§ Mr. William Blyton (Houghton-le-Spring)
I beg to move, in page 6, line 27, column 4, to leave out "sixty-seven shillings and sixpence" and insert "seventy shillings."
There are a number of Amendments dealing with this point, Sir Charles. Is it your wish that they should be taken together?
§ The Chairman
Yes. I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee if we take together both the Amendments in page 23 of the Notice Paper, all those on the following page, and the first three in page 25. They all deal with the same sort of point.
§ Mr. Blyton
This Amendment seeks to increase the 100 per cent. disablement pension by 2s. 6d., and to give pro rata increases to partial cases, as defined in the Schedule. I want to make it quite clear that we on this side regard this Bill as an interim Measure. We are eagerly awaiting the report on the quinquennial review, and shall then seek solutions to the many difficulties that have arisen in connection with benefits since the 1946 Act was passed. We believe that the whole range of injury benefits must be reviewed in the future, and this Amendment, and those which are being taken with it, must not be regarded as in any way committing us in regard to any future action we may wish to take.
We have put down the Amendment because the injury benefits have not gone up in the same proportion above the 1946 level as the basic National Insurance benefits. Speaking in the Second Reading debate, the Minister said:'To sum up, the Bill restores the value of insurance and industrial injuries benefits and pensions to the level that we all intended they should command when we settled what they should be in the two great Acts of 1946."—
§ Mr. James Griffiths (Llanelly)
May I ask for your help, Sir Charles? My hon. Friend is speaking under very great difficulty. There is a good deal of noise in the Committee. Surely he is entitled to a little more order.
§ Mr. Blyton
I am obliged to my right hon. Friend. It seems that hon. Members opposite are not concerned about the benefits—[Interruption.]
§ The Chairman
Order. It is most unruly to talk when hon. Members are making speeches. If the hon. Gentlemen cannot stop talking, I hope they will leave the Chamber.
§ Sir Thomas Moore (Ayr)
On a point of order. Is it not permitted to consult one's fellow Members about the speech that is being made?
§ The Chairman
When an hon. Member is making a speech he should be given a fair hearing. The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) was being obstructed. I saw that he was being obstructed, and that it was being done intentionally. It is not good enough.
§ Sir T. Moorerose—
§ Mr. Blyton
As I have been trying to explain, we do not regard this Bill as putting an end to the question of benefits. We intend, when we have the quinquennial report before us, to review the whole range of benefits so far as this particular Act is concerned.
The object of this Amendment is to increase the benefits under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, 1946, in the same proportion above the 1946 level as the National Insurance Act benefits are being increased. On Second Reading the Minister said:To sum up, the Bill restores the value of insurance and industrial injuries benefits and pensions to the level that we all intended they should command when we settled what they should be in the two great Acts of 1946. Not only does the Bill do that, hut it goes much further."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th December, 1954; Vol. 535, c. 981.]It is because we want the Minister to carry out what he there said that we have 1586 put down this Amendment. To give a totally disabled man the same proportionate increase would require paying him 69s. 4d., but we have rounded off that figure to 70s. That means that we are seeking to increase the 100 per cent. disablement pension under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act by 2s. 6d.
We are asking that the 90 per cent. disabled man should have 2s. 3d. For the 80 per cent. disabled man we are seeking an advance of 2s.; for the 70 per cent. disabled man we seek 1s. 9d.; for the 60 per cent. disabled man is. 6d.; for the 50 per cent. disabled man 1s. 3d.; 40 per cent. 1s.; 30 per cent. 9d.; and 20 per cent. 6d. We believe that these amounts, which we have worked out on the basis I have indicated, will give to the injured workmen the same increased benefits above the 1946 level as those under the National Insurance Act.
We also propose to alter the rates for injured people between 17 and 18 years of age to 52s. 6d. instead of 50s. 8d., which is an increase of 1s. 10d. a week on the 100 per cent. disability. For the boy or girl under 17 years of age we ask for an increase from 33s. 9d. to 35s., which would be a 1s. 3d. a week increase for the 100 per cent. disability. These are modest increases, their purpose being to provide the proportion which I have already indicated.
We are informed by the Actuary that the increased contributions plus the Exchequer grant will bring in £6½ million in 1955–56 and £7,800,000 in 1956–57. The estimated expenditure is £5½ million for 1955–56, and in the next year it is estimated at £7 million. Therefore, we find that in the first year the Fund will have £1 million over and above the benefits which will be paid, and in the second year £800,000 over and above that which has to be paid.
The Minister has informed us that there is now £109 million in the Fund. Therefore, in the light of these figures, and as the Minister said on Second Reading that these benefits should be increased, we ask today that they shall be increased in the same proportion as National Insurance benefits based on the 1946 level.
§ Mr. Bernard Taylor (Mansfield)
I wish to reinforce what my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) has said. These Amendments 1587 refer to all the benefits under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act, except one, and that is the special hardship allowance which is the subject of a separate Amendment which will be discussed later.
The point, which is very simple, is this. The proposed increase in all these benefits, with the exception which I have mentioned, is not in the same ratio as the proposed increase in the basic benefits under the National Insurance Act. As we have been told both in this debate and on Second Reading, when the ld. has been added, the increase in industrial injuries benefits will be less than what the 1d. produces to the extent of at least £800,000 in a year. We feel that the beneficiaries under the Industrial Injuries Act should be treated no less favourably than the beneficiaries under the National Insurance Act. A very small but important point is embodied in these Amendments, and I hope that the Minister, at any rate for once, will be able to give us a favourable reply.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Brigadier J. G. Smyth)
It may be for the convenience of the Committee if I intervene briefly now. I realise how strongly the Committee always feels about any sort of disability, and I think that this Amendment has been moved in a very reasonable way. I am sure all hon. Members will realise that these industrial injuries benefits are all part of a large and balanced scheme, and show a great increase in the benefits of almost every class of pension, not only industrial injuries pensions but National Insurance pensions and, of course, war disability pensions, too. They are all closely allied to one another.
As the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton) said, the basis of his disagreement with the Government on the rate of these pensions is that he thinks the increase in industrial injuries benefits is not proportionately as great as those which have been given on the National Insurance side. I will admit that on the National Insurance side my right hon. Friend did go rather further than a direct comparison with 1946 values, whereas on the industrial injuries side the 67s. 6d. 100 per cent. rate is an exact 50 per cent. 1588 increase over 1946 pension values. Therefore, we claim that my right hon. Friend has fulfilled his promise to increase the industrial injuries pensions by that amount, although, as I say, on the National Insurance side he has rounded the figure off and has actually given a little bit more.
National Insurance benefits are, of course, primarily based on subsistence levels, whereas the injury benefits are based on compensation for injury received. Moreover, in the case of industrial injuries disablement pensions, the majority of pensioners are in employment, or, if they are not, they are eligible for sickness or unemployment benefit. If they are seriously disabled and in need of constant attendance, for instance, they get greatly increased supplementary benefits.
I should like to give, merely for the purpose of comparison between the two rates before these increases and after, the case of a badly disabled man who needs constant attendance and has a wife and two children. He will get the new basic rate of 67s. 6d., which is an increase of 12s. 6d. He will get the unemployability supplement of 40s. which has gone up by 7s. 6d., and constant attendance allowance, if he gets the full scale, of 60s., which has gone up 10s.
Then there is the wife's allowance of 25s., which is up 3s. 6d. The two children's allowances are up 2s., and he gets the family allowance which is exactly the same for the second child of 8s. That makes a total of £10 15s. 6d., which is an increase of 35s. 6d. on the old rates. I think hon. Members will agree that that is a very substantial increase.
§ Mr. B. Taylor
Although the hon. Gentleman's figures are substantially correct, I would point out that he is quoting the extreme case. That is not the general run of cases.
§ Brigadier Smyth
I am comparing like with like—an extreme case before the increases with an extreme case after the increases. That is a fair comparison. One could compare them all down the ladder at every equivalent scale, but I have compared like with like.
We must also remember that the disabled pensioners becoming eligible for retirement pensions will benefit, too, by the increase in the retirement pensions. 1589 As hon. Members know, these industrial injury benefits and pensions are very closely allied with the war disability pension. In fact, the rates are substantially the same, and I know that the increased rates of war disability pension have been extremely well received by my hon. Friend the Member for Morecambe and Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), President of the British Legion. Hon. Members will recall that he said they were the best in our history.
Since my right hon. Friend announced the new rates, I have talked to a number of badly disabled war disability pensioners. They are perhaps less inhibited in these matters than Members of Parliament, and they have been wholehearted in their praise and gratitude. I am sure that the same applies to the industrially injured.
In May, 1952, when we were discussing the last increases which we made, the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor), whose opinions we always treat with great respect, moved that instead of our 10s. increase from 45s. to 55s. for the 100 per cent. disabled, the rates should be increased to 60s. He made that plea entirely on a cost-of-living basis, urging that the figure should be raised to the cost-of-living level at the time. We could not then accept his proposal but, even taking his figure of 60s. in 1952, I maintain that the increase which we have now made to 67s. 6d. more than covers the rise in the cost of living between May, 1952, and the present time. On that basis we need have raised the 100 per cent. basic rate only to 64s.
I do not want to go at all deeply into the question of cost because my right hon. Friend yesterday explained in considerable detail the whole basis of the Industrial Injuries Fund and underlined the essential importance of gradually building up the reserve in the Fund. Although, as the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring said, at the moment there is £109 million in the Fund, the actuarial view is that a sum well over £300 million is required in the Fund before it can become self-supporting, as we all know it is intended to be.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
The Minister yesterday referred to a figure of £300 million. I am not disputing that figure, but what is important for the Committee—and this 1590 illustrates our difficulty on the whole Bill—is that we should have a report on it. The Minister has asked the Actuary to make this computation, and surely we ought to have a report on the Actuary's quinquennial review in which this figure is announced. At the moment all we have is the Minister's view of what the Actuary says.
§ Brigadier Smyth
My right hon. Friend will give a figure. He has been informed that well over £300 million would be required before the Fund became self-supporting and, as he explained yesterday, there is no doubt—
§ Mr. Griffiths
This is something which the Minister mentioned—that each year an additional number of life disablement pensioners are added to the Fund, so that each year we are building up an additional burden to pay these life benefits. But the Fund is not now insolvent. The Fund contains £109 million. It is simply that when the scheme has completely matured and we reach the peak of the number of those annually coming on to the Fund, then £300 million will be required. It is important that no impression should be given that the Fund is at present insolvent.
§ Brigadier Smyth
I hope I did not give that impression. I certainly did not mean to give it. But the amount transferred to the reserve of the Fund has been decreasing over the last two or three years, and we regard that as important.
I do not want to detain the Committee any longer on this point, except to say that this is part of a big and balanced scheme wherein various different rates of industrial injuries, National Insurance and war pensions are all very closely related. My right hon. Friend has fulfilled his promise in increasing the industrial injury benefits by 50 per cent. up to the 1946 values. For the reasons which I have given, we cannot accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)
Would the Minister deal with the principal point, which is that the same proportionate increase has not been granted in the case of industrial injury as has been granted in the case of National Insurance? Why is there this difference in the proportion of the increase?
§ Brigadier Smyth
I thought I explained that at the beginning. I said that these increases in industrial injury benefits carry out my right hon. Friend's promise to put the values of the benefits back to their 1946 value. In the case of National Insurance, my right hon. Friend has gone a little above that in what he called rounding off the benefits. I explained that we did not think that was necessarily a vital point. He has fulfilled his promise over the industrial injuries. In the other cases he has gone a little above the actuarial figure. In addition, in many cases the disablement pensioner will also receive the increased National Insurance benefits.
§ 4.0 p.m.
§ Mr. G. R. Mitchison (Kettering)
I am sorry that Mr. Scrooge, who used to sit on the benches opposite, is no longer with us, for it would have gladdened his heart to hear the Parliamentary Secretary's speech.
The question is very simple. Certain increases have been made in the general run of pensions and benefits under the National Insurance Act. There are certain special benefits and pensions, called benefits under the Industrial Injuries Act, and there are also special cases connected with war pensioners. As for the last special cases, I would simply say that the short answer is that if we raise the others, as we have done, why not raise these, too? But we are not discussing that now.
What we are discussing at the moment is a special class of people who are suffering from industrial injuries. The promise was made to raise pensions and benefits. It was one promise, and it related both to the National Insurance Act benefits and also to the benefits under the Industrial Injuries Act. It puzzles me very much to know why the promise is discharged in one way as regards the National Insurance Act and in another, and smaller way, apparently, under the Industrial Injuries Act.
The real point is quite short and simple. This is, in the result, discrimination against people who suffer from industrial injuries. What is the reason for it? I have heard all sorts of ingenious, roundabout excuses, if I may say so with respect to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, but I do not think that I have heard any single answer to what is, after all, a very simple question. I did not hear 1592 what I expected to hear—how much all this would cost. What are we dealing with? We are dealing with an increase of 2s. 6d. over 67s. 6d. in the full benefit cases and corresponding increases in the others.
§ Brigadier Smyth
May I interrupt the hon. and learned Gentleman to give him that information? The cost will be £1,400,000, plus, of course, the extra on war pensions, which will be another £1,700,000.
§ Mr. Mitchison
Three million pounds. I forget for the moment how much it was that caused Mr. Scrooge some difficulty, but surely the parallel gets even closer. If there was some good reason for this discrimination and if we had heard any real justification for it, that would be a different matter; but there has been none. We are talking now apparently, including the war pensions cases which are not really the subject of the discussion today, about £3 million at the most. Surely the Government might meet these people that far.
After all, we talk about the prosperity of the country, increasing production, the urgent need for more coal—all kinds of industrial questions, not to mention quite a number of industrial disputes at the moment. Surely this is the last moment we wish to say that we cannot afford to treat people who suffer from industrial injuries to a proportionate increase as against those who suffer in the ordinary way and come under the National Insurance provisions. What is the reason for it? None has been given.
We were told that it was a "big and balanced scheme." That is exactly what it is not. It may be big but, to this comparatively small extent, it is not balanced but unbalanced, and I see no reason whatever for that. I would have thought that, much though the Government might want to get this Bill through without any amendment at all, they ought on this occasion to recognise that they are going against the feelings of the country as a whole, the feelings of the people who make the wealth of the country and who suffer injuries by so doing, and whose services to the country have never been more needed than at this moment; and that they might for that reason make what is a comparatively small, but logical, and, I may add, only a fair increase.
§ Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)
I was surprised to hear the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) use the term "Scrooge" in association with my right hon. Friend and his hon. Friend on the Government Front Bench. Surely we should recall that, in the lifetime of the present Parliament, they have been responsible for many Measures which have ameliorated the conditions of those who have been affected by industrial injuries.
Hon. Members on this side—and, no doubt, hon. Members opposite—can recall, among other things, that benefits were extended not only to those totally disabled in industry but to some of those partly disabled in industry, and who, in some cases, had left those industries in which they were formerly engaged. It is always more pleasing for back benchers on this side to support increases than to oppose them.
But we have to accept that my right hon. Friend has gone fully into this question, and I should have thought that he would have derived considerable satisfaction from the words of the hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton). The hon. Member said on two or throe occasions, "These are very modest demands," and I should have thought that was an indication that the increases provided in this Bill were by no means unsatisfactory.
§ Mr. Blyton
We regard this as a temporary Measure, and we shall have much more to say on the report of the quinquennial review, which deals with the whole range of pensions.
§ Mr. Gower
That may be so, but I am sure that the Opposition would not be so failing in their duty as not, on this occasion, to put forward Amendments calling for considerable increases, if they thought that the increases in the present Bill were grossly inadequate. I am sure that they would put down an Amendment calling for another 10s. or about 10s. 1594 rather than 2s. 6d. or 1s. 6d., as the case may be. When we consider that many of these increases are for sums like 12s. 6d., it is surprising that the hon. and learned Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) should have associated my right hon. Friend and his colleague with Scrooge.
§ Mr. Victor Collins (Shoreditch and Finsbury)
I would suggest to the hon. Member that if we are putting our demands to Scrooge, it is a waste of time to put them too high.
§ Mr. Gower
Most of us on this side, I think, feel that there is a case for going a little further with the retirement pension than with any other case, because my experience is that a person who is living on a retirement pension is generally dependent on that pension, and that alone. It is true that in some cases the retirement pensioner can rely on National Assistance, but the so-called marginal retirement pensioners, who have very slender means indeed but sufficient to bar them from National Assistance, generally have to live on their retirement pensions.
We would, of course, have liked to see other increased benefits in this and other cases, but we submit that the benefits under this Bill can properly be described as the "best yet," not only in the case of war pensions but in the case of industrial and retirement pensions. This is a considerable Measure; it is a good Measure, and one which deserves the support of the Committee.
