§ 7.41 p.m.
§ Mr. BATEY
I beg to move, in page 10, line 10, at the end, to insert:(ii) that the fifth statutory condition is not fulfilled.The fifth statutory condition reads as follows: "That, if the Minister has, for the purpose of giving him an opportunity of becoming or keeping fit for entry into or return to regular employment, required him to attend at an authorised course, he proves either that he duly attended in accordance with the requirement, or that he had good cause for not so attending."
That statutory condition means that a man has to prove, if he is ordered to 637 attend an authorised course, that he either attended or had good cause for not attending. We ask that this Amendment shall be inserted so that the insurance officer cannot stop a man's benefit on the ground that he has not attended or has not given a sufficient reason for not attending, but that such a case should go to a court of referees. The 1930 Act was very clear. There was only one ground upon which the insurance officer could stop a man's benefit, and that was a trade dispute. Otherwise, the insurance officer had to send the case to a court of referees, and the man was paid his benefit until the court of referees decided the case, and only that court could stop his benefit. In this Sub-section the Minister is completely altering the powers of the insurance officer and giving him far greater powers to stop a man's benefit, and I cannot understand why the Government were not satisfied with the wording of the 1930 Act and why they could not have allowed that Act to stand as it was. It seems to me so strange and so difficult to understand why they are seeking to give so much power to the insurance officer.
We have to remember that in these cases we are dealing with men who are under the Insurance Fund, and who are only unemployed for 26 weeks. The need to keep men fit for work is the justification for all these training centres, but a man who has only been off work less than 26 weeks does not stand in need of being kept fit for work. I can understand that argument being used for men who may have been unemployed for two or three years, but I cannot understand it being used for men in this category. These training centres and instructional courses would never have been started for men out of employment for less than 26 weeks. A man may have good cause for not attending one of these authorised courses. He may be a man who, having been such a short time out of employment, may be expected to drop into a job at any time. He may have his eye on a job which he hopes to get in a few days or a few weeks, and it would be unwise to make a man like that go to an instructional centre or a training course with the risk of losing the chance of a job. It is not always convenient for men to leave their homes to go to a training centre. A man may have a wife and family, and the centre may be miles 638 away. It would not be wise to ask such a man to go miles to a centre and leave his wife and family. This looks like one of the steps for the breaking up of family life. Hon. Members opposite often charge Socialists with standing for the breaking up of family life. In this instance, hon. Members opposite are actually taking steps which will really mean that. I should like to ask the Parliamentary Secretary a question to which he attempted to give an answer the other night. When an insurance officer stops a man's benefit because he does not give a sufficient cause for not going to a training centre, where is the man to go for assistance? When this question was put to the Parliamentary Secretary the other night he seemed rather hesitant in his reply as if he were not sure of his ground. Does such a man come under Part II of the Bill—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Captain Bourne)
The hon. Member must raise that point on the Question, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill." His Amendment is strictly limited to whether or not the fifth statutory provision should be a ground on which an insurance officer should not disqualify a man, and the hon. Member must keep to the point with regard to good cause.
§ Mr. BATEY
I bow to your Ruling, but it seemed to me that if an insurance officer has the power to stop a man's benefit, we should know where the Ministry expect the man to go. It seems that he must either come under Part II or go to the workhouse, because public assistance committees under this Bill have not power to grant Poor Law relief in such cases. It seems strange that when a man's benefit is stopped he will still receive payment from the Treasury if he has to come under Part II. I leave that point, however, as I recognise that we shall be able to deal with it again.
§ 7.50 p.m.
It may possibly be a little out of order, but I ask your indulgence to reply to the question put by the hon. Member for Spennymoor (Mr. Batey). The answer is that if a man is disallowed benefit he can go to the Assistance Board and his case will be considered by them under the usual procedure. The question would also arise 639 whether he comes within the scope of Clause 35, but provision is made for that. There is no question of going to the workhouse, because the public assistance committee has no power under this Bill.
Yes, in certain circumstances set out in the Clauses later on. He would not go to the workhouse until he had been before the board, obviously. May I bring the Debate on this Amendment to a close by telling the hon. Member that we are prepared to accept it?
§ Mr. ARTHUR GREENWOOD
This is at last a sigh of grace on the part of the Government, and, on behalf of my hon. Friends, I express our gratitude for this concession.
§ Amendment agreed to.
§ 7.53 p.m.
§ Mr. NUNN
I beg to move, in page 10, line 32, to leave out Sub-section (2), and to insert:(2) The following sub-section shall be substituted for sub-section (5) of section eight of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1930:(5) Subject as hereinafter provided, an appeal shall lie to the umpire from any decision of the court of referees as follows:
- (a) at the instance of an insurance officer, in any case;
- (b) at the instance of the claimant—
- (i) appealing direct or through an association of employed persons, provided that the leave of the court of referees shall be obtained upon the submission, within three days, of a reasoned application; and
- (ii) in any case in which the decision of the court of referees is not unanimous.Provided that in any case in which a decision of a court of referees is not unanimous notice in writing of the fact shall be given by the court to the claimant within three days of the decision, and an appeal under this sub-section must be brought within six months of the date of the decision of the court of referees or such longer period as the umpire may in any case for special reasons allow.In order to make this Amendment clear, it is necessary to refer to the provisions of the 1930 Act. Hon. Members will be 640 aware that under that Act the right of appeal from a court of referees is given under certain conditions, first of all, to an insurance officer, who has a right in any case. I am dealing with the second right, namely, the right of an association of employed persons to appeal. The ordinary person who is not a member of an association of employed persons may only appeal with the leave of the court of referees when some principle is involved or there is something to which appears to the court of referees to be a special circumstance. I wish to direct the attention of the Committee to that particular point. It is obvious that "an association of employed persons" is in the main a trade union, although the British Legion is included in the category. It would be easy in arguing for this Amendment to be provocative and to indulge in a platform speech attacking trade unionism. I do not propose to do anything of that sort. One recognises the extremely valuable work that trade unions do, and, although we know that grievances and injustices occur, we recognise that injustices occur in other walks of life as well. I am sure that hon. Members opposite who are particularly interested in trade unionism are as horrified as I am when they come across instances of improper pressure being brought through their organisations.
I base my case for this Amendment on an entirely different argument. The basis of the arguments and the faith of hon. Members opposite is that there should be no class distinction. I claim that the existing conditions set up a very plain class distinction because a class of person has a special privilege which is denied to any other class. The class thus privileged amounts to something like one-quarter of the insured employed persons. They enjoy a special privilege of a right of appeal in any case which three-quarters of the insured workers do not enjoy. I am sure that hon. Members opposite will agree that that is a class distinction, and I shall be surprised to learn from them that they support it. The Amendment does not exclude members of trade unions from being placed on a par with their fellow workers, for the Amendment provides that:an appeal shall lie to the umpire … at the instance of the claimant appealing direct or through an association of employed persons.641 Therefore, the trade union which quite properly wished to help its members would be able to provide that help by assisting a claimant to draw up his reasoned application. I should like to say, in parenthesis, that I do not claim that the wording of the Amendment is perfect. I recognise the difficulty of putting a proper impediment in the way of frivolous applications for appeal, and I do not claim that my provision of "a reasoned application" is necessarily the most perfect form. I hope that the Parliamentary Secretary may be able to assure the Committee that this matter will be considered. I submit that it is wise to give the leave to appeal to the court of referees. That definitely takes away the privilege that has been enjoyed up to the present by members of associations, but, in view of the fact that the whole of the workers coming under insurance will by this Amendment be put exactly on the same standing, I think it is only just and I hope that hon. Members on the other side will be willing to express their agreement with me on the ground that they are by their nature and politics and by their manner of thought conscientious objectors to anything like class distinction.
§ 7.59 p.m.
The proposal contained in the Amendment made by my hon. Friend and successor the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Nunn) is interesting and has something to be said for it at first glance. He realises, I think, that the actual wording of the Amendment would not be satisfactory, and he will realise it all the more when I tell him that its effect would be still further to curtail the right of a man who does not belong to a trade union to appeal against the decision of a court of referees to the Umpire. But on the broad question whether it is right and proper to restrict or remove the right of a trade union to appeal to the Umpire, on behalf of one of its members, against a decision of the court of referees, I am free to confess that I do not think a very good case can be made out, because I do not, think it can fairly be said that the trade unions have encouraged frivolous appeals to the Umpire. On the contrary, from all I hear, if the full figures were known, they would show, probably, that they turn down many times the number of requests from their members that ultimately go forward to 642 the Umpire. The comparatively high percentage of successful appeals they make proves, I think, that they exercise a great deal of discrimination in the cases they carry to London. Although at first glance there is, no doubt, something to be said for the hon. Member's proposal, for the reasons I have given I think he will not be astonished to hear that the Government cannot accept his Amendment, and I hope he will withdraw it and allow us to get on to the next business.
§ 8.2 p.m.
§ Sir J. WALKER-SMITH
I do not think the explanation given by the Parliamentary Secretary is very satisfactory. All that he has said, in short, is that whilst under the provisions of the existing legislation, certain levers have been placed in the hands of trade unions as a matter of practice they have not always used them. Although the Government will not accept the Amendment, I shall support it, because if it were accepted it would achieve very desirable objects. In the first place, it would achieve the very satisfactory object of bringing about uniformity between those who are trade unionists and those who are not in the matter of these appeals, and in the second place it would remove from trade union officials not only the power but the temptation to act unfairly—to use those levers which the Minister of Labour seems to be so anxious to put into their hands to induce or concuss non-unionists into membership. As things stand, there is an undesirable discrimination in the matter of the recognition of associations of employers as contrasted with the recognition of associations of operatives. That obtains in various ways and, among others, in a case of this kind. In the event of an insured worker refusing work upon the ground that in the locality where the work is available there is something in the nature of a trade dispute, a trade union is empowered to intervene and make representations, whereas no such power is available to an association of employers. If it were a question of unfair discrimination between employers' associations and operatives' associations, I should not think it necessary, for the time being, to raise my voice in protest, but it is on account of the discrimination against non-trade unionists that I wish to support the Amendment. 643 I do not think any one in the Committee would wish to detract from the powers and prestige of trade unions. Most certainly I do not, for a variety of reasons; for this if for no other, that the more powerful the trade unions are the better able are they satisfactorily to enter into collective bargains and arrangements with employers, and to see that agreements are honoured in order to maintain peace in industry. But to have unfair discrimination between trade unionists and non-trade unionists will not do anything to strengthen the position of the trade unions, and I cannot think that there is not a certain amount of resentment over the discrimination found in Section 8 of the Act of 1930 to which attention has been called. The non-trade unionist is put to very great difficulties if he wishes to make an appeal to the Umpire. It is necessary for him to obtain the leave of the court, it is necessary for him to make it appear to the court that important questions of principle are raised, or to show that there are special circumstances; whereas if a man is a member of a trade union or any body of employers, none of these restrictions obtain, and he can make his appeal without having to overcome all those difficulties, which are very considerable difficulties. I think one must agree that there is something quite wrong about discrimination of that kind, and if trade unionists would take a long view they would support this Amendment. I am afraid they will not do so, however, and even if they did, as the Minister of Labour has spoken for the Government, it would not be of very much use.
