Sir HILTON YOUNG
I beg to move, in page 1, line 11, to leave out the word "ninety," and to insert instead thereof the word "eighty."
I am obliged to you, Mr. Dunnico, for your Ruling which will be of assistance to the Committee. The object of the Amendment is to reduce the maximum limit of borrowing from £90,000,000 to £80,000,000. The Committee well apprehends that the Government are making the unusual proposal of increasing the limit, not by the £10,000,000 which has unfortunately, become the normal amount of increase in these cases, but by the abnormal amount of £20,000,000 at one jump. The situation which will result from that remarkable action on the part of the Government is so startlingly clear, that but few words are needed to support this Amendment. I base the necessity for this Amendment entirely on the urgent necessity for maintaining Parliamentary control over finance, at a season when anxieties about the state of our national finances are rising very high. I ask the Committee to consider the present state of affairs. It is not in dispute that public opinion is thoroughly nervous and alarmed about the outcome of this year's finances. It is not in dispute that we are moving rapidly towards a large deficit. It is not in dispute, either, that this situation is very largely the result of unsound finance in connection with unemployment. That has been placed beyond the possibility of contradiction, since the remarkable light thrown upon the position by a recent pronouncement of prominent officials of the Treasury.
Further—and this is a point to which I specially direct the Committee's attentiontion—it is commonly agreed by all parties in the House of Commons that it is impossible to continue to finance unemployment on the present basis. It is not in controversy that the Government must produce some scheme for recasting the finances of unemployment. Nobody has used stronger language about the unsoundness of present methods than the Minister of Labour herself and this view has been confirmed in one of the most 1541 dramatically startling pronouncements to which the House of Commons has ever listened, when the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the other day, from his place, with all formality, and with all the responsibility of his high office, told us that it was impossible that the finances of unemployment should continue upon their present basis and without reform.
It is the acknowledged duty of the Government to produce a scheme for financing unemployment which will be sound. What hold have we over the Government in order to keep them up to their duty in this respect? The only hold which the House of Commons has in that respect is the hold over finance. At the present time it is sufficiently discreditable for a Government to have to come back to the House of Commons for £10,000,000 under this head considering the time, the notice, the opportunities which they have had to recast and reestablish the finances of the Unemployment Insurance Fund. But that they should choose the present moment, when their duty is clear, when the desire of the country to be saved from this growth of insolvency is clear, when the duty of the House of Commons to insist upon reform is clear, to come back to the House of Commons for an abnormal extension of the period for which they are seeking further opportunity of idleness, is indeed discreditable. It is not only the finance of the fund that is in urgent need of reform—and urgency is the soul of this question—but the actual practice under the fund. There are acknowledged abuses. We may differ about the remedy for those abuses, but we are all agreed that there are abuses which need remedy.
I only mention one. There is the growth of a system under which the payment of unemployment benefit is being used in aid of part-time wages. Unemployment insurance finance is rapidly being erected, by a natural process of evolution, into a system of subsidies, by which large trades which are subject to the greatest depression are, in fact, being subsidised by smaller trades which are more prosperous. A recent document has been produced for the information of this House which clearly and brilliantly demonstrates that unemployment benefit is being converted into an insurance by which more prosperous trades are being 1542 forced to subsidise less prosperous trades. That is a new abuse. It is a growing abuse, and it is an abuse which, if it is allowed time to saddle itself on the country, will be very difficult to shake off. Here is need for urgency. It is urgent that the Government should deal with these matters, but instead of any attempt to do so, they come here with the advertised intention of seeking, by the extension of these borrowing powers, further freedom to sit still and do nothing.
As I have said, the finances of the year are in urgent need of attention. I wish I could think that they were getting that attention, but I do not see any evidence of it in any strong opinions from representatives of the Treasury on the Front Bench to-day. The unemployment insurance scheme is in urgent need of reform to prevent the crystallisation of these evils to which I have referred. What is more, the House of Commons is in urgent need of an opportunity to make its opinion felt upon these great financial questions. The charge brought against the House of Commons to-day is that of failure in its grip on control of finance. What are our opportunities for establishing control over the most prominent financial question of the day, namely, unemployment insurance? Those opportunities are found in these recurring Measures seeking fresh borrowing powers. The opportunities are bad. They ought not to arise. We ought not to have this patchwork procedure, but the right lining to the cloud is that these miserable expedients do, at any rate, give the House of Commons an opportunity of expressing its views upon the burning question of the day. The Government now propose to deprive us even of this last opportunity of rounding-up their incompetence. This Measure, in its present form, is flouting public opinion; it is flouting the responsibilities of the House of Commons, and I appeal to the Committee to introduce into it at any rate some degree of recognition of the realities of the time by passing this Amendment.
§ Sir JOHN SIMON
I would like to second the Amendment. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir H. Young) that the question raised by it is very important 1543 at this time. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour, in his speech on the Second Reading, said that discussions on Bills of this sort tended to be dull and dreary. We all appreciated what he meant, while, at the same time, we appreciated his own contribution, but this is a very important issue, because I am convinced that large numbers of the public outside regard the view which we take of this question as the test of the zeal and determination of Members of the House of Commons to retain control over public expenditure. We are told that there is a great decline in the influence of the House of Commons and the respect in which it is held. Nothing is more certain to produce such a result than action which might be understood to show that we are not really anxious to retain and exercise the essential prerogative of the House of Commons, namely, control over the expenditure of public money.
Consider the amazing conditions under which this proposal saw the light. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, some 10 days or a fortnight ago, made what was, by common consent, a most remarkable speech. He gave a cold shudder to every thinking citizen. The newspapers next morning were full of his very emphatic and very impressive utterance. But if you happened to walk down that morning to get the latest White Paper out of the Vote Office, you would find it to be a White Paper in connection with a Financial Resolution, the effect of which was that, for the first time in the history of provision for unemployment insurance, we were to be invited to vote as much as £20,000,000 additional borrowing power. It is astonishing that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should be urging us to pay close attention to the subject of control over expenditure, while at the very same moment the very same Government is making an entirely novel suggestion which means, if the Bill is passed in its present form, that we private Members of this House need not trouble our heads about unemployment insurance and its finance until well towards the close of the summer. Of course, the Minister of Labour will be busy, and we all recognise with what devotion she discharges her task, but is it not an assistance to her and her Department if public opinion and 1544 House of Commons discussion are kept active and eager in the meantime?
I am bound to add that, when we consider the history of the matter, we find that to not a few it is a history of delay and disappointment, and I am afraid that, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sevenoaks has said, there are a great many people who think that it is a history of more than that. They think that it is a history of the shirking by the Government of a most unpleasant task—a task which nobody, I should think, would be anxious to take out of their hands, and in which they are entitled to our full support, but one which is continually being postponed, and on every occasion when it is postponed a new excuse is put forward for the postponement. I go back to the Unemployment Insurance Act which we discussed at the end of 1929. I always forget the names of these various Measures, but I think it was called the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1930. The right hon. Lady on that occasion made a very important pronouncement. I re-read the other day the speech which she made on the Financial Resolution. That Measure proposed to continue transitional benefit for a long period, and the Minister of Labour expressly said that she had chosen the period of 12 months for a particular reason. She might have proposed a longer or a shorter period, but, she said, the Government had selected the 12 months' period for a particular reason. The right hon. Lady said:We have quite definitely limited this to 12 months. I informed the House when I introduced the Bill that we want this 12 months space because the Government have already set up a Committee which is at work upon that larger scheme IN which the right hon. Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) so eloquently described.That was the Government's view. That was inquiry number one of the Government at that time. They got their committee at work, but the right hon. Lady said that there were no new ideas. She said:I may say quite definitely that there is absolutely nothing in that speech which has not already been in the minds of the Committee. There is no new idea that has come from that bench which is not already in the minds of the Committee set up to consider the larger question, namely, what is to be the plan by the time this Act expires of social relief on a more scientific basis."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1929; col. 1104, Vol. 232.]1545 The situation therefore was that in November, 1929, the Government came forward and said that they wanted another 12 months. They had their own committee working on this tremendous question, which I frankly and readily admit is one of the most important and elaborate questions which any Government could consider. The Government then said that they were grateful for any suggestions, but that all suggestions were already in their minds and, at the end of 12 months they would be in a different position because they were pursuing a more scientific basis which they would secure by the time the Act expired. I think the Government were very well-advised in asking for that 12 months, but it would have been a more satisfactory state of things if they had been able in the course of that 12 months to produce something. This very Bill to which I am referring is the Bill which has expired, and it is for that reason that it is necessary to extend transitional benefit for a further time. It is quite plain, when one looks at the history of the matter, that the Minister of Labour and the present Government at that time had a definite object which they were determined to pursue, and they were entitled to everybody's trust in pursuing it if they had pursued it diligently and without delay. The right hon. Lady said on the occasion of the Second Reading of that Bill—and she is probably familiar with this quotation, firs she has heard it several times lately:With the concurrence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the transitional period is continued by the Bill for another year but on a different basis and with a definite objective …. The definite objective in view in continuing the transitional period is, as I have explained in my opening remarks, to give the Government time and opportunity to examine how best the able-bodied unemployed, who are now outside the insurance scheme, may be dealt with."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st November, 1929; cols. 749 and 750, Vol. 232.]So far so good. I think we were all of us at that time quite prepared to wait. Bat the right hon. Lady was repudiating with indignation the idea that she was going to be among those who would come forward and ask for increased borrowing powers. In that same month of November she spoke, and she said:If you came forward and wiped out the limit of borrowing powers at £40,000,000, 1546 and went on borrowing to £50,000,000 or £60,000,000 it would be a dishonest course." Nobody could have used firmer language, and she gave her reasons for what she said would be a dishonest course. She said it would be a dishonest coursebecause it would be contracting a debt that you saw no possible way of paying off.Does anybody see any possible way of paying the debt off now? Does the Chancellor of the Exchequer think that the course which the right hon. Lady describes as a dishonest course has now become honest on any principle of finance? The right hon. Lady continued:Therefore, I have dismissed definitely from my consideration any question of increasing the borrowing powers of the fund."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th November, 1929; col. 1103, Vol. 232.]While anybody can see what a tremendous difficulty the Government and the Department over which the right hon. Lady presides must be in—and I do not for one moment say that if you had another Government it would not find it difficult—what I think we are entitled to Observe is that at each stage of the story, which has lasted for 18 months, every time there has been a respite secured from the House of Commons, whether it be through the committee or by other means, it has turned out to be a mere excuse. We had during the year 1930 three separate occasions when an additional £10,000,000 was secured—in April, in July and in November. In April the excuse was that the 12 months was not up and that was a perfectly natural excuse. In July there was an entirely new excuse, and that was, "Now we have got rid of the idea of solving this by the Government committee"—[Interruption]. I hope hon. Members will correct me if I am wrong—[Interruption].
§ Sir J. SIMON
I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will appreciate the fact that I am directly on the point of this Amendment. We are now for the first time in the history of this subject authorising twice as big a loan as we have ever authorised before, and my argument is that we should not do so because each previous occasion on which we have given the Government a respite has always led 1547 to disappointment. I want to pursue my argument, because it seems to me to be important. When we came to July an entirely new reason was offered. Hon. Members opposite will, I hope, allow me to put it, because, whether or not it is pleasing to hear these things in the House, it is quite certain that people outside in the country are tired of seeing us idly and indifferently going on authorising a further expenditure of public money without getting control. The excuse given by the Government last July was that they had just secured a three-party committee. The Prime Minister said some very complimentary things about the committee and about the co-operation of all parties in the House, and because of the new idea the House of Commons was pleased to authorise another £10,000,000 loan. So we came to last November, and then, equally suddenly, a new excuse emerged, and the new excuse was that the three-party committee had not been able to do anything satisfactorily—they have not received much praise after all—and so we have an entirely new idea. That new idea was to have a Royal Commission. I took part in the Debate last November, and I ventured then to point out that if there was going to be a Royal Commission it ought to have been appointed long ago. But the Commission was appointed quite plainly on the basis that it was going to be one of those Royal Commissions which acts exceedingly quickly, and the right hon. Lady was confident that she would be able to produce from that Royal Commission the relevant results quite early in the present Spring.
