Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Maxton, James||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland)||Melville, J. B.||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Harbord, A.||Messer, Fred||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Hardie, George D.||Middleton, G.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Harris, Percy A.||Mills, J. E.||Snowden, Rt. Hon. Philip|
|Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon||Montague, Frederick||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Sorensen, R.|
|Haycock, A. W.||Morley, Ralph||Spero, Dr. G. E.|
|Hayday, Arthur||Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Hayes, John Henry||Morrison, Herbert (Hackney, South)||Stephen, Campbell|
|Henderson, Right Hon. A. (Burnley)||Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Stewart, J. (St. Rollox)|
|Henderson, Arthur, junr. (Cardiff, S.)||Mort, D. L.||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield)||Moses, J. J. H.||Strauss, G. R.|
|Herriotts, J.||Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Sullivan, J.|
|Hirst, W. (Bradford, South)||Mosley, Sir Oswald (Smethwick)||Sutton, J. E.|
|Hoffman, P. C.||Muff, G.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|Hollins, A.||Muggeridge, H. T.||Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S.W.)|
|Hopkin, Daniel||Murnin, Hugh||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|Hore-Belisha, Leslie||Nathan, Major H. L.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Horrabin, J. F.||Naylor, T. E.||Tillett, Ben|
|Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)||Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Tinker, John Joseph|
|Hunter, Dr. Joseph||Noel Baker, P. J.||Toole, Joseph|
|Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Tout, W. J.|
|Isaacs, George||Palin, John Henry||Townend, A. E.|
|Jenkins, W. (Glamorgan, Neath)||Paling, Wilfrid||Trevelyan, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles|
|John, William (Rhondda, West)||Palmer, E. T.||Turner, B.|
|Johnston, Thomas||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Vaughan, D. J.|
|Jones, F. Llewellyn-(Flint)||Perry, S. F.||Viant, S. P.|
|Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Silvertown)||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Walker, J.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Camborne)||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Wallace, H. w.|
|Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Wallhead, Richard C.|
|Jones, T. I. Mardy (Pontypridd)||Picton-Tubervill, Edith||Watkins, F. C.|
|Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.||Pole, Major D. G.||Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)|
|Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)||Ponsonby, Arthur||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Kelly, W. T.||Potts, John S.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Kennedy, Thomas||Price, M. P.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.||Pybus, Percy John||Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)|
|Knight, Holford||Quibell, D. J. K.||West, F. R.|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. George (S. Molton)||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Westwood, Joseph|
|Lang, Gordon||Rathbone, Eleanor||White, H. G.|
|Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George||Raynes, W. R.||Whiteley, William (Blaydon)|
|Lathan, G.||Richards, R.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Law, Albert (Bolton)||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Law, A. (Rosendale)||Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)||Williams, David (Swansea, East)|
|Lawrence, Susan||Riley, F. F. (Stockton-on-Tees).||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)||Ritson, J.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Lawson, John James||Romeril, H. G.||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Leach, W.||Rothschild, J. de||Wilson R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Rowson, Guy||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Lees, J.||Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)||Wise, E. F.|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Samuel, H. W. (Swansea, West)||Wright, W. (Rutherglen)|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Sandham, E.||Young, R. S. (Islington, North)|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Sawyer, G. F.|
|Lunn, William||Scurr, John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)||Sexton, James||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. T.|
|MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Henderson.|
§ It being after Eleven of the Clock, the CHAIRMAN left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next, 11th November.
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.