I have no desire to waste time, but I wish to emphasise that it is very undesirable for the Minister to place these levers in the hands of trade unionists, to tempt them to force non-trade unionists into unions, much as I would like to see them there. I do not say that the Minister should accept any special responsibility for the provisions of the Act of 1930, which under this Bill are being re-enacted, but I think the wording of Sub-section (2) is a little unfortunate, for in that case he is making the position of the non-trade unionist a little more difficult than it was before. Previously, there was no very great temptation for the non-trade unionist to succumb to the pressure of a trade union 644 official to join a union unless and until trouble was impending, but under these particular provisions the Minister of Labour proposes to make it very much more simple for officials to tempt, if they desire to tempt, and I sincerely hope they will not do so, a trade unionist to come under the umbrella long before it begins to rain. I can see no good reason why the Minister should place these levers in the hands of trade union officials, and I do not see why he should wish to discriminate between the trade unionist and the non-unionist. These provisions will apply to about 12,000,000 people, of whom only 3,500,000 are trade unionists. I am sorry the Minister has not seen fit to accept this Amendment, but I presume the Mover of it will refrain from going any further.
§ 8.10 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Before the hon. Member receives the leave of the Committee to withdraw the Amendment I wish to ask a question of you personally, Sir Dennis. I put in a manuscript Amendment to delete Sub-section (2). If the Amendment of the hon. Member had been persisted in there would have been no necessity to move my Amendment for the deletion of Sub-section (2).
§ The CHAIRMAN
The question actually before the Committee is "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," and that is the equivalent of what would have been put if the hon. Member's Amendment had been moved.
§ Mr. MAXTON
So that if I proceed with the point I wish to raise now it will relieve me of the necessity of moving my Amendment.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member does not do so now he will not get a chance, because if the Committee decide that the words are to stand part of the Clause he will not have an opportunity of moving his Amendment.
§ Mr. MAXTON
My reasons for wishing this Sub-section (2) to be deleted are not the same as those of the hon. Member for Barrow-in-Furness (Sir J. Walker- 645 Smith). He is very anxious that the man who is not a trade unionist should have similar rights to those of a trade unionist. I agree with him to this extent—that a man who is not a trade unionist through long-continued unemployment is in a different category from the person who is a non-trade unionist simply by neglect. I am not anxious to impose on the Umpire the duty of considering every case which might be put forward by any one of the insured persons, because that is what it would amount to if this proposal were carried to its logical conclusion—that any one dissatisfied with a local decision could take it to a court of referees and from there up to the Umpire; and we could not have what is the highest court in the land on this particular issue cluttered up with a whole lot of cases on which decisions had already been given. I imagine that the presumption behind giving trade unions a special right of appeal is that a trade union, being a responsible body, not anxious to occupy its time with trivialities, will not assume the responsibility of preparing a case for the Umpire unless there is some basis for it. While that is true of a trade union, the Sub-section as at present drafted would cut out the rights of certain other organisations which are recognised as having the right of carrying a case beyond the local courts. I am very much concerned to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary something about this—if he has not already said something, because, unfortunately, although I returned to the Chamber as soon as I saw his name, he had resumed his seat when I got here, and he may have said something very important in that relatively short time.
The case that I am anxious to put before him is that of a definitely recognised unemployment workers' movement which up till to-day have had the right to carry cases to appeal to the higher court of the Ministry of Labour insurance system. The wording of the Sub-section lays it down that a person shall notbe deemed to be a member of any association of employed persons unless he was a member thereof on the last date on which he was employed.It is true that unemployed workers' movements admit employed persons into their ranks, but normally a man does not join an unemployed workers' movement unless he is an unemployed man, and probably one who has been so long un- 646 employed that he has been unable to maintain his trade union connections. A great difficulty is therefore placed upon an unemployed workers' organisation—and I am speaking particularly of the one which has been longest established, and which has been most active, the National Unemployed Workers' Movement. A very great responsibility, and very great technical difficulties are raised, for that organisation and for the Minister, if, before that organisation can make an appeal they have to prove that the claimant was a member of the organisation before he was an unemployed man.
I want to hear from the Parliamentary Secretary if this is a deliberate attempt to cut out the right of these organisations, which have specialised in the problems of unemployment insurance, and which have developed a fair amount of knowledge and capacity in the handling of unemployed insurance cases. I want to know if this Sub-section is drawn deliberately to exclude these unemployed workers' associations from appealing on behalf of their members, irrespective of whether those members are employed or unemployed, and of the precise date at which the members joined a particular unemployed organisation. If the Minister is unable to satisfy me in regard to the right of these organisations, which they have hitherto enjoyed, of acting as appellants on behalf of their members, and which, as far as I know, they have not abused, and if it is the view of the Ministry that Sub-section (2) withdraws that right from them, I shall be compelled to vote against the inclusion of that Sub-section.
§ 8.19 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I rise to reinforce the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton). I thought that the Parliamentary Secretary might have replied to him. The Amendment, which is in the names of several hon. Gentlemen, improves the position in many respects, and I support it, but before their Amendment could be accepted the part of the Clause that we are seeking to deal with would have to be deleted. In regard to the point raised by the hon. Member for Bridgeton, I will take a practical case. An organisation has been operating in this country for some years, called the 647 National Unemployed Workers' Movement. Most people simply dismiss that organisation, by saying that it is Communist. Because it is Communist it must be dismissed. Trade unions to a large extent also say that the organisation is Communist and is therefore outside the pale. We should not use adjectives whether "Communist" or "Bolshevist," or anything which is a substitute for reason and argument. When people are arguing against a movement, they ought not to dismiss it with a prejudiced case and a name, but ought to meet it fairly. I am not called upon to defend that movement in its wider work, but only to make a statement as concerns the case of unemployed people on whose behalf they appeal to the Umpire. I am not going to argue whether this thing or that thing that they do is right or wrong, but whether it is just to take away their right to appeal to the Umpire.
In common with many other people, I have frequently been to the Umpire, and every one who goes before him takes up his time, according to the ability with which the case is stated. It might be as well if this Committee faced up to the reason why associations were given the right to appeal to the Umpire. Every member of an association of working people is refused the right of appeal at a court of referees, whether the court is unanimous or not. Those who are not in an organisation only have the right of appeal from a court of referees to the Umpire if the court's decision is unanimous, or the court gives him special leave to appeal. Organised workers have that right, no matter what the court of referees may determine. The reason for that goes back to the Blanesburgh Committee, and is that organised associations do not appeal on every case which is turned down, but exercise their knowledge and pick out those on which they will appeal. It may be that the National Unemployed Workers' Movement did not know the work at the time of their origin. I did not know the work, and sometimes I think that many people do not yet know the work. That Movement may have followed a rough and ready fashion of appealing in a large number of cases, but I can tell the Minister that I have watched them at work before the Umpire during recent years, and I can honestly say of them 648 that I have never seen a body improve so much, both in the presentation of facts and the statement of a case, and even in the selection of cases.
Let the Minister consult those who are working day by day before the Umpire—not the Umpire himself, but the officials of the Ministry, or those who carry out the duties of the Umpire's office. If he does, he will find that the National Unemployed Workers' Movement will compare, as regards the statement of their case, with any other organised body. I can speak feelingly about these cases before the Umpire, because I have given thought, time and attention to the law on the matter, and I can say that in recent years the Ministry has lost nothing in dignity or capacity from the presence of representatives of this body. Indeed, it is in some respects to the advantage of the Minister that they should be there, because, as the hon. Gentleman knows, it has happened from time to time that cases submitted to courts of referees have been turned down and then, when the organised workers have appealed, the Minister has been aided by their appealing and getting decisions which have put right things that otherwise might well have been wrong. Therefore, I would ask the hon. Gentleman to think twice before cutting out a body which represents a considerable number of people.
If they are cut out, it will hurt, not only the National Unemployed Workers' Movement, but others as well. An unemployed man may decide to join his trade union even while he is unemployed. At some time subsequently he may be disallowed benefit, and although in some cases the trade unions, wisely enough, are attempting to entice unemployed people back to their ranks, yet, if they join when they are unemployed, this valuable right is not allowed to be given them, though they are usually the very people who need it most. I remember that in Bristol there is an Unemployed Workers' Movement, which has done extremely valuable work. It is not connected officially with either one side of the movement or the other, but is what one might term an independent unemployed organisation. It tried to run in harness with general Labour and trade union sentiment, though it did not do so officially. That movement appealed 649 in many cases, and it has never abused its position in Bristol. Its members were mainly people of the most unfortunate section of the community, to whom some organisation whereby they could retain their rights was most valuable. The Trade Union Congress, for good or ill, some time ago decided to start en organisation similar in many respects to the National Unemployed Workers' Movement, through the agency of the trades councils of the country, and, if this Clause is carried, every one of those unemployed organisations set up by the trades councils will have no right of appeal to the Umpire in any case in which the individual concerned was not a member of them when he was employed.
We knew that we should be met with the argument that this body was associated with wrong people. I do not wish to boast, but I think I speak on this matter with as much knowledge of the Umpire and his work as anyone in the House, and I would say to the Parliamentary Secretary that the inclusion of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement would not only not bring him any discredit, but in recent years, through their skill in putting their case and the wisdom of their action before the Umpire, they have done themselves credit and have been able to assist many decent men and women to get just recognition of what I think is their right. Therefore, as regards that part of the Clause which this Amendment seeks to delete, I trust that the hon. Gentleman will see his way to meet us.
A year or two ago, as is well known, the Umpire's department was overloaded with cases, and often one had to wait three or four weeks before a hearing could be given. It may be true that at that time all kinds of associations were appealing, but it must be remembered that at that period the whole framework of appeals was altered and the framework of the Act was adjusted, so that the Umpire was flooded with cases. Recently, however, and particularly within the last six months, the Umpire's department has not been flooded with appeals, but, having worked out decisions defining the position in various cases, has obviated the necessity for frequent appeals, and consequently its work has been less and it has resumed its normal way. I trust that the Parlia- 650 mentary Secretary, free from any feeling or prejudice in this matter, will reconsider his decision in regard to this body, which, although I differ from it in many ways, and have fought elections against it, I have found to be capable of putting its ease as well as anyone.
