HC Deb 01 August 1966 vol 733 cc100-37
Miss Mervyn Pike (Melton)

I beg to move Amendment No. 100, in page 11, line 37, at the end to add: (d) add to or remove from or amend the definition of a "qualified household" for the purpose of section 6 of this Act in such manner as may be specified in the order.

The Chairman

It may be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 158, in line 37, at end insert: (d) add to or remove from the employers to whom section 4 of this Act applies any employer specified in the order.

Miss Pike

I am sure that this is an Amendment which will gain the sympathy of right hon. Members opposite. Once again, I should like to say how glad I am to see the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour back. I am told by my colleagues that in welcoming him this afternoon I inadvertently cast aspersions on his hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary. That was not what I wanted to do. I merely wanted to say how glad I was that the right hon. Gentleman was back in the Cabinet. We all know that the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary has done an extremely good job in his absence. I am very glad that the Minister is here, and I am sure that he will wish to accept my Amendment.

We all welcome the exemption of families containing sick or infirm people and employing nurses, families containing people over 70 and families containing young children. The category that I wish to mention is a glaring example of the haste with which the Bill has been thought out. Throughout the proceedings we have been bringing forward examples of the nonsense that the Bill is making and the lack of social justice and consistency in this field.

If it is right, as we believe, to exempt the families that I have mentioned, surely it is right to exempt people who, through no fault of their own, are being looked after in private nursing homes and private homes of one kind or another. If the exemption is restricted to private households, it is a privilege for the well-to-do. Except for exceptional cases where people have to have kidney machines or iron lungs, the only people who can afford nursing assistance at home are those with considerable resources.

The tax is meant to ensure that labour is used more efficiently and effectively. If so, surely nursing labour—it is in very short supply—is used very efficiently and effectively in homes where a number of people are looked after together. Surely the Minister cannot say that the Amendment does not meet the test that it is helping labour to be used particularly efficiently and effectively. Particularly where there are ill, infirm and handicapped people, they are looked after very efficiently and effectively in this sort of home. Surely the tax is not meant to penalise the weak. As I said, it is the rich who can afford nursing assistance in their own homes. The people who have to go to private homes of one sort or another are those for whom there is no provision in their own homes.

The tax is meant to help the economy. Surely those who are making their own provision and relieving the State of expenditure are the last who should be penalised. These people make their own arrangements and relieve the State of a very considerable financial burden. If they could not go into private nursing homes, in a great many cases they would have to go into State homes. On the whole, it is the private nursing home and the private hospital which are most savagely hit by the tax.

I draw attention to the latest estimates of the costs of the National Health Service given on pages 7 and 8 of the Ministry of Health Report for 1965. The total cost of the service in England and Wales for 1964–65 is estimated at £1,122 million, about 4 per cent. of the national income. This is an increase of about £96 million on the previous year, and two thirds of the increase was needed to meet higher prices and higher salaries and wages. The 1965–66 total expenditure is estimated at about £1,250 million.

Perhaps the most significant sentence in the 1965 Report is the following: Finance is always likely to be the key factor in the development of the National Health Service. We all accept this. Surely it makes no sense to discourage any form of private provision whether it be in private general practice or in private hospital provision, including private provision for homes for old people and the disabled and handicapped. The number of places available at the end of last year in private nursing homes, including private hospitals registered with the local authorities, was 25,953, and the number in private mental nursing homes similarly registered was 5,383, a total of 31,336. I obtained this information in a Written Answer which appeared at col. 111 in HANSARD for 8th July, 1966.

With the total waiting list for admission to National Health Service hospitals standing at 517,188 at the end of last year, an increase of 18,273 on 1964, it is absurd for the Government to try to argue that we can afford to risk losing the 31,000 private places. This is what might happen. I do not say that the whole of those places would go, but a great number of them could well go if the Selective Employment Tax is applied to private hospital provision and if people have to go to places provided, at no cost to themselves, from public funds.

If the Parliamentary Secretary is in any doubt about her party's traditional line on this matter, I would say that the best defence of private provision came from the late Aneurin Bevan, who is regarded as the author of the National Health Service and who, in his speech introducing the original National Health Service Bill, said that if people wished to pay for additional amenities or something to which they attached value such as the privacy of a bed in a single room, the aim should be to provide such facilities for everybody who wanted them. That is exactly what this tax now aims at abolishing.