§ Mr. Tom Brown (Ince)
I indicated in my remarks on Second Reading that I see within this Bill the seeds of industrial discontent. That discontent may not have reached the ears of the right hon. Gentleman's Department, but I can assure him that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction in the mining industry about the attitude of the Government on this question. It will reveal itself with greater force as days go by.
I would remind the Minister that men in the mining industry who have contributed to the Industrial Injuries Fund for years have conceded, and continue to concede, their Saturday holiday. They are working a voluntary shift. In what other industries are men making such a sacrifice as they make in the mining industry, in the production of the 1595 coal which is so essential? [An HON. MEMBER: "The steel industry."] Yes, and in the steel industry. Yesterday, we spent a few hours in struggling to save 1d. on contributions and today we are struggling to secure a 2s. 6d. increase in benefit rates.
I may be wrong, but I look on this as a great human question. We are dealing with men whose chances in life have been more or less destroyed. They are cripples, unable to work, and they have been crippled in industries in which they have been giving of their best to the nation. We have talked about increased productivity. The newspapers of yesterday and the day before said a lot about the remarkable increase.
Who are responsible for that increase? They are not the Cabinet and not the Minister—we do not expect them to be. When men respond so magnificently, as they have responded in industry in the past few years, we are entitled to put forward the argument that the men responsible for increased productivity, if overtaken by accident, should be protected by the nation and by this House from a low standard of living.
An hon. Member opposite has said that the increases were the best in history. Why should they not be the best? Should they be the worst? The standard of living has been rising since 1945. Why should the nation not be in a position to give our industrial workers the best, particularly when they are overtaken by accidents? The Parliamentary Secretary cited the case of a man suffering from 100 per cent. incapacity and said he would get 67s. 6d. Then he mentioned hardship allowance, unemployability allowance, wife's allowance and children's allowance and said that eventually a man who was totally incapacitated as a result of an accident would receive the magnificent sum of £10 5s. 6d. But, when he met with the accident that man might have been receiving £12 or £14 a week.
§ Brigadier Smythrose—
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Brown
Wait a moment.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman quoted the best case for his purpose. I wonder whether he would have applied the same analysis to those lower in the scale and have shown how it worked then. 1596 I think it manifestly unfair that spokesmen for the Government should try to tell the Committee and the nation that the Government are being very generous in these scales, because they are not. They have talked about balanced scales and benefits, but they are as unbalanced as the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There is no balance in them at all.
I know that I should be out of order in discussing old-age pensions now, but these scales fall far short of the advance in old-age pensions. Surely we are entitled to ask that our injured workmen should get the same advance, if not more, as the old-age pensioners. No Government, never mind a Tory Government, have ever faced the real obligations they have to injured workmen. I challenge anyone to say that the Government have faced their obligations to injured workmen. If we began to compare rates of benefit and compensation paid in some spheres of life we would find that we are falling far short of those when dealing with injured workmen. Why should the Government be so parsimonious in their attempt to meet the case of injured workmen?
After all, a man goes into industry for the purpose of maintaining himself and his family, but he goes for something more. He goes into industry to help the nation in the vocation to which he is called by producing the goods so essential to the economic life of his country. When we consider what he should pay in rates of contribution and what he should receive as compensation, or industrial injury benefit, we always come down to the lowest possible level. We should take a realistic view of what subsistence means. The Government will have to face that question. It was all right for them when workers were satisfied with many things which were obnoxious, but the process of evolution has caused people to look upon their standard of life in a proper way, in an honest and just way.
The Parliamentary Secretary told us that these rates were the best ever. It should be remembered that the Government are not altogether paying for these benefits, but the men themselves are paying to help their injured comrades. If we could take the Fund of £109 million which has accumulated over a few years and put it in the hands of sensible men in the industrial world they would make 1597 a better job of it than the Government have done. The surplus of £109 million has accumulated as a result of payments into the Fund by men in industry, but now we have to struggle to secure an extra 2s. 6d. for them. That is not good enough and I hope that the Government will give way on this Amendment.
Men who are hale and hearty and go through their industrial life without an accident are fortunate, but what about the unfortunate man who may be accident-prone? If the Minister would go to some of our mining villages and towns, he would see the type of man that appeals to almost everybody, irrespective of politics—the permanently crippled man. There are in my constituency several men who are 100 per cent. incapacitated. They are to get the 100 per cent. rate of 67s. 6d. Does this compensate them for the loss they have sustained? Does it compensate them in the realms of social, economic or domestic life, many of them denied the ordinary pleasures which come to young men? And yet the Government say, "We are going to pay you 67s. 6d." To me, as a very ordinary man, it is scandalous.
If the Government intend to fight us on this question of 2s. 6d., they will bring upon themselves more discontent than they have ever experienced before.
§ Mr. Brown
This is too vast and far-reaching a problem for the Government to niggle about the Amendment, which would give 2s. 6d. more to a man who is paralysed from the waist downwards, or to a man who has lost both arms.
The Parliamentary Secretary said that the 67s. 6d. was based as nearly as possible upon the Royal Warrant. Well, I say that the Royal Warrant is wrong for the men with whom it has to deal. It was never generous enough, and now we are struggling to get the 2s. 6d. I appeal to the Government to recognise the force of the Amendment and to realise that what we are asking for is something which is a little more equitable in the direction that we want to go.
The Minister will say, "Yes, but we must wait until we get the Actuary's report. This is only an interim Measure." But it must be remembered that this interim Measure, as I pointed out during 1598 Second Reading, must last for five years. Is this extra penalty to be inflicted upon totally incapacitated workmen for five years? That would be wrong, unjust and dishonest, because these men are not asking for money from the Treasury, or only a small fraction of it. They are asking for it from the Fund to which they have paid, and from the Fund to which men in the pits and other industries are paying. Surely we are entitled to get from that Fund the things which we think are fair and just to the injured workman. I am convinced that the Government are neither right nor just in resisting this modest Amendment.
§ Mr. George Brown (Belper)
I do not rise to close the debate from this side of the Committee; I think it should continue unless the Minister is able to appreciate what has been said. But while the debate continues, I want to put a small but pertinent point to the right hon. Gentleman. He will then have time to think it over before he replies to my hon. Friends.
Yesterday, the Minister had his way about increasing the contribution by the insured workman to the tune of £1 million or thereabouts per year more than the cost of the new benefits to the insured workman in a year justified. As I understood the Parliamentary Secretary just now, the cost of accepting this Amendment for the insured workman would be a little over £1 million a year.
Assuming, therefore, the most pessimistic basis of the Actuary's report and the most optimistic basis of the Minister's estimate of cost, there is not very much difference between the cost of allowing the Amendment, so far as it affects the insured workman, and the accretion to the Fund of contributions that are not committed already. The Minister could, in fact, do this for the insured workman almost entirely out of the increased contribution.
If the Minister is taking £1 million a year from the insured workman more than the increased benefits will take up, and if the cost of applying the Amendment, which would bring insured workmen into line with everybody else, is hardly any more than £1 million, why should the Minister not do what we ask? The right hon. Gentleman had his way yesterday; I thought he ought not to have put the 1d. on, and I said so very 1599 strongly. But, having got the money, why should the Minister not pay out by putting these men in the same position as everybody else?
The Minister is, in fact, doing two things. He is taking more from the insured man than the insured man need pay, and he is paying out less to the insured workman than the insured workman is entitled to have. Ministers dig in their heels on matters of principle—I have done it myself—but is there any principle in this? I tried this morning to defend the scheme at a meeting of trade unionists, and I did my very best, but I got into great difficulties. Why make the difficulties worse? Why take more from the men than is necessary and then, next day, refuse to give the men the same as is being given to other people?
My hon. and right hon. Friends will develop their many arguments. I limit myself to that one simple point. I ask the Minister, since by his Amendment yesterday he will get the money out of the insured men and employers, why he will not now agree to put these men on the same basis as everybody else, because all that is necessary is to pay out the money which the right hon. Gentleman admitted yesterday he was getting more than the proposed benefits justified.
§ Mr. Ronald Williams (Wigan)
May I put to the Minister a point which so far has not been put and with which, I am sure, hon. and right hon. Members on all sides of the Committee will agree? When one is considering National Insurance benefits, on the one hand, and industrial injury benefits, on the other hand, there must be a substantial differentiation in favour of industrial injuries benefits. However controversial might be the arguments which lead to that conclusion, that conclusion was arrived at many years ago.
To put it in short compass, I think one could fairly say that differentiation of risk justifies differentiation of rate. Therefore, if the Minister were considering a formula or principle upon which he would give benefits or increased benefits, and if he were to differentiate, his margin of differentiation should be greater on the side of the industrial injuries part of his calculation than on the National Insurance side.
1600 The right hon. Gentleman has made a promise and a statement in relation to these benefits which, quite clearly, could be read to indicate that he is adopting the same principle in respect of both sides of the Scheme. Today, it has been clearly indicated by the Parliamentary Secretary that that is not the case and that the Minister has added more to National Insurance than to the industrial injuries side. In other words, he is holding to the principle upon which the difference between the two Statutes rests.
Were he doing that for the sake of some large principle which he was prepared to justify, a matter involving confidence in the Government, or something of that sort, one could, perhaps, follow his point of view; but he is doing it for the sake of 30d. per week, 30d. per week for men who are badly crippled. It is not even a question of our saying that this flat rate of 2s. 6d. should run right through the list. We say only that it should be added to meet a special need. To the remarks of my hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown), who has had such vast experience in this field, I add the example of a man bedridden with pneumoconiosis, or a person in whom massive fibrositis has proceeded to such a degree that there is no hope for him. We ask for an extra 30d. for him on the basis of the principle laid down by the Minister's Bill, not on the basis of any special argument that we submit from this side of the Committee.
When the Minister argued the degree of increase which he considered would be justified, he said that it might be 30d. more for these men than is provided by these proposals. Why is the Minister going back on that, having said it? Why is he attempting now to say they are getting more than they ever got before? They would be getting more than they ever got before, more than they ever got in the history of industrial injury compensation, if he gave just 1d. increase and left it at that. He can always argue that they are getting more now. There is no merit in that argument unless it is related to the principles on which he bases his argument. On those principles he himself put a case which logically, irresistibly, makes the sum of 30d. more than that proposed in the Schedule a justifiable amount.
1601 I beg the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider this matter. He should pay very serious attention indeed to the fact that he himself has introduced this principle. After all, there is a difference between the attitude of mind of Members on the other side of the Committee in approaching this subject arid the attitude of mind of Members on this side. On the other side of the Committee they are very much more inclined than we are to say, "Look how much you have got. Look at the great advances which have been made. Look how much more generous we are being than our predecessors."
§ Mr. Williams
On this side of the Committee we say, "How much have we lost in the drive for production? How much have we lost in the risks we have taken by the fact that people have been transformed from being vigorous and so able to participate in the production drive to being bedridden and incurable?" If the Minister is not prepared, on his own argument, to give 30d. more a week to these people, he should, as I said earlier, be ashamed of himself.
§ Mr. Stan Awbery (Bristol, Central)
I hope that when the Minister replies to the case for this Amendment he will not make heavy weather about the actuarial basis of the Fund. This is not only a financial transaction. This is elementally a matter of humanity. I hope the Minister has not lost his humane feeling for these men who have been so badly beaten by industrial life.
While we have been discussing this matter I have been remembering the early days of industrial injury compensation. We have been told that this is a generous Bill, that we are dealing very generously with the injured workmen. Having been closely associated with industry since the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1906, I can assure hon. Members that everything that we have won since 1906 for the injured workmen has been won only by a struggle either in politics or in industry. Never have the employers or the Conservative Party made a concession to our side unless we have put up a struggle or been prepared to make a struggle.
§ Mr. Awbery
Yes, those are the things that brought this party into Parliament. There was a time when, if a man went to work early in the morning, had an accident and was killed by 11 o'clock, half a day's pay was deducted from his pay packet because he ceased work before noon.
§ Mr. Awbery
We progressed until maximum compensation was half wages, 30s., which was worth while when compared with earlier arrangements. Things are better than they were compared with 1906, and are better than they were in pre-war days, but they are still not satisfactory, and we want to move on. I hope the Minister will not stop as making progress.
Until 1946 the industrial worker made no contribution whatever. That responsibility was entirely in the hands of the employer. If a man sustained an accident he was passed over to an insurance society. The employer made the total contribution for that liability. In 1946 the workman was called upon to bear 50 per cent. of that responsibility. No longer is the responsibility 100 per cent. on the employer. It is shared between the employer and the workman, 50 per cent. each, and we are increasing the employer's share now. He is to pay 6d. and the workman 5d.
The Minister should not consider too much the financial side of the matter. He has already built up a Fund of £109 million. My hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) pointed out that at least half of that £109 million has been contributed by the workers. Now the Minister wants to increase the worker's contribution by 1d. to get a £300 million surplus. Last weekend, travelling by train from here, I entered a compartment in which was a man suffering from pneumoconiosis. He was coughing and could hardly breathe during the whole of the journey. That is the sort of man we have to consider.
Let human feeling rise above the financial aspect. If the Minister looks at the matter from the humane point of view I am sure his heart will tell him he must provide for these men who have been broken in industry and who are suffering, and I am confident that he will then give the 2s. 6d. for which we ask.
§ Mr. Jack Jones
I make no apology for rising for the first time in our debates on this Bill to say a few words. I do not want to get emotional about the victim of pneumoconiosis or the man who is paralysed from the waist downwards or to stress the sufferings of those about whom the Committee knows only too well. I must say to the Government, however, that I am surprised that they, as business people, cannot see the force of our arguments.
As everybody in the Committee knows by now, or ought to know, I come from the steel industry, an industry which is second to none in the country. My hon. Friend the Member of Ince (Mr. T. Brown) asked who else but the miners were working on Saturday mornings. Our men do. They work 21 shifts, that is, 168 hours per week, and they cannot work more. These men are watching what the Government are doing by means of the Bill. They have been called upon to increase production and they have done so week by week, month by month and year by year. They have got on with it without making a song and dance about it.
I ask the Government to buy for themselves 2s. 6d. per week worth of good will. We are not asking the Minister or the Government to pay something out of their own pockets. What if we were? What if it were demanded from taxation? Taxation is taken out of goods and services and there are no goods or services that cannot be traced back in their basic origin to iron and steel and coal. All we ask is that the Government should pass to those who need it most some of the contributions made possible by those men who are still at work. We are asking the Government to transfer 2s. 6d. extra per week contributed to by the fit to those who are less fortunate.
The Government should look at this not as an emotional matter, but as a business proposition. They could even look at it as a political, business manoeuvre. They will fail in their own interests if they do not accept the Amendment. I was never satisfied that my own Government gave injured men all that they were entitled to receive. We probably said that we gave what the country could afford. I was never happy about that. I am the first to admit that it is wrong for the present Parliament to think that what the 1604 Labour Government did was always right. Possibly, we made many mistakes. If so, it is the job of the present Government to put right what we left undone.
It is our job in Parliament to look at the position as we find it, to look at the national wealth and do our best with it. It is the Christian, decent thing to do, but it is no good talking about Christmas or Scrooge. These men have to live in July and August and all the year round. If the Minister is as shrewd a businessman as I believe he is, he will readily see that to gain the good will of the men who do not need this 2s. 6d. extra he should give it to those who do.
§ 4.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Collins
I am astonished at the attitude of the Government towards this subject. My hon. Friend the Member for Rotherham (Mr. Jack Jones) has referred to it as a business proposition, and I am really surprised that the viewpoint of an employer has not been put from the other side of the Committee. Hon. Members opposite, as employers, must know what industrial injuries mean to their work-people. I am shocked that no hon. Member opposite has had the decency or the courage to say that a great deal ought to be done. We have had only one speech from back benchers opposite. That was from the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), who, I am sorry to say, is not now in his place.
I do not want to misrepresent the hon. Member, but it would be fair to sum up his speech as consisting of two points. The first was that the benefits proposed are higher than ever before. That may be perfectly true, but the value of the money is lower than it has ever been in the history of the country. His second point was that the increase for which my hon. Friends were asking was not worth talking about. I entirely agree that that is the case in relation to the need and the injury. What price a pair of lungs? When a miner comes into the mine with head up he is a full man, but after 10 or 15 years' work he is coughing up his lungs, bit by bit, day by day. How much for a pair of lungs? Half-a-crown?
This applies not merely to major industries and major injuries. I am an employer in a small way in a manufacturing industry. Unfortunately, accidents happen. A man may not lose his lungs or become paralysed, but he perhaps loses a finger. 1605 He has been earning £12 to £15 a week and, a married man, he is immediately confronted with the prospect of receiving £3 10s. to £4 a week.
How does the decent employer, and there are plenty, react to that? Speaking from my own experience, his reaction is to feel physically sick and immediately after the accident to inquire whether there was any negligence attributable to the employer. Such inquiries are made not to reduce the man's prospect of receiving what is no more than a miserable allowance, but in the hope that he will receive reasonable monetary compensation. Nothing, of course, can make good the loss of the man's finger. He receives 6 per cent. allowance for that, which comes to about £80 when the finger is healed up and he resumes work.