That being the history of the matter, it is disappointing to find that now, for the first time in this melancholy story, on the eve of the day when the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his speech, we are invited to authorise twice as big a loan and to give the Government twice as long a period in which to feel secure from any House of Commons criticism and to bring that period to an end some time in the month of August when everybody will be wanting to go on their holidays—[Interruption]—and when we shall be told that it is impossible to deal with anything satisfactorily for some months to come. I would strongly urge on the Committee that this history shows that we are not in the least justified in 1548 doubling the amount. Particularly is this the case when one considers the language used by important Treasury officials before this Royal Commission. Any argument to the contrary then becomes absurd. Here you have Sir Richard Hopkins saying:On the other hand, continued State borrowing on the present vast scale without adequate provision for repayment by the fund would quickly call in question the stability of the British financial system.We find him saying that this additional borrowing is now on a scale which in substance obliterates the effect on the Sinking Fund and that these vast Treasury loans, of which the present is an example, represent in effect State borrowing to relieve current State obligations at the expense of the future. We find him saying also that this is the ordinary and well-recognised sign of an unbalanced budget. I am at a complete loss to understand how the Chancellor of the Exchequer one day can get up and make such a speech as he made to this House, and why next day his colleague should make this wholly exceptional claim upon the House of Commons. I take note of what I understand to be the right hon. Lady's specific assurance that legislation must be proposed and passed before the House of Commons rises for the Autumn Recess.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I repeat that I take note of the Minister's specific assurance that legislation must be proposed and passed—legislation which is to recast unemployment insurance—before the House rises for the Autumn Recess. I do not myself think that the right hon. Lady ought to be anything but grateful if the Committee here were to show, as I believe they ought to show, a determination to keep a close interest in this subject in the intervening time. After all, the tragic fact is plain enough—I am not blaming anybody, and I am not saying that speeches can get rid of it—it is that of the insured population of this country over 21 per cent. are unemployed and only 10 per cent. can receive benefit out of the fund on an actuarial basis.
§ Mr. TINKER
On a point of Order, Mr. Chairman. May I ask your Ruling 1549 as to whether this is not a Second Reading speech entirely?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I understand that it has been agreed, with the consent of the Committee, that the two Amendments on the Paper shall be discussed at the same time. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, as far as I can see, is dealing with the finance of the scheme.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I am not at all desirous of taking up any length of time, and I am in the hands of the Committee, but I think I was speaking quite directly to this Amendment when I was pointing out that it is a very remarkable thing that we should be asked to part with all interest in this subject for many months to come at a time when the facts are that 21 per cent. of the insured population are unemployed and only 10 per cent. of them are really receiving benefit out of a fund on an actuarial basis.
The last point I wanted to make is this. It seems to me that so long as the present scheme goes on and so long as the Committee of the House of Commons does not take a more active interest in altering it then this result arises. There is confusion in the public mind—and there must be—between the insured person who draws on the fund from which he has a right to claim a share as an insured member and those people who, whatever their anxieties—no one denies their hardships—have made no such contribution, and are in receipt of State relief. It is a most cruel wrong done to those who have by contributions from themselves, from their employers, and from the State, really maintained themselves as members of an actuarial scheme. That is the reason why at the present time, if you go into the country, you find that the use of this horrible word "dole" has become universal, and men and women, who are entitled to say that they at least belong to a proper insurance fund, and are accredited members of a proper insurance scheme, are being lumped together in the public judgment and the public mind with another set of people whose misfortunes may be just as great, but who are certainly not entitled to proclaim that they are being provided for on an insurance basis.
I am sorry if hon. Gentlemen opposite think that I have said more than I should, but I am speaking with the 1550 greatest sincerity when I say that, if you wish the House of Commons to recover the authority which it is very much in danger of losing in the judgment of the nation, it can only be by our reasserting our real authority over the expenditure of public money. The old traditional authority and power that this House has over public finance was gained and secured at a time when we were insisting upon it against the Crown, but the vigour with which the House of Commons then insisted upon it against the Crown was far greater than the vigour with which in these days they ever insist upon it against His Majesty's Ministers. All this talk about economy and thrift is perfectly worthless unless the representatives of the people in this House are determined to preserve their power of controlling the course of public expenditure.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
I am at a loss to understand why the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the M ember for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) was ever made, for there was nothing in it that has not been more tersely said from the Conservative benches. As to why £20,000,000 is being asked for instead of £10,000,000, there is a perfectly simple and obvious answer. It is that, owing to the economic blizzard, there are more people on the register to-day than there were when the last Vote was being asked for. While it is true that I am three months behind in my dates—not 12 months—the Circumstances that have intervened since the 1929 speech was made are such as nobody ever contemplated at that time. We have had the intervening dislocation in connection with the public assistance administration owing to the difficulty of putting the Local Government Act into operation. That has caused delay in the consultations with regard to what may be possible in connection with other forms of assistance to the able-bodied unemployed. On top of that, there has been the tremendous increase in the register.
If hon. Members will study carefully the whole of my speeches and not merely pick out certain extracts which misrepresent the general tendency, they will find that my policy has been consistently in the direction of transferring the burden of the able-bodied to the taxes instead of to the rates, and of endeavour- 1551 ing to secure that there shall be a recognition of the fact that the present basis of the fund is utterly inadequate for the burden which the law has placed upon it. The Section in the 1930 Act, the Act which administers the main part of the benefit, embodies an Amendment which was fought for by the Liberal party, and was put in the Act which I have to administer. The Liberal party, therefore, is the last section in the House which should take part in any criticism of the kind which we have heard. This is the Committee stage of the Bill. I cannot find that any other point has been raised in regard to the money side of the Amendment to which I need reply.
May I remind the Committee of what I have brought into the fund as the result of the policy which I have consistently advocated of trying to relieve the burden on the backs of the ratepayers, and of placing it on the backs of the taxpayers? I increased the revenue in 1929–30 by £7,500,000; in 1930–31 by £25,500,000 and in 1931–32 by £33,500,000. The previous Government did nothing but reduce the revenue of the fund, and, in so far as we have been overtaken by this great rise in the figures on the register, it is perfectly clear to those who study the estimates that, if the present register continues for the next three months, we cannot have money enough left to tide us over until the House of Commons reassembles in the autumn. That is a firm guarantee that the whole matter must come before the House again.
I want to correct the right hon. and learned Gentleman in a phrase which he used in quoting from my speech. He used the phrase, "legislation which must recast the Act." I do not know what the legislation will be like, and I did not say that. What I said was that I must come to this House for legislation before the House adjourned for the summer, and that what the nature of that legislation will be must depend to a very large extent, first, upon the recommendations of the Commission, and, second, on the degree to which these recommendations commend themselves to the House.
§ Sir J. SIMON
I did not understand the right hon. Lady's words to mean that she was merely saying to the House that 1552 she would come back to ask for more borrowing powers, but that she would come to the House before the Summer Recess to make proposals for legislative changes of some sort in connection with the scheme. Are we to understand that her assurance to the House is that she will then merely come back for more money?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
My answer was that we must not allow the finances of this fund to get out of the control of the House, and I was merely making the point specifically in relation to the fund that it is obvious that I must come back to the House, because I have not asked for enough money to carry me over the Autumn Recess. That was the point which the right hon. and learned Member specifically raised.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
As I understand the definite promise of the Minister, she quite clearly undertook, on behalf of the Government—and this has been mentioned twice—to come back to pass legislation before the House rose for the Autumn Recess. It was quite clear and specific that legislation was not for further borrowing powers and further control of the finances of the House; it was to pass legislation remodelling or reforming the substance of the unemployment insurance system. I am not for a moment assuming that she stated that she would undertake to follow the report of the Royal Commission in every jot and tittle.
Sir A. STEEL-MALTLAND
I am perfectly willing to give way either to the Minister or to the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) in order to clear up this important point. We were promised legislation not merely to get more borrowing powers, but we were promised legislation to deal with the question of the reform of the unemployment insurance system after the consideration of the report of the Royal Commission. Here are her words:We have specially asked that they"—1553 the Commission—will give us a report by the end of May. We have pointed out that we must legislate before the House rises for the Autumn Recess."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1931; col. 913, Vol. 248.]That report, be it noted, was to come before the legislation before the Autumn Recess. That the legislation before the Autumn Recess was connected with the Royal Commission is clearly shown by what follows on the ensuing page:With regard to the length of extension, here again, in view of the fact that the end of May is the earliest time at which we can expect the Commission to report or make any recommendations, and that after May those recommendations won Id have to be carefully considered and a Bill prepared and discussed by the House, and Parliament would have to make up its mind on it, it is clear that we could not expect to get legislation through before the end of the Summer Recess, and it will be some period, after that before it will be possible to get it into operation. Therefore, the earliest date at which any legislation could become effective would be October, or perhaps even later."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 16th February, 1931; col. 915, Vol. 248.]If I am correct in my interpretation, that quite clearly was an undertaking to bring in legislation after the consideration of the Report of the Commission, and reorganising—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I am not pinning the right hon. Lady to every detail of the Commission's report, but to a readiness to reorganise the unemployment insurance system or to legislate with regard to it. I think I have correctly interpreted the right hon. Lady.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
This is a storm in a teacup. What the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said was that I had promised legislation which must recast the Act. At Once I wanted to correct that, because it was putting words into my mouth that I had never used. I stand by every word that is in the OFFICIAL REPORT.
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
May I ask the right hon. Lady what is the meaning of the words that she uttered—is it not, to deal with the substance and the essence and the whole of the machinery and the conditions of unemployment insurance, if need be, in the light of the report of that. Royal Commission?
§ Miss BONDFIELD indicated assent.1554
§ Sir A. STEEL-MAITLAND
It is. Then I am grateful to the Minister. It is to deal with the substance and the whole nature of the unemployment insurance system in the light of the Royal Commission.
§ Miss BONDFIELD
This is very important. I do not want to have it said afterwards that I allowed something to go by default which may be interpreted in another way. I was most careful to check the hon. and gallant Member for Kelvingrove (Major Elliot) last night when he attributed to me a phrase which I had not used. For that express purpose, I repeated my words, and had them embodied in the OFFICIAL REPORT, and I stand by those words. It is perfectly clear that they do not say that I am going to recast the Act, but that I shall await the recommendations of the Commission, a Bill will then be submitted to this House, and Parliament will decide how much or how little of the recommendations of the Commission are going to be embodied in it.