§ 8.33 p.m.
I am sure that no one who has been in the House for any length of time, and has heard my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), would dream for a moment that he was ever actuated by anything but a perfectly sincere desire to do the best thing possible in all circumstances. But the mere fact that he suggests from his own experience that the condition of affairs with regard to appeals by this particular body has improved of late years shows that in previous years—
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
May I say that the trade unions also have altered? Every union has improved. The Acts were in a very chaotic state, but all these bodies have improved, and this body possibly more than any other, because it set to work to see that that was done. If I may say so, even the Parliamentary Secretary improves. I hope that no case is going to be made against a body improving. This body has improved, the trade unions have improved, and everybody who does his job will improve.
I do not suggest that they have not improved; I am only saying that the fact that they have improved is not necessarily an argument against these proposals. The necessity for these proposals is based on a recommendation of the Royal Commission. The Committee will probably remember that the Royal Commission suggested, in paragraph 494 of their Report, that only bodies of employed persons who had been given permission to do so by the Minister should be allowed to make appeals to the Umpire. Obviously, a provision of that sort goes very much further in restricting possible rights of appeal than this provision which we have put in for the purpose of complying with the words of the original Act. It was "an association of employed persons." If you have an association of unemployed persons, that does not comply with the wording of the Act, and it is in order to ensure that the association shall consist of em- 651 ployed persons at the material time that we have put in these words, which are much less stringent than the proposal of the Royal Commission. Although I sympathise with the point made by the hon. Member and his friends, I am afraid that in the circumstances we cannot agree to the suggestion that the Sub-section should be deleted. If between now and Report he can suggest any other form of words which would achieve what we have in mind and he will come and see me, I will most certainly give it consideration as long as we agree on the principle.
§ 8.36 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Do I understand, then, that the Government do not specifically desire to cut out legitimate unemployed workers' organisations and that the intention of the Sub-section is merely to reiterate the existing law in a better form, that organised workers have a right of appeal which is denied to unorganised workers, and that if we could bring forward some form of words which would include organised workers, although they happen to be unemployed, he would endeavour to insert a provision of that sort on Report? There are about 4,000,000 trade unionists out of something like 12,000,000 insured workers, and there is to be a rule laid down which gives to the 4,000,000 a right which is denied to the 8,000,000, even if they are prepared to enter into the form of association which is open to them. That is a terribly serious decision. It is putting up a double standard of justice as it were. I am still endeavouring to get at the mind of the Government. Is this a deliberate attempt to say that the non-trade unionist unemployed are to have no right of appeal.
§ 8.38 p.m.
No, certainly not, because under the existing law in the case of a man who belongs to no organisation of any sort or kind, there is a right of appeal in certain circumstances. The Royal Commission say that the difficulty arose owing to the fact that the Act of 1930 contains no definition of an association of employed persons. We have endeavoured to get over that difficulty by this Sub-section. If the hon. Member thinks he can devise a better definition, I have offered to look at it between now and Report.
§ 8.39 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
It seems to me that the intention of the Parliamentary Secretary is entirely at variance with the intention of my hon. Friends, and I do not see how any consultation hereafter can bridge the differences between them, because, as I understand it, the Parliamentary Secretary desires to debar from the right of appeal those who did not belong to an organisation at the time of their last employment, whereas my hon. Friends desire that if a man joins any sort of protective association after he becomes unemployed he shall be entitled to make his appeal. The language of the Sub-section intends to make it clear that, unless he belonged to some sort of trade association at the time of his last employment, any association that tries to speak on his behalf afterwards cannot represent him. I am a trade union Member of the House, and I believe that a man ought to join a trade union for protective purposes, but I am not unmindful of the fact that the existence of unemployment and the shifting of industry make it almost impossible for men to join trade unions in some parts of the country. The Parliamentary Secretary is, in effect, depriving many men of the right of appeal at all. In the Nottingham coalfield a man loses his job if he joins a trade union. If the Parliamentary Secretary will agree to pass a law making it a criminal offence for an employer to obstruct the organisation of trade unionists in any way and to punish him if he forbids them to join a trade union, and imposes on employers the obligation to facilitate the organisation of trade unions, we might look more favourably on this proposal. In the last 10 years a very substantial change has come over the physical features of British industry. The old centres of the trade unions were in the North and West, where the basic industries were situated. The coal mining industry itself was in the vanguard of the trade union movement.
I should like to know whether the Labour party desire to back up the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) in having this Sub-section removed or whether they think it ought to stand?
On a point of Order. We are discussing the Amendment, and the question is whether or not the hon. Member is for or against it. I have not yet been able to understand.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I am speaking in favour of any voluntarily organised body of persons being permitted to submit appeals on behalf of their members. I do not care whether it is the Primrose League or the National Unemployed Workers. If the trade unions are going to be incorporated in legislation, let us understand it. If they are going to be regarded as a formal part of the structure of the system of jurisprudence, I am going to claim that they should be protected from intimidation by the employers. In other words, if the existence of a trade union is considered to be necessary for the protection of a man's rights under the law, the law should protect a man who wants to organise a trade union. That is a natural corollary. I have asked the Parliamentary Secretary. He thinks that a man cannot be adequately protected unless he has the right of an appeal through an organisation. He admits that. Surely, you are saying here that you are prepared to allow a man to be represented by his trade union, and it necessarily follows that the man's rights are more properly protected in that way than if he had no organisation at all. The Parliamentary Secretary shakes his head.
I am not in the least prepared to admit that a person who does not belong to any organisation at all does not have his right of appeal adequately protected by the existing organisation of the court of referees. In other words, I am not prepared to admit that the court of referees denies leave to appeal to the Umpire in a proper case even when a man is not represented by a trade union.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I know. The answer, of course, is that in special circumstances the court can permit an appeal, but, if a man is a member of a trade union, he can override a refusal and make an appeal. I think that every hon. Member perhaps, apart from the Parliamentary Secretary, who cannot admit it for the purpose of argument, will agree that the whole principle of British justice is based upon a man's right to select someone to 654 make an appeal for him. Unless you admit the principle of advocacy, you destroy the whole basis of British jurisprudence, and the whole of our juridical system has, as a matter of fact, been constructed on that basis. The Parliamentary Secretary is denying the rights of advocacy to 8,000,000 people. The proposition I put to hon. Members is that if their rights of advocacy form the basis of justice, and if those rights are circumscribed by the advocacy of a trade union, then, if there exists in this country a body of citizens possessing a power to prevent a man having a trade union, they also have the power to prevent him from having justice under the law. That is the situation. The Parliamentary Secretary cannot run away from the position that a private employer in being permitted by British law to dismiss a man from a trade union, and an Act of Parliament saying that membership of a trade union is necessary for a man to secure advocacy under the law, deprive that man of British justice. Therefore, the corollary of the Parliamentary Secretary's position is that the man should have protection under the law to join a trade union, whereas the opposite is the case. At the Morris motor works at Oxford, a man who joins a trade union is sacked.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must ask the hon. Member to remember the terms of the Amendment which we are discussing.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I submit, with all respect to you, Sir Dennis, that there are men who cannot and dare not join a union, and that if they are not in a union they cannot have the right to appeal to the Umpire. Consequently, I am asking that in the absence of adequate protection for a man's rights to join a union, he should be allowed to appeal to the Umpire if he is not in a union at the time of his leaving his employer. I submit that that is the position, and I wish to adduce in support of it the experiences of hon. Members in all parts of the House. The newspapers have been full recently of attempts on the part of the Birmingham wholesale butchers to prevent their men from joining a trade union. As I have said, there are in connection with the Morris Motor Works "open" shops along the Great West Road, and new industries are starting nearly every week. They are "open" shops, and if a man joins a union he loses his job.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must rule that the hon. Member is now getting beyond the scope of the Amendment under discussion, and I must ask him to keep more closely to it.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I must ask for your protection, Sir. I should like to refer, if you will permit me, to the language of the Clause. The original wording of the Section is as follows:Subject as hereinafter provided, an appeal shall lie to the Umpire from any decision of the court of referees as follows:The language of the Clause of the Bill before the Committee leaves that out.
- (a) at the instance of an insurance officer, in any case;
- (b) at the instance of an association of employed persons of which the claimant is a member."
It says:For the purposes of paragraph (b) Sub-section (5) of Section eight of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1930 (which specifies some of the persons at whose instance an appeal shall lie from a court of referees), a claimant for benefit shall not, in relation to any appeal, be deemed to be a member of any association of employed persons unless he was a member thereof on the last date on which he was employed before the claim subject to the appeal was made.It means that if a man was a member of a trade union at the time when he lost his employment he would have the right of appeal to the Umpire in the event of an appeal becoming necessary. If he was not a member of the union, whether voluntarily or unvoluntarily, such a right of appeal would not lie. The purpose of the Amendment is to secure his right to join an association afterwards becoming unemployed and the association's right to make an appeal on his behalf. The substance of my case is that under the conditions as they exist to-day a man runs the risk of losing his employment if he joins a trade union, and, therefore, in the absence of protection of his right to join a union, the association he subsequently joins should have the right of appeal on his behalf. That is my contention, and I reinforce it by pointing out that there are industries in Great Britain in which a man cannot join a trade union without running the risk of unemployment.
§ Mr. LAWSON
May I point out that the whole of the Sub-section which is being discussed swings upon the point as to whether a man is a member of a union or not previous to his being out of employment. It seems to me that it is the whole essence of the argument as to whether a man is a mmber of a union or as to the conditions on which he can be a member of the union.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is quite correct, and, if the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) had kept within those limits, I should not have intervened.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I may be in a very wooden state, but I cannot see the difference between what was said by the hon. Member who preceded me and what I have submitted. I was trying to point out that the only reason for the inclusion of these words in the Act is that the member should be protected from disability if he desires to join a trade union. It is only very recently that the trade unions have been given this sort of status, and it is significant that the status has been given when the trade unions are weakest and unable to exercise the right conferred upon them. In the mining industry and the heavy industries the unions are strong and have been for many years, but there are new industries where the trade unions are weak. It is not equity under the law to confer upon a man who is employed by a reasonable and good employer a legal right which is withheld from the man who is employed by a bad employer.
657 I do not understand why voluntary associations are being discriminated against. I hold no brief for the National Unemployed Workers' movement. I am opposed to it, but I stand for the rights of a British subject to join whatever organisation he likes. Once I began to concede the right to the Government to discriminate between different sorts of organisations the next step they might take might be against mine. The only safe ground that I can take in this matter is to protect the rights of all British citizens to join any association they like, before I can defend the right to join mine. In a year or two if the trade unions should happen to earn the right hon. Gentleman's displeasure, he might bring in a Bill to take away the right of appeal from them. On what ground can I agree to permit the right hon. Gentleman to take away the right from other persons? I take my stand, not upon the insular ground that one form of organisation ought to have the right of appeal as against another organisation, but upon the substantial and fundamental ground that an Englishman has the right to join these voluntary associations and that these voluntary associations should have equal status under the law.
