§ Further considered.
Amendment made: In page 34, line 31, at the end, insert the words:
or (iii) any contractual liability."—[Mr. Herbert Morrison.]
§ Major HILLS
I beg to move, in page 34, line 32, to leave out Sub-section (2).
This Amendment raises a very important and somewhat controversial question. It concerns the right of a hospital to receive a payment of £25 in certain cases for persons injured by motor vehicles. I quite admit that the hospitals have a case for payment. Motoring has immensely increased the accidents that hospitals have to treat. In a great many cases those built near our main roads are overcrowded with cases and a very heavy expenditure is thrown upon them. They have had an important duty to do which they have performed adequately, and I agree that the cost has reached a breaking point. My objection to this Clause is that, first of all, it is not the right way to do it from the point of view of the person charged, and, secondly, it is the wrong way to do it from the point of view of the hospitals. I shall try to show that the hospitals get very little out of this 717 Clause, and are giving up what is an admitted right for very little indeed.
Sub-section (2) introduces a new principle into our insurance law. Up to now a man has covered himself by his insurance policy for damage he may cause to his own car or damage to somebody else's car or damage to a third party. This Sub-section calls upon the motorist by means of his insurance policy to pay a sum not exceeding £25 for each person treated in the hospital. When this Sub-section was proposed in the House of Lords nobody made a stronger speech against it than the Noble Lord in charge of the Bill, but it was carried. Before the Committee upstairs the Minister of Transport—who has won the admiration of opponents and supporters alike, and who has shown a good deal of common sense and courtesy in dealing with the other side which we all highly appreciate—made a very strong speech against this Sub-section, in which he repeated the statements he had made on the Second Reading. On the Second Reading of this Bill, the Minister said that all sorts of inconsistencies and absurdities would arise under this Sub-section, and he stated that the hospitals were doing the thing in the wrong way. When a Division was taken in Committee on this question, the members of the Government did not vote, and the proposal was carried. I know it is unpopular to oppose a Clause which gives money to worthy institutions like hospitals, and when hospitals are short of money I know it is going against public sympathy to object to any sort of payments, even though they may be illogical, but it seems to me that this is a case of going for money anywhere or anyhow.
Let us look very closely where the money comes in, within the narrow ambit of this Clause. The Bill we are dealing with compels the owner of a motor car to take out an insurance policy covering himself against third party risks, and, unless he does that, he is forbidden to take his motor car on the road. Sub-section (2) states that where a payment is made under such a policy to a third partyin respect of the death of or bodily injury to any person arising out of the use of a motor vehicle on a road and the person who has so died or been bodily injured has to the knowledge of the authorised insurer or such owner received treatment in a hospital 718 in respect of the fatal or other bodily injury so arising, there shall also be paid by the authorised insurer or such owner to such hospital the expenses reasonably incurred by the hospital in affording such treatment to an amount not exceeding twenty-five pounds for each person so treated.Where a motorist has taken out a third party policy, that policy must include the obligation on the insurance company to pay to the hospital a sum not exceeding £25 for each person who has died, or has been mortally injured, or who has been treated in the hospital. Let us consider for a moment in what accidents a hospital will get this £25. In the first place, vehicles owned by local authorities are excluded altogether from the ambit of the Clause. The tramcar and the motor-car owned by a local authority which meet with accidents in which passengers are injured may have those passengers treated in hospital, and no payment need be made for them. The driver himself is excluded as well as any passengers he may be carrying in the tramcar. Hon. Members will see that under Sub-section (1 b, ii), of Clause 36, the policy in question shall not be required to cover persons(ii) except in the case of a vehicle in which passengers are being carried for hire or reward or by reason of or in pursuance of a contract of employment, liability in respect of the death of or bodily injury to persons being carried in or upon or entering or getting on to or alighting from the vehicle at the time of the occurrence of the event out of which the claims arise.In the first place, therefore, you leave out all the travellers in motor omnibuses owned by local authorities, and secondly, you rule out the motorist himself, the driver and his passengers. Let the House consider for a moment what are the majority of cases treated by hospitals. My hon. Friends are rather inclined to think that these cases are what are called third party accidents. Great play has been made of the damage done by motorists to perfectly innocent people, both pedestrians and motorists, and the fact that the third party has not been able to recover damages. May I point out to the House that hospitals will only get payment for these third party cases where a man has run down a pedestrian or has run into another car? Take, for example, the most dangerous source of accident, that of a man on a motor bicycle carrying a young lady on the carrier, who runs into a motor lorry or a 719 stone wall, and injures himself and the girl he is carrying. All such are excluded: you only leave cases where the motorist has run down some walker on the road or has run into some other vehicle and has damaged the driver or passengers in that vehicle.