Yesterday, my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams), in discussing contributions under the Industrial Injuries Scheme, said that the Government were stuffing the 1d. down the workman's throat. The Government are also stuffing the 1d. down the employer's throat. If we are now to pay 26s. a year in contributions for each workman—and everybody will willingly pay that—and in addition we pay separately 10 private insurance companies, we have the right to ask for value for money for our work-people. It has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, and the Minister has admitted it that under the proposed arrangement we shall not receive value for money. There is a profit being made, and a surplus will accrue to the Government out of these conditions.
The Parliamentary Secretary gave details of what he rightly said was an extreme case when he brought the increment to £10 15s. 6d. That poor, unfortunate individual is for the time being, and probably for a long time, 95 per cent. dead. He must be before he receives £10 15s. 6d. a week, whereas a few weeks or even a few minutes previously he was a bold, upstanding, hearty man, working for £12 or £15. His life is completely mutilated.
I am perfectly well aware of the very high insurance complement of this Scheme, but I revert to my original proposition—which is in agreement with the point which was made by the hon. Member for Barry—that the increase for which we are 1606 now asking in the Amendment is a miserable increase. It is, in fact, very little worth talking about, and we are only talking about it because it is so difficult to persuade the Government to grant even this small increase.
I hope that the Minister will bear in mind the fact that when these accidents happen it is not only the employee who is affected. The employer is confronted with a situation in which a valuable, skilled man will receive an income which is about one-third of what he would have been receiving if he had not been injured. He was a man valuable to production. There was no negligence on the part of the employer or employer's servants and, therefore, nothing could be got from separate insurance for his benefit. In many cases like that firms pay the man's wages anyway. It comes out of their profits, but in some large corporations and large firms that is not possible. I suggest to the Minister that, pending the further discussions which are to take place, he should accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. B. Taylor
The speeches to which we have listened during the past half hour are an indication of how my hon. Friends feel upon this particular subject. I should like to tell the Minister, in the first place, that I hope the day is not very far distant when we can have a full-dress debate on the Industrial Injuries Act. It is greatly needed and is very implicit in the many speeches that have been made this afternoon. The sooner we have it the better it will be for all concerned.
I do not marvel at the nature of the speeches that have been made from these benches on a subject of this kind. I share the views of my hon. Friends. We who are connected with mining and have worked in the mining industry—if I may say so, very modestly, I spent 20 years underground myself—feel very keenly and strongly on this particular subject of industrial injury and disease. During my Second Reading speech I said that of the 750,000 reportable accidents during any year, two-thirds came from the mining industry. That is a collossal toll upon the men who are producing the coal that the country needs.
Every weekend I have a very unpleasant experience. Without exception, when I pick up the local newspaper I find a report of a fatality or an accident 1607 during the week in the heavy mining industrial area from which I come. It is because of such circumstances as that, and knowing the men as we do, that on this particular subject we feel so very strongly and passionately.
The hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) made what I thought was a very astounding statement. I am sorry he is not in his place, because it seems to fall to my lot lately to challenge many of the things the hon. Member for Barry says. One of the many things he said this afternoon was that the benefits proposed in the Bill are the best ever. But that is not really the position. The Minister himself, on Second Reading, admitted that the proposed benefits for all practical purposes restored the 1946 position, so that in. respect of benefits we are no better off in these proposals than was the case in 1946.
I thought that the Parliamentary Secretary rather cursorily dismissed the important point that we have made, with which I will deal in a moment. He did not prove his case, and though I do not want to misrepresent him, I thought he was trying to hide behind the proposed benefits that are to be given to the war disabled people. Let me say on behalf of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself that while we are asking in this Bill for 2s. 6d.—it is a very modest plea indeed in the light of all that has been said this afternoon—we have no objection to the same rate of increase being given to the war disabled persons. In fact, we would like to see them have it.
The kernel of our case on this point is that the proposed increases in the rates of benefit under the Industrial Injuries Act are lagging behind the basic benefits of the National Insurance Act. I thought that the hon. Member for Barry was very seriously trading on our modesty when he said, "You can ask for 10s. and you can ask for even more than that." The reason we are not doing that is that we do not regard either these benefits or those in the National Insurance Act as adequate, because they bear no relation to the increased productivity that has taken place since 1946.
What we are concerned about is getting these small increases. We do not want to delay the proceedings one moment 1608 more than is necessary. The only reason we are taking the attitude about these benefits that is shown by our Amendment is that we regard this as an interim Measure, and we shall have something further to say when we receive the Actuary's report on the quinquennial review.
The Parliamentary Secretary was good enough to say that the increase in these rates of benefit would cost about £1,400,000. But, as my hon. Friends have stated, we are asking for a very modest 2s. 6d. for the person who receives industrial injuries benefit, the person receiving 100 per cent. disablement benefit, and lower rates for those who are assessed at a lower rate. What I want to put to the Minister—and I hope that he will take up this question when he comes to reply—is that of the 2s. 6d. for which we are asking, 2s. is to be found by the employers and employees, because the structure of the Scheme is such that four-fifths of the money going into the Industrial Injuries Fund is found by the employers and employees and only one-fifth by the Exchequer.
In the light of the very passionate speeches that have been made and the great interest which we on this side of the Committee take in persons sustaining accidents, becoming seriously disabled or diseased in industry, I hope that the Minister will not tell us that on this occasion the country cannot afford the £1,400,000 to meet this modest increase and the £1½ million for the war disabled. In view of the great interest taken by so many of us in injured persons, particularly those in the mining industry, I hope he will accept this Amendment. If he does not we propose, because of the strength of our feeling, to divide the Committee.
§ 5.0 p.m.
§ The Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Osbert Peake)
We have had a good debate on a subject which always arouses keen emotions and feelings on the benches opposite, where there are many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have worked in difficult and dangerous occupations. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) knows, I played a part in passing various Acts during the wartime Coalition Government for the 1609 improvement of workmen's compensation in different ways, and I played a part in framing the new Industrial Injuries Insurance Scheme.
There is nothing I should welcome more than the suggestion of the hon. Member for Mansfield (Mr. B. Taylor), namely, that before long we should have a full day's debate upon the provisions of that Scheme. It is five years old and contains many features which were experimental in character. The House could well spend a useful day looking into the way in which the Scheme has worked out in practice, because, however well one thinks that plans have been laid it is often found that, in practice. something miscarries.
The hon. Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury (Mr. Collins), who made an interesting contribution, spoke as an employer of labour. He said that decent employers felt sick at the rates of Industrial Injury Insurance benefits—
§ Mr. Collins
What I said was that one's first reaction to an accident when it is reported is to feel sick; the second, a few moments later, is to find out if one has been negligent in any way as an employer in order that more could be got for that man than the miserable allowance which is now proposed.
§ Mr. Peake
I am much obliged. I am sorry if I misheard what the hon. Gentleman said.
However, it was rather with an eye on the possibility that employers in certain industries would wish to co-operate with their workpeople in providing for higher rates of benefit than those provided under the Industrial Injuries Insurance Scheme—which, after all, was a flat rate applicable to everybody, women as well as men; it was with a view to co-operation, and with a view to the preparation of supplementary schemes, that by an Amendment which, I think, I moved, we included in the Bill at the time we passed it a provision for supplementary schemes whereby the Scheme would itself take over, and help to administer, supplementary schemes where they were put forward by both sides of industry and approved by the Minister.
§ Mr. Griffiths
I agree that there are supplementary schemes, and the Minister 1610 will, no doubt, be glad to tell his hon. Friends that the first industry to take these up was a nationalised one.
§ Mr. Peake
Yes, indeed, and an industry with which I myself in the old days, like the right hon. Gentleman, used to be very familiar and closely connected. It is a reason for pride that the coal-mining industry, perhaps the most dangerous of all, was the first one to promote a scheme. [An HON. MEMBER: "A statutory one."] It is the only statutory one. There may be voluntary ones in private firms of which I am not aware.
§ Mr. Peake
While this matter arouses keen emotions, what the Government and the Minister have to do is to try to produce a scheme that is balanced and fair as between the different kinds of people who have claims in respect of injury or misfortune. We all know it to be true, from our own experience of injured people, that there are many injuries for which a money payment can never be any adequate compensation. However, what we, as a Government, have to try to do is to produce schemes which are reasonably fair to the different claimants, and include the victims of disablement in war, injury in the course of industrial employment, and sheer misfortune in the ordinary way of life which is compensated under the National Insurance Scheme.
I agree with those who have said that we must maintain a good margin between the rates payable for industrial injuries and the rates payable under the National Insurance Scheme. As the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly well remembers, one of the objections to the Beveridge proposals was that for the first 13 weeks of disability the proposal of the Beveridge Report was that the rate of compensation should be the same. We all saw at once that politically this would be unacceptable, and it is what started me working upon the Scheme which is now embodied in the Statute, and which is radically different from the Beveridge proposals.
What were the margins? The margin under the original 1946 proposals was between a National Insurance main benefit rate of 26s. and an industrial injuries rate of 45s. There is a margin 1611 of 19s. there in favour of the Industrial Injuries Scheme. Today, the margin has moved up with the increase in the rates of benefit. The standard rate under National Insurance is 32s. 6d.; the standard rate under Industrial Injuries Insurance is 55s., so the margin moved up from 19s. to 22s. 6d. between 1946 and 1952.
The proposal in the Bill is that the main rate under National Insurance shall go to 40s. and the main rate under Industrial Injuries Insurance shall go to 67s. 6d. The margin is increased from 22s. 6d. to 27s. 6d. So it will be seen that the margin is moving all the time in favour of the industrial injuries rates as the rates of benefit under both schemes have been increased progressively.
The complaint made is that whereas the main rate under National Insurance, moving from 32s. 6d. to 40s., is increasing by 53¾ per cent., the main rate under the Industrial Injuries Scheme is only going up by precisely 50 per cent. The figures are not quite the same if we take the married rates. The comparison there is a little more favourable and, with the increase there for the married men, would be rather more than 50 per cent.—about 51 per cent. and a fraction.
If we take the seriously disabled man, we get a still more favourable comparison. Three years ago the main rate of Industrial Injuries benefit was 45s. for the single man, with the unemployability supplement at 20s. Under the Bill the main rate goes to 67s. 6d. and the unemployability supplement goes to 40s. This means that as against 65s. payable under the two benefits in 1950 or 1951, we get 107s. 6d. today, which is an increase of more like 65 per cent., so that we have weighted it rather in favour of the seriously disabled man. That is a feature which we borrowed from the War Pensions Scheme, where, ever since the war, the policy has been to weight it progressively in favour of the more seriously disabled men. I do not think that that is a policy to which anyone in any quarter of the Committee would take any serious exception.
Much as I should like to meet the hon. Member for Mansfield on this matter, I cannot do so. It is mainly for the reason that it would involve a considerable cost on the war pensions side. We should 1612 have to do the same in respect of the war pension as is proposed for the industrial injuries benefit. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has already been uncommonly good in finding for my Ministry another £15 million a year for the war pensioners. It would cost another £1.7 million to give an extra 2s. 6d. upon the basic rate.
I have listened with sympathy to the pleas made by hon. and right hon. Members opposite. We have deliberately weighted the scheme in favour of the seriously disabled men, and I feel that, on the whole, to have put the 1946 rate up, and, indeed, the 1951 rate by 50 per cent. compared with a cost-of-living increase of 44 per cent. over the same period, is fairly and justly fulfilling the pledge that I have always made, to restore and do something more than restore, the 1946 values to the benefits. I am sorry, but I am unable to accept the Amendment. I hope hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will not be too cross with me about it. If they win the next General Election they can put the matter right.
§ Mr. Joseph Slater (Sedgefield)
When the workers in the basic industries hear about the speech which the Minister has just made turning down our application for the small increase, they will be not only very disappointed but also very critical of him and the Government.
We have been reminded by the Minister and by speeches on other occasions that industrial injuries cannot be treated by themselves and that they are part of the overall National Insurance Scheme. That may be true, but I still believe that serious attention ought to be given to the part of the Scheme which provides for payment during the incapacity of workers.
It has many times been stated by hon. Members representing constituencies where there are heavy industries that if the workers are to be given the impetus which is required on their part by the Government and the country, care ought to be taken of them when they are unfortunate enough to be injured at their work. Many speeches were made by my hon. Friends and myself in Standing Committee when we proposed that there should be an increase of 50 per cent. in industrial injury benefits or that injured workmen should have, during their incapacity, benefits not less than the 1613 national minimum wage for their industry. Yet the Minister has now turned down this small increase which has been proposed. It is all very well to praise the workers in industry for giving of their best and increasing the production which is so vital to our economy and then to turn down such an application as this, which would have cost £1½ million and would have benefited those who have been called upon to do so much.
The Minister of Labour in 1940, being unable to release men from the Armed Forces for mining, asked the trade unions to go to the employment exchanges and interview men signing on as unemployed miners in an effort to get them to return to the mining industry. On behalf of the Government, I interviewed many of them. On many occasions I was shocked at the very low income of those who had been injured in that industry. If we have another crisis like that, are the trade union leaders likely to be able to go to the employment exchanges and ask men to return to the mining industry when they know full well that the industrial injuries provisions will be inadequate if the men are seriously injured during that employment?
Apart from the interests of the workers in the basic industries, the Minister ought in the interests of the country as a whole to ensure that workers are treated fairly. He should take the Bill back and endeavour to grant the increase that we seek.
§ 5.15 p.m.
§ Mr. Blyton
Our case that there is discrimination against injured workmen has been well proved.
The Chancellor urges the workers to produce more, and yet the Minister discriminates against them if they are injured while they are obtaining the increased production which is so necessary for the country. The amount involved is 2s. 6d. per injured workman if he is 100 per cent. disabled. The total cost would be £1,200,000 per year from a fund which contains the huge amount of money to which reference has already been made.
It seems that the Government are against the proposal because of what it would involve in the case of disabled soldiers; but they are also discriminating against disabled soldiers to the extent of 1614 2s. 6d. for every 100 per cent. disabled man. The Minister tells us that the £15 million for disabled men plus the other £1,700,000 is too much to ask the Exchequer to bear. Taxpayers who do not need it have had millions of pounds of tax relief from the last three Budgets, and yet we cannot be given £1,700,000 more to provide these extra benefits. When the people of the country learn of this discrimination they will have some harsh things to say.
The Minister has admitted the validity of our case. It is accepted that injured workmen and ex-soldiers are being discriminated against. I agree with the Opposition Front Bench that we ought to divide on the issue and show the people of the country that we will not stand for such discrimination.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)rose—
§ Mr. McKay
I am sorry if some hon. Members are displeased because I have risen at this moment, but we all have our opinions to express about the subject that we are discussing. All who are connected with miners take a great interest in industrial injuries provisions. It is a well known fact that in 1943 basic compensation was 40s. per week. According to the London and Cambridge indices, which are fairly good and more in line with the real cost of living, costs have so risen that to match a benefit which was then 40s. we would have to bring it up to about 65s. 6d.
We talk about our ideals, and how far we are advancing. We talk about how much we are doing in the industrial world and how much the workers are sacrificing by working overtime and in other ways in an attempt to put the country into a better condition. But we have not advanced very far with basic industrial benefits.
Most of the speakers have dealt with the man who is permanently injured, who is so seriously injured that he has to have constant attendance and other attention. But the Minister and everyone else knows that such men do not bring about the real cost of the scheme. That is accounted for by men in receipt of almost a 100 per cent. benefit. They are men who are sick for three to six months, and 1615 they cost more than those difficult cases which are almost fatalities.
Are we dealing with this problem in its proper perspective? Are we really advancing? The prevailing wage rate from 1940 to 1943 was about 169s. and it is now about £10. At that time 40s. benefit was paid. When we compare that with the amount of compensation we are to pay under the Scheme, can we say that it is a very large advance?
A single man is to get about 67s. 6d. a week. He can scarcely get board and lodging for £3, so he has hardly as much pocket money as a man on National Assistance.
§ I do not want to say any more as it is important that we should divide. We are not playing a political game. We have asked for only half a crown because we thought that it was so little that the Government would have to give it. Had we been playing a political game, we would have asked for much more. But, taking general conditions into consideration, we thought that 2s. 6d. would have been granted.