The Parliamentary Secretary, in the role of defender of the British Trade Union Congress, does not look very nice. He does not look at ease in that role. The general council of the Trade Union Congress and the trade union movement as a whole have fallen to a pretty low condition when they require the defence of the Parliamentary Secretary. The line that he is taking this evening is a line which indicates and will indicate to the country that the general council of the Trade Union Congress and trade unionists as a whole are his favourites as against some other form of association. I object to that form of propaganda against the trade unions. I object entirely to his telling the workers of the country that the National Unemployed Workers' Committee are such effective defenders of the unemployed that they ought not to be allowed to function on their behalf and that the trade unions are so weak that he is perfectly prepared to give them that status. I can see myself faced by representatives of the National Unemployed Workers' movement saying to me: "The Parliamentary Secretary is so frightened of us that he 658 takes away our rights of appeal to the Umpire, but he is so satisfied with the inadequacy and docility of the trade unions that he is prepared to allow them to retain the right of appeal. He is afraid of us."
§ Mr. BEVAN
The more the National Government smile upon the trade unions the more the trade unions blight and wither away. The less the National Government approve of us the stronger we are. This paragraph is a sort of Moscow plot. I suspect that its real purpose is to undermine the trade unionists in Great Britain and to convince them that their real allies are in the National Unemployed Workers Movement. I want to protect the trade unions against that form of attack, against this propaganda on behalf of subversive organisations. What I am saying is not incredible. Perhaps this is a concession made for the Trade Agreement with Moscow. Perhaps this is a quid pro quo. The trade unions of Great Britain can strengthen themselves much more by not having this sort of sinister support. We could have had this long ago if we had wanted it. There were lots of employers who were prepared to take the trade unions under their, wing, but we did not want to get under their wing.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must seriously warn the hon. Member, for the third time, that he is going very much outside the scope of the Amendment.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I was about to bring my remarks to a conclusion. I was led away into some fanciful speculations as to where this proposal originated, because I cannot see the explanation on the surface. I submit seriously to the House that we are not entitled to deprive millions of British subjects of their right of appeal under the law by permitting reactionary employers to take that right away from them by dismissing them for joining trade unions.
§ 9.5 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I hope the Minister will reconsider this matter. I speak now as an active trade unionist and one of the few hon. Members who is chairman of a trade union. I know, therefore, something about trade union procedure. We must try and judge this question without 659 any feeling whatever. This is the position. A man is punished under the Bill, and sometimes the punishment may be more severe than that inflicted by a criminal court. He may be disallowed six weeks' benefit. The court of referees decide that they are justified in inflicting that punishment. He can bring with him before the court of referees anyone to advocate his case except a lawyer, but the same man, if he is charged in a criminal court and is a very poor individual, is able under the Poor Persons Act, to have a lawyer to give him free legal advice.
The cases which we are now considering will usually be those of persons who have been out of employment for a long time, the most unfortunate of the unemployed. Before the court of referees he is allowed representation, but if the court gives him leave to appeal no one can appear before the Umpire on his behalf, unless he was in an organisation on the last day on which he was working. If the same person was a criminal you would supply him with counsel in order that he might be properly defended. Some time ago the Trades Union Congress decided to form an unemployed organisation. Perhaps it was a method of inviting people back to the trade unions. If you do not allow these poor people to be represented before the Umpire it means that decisions will be given for which the Umpire will be blamed, whereas in fact, he will not be to blame because the case will not have been properly presented.
There was a little quarrel in the House last night in which I hesitated to join because as in the case of a quarrel between man and wife it is generally the one who tries to be the peacemaker who gets gaoled. Last night there was a little difference on an Amendment. I am saying this in order to show how important it is that these cases should be defended before the Umpire. Under the Act a child who is incapacitated can get benefit up to the age of 16, but an Umpire decided that a child can only get benefit up to the age of 16, even if it is incapacitated, if it can be proved that it is likely to get education up to the age of 16. In other words, if a child is not likely to be educated up to the age of 16, although incapacitated, it is 660 to be disqualified. That decision was taken with no one putting the contrary view. It was made by a Deputy Umpire without any one appearing before him. The Minister has a right to appear before the Umpire, but the poor man has no right unless he belongs to an organisation. Judicial decisions cannot be made unless both sides of the case are heard. In the case of the child a decision of far-reaching importance was given.
We are dealing to-day with the car-case of the Bill; the Umpire will fill it in by the decisions which he will make. I go before the Umpire perhaps more than any other hon. Member in the House, and I pride myself that I can induce him to change his mind. It is wrong for these decisions to be made without someone being there to state the opposite side of the case. Men who appear before a criminal court, if they are poor, are supplied with free legal advice, but when the man is poor and unemployed you are proposing to deprive him of the valuable right of advocating his case unless he joins an organisation. The sooner the House of Commons starts to do what it thinks to be right without wondering what this or that person thinks the better.
One of the horrible things about Parliament is that the question is so often asked, "What is someone else thinking?" The unemployed person should have the fullest right of getting his case stated before the Umpire. The House of Commons would support me to a man if the word "Communist" could not be flung about here. I know the difficulty. The main association of unemployed is connected with the Communists. But if this matter were judged on its merits it would be decided as I suggest. We ask for the unemployed no more than has been given to the criminal section of the population. The Minister will do his Umpire an injustice if he passes the Clause as it stands. An Umpire might well come to a decision which the Minister would afterwards regret. I remember that on one occasion the miners attached so much importance to an appeal that they employed a first class counsel to act for them. The present Foreign Secretary was employed by the Miners' Federation to plead their case before the Umpire in a famous trade 661 union dispute. The unemployed man should have someone to state his case free from all prejudice.
§ 9.17 p.m.
The impression left on my mind after listening to the last two speeches is that the two hon. Members destroyed their own case by overstating it. If I believed that the case put forward by them were true it would lead me to conclude that the first of the steps that ought to be taken to deal with it is to abolish forthwith the right of any trade union to appear on behalf of its members, because the case they made is the case of gross and flagrant injustice in which 25 per cent. of the employed workers of the country enjoy privileges which are not available to the 75 per cent. who are unorganised. I am merely stating the impression made on my mind, and I think made on the mind of any reasonable Member of the Committee who listened dispassionately to what the hon. Members said. The fact is that the real situation bears not the faintest resemblance to the case that they made out. The truth is that the ordinary man not belonging to a trade union is given a right of appeal in proper cases by the court of referees, and that the statutory officers do their best to help the Umpire to form an unbiased judgment on the whole of the facts put before him. It is precisely in order to assist him to do that, that we have laid down in this Clause a new provision that the finding shall be set forth in writing and that it should state the facts and reasons why the right of appeal is granted.
The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) made a good deal of play about my alleged defence of the Trades Union Congress. I was merely trying to be fair. I showed that the proposals in this Bill are nothing like as drastic and severe as the proposals of the Royal Commission, and in order not to bring any controversial matter into the Debate, I refrained from quoting the reasons that led the Royal Commission to come to the conclusion that they reached. Since the hon. Member has raised the question I prefer to read the evidence given by the Trades Union Congress, which was one of the most important factors in causing the Royal Commission to come to its conclusion. This is what the Trades 662 Union Congress said in its written memorandum of evidence:We think that appeals should be confined to all Trade Unions and to Associations of employed persons other than Trade Unions, but having arrangements with the Ministry of Labour under Section 17 of the 1920 Act. … We are convinced that by limiting appeals to all Trade Unions and also to Associations as suggested, unnecessary appeals would not be forwarded, but we regard it as very important that the right of appeal should be confined to the type of organisation referred to. Other cases will be protected by the right to give permission to appeal vested in the court of referees.That is what the Royal Commission recommended. We base this proposal on the suggestion of the Trades Union Congress. The Trades Union Congress in their oral evidence said that the right of appeal had been given by Umpire's decision to an organisation of unemployed persons, and that in their view this was not an Association representing employed people as they would understand it. That was the Trades Union Congress. They gave as the reason that they did not regard it as an Association, not the fact that it consisted of persons unemployed and employed, but because there was no machinery for placing people in industry, and because they were not a body for negotiating wages and conditions. That brings me back to the point that I made some time ago, when I said that the words in the Act of 1930 were "An Association of employed persons." We are dealing here with persons who have just lost their employment; we are not dealing with persons who have been unemployed for very long periods. It is precisely because we are dealing with bodies of employed persons, precisely because the court of referees and the Umpire deal with them, that we think the suggestions made by the Trades Union Congress are reasonable, and for that reason we have embodied them in this particular fashion rather than adopted the more drastic proposals of the Royal Commission. For these reasons we cannot accept the Amendment.
§ 9.25 p.m.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I am profoundly dissatisfied. The excerpts that the Parliamentary Secretary has read, while they undoubtedly represent the desire of the Trades Union Congress to have the dominating say in the treatment of all employed persons and unemployed per- 663 sons as well, do not represent any justification for this Sub-section. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that trade unionism at the moment deals with fewer than 4,000,000 people. The fund, of which the Minister and he are the principal custodians, deals with nearly 12,000,000 people, and may, when this legislation is concluded, deal with more; it would mean a considerable addition. We, sitting in this House of Commons, are not trade union representatives. Whatever our origins and outside associations may be, when we are here we represent particular constituencies consisting of the general body of the people. The Minister coolly comes here and tells us that out of these 12,000,000 insured persons whose rights in this fund are supposed to be equally guarded, 4,000,000 are to have the advantage of fighting for their rights up to the highest court of the land, but that the other 8,000,000 are to have only the lesser appeals, unless the lower courts specifically give them the right to appeal to the higher court. It is not right, and no amount of argument by the Minister or any amount of pressure by the Trades Union Congress can make it right. Particularly is it wrong to say that a man must be a member of his association before he becomes unemployed; that the only organisation that can appeal for him is the particular union in which he happened to be at the time that he was last in a job.
I am quite sure that the Committee does not realise what is being done. I cannot understand why it is being done. I wish there had been something like a decent attendance here at the earlier stages of this discussion; unfortunately, this is one of the worst hours of the day, when many hon. Members have to absent themselves. The Minister is now laying it down that the only unemployed persons who can appeal to the Umpire, as opposed to the court of referees, are those who happened to be members of the trade unions approved by the Trades Union Congress, and that no other association can appeal on behalf of an unemployed person or a group of unemployed persons.