When we look realistically at the pattern of life, with so many married women going out to work, with so many women in professional occupations like teaching, medicine and nursing and with others going back into employment, we see the great difficulty of trying to care for so many of these elderly people in their own homes.

Very often the older people particularly are much happier and better cared for in one of these private homes than they ever could be in their own families, because of the loneliness of being alone at home when the young people go out to work and, when they come home, the noise of the new beat of the television, radio and music box, providing all the distractions of feeling alone and unwanted, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, a burden and out of context in modern life.

We recognise that those who make the sacrifice—and very often it is a sacrifice—to put their older relatives and dependants into these homes not only relieve the State of a burden but do something to alleviate the difficulties of these older people towards the end of their days. This surely should weigh strongly with the hon. Lady when approaching the problem.

It is not only a question of the old and the infirm or the fact that by enabling them to go to these homes we help women to return to employment and often thereby have a much fuller and happier life. I have one of these homes in my constituency. I make a point of visiting it frequently because these older people love to see somebody. For the most part they are bedridden. They are usually professional people, retired matrons, doctors or teachers, for example, whose faculties are still sharp and alert. They are happier living together in the community, even though sometimes they cannot move from their own rooms. They are happier being in this sort of community where people like myself can call in and in half an hour see many of them. Many of these people are being sustained in these homes by their younger families, who are very much overstretched and who will find it very much more difficult in the future.

What of the people on their own who have no family to look after them? They may be mothers or fathers whose children have died or who have had no children, or single men and women who have nobody to look after them at the end of their lives. Very often they have made this special private provision for themselves. They have bought annuities into which they have sunk all their capital. They have calculated how many years they can afford to live and how well they can eke out their meagre savings. Their savings, however, are being cut because of the inflation that is gathering momentum.

Their worries and anxieties become worse, and now they have this added burden of the insecurity of thinking that they must pick up their roots and go, perhaps, into a local authority home because the charges will go up that little bit extra which they cannot afford. People are, of course, well looked after in local authority homes, but in most constituencies places in local authority homes are very much at a premium. We know that it is much more expensive to look after these people in those homes, and, indeed, the staffing requirements are much higher.

6.45 p.m.

So much for the private homes for the old people who are trying to end their days in some form of dignity and independence. What about the homes for the mentally handicapped? Is it the Government's policy to penalise those people and those devoted families who try their best to give these people a standard of life which, very often, is out of all comparison and proportion to the resources of the family as a whole? It is particularly tragic when a young person is mentally handicapped or subnormal. All families with any form of compassion try to do their best to see that these people have the best possible provision. In most cases it is quite impossible to have the sort of help that will enable them to stay at home. They therefore go into homes for the mentally handicapped, thus bringing relief to a family which is already overstrained, not only financially, but emotionally also.

There are also homes where much valuable pioneer work is done in this field. They are homes which very often have led the way and have made a breakthrough in much of our understanding, training and teaching of mentally handicapped people.

I accept that the increase in fees would be only small—I do not pretend that the increases would be large—but a small increase is cumulative when there are increases right across the board for these families. This very small increase means going over the margin from private provision to public provision with all the added cost that that means, as well as the added burden emotionally for the person who is moved from the home as well as for the family who feel to some extent that they are failing in their duty.

I have not mentioned that many of these people use the facilities of private nursing homes and hospitals. I have not mentioned the private maternity homes. These, again, play an important and valuable part in the lives of so many young people whose finances are desperately overstretched.

We all know the difficulties of getting maternity accommodation in the public hospitals. In my constituency people have to go into Leicester to an overcrowded hospital, which frequently has been the subject of debate and question in the House. A great many of these people, particularly when confinement and pregnancy is likely to be difficult, make provision in a private maternity home, relieving the burden on the State but, at the same time, giving them the feeling of security that comes from knowing that they have this type of private provision. Is it the Government's wish that all this private provision should cease? Here again, with all the added cost, young families will find this a particular burden.