I do not want my criticism to be entirely destructive. I recognise that there are evils which the House would like to remedy. My suggestion is that the hospital, for the reasons I have given, have found the wrong remedy, and I am going to suggest an alternative. I agree that the burden of treating all these motor accidents is breaking down the hospitals, but I suggest that this state of things has been created by motor cars generally. Let the House realise what we are doing. We are putting these wonderful machines, the highest product of modern engineering capable of going 60, 70 or 80 miles anhour, on our public roads. The Minister of Transport, during the Committee stage, said that there were 2,500,000 drivers' licences issued. Instead of the owner of every car being compelled to insure against a liability to pay the £25 to the hospitals, and it is suggested that this liability would cost him half-a-crown, I suggest that an extra penny should be charged on each licence. It was stated in Committee that the sum required to meet the liability of this £25 for each person in the hospitals would not amount to more than 2s. 6d. per head. Supposing instead of that 2s. 6d. you put 1d. on each driver's licence, that would produce £10,000 a year. I think that would be a much better way of dealing with this question. The charge should be spread over the whole motor industry. I believe that the hospitals are taking an unwise course, that they are compromising a claim which the generosity of this House has always recognised, and are compromising it in a way which is very bad for themselves. I believe that there is a far better way of doing it, and I assure the House that I move the deletion of this Sub-section in no spirit of hostility towards the hospitals, but because I believe that they are trying to settle a just claim in a wrong manner.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I hope that the House will not agree to this Amendment. I did not gather, from the remarks of 720 my right hon. and gallant Friend, why he moved it, or on behalf of whom he moved it. Why should he be so anxious that the hospitals should not do the wrong thing? The hospitals, through their representatives in another place, and in Committee upstairs, said that they wanted this provision, and they were perfectly satisfied with it. Why, then, should my right hon. and gallant Friend say, in effect, that he knows better than the hospitals what is good for them, and, therefore, asks the House to reject this Sub-section? He went on to say that he objected to the Sub-section because there were so many exceptions. I should have thought that, if anyone objected to a thing, they would be rather inclined not to object so much if the baby were a small one, though if it were a very large one they might object a great deal. Since, however, according to my right hon. and gallant Friend, the benefits which the hospitals will receive are so small, and the premium charged to the man who takes out the insurance is also to be so small, why should he grudge the hospitals something that they really want?
§ Major HILLS
May I answer that question? I object because I think that the hospitals are getting too little.
§ Colonel ASHLEY
I do not think that any answer to that objection is required. Let me say quite frankly that I prefer this form of compulsory insurance which the Minister has brought forward to the compulsory insurance which was embodied in my Bill, but, anyhow, this Bill was brought in and read a Second time with the provision that every one who drove a motor car should be obliged to take out an insurance policy against third party risks. I think that probably the grievance and injustice to the third parties was somewhat exaggerated, but, undoubtedly, there have been very many cases in which a motorist has run down a man or woman and, he being a man of straw, the wretched person who was injured got no redress at all. The Minister said that every one who drove a car must take out a policy of insurance, or that in certain cases he could carry his own insurance, if he were of sufficient financial stability.