§ Question put, That "sixty-seven shillings and sixpence" stand part of the Schedule: —
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 289, Noes 256.1617
|Division No. 6.]||AYES||[5.24 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Crouch, R. F.||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Amory, Rt. Hon. Heathcoat (Tiverton)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Hirst, Geoffrey|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S)||Holland-Martin, C. J|
|Arbuthnot, John||Davidson, Viscountess||Holtis, M. C.|
|Armstrong, C. W.||Deedes, W. F.||Holt, A. F.|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Digby, S. Wingfield||Hope, Lord John|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)||Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Donner, Sir P. W.||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Doughty, C. J. A.||Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)|
|Banks, Col. C.||Drayson, G. B.||Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)|
|Barber, Anthony||Drewe, Sir C.||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Hurd, A. R.|
|Beaoh, Maj. Hicks||Duthie, W. S.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Eden, Rt. Hon. Sir A. (Wrwk & Lmgtn)||Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M.|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Elliott, Rt. Hon. W. E.||Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Errington, Sir Eric||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Erroll, F. J.||Jennings, Sir Roland|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Fell, A.|
|Birch, Nigel||Finlay, Graeme||Johnson, Er'c (Blackley)|
|Bishop, F. P.||Fisher, Nigel||Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)|
|Black, C. W.||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F||Jones A. (Hall Green)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W|
|Bowen, E. R.||Ford, Mrs. Patricia||Kaberry, D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Fort, R.||Kerby, Capt. H. B|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Foster, John||Kerr, H. W.|
|Braine, B. R.||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lambton, Viscount|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. O. (Pollok)||Lancaster, Col. C. G|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)||Langford-Holt, J. A|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Gammans, L. D.||Leather, E. H. C.|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Garner-Evans, E. H.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H|
|Brooman-While, R. C.||Glover, D.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Godber, J. B.||Lindsay, Martin|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Llewellyn, D. T.|
|Bullard, D. G.||Gough, C. F. H.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Gower, H. R.||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Burden, F. F. A.||Graham, Sir Fergus||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Gridley, Sir Arnold||Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon. G|
|Campbell, Sir David||Grimond, J.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.|
|Carr, Robert||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Longden, Gilbert|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Channon, H.||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Sir Winston||Hare, Hon. J. H.||Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)|
|Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)||Harris, Reader (Helton)||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh|
|Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)||McAdden, S. J.|
|Cole, Norman||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Colegate, W. A.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hay, John||McKibbin, A. J.|
|Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. Albert||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John|
|Craddeck, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Heath, Edward||Maclean, Fitzroy|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Pitman, I. J.||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Summers, G. S.|
|Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Powell, J. Enoch||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Profumo, J. D.||Teeling, W.|
|Marlowe, A. A. H.||Raikes, Sir Victor||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P, L. (Hereford)|
|Marples, A. E.||Ramsden, J. E.||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Redmayne, M.||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Maude, Angus||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Maudling, R.||Remnant, Hon. P.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C||Renton, D. L. M.||Thorneycroft, Rt. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Medlicott, Brig. F||Ridsdale, J. E.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Mellor, Sir John||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Tilney, John|
|Molson, A. H. E,||Robertson, Sir David||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Robson-Brown, W.||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Moore, Sir Thomas||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Turton, R. H.|
|Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Russell, R. S.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Nabarro, G. D. N.||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Neave, Airey||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.|
|Nicholls, Harmar||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Vosper, D. F.|
|Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W||Wade, D. W.|
|Nield, Basil (Chester)||Scott, R. Donald||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Nugent, G. R. H.||Sharples, Maj. R. C.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Oakshott, H. D.||Shepherd, William||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Odey, G. W.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim, N.)||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)||Watkinson H. A.|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Snadden, W. McN.||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)||Soames, Capt. C.||Wellwood, W.|
|Osborne, C.||Spearman, A. C. M.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Page, R. G.||Speir, R. M.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Partridge, E.||Spens, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Peaks, Rt. Hon. O.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Perkins, Sir Robert||Stevens, Geoffrey||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)||Woollam, John Victor|
|Peyton, J. W. W.||Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Pickthorn, K. W. M||Storey, S||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Wills and Mr. Legh.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Collick, P. H.||Greenwood, Anthony|
|Albu, A. H.||Collins, V. J.||Grey, C. F.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Cove, W. G.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Griffiths, William (Exchange)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Crossman, R. H. S.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Hall, John T. (Gateshead, W.)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Daines, P.||Hamilton, W. W.|
|Baird, J.||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Hannan, W.|
|Balfour, A.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Hardy, E. A.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hargreaves, A.|
|Bartley, P.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hastings, S.|
|Bence, C. R.||Deer, G.||Hayman, F. H.|
|Benn, Hon. Wedgwood||Delargy, H. J.||Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)|
|Benson, G.||Dodds N. N.||Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)|
|Beswick, F.||Donnelly, D. L.||Herbison, Miss M|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Driberg, T. E, N.||Hewitson, Capt. M.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)||Hobson, C. R.|
|Bryton, W. R.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Holman, P.|
|Boardman, H.||Edelman, M.||Holmes, Horace|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||Houghton, Douglas|
|Bowden, H. W.||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Hoy, J. H.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Hubbard, T. F.|
|Brockway, A. F.||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)||Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Fernyhough, E.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Fienburgh, W.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Finch, H. J.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Fletcher, Eric (Islington E.)||Hynd, H. (Accrington)|
|Burke, W. A.||Follick, M.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Foot, M. M.||Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Forman, J. C.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.|
|Carmichael, J.||Freeman, John (Watford)||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena|
|Champion, A. J.||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T N.||Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)|
|Chapman, W D.||Gibson, C. W.||Johnson, James (Rugby)|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Glanville, James||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech|
|Clunie, J.||Gooch, E. G.||Jones, David (Hartlepool)|
|Coldrick, W.||Gordon Walker, Rt Hon P. C||Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Oswald, T.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Owen, W, J.||Steele, T.|
|Keenan, W.||Padley, W. E.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Kenyon, C.||Paget, R. T.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|King, Dr. H. M.||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E|
|Kinley, J.||Palmer, A. M. F.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Lawson, G. M.||Pannell, Charles||Sylvester, G O.|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Parkin, B. T||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Lewis, Arthur||Paton, J.||Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Lindgren, G. S.||Pearson, A.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Peart, T. F.||Thornton, E.|
|Logan, D. G.||Plummer, Sir Leslie||Timmons, J|
|MacColl, J. E.||Popplewell, E.|
|McGhee, H. G.||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|McGovern, J.||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)||Usborne, H. C.|
|McInnes, J.||Probert, A. R.||Viant, S. P.|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Proctor, W. T||Warbey, W. N.|
|McLeavy, F.||Pryde, D. J.||Watkins, T. E.|
|MacMiIlan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Rankin, John||Webb Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|McNell, Rt. Hon. H.||Reeves, J.||Weitzman, D|
|MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Reid, William (Camlachie)||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Maltalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Rhodes, H.||West, D. G,|
|Mann, Mrs. Jean||Richards, R.||Wheeldon, W. E.|
|Manuel, A. C.||Robens, Rt. Hon. A.||White, Mr. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Marquand, RI. Hon. H. A||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Mason, Roy||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Mellish, R. J.||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)||Wigg, George|
|Mikardo, Ian||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Ross, William||Willey, F. T|
|Monslow, W.||Royle, C.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|Moody, A. S.||Shackleton, E. A. A||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Morley, R.||Short, E. W.||Williams, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Don V'll'y)|
|Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Shurmer, P. L. E.||Williams, W. R. (Droylsden)|
|Mort, D L.||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Moyle, A.||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Mulley, F. W.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Murray, J. D.||Skeffington, A. M.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Nally, W||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)||Wyatt, W. L.|
|Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)||Yates, V. F.|
|Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|O'Brien, T.||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Snow, J. W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Oliver, G. H.||Sorensen, R. W.||Mr. Wallace and Mr. John Taylor|
|Orbach, M.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
§ Mr. Finch
I beg to move, in page 7, line 36, column 4, to leave out "twenty-seven shillings and sixpence" and insert "forty shillings."
I regard this reference to special hardship as being the most important part of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act. I say that because it refers to those who are permanently disabled or unable to return to their pre-accident occupation. It is necessary to draw attention to the actual wording of the conditions which provide for hardship allowance. The 1946 Act, as amended in 1948, says:… if as the result of the relevant loss of faculty the beneficiary is incapable and likely to remain permanently incapable of following his regular occupation; and is incapable of following employment of an equivalent standard which is suitable in his case or if as the result of the relevant loss of faculty the beneficiary is and has at all times since the end of the injury benefit period been incapable of following the said occupation or any such employment as aforesaid …1620 This hardship allowance was put into the Act with a view to giving some redress to workmen unable to return to their regular occupations. I should like to deal with the history of the matter. When a man sustains an accident and becomes incapable of following his employment he receives injury benefit under the Act for a maximum period of 26 weeks. Often a man returns to employment before the end of that time, but after 26 weeks the injury benefit period expires.
The man is then examined by a medical board to ascertain his entitlement to pension or disablement benefit. That assessment can vary between 1 per cent, and 100 per cent. Often men recover during the injury benefit period. Statistics for 1952 show that 746,000 cases were dealt with and that at the end of the injury benefit period there were 83,000 applications for disablement benefit.
The board assess the men on the basis of loss of faculty. This is a different system from workmen's compensation. 1621 Under the old workmen's compensation system a man's payment depended on loss of earnings irrespective of the nature of the disability. Indeed, no regard was paid to the nature of the disability. One man may have been more seriously injured than another without there being any difference in benefit.
A seriously disabled man may have got very little, if any, compensation if he returned to some employment as a result of which he earned the equivalent of his pre-accident wages. The new Act altered the main principle and granted a basic pension irrespective of earnings. I have no quarrel with that. It is an excellent principle. Often men are able to return to work although they have not fully recovered and are unable to earn the equivalent of their pre-accident wage. Other men can take up a new avocation without any difficulty.
The new principle provided for a pension based on the fact that the recipients have less ability to enjoy life. Though they may be able to earn the same wages they are in a worse position than able-bodied men of the same age. Although I recognise that this is not the time to deal with it, we think that the assessment should be revised. My right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) realised that there should be some compensation for the loss of earnings, for the payment of assessments purely on the basis of the loss of faculties was not sufficient.
A man is certified at, say, 10 per cent. which, under this Bill, would give him 6s. 9d. a week, compared with the old rate of 5s. 6d. If he is certified at 20 per cent., he will get 13s. 6d. But either 6s. 9d. or 13s. 6d. is utterly inadequate for a man who has lost his pre-accident occupation and therefore this hardship allowance comes to his aid. Before the war it was 11s. 3d. It was increased to a maximum of £1 per week, and it has remained at that figure since 1948. I would draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the fact that although the unemployability allowance has been increased, and other benefits also have been increased, this hardship allowance has not been increased until the advent of this Bill, and even now it is increased only to £1 7s. 6d.
The type of man we are dealing with is invariably a skilled man. He has been 1622 trained for his job and has been encouraged to take up a skilled occupation in order to obtain a measure of security, or better pay than the majority of his fellows. In order to do so he may have made sacrifices. He then sustains an accident. For example, he may be an engine driver and lose an eye. On a strictly medical assessment that may not be regarded as a very serious disability, because his other eye is normal. But although he may be able to do many other jobs, he cannot ever be an engine driver again. He may become a ticket collector, but he has lost his future as an engine driver.
The same thing applies to a skilled miner on piecework. Such a man may find that, as a result of pneumoconiosis or some other disability, he can only do a labouring job on the surface. Or he may be a skilled craftsman who is reduced to doing some labouring job like carrying rivets or acting as a fitter's labourer. There are a number of such skilled men who will find their future blotted out in that way. The most difficult man to deal with is always the man who has earned high wages, the skilled man, because his future has gone.
This applies not only to the skilled man, but also to the man whose output has been high, the man who has been receiving good piece-work wages the collier who has been getting on with the job and responding to the appeal of the Government for more coal. All that such people will now receive, if they are assessed at 10 per cent., is 6s. 9d. plus a hardship allowance of £1 7s. 6d. Such a man may have been earning £12 or £15 a week. He may take a light job as a labourer at £7 a week and so finds that he has lost £4 or £5 a week or even more.
For this reason, we regard the question of hardship as a most important aspect. We recognise that the loss of faculty is an important feature of this Measure, but the hardship allowance might be described as the "poor relation." When we debated this matter before, I gained the impression that the right hon. Gentleman was not over-sympathetic regarding this question of hardship allowance. He referred to the "slippery slope" of the hardship allowance. I do not wish to do the Minister 1623 an injustice, because now, after he has had time to think, it may be that he has changed his opinion. During our previous discussions he rightly pointed out that there were serious anomalies and that he required time to examine the problem. I am hoping that, after two years, we shall now get from the Minister some definite undertaking concerning this very important matter.
I also wish to point out that the ceiling of the hardship allowance is limited and that we are not here altering the principles governing that. A man cannot obtain more than the maximum payment, which is £3 7s. 6d. If he is entitled to a hardship allowance of £1 7s. 6d., the other disablement benefits cannot go above the maximum. There are also other restrictions attaching to the payment of hardship allowance which are very severe. It should be remembered that a man who tries to continue in his employment, and does so for 12 months, but then finds it impossible to go on, cannot receive hardship allowance, and the provisions of this Bill do not alter that.
As I said during the debate on Second Reading, I am afraid that the Minister is hiding behind the Advisory Council. This question of hardship allowance was debated in Committee two years ago. At that time I know that the Minister was very concerned about some of these anomalies. But surely it is now time that we had in this Bill some reference to the hardship allowance and the principles which govern it.
§ The Deputy-Chairman (Sir Rhys Hopkin Morris)
I think that this part of the argument goes beyond the terms of the Amendment.
§ Mr. Finch
The class of men with whom we are dealing is a very limited one, and I think that we must regard the payment of £1 7s. 6d. as not meeting the position, for the reasons which I have 1624 already indicated. The conditions are stringent and a ceiling is attached. In those circumstances, I am hopeful that the right hon. Gentleman may be able to assure us that this amount will be increased beyond £1 7s. 6d.
I have already pointed out how inadequate it can be to a man who has been earning a high wage and now has to take on a more menial job. The men we are concerned with are those who, by their output, have helped the country in its economic struggle for survival. We want men of their kind to continue to help us in the future, and we must remember that when men meet each other, especially in the mining industry, this question becomes very important. The men know that here is a man who, because of his output, was receiving a good wage; they know that he has had an accident, and they naturally want to know what he is now getting. When they find that he is getting only £1 14s., it discourages them from putting into the industry the productive effort which we all want.
Therefore, for reasons quite outside the humanitarian point of view, I hope that the Minister will be able to give us a definite assurance that this hardship allowance will be increased beyond the amount at present provided, and that some of the principles underlying the granting of the allowance will be altered as quickly as possible.
§ Mr. R. Williams
At the outset I want to tell the Minister that if there is one point at which the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act may founder, it will be when such resentment is felt regarding the special hardship allowance that other provisions of the Act will become discredited. It will be a very sad thing if that happens. It is necessary for me to indicate the attitude of hon. Members on this side of the Committee to the special hardship allowance, and to show why we consider the proposed increase to be insufficient. To do that we must draw a very clear distinction 'between the two systems of payment in respect of industrial injuries, and show how that distinction has resulted in the hardship allowance being awarded at this figure.
The workmen's compensation system was based upon loss of wage-earning power, but the central principle of the 1625 present system of payments for industrial injuries is based upon loss of faculty. Any system will be in danger if it becomes so unbalanced that it emphasises the importance of one principle as against the other. For instance, in the case of the Workmen's Compensation Act, it was assumed that once a payment was provided in respect of loss of wage-earning power, that was the end of the matter, and beyond that point the only question to be discussed was that of the adequacy of the payment. Through the years, it became evident: that that was going to be discredited by the piling up of masses of cases concerning men who were suffering from loss of faculty and were getting little or nothing in respect of it, because the calculations were based upon their earnings.
Why was that? Surely it was because it was not then fully appreciated—and I ask the Minister to appreciate it now—that from any industrial injury there must flow at least two consequences, First, there must obviously be a loss of faculty and, secondly, there must obviously be a loss of wage-earning power. If one attempts to over-simplify the problem by saying that a completely satisfactory system can be devised by providing compensation either for the one or for the other, it must follow that at the same time one is building up a number of cases which might become so considerable, important and influential, that they will discredit the whole system.
Under the workmen's compensation system, while many people were receiving financial benefit in respect of loss of wage-earning power, many others, through the years, were criticising the Act because they were seriously disabled and were getting little or nothing. They played their part in discrediting the system and were able to do so because there had been an over-emphasis upon that aspect of the question.
In our revulsion against this situation, we thought that we could put the matter right in future by concentrating upon loss of faculty. Our revulsion in this respect was so great that we thought we had solved the problem on the basis that once we took loss of faculty as the central principle, compensating for that on the basis of an assessment, there was nothing more to be done. We quickly 1626 found that if we did that many cases would arise, just as before, which would be left out because they concerned men who had had comparatively small but very significant losses of faculty but very substantial losses of wage-earning power.
The difficulty was to introduce some method which would provide for that situation and, at the same time, not prejudice or imperil the central principle of loss of faculty. So the special hardship allowance was brought in under very stringent conditions. Even today the conditions upon which it is possible to obtain this allowance are very stringent, and are giving rise to criticisms and difficulties in all coalfields. It is certainly a fact that at a later stage the criterion will have to be considered, but upon that aspect I say nothing this afternoon.