One of the great burdens that will be found in this respect is upon the nursery schools. Most of us will accept that we need more nursery schools from the point of view both of the children learning to live and grow up together and all that this can do in formulating good behaviour patterns and the rest, and for what it can do in freeing the parents to go out to work and ensuring that the home not only is a good one, but is a home where everybody uses his or her personality to the full.

A great many of us, looking at the young families of today, recognise the tremendous part that nursery schools play in the lives particularly of young professional people. The mother may be a university professor, a teacher or somebody else who does an important piece of research work in the community as a whole, and who wants her child properly brought up and looked after in a nursery school. Perhaps she can afford to have a home help to look after the child, but most of us recognise that very often children at this stage are better prepared for their school life by going into nursery schools. Here again, I know that the increase will not be swingeing, but I have here a case which shows that the increase may be about 5s. or 6s. a week. It is likely to be between 4s. and 10s. a week. Very often many of the parents who are sending their children to these homes are doing so on narrow margins and it may well be, as in the case I have here, that if several parents remove their children because of the increase the whole nursery school closes down because it cannot get the full complement of children. This is something that the State does not provide in sufficient amount, and if it did provide them it would be a considerably added expense to the community as a whole.

I have brought forward only a few examples of the sort of institution, the sort of home, the sort of organisation, the sort of people and the sort of problems that would be met by giving the exemption sought in the Amendment. As I said at the beginning, I hope that the hon. Lady will not come out with the argument that the increase is only very minimal, that the increase in fees in these particular homes, schools and hospitals will be only very slight and something that people can easily assimilate.

I ask her to accept that new conditions have come about since the tax was proposed. It was bad when it was proposed. It was an unfair, unjust and ill-thought-out tax when it was first introduced, but in the context of recent financial measures and against the present and future economic background, it will cause considerable hardship to whole sections of the community.

The Amendments are small. These are small concessions that the Government could make. They already give exemption for private nursing in private homes. I believe that they will look sympathetically at this, but I urge that these are exceptions that will help a growing number of people who wish to make private provision for themselves and for their own dependants, whether they are elderly, infirm or handicapped in one way or another. I urge the hon. Lady to accept the Amendment so that we can give these people some security, independence and dignity at the end of their lives.

Mr. R. H. Turton (Thirsk and Malton)

The definition of a qualified household includes a private household. Surely the private old persons' home is a private household?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mrs. Shirley Williams) indicated dissent.

Mr. Turton

The hon. Lady shakes her head. Then clearly there must be some alteration to the Bill before we finish with it to bring in those private old people's homes. At present, as the hon. Lady knows, there is a tremendous waiting list for places for old people. This need is met partly by the county welfare hostels and hostels run by local authorities, partly by charitable institutions, such as the Abbeyfield homes or places of a similar character, and partly by the small homes for old people which are just struggling along because the old people cannot afford to pay very much for their lodging.

It has been a great battle for these small homes to carry on. I hope that the hon. Lady will make it quite clear that they will come under the definition, or that, if not, she will amend the definition before the Bill becomes law.

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Miss Pike) that, equally, there is a strong case for the private nursing home and the private maternity home. But I especially stress at this time the need for the House to be generous to all those who are caring for the old, because there is a great lack of provision for old people in this country.

As the Bill stands, the very rich old people who can be looked after in their own homes will be relieved under the definition, as my hon. Friend said, but all the poorer old people, unless they can get a place in an old persons' home run by either a charity or local authority will be penalised, and many old people's homes will be closed. That would be a great tragedy.

Mr. Lubbock

As I understand it, the hon. Member for Melton (Miss Pike) is seeking to do two things, first to extend the definition of a household so as to include some of the homes she mentioned and also in her second Amendment to provide that the Minister can by order expand a list of employers to whom Clause 4 applies. Therefore, she hopes to be able to do the same thing by means of two different Amendments, and one may apply in the one case and another in some of the others.

She has mentioned some of the bodies to whom extension might be granted under one or other of these Amendments. I have great sympathy with both of them, because it is impossible for us to foresee at this moment in time the effect of these taxes and where it may be thought desirable to give relief at a later date.