§ Mr. R. A. TAYLOR
I understand that it has been decided that wide latitude will be allowed in this discussion this evening.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I did not understand that. I understand that it was decided to take these two Amendments together.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I understood that we were to discuss these two Amendments together, and you allowed the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) to make a speech which might have been more appropriately delivered on the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. and learned Gentleman was dealing with the borrowing powers of the fund, which I have decided is in order on this Amendment.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I do not wish to challenge your Ruling, and I bow to your superior judgment, but although I listened very carefully to what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said I did not myself see much relevance in it to the Amendments on the Paper. But I rise to ask the right hon. Lady whether she can give me an answer to a question raised when the Financial Resolution was before the House, which relates to a development in connection with 1555 administration which I view with some alarm. I think I shall be in order in putting this question forward as a strong reason why the first Amendment should be defeated. The point is that recently we have had an umpire's decision which lays it down that in all cases where men have been out of work for five years or longer the presumption arises that they are not normally insurable.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not know that there is anything in this Bill dealing with the umpire's decision.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
With all respect, when we are voting money we are entitled to ask for an assurance from the Minister that there will be proper administration of what is voted.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Bill is promoted for the purpose of extending the borrowing powers of the fund to £90,000,000, and there is an Amendment to limit that amount to £80,000,000, and any observations either for or against that reduction would be perfectly in order. But, as I understand it, the umpire is superior, in a way, even to the Minister, and this is not a. Bill, therefore, to deal with his powers.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I am not attempting to deal with his powers. What I am trying to argue is that the first Amendment ought to be defeated because, if the Government are to do justice to a particular class, they should have at their disposal the amount of money proposed in the Bill. If I am out of order, I am very sorry, but at the same time I would like to have an assurance that the money will be properly spent. I was drawing the right hon. Lady's attention to an administrative proceeding in some parts of the country under which certain classes of people are being deprived of benefits.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I am sorry, but that point does not arise here. The question is whether the Minister shall be able to borrow up to the amount of £90,000,000 for unemployment insurance, and for the purpose of paying it as she has been paying it. We cannot call in question any decision given by an umpire.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I am not calling in question a decision given by an umpire, but am pointing out to the right hon. Lady 1556 that there is a special necessity to watch the administration of benefit as it affects a particular class of people. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument was devoted to the exposition of the principle that a certain class would be entitled to benefit on an insurance basis, and that certain other classes would no longer be entitled to benefit on that basis. I understood the right hon. and learned Gentleman to be in favour of something being done for the classes which were no longer drawing benefit, and that he desired that they should be treated in an entirely different category. I think it will be permissible for me to draw the attention of the Minister of Labour to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument, because we want some assurance that the interests of this particular class will be properly safeguarded. That is a very strong argument why the sum of money asked for should not be reduced. I am extremely sorry that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley, who is so fond of drawing the attention of the Minister of Labour to what she has said on a previous occasion, did not find time to tell the House exactly what he would do with the large number of people who have long records of insurance, but, owing to the fact that they live in a depressed area, where the main industry has been depressed for a long time, are unable to get work.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The right hon. and learned Gentleman would not be in order in replying to that question.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) made plain that the 10 per cent. of the unemployed who were not receiving benefit and were outside the actuarial basis should be dealt with in some other way than by insurance. I think on this point we are entitled to have some reply to the very serious statement which was made on this question by the right hon. Gentleman, because that statement applies to half of the number at present unemployed. We feel that some reply should be made. I do not think it will be denied—it has always been the case with your rulings, Mr. Chairman, and other rulings—that when a statement like that is made we are entitled to ask for a reply.
§ Mr. TINKER
That is why I rose to point out that the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley was making a Second Reading speech. I called attention to that point in order that we should be allowed to proceed on the same lines.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
I am most anxious to obey your Ruling and I thought, in view of the special latitude that was allowed to the right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley I should be entitled to ask for some justification of the statement which he made. The question I wish to put to him is—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I could not allow the right hon. Gentleman to reply to the question, because it is not in order.
§ Mr. TAYLOR
Then I am at a loss to understand why the speech made by the right hon. Gentleman was delivered at all at this stage of the Bill. If your Ruling is that nobody can deal with what the right hon. Gentleman said, I have nothing more to say.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I did not say that the hon. Member could not deal with it. What I said was that he could not ask the right hon. Gentleman questions, and expect him to reply when I had ruled that the point raised was not in order.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
Hon. Members opposite have been examining, like the rest of the country, the evidence given before the Royal Commission during the last week or so, and no doubt they have been just as shocked as the country is at the figures which have been disclosed by Treasury and other officials who have given evidence before the commission. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] If they have not, it remains for the country to shock them, which undoubtedly it will do shortly. One of these statements was made by Mr. Bowers, the Accountant-General of the Ministry of Labour, and the point which he makes bears very much on our deliberations this evening. He said: 1558Further continuance of so large a debt makes the insurance scheme waterlogged. The hopelessness of repayment prevents the financial position from receiving the close and exacting attention which is required in so difficult a scheme. It is easy in such a situation to act as if it does not matter if the finance gets worse.I suggest to the right hon. Lady, and not only to her, but to the whole of this Committee, that it is easy for all of us to act as though it does not matter if the finance gets worse, and that is what I feel in connection with this Amendment. Whatever view we may take here, the country will consider, if we extend the period which the Minister will have at her disposal before coming to the House again, that we may, and, as I think, rightly, be charged with acting as if it did not matter if the finance gets worse. After all, the right hon. Lady herself, although I am sure with the best intentions, is open to the charge that she has been acting during the past 18 months as though it did not matter if the finance got worse.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
I am not on that point at all, but am on the purely financial point of this Bill, and the point of view from which the country is regarding it now. I remember the right hon. Lady saying 18 months ago that the fund was bankrupt, and at the same time she said that she refused to borrow, because the obvious objection to borrowing is that it is merely adding loads to the Insurance Fund and increasing the amount of interest which the fund has to pay to the Treasury. I would remind her, though I am sure she knows it very well, that Mr. Bowers, in his evidence, remarked the other day:For the fund to borrow what it cannot repay is clearly indefensible.Later on, in November, the right hon. Lady said shat it would be dishonest to come forward and ask for increased borrowing powers, because it would be contracting a debt which she saw no possible way of paying off. In spite of that good resolution, made just before the New Year, we borrowed £10,000,000 in March, £10,000,000 in July and £10,000,000 in November, and now we are asked to borrow £20,000,000. It is to be noted that up to the present moment we have kept 1559 an interval of something like three months between the various occasions when the right hon. Lady has come to the House to ask for more money, and I am quite at a loss, and I think the country is at a loss, to understand why it should be necessary at this period, when things are very much worse than they were 18 months ago—and the fund was bankrupt then—to ask for a double extension of time and for double the amount of money.
§ Mr. RAMSBOTHAM
It cannot be said that there are double the number of people, because last Christmas the unemployment figure stood at 1,900,000, and it was quite sufficient for the right hon. Lady to borrow £10,000,000 then. I admit that there has since been a considerable increase, but I cannot think that that can justify asking the House, at a time when the fund is £70,000,000 in debt, to relax its control over the situation, to allow double the amount of money to be borrowed, and to allow a further period of five or six months before the House is asked for further sanctions. If that is not acting as the Accountant-General said, it is difficult to know what is. That is exactly the foundation of his charge, that we are acting as if it does not matter if the finance gets worse.
I would ask the right hon. Lady to bear in mind the fact that, as was pointed out by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon), the House is the custodian of the finances of the country. The country at the present moment is very much disturbed at the financial prospect, and this is the very last time at which the House of Commons should relinquish its hold upon the, borrowing powers given to this fund and to the Minister of Labour. I quite understand hon. Gentlemen opposite, on the basis of some Utopia where it does not matter whether a nation exceeds its income or not, taking that point of view, but, as we are situated now, subject to most regrettable economic laws which decree that, if you live beyond your income, the day of reckoning is not long ahead, I think we should be unjustified in extending these powers; and the nation looks to the House of Commons to keep the tightest control it can upon the finan- 1560 cial situation, and will expect this Amendment to be accepted.
§ Mr. L'ESTRANGE MALONE
I am very glad indeed that the Minister has decided to resist this Amendment. The Mover of the Amendment, the last speaker, and, indeed, I think, all the speakers on the Opposition side to-night, referred to the statements which have been published by a certain official of the Treasury and by the Government Actuary. I want to say one or two things about those statements. I want to register, on behalf of the unemployed in my constituency, a protest against those two statements which have been published and which are being used by the Opposition on every possible occasion. There is to-day a concerted movement in all quarters to reduce the standard of life of the workers of this country. Throughout the great industries attacks are being made on wages, and now there is a concerted propaganda, in every quarter from which that propaganda can be launched, to reduce unemployment benefit at the earliest possible date. Let there be no mistake at all; the attack is now being made, and that is the real meaning of these. Amendments—unemployment benefit has got to be reduced at the earliest possible date. That, and nothing else, is what hon. Gentlemen opposite mean when they move this Amendment. The pronouncements of Treasury officials and of the Government Actuary are not sacred, and ought not to be treated as sacred. I would remind the Liberal party, who are here in such great numbers to-night in support of their new Leader, that their idea of a development loan to put the unemployed to work was opposed by just the same officials of the Treasury who to-day have published this Memorandum.
I want, further, to deal with the report of the Government Actuary. The Government Actuary gives the impression that, if it were not for certain married women, a few coal trimmers, and some football players, the fund would be solvent, and it would not be necessary to ask for this money. I have taken the opportunity to look through and read the minutes of the evidence given before the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance. If we take the married women, I find, looking through the evidence of the first three 1561 days, in Appendix II, submitted by the Ministry of Labour, on page 82 of the first volume, a number of illustrative cases. What is the fact? These women who are derided, and who, according to the impression given to the public, are getting money for nothing, have been on the employment register for six or seven or more years, paying their contributions all that time. They have got married, and have gone out of work, and it is to their credit that they did not apply for benefit. They have been out of work and have not been drawing benefit.
I will not burden the Committee with detailed cases, but the average example is this: After being married and out of work for, perhaps, 15 months, they have signed on. They are perfectly entitled, by reason of their six or seven years of regular contributions, to anything that they get from the Employment Exchange, and it is to the credit of their honesty that they did not apply for it before. After all, what will happen? They will only be able to draw benefit for two or three months, because then their two years will have elapsed, and their benefit will be disallowed; and, if they are obtaining a few jobs during the week-end, in nine cases out of 10 those jobs are given to them through the Ministry of Labour, and, if they do not accept them, they lose their benefit for the whole of the rest of the week. So much for the question of the married women. I have looked in vain through the nine days' evidence for the other cases which have been quoted, and I cannot find a word about the coal trimmers, or the professional footballers, or the sandwich-men. The Government Actuary knows that it is nonsense. It is absurd, and he knows that it is absurd.
The fund is insolvent not because of a few professional footballers, or because there are certain exceptional cases, but because it was based on an average number of unemployed of 700,000. For the last 10 years the average has been double that figure, and now it is more. What justice is there in launching these attacks against the unemployed now, because there happen to be more than there were five or 10 years ago? If a certain rate of benefit was justified 10 or five years ago, it is equally justified and right for the unemployed to receive it now. You might as well blame a grown 1562 man because he could not wear the clothes he used to wear when he was a child.
The most appalling suggestion is made by the Government Actuary that unemployed benefit should be cut down. People who make that suggestion and people who support the Government Actuary's report ought to live for a few weeks on the rate of unemployment benefit and then give their ideas upon it. These fantastic stories about coal trimmers, professional footballers and sandwich men are exceptional cases. They are not justified by the evidence. I have looked through the report of the Royal Commission and I can only find the name of coal trimmer mentioned once, and once in passing, in all the nine volumes. I should like to know, among the 2,500,000 who are drawing unemployment benefit, how many coal trimmers, footballers and sandwich men there are who are earning £6 10s. a week. This is not justified by evidence before the Royal Commission or from any other source. I congratulate the Minister on the evidence given by her Department. That puts quite a different conception on it. The officials of the Ministry know something about what is going on. The Divisional Controller for South Wales ought to know something about the coal trimmers at Swansea and Cardiff. He was asked what was his general conclusion. Mr. Wilfred Blakiston, the Divisional Controller of Labour for the Wales Division, said:My general conclusion is that what is said about casual workers getting large sums of money as benefit at the same time as wages is not generally speaking true.9.0 p.m.