What I do say, however, is that if we have a very small benefit in respect of loss of faculty and an enormous sum in respect of special hardship, it can be fairly said that we have the workmen's compensation system all over again, and it is likely to result in all kinds of difficulties and fall into discredit just as its predecessor did.
Some people are showing an indecent haste in coming to that conclusion. I should be the first to say that if one made the special hardship allowance the central principle and the loss of faculty a subordinate, poor relation, the whole system of compensation for industrial injuries would be in jeopardy. But there is no need to do that. It is a question of striking a proper balance. If the Minister takes the special hardship allowance, attaches stringent conditions to it, and, on top, gives an inadequate figure, it must follow that all he is doing is creating a fund of resentment which will ultimately destroy the very thing in which he believes and frustrate his intention of making the Industrial Injuries Act a good and running concern.
In those circumstances, I ask the Minister to take very serious notice of the Amendment now before him. It is deliberately drafted in such a form that it does not go outside the scope of the Bill or to a point at which it imposes some financial burden upon the Fund which is beyond the capacity of the Minister to deal with. It does not place 1627 the Minister in a position in which he has to prostrate himself before the Chancellor of the Exchequer before he can get the funds available. He can do all this within the resources available to him, and can strengthen this principle of the special hardship allowance, and thus very greatly help to stem the tide of resentment of those people who are today suffering legitimate grievances under the application of this particular principle.
So I leave the matter in his hands, and I say to him: "For heaven's sake, do not allow the over-simplification which destroyed one system to another now. Let us have full regard to the principle of loss of faculty. Let us put that at the highest point that lies within our financial resources and the generosity which we can apply in administering it, but let us, at the same time, recognise that people who suffer industrial injury suffer also loss of faculty. Let us see that these special hardships resulting from their jobs and causing loss of earnings are compensated for adequately."
If that is done, then the two great principles which must be considered in relation to every serious industrial injury will have been compensated for to the best of our ability. In this Bill, the Minister is not doing that; he is only doing a bit. I had to resort to very harsh words to the Minister in relation to the earlier part of the Bill. I am not approaching this matter harshly. I am saying that here is a chance for the Minister to do something which I really believe the right hon. Gentleman himself wants to do.
I do not think the Minister wants to have this great resentment based upon a maladjustment of two principles. I do not think he wants to be in a position ultimately of being faced with the discrediting of this scheme because he has not given proper attention to the amount which should be paid in respect of special hardship. If he listens to the experience of hon. Members on this side of the Committee on this matter, and if he is prepared in this Bill to increase the figure to that which we have suggested, I think it will be said in the country that he is really making an attempt to grapple with this very difficult problem.
As to one point on which the Minister intervened, on another occasion, but not 1628 on this one, we will answer his question about the criteria, but, without bringing in any alteration of the criteria, on the question of the amount itself, I beg him to accept this Amendment and thereby make this a very much better Bill than it is at present.
§ The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance (Mr. Ernest Marples)
I rise at this stage because I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee if I were to make clear what my right hon. Friend has in mind. I do not wish in any way to curtail the debate.
I have listened carefully to both the speeches which have just been made, and I should like to congratulate the hon. Member for Wigan (Mr. R. Williams) on skilfully presenting his case, which is something that I could not do within the rules of order. He did it clearly and fluently on this particular point of the special hardship allowance. I must confess that I have had little personal experience of this matter, but I agree with hon. Members on both sides of the Committee that industrial injury is one of the most moving of all injuries.
Sometimes, I have seen "tunnel devils" come out too quickly after working in compressed air, and there is no more pathetic sight than to see really first-class men who have been incapacitated through coming out of the compressed air to quickly. It is an intensely human problem, but, having said that, I must also say that the Bill we are now discussing is a rates Bill and not one dealing with conditions for benefit.
In the Amendment now before the Committee, the Opposition have put forward the figure of 40s. in place of the 27s. 6d. which we have in the Bill. Although the two hon. Gentlemen who have spoken have dealt, in an abbreviated way, with the history of the special hardship allowance, dwelling partly on the conditions and a good deal on hardship, I could not understand how they had arrived at the figure of 40s., or what calculations they had made to satisfy themselves that 40s. was the right figure. It is my job to show the Committee why we arrived at the figure of 27s. 6d.
§ Mr. Marples
As the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) has said, special hardship allowance is a payment which can be made in addition to disablement benefit, but it cannot bring the aggregate payment in a case of partial disablement above the amount received by a man who is receiving the maximum disablement rate. I have looked at the history of the rates carefully, and, as I understand them—and I admit that I am not as familiar with the matter as some hon. Gentlemen opposite—in 1946 the first sum mentioned in the Bill was 11s. 3d. That amount was never really operative and never came into effect. In 1948, it went up to 20s. and now we propose to increase it to 27s. 6d.
The question which we must ask ourselves is whether my right hon. Friend has kept his promise to restore at least the 1946 position, and whether he is keeping that promise by raising the allowance to 27s. 6d. If we take the 11s. 3d. in 1946 as the basis, 50 per cent. added to that amount will still be below the 27s. 6d. which we have provided in this Bill. But let us take the 1948 figure of 20s., which was that of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). I think the intention of the right hon. Gentleman in the 1948 Bill was this. He said that the conditions and the rate in 1946 were no longer applicable. The conditions were not good enough nor were the rates high enough in 1948, so he brought them up to date with new conditions and new rates.
If we take the new rate of 20s., introduced in 1948, and add to it an increase for the reduction in the value of money since then, we arrive at a figure just under that which is provided in the Bill—just under 27s. By that test, we have met the promise which my right hon. Friend made to bring the rate up to the 1946 level.
What would happen if this Amendment was accepted? It would do two things—and I agree with the hon. Member for Wigan that it does not materially 1630 alter the conditions. It would alter, first, the rates, and increase them substantially, and, secondly, and more important, it would alter the balance of the whole Scheme as compared with 1946. It would be a substantial extension of the principle, so substantial as to cause an unbalance now as compared with 1946.
Having partial disablement a man can get a percentage of the disablement pension, whatever percentage is applicable—he cannot get the unemployability allowance—and, in addition, special hardship allowance in certain circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman had in mind two provisos in 1946 and 1948. The first was that the disablement pension for a partially disabled man, plus the special hardship allowance, should never come to more than the amount of the 100 per cent. disablement pension. The second was—and it was worked out in the right hon. Gentleman's balance of the Scheme—that only a man suffering from disability of 60 per cent. and upwards could reach with S.H.A. the amount of a 100 per cent. pension. That is the effect of the rate that he inserted in his Measure at that time. A man had to have 60 or up to 90 per cent. disability before he could get the rate of the maximum 100 per cent. disability pension by having the special hardship allowance.
§ Mr. Marples
I am showing that anyone with a 40 per cent. or 50 per cent. disablement could never, under the right hon. Gentleman's Measure, reach the amount of the 100 per cent. pension. If we accept the Amendment, we shall disturb that balance, and anybody who gets a 40 per cent., or 50 per cent, disablement pension will be able, with the addition of the special hardship allowance, to reach the amount of the maximum 100 per cent. pension. It will alter the balance which existed when the right hon. Gentleman brought it forward in 1946. My right hon. Friend is pledged to restore that balance. I am seeking to prove that the rate in the Rill does restore that balance.
If we accepted the Amendment it would alter the differentials—it would favour the partially disabled man compared with the totally disabled man. A totally disabled man, or a man with a 1631 90 per cent. disability, would then think, "I get no more than the total disablement allowance." To alter the balance is not what my right hon. Friend seeks to do in this Measure.
My right hon. Friend has kept his word; he has maintained the balance which the right hon. Member for Llanelly gave to the House and to the country in 1948, and he has done it slightly more generously. After looking at this matter most carefully, and at the special hardship allowance in relation to industrial injuries generally, it is clear to me, as my right hon. Friend said on the last Amendment, that a day's debate on industrial injuries would not be wasted and would be very well spent. This special hardship allowance is one of the most complicated and difficult problems that I have looked at. It bristles with anomalies and difficulties. It is easy to point to anomalies, but difficult to work out a scheme that is better than existing ones, and will not produce more anomalies than it corrects.
My right hon. Friend's mind is not closed at all. Any suggestion from any quarter on the question of conditions, which may come up later, will be welcomed. I would like to be helpful to the Committee. Inside our Department we have a long survey, running to about 55 paragraphs quoting many instances of hardship. It is a factual document. It was prepared by my predecessor, who is now at the Foreign Office. He offered to send it to any interested hon. Member, and I think one or two hon. Members did get copies. I renew that offer. If any hon. Member is interested in these conditions I will send a copy of the document to him, because it sets the problem out very clearly. My right hon. Friend will be grateful for any suggestion that hon. Members may make.
That is the Government's case. We have kept our promise to restore the 1946 balance and to level things up. This is a Bill concerning rates and not conditions, and I should be out of order if I dwelt any more on the subject of conditions. By increasing the rate from 20s. to 27s. 6d. my right hon. Friend has kept his pledge. I therefore hope that the Opposition will not press this Amendment to a Division.
§ 6.15 p.m.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I intervene not to close the debate, but to say something about the Parliamentary Secretary's reply in the hope that the Minister will listen and will reconsider the decision that has been announced.
The Minister said in the course of one of our debates that he was responsible for the main structure of this Scheme, which I accept. He added that I had made some decorations in 1945, when I was responsible for piloting a Bill on this subject through the House. How glad he is now of those "decorations," because without them the present Scheme would have failed. The Parliamentary Secretary, the Department and the trade unions know that is true. This point is relevant to our discussion and I shall keep within the bounds of order because I should hate, Sir Rhys, to be ruled out of order by the representative of one of the best counties in the United Kingdom.
We agree upon the central principle of the assessment of disablement for loss of faculty. There are many people now in industry who were injured under the old scheme by loss, say, of an arm, and who suffered serious disability. We are worried about this problem. We sought to raise the matter the other day, but we did not succeed completely. I join the Minister in hoping that we shall have a full day's debate in the very near future on the whole working of the Industrial Injuries Scheme. I also hope that we shall have the report of the quinquennial review, because that will help our discussion considerably.
In the course of preparing my Bill came up against a problem, which I will put very simply. Take the case of an engine driver, who has lost an eye. He is assessed for loss of faculty. Under the Bill, as originally conceived by the right hon. Gentleman, that is all the engine driver gets. Safety is of paramount importance. The railways have laid it down in regulations that an engine driver who loses an eye can never be an engine driver again. He is debarred from going back to his pre-accident employment and, therefore, to his pre-accident standard in the industry. Having only one eye, it is held to be against public interest to allow him ever again to be employed in that responsible position.
1633 There are many variants of that situation. The result was that it was necessary for us to introduce a provision to deal with it. First, we introduced the principle of the 11s. 3d., which was never operated. The Parliamentary Secretary asked how this figure came about. It was 25 per cent. of the basic benefit. When I examined the case, and used my imagination and experience—acquired before I came to this House—I could see at once that 11 s. 3d. would not be adequate and would not give equity in the case of loss of faculty.
It is important not only that there should be equity in regard to injury and loss of faculty, but to see that the consequences of an accident are also treated in an equitable fashion. Half a dozen men can have the same loss of faculty, but the consequence upon their lives will be entirely different. There can be 20 variants, and that is what we had to provide for. Before the 1946 Bill became operative I told the House quite frankly that, on further examination, I had come to the conclusion that the 11s. 3d.—25 per cent.—was inadequate. I made it 20s, It is that, I repeat, which has saved the Scheme.
The present proposal, which, I hope, the Minister will accept, is to raise the amount from 20s. to 40s. It was left at 20s. in 1951, and in 1952. It has not been increased at all. At the time of the original Bill we were entering into the completely new field of loss of faculty. Our only experience in operating anything of that sort was in the realm of war injuries. In the case of wounded men, assessment had been based on loss of faculty, and the Ministry of Pensions, as it was then, had developed, over the years, a scale of assessments—loss of an eye, loss of a finger; it was a long and complicated list.
It was also a very comprehensive list, because it was based on the experience of injuries received in war—mainly in the 1914–18 war. That list, however, is very largely irrelevant to the industrial field. I should like to know how many assessments of industrial injuries are specified in that list. I should think that it is only a very small percentage.
Of all disablement pensions paid under the Scheme, 38 per cent. are paid to colliery workers. I hope that the country realises what those figures mean when 1634 translated into human terms, because we should remember that there are 23 million or 24 million workers all told. Mining is my industry. It is 50 years ago this very year that I started my working life as a lad in the pit. I remember taking the schedule of assessments to my own village one day and trying to estimate how many men, in my life, would be covered by it. My conclusion was that there would be very few indeed.
As I say, we were entering an entirely new field in which the medical boards who had to assess the injuries had no experience to guide them. How could they have had any experience? There was no background of experience upon which to base the wide range of accidents and the even wider range of diseases. When I first came to the House, in 1936, there was compensation for silicosis, as it was then called in general terms. One had to hunt for a bit of quartz. I have hunted; I would not like to say how the hunt was conducted. Quite frankly, there was some collusion—"Poor fellow, let us find some quartz in him."
I am intensely disappointed at the low scale of assessments. One has to see whether compensation on the basis of loss of faculty is related to full equity. It does not do so unless, at the same time, there is also provided an element of compensation for consequent loss of livelihood. From the Ministry's Report for 1952 it would appear that nearly two-thirds of all disablement pensions paid were on 20 or 30 per cent. assessments. Under the Industrial Injuries Act only 4 per cent. are assessed at 100 per cent. If there had not been what the Minister termed a "decoration," this Scheme would have been smashed. Compensation for loss of faculty would have been so inequitable as to have created a first-class row which would have destroyed the Scheme.
Like the Minister, I want to maintain the structure. I am proud that after five years' experience there is, so far as I know, not a trade union in the country which desires a return to the old Workmen's Compensation Act—back to the old employers, back to the insurance companies, back to lump sum settlements and all their sordid story of exploitation; sending someone to get the poor chap to sign—and sign he did because he was in debt to the local shop. If we are to 1635 maintain the structure we must deal with this problem. I hope that we shall have an opportunity to discuss the whole question of assessments. I should like that question investigated by the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council.
§ Mr. Griffiths
No time should be lost in raising the amount provided for this hardship allowance. Only in that way can we prevent what, in South Wales, is the beginning of a campaign against low assessments and a hardship allowance of only 20s.
I am at one with the Minister in desiring to see the present system maintained, with loss of faculty continued as a basic principle, but the scale must be seen in relation to the present reasonable level of wages. I say "reasonable" advisedly. They are not high wages. They were catastrophically low in the 'twenties and 'thirties, but, having regard to the present more reasonable level of earnings, I say that unless the figure is raised very quickly there will be no need for a debate. The Scheme will break down. That would be a very great pity.
For those reasons I hope that the Minister will reconsider this matter. I appeal to him to do so because I realise—having had some experience of industry—that, unless something is done, there is a very grave danger of the whole Scheme collapsing. That would be a very great pity. I hope that he will reconsider this now and accept the Amendment, or that he will at least undertake to consider it between now and when the Bill goes to another place. If he refuses to do so, he will be doing a great disservice to the Scheme which both he and I had some part in bringing into operation.
§ 6.30 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Brown
The Parliamentary Secretary said that this matter is complicated and full of difficulties. We do not under-estimate the complications or the difficulties. As an old professor told me when I went to a technical school, and was confronted with a problem, difficulties are a means of progress if they are tackled in the proper way. I believe that it is within the realm of possibility that the complications and difficulties which 1636 have been mentioned can be tackled in the proper way.
As my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) said, this provision is the prop on which the Scheme is maintained. If we had not erected that prop, the whole edifice would have come down on top of us. I am sure that the Parliamentary Secretary and the Department are anxious to keep the roof up, and to do so the Minister has got to take some notice of the pitmen.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) said that the men for whom the special hardship allowance was framed are usually men getting high wages. The reason why those men earn high wages is that they work piece rates. We took the trouble to find out where the highest incidence of mining accidents occurred. It was not at the pit bottom or on the haulage roads, but at the kench and at the coal face. We also discovered that these accidents generally happen at a certain time of the day. Since a large number of these men earning high wages sustain severe accidents, they are, in the main, the men who are compelled to make application for special hardship allowance.
I would like to mention one or two cases, which could be multiplied by a score. I have in mind a collier in my area who sustained a very serious accident. He has not worked in the pit since. He has recovered to a point so that he is able to do a light job rather than idle his time away, but that job is of such a character that he could never earn the wages which he would have been receiving at the coal face. Therefore, he has to claim the hardship allowance.