I am putting in an appeal on behalf of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement. I make no apologies for 664 doing this; I have done the work and was doing it when others would not try to do it. Hard, unremunerative work it is, to take up the grievances of the unemployed and to try to fight their battles; it is not a job to bring money or kudos. This association has fought their grievances and is fighting them now. Under the existing legislation is has the right to appeal on behalf of its members to the Umpire; it has not abused that right in any way. The proposed legislation takes away that right, and the only reason that has been brought before the Committee in support of the taking away of that right from the National Unemployed Workers' Movement—the only argument brought forward by the National Government—is that the Trades Union Congress asked them to do it. Listen to that, coming as a reason in support of legislation from the Treasury Bench! I can remember the hue and cry that arose from those benches when the Labour Government was in office because the Trades Union Congress had been passing resolutions and bringing pressure to bear upon the Government. I cannot remember the late Labour Government surrendering so completely on any issue to a demand of the Trades Union Congress as the present Government are doing on this particular issue.
§ Mr. MAXTON
Not during the period of the Labour Government. I cannot remember it being done. The only reason given by the National Government is that the Trades Union Congress asked them to deny to any other association the right of appeal on behalf of unemployed men, and the Minister refuses to make any attempt to alter Sub-section (2).
Certain Conservative Members at the beginning of this Debate put forward an Amendment, and it is on that Amendment that we are still debating, because it was just at the point when the hon. Member who moved it was asking leave to withdraw that I intervened, and the leave to withdraw has been withheld. No reasons were given why that Amendment of his should be withdrawn, and I am going to continue to resist its being withdrawn. I am urging that we should get now, before we depart from this Sub-section, a promise from the Minister somewhat bigger than that which the 665 Parliamentary Secretary gave me before. The Parliamentary Secretary said that if I would come forward between now and the Report stage and presumably change his mind entirely on this issue and on the report of the Royal Commission, some words might be inserted on the Report stage. I do not think he was being serious at that moment; he was putting forward the idea that since I could not get a majority in this Committee in support of my point of view, the private talk we should have would be friendly but quite innocuous. I am not expecting that. I believe that I can get a majority in this Committee to realise that this is not fair business.
Unless the Minister is prepared now to tell us that these 12,000,000 who are on the Unemployment Insurance Fund to-day are to be treated with exactly equal justice, whatever their other associations may be, I shall vote for the deletion of the Sub-section. So far as we are concerned they are 12,000,000 insured persons, all equal in our eyes. We have nothing to do with whether they are in the Band of Hope or the Primrose League or the Boy Scouts or any other organisation. So far as the fund is concerned, they are all members of the fund and should all have equal rights under the fund. This sub-section does not give them equal rights, and I am going to vote for its deletion unless the Minister can give us something in the way of a concession on the matter.
§ 9.35 p.m.
§ Sir MURDOCH McKENZIE WOOD
I wish to submit shortly another view of this question. A number of my constituents have had occasion to go before the Umpire on various points and there are others who would have done so, if they had had the opportunity. In the North of Scotland there are very few trade unions and these people do not wish to join trade unions. But, not being members of trade unions, they are denied rights which they would probably enjoy if they lived in other parts of the country. I cannot understand why the Government should go out of their way to try to drive the people into trade unions by giving those unions rights which can only be enjoyed in the more populous parts of the country.
It has been said that the right of appeal has been abused, but it seems to me that the change which is proposed 666 will make matters worse. Previously when a person had gone before the court of referees and had been refused the right to appeal to the Umpire, a union would go to that insured person and invite him or her to join. There was no necessity, however, for such a person to join until the question of the right of appeal arose. Under the change in the law which is proposed here, the union will be able to go to people like my constituents and say to them, "It is no use waiting until the question of appeal arises. You must make sure beforehand, because you do not know which of you may require to call upon our services." That will make the position of those persons a great deal worse than it is at present.
I cannot agree with the Parliamentary Secretary that everything is right with regard to the present system of appeals. I think the system is far from satisfactory at the present time. I agree that it is difficult to suggest schemes under which everything will be satisfactory, but I think I am entitled, on an occasion of this kind, to give an example of what happens to-day. Certain cases were brought to my notice by the county council in my division of girl fish workers who were en masse refused benefit and refused the right of appeal to the Umpire. The strange thing was that in some of these cases the persons concerned had been refused the previous year but had been able to go to the Umpire and had been given their benefit by the Umpire. It seems peculiar that a person should go to the Umpire and get benefit one year and should be refused the right of appeal next year when he goes to the court of referees on exactly the same points. That being the case, I do not see how the Parliamentary Secretary can claim that this system is working well. I agree with the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) that, unless these people have expert advice and assistance, it is very difficult for them to put their cases properly before the court of referees. In some instances I daresay that possibly does not matter, but there must be many cases in which the person who goes to the court of referees about these matters is incapable of putting his case because he does not know what he has to prove.
I had recently brought to my notice the case of a number of distillery workers. No one ever suggested that these were 667 seasonal workers. They had been going on year after year but suddenly last summer—it would seem on instructions from high quarters—they were refused benefit on the ground that they were probably seasonal workers. Some of them went to the court of referees. It was impossible for them to argue their cases because they did not understand what they were supposed to argue. Eventually some of them did go to the Umpire and some of them were allowed benefit, but I am certain that the men themselves had no earthly idea of why some of them got benefit while others did not. Some of these questions are very difficult indeed and quite beyond the comprehension of the persons who are appealing. I urge upon the Minister that some system should be devised whereby such people will be enabled to put their cases properly. As I have said already, in the North of Scotland the people have practically no trade unions and although some of them were able to make use of an organisation in order to get before the Umpire, they got no expert advice in the ordinary sense through that organisation but had to rely on their own resources. I appeal to the Minister to go into this question. I ask him to listen to those of us who have come into contact with people who go to the court of referees but have no earthly idea of how to put their cases properly. I hope he will believe us when we say that there is involved in this matter a great difficulty which requires his attention and which will, I hope, receive his attention and the attention of his Department as soon as possible.
§ 9.44 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
May I ask the Minister a question? The Parliamentary Secretary said, in effect, that this only deals with associations of employed people. At the present time the British Legion has the right of appeal and nobody could claim that it is an association of employed people in this sense. Are we to take it then that the Parliamentary Secretary's proposal is to cut away this right of the British Legion? The British Legion caters for ex-service men and it has the right of appeal and has appealed to the Umpire not once, but many times. Now, even if a man were in the British Legion before, I ques- 668 tion if he could appeal under this proposal. Unless he was in the British Legion when he was last employed, he is going to have no right of appeal. Nobody would think any the less of a man, if he joined the British Legion after he was unemployed—
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I say that they have a statutory right equal to that of a trade union. The Parliamentary Secretary said that this was only for employed people, and if that is the case, it affects the British Legion's statutory right.
§ Mr. KNIGHT
As I understand the matter, members of the British Legion may be employed persons, and in so far as they are employed persons, they can be represented by the Legion. The intention here is to secure that when you are dealing with employed persons you shall deal with the body that represents them.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I give way to the hon. and learned Member in matters of high legal importance, but I do not give way to him on unemployment insurance. I know he is a great legal man, but in this matter I place myself before him, with all due deference to him, and I say that the British Legion is a body with a statutory right to appeal to the Umpire. Under this provision, according to the Parliamentary Secretary, a body that can appeal must be an association of employed people. The British Legion do not organise you as an employed person, but as an ex-Service man, and the result is that they must obviously be cut out, if the Parliamentary Secretary is right. The British Legion have, to my knowledge, appealed for men who have become members after they were unemployed, and why should they not have that right? I say that many hon. Members here have only got this aspect of the case in a very limited way, and that it is only people who have engaged in it from day to day who can see the implications of it. No case has been made out that this privilege 669 in the Act has been abused in any way at all, and until someone can show that there has been a deliberate and flagrant abuse, I think this Committee ought to adhere to the present position.
§ 9.49 p.m.
The British Legion will he in precisely the same position in future as any other body of persons who are entitled to appeal to the Umpire. The only person on whose behalf the British Legion, after the passage of this Bill, will not be entitled to appeal will be someone who happens never to have belonged to the British Legion, who becomes unemployed, and then, after he has become unemployed, joins the Legion with the object of getting someone to appeal on his behalf. But for all existing members of the British Legion and of trade unions, as long as they maintain their membership, the position will not be different.
§ 9.50 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
But if a man is a member of the British Legion and lapses in his membership, although he may have been a member for six years and lapse for only a week, and in that week he is not a member of the Legion, and he subsequently rejoins the Legion, he will have no right of appeal through the Legion. In the great mass of cases in trade unions they are lapsed men, and there are very few joining for the first time. It is a matter of constant rejoining, over and over again, and the trouble with them all is lapsed membership. I say that in the British Legion you are not dealing with a man newly joined, but you are dealing usually with a man rejoining after having had possibly long years of membership before.
§ 9.51 p.m.
I rise to support the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Nunn). It is not very often that I find myself agreeing with opinions expressed by the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), but to-night I have thought that some of his arguments were extraordinarily logical, though no doubt he and I have different objects in view. I wish to extend the privilege of the right of appeal to all individuals under certain circumstances, whether they are members of an organisation or not. I must 670 say that I take exception to some of the expressions used by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan), in opposing the Amendment, because he knows as well as I do that the Amendment which was moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Whitehaven was in no sense an attack on the trade unions, and I think I may claim support of the rights of the trade union movement by my party by merely stating that we were the party that first gave the workers in this country the right to combine.
I want to make an earnest appeal to the Minister to consider whether, on the Report stage, he can find some form of words which would be acceptable to the supporters of the Amendment, and I do so because in my own experience, as representing an industrial constituency, I have had a large number of people, who have had no idea of their rights, coming to me and asking whether I could make some appeal to the Minister to get decisions of the court of referees or the Umpire reconsidered. I think it must be within the knowledge of the Minister that a great many private individuals who are not members of trade unions have no idea how to present the facts, and obviously they find their case, not having given vital evidence to the court of referees, turned down; and they have then no redress. I also know that on very many occasions men who are claiming benefit, quite legitimately, on being required to attend the court of referees, find themselves in work, and, not knowing that they should send a note to the secretary explaining the position, their case goes by default, and they find themselves deprived of their legitimate rights.
I should say that on those occasions when I have written to the Minister of Labour I have always found that if there is a sound case, the right hon. Gentleman has been extraordinarily sympathetic in bringing to the notice of the insurance officer, with whom the final decision lies, particulars of the individual case, but it seems to me that it is hardly just that private individuals who have a very indifferent knowledge of the rules and regulations and of the way to present their evidence should be penalised when persons who are members of trade unions have the privilege 671 of appealing. I warmly support the Amendment, because I think it gives a right to all sections of society and not merely to what may be regarded as a privileged few. I hope that the Minister may find some opportunity of revising the conditions which have been laid down in the Bill.