721 There was no criticism of that in Committee, except that it was a most extraordinary proposal to make the insurance company the arbiter as to whether a man should drive or not, because, under the Bill as it stood, the insurance company need not accept the man, and, unless he had a policy, he could not drive on the road. The short answer to that was that this was the only way in which it could be done except by national insurance, and the Government, as in the case of the railways, did not want to go in for nationalisation, because it is not a very paying proposition, and, therefore, they left it to private enterprise. But, even in the other House, Lord Luke, on behalf of the hospitals, painted a very gloomy picture, and I think not with an unduly heavy brush, especially as regards hospitals on the great arteries of traffic like the Great North and West roads, where there are small cottage hospitals which are kept up by the ungrudging efforts and great self-sacrifice of the localities, to deal with their own people, but in the case of some of which two-thirds of the beds are occupied by passing motorists who have had accidents; and, unfortunately, a great many of those passing motorists, when they have received treatment, forget their benefactors, or, if they give any donation at all to the hospital, it is so small as not to be worth having. Consequently, a very severe strain was put upon the local hospitals, and, what is most painful to my mind, the local people were kept out of their own hospitals.
Therefore, as I thought, and still think, very reasonably, the other House decided that, in addition to compulsory insurance against third-party risks, it should also be compulsory on the insured to take out a policy—the premium for which, as my right hon. and gallant Friend has said, would be quite a trifling one which no motorist would hesitate to pay—providing that, if any of those people who came under the third-party policy were treated in a hospital, the insurance company should pay £25 to the hospital for the treatment of the injured person. That satisfied the hospitals, and that is the form in which they want to have this benefit—or, rather, "benefit" is not the right word to use; I should say this act of justice by this House. Therefore, I hope that the House will resist my right 722 hon. and gallant Friend's Amendment. There may be some legal objection that the problem has never been dealt with exactly in this way. The Attorney-General will be able to explain any such objection better than I can, but I appeal to the House not to let some small technical objection stand in the way of an act of justice which I am sure we all want to do to help our magnificent hospitals which are doing such good work for all classes of the community.
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
Let me say at once that I propose in this matter to leave the decision to an entirely free vote of all the Members of the House, whether Ministerialists, Ministers, or Opposition Members. Having said that, and anticipating what it means, I know that the House will forgive me and will bear with me while I point out the difficulties in regard to this Sub-section, and the reasons which led me to ask my Noble Friend Lord Russell to resist the Amendment in the House of Lords. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who has just sat down has assumed that the only parties to this contract that ought to have any consideration are the hospitals, in view of their need for money. I appreciate the need of the hospitals for money. I appreciate the perpetual struggle of the authorities of the voluntary hospitals to get money for the running of those institutions, and personally, though I know that some of my hon. Friends do not agree with me, I have always taken the Socialist view that the scramble of the voluntary hospitals, running a public service, for voluntary contributions, is a degrading business, and that the hospitals of this country ought to be run as a public health service. [Interruption.] That is my view. I am only telling the House what I think. I adhere to it, and sub-consciously I am possibly partly influenced by it in the attitude that I take on this matter.
It is not, however, only the voluntary hospitals that are involved. Although the hospitals need money, and this is a way of getting money for them, the House ought nevertheless to consider whether it is a just and equitable way of providing money. The insurance premiums paid by motorists will undoubtedly be increased as a consequence, and, when hon. Members find that motorists grumble that their premiums are going 723 up, I hope they will not blame me. They must take their own responsibility for it. The motorist, however, has a right to be considered, and the insurance company has a right to be considered. I cannot accept the view of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman that the only panties in the picture are the voluntary hospitals. The House ought in justice to take into account every relevant consideration and interest connected with the matter.
A similar Amendment to this was moved in Committee, and was rejected, on a Division, by 20 votes to 10. The Sub-section, in my judgment, is entirely alien to this part of the Bill. The provisions of Part II of the Bill have one object in view, and one object alone, and that is to end, or substantially end, the scandal of persons being injured or killed and not being able to get compensation. In framing this part of the Bill, that was the sole object with which the Government were concerned, but the inclusion of this Sub-section has introduced something which really does not fit into the main structure of this part of the Bill, and which, as I shall show the House, will work out inconsistently and illogically, not because the framers of the Amendment were incompetent in their drafting—because I happen to know that one of the best legal brains in the country was consulted, and advised on the drafting itself—but because, in the nature of the case, it was not possible satisfactorily to graft on to this part of the Bill a matter which is not really related to the general purpose of the Bill and particularly this Part of it.