I have another case in mind. When a man sustains a serious accident, he loses something else besides his earning ability. I knew a man who was an extraordinarily good cricketer, one of the best bowlers in the South-West Lancashire League. That man had an accident. If one wants to take something from a pitman which will cause him hardship and anxiety, one should take away his ability to indulge in sport. The hardship experienced by men through inability to play cricket or football is greater than any words of mine can describe. That man has to claim the hardship allowance.
Another man whom I knew was a brilliant pianist. He used to play at one 1637 of the institutions during weekends. He had an accident to his hand, and two fingers had to be taken off. He got little or no compensation for that accident.
There is more substance in this matter than would appear to the Department. We know that the Department are sympathetic. It cannot help but be sympathetic if it approaches this matter in the right way. How can it not manifest its sympathy when it is aware of these men who, in the fullness of their physique, come out of the pits crippled for the rest of their lives?
We therefore ask that the figure of 27s. 6d. which appears in the Bill should be increased to 40s. That figure of 40s. is not very much compared with other benefits which other people receive. So far, as this Bill has proceeded through Committee, we have secured "nowt," as we say in Lancashire. The Minister has not given us a bawbee.
§ Mr. Brown
Yes, in Lancashire it is "nowt" and in Scotland it is "a bawbee."
I apologise for mentioning the mining industry so often, but I worked in that industry for 35½ years, and I know how the miners feel. The question which always occupies the minds a men in industry is, "Am I getting a fair deal? Are the Government trying to protect me for the service that I render to the nation?" I have always said, and I repeat, that as long as we have wars we shall have sick and wounded men, and as long as we have industry we shall have broken and bruised men. It is our job, therefore, to safeguard those who are broken and bruised on the wheel of industry. Our job is to see that those who render valuable service to the nation are protected from the hazards which many are called upon to face.
This will not cost the Ministry anything. The Minister is trying to pull funny faces because I said that. I hear one of my hon. Friends say, "Ask him what it will cost." But I am not so much concerned about the cost in these cases. There is no hon. Member, however brilliant he may be at computing figures and putting them down on paper, who can estimate the value of human life and enjoyment in terms of £ s. d. I challenge 1638 the Minister and his Department to tell me the actual cost of a limb.
Let us get away from that attitude. Let us say, "Here are men who, while performing their daily round and common task, are giving to the nation what the nation requires, whatever may be the industry in which they are engaged. So long as they are prepared to make sacrifices and run risks, so long is there an obligation upon the House of Commons and the Government to ensure that the rates of benefits paid to them in the form of compensation, the unemployability allowance and the hardship allowance, are adequate for the service which they render to the nation."
I reinforce the plea which has been made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths). If the Minister cannot give us a firm promise this afternoon, he should take the Scheme back and re-examine it in the light of the points of view which we have expressed. If he sees the wisdom of what we advocate, I am sure, knowing the mining industry and the psychology of the miners, that the miners will say "The Government are, after all, prepared to do something for us for the service which we have rendered to them and the response that we have made to the call for increased production of coal."
§ Mr. Thomas Fraser (Hamilton)
I beg the Minister to demonstrate to the Committee that he really is willing to consider our Amendments seriously. There has been no evidence yesterday or today that he is willing seriously to consider any Amendments at all. If his mind is as closed as it appears to be, he is making a mockery of Parliament. We are not really having a Committee stage; it is just an opportunity for my hon. Friends to make speeches analysing certain of the Bill's provisions. The Minister is apparently determined to pass the Bill into law in exactly the form in which it was presented.
My hon. Friend the Member for Ince (Mr. T. Brown) said that he was not interested in the cost of the concession, but I think we might be told how little it is that the Minister is unwilling to concede. I ask the Minister to give some thought to what my hon. Friends have said will be the cost of not making the concession.
1639 Yesterday, I heard my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) praising earlier workmen's compensation legislation. I dissented from almost everything he said about the old Acts. However, I remember a miner working with me in the middle of the war. He suffered a serious injury to his hand and got compensation under the old Act. He could not return to his work at the coal face, so the colliery employed him on the surface. When he went to the lower-paid job, he had to have half the difference between his new earnings and his pre-accident earnings with the maximum compensation rate.
When he took the new job on the surface he found that his full compensation rate was reduced by 3d. If that accident were to happen in 1955, under the Bill the man would get less than he got in 1943; and we should also bear in mind the change in the value of money since then.
§ Mr. Sydney Silverman (Nelson and Colne)
That was the argument that I tried to put before the Committee.
§ Mr. Silverman
I do not want to arouse any controversy about this. My main point, apart from other things about which there might be controversy, was that what an injured workman, particularly a seriously injured man, gets out of the Bill is, in most cases, less than he would have got under the old Act with the war-time increase.
§ 6.45 p.m.
§ Mr. Fraser
That is most certainly not the position. Those of us who have lived among the miners know that my hon. Friend's statement is absolutely wrong, but the sort of man who is not so generously treated as he was during the war years is the one who has to take a lower-paid job than the one he had before his accident.
We have heard a lot in recent years about high earnings, by many miners. Much publicity has been given to that. 1640 Today, we are concerned not only with the miners but also with other workers who, as a result of special skill, are earning high wages.
§ Mr. Fraser
Generally speaking, the higher the wages are in industry, the greater is the contribution being made by the worker concerned to our national well-being.
We are anxious that the miners shall go to the coal face and work hard, risking their lives and, certainly, very serious injury, to produce the maximum amount of coal so that we may achieve optimum production. If we are to encourage them to do that, surely we have a responsibility to offer them some protection against a deplorably low standard of living if they are unfortunate enough to suffer an accident which entails their permanently giving up their highly skilled jobs. That is what we are asking for.
We have departed from the principle of giving all injured workmen a similar benefit by reference to the degree of disability and leaving it at that. We have said that, if a man suffers special hardship because he cannot return to his former job or cannot take another job yielding a similar wage, we have a responsibility to take account of his new rate of earnings in comparison with the wages earned by the most highly skilled workers.
This concerns not only miners. We live in an age of technological progress in which numbers of highly skilled men in very many branches of industry are earning high wages. We are all pleased that that is so, for then people are making a great contribution to the wealth of the country and to the well-being of all of us through the use of their exceptional skill. Yet a worker earning £20 or £30 a week may lose a couple of fingers and, a few months later, find himself in a job in which he can earn no more than £10 a week. All he gets is a small disablement pension by reference to his loss of faculty.
We are not complaining about his position, but we are complaining that the other fellow with £20 or £30 a week who loses two fingers and cannot go back to the job he had and employ his skill in his interest and the interests of the whole 1641 community has to go back to a job at £5 or £6 a week. That man should not only have the small disability pension of 27s. 6d. for hardship allowance. It is not enough.
I am not sure that 40s. mentioned in the Amendment is enough. My hon. Friend who moved the Amendment did not say that it was a final figure. We say that the whole scheme is in danger of breaking down if we leave it at this low level. My hon. Friend said, quite fairly and properly, that he had selected the figure of 40s. because, whatever it was in the 1946 Bill, it started operating at 20s.
It seems so obvious as scarcely to need repetition that there is very considerable feeling in industry about this matter. We do not want to go back to the Workmen's Compensation Acts, but we want to make the present Industrial Injuries Act a success. We know that we cannot rest completely on compensation for loss of faculty alone, but have to get some additional benefit for those suffering loss of earnings in consequence of an accident.
On both sides of the Committee we are continually urging the need for greater production. We are continually praising those whose researches have yielded new opportunities for increasing the nation's wealth. We urge the increase of technical and technological education to enable people to employ exceptional skills in the interests of the nation. Let us say to them this evening that we will increase this benefit to 40s., so that if they have the misfortune to meet with injury which makes it necessary for them to give up the job they have been trained to do and have done in our interest we may make this little contribution towards protecting the standard of life they have learned to enjoy and expect.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
I am sure that when the Minister of Labour reads this debate in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow he will be appalled at the lack of foresight shown by the Minister in resisting this Amendment.
We have to remember that more men are needed in the mining industry. A few months ago, in an Adjournment debate, I pressed the Government to tell the House exactly how they proposed to 1642 recruit people into the mining industry. We were told that they were going to carry on a recruiting campaign, not only in the mining areas, but in the South of England. I wonder what Ministers opposite think they are doing to help a recruiting campaign for bringing more men into the mining industry by refusing the very paltry increase demanded by this Amendment.
We are to ask people who, hitherto, have not worked in the mining industry to come into that industry. If we say, "If your spine is injured through your striving to increase the nation's coal output we are not prepared to give you £2 special hardship allowance," what will be the result? I represent a mining constituency and I know people who deserve special hardship allowance because, as a result of "nerves," they are no longer able to work in a mine. I remember the accident at Knockshinnoch. When an accident like that takes place and men are buried in the earth for a couple of days the Press is full of stories about the courage of miners, but when it comes to a question of giving an increase from 27s. 6d. to £2 the Minister turns a deaf ear.
I suggest that from every point of view the arguments for this increase are overwhelming. If the Minister is to be stubborn we shall have to expose his stubbornness throughout the length and breadth of the country. How much would this paltry increase cost? Perhaps he will tell us. If he does not tell us he ought to give us a reason for refusing to do so. Arguments against previous Amendments have been that the cost would be too much. Let us be told whether this Amendment is resisted on financial grounds.
We all know how a miner goes to his M.P. after exhausting all other means of getting what he thinks is justifiable compensation. He has been to his union, and specialists like my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) and other hon. Members give their advice to the injured man. After he has been before medical boards and has been turned down on legal grounds he comes to the Member of Parliament. We have to say that the medical board has the final decision and that, unfortunately, we cannot do anything more for him. Most of us have had to turn men away from 1643 our homes in such circumstances. They go away with a burning sense of frustration and injustice such as was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths).
We are told that a stripper who, as a result of injuries to his spine, is no longer able to do the hard work of producing coal, may have light work at the pithead, but there is competition for such light work. Everyone in a mining area knows that there are far more light jobs demanded by men who have been injured than can be given by the colliery management.
What we ask is not justice, but something approaching ordinary decency for these men. If we do not get a concession by acceptance of the Amendment we shall be justified in dividing the Committee and explaining to people outside that we have done our utmost to get some justice but that it has been refused by a miserable Ministry.
§ 7.0 p.m.
§ Mr. Douglas Houghton (Sowerby)
The only thing we can do with the special hardship allowance in this Bill is to alter the amount. The Minister has already proposed to increase the amount. We believe that it should be increased still more, and that is the purpose of the Amendment.
The special hardship allowance has a very limited purpose, much too limited, in my opinion, to satisfy the growing demand for some compromise between the basis of compensation on the ground of loss of faculty and compensation on the ground of loss of earning capacity. I believe that that issue will have to be squarely faced before very long.
I fully support the appeals that have been made by my hon. and right hon. Friends to the Minister that he should increase the special hardship allowance to the amount we claim. I believe that that is necessary if this allowance is to fulfil the function given to it by the original Industrial Injuries Act. But let us recognise, at the same time, that it is of only limited purpose. I repeat that it cannot be regarded as the end of the problem of adjusting industrial injury provisions to meet the twin demands of loss of faculty and loss of earning capacity.
1644 Some complaints have been made by my hon. Friends about the stringent conditions attaching to this allowance. They are, unhappily, stringent, but probably of necessity they are stringent having regard to the problems of administration of an allowance of this kind. I wish to draw the attention of the Committee to the fact that in the background of the special hardship allowance is a body of civil servants who are trying to administer it. The more claims that there are for the special hardship allowance, the greater the difficulties thrown upon the administration; and in considering what is the future of the special hardship allowance, thought will also have to be given to administration.
It is extraordinarily difficult for a civil servant, sitting in an office, to decide whether an injured worker is, in fact, suffering loss of earning capacity, and yet that is the basis of the award that he is asked to make. Under the old workmen's compensation scheme, there were two parties to the dispute, the employer and the worker, and the employer had a say in whether the worker had lost his earning capacity. Moreover, it lay in the power of most employers to see that the injured worker did not lose earning capacity by putting him on alternative work at an equal, or even a higher, rate of pay. So that in any dispute which arose on the amount of compensation, the employer had his say and the worker and his union had their say.
But now, of course, the employer is out of it. It is the Ministry that has to hold the ring, and it is extraordinarily difficult—
§ Mr. S. Silverman
My hon. Friend says that under the Industrial Injuries Act the Ministry holds the ring; but, of course, it does not hold it. The Ministry is, in a sense, the other party. I would add to my hon. Friend's arguments about the old scheme that if the two parties, one of whom was the employer and the other the workman, could not agree, there was some form of third party judgment, however defective, which was able to hear and determine disputes.
§ Mr. Houghton
Probably, when I used the phrase "hold the ring," it was slightly mistaken. At all events, the Ministry is rather more than the other party, because it is really discharging a public responsibility. To that extent, the 1645 Ministry has a burden which goes further than that of merely being a protagonist in a particular dispute.
I criticised the Minister fairly severely this week on other matters, and on this matter I wish to sympathise with him in one important respect. When we ask the Minister to discharge his obligations under the scheme, there is also an obligation upon those of us in the trade union movement to be doing constructive thinking about the future of this allowance and all that surrounds it in this complicated Scheme. I must accept some part of the responsibility for the Trades Union Congress not having yet, I believe, furnished the Minister with observations on the memorandum to which the Parliamentary Secretary referred and which was fairly freely circulated among some of my hon. Friends.
We have a responsibility in the trade union movement. It is our job to find the answer to this problem. I believe that the industrial injuries scheme, resting solely upon compensation for loss of faculty, cannot stand much longer without an additional structure to provide compensation for loss of earning power; otherwise, the utmost absurdities exist, looked at from the commonsense point of view of the injured worker.
A clerk may lose his leg and go on earning as much after his accident as before. To him, the compensation for loss of faculty will be what it is intended to be: that is, compensation for the loss of amenities of the two-legged man and to give him something extra for taking a cab when, otherwise, he might get crushed when standing in a queue waiting for a bus, or to have the other amenities which those who are injured in that way wish to have to make life more tolerable.
But a mineworker who loses a leg will get only the same compensation for loss of faculty as the clerk, yet to him it is the end of his job as a highly-skilled mineworker. He might have been earning £20 a week. Thereafter, he might be able to earn only £5 or £6 a week, and he is concerned with his special hardship allowance. Even if it were increased to the amount that the Amendment proposes, it still would not compensate him for the loss of his earning power. It would still compel him to live on his compensation, which was given to him to be some additional 1646 income. As in the case of many war disabled and industrially disabled, it is compensation for the loss of amenities and loss of faculty and is in addition to their other income.
Those of us who are urging the Minister to do this thing have every right to do it, but, at the same time, we in the trade union movement must find our solution to this problem and ask the Minister to consider it and introduce it later in amending legislation.
§ Mr. Peake
The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) almost always makes a constructive and helpful contribution to our debates on this complicated subject, and I am obliged to him for the remarks which he has just addressed to the Committee. It is not altogether easy to keep on the right side of the rules of order in this matter, because the Bill deals with rates of benefit and contribution and the Amendment is directed to a rate of benefit set out in the Bill. On the other hand, I hope that I should not be out of order in saying, at any rate, what the special hardship allowance is and what it costs the Industrial Injuries Fund at the present time.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths), in supporting the Amendment, which would double the present rate of the special hardship allowance to a maximum of 40s., compared it with the supplement for unemployability. So far as the amount is concerned, at any rate, he said that we are putting the unemployability supplement up to 40s., and that, therefore, the figures for the special hardship allowance should be of a corresponding character. They really have very little in common.
The special hardship allowance is a ceiling of 20s. at present, a maximum figure, not a fixed figure, and it is a ceiling within another ceiling which is the 100 per cent. disability compensation. Therefore, it goes to make up to a certain maximum a lower assessment of disability, according to the loss of earning capacity. Originally the special hardship allowance was conceived at something which would operate only in somewhat exceptional cases—the case of the engine driver's eye, the master printer's finger, and all the old examples which are familiar to us who are interested in this subject.
Of course, the change of the conditions—I must be careful here, Sir Charles— 1647 in 1948 did greatly widen the scope and the cost of the allowance. It is interesting to note that in 1948, when these changes were made and the 20s. maximum was first fixed, it was thought of as being likely to arise in such a comparatively small proportion of cases that no increase in contribution to the Fund was then proposed to go towards meeting the cost of it.
It may interest hon. Members to know that the cost of the special hardship allowance at its present rate, 20s., is today about £3 million a year, and that that £3 million a year is about half of the whole of the sum being paid out in disablement pension, which is about £6 million a year. I am informed that the cost, therefore, of this Amendment, which would raise the level of maximum of the special hardship allowance from 27s. 6d. to 40s. would be no less than £2½ million a year. That is, of course, a very big increase in relation to the sort of changes we are contemplating in the Bill.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
Surely the right hon. Gentleman is not quite right in saying that the increase from 27s. 6d. to 40s. would cost the Fund £2½ million, because 20s. costs the Fund £3 million. Surely he has not got his calculations right. Surely there are many people who do not get 20s., because 20s. is the ceiling, and even though the ceiling were made 40s. many of the beneficiaries would not get anything like the whole 40s.