I should like to see that sort of evidence given as great prominence as the statements that we have heard from hon. Members opposite. The evidence of the Ministry has counterbalanced this ill-informed evidence from people who know nothing about it. The Ministry officials have given their statistics and figures, and it is on them that we must rely. The Treasury make a tremendous pretence that the Unemployment. Insurance Fund is leading the country to bankruptcy, and undermining the stability of the nation. We are still spending 11s. out of every £ in paying for the last War and over 3s. in preparing for the next. The cost of unemployment insurance is 4d., and will ultimately be 7½d., in every £. As long as we are 1563 spending 14s. in paying for the past War and preparing for the next it is a pretence that we cannot afford 7½d. to help the unemployed to keep body and soul together. It is a pretence to say that this item is going to be the last straw that breaks the camel's back, and that we must cut it down or we shall undermine the stability of the country. If we did, the charge would only go to the rates. It would have to be borne by the community. That is what hon. Members opposite want. They want the poor parts of the country to pay for the poor, which is the inevitable result of placing the burden of unemployment on the rates. These are partisan statements. I wish to place on record my protest, on behalf not only of the 6,000 unemployed in my constituency but of the 2,500,000 unemployed, the vast majority of whom are only taking that to which they are entitled from the Employment Exchanges. I make no excuse for protesting against these charges by a civil servant. The bulk of the Civil Service are loyal men and women who work for any Government whether Liberal, Conservative or Labour. We in this party have suffered before. In 1924 we knew what it was to he betrayed by people who are opposed to us in their political convictions.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I hope the hon. Member is not proceeding to criticise officials not here to defend themselves. There is a proper time for such criticism.
§ The CHAIRMAN
He is entitled to criticise the work of officials at the right time through the Minister, which is when their responsibility as administrators comes up on the Estimates.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I accept your Ruling, Sir, in regard to the time, but are we not entitled to criticise officials?
§ The CHAIRMAN
For the moment I am only concerned with this Bill. I do not give Rulings dealing with matters not germane to the subject under discussion.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Here are two officials who have made public reports which are being used in connection with this whole matter of unemployment, and have gone 1564 out of their way to do it. Surely, a Member of the House is entitled to comment on that.
§ Major ELLIOT
Further to that point of Order. Surely the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself has assumed the full responsibility for this statement.
§ Major ELLIOT
I am in your hands, Sir, as to whether it is a point of Order, but I think it is germane to the strict Rules of the House that criticism is applied to the Minister and not to the servants of the Minister, because the Minister takes full responsibility for the actions of his servants, and in this case the Chancellor of the Exchequer has himself specifically and emphatically taken responsibility for this statement as being accurate in fact and vouched for by himself.
§ The CHAIRMAN
My only object in interrupting the hon. Member was to warn him that it is not the custom for hon. Members to go out of their way to criticise officials. That could be done in a proper way through the Minister at the proper time. This is not the time for criticising officials, though the hon. Member may criticise statements made by them and leave it there.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
It is most important. Treasury evidence has been used as a method of attacking this proposal and the main grounds of the attack of hon. Gentlemen opposite is the evidence which has been given. If hon. Members think that those officials have not acted rightly and their evidence is the subject of discussion here, I want to know from you, Sir Robert, what rule of the House prevents hon. Members from criticising the officials who have given the evidence which has given rise to this discussion?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must bring the Committee back to the subject of the Debate. It will he within the recollection of the Committee that the hon. Gentleman was developing his argument by going back to 1924, and consequently that led him to extend his criticism beyond what I think was in order.
§ Mr. LAWTHER
Surely my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Malone) is entitled to use arguments 1565 from 1924 when we have had arguments used to-night from the Flood?
§ Mr. MALONE
I think I am quite in order in referring to those statements because they were the substance of arguments used by hon. Members opposite. As regards the civil servants who wrote the statements, I thought that I made it clear in my opening remarks that I had no intention of making any criticism either of civil servants in general or of civil servants in particular. These two gentlemen may be most charming gentlemen. What I was criticising was the substance of the reports written and published under their names. I am merely speaking for two or three minutes in order to repudiate the statements on behalf of the unemployed in my constituency. I repeat again, those publications are grossly unfair. They are unjust and a grave injustice to the unemployed people of this country, and they ought to be repudiated, and I hope that they will be repudiated. I am very glad indeed that the Government have resisted the Amendment to-night, and I hope that they will go further and make it clear to the Committee, to the country, and to the unemployed that there is no question in their minds of reducing the benefit which unemployed men and women receive by a single halfpenny.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
I do not intend to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Malone) into his criticism of a certain very well-known report except to say that the report has had the full approval of the financial genius of the Socialist party, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer. I wish to deal with the question which has been raised by hon. Members on the other side in connection with the Amendment to the financial proposal which we are supporting for the purpose of reducing the sum. Hon. Members opposite seem to imagine that in some way or other we wish to reduce the amount of benefit given under unemployment insurance. [An HON. MEMBER: "We are sure!"] I notice that that belief still lingers in the minds of some hon. Gentlemen opposite. I will endeavour to smooth out those irritable patches in their minds and to eliminate the false ideas which apparently have penetrated their minds. I do not remember having heard—and I have listened to many of these Debates—a prominent Member, or, indeed, any 1566 other Member, of our party deliberately say that we were going to reduce the money.
§ Mr. LAWTHER
What about the employers—they are all members of your party—who sent round the circular?
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Apparently, the hon. Member wants to speak and possibly he will have a chance later. I do not mean to allow interruptions to take me away from the provisions of the Financial Resolution for one minute. I was endeavouring to point out that in my view a Financial Resolution of this sort is in the worst interests of the unemployed people themselves. I object to the longer period, because it looks as if the Government for some reason or other were endeavouring to shelve the whole of this question. The Minister of Labour has, from time to time, been asked questions about the state of the finances of the fund. I have put questions to her, and I have found it extremely difficult to extract answers from her. After I had extracted some information, I found that all the time she had the information. It was there all the time, and all the time the Government Actuary knew the financial position of the fund under the various Acts. Why is there deliberate delay on the part of the Government and the hushing up of the facts on the part; of the right hon. Lady, the Minister? It is a point of view which I cannot understand. In this particular case we are told that this long period is wanted, in the first place, because it is no good coming to the House of Commons again in three months' time and asking for a further period just about the time when the Royal Commission is reporting.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The Members of the Conservative party, I have no doubt, are in various places at the present time, and as the hon. Member below the Gangway knows the only trouble with the Conservative party is that they are not allowed a General Election or they would he sitting on that side of the House. Again, I am being diverted from my main argument, which is to try and prove that the Minister on this occasion is not following such a straight course as we should like her to follow. She is putting forward the longer period, 1567 which we are now proposing to reduce by our Amendment, because she does not like the idea of having to come to the House of Commons again at the end of three months. The House of Commons never objects to anyone who is a little frank, or even very frank, but what they dislike—and I have seen a great amount of it—is a person who is hushing up something. No one can quite understand what the Minister is trying to hide. We realise that in having to ask for this vast sum of money at the present time her conscience must prick her when she thinks of the 2,500,000 who are out of work and when she realises that the promises she made to them have been totally unkept. I notice that the Minister of Labour only smiles. It is typical of her callousness of heart in dealing with the unemployed at the present time. I would like every unemployed person in the country to be able to realise that she has taken this hard-hearted, callous stand, and that she just grins when anyone draws attention to her action. As far as our party are concerned, we are not hard-hearted in this matter. It is the Minister of Labour who is most hard-hearted in connection with this question.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
The hon. Member is not very good at interruptions, if I may be allowed so to remind him. It would be better at the present time not to vote so large a sum as £90,000,000. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hard-hearted!"] It is a matter of trying to see which is the best way of avoiding having to come to the House of Commons for this money and which is the best way of getting men and women back to work. The only way in which you can permanently cut down the sum is by getting the men and women of this country back to work. The fact that the Government are taking this long period, this unnecessarily long period, means, from the financial point of view, as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has pointed out, that it is likely to cause great trouble and confusion. It means the putting of further burdens upon the country, and that means adding to the list of people out of work. That is one of the many reasons why I shall vote for decreasing the sum proposed.
1568 I do not in any sense criticise the details as to how much per week is paid out, and I do not discuss the question as to the contribution of the State towards the fund, but I merely wish to make one clear and definite point that, so far as the partly unemployed people are concerned, so far as the fully out of work and the fully employed people are concerned, the document to which so much attention has been drawn has made reference not to the breaking of the law—they do not say that the law has been broken—but that the law is in such a position that you are bound under the present administration, if it is administered legally, to have a very large number of cases getting benefit, or in the case of employers a large number taking on people for so many days per week—
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
I was only using that as an illustration. I was endeavouring to show that so far as this sum is concerned we have a good reason why we should not lengthen the period and increase the amount of money. So far as the position of the fund is concerned, we find the Minister asking for a very large additional amount of money, and I should like to put a question to the Parliamentary Secretary, who is now in his place. The hon. Member is respected in all parts of the House. If he is going to reply on the Amendment I should like him to say if he has any explanation to offer in squaring this enormous increase in amount, after the representations that have been made to the House and to the country by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If he can give an explanation, it would be of immense value in the country.
It is essential that before we vote this large sum of money and before we add to the burdens of the country we should very carefully consider what it means. Let hon. Members remember that every pound that we add to the burden of the country means taking money out of the wages pool, and before we take anything out of the wages pool of the people of this country we ought to have the very strongest reasons for it. I hope that every Member of my party will vote for the Amendment, and 1569 if there are any Liberals about, either now or later, I would ask them to remember that throughout the history of finance in this country, and we are dealing with a very big financial question to-night, it has always been one of the primary principles of the Liberal party that the first essential of a prosperous nation is that the people should be able to use their money in order to build up their trade and industry.
§ Mr. MANDER
I regret that I do not feel able to respond to the invitation offered to me by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams). I rise to say a few words in opposition to the Amendment. I am very glad that the Government have decided not to accept the Amendment. Of course, I can understand that from the point of view of hon. Members above the Gangway they would very much like to have a Debate similar to this one three months hence, which would embarrass the Government and waste time. There would be no new facts before the House, and no object would be gained in having a Debate until we have before us the report of the Royal Commission, when something definite can be done. Therefore, from the strictly businesslike point of view of the economy of time, although hon. Members above the Gangway are not much interested in the economy of time, it is a wise decision not to accept the Amendment. Apart from the Royal Commission, it seems to me that there may be some sort of report, possibly an interim report, from another body which is studying the problem of unemployment. The League of Nations undertook recently to make a study of the whole problem, and it may be that when the matter again comes before the House there will be some report which will give us some guidance and help us in forming any necessary legislation. Perhaps the Parliamentary Secretary can say whether he anticipates that anything of the kind will be then forthcoming.
When we resume the Debate one of the things that we shall have to deal with is the question of the so-called abuses under the present law. It is generally agreed that there are certain practices, perfectly legal in themselves, which are now carried out and which everyone who is interested in the unemployed, certainly the vast majority of 1570 the unemployed people themselves, would like to see put right. The unemployed do not wish to see Clauses left in a Bill which enable cases to take place which no one seriously can attempt to defend.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Has the hon. Member been approached by any representative deputation of the unemployed complaining about anyone getting benefit?
§ Mr. MANDER
I think I am perfectly competent to speak in this House on behalf of my constituents, and I feel that they have every desire that I should address the House on the line that I am doing now.