For that reason alone I would have supported the Amendment, even though I think that the hon. Lady in proposing it did not deal with some of the difficulties which could arise in particular instances. She and her right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) spoke about the old people's homes. I should be reluctant to extend relief to all old people's homes which are not charities, as both the hon. Lady and her right hon. Friend seem to desire, because I know some old people's homes which no hon. Member would wish to support by tax exemption.

Miss Pike

I hoped I had made the point that I was talking about those homes licensed by the local authority. I mentioned that specifically.

Mr. Lubbock

I am sorry to tell the hon. Lady that I know some homes that have been approved by local authorities about which I have had some extremely serious complaints. When I have written to Ministers about them they have told me that unfortunately the powers to inspect and to supervise the conduct of these homes are not nearly as extensive as they would wish. I can show the hon. Lady correspondence which I have had with Ministers on this subject.

Therefore, I do not believe at this moment that Governments have sufficient power over the operation of these private old people's homes to make it desirable for us to extend this tax exemption to them. I ask the Parliamentary Secretary to tell the Committee, when she comes to reply, how many old people we are considering under the Amendment, because it is my impression that most of the better homes are operated by organisations such as the Abbeyfield Societies, of which the right hon. Gentleman has spoken. I agree that we should give them every help that the Committee can. Unfortunately we are not helping them further, since they are already covered by the Bill and will not have to pay the Selective Employment Tax; or rather, they will be entitled to repayment of the tax, which is a harsh enough treatment to mete out to them. It will hurt them to have to find the tax in the first place even though they will get the money back after a while. I should prefer to see them not put to the trouble of making those payments and then claiming the refund.

I should have thought that most of the better types of nursing home are in the category of a charity and the number of old people we are dealing with who stay in the homes operated for profit by an individual or a small group of individuals must be very small. I should be grateful if the Parliamentary Secretary could give us some figures on that.

We have heard about the disabled, and the same argument probably applies to them. In this connection, we know, for example, of the Cheshire Homes, which are covered by the existing provisions of the Bill and would not benefit from the Amendment. Here, too, one would wish to do all possible to encourage such homes and not to create a proliferation of small bodies which may not give the kind of treatment which the disabled need.

The same can be said in regard to the mentally handicapped. I should not like to encourage the wide scale provision of small homes which it is difficult for the Minister of Health properly to supervise in which mentally handicapped people have to pay in order to stay. This is not a desirable aim and certainly should not be encouraged by our taxing system.

To return to my first observation, I think that the hon. Lady the Member for Melton was on a good point in that we cannot foresee all the consequences of the tax. I want the Minister to be given powers under both these Amendments so that, if any unforeseen circumstance arises in which the whole Committee would think it desirable to add to the list, we may be able to do so without fresh legislation. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will accept both Amendments.

7 p.m.

Sir Derek Walker-Smith (Hertfordshire, East)

I support the Amendment so fully and ably moved by my hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Miss Pike), and I wish to take further the point made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) when he spoke with particular reference to the claims on our sympathy and help of homes, not being charities, which exist for the care of old people.

Two points arise on these Amendments: first, whether it is desirable that the effect of the tax be mitigated in respect of homes for old people, mentally handicapped and the like, and, second, whether, if it is right in principle that the harshness of the tax should be mitigated in their favour, some Amendment of the Bill is necessary in order to bring that about. My right hon. Friend asked the hon. Lady whether, in her view, the words "private household" in the definition of "qualified household" for these purposes under Clause 6(2) would include such homes, and the hon. Lady appeared to nod her head in assent.

Mrs. Shirley Williams indicated dissent.

Sir D. Walker-Smith

The hon. Lady nods in dissent. That removes the surprise which I felt in thinking that she nodded in assent. I hoped that she would nod in assent, but I could not imagine, from my interpretation of the Bill, that she could properly nod in assent because it is clear and common ground that, as now drafted, it could not include homes of the kind which hon. Members now have in mind. That disposes of the drafting question, and it means, therefore, that, if it be right that some mitigation of the effects of the tax should be introduced for the benefit of such homes, it can be done only by some such Amendment as is here proposed.