§ Mr. Peake
I am giving the Committee the best calculation I can, which is a calculation by the Government Actuary, that to raise the level to 40s. as the maximum would cost an additional £2½ million. By the Bill we are increasing the outgo of the Fund by some £7 million a year, so it will be seen that to add another £2½ million would make a very substantial alteration to the proposals which we have laid before the Committee.
This special hardship allowance is about the biggest headache which any 1648 Minister of Pensions and National Insurance could have at any time. It really is full of anomalies and difficulties.
§ Mr. Peake
I dare say that that is true.
What we are considering is the relation between the amount of importance we attach to the loss of faculty on the one hand and on the other hand the loss of earnings, which was the main feature and basis of the old Workmen's Compensation Acts.
Two years ago, in Standing Committee, I resisted Amendments to increase the rate of the allowance. I thought that to increase the rate of the allowance might prejudice the chance of finding some solution of the difficulties and anomalies which this allowance had caused. I am sorry to say that although I have had informal discussions with members of the T.U.C., and have sent copies of our memorandum setting out our difficulties to several hon. Members opposite who, I know, are interested in this matter, and although I have given a lot of thought to the question myself, I have not myself been able to see any clear method of tackling the difficulties that confront us.
In these circumstances, I had to make up my mind what was the right thing to do in regard to the Bill. I decided that I must stop digging my heels in, come off the horse which I mounted in 1952, and increase the rate of the special hardship allowance. What we are proposing to do is to increase the rate from 20s. to 27s. 6d. It restores the 1948 value to the benefit and keeps the same relationship between the special hardship allowance and the main benefit rate as it exists at the present time. That is to say, at the 27s. 6d. rate the low assessment can be increased by about 40 per cent. as a result of the grant of the hardship allowance at the maximum.
That is what is proposed in the Bill, but we are still not out of our difficulties. These anomalies still confront us. I will certainly consider the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that I should refer this matter to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
My suggestion was not that. I put it very seriously to the 1649 Minister again, as one who has some knowledge of the matter. My suggestion was that he should reconsider this between now and the time when the Bill goes to another place. The matter can be considered already in the light of experience. I hope the Minister will do that, because, alternatively, we shall have to divide on the Amendment.
§ Mr. Finchrose—
§ Mr. Finch
I want only to reinforce what my right hon. Friend has just said. I want to inform the right hon. Gentleman that many members of the trade union movement attach more importance to this special hardship allowance than to any other feature of the Bill. I want the right hon. Gentleman to consider very carefully what he is going to do, because the industrial workers attach considerable importance to this matter. I beg him to re-consider the position.
§ Mr. Peake
What I was pointing out was that the Bill deals only with rates of benefit and rates of contribution. By the proposal to increase the industrial hardship allowance by this amount we maintain precisely the existing structure of the relationship between the rate of special hardship allowance on the one hand and the main pension or benefit rate upon the other. I do not think that I can go further and make a concession in regard to the amount proposed in the Bill. I am sorry to disappoint the right hon. Gentleman.
I have considered whether or not this would be a subject for the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council to consider. I do not like the idea of referring any problem to any advisory council unless I see a hope of its finding a solution to it, and before I refer this matter to the Council I should like to accept the offer, if it was an offer, of the hon. Member for Sowerby of possible further consultation of a more official character with the T.U.C. My contacts with the T.U.C. hitherto upon this matter have been of a quite informal character.
I should be quite ready at any time to enter into more official discussions with them if there were any chance of our reaching any kind of solution. I am also quite ready to consider referring the 1650 matter to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, but I should like to think over that suggestion because I think that it would be quite unfair to refer to the Council a problem of which I saw no conceivable solution as a result of the Council having it placed before it.
§ Mr. Jack Jones
I rise to express the most profound disappointment at the statement which the Minister has just made. It is an affront to the skilled people of the country to be told that the Government will think about the matter or refer it to this body and have a chat with some other body. The main theme of the debate has settled round the highly skilled individual. We have heard, rightly, a great deal about the highly skilled miner. I should like to give the Minister very briefly the facts about what is going on in the steel industry. That is an industry which is earning wealth for the country with fewer men than have been employed in it for many years. Almost 30,000 fewer men are producing an increase this year of one million tons, at an average wage which has risen from £10 9s. last year to £11 2s. this year.
The average wage is going up, but individual wages of highly skilled men have proportionately gone up even more. I could show the Minister real men who work in a real job, who earn as much as £30 a week. They are earning it, not stealing it, in the sweat and moil and toil of the steel industry. The country depends upon these men, yet one spark can destroy a man's eyesight. He can be taken to hospital from a job at £4 per shift and, on his return, be unable to resume his own highly skilled work. He is generally given a job labouring about the works for £6 to £8 for a 48-hour week. That man immediately becomes a propagandist against what he regards as. a rotten Government who have made it impossible for him to obtain a decent sum in hardship allowance.
These men spend their time going, about complaining about real hardship and the relationship of what they have done for the nation to their present conditions in which they have their good standard of life taken away from them. When the Tory Government are shouting from the housetops about financial recovery and when profits and production are soaring, it is a tragedy that the 1651 Government should say that it is impossible to give such a highly skilled person an additional 12s. 6d. per week.
It is not the 12s. 6d. about which the Minister should worry but the effect on the aggregate morale of people when they learn about the niggardly attitude of the Government towards this kind of thing. It is not the actual cash that matters to the Government but the maintenance of high morale, particularly in the three major industries—agriculture, coal and steel—from which the wealth of the country is derived. I have every sympathy for the bottom dog, and I have done as much as probably anyone in the Committee who is connected with a trade union to improve his lot, but this part of the Bill is concerned with concessions where special hardship is incurred. The Minister has failed to make the concessions and the blood is on his own head.
§ right hon. Gentleman has spoken of un-employability allowance and the standard of living in 1948 compared with the present standard, but he has ignored the chief fact which has been repeated from this side of the Committee. It is that we are here concerned with the earnings of a skilled man who is called upon to increase production, the skilled engineer, electrician, miner and steel-worker upon whom the economic life of the country depends.
§ These men are asked to get on with the job and to increase output. By increasing output they increase their wages, but if one of these men sustains an accident and becomes disabled, the most he can receive is £1 7s. 6d. in hardship allowance. The right hon. Gentleman had a great opportunity to win to himself the industrial workers, but he has failed. Having failed, he must be informed that industrial workers throughout the country will criticise his attitude.
§ Question put, That "twenty-seven shillings and sixpence" stand part of the Schedule: —
§ The Committee divided: Ayes 280, Noes 247.1655
|Division No. 7.||AYES||[7.27 p.m.|
|Aitken, W. T.||Burden, F. F. A.||Finlay, Graeme|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Butcher, Sir Herbert||Fisher, Nigel|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Campbell, Sir David||Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.||Carr, Robert||Fletcher-Cooke, C.|
|Arbuthnot, John||Cary, Sir Robert||Ford, Mrs. Patricia|
|Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)||Channon, H.||Fort, R.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R (Blackburn, W.)||Clarke, Col Ralph (East Grinstead)||Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)|
|Astor, Hon. J. J.||Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W)||Galbraith, Rt. Hon. T. D. (Pollok)|
|Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Clyde, Rt. Hon. J. L.||Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Cole, Norman||Gammans, L. D.|
|Banks, Col. C.||Colegate, W. A.||Garner-Evans, E. H.|
|Barber, Anthony||Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Glover, D.|
|Barlow, Sir John||Cooper, Sqn.Ldr. Albert||Godber, J. B.|
|Baxter, Sir Beverley||Cooper-Key, E. M.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A|
|Beach, Maj. Hicks||Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Gough, C. F. H.|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Gower, H. R.|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Graham, Sir Fergus|
|Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)||Crouch, R. F.||Gridley, Sir Arnold|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)||Crowder, Sir John (Finchley)||Grimond, J.|
|Bennett, William (Woodside)||Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)|
|Bevins, J. R (Toxteth)||Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)|
|Birch, Nigel||Davidson, Viscountess||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Bishop, F P.||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hare, Hon. J. H.|
|Black, C. W.||Deedes, W. F.||Harris, Reader (Heston)|
|Bossom, Sir A. C.||Digby, S. Wingfield||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)|
|Bowin, E. R.||Donaldson, Cmdr. C E. McA||Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macolesfield)|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A||Donner, Sir P. W.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Doughty, C. J. A.||Harvie-Watt, Sir George|
|Braine, B. R.||Drayson, G. B.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H|
|Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)||Drewe, Sir C.||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel|
|Braithwaite, Sir Gurney||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. Sir T. (Richmond)||Heath, Edward|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H||Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)||Duthie, W. S.||Higgs, J. M. C.|
|Brooman-While, R. C.||Eden, J, B. (Bournemouth, West)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)|
|Browne, Jack (Govan)||Elliott, Rt. Hon. W E.||Hinchinbrooke, Viscount|
|Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T||Errington, Sir Eric||Holland-Martin, C. J.|
|Bullard, D. G||Erroll, F. J||Hollis, M. C.|
|Bullus, Wins Commander E E||Fell, A.||Holt, A. F.|
|Hope, Lord John||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W)|
|Hopkinson, Rt. Hon. Henry||Marples, A. E.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)||Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)|
|Howard, Hon. Grville (St. Ives)||Maude, Angus||Snadden, W. McN.|
|Hudson, Sir Austin (Lewisham, N.)||Maudling, R,||Soames, Capt. C.|
|Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr S L C||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Medlicott, Brig. F.||Speir, R. M.|
|Hulbert, Wing Cmdr. N. J.||Mellor, Sir John||Spent, Rt. Hon. Sir P. (Kensington, S)|
|Hurd, A. R.||Molson, A. H. E.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'rgh, W.)||Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)||Moore, Sir Thomas||Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W)|
|Hyde, Lt.-Col. H. M||Morrison, John (Salisbury)||Stewart, Henderson (Fife. E.)|
|Hylton-Foster, Sir H. B. H||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Nabarro, G. D. N.||Storey, S.|
|Jennings, Sir Roland||Neava, Airey||Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S)|
|Johnson, Erie (Blackley)||Nicholls, Harmar||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)||Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)||Summers, G. S.|
|Jones, A. (Hall Gram)||Nield, Basil (Chester)||Sutcliffe, Sir Harold|
|Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Kaberry, D.||Nugent, G. R. H||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Oakshott, H. D.||Testing, W.|
|Kerr, H. W||Odey, G. W.||Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)|
|Larrbert, Hon. G.||O'Neill, Hon. Phelim (Co. Antrim N)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Lampton, Viscount||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D||Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)|
|Lancaster, Col. C. G||Osborne, C.||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Langford-Holt, J. A.||Page, R. G.||Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)|
|Leather, E. H. C.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Thorneycroft, Rt.Hn. Peter (Monmouth)|
|Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Perkins, Sir Robert||Thornton-Kemsley, C N|
|Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield.)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Tilney, John|
|Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Peyton, J. W. W.||Touche, Sir Gordon|
|Lindsay, Martin||Pilkington, Capt. R. A||Turner, H. F. L.|
|Llewellyn, D. T.||Pitman, I. J.||Turton, R. H.|
|Lloyd-George, Maj. Rt. Hon G||Pitt, Miss E. M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (King's Norton)||Powell, J. Enoch||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)||Vaughan-Morgan, J. K|
|Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O L.||Vosper, D. F.|
|Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J C||Profumo, J. D.||Wade, D. W.|
|Longden, Gilbert||Raikes, Sir Victor||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Low, Rt. Hon. A. R. W||Ramsden, J, E.||Wakefield, Sir Wavell (St. Marylebone)|
|Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)||Rees-Davies, W. R.||Walker-Smith, D. C.|
|Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)||Remnant, Hon. P.||Wall, Major Patrick|
|Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Renton, D. L. M.||Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)|
|McAdden, S. J||Ridsdale, J. E.||Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C|
|McCorquodale, Rt Hon M S||Roberts, Peter (Heeley)||Watkinson, H. A.|
|Mackeson, Brig. Sir Harry||Robertson, Sir David||Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)|
|McKibbin, A. J.||Robson-Brown, W.||Wellwood, W.|
|Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)||Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)|
|Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Roper, Sir Harold||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Russell, R. S.||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Maclean, Fitzroy||Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.||Wills, G.|
|Macleod, Rt. Hon. Iain (Enfield, W.)||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)||Savory, Prof. Sir Douglas||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Schofield, Lt.-Col. W.||Woollam, John Victor|
|Maitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)||Scott, R. Donald|
|Maitland, Patrick (Lanark)||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Manningham-Buller, Rt. Hn. Sir Reginald||Sharples, Maj. R. C||Mr. Redmayne and|
|Markham, Major Sir Frank||Shepherd, William||Mr. Robert Allan.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)|
|Albu, A. H.||Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Deer, G.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Brown, Thomas (Ince)||Delargy, H. J.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Burke, W. A.||Dodds, N. N.|
|Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)||Burton, Miss F. E.||Donnelly, D. L.|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.||Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)||Driberg, T. E. N.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Carmichael, J.||Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W Bromwich)|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Castle, Mrs. B. A||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.|
|Baird, J.||Champion, A J||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)|
|Balfour, A.||Chapman, W D||Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)|
|Bartley, P.||Chetwynd, G R||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Bence, C R.||Clunie, J||Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)|
|Bonn, Hon. Wedgwood||Coldrick, W.||Fernyhough, E.|
|Benson, G.||Collick, P. H.||Fienburgh, W.|
|Beswick, F.||Collins, V. J.||Finch, H. J.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Follick, M.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Cove W. G.||Foot, M. M.|
|Bryton, W R.||Cradcock, George (Bradford, S.)||Forman. J. C.|
|Boardman, H||Crossman, R. H. S.||Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G||Cullen, Mrs. A.||Freeman, John (Watford)|
|Bowden, H. W.||Daines, P.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N|
|Brockway, A. F.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield E.)||Gibson, C. W.|
|Brook, Dryden (Halifax)||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Glanville, James|
|Gooch, E. G.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Short, E. W.|
|Gordon Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Greenwood, Anthony||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Silverman, Julius (Erdington)|
|Gray, C. F.||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Mann. Mrs. Jean||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)||Manuel, A. C.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Marquand, Rt Hon. H A||Slater, Mrs. H. (Stoke-on-Trent)|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mason, Roy||Slater, J. (Durham, Sedgefield)|
|Halt, John T. (Gateshead, W.)||Mellish, R. J.||Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)|
|Hamilton, W. W||Mikardo, Ian||Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S)|
|Hannan, W.||Mitchison, G. R.||Snow, J. W.|
|Monslow, W.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Hardy, E. A.||Moody, A. S.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Hargreaves, A.||Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)||Morley, R.||Steele, T.|
|Hastings, S.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Hayman, F. H.||Mort, D. L.||Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)||Moyle, A.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)||Mulley, F. W.||Swingler, S. T.|
|Herbison, Miss M.||Murray, J. D.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Hewitson, Capt. M.||Nally, W.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Hobson, C. R.||Neal, Harold (Bolsover)||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Holman, P.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.||Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)|
|Houghton, Douglas||Oldfield, W. H.||Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)|
|Hoy, J. H.||Oliver, G. H.||Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)|
|Hubbard, T. F.||Orbach, M.||Thornton, E.|
|Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)||Oswald, T.||Timmons, J.|
|Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Owen, W. J.||Turner-Samuels, M.|
|Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Padley, W. E.||Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paget, R. T.||Usborne, H. C.|
|Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)||Viant, S. P.|
|Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Warbey, W. N.|
|Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Palmer, A. M. F.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)||Pannell, Charles||Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Parker, J.||Weitzman, D.|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Parkin, B. T.||Wells, Percy (Faversham)|
|Jeger, Mrs Lena||Paton, J.||Wells, William (Walsall)|
|Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)||Pearson, A.||West, D. G.|
|Johnson, James (Rugby)||Peart, T. F.||Wheelden, W. E.|
|Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech||Plummer, Sir Leslie||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)|
|Jones, David (Hartlepool)||Popplewell, E.||White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Probert, A. R.||Wigg, George|
|Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Proctor, W. T.||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B|
|Keenan, W.||Pryde, D. J.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Kenyon, C.||Rankin, John||Willey, F. T.|
|Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Reeves, J.||Williams, David (Neath)|
|King, Dr. H. M||Reid, Thomas (Swindon)||Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)|
|Kinley, J.||Reid, William (Camiachie)||Williams, Ronald (Wigan)|
|Lawson, G M.||Rhodes, H.||Williams, W. R (Droylsden)|
|Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Richards, R.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Lewis, Arthur||Roberts, Rt. Hon. A.||Winterbottom, Ian (Nottingham, C.)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)|
|Logan, D. G.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|MacColl, J. E.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Yates, V. F.|
|McGhee, H. G||Ross, William||Younger, Rt. Hon. K.|
|McGovern, J||Royle, C|
|McInnes, J.||Shackleton, E. A. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|McKay, John (Wallsend)||Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley||Mr. Holmes and Mr. Wallace.|
|NeLeavy, F.||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
§ Mr. McKay
I beg to move, in page 8, line 26, at the end, to insert:
The idea of this Amendment is to increase from 20s. to 30s. the amount given to a special class of widows whose claim arises from fatal accidents. One thing I would stress about the Amendment is that neither party will gain politi- 1656 cally from it. If the Labour Party happens to be successful in the Division Lobbies it will not gain much from it, nor will the Government if they defeat it, because it will only affect—and I have got these figures from the Department—1,500 widows.