§ Mr. MANDER
I bow to your Ruling. If it had not been for the intervention of the hon. Member for Gorbals I should not have referred to the matter again, but perhaps I might say one word in reply. The so-called legal abuses are strictly limited in number, and I believe that they are incapable of being defended by anybody. It is true to say that the vast majority of unemployed, something like 97 per cent., are from a legal, moral and humane point of view entitled to the allowances and benefit which they get. Except for a very small percentage, the overwhelming majority are willing and eager to get work at the earliest possible moment. I have heard stories, and I have made inquiries, about men who go day after day, when there is no necessity for them to go, to the Employment Exchange to sign on and ask if there is any chance of work and any job going. That is the spirit of the men whom I represent, at any rate. It has not been possible so far really to test the new Clauses put into the Unemployment Insurance Act. There have been no jobs to offer anybody. It has been quite impossible to judge whether a man is seeking work under the new formula or not, because there has been no work to send him to look for. Therefore, the unemployed in the vast majority of cases are not receiving more in amount or more in individual cases than they are justly entitled to from the legal point of view, and what is humane and reasonable.
1571 What is actually happening to-day We are getting three great benefits from the expenditure of this money. There are tens of thousands of pounds going into shops in many towns in this country and giving employment by this expenditure through the working classes. No money is better spent in industry, and gives more employment than the money spent by the working classes in doing their ordinary weekly shopping. I believe the reason why we in this country appear to be standing the strain better than other countries is because of this system of unemployment insurance. Secondly, we are maintaining our people in a fit and healthy condition ready to deal with employment when it comes hack again, so that they can cope with it as strong and healthy men and women, and not as those who have been degraded and lowered by living at starvation level. Thirdly, the nation is maintaining itself in a calm and collected way, is steady, and not being led astray by difficulties which arise in other countries. From the point of view of national insurance, the whole policy is a wise one.
Another point that will come out when the matter is dealt with in the light of the report of the Insurance Commission, is the question of the two classes of men you get in the Employment Exchange. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) has dealt with it in a moving way, and I put this point to him. There are now two classes, the statutory class, who are drawing benefit under the insurance scheme, and the transitional class. They are more or less working together, and there is no apparent difference between them when they draw benefit. I am one of those who think, seeing that we have this insurance scheme, that we should keep it as an insurance scheme, and place it on a proper insurance basis. It is suggested that it might be very humiliating and trying to segregate the men of the transitional group and put them in an entirely different category, but I do not admit that that need be the case at all. Under the present law, I quite agree that they would go to the public assistance committee, who are the persons carrying on the Poor Law, and under that system you would get the very thing which is feared by the hon. Member.
1572 I think it is a point to be considered whether it might not be possible—supposing the State takes over, as I think it ought to do, the responsibility for the maintenance of the able-bodied unemployed-to devise machinery which would enable these men to be dealt with through the Employment Exchanges as they are now, so that there would be no real difference in dealing with them, and they would not be dealt with as a different and inferior class. I hope that when the Government do deal with this question, as they certainly will have to do, they will seriously consider maintaining the insured people, and making it a proper insurance fund, while giving to the other people, who will require maintenance, support which will come to them as far as possible through the same channels and in the same way, so that there shall not be any feeling of difference.
There is one other point on which I should like to say a word. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford (Mr. Ormsby-Gore) said last night in very strong and violent language that he would do everything in his power in all the circumstances to prevent the return to the Treasury Bench of the Leader of this party. Yes, but that has not prevented the representatives of the Conservative party going to members of the Liberal Parliamentary party and endeavouring to persuade them to vote against the Government and to throw the Government out in order that they may come back.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I had not intended to intervene in this Debate, and possibly would not have done so but for the last speech. I should like the hon. Member, who knows something about insurance and whose speech was sincere, to apply his mind to it as much as he applies it to general politics and his own business. His last statement, I am sorry to say, appeared rather absurd. He said he wanted to see it on an insurance basis, and that those who were not on an insurance basis should be dealt with at the Employment Exchanges, but not through the Insurance Fund. Does he know what happens now?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
What happens is that all the insurance people draw from the Insurance Fund, and those who are 1573 not in insurance do not draw from the fund, but they all draw at the Exchange. That is what is happening, and he is asking for an alteration.
§ Mr. MANDER
The hon. Member has misunderstood me. At present it is working like that, but the suggestion is that, supposing transitional benefit comes to an end, and nobody is dealt with through the Employment Exchanges except those definitely insured, it will then be necessary to have all the transitional people dealt with through a different channel and to throw them on to the old Poor Law. I was putting forward a suggestion which might avoid that very undesirable thing.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
You have no need to. They are doing it now. What you are asking is a continuation of the present system. I see the hon. Member for Newark (Marquess of Titchfield) has been out to find the hon. Member for Eastbourne (Mr. Marjoribanks) to make his contribution. I suggest to him that he will be well advised on matters so important to human welfare to search for a better recruit. The Blanesburgh Committee made certain recommendations for 30 stamps in two years as the insurance basis, and to be worked by certain regulations. This House has modified them in regard to genuinely seeking work, but the basis of the 30 stamps for insurance under the Act is not altered. The only thing which is altered is that the genuinely seeking work provision is abolished, and there is a slight increase in benefit, but no transitional person comes out of benefit. The present Government, I think, have gone much further than the Blanesburgh report in connection with the scheme. The Blanesburgh Committee recommended a carry-over period when the transitional period would be chargeable to the fund. Under the Government scheme the only people now chargeable to the Insurance Fund are people with an absolutely sound insurance basis. Therefore, the point is that the ordinary man on transitional benefit is met by State funds. The only thing is that he is not in any way segregated from his fellows or the rest of the unemployed.
The Government must recognise that we of this party will resist to the uttermost any attempt or manœuvre, any subterfuge, to separate the sections of the unfortunate unemployed, and I hope that 1574 the Government, whatever they do, will not play with that idea. The right hon. and learned Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) said that the unemployed did not want to have people who are not on an insurance basis associated with them. The hon. and gallant Member for Kelvin-grove (Major Elliot) like myself represents a large number of transitional period people. Has anyone asked the hon. and gallant Member by deputation to get these people shifted from the fund? Neither the trade unions who administer the fund and who have to deal with their members, nor any of the voluntary organisations connected with the fund are not in favour of segregating these people, they desire to keep the unemployed together in a fashion which will not allow any differentiation one from the other. It is said that we should discuss this matter in another three months. I do not object to discussing the question every day of the week. It is the only subject and the most important subject that can be discussed at the moment.
I am a Socialist and I believe, rightly or wrongly, in the class war on society, a war between the section of the community which exploits the community and those who are exploited. Under modern capitalism and the development of machinery, with modern education and the increase in man's productivity, whether you like it or not, there are only two things a Socialist Government can do, and that is to regulate hours, or provide for the unemployed. I do not care how often this subject is discussed because you are discussing the biggest and greatest social problem we have to face. There are 2,600,000 to-day who are signing the register and drawing benefit, and, in addition, you have others who are unemployed. You have the agricultural worker, who is outside the fund: the railway workers, three-quarters of the unemployed are outside the Act, domestic servants, who are outside the Act, and there is in addition, the most tragic feature of all, the small man with a little shop, who has struggled for years but who has been battered and killed by ruthless rationalisation. When I hear of so-called abuses, I ask what about the abuses on the other side, the man who is urged to go to Canada to search in the wilds for work. He goes, and 1575 sends back money to keep his mother from being a charge on the Poor Law. He is out there for three years, and then is thrown out of work. He comes back here and for his spirit and his decency in keeping his mother, he cannot get unemployment benefit.
I was challenged about the Commission. It was said that they only sent out a questionnaire. I stand by every word I said, in spite of the Minister of Labour's statement last night. Why is it that in the whole series of questions sent out by this Commission that there is not one asking how to add a new unemployed man on to the fund, not one asking for cases of abuses which refuse a man benefit. Every one of the questions was directed in one way, and that is how to shift people off the fund. You can make whatever excuses you like but the bent of the mind of this Commission is there in that questionnaire issued to local authorities. There is also another tragic figure. I met a man last week who used to earn £6 a week. He has been working for 40 years, and is 58 years of age. Two years ago he bought a house, but now he cannot get unemployment benefit because he is outside the Act, a derelict. If you add those who are outside the Act, those who have gone abroad, domestic servants and so on, it is not 2,600,000 unemployed but nearly 3,000,000, and that number is turned over two or three times in a year. The Parliamentary Secretary says that it is turned over a little over two and a-half times in a year. If you add to that number their wives and mothers and their families you cover a population in a year of from 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 people, very nearly half the population. That is what we are discussing to-night, how to provide for nearly half our population.
I would say one thing about the Treasury Memorandum, and it is that this party was elected more than any other by the votes of the very poor, and it was put into office at the last election to see to the treatment of the unemployed. I think we have done so, and I want to do credit to those in office who have treated the unemployed more generously than past Governments. We were elected to do it, and we have done it much better than other Governments.
1576 I say this to the Parliamentary Secretary: We are a Labour Government and a working-class Government, the foundations of which were built by Keir Hardie in the early days. The working class expects, when evidence is to be given, that that evidence, given on behalf of a working-class party, shall not be the same evidence as would be given if the Government were a Tory Government. Imagine the situation that we have. Two Treasury representatives, speaking on behalf of Chancellor of the Exchequer, attack the working class that voted us into office. The Tories would not have stood it if it had been a question of attacking the rentier or the landlord. We have the spectacle of a Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer sending two officials to speak on his behalf and to give evidence against the people who have given us place and power. It is an outrage. Let me say this to the right hon. Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon). He dealt with the segregation of the unemployed. I hope we shall return to this subject on some future occasion. If the six months is granted, this is not the last discussion that we shall have. The Opposition can raise the question on the Vote for the Miniser's salary and abuses can be challenged then.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The right hon. Gentleman opposite can always get a Debate. No Government could refuse them reasonable time for Debate. For my part I cannot see why there should be any worry about it. As to segregation, the right hon. Member for Spen Valley said that there was a feeling among the insured workers that large numbers who were not insured were coming on to the fund. I think that was what he said.
§ Sir J. SIMON
Not quite that. I pointed out the danger of the public confusing those who are insured on an actuarial basis with others whose relief is not so based.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The curious thing about all the so-called abuses is that, even in the memorandum that has been quoted, every one of them represents an insured contributor with a proper insurance basis—every one of them, the married women, the coal trimmers, the footballers—all on an insurance basis, 1577 every one of them. The hon. Member for East Newcastle (Sir R. Aske) said he knew of platers and boilermakers who were 30 years in their last job and had been idle for five years. Those men have a very long insurance record. It could not be said that anyone would come to any harm if such people drew benefit. It could not be said that anyone would be contaminated because a man who had been 30 years a boilermaker drew benefit for two years. It could not be said that a man who had been two years working and had an insurance card was contaminated because a man with 10 years insurance record drew benefit alongside him. There was the ease mentioned of a woman in the Bridgeton Division who had been 36 years in work and had been idle for 2½ years.
Is the right hon. Member for Spen Valley, with his precise legal definitions, going to say that some young woman with an insurance record is degraded because she draws unemployment benefit beside the woman who has a record of 36 years work? I ask the right hon. Gentleman to state plainly what he means. Do not let him use language which no judge in the court would let him use—platitudes and loose talk about what is to be done, and loose statements about unemployed people. Hon. Members opposite do the same thing. When they are challenged to give names and to say where something has happened, one hears never a word. Governments may come and Governments may go, but there are 10,000,000, 15,000,000 and perhaps 20,000,000 people affected by unemployment in our country to-day, and Governments must face the problem.