There is, in my judgment, a fundamental objection in principle to the Sub-section. I say that with every sympathy for the difficulties and troubles of the voluntary hospitals, which I, like other Members try to, assist in raising money from time to time. The objection was summed up by no less an authority than Lord Atkin in another place. He pointed out that a provision under which a policy of insurance involves a direct obligation upon an insurance company towards an unnamed hospital would be contrary to the whole principle of insurance, and, this being so, it is hardly to be wondered at that the Sub-section bristles with difficulties and anomalies. What are the 724 practical difficulties and objections to it? They may be grouped under two heads. In the first place, the Sub-section is illogical, and would be haphazard in its effect; and, secondly, it would probably be extremely awkward to work in practice, and it might be largely ineffective for its purpose.
Why do I say that the first objection holds good? The Sub-section as it stands would make provision for payment to hospitals in certain cases only. It is really beside the point for hon. Members to say that the hospitals are burdened as the result of these accidents on the roads. I agree that that is so; I know it, and I sympathise with them. It is a problem of hospital finance, which ought to be faced as a problem of hospital finance. But this Amendment to the Bill is not going to cause people who are treated in hospitals as a result of accidents on the road to pay the hospitals for their treatment—[Interruption.] One of my hon. Friends says that some people will pay, and I quite agree, but I think it is a matter of doubtful equity, in a provision of this kind, that some people should pay and some should not pay. Who pays? The victim of an accident caused by a negligent driver will get benefit from the insurance company, all being well. He will pay, or the insurance company will pay for him. But the man who caused the accident, the negligent driver, the dangerous or reckless driver, if he goes to the hospital to get treatment, will get no benefit from the insurance company, and, therefore, there is no obligation on him to pay. We cannot in reason or in logic defend an arrangement of that kind unless we are swept off our feet by a very worthy, but nevertheless not Parliamentary, sentimentality in respect of the financial problems of the hospitals.
The greatest difficulty in the Sub-section is that the liability for payment to the hospital depends on the fact of treatment in a hospital coming to the knowledge of the insurance company. There is no obligation to pay if it does not come to the knowledge of the insurance company, or of the owner of a vehicle in cases where a security bond has been taken out. It is obviously undesirable that a statutory right to payment should be based on such very uncertain foundations. The second point 725 of objection may be summed up in this way. It may be worth while considering how the Sub-section would work in practice. Where a person is injured as the result of an accident, the hospital authorities will have to try to find out whether the injured person in fact receives compensation. It is of course not certain by any means that he will get compensation. That depends on the circumstances of the case. Secondly, they will have to find out, if compensation is paid, whether the motorist responsible is insured or is covered by a security bond. Thirdly, they will have to find out the name of the insurer, if there is one, or in cases where a security bond has been taken out, the name and address of the owner of the vehicle. Their chances of finding out the name and address of the party from whom they hope to receive payment will depend largely on whether evidence of compliance with the provisions of this part of the Bill is produced at the time when the accident occurred or not. Such evidence may not be produced at the time of the accident, in which case it is a matter of considerable doubt where that evidence is likely to come from.
Finally, they will have to find out whether the fact of treatment has been brought to the notice of the insurer or, in a case where a security bond has been taken out, of the owner of the vehicle. Therefore, in a number of cases where the hospitals are entitled to recover, it is quite likely that they will be in great difficulty and the majority of the cases that come into the hospital will in all probability not be cases where the hospital can recover. In the Local Government Act, 1929, it is laid down that a person receiving treatment at a municipal hospital under the Act shall pay according to his ability. That was honest and above board. If the voluntary hospitals have arrived at the point that they can no longer run on a voluntary basis, the point to which we are coming, the point that this Amendment in fact confesses has arrived, it does not help the voluntary nature of the hospital to introduce a compulsory element such as this. If they have got to that point, it is not unreasonable for the hospitals to say, as municipal hospitals do, if the trust deeds will allow it—there may be some cases of difficulty on that point—that if the patient can afford to pay, and only if he can 726 afford to pay, he shall pay what he can afford for his treatment. That would have been logical and fair all round. I cannot say that this is fair. It is probable that premiums, as the result of the Amendment, will go up. It is outside the agreement with the insurance companies. We cannot be certain that the net income of the hospitals will increase. There may be some people who will say, "I am covered for hospital damages through my insurance. Therefore, I will reduce, or withdraw, my hospital contribution." I am not sure there is going to be a fortune in this for the hospitals.