On the question whether the Bill should be so amended, hon. Members will have in mind that the resources of the National Health Service are particularly stretched in regard to two categories of care, care of the old and care of the mentally handicapped. No one who has had any connection with the Ministry of Health can be other than keenly aware of the difficult nature of both these problems. They are both growing problems. The problems of the aged and the infirm increase with the prolongation of the normal period of human life. The prolongation of human life is a good thing, but one consequence is that the proportion of old people in the community as a whole steadily increases. It is vastly greater now than it was, for example, half a century ago. Unfortunately, the statistics in regard to mental handicap are most challenging, as the House knows, and there is here also a very great problem in the provision of care and accommodation.

Both of these are sympathetic and deserving cases, and both are cases in which there must be a considerable private supplementation of the stretched resources of the National Health Service. My right hon. Friend spoke specifically of the geriatric side of it, and I endorse everything he said, but I add a word about the care of the mentally handicapped, a subject in which I have taken an increasing interest since it was my privilege to pilot through the House what is now the Mental Health Act, 1959, and also in my capacity as vice-president of the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children.

For all that the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) said about some private institutions and homes providing a less high standard than others, it is nevertheless true that there is a good deal of very fine work being done by voluntary and private organisations, and, should that work cease, the difficulties to which the resources of the National Health Service are necessarily exposed would be still greater than they are at present.

For these reasons, there is both a very strong and a very sympathetic case for an extension of the powers under the Clause to meet what we have in mind, with particular reference to the old and the mentally handicapped, and I unequivocally add my strong support to the Amendment.

Sir Gerald Nabarro (Worcestershire, South)

I am a little timorous in speaking after two of my right hon. Friends, my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) and my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith), who are both former Ministers of Health. I claim no special knowledge of the difficult topic which we are debating now, impinging as it does so largely on the care of the elderly, infirm and chronically sick. I intervene principally, perhaps, because of a constituency interest. In my constituency is Malvern, and it is well known that there are many private and fee-paying establishments in Malvern. One and a half dozen of them are educational establishments, but there are also establishments of a private and fee-paying character, which look after the elderly.

I find all study of geriatrics today rather harrowing. Every member of the Committee, whatever his constituency in whatever part of the United Kingdom, knows that there is a grave shortage of provision for elderly people. I put the point in clear and unmistakable terms: the Minister of Labour and the Minister of Health could not today do without the private fee-paying establishment, whether educational or geriatric. The trouble with this Bill and with the Selective Employment Tax is that, among other things, it deliberately discriminates against private fee-paying establishments under the two heads to which I have alluded. It is 6 per cent. of the pupils at school in this country who are at private fee-paying establishments. This Bill discriminates against them. I shall not pursue that further because it may be doubtful whether I should be in good order in doing so. I am delighted to have the support of the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) who tells me that I am in good order. I think I should be out of order. I take my own counsel on this occasion. It is only a passing reference which I make to educational establishments of a private and fee-paying character. The Bill discriminates against them very badly—all the public schools, all the private schools, all the nursery schools, all the kindergartens, all the Froebels, all the private fee-paying establishments.

That is the analogy, but it also discriminates against any establishment of a fee-paying character designed to look after the elderly, and that is why I direct my comments and the attention of the Minister of Labour particularly, to this Amendment, No. 110.

So far as I am aware there are four ways of looking after the elderly man or woman who is incapable of looking after himself or herself. Those four ways are, first, he or she may be cared for within his or her own family, in which case no question arises of the payment of Selective Employment Tax. Second, he or she may be cared for by a paid attendant. We are grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his earlier relaxation in that regard, and as a result of that relaxation there is no question of the payment of Selective Employment Tax in that second application. The third fashion in which the elderly man or woman may be looked after is in a local authority elderly person's home; there is no question of payment of Selective Employment Tax under that third application. But the fourth category, the elderly person looked after in a private fee-paying establishment, attracts the tax in regard to the attendants in that home.

It is a curious coincidence in the matter of the single application, the fourth application which I have quoted, that in dictating my correspondence downstairs a couple of hours ago the last letter to which I dictated a reply, was from a lady who runs a home for elderly people—actually, in a Socialist held constituency. She had written to the Socialist Member. His reply, in the most courteous terms, was that at this late stage of this Bill it was doubtful whether the Government would introduce any exceptional provisions to deal with attendants in the lady's private fee-paying old persons' home. The lady was not satisfied, and came to Malvern and posted from Malvern, from a friend's home, a letter to me in order to invoke my aid. It is a coincidence that this came to me on this day. I sent her a very sympathetic answer, and promised to plead this case to the Minister.