The demand I make of the present Government is this: They have made pledges. They know that as well as I do. Some Members of the Government have made pledges that makes me pale pink compared with their deep red. The Secretary for Mines has made commitments and pledges that I would be afraid to make. Frankly I would not do it. I have read those pledges. I ask the Government to say to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, "When you attack the unemployed do you mean segregation? Do you mean different treatment for different men? Do you mean to have an inquiry into their means? Do you mean to apply the Poor Law test? Do you 1578 mean a reduction in benefit? If so, state frankly to the unemployed what you mean." The right hon. Gentleman who leads the Opposition has stated to the farmers definitely and deliberately what he is going to give them from public money. The late Minister of Health told the rich ratepayers what he would give them in the way of money. Let the Government say to the poor in equally precise language what they intend to do with them. If anyone intends to attack the unemployed let it be done on the platforms.
Why this constant picking out of one or two cases? I am a Republican, and I make no apology for it. But it would be most improper for me to pick out one bad man who had been a monarch and to base my case for Republicanism on it. It would be wrong and it would be unfair. Hon. Members opposite have no more right to pick out one case of so-called abuse in order to slander the unemployed. I hope that the Government will show a stout front, remembering their duty to the poor and the working class, and remembering their own humble origin. When we are told about borrowing money, I remind hon. Members that for 4½ years we borrowed and we borrowed and we borrowed to fight the Germans. I ask the Government now to keep on borrowing in a far greater cause than that of smashing the Germans—the cause of providing for the comfort of the homes, for the well-being and uplifting of the common people of this country.
§ Mr. CAMPBELL
I think we all appreciated the speech of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). However mistaken we may consider his views, we recognise his sincerity, and that is a quality which the House of Commons appreciates. But he and many other hon. Members on the Government Benches are quite wrong in suggesting that our object in putting down these Amendments is to attack the unemployed. Our attack is solely against the Government. Only a few days ago we heard a very fine speech from the Chancellor of the Exchequer in which he informed us that the state of the country's finances was such that the Government and all of us must do everything possible to prevent any extravagances Yet, scarcely has the right hon. 1579 Gentleman made that speech, than we are asked to consent to the Government having a blank cheque, or at any rate having additional powers up to a limit of no less than £20,000,000.
The Government ought to remember the feeling in the country on this matter which is well known to those of us who visit our constituencies frequently. For my part, I live in my constituency and I had three meetings there yesterday, and at each meeting I was asked two questions. One was, "When are you going to fire out this Government?" The other was, "When are you going to stop these extravagances?" My reply to the first was that I was going to do so as soon as possible, and as regards the second, I said that I hope to be here to-night to help our party in doing what we could to prevent extravagances. It is the prerogative of this House to criticise finance, and it is the duty of an Opposition to oppose. Therefore we want as many opportunities as possible of discussing Resolutions of this kind, in order to impress our views on the Government and also in order to hear exactly what is happening. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) said it would be very easy to raise this question again in six months, but I very much doubt it. My experience in the House of Commons is that it is very difficult to raise a subject of this kind unless it is brought up in a Financial Resolution by which we are asked to vote for a certain specified sum. But the effect of this Resolution is to deprive us of an opportunity of discussing this question again in another three months, when, obviously, the situation will have changed. It has been said that there are no abuses. Well, people in the country and many of us on both sides of the Committee are not quite sure whether that is true or not. But even supposing that there are no abuses, the sooner we hear that definitely the better, because at present the country is not at all satisfied on the point.
As has been well said by more than one speaker to-night, it is not fair that the genuine insured unemployed should be looked upon as if they were receiving something to which they have no right. I would ask the Parliamentary Secretary 1580 to let us know whether the Government, if they come to the House of Commons again in the summer for another £10,000,000, or whatever the sum may be, will bring in a Bill beforehand to reorganise the scheme or whether we shall have to pay the £10,000,000 first. That is a very important point. We intend to-night to press our Amendment to a Division. It is, to our mind, a disgraceful thing that while we are being told by the Chancellor that it is essential to economise, and while we are doing our best to economise, we should hare to hand over without any further chance of seeing how it is to he expended, an extra sum of £20,000,000. For that reason I hope the Amendment will he carried.
§ Major ELLIOT
Again we are debating what is, as has been said in many quarters, the most important subject which could come before the House of Commons, even taking into consideration every subject which the House of Commons has to review. There are 2,500,000 unemployed, with a turnover which may bring the figure up to 5,000,000 people registered throughout the year, and, taking into account their families, I think it is no exaggeration to say, as the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) said, that this question covers from 10,000,000 to 15,000,000 people. But far more than that, we have to consider that those of the great staple trades of this country, which are running on short time, are living by virtue of the subsidy which they receive through the Unemployment Insurance Fund.
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member realises that fact and I think that if a premium were charged on those trades, to correspond with the risk which they run, many of them would find the greatest possible difficulty in carrying on. In itself, this Resolution is one of the most staggering Financial Resolutions which has ever come before the House of Commons. It covers borrowing powers for £1,000,000 a week. It covers Government expenditure on transitional benefit to the extent of £700,000 or £800,000 or possibly £900,000 a week. And this is the subject which the Government say the House of Commons should part with tonight for another six months! Every speech from the opposite side of the 1581 Committee has reinforced the argument of the Amendment. The hon. Member for Gorbals himself has said, "I do not care; let this matter be debated again in three months." Unless this subject is brought back again and again, and yet again, to the notice of the House of Commons, it tends to pass into the background, and we tend to waste our time on pettifogging little Measures brought forward by the Government from one period to another, which do nothing to deal with the real state of affairs existing in the country at the present time.
On the general ground that this subject should be reviewed again in a lesser period than six months, I think there is no question whatever on any side of the House. But they say, "We will review it on the Minister's salary." You cannot discuss legislation on a Minister's salary, and legislation is the kernel of this problem. They say, "Put down a Vote of Censure." We know what these things turn into. The great guns are dragged laboriously into position, the heavy nowitzers are brought up, railways bring up great shells, and these are rammed into the breach and the shells soar into the sky perhaps 20 miles away, and there is little difference in the state of affairs. We have explanations of how the Prime Minister suffers, but still he thinks, on the whole, it will be better not to have a general election. When it comes to details, there is a chance of these things being considered and the attitude of the House being discovered, so that the Government may determine the four corners within which it may frame its plans and submit them to this Assembly.
A point was brought forward by the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Malone) and by the hon. Member for Gorbals—but not, I may say, with such inaccuracy as it was brought forward by the hon. Member for Northampton. He repeated the statement that here we have accusations which were being made by civil servants against the unemployed, and he animadverted strongly against what he termed the action of those civil servants. I have taken the trouble to get the authority under which those two civil servants were speaking. They spoke by the authority of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The facts which were given were vouched for with the weight 1582 and responsibility of the second Minister of the Crown, and there is nothing he could say that has not been stated here in the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer as his opinion and not the opinion of those civil servants. Now will the hon. Member for Northampton withdraw the accusation?
§ Mr. MALONE indicated dissent.
§ Major ELLIOT
I will read it to put it on record that we are dealing with the Minister and not with the civil servants. The hon. Member for Leicester East (Mr. Wise) asked the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer about the memorandum which was submitted by the Treasury to the Royal Commission on unemployment insurance. The Chancellor the Exchequer said in reply:The Treasury Memorandum, which was submitted to me, was directed to matters of fact relevant to the Royal Commission's inquiry and the official witness intimated to the Commission that it was his function to confine himself to the facts and to their technical implications. As the hon. Member for East Leicester knows, public servants do not make pronouncements on Government policy, in regard to which I would refer him to the answer given by the Prime Minister yesterday to a question by the hon. Member for Farnham (Mr. A. M. Samuel).
§ Mr. LAMBERT
I do not quite gather whether this Memorandum was submitted to the right hon. Gentleman for approval or not.
He was, as I stated in reply to the question, confining himself to the facts and their technical implications.
§ Sir AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Are we to understand that as a statement of the facts and of the position, the memorandum was submitted to the right hon. Gentleman and had his approval?
That is so."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd February, 1931; Vol. 247, col. 1622.]
It is said, "Oh, these are merely Treasury officials; they are speaking out of their ignorance and not out of their knowledge." Let me repeat that these are quotations by the Treasury officials from the memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Labour.
§ Major ELLIOT
Let me read from the White Paper. The Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance, memorandum submitted by the Treasury, page 5, paragraph 8:I am even more convinced that claims of certain other types which are now admitted are outside the financial provisions of this scheme. Examples of these are abundant in the Memoranda submitted by the Minister of Labour.
§ Mr. MALONE
Will the right hon. Gentleman read out of the evidence of the Ministry of Labour where there was a reference to coal trimmers and footballers.
§ Major ELLIOT
I am reading from the Minister's statement in the Debate at this Box. My hon. Friend cannot run away on that. The Minister of Labour took over a column of the OFFICIAL REPORT going into this very case of the footballers, and gave it under her authority and not under the authority of the Treasury official. That disposes of that Charge. This is a point of some interest since the Minister of Labour did me the honour to refer to a short passage in my own speech where I said that, she had considered and laid it down as absolute that the scheme should be self-supporting on a tripartite basis, and that it should provide outside the scheme for the able-bodied unemployed. The Minister, in her speech, pointed out that she had some objection to make to that, and she said that she not only said it at the time, but also in dealing with the Second Reading of the Bill. It is true that I was paraphrasing her remarks and that I understood her statement to be the statement, of the Government. It is true that the Minister in her speech said that the scheme should be a self-supporting scheme, that it should contain elements of a tripartite contribution, and that it should cover the able-bodied unemployed. My justification for saying that it was to provide for the able-bodied unemployed outside the scheme rests on the statements made by both the Minister and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Let me quote the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he gave the terms of reference to the Royal Commission, which will be fresh in the memory of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). The terms of reference were the future 1584 scope of the Unemployment Insurance Scheme:the provisions which it should contain and the means by which it may be made solvent and self supporting; and the arrangements which should be made outside the scheme for the unemployed who are capable of and available for work."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 1st December, 1930; cols. 1785–6, Vol. 245.]The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour no longer ago than the 8th December said:Nobody … assumes that the Unemployment Insurance scheme is to-day in a satisfactory condition. The piling up of debt cannot go on; the scheme must be put on a self-supporting basis. That is agreed. There is also agreement that able-bodiedunemployable—workers who fail to qualify for insurance benefit must be provided for outside the existing arrangements."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1930; col. 65, Vol. 246.][Interruption.] I take it that the Minister meant "unemployed"—[Interruption.] I may be doing him an injustice, but certainly the terms of reference—[Interruption.] It is very important to get this clear. The important thing is that we have the terms of reference to the Royal Commission, which nobody will challenge, and the important point which we wish to clear up is what is meant by the Minister when she says that the scheme is to cover the "unemployed." Does this mean that there has been some change of policy since the terms of reference to the Royal Commission were laid down and announced in the House as to the arrangements which should be made outside the scheme for the unemployed who are capable of and available for work.
§ Mr. STEPHEN
I think the hon. and gallant Member will agree that it is important we should be clear as to whether the word used was "unemployable" or "unemployed," because a great deal in connection with carrying this matter out depends upon that distinction, and so much of his argument would fall if the word were "unemployable."