To come back to the point where I began, I think this is an issue upon which the House should be free to vote as it likes. The agitation has been very fully conducted. I sympathise entirely with those who, for reasons which we all understand and which I will not name, are very anxious not to vote in such a way that they might be accused of voting against the interests of the hospitals in general or of their local hospitals in particular. I personally will take that risk because I believe I am right, but I appreciate the difficulty of the situation. I know the pressure that has been brought to bear, I know the honourable sentiment which exists in the matter, and I know that the insurance companies have taken very few steps, if any, to put the other side of the case and to defend their interests. But that is their business and they must not expect me to help them out of their difficulties if they do not help themselves. That is the situation as I see it. I shall vote for the Amendment. The House will do as it likes, and we will all abide by the result, but though I may be in disagreement with many Members, even though I may run the risk of being misunderstood by the voluntary hospitals, I have considered it my duty to explain how the Sub-section would work and the difficulties that are likely to arise.
§ Dr. MORRIS-JONES
I am sure the House will be disappointed with the right hon. Gentleman's speech. He has taken the opportunity, on a Sub-section which is intended to help the voluntary hospitals, to launch an attack on the voluntary hospital system and to suggest that they should be municipalised and, socialised.
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
I said I understood their difficulties and sympathised with them and helped them in my own way, but that in no way prevents me adhering to my own view that the Socialist solution of the problem is the proper one.
§ Dr. MORRIS-JONES
I should like to come back to the actual point under discussion. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the deletion of the Sub-section made a magnificent case for its extension. The right hon. Gentleman said that the voluntary hospitals would have to give up some of their rights under this Sub-section. I do not see that they give up any rights at all, or that they give up the moral, if not legal, claim for payment in respect of the treatment of persons who are not actually coming under the Sub-section. Our voluntary hospitals are going through a very difficult time. The cost of treatment has gone up and the new scientific inventions and discoveries of recent years have very considerably added to the cost of their upkeep. In addition to that, increased taxation has very considerably diminished their revenue and, on top of that, you have a general depression which prevents a large number of industrial companies and firms contributing, as they have done in the past, so much per head of their workmen, with the result that the hospitals are probably having the greatest struggle of their lives. The Bill gives them a very small crumb in this Sub-section in the way of some little compensation in the case of those insured against third-party risks. I feel sure the House will not deprive them of the very small amount of money that they will get under the Bill. I feel sure the feeling of the House would endorse the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that there should be an increase of 1d. tax on every licence, but we cannot bring that about at this stage of the Bill. I trust the House will not deprive the voluntary hospitals of this very small crumb and will refuse the Amendment.