If I have been guilty of any omissions in the four ways in which the elderly may be cared for I hope the Minister will supplement me, but I think these are the four ways of looking after elderly persons. The costs of attendance in terms of labour in the first three applications do not attract tax, but in the case of the fourth they do attract the tax, and I say that is a very grave case of discrimination.

I want to end on a note of some dissension. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Orpington gave his qualified support to Amendment No. 110, and I am glad he gave that much support, but I would not go very far with him in suggesting so many homes which provide for mentally retarded children do not reach the required standards after they have approval of the local authority.

Mr. Lubbock

It was about old people's homes I spoke and what I was saying was—I quoted a case—that there are homes which are approved but which do not meet my own standards, even if they meet the Minister's.

7.15 p.m.

Sir G. Nabarro

I apologise to the hon. Gentleman if I misunderstood him, and I withdraw the application to mentally retarded children's homes and substitute old people's homes. The fact is that today the demand for attendants, care and aid for elderly people is overwhelming, and though I do not plead for any reduction in standards I should have thought the hon. Gentleman's proper course was to take his cases to the local authority, or through the Ministers responsible, and seek to improve the standards of their care.

But what I am keenly conscious of is the fact that we cannot afford to lose a single bed in any geriatric establishment today, overburdened as Governmental services are. I commend to the right hon. Gentleman the magnificent book written by the late Lord Beveridge, his last publication, called "Voluntary Endeavour", wherein he pleaded through hundreds of pages the cause, that the Welfare State was wholly insufficient to deal with all the hardships which we find in our country today, and that, with regard to the great voluntary endeavour in every sphere, including geriatrics, including the mentally retarded, the elderly and sick, we had to rely so very largely on voluntary efforts. They include, of course, the kind of applications which I am pleading for this evening.

Has the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary who is to reply to this debate ever studied the work of the W.V.S.? Does she know that the W.V.S., which conduct the "Meals on Wheels" service for elderly people in so many parts of the country, notably in the rural areas and areas of scattered population, rely largely on the industrial canteens today, to help them with their hot meals? A charge is made, of course, which, ultimately, the county council pays for. But if we discriminate against private people's homes, elderly people's homes conducted on a private fee-paying basis, then we diminish the staff available in those homes and we add an additional burden to the voluntary services, notably the W.V.S., who will never say "No" however great the burden which is put upon them. I do not think it aids our voluntary services to drive people out of the private fee-paying establishments and so put additional duties on to the voluntary services, notably the W.V.S., which every Member of this Committee ought to recognise does such helpful work throughout our social services.

For these reasons, though I am a stranger to debates on geriatrics—only once in 16 years as a Member of the House of Commons have I here made a speech within the ambit of health, and that was on a maternity home—and perhaps that comes into this—[HON. MEMBERS: "It does."]—It does? Jolly good. Well, I will not talk about it this evening, because the arguments would be similar. But, having made a speech about a maternity home, I am pleased to have made another speech about geriatrics this evening, and I hope that the response from the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary will be both cogent and sympathetic.

Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)

I want to make only one short point in this debate. Under the mass of criticism both here and in the country that this S.E.T. has received it is sometimes difficult to keep in sight why it was ever imposed. My hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Miss Pike) referred to the effects this Amendment would have in causing labour to be used more efficiently, and, I think, quite rightly.

I suppose, also, that another reason for this tax is to raise revenue. All Chancellors, we know, are short of money, and our present Chancellor is shorter of money than any Chancellor, I suppose, practically in living memory. He has certainly imposed an enormous burden upon and clawed in vast sums of money from the nation, so he must be; but he is still short of money to pay for our services, the health service for one. So it is just as well that many people not only want to but do pay for themselves, often at very great sacrifice.

If the Amendment were accepted and discretion thus extended to the Minister, it should be possible to work out the cost and that could be weighed against the saving to the State which occurs by people making their own provision. What objection is there to doing that? We think that people should be encouraged to make their own provision all through their lives into old age. There is an increasing desire by the ordinary person to do this.