§ 9.56 p.m.
§ Mr. STEVENSON
I have been very much impressed by a number of arguments that have been put forward for this Amendment. It is most unfortunate where there is a court of appeal of any sort, that there should be a certain precluded class of applicants who cannot have their case stated. It is on that ground that I press the Minister to reconsider his decision. I know that trade unions are only too anxious to do what they can to put before the referees and the Umpire all that they consider necessary for the determination of a particular case, but undoubtedly it is always better for any court to have the case put forward from the point of view of the appellant and from that point of view entirely. I am not very much impressed with the fact that the appeals are based on the evidence given by trade union officials. After all, there are at least 8,000,000 workers who are not members of unions, and it is a matter of considerable comment that those who are interested in the trade union movement should not be taking some steps just now to let us hear their views on this very important question.
One would have imagined that the official Opposition, who pride themselves on supporting the cause of the working man, would have let us have their official views on this matter and not leave it to members of the Independent Labour party and the Conservative party. I can see that the official trade union party are anxious to get as many non-union men into their ranks as possible. I should not think, however, that they are prepared to go the length of prejudicing the rights of the working-man for that purpose. If they have the interests of the working-man at heart, why are they so anxious that only a very small percentage of those men should have the right of appeal? It is true that members 672 of the British Legion have a right of appeal in addition to the trade unions, but there are many men who are not members of the British Legion or of a trade union. Apart from that, my view is, that, even if these numbers are very small, every working man ought to have the same opportunity in a matter of this sort. For that reason, I would press the Minister to reconsider his decision.
§ 9.59 p.m.
§ Sir HERBERT SAMUEL
The Committee in this matter is faced by a problem of real importance and of considerable difficulty. There are arguments on both sides, and we have to endeavour to reach a just balance. We do not want to see the Umpire flooded out by a series of unrestricted, possibly frivolous, or even perverse appeals. On the other hand, we do not wish to see unequal rights as between one citizen and another. It has always appeared to me a somewhat anomalous provision in our law that if a working-man were a member of a trade union he could enjoy certain rights of appeal, which another man, in exactly similar circumstances in every other respect, would not enjoy. I have had cases from my own constituency of persons who apparently ought to have had access to the Umpire. The court of referees may, I believe, sometimes consist of only one person sitting, and sometimes only two; cases are sometimes dealt with rather hurriedly, and there might be a legitimate right for access to the Umpire. That right would be given if the individual were a member of a trade union, but not if the individual were not such a member. That is an exceedingly strange provision in our law.
We know that these questions are frequently very complicated and difficult. Many of the working people concerned are simple-minded and unversed in questions of law and are unable to present their cases effectively. They frequently do not know the right procedure to pursue. I must say that the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), in the speech he made a few minutes ago, most powerfully advocated what was clearly a very strong case for the necessity of giving the utmost help to these people and of securing a just consideration of their claims. Nothing has been said, so far as I know, to show 673 that abuses have in fact occurred, or that there has been any flood of frivolous or perverse appeals to the Umpire. If in certain cases that were in future to arise, I imagine that the Government could devise words to be put in on the Report stage that, where an association was guilty of such practices, it should be deprived of its rights. I do not suppose such a case would arise, but if it did, special measures might be adopted to check any abuse. In general, I think that the House of Commons is above all jealous to secure equality of rights so far as possible for all British citizens, and therefore, if it is a case of doubt, we should decide in favour of an enlarged access rather than a restricted access to the Umpire.
§ 10.3 p.m.
§ Mr. NOEL LINDSAY
This is obviously a matter of grave importance, and I thoroughly agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) that this House is above all else very slow to inflict anything which might appear to, create an injustice as between man and man. The Committee, however, is wandering a long way from the real point. In the first place, let it be observed there is no alteration in the definiton of an association of employed persons. If it be that the National Unemployed Workers Movement or the British Legion have the right of appeal now, they will still have the right of appeal for their members. It is only the class of persons who are to be regarded as members which is suffering from an alteration, and this sub-section merely provides that a man who is not a member of an association at the critical time when he becomes unemployed is not to be regarded as being entitled to the privileges of membership when the time comes to make an appeal.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
The definition we have had from the Parliamentary Secretary is that it must be an association of employed persons to which a man belongs at the time of his unemployment. We are told that the British Legion is such an association, but the National Unemployed Workers' Movement does not organise the men until they become unemployed.
§ Mr. LINDSAY
If it has any members at all who are employed persons, then, so far as those members are concerned, they 674 would still have right of access to the Umpire. I had not the privilege of hearing the Parliamentary Secretary, but as I read the Sub-section the position is that whatever is included at the present moment in the definition of an association of employed persons will remain within that definition as a body, though the actual individuals who compose it may be altered. The second point is that there is no real restriction to the right of appeal of an individual. In every case where the court of referees is not unanimous, there is an appeal as of right to every one, whether he be a member of a trade union or not. In the second place, in every case in which the court of referees gives permission there is a right of appeal—as a right. Obviously, we must remember the composition of the court of referees. It consists of an independent chairman, of a workers' representative and of an employers' representative, and we must assume that if there is a case in which the slightest doubt arises on one side or the other leave to appeal is given. It is only in those cases where the court of referees has unanimously decided against a man—chairman, employer and workers' representative unanimously—and decided that it is such a clear case that there is no need for an appeal—it is only in that, which must be a very rare class of case, that this position arises at all.
What is the position, then? First of all, the worker is represented, not in every case by a trade union representative, but by someone on the worker's side who may or may not be a trade union man and who has one of the three votes. That has to be taken into consideration in the granting of leave to appeal. But there are certain people who are in a privileged position because they are members of an association. One must assume, on this side of the Committee as on the other, that these associations are not going to act frivolously and will only put forward a certain number of cases in which there may be considerable difficulty. It is a privilege undoubtedly, but it is a privilege not so much to a particular individual as a privilege granted generally in the interests of workmen. If there is what in the civil courts would be called a "test case," a case which raises some question of principle, that may be put forward by the trade union. A great deal of play has been 675 made with the statement that we on this side of the Committee are taking our orders from the Trades Union Congress. We are doing nothing of the sort. We are following out the recommendations of the majority of the Royal Commission. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) said it was a curious thing that anybody with any knowledge of law or jurisprudence should take this particular course, but I would remind him that the Chairman of the Royal Commission is a very distinguished judge and has a profound knowledge of law and of jurisprudence. We are not taking our orders from the Trades Union Congress, but following what was said by the majority of the Royal Commission, and not even the minority made any comment upon this recommendation. It seems to me that this is a recommendation based upon common sense and justice.
The only comment I would make in conclusion is this. The Committee, in discussing to-night at considerable length this very important question of principle, has had guidance from all sorts of quarters. There is only one quarter from which it has had no guidance, from the Oppositon Front Bench. Obviously there are many hon. Members who, even now, are in considerable doubt, who are wondering where, in this somewhat nice balancing of metaphysical points, the truth lies. I am sure the Committee would be much happier in coming to a decision if we could have some pronouncement from the Opposition Front Bench.
§ 10.9 p.m.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
We on these benches have listened with great interest to this new alliance of forces. A superficial case can be made for an alteration of the law. It is always possible to argue on hard cases. We know how often hon. Members opposite have pleaded the case of the poor widow with brewery shares—hard cases; but in all these struggles there is invariably a much larger question behind, and there is a much larger question behind this Amendment. There has been traditional hostility to the trade union movement in this country from all our opponents. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Time after time our opponents have tried to hamstring us in this country and fetter 676 us by Acts of Parliament, and behind this Amendment there is the old struggle. The trade union movement has won for itself a certain position. It asserts that every member of the working class, whatever the industry in which he is engaged, ought to be a member of his trade union. The trade union movement, and certain other movements of a rather vague and unspecified character, have got a certain amount of privilege—because of what the trade union movement has won—and I say that we are not going to recede from that position. If it comes to a Division I shall ask my hon. Friends reluctant as I shall be to do it, because I am always loath to vote with the Government, and more especially on this Bill, to vote with me, if need be with the Government, to maintain the position which we have achieved. If we are beaten, we are beaten.
§ 10.13 p.m.
§ Mr. JAMES REID
Now at last we know where we are. We know that the Labour party prefer to take an unfair advantage for 4,000,000 trade unionists and to leave 8,000,000 non-unionists in the lurch. We know that the party opposite do not represent the workers of this country, but a small section for whom they are seeking special privileges, and are only carrying out what we suspected—that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition Front Bench take their orders from the Trades Union Congress and no one else.
§ Mr. MAXTON
I gather that the right hon. Member for Wakefield and the right hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench are 100 per cent. together in this matter, and am I not right in thinking that the Labour party are accepting their trade union concessions and privileges at the hands of the present National Government?
§ 10.15 p.m.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I shall not follow the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) in what he said about alleged hostility to trade union methods. What 677 I am concerned with, as Minister of Labour, is to ask myself how this Clause has worked. This Clause, about which there has been so much discussion, is Sub-section (5) of Section 11 of the Act of 1920, under the title, "Determination of Claims." I am going to read that Sub-section:Where a recommendation has been made under this Section, in the case of any person, by a court of referees, any association of employed persons of which that person is a member, and with the consent of the court, that person may require the Insurance Officer to refer the matter to the Umpire, and the Insurance Officer if so required shall refer the matter to the Umpire accordingly.All I can tell the Committee is that since 1920, and up to the present day, that Clause has worked very well, and I do not recommend the Committee to take any action which would alter it. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) says that the Clause gives an unfair preference to trade unionists. I should like to know whether it is the view of the group of the Liberal party of which he is the leader that that Clause ought to be repealed.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
I hope that I am not misrepresenting them. This very old precedent has been discussed on every occasion when unemployment legislation has been under review. It was discussed at very great length and with great care by the Blanesburgh Committee, which came to the conclusion that the Clause had worked well. It has not worked unfairly.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
It has not worked unfairly before. The reason given by one hon. Member, in regard to the making of appeals—
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
We are discussing the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Nunn). Before the Committee comes to any hurried view on this, I wanted to tell them of the very long history behind the Clause, and I do not recommend the Committee to take any action.
§ 10.17 p.m.