§ Dr. FORGAN
I regret that the Minister should not have thought fit to ask Members on this side of the House to support his attitude towards the Amendment. This small crumb is really too small to be of much consideration. The voluntary system of conducting hospitals, 728 useful as it has been in the past, is now out of date and the great majority of the hospitals are nearly bankrupt. The amount of financial support that the Bill would bring to them is very slight. They could, of course, go on with the process which has been in vogue for some time of endeavouring to get for the voluntary hospitals grants of money from different public health schemes, but I wish to register my entire disagreement with the views of the last speaker in regard to the desirability of the House doing anything to subsidise a system which is very nearly effete and which will very soon cease to be.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Sir H. NIELD
The road to Oxford runs through my constituency and within quite a measurable distance, no further than from this House to say Guildhall on the other side of Parliament Square, there is the Great West Road and accidents are constantly happening there, and also upon the Uxbridge Road. The hospital, of which I am the President, has had to spend £7,000, £8,000 or £9,000 a year in treating patients admitted entirely owing to their being involved in motor accidents along those two roads. It is hardly credible that those people should take the advantages of that hospital, maintained entirely by the subscriptions of local people and by the bequests of those who have died, and that we collected less than £700 from patients as against their expenses of nearly £8,000. I made the suggestion more than two years ago to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) when he was Prime Minister that he should legislate in such a way that the hospitals would get 5 per cent. of the fines levied on reckless motorists in the district Fines along that road were extraordinarily heavy. The man behaved as motorists are behaving to-day, especially the younger men if they can get cars under the present conditions, in a perfectly reckless and abandoned manner. They do not seem to care a bit about the way, they drive or the injury they inflict. If they were proceeded against, the fines to be a fund towards which the hospitals might look for a reasonable reimbursement. That has been denied. The Bill provides a means for enabling the hospitals to receive a portion of the fund made available under a 729 policy which motorists are compelled by Statute to take out as a condition of running their car on the road. Most of us who are prudent, not only as to risks to ourselves and our cars, but also as to the possible infliction of injury upon others, do take out such a policy. In this Bill, the policy is not going to cost many shillings to the man who runs a motor. Surely he can pay a few shillings more on his policy in order to give some recompense to those people who are striving hard to make ends meet? In April last, a hospital week in my Division produced £8,000 to meet a deficit of £20,000. We were thankful for what we got. Never mind the locality, never mind Lord Atkin's legal, technical mind upon it; let us endeavour to get some contribution of this sort, and as time goes on we shall see the defects of it, and, I hope, be able to remedy them. Do let us recognise the enormous service that these willing workers, doctors, nurses and others have given for so many years, and do not let us discourage them in the efforts they make.
§ Mr. HOLFORD KNIGHT
I intervene only because the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has not altogether resisted the blandishments of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who proposed this Amendment. The Minister has raised issues which are not strictly connected with the Bill. He gave an indication of his own view as to certain other matters. I want to ask the House to return to the simple issue which this Amendment raises. My hon. Friend, owing to the history of this matter upstairs, apparently had to recite some technical reasons which had induced a certain course of action. We are not concerned with that. The simple issue here is whether provision should be made under the Bill for some payment to the hospitals in respect of treatment which they give to victims. First of all, it is complained that there are technical reasons against imposing a charge of this sort. No one in, this House has a higher regard than myself for the noble Lord (Lord Atkin), whose speech in another place was mentioned by the Minister. It is true that a policy of insurance hitherto has not included the charge proposed. But I always thought the law was a system which was continually under improvement. It is no reason against a 730 change that it has not occurred before, and the fact that up to the present, insurance policies have not had to maintain a charge of this character, is no adequate reason, in my view, why it should not be made so in the future. The technical reasons which the Minister recited, no doubt under the instructions of his distinguished and capable advisers, are reasons which ought not to delay this House in coming to a decision.
Putting aside these technical reasons, the simple issue is whether this provision should be made. The hon. Member opposite has complained that the provision was not going to be available in all sorts of cases which he raised. It is true that the Bill does not make provision for all the cases that ought to be covered. The Minister apparently is aware that certain communications, a considerable number, have been received in regard to this Bill. I myself have received a series of urgent representations from the hospitals, large and small, in the City of Nottingham, asking me to use such influence as I possess to retain this part of the Bill. That request coincides with my own opinion. We are not concerned with the present position or the future of voluntary hospitals, or the merits or demerits of that system. In the main, I confess at once that I share the view of the Minister, but that is not the issue here. It is common knowledge that in recent years very heavy drains have been made upon the resources of the hospitals, some of them from very scanty resources, in respect of these cases. As the Bill make provision for some of these cases as an act of justice to the hospitals, I ask the House to resist the Amendment and to keep the Bill in its present form.
§ Sir JOSEPH LAMB
My name has been associated with the opposition to this Amendment, and I should like to take the opportunity to say that those who move an Amendment of this description should prove their case. Instead, it has been accepted by many speakers, and particularly the Mover of the Amendment, that they had proved that the case was not so good, because the Clause did not go far enough. They said that the hospitals were not going to get enough. The Mover of the Amendment made the suggestion that another scheme should be adopted. He gave the interest- 731 ing information that a penny on every motor car brought in more than £10,000. He did not go on to say how he was going to distribute that in fairness to the hospitals. Another suggestion was made by the Minister, who proposed nationalisation. I do not think this is a time to discuss the nationalisation of the hospitals, which is not before us to-day. I hope that those who are in favour of nationalisation of hospitals will not prejudice this case because they have other views.