Section 19 (3) Weekly rate of widow's pension payable in other circumstances than those specified in the subsection thirty shillings thirty shillings
There are altogether 10,000 widows receiving benefits under this Bill because of fatal accidents to their husbands. The main plea I wish to make on this Amendment is for a small but special class of widow. I want to see her pensions raised, because the Bill proposes to raise practically all the categories under the Industrial Injuries Act except this 1657 special class. I might explain in case anyone does not quite understand that there are four grades of widows receiving pensions under the Industrial Injuries Act.
The first grade is the widow who has no children and is over 50. She gets the full benefit of 45s. under this Bill. Then there is the widow who has children, and regardless of age she has the advantage of the full pension. Then comes the widow who has been receiving the pension and has had children. If she is 40 years of age and her youngest child ceases to be dependent on her, then she gets the full pension of 45s. under this Bill.
We established an Industrial Injuries Act because there was a feeling throughout the country that, when men suffered fatal injuries in the factory, the mine or elsewhere, there was special sympathy for those cases which does not arise in the case of the man who dies as a result of an ordinary illness. In their wisdom, the Government decided in 1946 that the widow of such a man, who was under 50 when the husband was killed, if she had no children could not receive the pension received by the other widows. So, instead of getting 45s. as did the others, under this Bill she will get only 20s., unless our Amendment is accepted.
I cannot understand the psychology or the reasoning of any body of men who, after considering this problem, have raised the benefits of practically all beneficiaries under this Measure, who have established the definite principle that even widows under the age of 50, who have no children, should have a special advantage over those whose husbands died under ordinary conditions, and then say that they are not prepared to consider these widows in the same way as the others because something was done in 1946 which was not logical or reasonable.
Even under the old compensation Acts, there was no age limit, and any widow who lost her husband as the result of a fatal accident received a definite benefit, the capital value of which has been £300 since 1940. If the benefit in accordance with that capital value had been granted in proportion to the rise in the cost of living since then, it would be somewhere about £700 under the old compensation Regulations. I believe I heard an argument put forward by the Minister to the 1658 effect that the capital value of this 20s. was far beyond anything received by way of compensation. That was put forward as a reason why the Government were adopting the attitude they were. But admitting all that, admitting that the benefit to these widows is, in capital value, better than what they would have received under the old compensation laws, even with increases in accordance with the rise in the cost of living, that does not affect the situation. Whatever is the capital value of the 20s., it was established under the 1946 Act, and what the Government have to do today is to present a reasoned case why the benefits of these widows are not being raised as are those of the other beneficiaries.
I do not see how a case can be made out, but I shall be surprised if, after this debate, the Government make any alteration of the benefits which were announced on the introduction of this Bill. Not one of our Amendments has been accepted and no suggestion has been made that there will be any improvement. We are reaching the position when this debate is a farce because the Government are not prepared to consider Amendments of any kind.
Has the Minister come to us here with the attitude that, regardless of reason, logic, fairness or necessity, the Government have decided that under no circumstances will they amend this Bill in order to increase any of the benefits? If that is the attitude, it is a remarkable one. It ignores the spirit of this Committee. If the Government, however, are prepared to do justice to these widows, I do not see how the Minister can avoid accepting this Amendment. There is no special condition attached to these widows which does not apply to a large number of others who get much higher benefits. For instance, some people think that widows should work, but that applies to those getting 45s. under this Bill.
If the Minister and his colleagues are satisfied that the arguments I have put forward are logical and reasonable, that we have established the fact that these widows have a special right in accordance with the psychology of the country and our own outlook as a House of Commons, I appeal to the Minister to indicate that he will consider amending at least this one benefit, thereby indicating that 1659 there is some elasticity, some desire to meet a reasoned case.
The 20s. granted in 1946 is much reduced in value. What will 20s. do for this widow, even if she is able to work? In the normal case, it will only cover the rent and perhaps supply a little lighting. Under these conditions, as there is no political issue here and no side will get any political advantage, surely the Government, as reasonable men, will accept the Amendment.
The Amendment concerns only 1,500 widows, and the cost will be only £39,000 per year. If the Government cannot meet our request, I shall cease to expect any reason from them. Sometimes situations are used as political weapons, but this is not such a situation. I appeal to the Government to accept the Amendment.
§ The Minister of Health (Mr. Iain Macleod)
It is always a matter for speculation whether a Minister shortens or lengthens a debate by speaking in its early stages, but there are one or two considerations of lesser importance and one of very considerable importance which I think it right to put at the beginning, and I shall then invite the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay) not to press the Amendment.
As he has said, the number involved is very small indeed, only 1,500, but that is no reason why we should discuss the subject with any less care. The debate is very closely linked with the one we had last night on the 10s. pension. That pension was given to those who were either beneficiaries before the 1946 Act or had reserved rights afterwards. The 20s. pension was given for different reasons. It was never related to subsistence. It was partly, perhaps mainly, in replacement of the lump sum, which went up to £400, which could have been obtained under the Workmen's Compensation Acts, and was partly related to the award given to young, fit widows of Service men, which was at the same level and which it is not proposed to alter. I can say, in passing, that the actuarial benefit of a woman widowed at 49 is £850, which compares very favourably indeed with what could have been obtained earlier. The rules for qualification in the two cases are very similar except for the 10-year proviso.
I particularly do not want to put minor arguments to the Committee; I want to 1660 concentrate on the main arguments. There are arguments relating to cost, and the cost is not formidable in view of the number involved. There are arguments about repercussions, as there always are when any proposal is made about the social services. It is also true that there are many people under National Insurance, who, in similar circumstances, would obtain nothing unless they had a reserved right to a 10s. pension.
What I regard as by far the most important argument is that this, just like the 10s. provision, is part of a wholly new attitude towards widowhood, an attitude which was beginning to form well before the Beveridge Report. The hon. Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) made the point very well indeed last night. The new attitude is that a woman's life is not finished because her husband dies. All the proposals have had that as a principle. In all the great legislation passed immediately after the war—it is worth remembering that the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bill was published as a Bill by the Coalition and Caretaker Governments and adopted in its entirety by the Socialist Party after it won the 1945 General Election—there has been enshrined the principle laid down in the Beveridge Report, that for a young widow who is able to work, has no children, is not for any other reason unable to support herself, and has no other qualification which would constitute a claim upon the social services, this pension, and this pension only, should be judged appropriate.
The Minister said last night that he was a little uneasy, and I think we all are, about the way some of the widowhood proposals have been working. No one knows better than the right hon. Lady the Member for Fulham, West (Dr. Summerskill) the difficulties and complications of the 10s. pension. I know that she looked carefully, as all Ministers who have held her office have done, to ascertain whether something could be done. What I am saying is entirely without criticism of the Socialist Government, but it would surely be right that we should look at the provisions for widowhood.
The Minister said last night that he would ask the National Insurance Advisory Committee to look at the whole subject. That is not merely the 10s. 1661 matter, which was under discussion then, but the whole question of widowhood, including the age of 50 and other matters, to ascertain whether our attitude is entirely sound.
That is the only point that I want to put to the hon. Member. It is agreed that the matter to which he has referred should be looked at, but it is part of what I have called our attitude towards widowhood in these schemes. The Committee might divide on this subject, but it would be a pity to prejudice the review which is being entrusted to the National Insurance Advisory Committee, from which I am sure we shall get a good deal of guidance. Although this is in the industrial injuries field and not strictly the National Insurance field, I think I have shown that the two problems are so linked that the advice that we get on one will have considerable relevance to the other, to put it no higher than that.
I suggest to the hon. Member that the very sympathetic reply which was given to the Committee last night about the question of the 10s. widow should cover this matter as well. While the review is taking place, it would be a pity to prejudice it. I repeat the assurance given last night that the Advisory Committee will examine the whole subject, which includes the matters raised by the hon. Member.
§ 8.0 p.m.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
The Minister has put his case in a most reasonable manner, but I am not sure that it would be right and proper for my hon. Friend immediately to withdraw the Amendment, leaving the matter to be looked at by the Advisory Committee, and to assume that the Minister has dealt adequately with it.
The Minister will appreciate the number of times that Ministers have during the last two days asserted that all the benefits under the 1946 Acts have been increased to their 1946 values. That has been said over and over again. But any of the Minister's hon. Friends who in the coming months boasts to his constituents that the Bill increases all the benefits given under the 1946 Act to at least their 1946 values will be telling an untruth, because there is one case in which the Minister says he is not willing so to increase the benefit. If he is not willing to increase it to its 1946 value, having 1662 regard to the increase in the cost of living since 1946, he is saying that this class of beneficiary must be worse off now and must continue to be worse off until the House has had an opportunity of discussing and taking decisions upon some advice that will be given by the Advisory Committee in due course.
Was the Minister quite right when he compared these widows with what have been described as the 10s. widows? Ten-shilling widows do not get their benefits under the 1946 Act, which merely continues the type of benefit enjoyed before that Act was passed. These industrial widows are more comparable with the widows who are getting nothing, the women who have been widowed since 1948, who are under 50 years of age, who married after 5th July, 1948, and are not incapacitated. Such widows get nothing. These are the widows who are strictly comparable with the industrial widow.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
I did not say that the two are strictly comparable. I said that I thought they were in the same class in the problems of widowhood. It is also true in a sense that these widows whom we are now discussing link up to legislation passed before the 1946 Act, because, as I said, this particular sum is partly at least in replacement of the total sum of £400 that could have been awarded under the old Workmen's Compensation Acts. But I do not pretend for a moment that there is an exact parallel. There is not, for example, in the 10 years between the two.
§ Mr. T. Fraser
There is not a complete parallel, and that is why I thought that the Minister tended to confuse the House. The 10s. widows derive benefits from contributions made by their husbands under previous legislation. Widows getting this 20s., which we say should be 30s., get their benefits from the Industrial Injuries Fund towards which their husbands were making contributions under the Acts before 1946.
In 1946 a widow under 50 with children, or under 50 and incapacitated, or over 50, got a widow's pension of 30s. A widow under 50 not incapacitated and without children—perhaps a woman of 45 to 50 who has had five or six children—was given 20s. In 1952 the 30s. award went up to 37s. 6d. and is now going to 45s.
1663 It would not prejudice the consideration of all these conditions of benefits given for widowhood if these widows were now also to get the same increase. They have to meet all the increased costs that fall on all other sections of the community and all other beneficiaries under the 1946 legislation. In 1947 they were given two-thirds of the benefits given to other widows. This Amendment would restore that proportion of two-thirds of the benefits given to other widows. If we do not accept this Amendment, the Committee is telling the National Insurance Advisory Committee that in our view childless, non-incapacitated widows under 50 are being too generously treated.
I do not want to tell a long story, but I ask the Minister to appreciate that there is considerable validity in my point. By refusing this Amendment and by giving these widows a lower benefit than they were getting under the 1946 Act—and that is what is being done—he will, in fact, be prejudicing the issue and will be giving a direction to the National Insurance Advisory Committee. If it is his wish that that Committee should examine this business objectively, I beg him to accept the Amendment.
§ Miss Margaret Herbison (Lanarkshire, North)
I want to support my two hon. Friends. As the Minister said, last night we were informed not only that the question of the 10s. widow was coming before the Advisory Committee, but—if I understood correctly—it had already been before the Committee since March of this year. Many of us were not willing to accept even the explanation given by the Minister last night and, indeed, we voted against it.
We have the greatest sympathy with the position of the 10s. widow. We feel that it is quite impossible to compare the 10s. widow with the 20s. industrial widow. It was decided in 1946 that these widows had the right to this 20s. pension. They had the right because of the contributions made by their husbands. If it was considered at that time that 20s. was a reasonable amount to give to these women, surely the Minister cannot consider tonight that that same 20s. is a reasonable sum to be given to these women after this Measure reaches the Statute Book. It seems that the numbers are small, but even if they had been 1664 large I hope that we on this side would have been making the same case as we are now making.
I beg the Minister to have this matter further considered to see if it is not possible to bring these women into line with other beneficiaries under the Bill; in other words, to give them a rise in their pension just as every other beneficiary covered by the 1946 Act is being given a rise. There are many other things I should liked to have said, but, as the Minister said, we have very important matters following.
§ Mr. Iain Macleod
I should like to add a word or two before the hon. Member decides what he will do. I entirely agree that, large or small, this is an important matter and is certainly one that the House of Commons should consider. I do not in any way want to go back over my argument. I hope it did not sound too dogmatic and that I did not try to draw too precise an analogy between the 10s. widow and these widows.
I think that if my speech is read in HANSARD tomorrow it will be found that I made all the qualifications necessary. It seems to me, having listened to what the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser) and the hon. Lady for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) said, that the main question here is not whether 20s. is too generous or not. I am not arguing on that issue at all. The simple fact seems to be that there are at least four different sorts of pensioners all of whom are, as I have put it, in the same sort of field. Their entitlements come under different Acts. Some arose before 1946. Some of them do not come strictly under legislation at all.
The problem of the 10s. widow, the problem of the young widow of an ex-Service man, the problem of those widows who get nothing at all under present legislation unless they happen to have a reserve title—all these are clearly linked together and are part of what I call—the term has been used before—the new attitude towards widowhood that has emerged in legislative form since the Beveridge Report.
I am not the least bit unsympathetic about this, but I genuinely believe that it would be a mistake, if we are to review the whole of our policy about widows' benefits, to make an alteration 1665 in this respect now. I listened with great care to the hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay). I have admitted that this is a matter that ought to be looked at. It seems to me that my right hon. Friend indicated the right way of looking at it last night. We should look at the bigger issue and in doing that we should examine the position of this smaller number of persons.
I repeat my original suggestion that, on the whole, the best procedure is to follow out the reference to the National Insurance Advisory Committee of the whole of this problem.
§ Mr. McKay
I listened attentively to the Minister making his excuses on behalf of the Government for not accepting the Amendment. We all know that in practice sympathy without practical help does not amount to very much. In spite of the sympathy, the whole of the argument has been designed to complicate the position.
The Minister realises that there are problems affecting other widows which do not arise out of the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act. We are dealing with a special type of widow whose husband was killed in the factory or elsewhere. It has been admitted for generations that such a woman should receive benefit. Now, because we have problems which the Government want to refer to the National Insurance Advisory Committee, the Minister shows sympathy but cannot do anything. The Minister knows that in justice we could raise these pensions by the same percentage as that applied to other benefits. That would not prevent him from dealing with the whole problem of widows generally.
The Minister knows perfectly well that that could be done. To my mind it is dishonest for him, representing the Government, to put up the argument which he advanced and to try to make experienced men on this side of the Committee believe that he does it because he wants to do justice. The Government are doing this because they have no argument. They have tried to camouflage and complicate the position and they have not attempted to deal with the problem.
In 1946 benefits for definite classes of people were established. The Minister referred to the widows of Army men. Even there there is a special consideration which gives them far more benefit 1666 than these widows. The Army widows get their pension at 40. These others cannot get the full benefit until they are 50. If the Army widow pays more than 6s. a week in rent she can get extra assistance.
If it is said that the cost does not matter but that it is a question of principle, I reply—and I believe it—that if these widows had been similar in number to the other categories of beneficiaries, then you would have had a different outlook. They represent a small body with no political power. If they had had tremendous power, like the old-age pensioners, I am positive that these benefits would have been increased.
I am positively disgusted to think that because they are small in number they cannot get fair treatment. There is no moral soundness behind the argument, and no real justice in the situation. There has been no effort to deal with the problem as it exists. Instead there has been an effort to camouflage it, to mix it up with other problems, and to claim that you are dealing with it fairly by suggesting that it should be sent to the Advisory Committee.
To put it in a fashion which will not discredit you, you should do the thing fairly and squarely and say that you are not prepared to pay. Then I could understand you better and respect you more as a Government.
§ The Temporary Chairman (Mr. George Thomas)
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman would address his remarks to the Minister or to anyone except me.
§ Mr. McKay
Perhaps I was getting a little bit too heated. Sometimes if one does not get a little bit excited and put one's heart and soul into the matter it is probably because one does not believe what one is saying. It is because I believe what I say and believe that the case is one of the fairest and most just that I press the matter. We are not prepared to withdraw the Amendment. We are prepared to have it established in the OFFICIAL REPORT that we believe in what we have propounded. The whole thing is unjust and unfair.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ Schedule agreed to.