§ Major ELLIOT
I agree, but the whole question is governed by the word "able-bodied," and I cannot conceive of able-bodied unemployable workers. I take it that "unemployable" was a misprint for "unemployed," and that the phrase of the Minister was really "able-bodied unemployed workers," because able- 1585 bodied unemployable workers is either a contradiction in terms, or is a phrase that would be regarded in many quarters of the House as something approaching a slander on the unemployed. Therefore, I take it that the Minister's statement stands or falls on the statement of the Prime Minister, and not on a mere phrase of a speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT. When the Minister picked me up on that point, I did not wish in any way to misrepresent her. I certainly thought that I was paraphrasing the sentence giving the gist of the policy as it had been laid down, if not as the policy of the Government, at least as a desirable policy, and the difficulties before the Commission, if it is about to report on a basis which is different from the basis which is now adopted by the Minister, will be enormously accentuated, and our demand for a short term for this Vote so that the matter may be reviewed at the earliest possible moment will be enormously strengthened.
The huge economic problem before us certainly ought to be reviewed at a shorter interval than six months. The problem before the Germans has shaken that country to its very foundations. [Interruption.] It has caused the fall of Government after Government there, and is the subject of acute discussion in that country. [Interruption.] Well, Germany is subject to Coalition Governments of one kind or another, and whether the Socialists are in or out of the Government is a matter which you have to look in the morning paper to determine. That country, with a wide democratic franchise and with an enormous unemployment problem, has frequently taken most drastic steps to deal with the unemployment situation, and has raised contributions until they run to 3s. 3d. per employed person, as against our own 1s. 6d. in its efforts to make its fund solvent. [Interruption.] At least in many of the insured trades in Germany they pay as high a contribution as 3s. 3d. per week.
§ Mr. McSHANE
May I point out that only last night one of the returns dealing with the German unemployed situation showed that there is specific State relief given to more than one million people as distinct from those under insurance.
§ Major ELLIOT
That makes it all the more important that this Debate should continue and that these points should be brought out. That touches on the question brought forward by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). There is a great industrial country with this specific relief quite apart from and outside all the insurance schemes. These are all arguments for a continuing review of the question. It ought not to be left for six months to be discussed in columns of evidence before the Royal Commission. This is the place where these things should be discussed; it is on the Floor of the House where these things can be discovered and brought out, and where they will be available for the common stock of ideas which we shall all have to draw upon if we are to solve this tremendous question.
The Minister brought out several very important points as to the absorption of the unemployed. There is the question whether the orthodox canons of economics operate any longer in the situation in which we stand. It is our contention that the old-fashioned classical economics do not apply any longer and that our whole conception as to the benefits which were found by a vast increase of imports and by a vast increase of manufacturing power fall when we have to consider this enormous burden of maintenance, this effort to maintain the people who theoretically would be immediately available for fresh production. Let me take, as an example, the figures given by the Government Actuary before the Royal Commission when dealing with some of the great staple trades of this country. In the iron and steel trade, in the four financial years after the General Strike—not bringing in its figures at all—the contributions by employers and employed persons came on an average to £475,000 a year. Benefit and administration costs amounted to £1,688,000. That is to say, £1,213,000 a year from general funds was being paid into this trade.
This was at a time when the blast furnaces were off all over the country. A classic economist would say that this great quantity of raw material, brought in chiefly from abroad, is available for shipbuilding and ship repairs, and for the great engineering trades, and that that will tend to benefit those who are thrown out of work by this inrush of free 1587 imports into this country, and that, although men may be displaced from the manufacture of iron and steel, they will be taken up by the use of iron and steel. Look at the general engineering trade during the last four years. Those trades paid in £1,680,000 a year, and they paid out £2,576,000. That trade was kept going by subventions from the general funds of this country. The shipbuilding and the ship-repairing trade paid in £465,000, and paid out in benefit and administration for those four years £2,331,000, showing a deficit of £1,866,000.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The right hon. Gentleman is quoting figures relating to the staple trades, but that does not dispose of the argument.
§ Major ELLIOT
We are discussing two Amendments in one. I wish to point out that we are not merely dealing with the abuses, but with what seems to be the much larger question of transitional benefit which is mounting up to something like £35,000,000 or £40,000,000 a year. The hon. Member for Gorbals says: "State your remedy. What would you do?" The Chairman has already explained that he would immediately stop me if I attempted to do anything of the kind.
§ Major ELLIOT
I tried to do it at the three-party conference, and I was immediately told that my contributions were of no value whatsoever. I will reserve my poor advice for a more appreciative audience. I am not merely dealing with the question of abuses, whether there is to be a one-in-six or 30 contributions ratio, or whether some limitation is to be put on it or not. Personally, I think that the theory of unlimited liability in insurance has broken down altogether. You must have a limited liability in insurance and a wider scheme which will deal with the situation as we find it. I beg the Committee to remember that the whole question of transitional benefit means that a subvention in aid of the trades of this country is being paid out of the general taxes, on the suggestion that it is an insurance payment. That is an entire fallacy, and it is admitted to be such by everyone. [Interruption.]
Let me try to get with me the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), 1588 because I leave out of account the Treasury Bench entirely in this argument. The Treasury Bench has admitted that it can think of nothing, and must have ideas brought up to it in pap form by a Royal Commission—pre-digested food. It is like a pelican in the wilderness, the type of eternal love and charity. That is the motto for this Government—a Royal Commission feeding with the blood from its own breast a row of little squawking nestlings sitting on the Treasury Bench. I am trying to get the constructive thought of hon. Members below the Gangway opposite, because it seems to me that it is to them that the Government will have to bow when they bring in their legislation, and, unless we can convince them in advance, we have a very poor chance of seeing any legislation placed on the Statute Book at all. I ask them to agree that here we are faced with a real need for a reconstitution of the economic fabric of this country. These huge sums, nominally insurance payments, are now something entirely outside and beyond insurance payments.
§ Mr. MAXTON
While they are not insurance in the limited sense of unemployment insurance, they are a very important insurance for the general stability of the nation.
§ Major ELLIOT
That is not what I am discussing. It is quite true that they are an insurance for the stability of this country, but they represent a slogan against which my hon. Friend declaimed most bitterly—the slogan of "Safety First." It is the slogan of the frozen mass of labour: "Come up and we will give you your breakfast." "Come up and we will give you a week's wages." That may be all very well as an emergency measure for a year or for two years, but is it going to be the policy for 20 years?
§ Major ELLIOT
The hon. Member underestimates the enormous strength of the capitalist system. He knows very well that the productive power of the capitalist system is quite equal to keeping even an army of 2,000,000 unemployed for five, 10, or even 20 years—
§ Major ELLIOT
When we find ourselves faced with a large part of the nation on the dole, the hon. Member knows as well as I do that the difficulty is not merely that of abuses. The difficulty that bears most bitterly upon all of us is that of the decent man who, when we go home to our constituencies, comes to us and says, "For God's sake get me a job." What is the use of paying that man to stay in a ship-repairing yard on the theory that some day or other a boat will come in to be repaired? What is the use of paying a man to stay in a steelworks on the theory that some day or other the price of steel will alter and he will get a job in his own trade as a steelworker? What is the use, of keeping a man in the cotton trade, which has gone on chronic short time, on the theory that some day or other all the mills in Japan will stop, that the heart of Mr. Gandhi will change, that the Americans will make no more cotton, and that every spindle in Lancashire will be working again? [Interruption.] Into the question of the utility of keeping a system which does that, I am not going to enter. I am not going to enter now into the whole question of "Socialism in our time." All I can say is that under this system these people are at least getting their breakfasts, they are getting their dinners, and they are getting their teas, while under the Socialist system in Russia they are being sent into the timber camps—[Interruption].
No one pretends that the present system is perfect. What we have to deal with is the question of what steps shall be taken to improve the present system? On all these points we say that six months is a ridiculous time for the House to dismiss this question from its attention and its cognisance. The very fact that we can raise these acute divisions of opinion so easily and quickly in this House shows that this is a time when this question should be discussed. People in the country are widely interested in every decision of this House. These are the questions that we ought to be discussing and not barren questions about electoral reform or whether it is legal or illegal for 500 men to go on strike. What does the liberty to strike matter when there are 2,800,000 men who are condemned to a perpetual strike? These are the difficulties that the Government are shirking. The Government 1590 are shirking their executive duties. They also have the duty of the leadership of the nation and the House of Commons in the discussion of these great questions. The whole economic system is being transformed by this system of State subsidy to certain trades, and the whole economic fabric of the country is warped by the pretence—for it is nothing more—that these people will be reemployed in these trades from which employment has passed, and perhaps passed for ever, certainly passed for a length of time much greater than makes it justifiable to keep people in idleness outside the factory doors, waiting for them to open. That is the accusation that we bring. These are the subjects which we wish discussed. To say, "Go away and leave us and come back in six months, and perhaps we shall have found a solution to all these great questions," is to place on the Royal Commission a burden and a compliment for both of which it is unfitted and to place on the House of Commons a degradation which even under its present leadership it has never yet merited.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Lawson)
This Debate has now gone on for something over 2 hours. The Minister has already replied, and I only wish to ask the House, in view of the business that is to follow, to bring the matter to a decision as early as possible. I have listened with interest to the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech. He analysed the unemployment question with that fertility of mind which is characteristic of him, but he is really very unfortunate in the illustrations that he uses. I remember the other night he told us that at the beginning of last century, when Parliament and the country were in a similar position, our independent-minded ancestors decided at once without any Commission.
§ Major ELLIOT
No, I said they decided. I doubt whether this Government ever will decide, even if they do get the Commission's report.
§ Mr. LAWSON
That Parliament decided after a very famous Commission had sat for some length of time. Then he said the squawking nestlings on the Treasury Bench had to be fed. The Blanesburgh Committee sat for nearly 1591 two years, and the late Government waited on that Committee before they legislated in 1927. At least the Government is not asking a Commission to sit for two years. We have been told unceasingly in these Debates that Parliament is allowing this matter to pass out of its hands for six months. The whole history of the matter is that previous Governments have asked and obtained borrowing powers for 12 months.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman used the illustration of the position of Germany, and how they are facing their position. The same sort of thing is happening in Germany that is happening in this country. An important commission has beet set up to investigate the whole financial situation and to make representations to Parliament, and they are awaiting the decision of that commission. The same sort of speech has been made to-day as has been made continually during these Debates. The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) referred to the lamentable and terrible facts. I do not think that there is a Member in any part of this House who has not had brought vividly before him—to say nothing of having to deal with some of them—the terrible position of the great mass of the people arising from this situation. If it was possible to make a definite contribution, I do not think that anyone would regret sitting here almost continuously if such a contribution could be made for the well-being of the people. The Government are asking for the Committee stage of this Bill, and I understand that an arrangement has been made that a Division should be taken after a general Debate on the matter. I would ask the Committee to consider the wisdom of now coming to a decision on this particular matter, in view of the fact that other important matters have to be discussed to-night, instead of dragging this thing on indefinitely. This matter has been discussed and re-discussed on several days this week, and there will be yet a further opportunity of discussing it.
§ Mr. BRACKEN
I should not have intervened in this Debate but for the character of the speeches of the Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister. The Parliamentary Secretary told us that the Government were prepared to sit here 1592 almost continuously if they could solve unemployment. He also said that there was very little use in continuing a discussion such as this. After all, I suppose it does not much matter if we spend the £20,000,000, because we discussed this matter for two hours and a half this afternoon. The Minister of Labour in a most bitter and truculent fashion rebuked the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley (Sir J. Simon) for making one of the most moderate and reasonable speeches one could imagine, stressing the necessity for this House to guard the public purse. The Minister rebuked him, and told him that his speech had much better be made from the Conservative benches. What on earth has that to do with the economic arguments? Why does the Minister of Labour come down here with these petty points like a finishing governess in a temper to rebuke the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Spen Valley who was definitely pointing out to the Committee that it is our bounden duty to guard against these inroads upon the public purse. I see that the Secretary of State for War is laughing, with hilarity which is unworthy of his office. We have here a typical instance of the actions of the present Government. They care nothing whether £20.000,000, £40,000,000 or £100,000,000 go. They send here the Parliamentary Secretary who, from a long reign of petticoat government, comes to the House altogether debilitated to deal with the most serious duties of his office. He tells us that it is in order, because the late Conservative Government postponed this matter—a statement which is not very well-founded—that we should postpone the matter for six months, and pay no further attention either to the problem of unemployment or to the vast sums which the Government are wasting in doles. [HON. MEMBERS: "Wasting?"] I was quoting a well known phrase from the Leader of the Liberal party. It seems to me an extraordinary thing that the Government should be content to ask for six months delay. In that space of time they will say: "We will do nothing, but we will hope that the Royal Commission will come along and justify us."