§ Mr. J. REID
The Government ought not to tell us on, every occasion that certain things have been the law for two, four or ten years. At this stage we are elaborating a new code. We understood, when we undertook the consideration of this Bill, that it was a highly important Bill that would put unemployment insurance upon a new basis, but, from the way in which a number of these Amendments are being treated, it turns out that the Government regard the Bill merely as a consolidation of previous practice. I ask the Government to depart from that attitude, and to let us consider the question on its merits. There are two possible methods of dealing with the matter now under discussion. One is to say that everybody has to have the right of appeal to the Umpire, and then everybody will get it, whether member of a trade union or not. The other method is to say that the Umpire is to be troubled only about questions of principle. In this case the same limitation should be put upon trade unionists as upon non-unionists, and it should be in the Bill that nobody, whether a trade unionist or a non-unionist, is entitled to have his case taken before the Umpire unless somebody decides that a question of principle is involved.
I do not mind which of these two decisions is come to, because there is something to be said for both. If the Minister will make it plain that the right of trade unionists to appeal is to be limited to questions of principle, in the same way as the right of non-unionists be limited to questions of principle, then my objection disappears entirely, and so, I think, will the objection of other hon. Members. We object that trade unionists can appeal whether there is any principle involved or not, whereas non-unionists are limited to questions of principle, and I ask the Minister whether it is impossible before the Report stage—[Interruption.]—I think that non-unionists can appeal if it is certified that a question of principle is involved, although there seems to be some disagreement. If the Minister will place the same limitation upon trade unionists as is placed upon non-unionists, I do not think that anyone in the Committee will say another word. I cannot understand why that limitation is not placed upon trade unionists.
§ 10.20 p.m.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
The real issue here is that the Minister has not given us any real guidance as to why the law is being altered. What he has said is that it has worked well, and therefore he must alter it. He says that in 1927 it worked well, that in 1920 it worked well, and that now he is going to alter it. I am prepared to accept the law as it now stands, as it was enacted by the 1924 Labour Government and by the 1930 Labour Government. I want no alteration in the law that they thought fit to have. The simple issue is this: If a man joins a union a day before he is paid off, that man has all the legal protection that you can give him; but the man who joins a union the day after he is paid off has no protection at all. It was considered, quite soundly, that unions and associations like, say, the British Legion would not exercise their right in a flippant fashion. Why take away the right from such organisations in the case of a man who joins the day after he became unemployed? That is what is being done now. The right to appeal is being taken away from these organisations merely because the man has joined when he was unemployed. That is what we are discussing now.
§ Mr. N. LINDSAY
The point is that there is no distinction between a man who is a member of an organisation and a man who is not a member of an organisation.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
My point is that this Amendment does not ask for an extension of the present law, and that, if a man joins, say, the British Legion after he has become unemployed, he should have the same right as if he had joined when he was employed, and should not be deprived of it because he is unemployed. The trade unions will not abuse that position, the British Legion will not abuse it, nor will the National Unemployed Workers' Movement abuse it. I can say without boasting that I have been before the Umpire possibly more times than any man in the House, and, as regards the National Unemployed Workers' Movement, I would say that, while it is quite easy to get up a scare about a body of that kind, the House of Commons is a jury, and, as a jury, must look at things without prejudice. I say that that body has presented its cases with great skill.
680 It is true, and the Minister knows this, that an unemployed man has the right of appeal, but a court may decide unanimously to allow a man benefit and the insurance officer may decide to appeal against the man. In that case, if he was in a union when he was at work, the union has a right to go and state the case against the insurance officer, but, if the man joined the union a day after he fell out of work, he has, under the Bill, nobody there to state his case against the insurance officer. Is that fair? I say that you would not deal with a criminal in that way, and you have no right to put an unemployed man in a worse position than a criminal. Disallowing a man's benefit is the most severe punishment you can put upon him. A man has often joined an organisation when he knew his case was going to be fought because it was one of principle, but surely he was entitled to do it. Leave the law as it now is and allow these people to be treated properly. A man in an association always has privileges, and this is one of the privileges of a trade union. Why inflict on a man in an association a penalty because of the date of joining?
§ Sir LUKE THOMPSON
Would the hon. Member extend to a person outside a union such as he has mentioned the same privileges as he has been advocating? There is a great distinction between the Clause and the Amendment.
§ Sir L. THOMPSON
If a man is not in an association of that kind, would the hon. Member extend the same privilege to him?
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
If a man knows that his case involves some principle, I say he should have the right to join an association and, having joined—
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
I say an unemployed person should have an equal right to join an association. It is the only way he can do it. The case is heard in London. Obviously, if he is not in an association, the right of appeal is of no use, 681 because he cannot come to London to state it. He must join an association if his case is to be heard. The right to join an association should remain with him as long as he is unemployed.
Lieut.-Colonel CHARLES KERR
Does the hon. Member say that a man who is a member of a trade union or the British Legion and a man who is a member of nothing at all, should receive exactly the same treatment?
§ 10.30 p.m.
§ Mr. A. BEVAN
We have had a number of arguments from the Conservative benches, and I believe that the question has arisen largely in consequence of the fact that this matter was discussed when most of the Members now present were absent. That is why all the confusion has arisen. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO!"] I withdraw, and say some part of it. The only difference which the Amendment makes is that it gives the individual the right of appeal to the Umpire. He can appeal under the Amendment whether he is a member of an association or not.
§ Mr. BEVAN
Under certain conditions as set out here, but they are the least important part of the Amendment. The important part of the Amendment is the right of the individual to appeal even if he belongs to no association whatever. Hon. Members who have made play with us for defending the trade unions appear to think that they were taking their stand upon that matter upon some question of high principle. The hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) is correct when he says that you are not giving the unemployed man anything. The right of appeal in respect of himself whether he belongs to an association or not is a right which he cannot effectively exercise. Anybody here knows that. A large portion of the argument has been directed to an issue which is not raised in the Amendment at all. It is an argument which may be raised at a subsequent stage. The opportunity was seized, and quite rightly, by hon. Friends below the Gangway to raise the issue in its most acute form.
The change in the law takes away from a man the right of appeal through an association if that association is one 682 which he joined after he became unemployed. Our hon. Friends seek to ensure that if a man joins an organisation after he becomes unemployed he shall have the right to appeal. Hon. Members in various parts of the Committee claim to disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Gorbals on the ground that they are taking their stand against trade union tyranny.
§ Mr. J. REID
I did not say anything about tyranny. I do not believe that trade unions are tyrannous. What I commented upon was the fact that the party opposite prefer to have all the privileges for one-third of the working men and to leave the other two-thirds alone.
§ Mr. BEVAN
Can he imagine then that the Amendment my hon. Friend was quoting against the right hon. Gentleman with such vehemence, was one which was giving something of value to all those other persons other than the 3,500,000 trade unionists? That is the assumption behind the argument. You are giving nothing of value at all. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why object to it?"] If hon. Members had been here earlier in the Debate they would have realised that I made my position clear. My point is that in this country at the moment, in many industries which have arisen, in the South of England in particular, and in the North, employers dismiss men who join trade unions, and consequently the law does not protect a man's rights of appeal at the moment. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO!"] An hon. Member says "No!" We can give chapter and verse to show that there are men at the Morris Works at Oxford who cannot join a union without being dismissed. There are men in the Notts coalfield who dare not join a union.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The point raised by the Amendment is whether the same conditions of appeal should belong to trade unionists and non-trade unionists. Whether an individual worker belongs to a trade union or not is irrelevant to the discussion.
§ Mr. BEVAN
I was dealing with the assumption of hon. Members opposite that they were defending some cardinal principle in defending a right of appeal which in practice cannot be exercised by an unemployed man. If we get the Amendment out of the way we might 683 approach the major question of what associations should still have the right of appeal to the Umpire.
§ 10.36 p.m.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
The Minister has practically said that he is in a position which enables him to enter into an alliance with hon. Members opposite, because the Act was brought in in 1920 and it has worked very well ever since. So far as I understand the matter the proportion of trade unionists to non-trade unionists in 1920 was very much higher than it is to-day. If there were so many millions of trade unionists then the proportion is lower to-day. It has been said that there are two non-trade unionists insured to-day as against one trade unionist, which means that the majority of the workers will not have this particular privilege. If that position has arisen, then we as the House of Commons have the right to ask the Government to reconsider the position between now and the Report stage from the point of view not only of the 4,000,000 trade unionists but of the whole of the industrialists I have always taken the view that the Government are doing their best. But here is an entirely new position, and as the Government say that they are trying to meet the position they might close the present discussion if the Minister would say that they would go into the whole of the questions and see whether this particular privilege, however big or little it may be, cannot be extended to the whole. The Minister would be well advised if he would give some assurance to the Committee that he will go into the whole matter once again, which would not delay the passage of the Bill.
§ Sir H. BETTERTON
After that appeal, although I cannot give any undertaking, I will say that if after further consideration I can make any proposal that will meet what the hon. Member says, I will do so. I will certainly look at the matter again—I have looked at it a good many times—and if I have any reason to alter my mind, I will do so, but I cannot on my present information give any promise.
§ Mr. C. WILLIAMS
I hope he will look at it from that point of view. The balance is entirely different to what it 684 was in 1920. Of course, he cannot give any guarantee, but we accept his statement that he will do his best to meet the wishes of the Committee.
§ 10.40 p.m.
§ Mr. KINGSLEY GRIFFITH
I only intervene for the purpose of trying to make things clear. They are not clear at the moment. From the words the Minister used one would think that the only alternative before us was whether we are in favour of the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Nunn), which he unsuccessfully tried to withdraw. That, I think, is not exactly the position. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) tried to intervene in order to strike out Sub-section (2) of the Bill which is an altogether different point. I suggest that we can vote on that, if we desire, when the next Vote is taken, because I take it that the question will be put in the form that the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause. If we vote against that we shall in effect be voting for the deletion of Subsection (2) and we need not, therefore, put in these somewhat doubtful words. Many Members of the Committee take the view that they do not want the existing legislation altered in the sense of the Amendment on the Order Paper or in the sense the Minister proposes to alter it in the Bill. He says that it has worked well for years, and I am at a loss to understand why he should make this proposed alteration. I shall take the course of voting against the words standing part, and then vote against any words being inserted.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member for West Middlesbrough (Mr. K. Griffith) has made an appeal to me as to the technical position under the procedure of the Committee. The Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Nunn) will necessitate leaving out the existing Sub-section (2) of this Clause, in order to move to insert the proposed Sub-section (2), which appears on the Order Paper. It is obvious that hon. Members who do not like the existing Sub-section (2) can advance arguments why it should be left out without being under the necessity of supporting the proposed new Sub-section (2).
§ 10.44 p.m.