This is in no sense an effort to obtain funds for the hospitals. It is merely an attempt to obtain payment for certain services which are forced upon the hospitals, and that is a very different thing. These services are rendered by hospitals voluntarily. In one sense they are compulsory, because public opinion would undoubtedly blame the hospitals if they did not accept these cases when they came. Another suggestion is that they ought to ask for payment. That is not possible. If a person is unconscious, I do not see how the hospitals are going to give adequate treatment if they are to wait until the patient is conscious in order to ask him for payment. There is undoubtedly an obligation laid upon hospitals which they could not, if they desired, resist. I think they have a very good and undeniable claim for the small payment which is being given them under this Bill, in the absence of any other scheme which is going to assure them some just remuneration for the services which they render. I appeal to the House to support this Clause.
§ Mr. JAMES GARDNER
I am supporting the Minister in his recommendation to the House to oppose the question of giving this assistance. It is a good political maxim that there should be no taxation without representation. Within the general provisions of a very wide Measure, it is suggested that a Clause should be inserted which should permit people to be compulsorily taxed in order to give funds to certain associations. I believe there is no such thing as a voluntary hospital in this country. They are largely supported by the pennies and two pennies per week of people who have no voice in regard to their control. Whether Members like it or not, you cannot dissociate the management of the 732 voluntary hospitals from the question of what their future may be. I believe that you do not get the class of service that you ought to get, nor the class of service that is desirable, in cases of this kind. The right hon. and learned Member for Ealing (Sir H. Nield), who said "My Guildhall," has a Guildhall of his own and a hospital of his own.
§ Mr. GARDNER
If the right hon. and learned Member had not raised the matter, I would not have referred to it. There are just as many accidents in my constituency as there are in the hon. Member's. The police invariably take accidents to the municipal hospitals and not to the voluntary hospital, because they get better service.
§ Commander SOUTHBY
I am sorry we have had any discussion of the merits or demerits of the voluntary hospital system. That does not enter into it at all. Nor does the question of the young and fast-driving motorist. The hospitals affected are mainly the small cottage hospitals, which exist to supply definitely local needs. Owing to motor transport, these hospitals have had thrust upon them a burden which they were never intended to bear, in the treatment of persons, perhaps coming from very great distances, who are injured in their vicinity. I speak feelingly on that point, because through my constituency there runs one of the major Toads to Brighton, and the number of accidents is fairly considerable. The right hon. and gallant Member who moved this Amendment made, I think, a most unfair attack, because he suggested that this was an effort on the part of the voluntary hospitals to raise funds. It is nothing of the kind. It is an effort on the part of this House to give the voluntary hospitals bare justice. Every speech which has been made against this Amendment has really been a speech for an extension of the very principle which we are trying to introduce into this Bill. I suggest that it is only fair that you should give the voluntary hospitals the "half loaf" which is contained in this Clause and not the "no bread" to which the hon. Gentleman the Minister of Transport—although I am sure he is a staunch supporter of any hospital effort or any other 733 good effort—is desirous of the Committee agreeing by voting for the Amendment. I most heartily oppose the Amendment, and I shall vote in favour of the Clause.
§ Mr. HERBERT MORRISON
I realise the very wide interest which hon. Members have in this matter, but, as I have already reminded the House, we have a lot to do. Hon. Members are, I think, clear as to what are their views, and I think that we might very well come to a conclusion. Probably the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who moved the Amendment will, in coming to a decision, take into account what is the obvious opinion of the House and will possibly have regard to it.
§ Major HILLS
I have great respect for the opinions of this House always and on all occasions and even when I venture to think that they are mistaken I accept the decision of the House. I am persuaded which way the decision will go and therefore I beg to ask leave to withdrawn the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.