The Government in the meantime will go on spending large sums of public money, and no one will know what the Government policy is for dealing with unemployment or whether they really in- 1593 tend to implement the report of the Royal Commission. It is disgraceful—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] I am glad that Members of the Labour party think that it is disgraceful, because their pledges at the General Election do not seem to have weighed much with them. It is disgraceful that we should vote this vast sum of public money and that the Parliamentary Secretary should come here and say that it does not much matter. I hope the Members of the Conservative party, which contains such a vast array of economic experts, will continue the Debate. Meanwhile, I regret to say that the great Liberal party, the party of retrenchment and reform, are represented by a mere handful of Members, who seem to care nothing that so much public money is being wasted. Their unholy bargain with the Government apparently compels their leaders to stay away, while such Members as are here are content with a shameful silence.
When I was speaking the other night I wanted to tell a story. The great Duke of Wellington was once asked what was the worst speech he ever heard. That was before the Labour party came
§ into being. After a great deal of consideration, he said that the worst speech he ever heard was a speech by a Portuguese general to his troops, before going into action. The general said: "Gentlemen, remember that you are Portuguese." Look at the spectacle on these benches to-night. Here am I, a humble Conservative Member, having to sit on the Liberal benches to plead the cause of economy. I do hope that hon. Members on the benches above the Gangway will continue the Debate in order that we may persuade the public that we do care about the voting away of £20,000,000 of public money at the behest of the Parliamentary Secretary who, apparently, regards the public purse as being of illimitable depth, and at the behest of the Minister of Labour, whose partisan speeches are unworthy of her office, and have had such an effect on the House that hon. Members wish that she would transfer her office to someone who would discharge its elementary duties.
§ Question put, "That the word 'ninety' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes. 246 Noes, 142.1597
|Division No. 157.]||AYES.||[10.51 p.m.|
|Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West)||Church, Major A. G.||Hardie, George D.|
|Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock)||Clarke, J. S.||Harris, Percy A.|
|Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher||Cluse, W. S.||Hartshorn, Rt. Hon. Vernon|
|Aitchison, Rt. Hon. Craigie, M.||Cocks, Frederick Seymour||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Angell, Sir Norman||Cowan, D. M.||Haycock, A. W.|
|Arnott, John||Cripps, Sir Stafford||Hayday, Arthur|
|Aske, Sir Robert||Daggar, George||Hayes, John Henry|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Dalton, Hugh||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Burnley)|
|Ayles, Walter||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Henderson, Arthur, June (Cardiff, S.)|
|Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston)||Dudgeon, Major C. R||Henderson, W. W. (Middx, Enfield)|
|Baidwin, Oliver (Dudley)||Duncan, Charles||Herriotts, J.|
|Barnes, Alfred John||Ede, James Chuter||Hoffman, P. C.|
|Barr, James||Edmunds, J. E.||Hopkin, Daniel|
|Batey, Joseph||Egan, W. H.||Hore-Bellsha, Leslie|
|Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood||Elmley, Viscount||Horrabin, J. F.|
|Bennett, William (Battersea, South)||Foot, Isaac||Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield)|
|Benson, G.||Freeman, Peter||Hunter, Dr. Joseph|
|Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)||Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton)||Isaacs, George|
|Birkett, W. Norman||George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke)||Jenkins, Sir William|
|Blindell, James||George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea)||John, William (Rhondda, West)|
|Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret||Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley)||Jones, F. Llewellyn- (Flint)|
|Bowen, J. W.||Gill, T. H.||Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W.||Gillett, George M.||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)|
|Broad, Francis Alfred||Glassey, A. E.||Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W.|
|Brooke, W.||Gossling, A. G.||Jowitt, Sir W, A. (Preston)|
|Brothers, M.||Gould, F.||Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford)|
|Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield)||Graham, D. M. (Lanark, Hamilton)||Kelly, W. T.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. J. (South Ayrshire)||Granville, E.||Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Buchanan, G.||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne)||Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M.|
|Burgess, F. G.||Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan)||Kinley, J.|
|Burgin, Dr. E. L.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middlesbro' W.)||Kirkwood, D.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R, Eiland)||Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool)||Knight, Holford|
|Calne, Derwent Hall-||Groves, Thomas E.||Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George|
|Cameron, A. G.||Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lathan, G.|
|Carter, W, (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel)||Law, A. (Rossendale)|
|Charieton, H. C.||Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn)||Lawrence, Susan|
|Chater, Daniel||Harbord, A.||Lawrie, Hugh Hartley (Stalybridge)|
|Lawson, John James||Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)||Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)|
|Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle)||Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)||Smith, H. B. Lees- (Keighley)|
|Leach, W.||Palin, John Henry||Smith, Rennie (Penistone)|
|Lea, Frank (Derby, N.E.)||Paling, Wilfrid||Smith, Tom (Pontefract)|
|Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern)||Palmer, E. T.||Smith, W. R. (Norwich)|
|Lees, J.||Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)||Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Perry, S. F.||Sorensen, R.|
|Lindley, Fred W.||Peters, Dr. Sidney John||Stamford, Thomas W.|
|Lloyd, C. Ellis||Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.||Stephen, Campbell|
|Longbottom, A. W.||Phillips, Dr. Marion||Strachey, E. J. St. Loe|
|Longden, F.||Picton-Turbervill, Edith||Strauss, G. R.|
|Lovat-Fraser, J. A.||Pole, Major D. G.||Sullivan, J.|
|Lunn, William||Potts, John S.||Sutton, J. E.|
|Mac Donald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)||Price, M. P.||Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)|
|MacDonald, Malcolm (Battetlaw)||Pybus, Percy John||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. H. (Derby)|
|McElwee, A.||Ramsay, T. B. Wilson||Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)|
|McEntee, V. L.||Rathbone, Eleanor||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Maclean, Nell (Glasgow, Govan)||Raynes, W. R.||Tillett, Ben|
|MacNeill-Weir, L.||Richards, R.||Tinker, John Joseph|
|McShane, John James||Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)||Toole, Joseph|
|Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton)||Ritson, J.||Tout, W. J.|
|Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Romeril, H. G.||Townend, A. E.|
|Mansfield, W.||Rosbotham, D. S. T.||Vaughan, David|
|March, S.||Rowson, Guy||Viant, S. P.|
|Marcus, M.||Russell, Richard John (Eddlsbury)||Walkden, A. G.|
|Markham, S. F.||Salter, Dr. Alfred||Walker, J.|
|Marley, J.||Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)||Wallace, H. W.|
|Marshall, Fred||Sanders, W. S.||Watkins, F. C.|
|Mathers, George||Sandham, E.||Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)|
|Matters, L. W.||Sawyer, G. F.||Wellock, Wilfred|
|Maxton, James||Scrymgeour, E.||Welsh, James (Paisley)|
|Melville, Sir James||Scurr, John||West, F. R.|
|Mester, Fred||Sexton, Sir James||Westwood, Joseph|
|Middleton, G.||Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.||Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)|
|Mills, J. E.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)||Wilkinson, Ellen C.|
|Montague, Frederick||Shepherd, Arthur Lewis||Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Sherwood, G. H.||Williams, T. (York, Don Valley)|
|Morley, Ralph||Shield, George William||Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)|
|Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.)||Shiels, Dr. Drummond||Wilson, J. (Oldham)|
|Mort, D. L.||Shillaker, J. F.||Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)|
|Mosley, Lady C. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Shinwell, E.||Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)|
|Muggeridge, H. T.||Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)||Wise, E. F.|
|Murnin, Hugh||Simmons, C. J.||Wood, Major McKenzle (Banff)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)|
|Newman, Sir R H. S. D. L. (Exeter)||Sitch, Charles H.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)||Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)||Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr. Thomas Henderson.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Courtauld, Major J. S.||Hanbury, C.|
|Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles||Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L.||Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry|
|Albery, Irving James||Cranborne, Viscount||Hartington, Marquess of|
|Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S.||Crichton-Stuart, Lord C.||Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes)|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Haslam, Henry C.|
|Atholl Duchess of||Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West)||Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P.|
|Atkinson, C.||Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey||Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J.|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley)||Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller|
|Balfour, George (Hampstead)||Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil)||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)|
|Balfour, Captain H. H. (I.of Thanet)||Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.)||Hutchison, Maj.-Gen. Sir R.|
|Balniel, Lord||Dawson, Sir Philip||Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton)|
|Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H.||Dixey, A. C.||Kindersley, Major G. M.|
|Beaumont M. W.||Duckworth, G. A. V.||Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak)|
|Betterton, Sir Henry B.||Eden, Captain Anthony||Leighton, Major B. E. P.|
|Bevan, S. J. (Holborn)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Little, Sir Ernest Graham-|
|Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman||Elliot, Major Walter E.||Llewellin, Major J. J.|
|Bird, Ernest Roy||Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s-M.)||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey|
|Bourne, Captain Robert Croft||Everard, W. Lindsay||Lockwood, Captain J. H.|
|Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W.||Falle, Sir Bertram G.||Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.)|
|Boyce, Leslie||Ferguson, Sir John||Makins, Brigadier-General E.|
|Bracken, B.||Fielden, E. B.||Marjoribanks, Edward|
|Briscoe, Richard George||Fison, F. G. Clavering||Merriman, Sir F. Boyd|
|Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y)||Ford, Sir P. J.||Millar, J. D.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Forestler-Walker, Sir L.||Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)|
|Bullock, Captain Malcolm||Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E.||Mitchell-Thomson, Rt. Hon. Sir W.|
|Butler, R. A.||Galbraith, J. F. W.||Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)|
|Butt, Sir Alfred||Ganzoni, Sir John||Morris, Rhys Hopkins|
|Campbell, E. T.||Gower, Sir Robert||Nicholson, O. (Westminster)|
|Carver, Major W. H.||Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.)||Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)|
|Castle Stewart, Earl of||Grattan-Doyle, Sir N.||O'Connor, T. J.|
|Cautley, Sir Henry S.||Greene, W. P. Crawford||O'Neill, Sir H.|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir Herbt. R. (Prtsmth, S.)||Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William|
|Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Reid, David D. (County Down)|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Hall, Lieut.-Col. Sir F. (Dulwich)||Remer, John R.|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Hammersley, S. S.||Reynolds, Col. Sir James|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)||Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Southby, Commander A. R. J.||Wells, Sydney R.|
|Salmon, Major I.||Spender-Clay, Colonel H.||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)||Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.||Withers, Sir John James|
|Savery, S. S.||Thomson, Sir F.||Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount|
|Simms, Major-General J.||Titchfield, Major the Marquess of||Womersley, W. J.|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John||Todd, Capt. A. J.||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton|
|Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfast)||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Skelton, A. N.||Turton, Robert Hugh||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)||Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon||Captain Margesson and Sir George|
|Smith-Carington, Neville W.||Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)||Penny.|
|Smithers, Waldron||Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert|
§ Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."1598
§ The Committee divided: Ayes. 244 Noes, 138.