§ Sir L. THOMPSON
I hope the Committee will accept the advice of the 685 Minister and allow him to consider this matter between now and Report stage. Before the Act of 1930 the decisions on these matters were largely in the hands of the insurance officers. Under the 1930 Act any decision in which there was a doubt was referred to the court of referees. I think it is desirable that we should revert to something like the old procedure. The proposed new Sub-
§ section alters the position and, therefore, I think the Minister should have an opportunity of looking at the matter again.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 275; Noes, 20.687
|Division No. 85.]||AYES.||[10.45 p.m.|
|Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel||Dobble, William||Lamb, Sir Joseph Quinton|
|Adams, D. M. (Poplar, South)||Donner, P. W.||Latham, Sir Herbert Paul|
|Albery, Irving James||Dugdale, Captain Thomas Lionel||Law, Sir Alfred|
|Anstruther-Gray, W. J.||Duncan, James A. L.(Kensington, N.)||Lawson, John James|
|Apsley, Lord||Eden, Robert Anthony||Leckie, J. A.|
|Astor, Maj. Hn. John J. (Kent, Dover)||Edmondson, Major A. J.||Leech, Dr. J. W.|
|Astor, Viscountess (Plymouth, Sutton)||Edwards, Charles||Lees-Jones, John|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Ellis, Sir R. Geoffrey||Levy, Thomas|
|Attlee, Clement Richard||Elliston, Captain George Sampson||Lindsay, Noel Ker|
|Bailey, Eric Alfred George||Elmley, Viscount||Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hn. G.(Wd.Gr'n)|
|Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley||Emmott, Charles E. G. C.||Lockwood, John C. (Hackney, C.)|
|Balfour, Capt. Harold (I. of Thanet)||Emrys-Evans, P. V.||Lovat-Fraser, James Alexander|
|Balniel, Lord||Erskine, Lord (Weston-super-Mare)||Lumley, Captain Lawrence R.|
|Banfield, John William||Erskine-Bolst, Capt. C. C. (Blackpool)||Lunn, William|
|Barclay-Harvey, C. M.||Essenhigh, Reginald Clare||MacAndrew. Lieut.-Col. C. G.(Partick)|
|Barrie, Sir Charles Coupar||Everard, W. Lindsay||McCorguodale, M. S.|
|Bateman, A. L.||Fleming, Edward Lascelles||Macdonald, Gordon (Ince)|
|Batey, Joseph||Fox, Sir Gifford||MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham)|
|Beaumont, Hon. R. E.B. (Portsm'th, C.)||Fraser, Captain Ian||Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness)|
|Betterton, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry B.||Ganzonl, Sir John||McEntee, Valentine L.|
|Blaker, Sir Reginald||Gillett, Sir George Masterman||McKie, John Hamilton|
|Blindell, James||Gledhill, Gilbert||Maclay, Hon. Joseph Paton|
|Boothby, Robert John Graham||Glossop, C. W. H.||McLean, Dr. W. H. (Tradeston)|
|Borodale, Viscount||Gluckstein, Louis Halle||Macmillan, Maurice Harold|
|Bossom, A. C.||Glyn, Major Sir Ralph G. C.||Mainwaring, William Henry|
|Boulton, W. W.||Goff, Sir Park||Makins, Brigadier-General Ernest|
|Bower, Lieut.-Com. Robert Tatton||Gower, Sir Robert||Manningham-Buner, Lt.-Col. Sir M.|
|Bowyer, Capt. Sir George E. W.||Graham, Sir F. Fergus (C'mb'rl'd, N)||Margeeson, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. D. R.|
|Braithwaite, Maj. A. N. (Yorks, E. R.)||Graves, Marjorie||Marsden, Commander Arthur|
|Braithwaite, J. G. (Hillsborough)||Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur||Mason, Col. Glyn K. (Croydon, N.)|
|Broadbent, Colonel John||Grenfell, David Rees (Glamorgan)||Mayhew, Lieut.-Colonel John|
|Brown, Ernest (Leith)||Grimston, R. V.||Mills, Major J. D. (New Forest)|
|Browne, Captain A. C.||Groves, Thomas E.||Milner, Major James|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Grundy, Thomas W.||Mitcheson, G. G.|
|Burgin, Dr. Edward Leslie||Guinness, Thomas L. E. B.||Monseil, Rt. Hon. Sir B. Eyres|
|Burnett, John George||Gunston, Captain D. W.||Moreing, Adrian C.|
|Campbell, Sir Edward Taswell (Brmly)||Guy, J. C. Morrison||Morgan, Robert H.|
|Campbell, Vice-Admiral G. (Burnley)||Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H.||Morris, Owen Temple (Cardiff, E.)|
|Campbell-Johnston, Malcolm||Hall, George H. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morrison, William Shepherd|
|Cape, Thomas||Harbord, Arthur||Moss, Captain H. J.|
|Caporn, Arthur Cecil||Hartland, George A.||Muirhead, Lieut.-Colonel A. J.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Haslam, Henry (Horncastle)||Munro, Patrick|
|Cayzer, Maj. Sir H. R. (Prtsmth., S.)||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Cuthbert M.||Nation, Brigadier-General J. J. H.|
|Cazalet, Thelma (Islington, E.)||Hellgers, Captain F. F. A.||North, Edward T.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N.(Edgbaston)||Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir Hugh|
|Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, S.)||Hope, Capt. Hon. A. O. J. (Aston)||Ormiston, Thomas|
|Clarry, Reginald George||Hornby, Frank||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William G. A.|
|Colfox, Major William Philip||Horsbrugh, Florence||Paling, Wilfred|
|Colman, N. C. D.||Howitt, Dr. Alfred B.||Parkinson, John Allen|
|Colville, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.)||Patrick, Colin M.|
|Conant, R. J. E.||Hudson, Robert Spear (Southport)||Pearson, William G.|
|Cook, Thomas A.||Hume, Sir George Hopwood||Peat, Charles U.|
|Copeland, Ida||Hurd, Sir Percy||Penny, Sir George|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Inskip, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas W. H.||Perkins, Walter R. D.|
|Cripps, Sir Stafford||Jackson, Sir Henry (Wandsworth, C.)||Petherick, M.|
|Crooke, J. Smedley||Jamieson, Douglas||Peto, Geoffrey K. (W'verh'pt'n, Blist'n)|
|Crookshank, Capt. H. C. (Gainsb'ro)||Jenkins, Sir William||Pickford, Hon. Mary Ada|
|Croom-Johnson, R. P.||Jennings, Roland||Powell, Lieut.-Col. Evelyn G. H.|
|Crossley, A. C.||Jesson, Major Thomas E.||Pownall, Sir Assheton|
|Cruddas, Lieut.-Colonel Bernard||Joel, Dudley J. Barnato||Price, Gabriel|
|Dagger, George||John, William||Procter, Major Henry Adam|
|Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. C. C.||Jones, J. J. (West Ham, Slivertown)||Pybus, Sir Percy John|
|Davies, David L. (Pontypridd)||Jones, Morgan (Caerphilly)||Raikas, Henry V. A. M.|
|Davies, Maj. Geo. F.(Somerset, Yeovil)||Ker, J. Campbell||Ramsay, Capt. A. H. M. (Midlothian)|
|Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)||Kerr, Lieut.-Col. Charles (Montrose)||Ramsay, T. B. W. (Western Isles)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Kirkwood, David||Ramsden, Sir Eugene|
|Denville, Alfred||Knight, Holford||Rankin, Robert|
|Ray, Sir William||Somerville, Annesley A. (Windsor)||Todd, A. L. S. (Kingswinford)|
|Reed, Arthur C. (Exeter)||Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)||Touche, Gordon Cosmo|
|Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham.||Soper, Richard||Train, John|
|Reid, James S. C. (Stirling)||Sotheron-Estcourt, Captain T. E.||Tree, Ronald|
|Reid, William Allan (Derby)||Spears, Brigadier-General Edward L.||Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement|
|Renwlck, Major, Gustav A.||Spencer, Captain Richard A.||Turton, Robert Hugh|
|Rhys, Hon. Charles Arthur U.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Fyide)||Wallace, Captain D. E. (Hornsey)|
|Rickards, George William||Stanley, Hon. O. F. G. (Westmorland)||Ward, Lt.-Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)|
|Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecciesall)||Steel-Maitland, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur||Ward, Sarah Adelaide (Cannock)|
|Ropner, Colonel L.||Stevenson, Jamas||Warrender, Sir Victor A. G.|
|Rosbotham, Sir Thomas||Stewart, J. H. (Fife, E.)||Watt, Captain George Steven H.|
|Ross, Ronald D.||Stones, James||Wedderburn, Henry James Scrymgeour|
|Runge, Norah Cecil||Storey, Samuel||Wells, Sydney Richard|
|Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)||Stourton, Hon. John J.||Weymouth, Viscount|
|Rutherford, Sir John Hugo (Liverp'l)||Strauss, Edward A.||Whiteside, Borras Noel H.|
|Salmon, Sir Isidore||Stuart, Lord C. Crichton-||Whyte, Jardine Bell|
|Salt, Edward W.||Sugden, Sir Wilfrid Hart||Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)|
|Sandeman, Sir A. N. Stewart||Sutcliffe, Harold||Wills, Wilfrid D.|
|Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.||Tate, Mavis Constance||Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)|
|Savery, Samuel Servington||Thompson, Sir Luke||Windsor-Clive, Lieut-Colonel George|
|Seiley, Harry R.||Thomson, Sir Frederick Charles||Womersley, Walter James|
|Shaw, Helen B. (Lanark, Bothwell)||Thorne, William James||Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton (S'v'noaks)|
|Smiles, Lieut.-Col. Sir Walter D||Thorp, Linton Theodore|
|Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)||Tinker, John Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—|
|Smith, Tom (Normanton)||Titchfield, Major the Marquees of||Commander Southby and Dr.|
|Somervell, Sir Donald||Todd, Capt. A. J. K. (B'wick-on-T.)||Morris-Jones.|
|Adams, Samuel Vyvyan T. (Leeds, W.)||Foot, Isaac (Cornwall, Bodmin)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Agnew, Lieut.-Com. P. G.||Griffith, F. Kingsley (Middiesbro', W.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)|
|Allen, William (Stoke-on-Trent)||Harris, Sir Percy||Ward, Irene Mary Bewick (Wallsend)|
|Bernays, Robert||Holdsworth, Herbert||Wood, Sir Murdoch McKenzie (Banff)|
|Curry, A. C.||Horobin, Ian M.|
|Evans, David Owen (Cardigan)||Malialieu, Edward Lancelot||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Evans. R. T. (Carmarthen)||Mander, Geoffrey le M.||Mr. Maxton and Mr. Buchanan.|
|Foot, Dingle (Dundee)||Molson, A. Hugh Elsdale|
Question, "That the Clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and agreed to.—[Captain Margesson.]
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.688
§ The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.