If the Government do not accept the Amendment, I hope that the hon. Lady will not dismiss it for any doctrinaire reasons. If she were to produce good reasons for rejecting the Amendment—for instance, that it would not cause labour to be used more efficiently; that the loss of revenue would be so serious that the Government could not entertain it; or that the Government want the deflationary effect of the S.E.T. to make itself felt through these establishments—those arguments would be considered on their merits. I hope that the hon. Lady will answer these points specifically, especially the question of the loss of revenue being weighed against the saving to the Government which is brought about by people making their own provision.

Mr. Alick Buchanan-Smith (North Angus and Mearns)

I have been provoked into speaking by a remark by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), who decried the standards of some private homes. I accept that there are varying standards in private homes. There are varying standards in local authority homes. I accept the hon. Gentleman's comment as applying to some cases, particularly to physical standards in terms of buildings and facilities, because often these are not anything like as good as those to be found in local authority homes.

I believe that private homes must be judged by different standards. I have been to local authority homes which have the most wonderful facilities, but which, because of the nature of the staff employed there, have not provided the standard of care and attention which those in the homes want. There is a strong case for not judging these homes by physical standards, because it is often the case that in private homes the standard of care and attention is better than that to be found in local authority homes.

I am amazed that the argument should be advanced that, if there are not many people involved, it does not matter very much. It matters tremendously even if only a few people are involved. We must remind ourselves that people are paying for these services. They would not pay for them if they did not want them. This is another reason for rejecting the argument that the facilities provided are not as good, because people are paying for them and these homes are obviously answering a need.

Mr. Lubbock

May I remind the hon. Gentleman that in the case of old people's homes it is often a relative who pays for the services and sometimes the relative's motives are not of the highest.

Mr. Buchanan-Smith

That shows the extent of the interest the relative takes. What the hon. Gentleman hints at is not borne out by my experience. People who are doing this are relieving the State of the burden of providing this form of social service. For this reason, if for no other, the Amendment should be considered sympathetically.

In some parts of the country privately-run establishments answer a genuine need. I will give one example from my experience. Local authorities in certain areas do not necessarily provide nursery schools. I know of one such school which was started by a friend of mine because there was no local authority school and people asked for these facilities to be provided. She went out of her way to do so. To begin with, she worked on her own. The school was fairly small, but, because it was successful, she had to bring in others to help her. She makes a charge, because the school is privately run. She will become liable for the Selective Employment Tax on those who are helping her.

Hon. Members will know of similar cases in their constituencies. In such cases private persons are providing a definite social service which is not available from the local authority or from the State. It is wrong that this type of person should be penalised. I have quoted the example of a nursery school. There are examples in other sectors.

For these reasons, I have great pleasure in supporting the Amendment.

Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)

I cannot understand why the Minister did not long ago say that he would accept the Amendment. It is not as though we are talking about a nation in which there is a surplus of maternity beds in State-run institutions. It is not as though we are talking about a nation in which sufficient first-class nursery schools are provided for the State so that every child who wants to go to a nursery school is able to do so. It is not as though we are talking about a nation where there are empty beds in every State-run or local authority old persons' home. We are talking about a nation in which the whole State system would break down if it were not for private institutions.

Under these conditions, why in the name of all that is sensible should these institutions be victimised or penalised as compared with those who happen to be under the State umbrella? The people who run these institutions carry out the same service. I accept the statement by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) that some of them do not reach the standards he would like to see. Many State institutions do not reach the standard I would like to see. I have a great deal of experience of visiting them. I have been appalled at what I have seen there.

Anyone who says that every mental patient looked after by the State is living in the conditions that the general public would like to see has obviously not seen the conditions in some institutions. Some people, perhaps having a little more money, want to keep their relatives out of that atmosphere and place them in a much smaller organisation. I have the highest admiration for the bulk of the private homes I have encountered.

I base my whole case on where I started. It is not as though we are talking about a perfect society where everything is provided for by the community. Without privately run institutions, the whole State system would be in chaos. There are literally hundreds of thousands of people who make use of facilities offered by private endeavour.

I ask the Minister, even at this late stage, to say that, as these people will find it much more difficult to carry on, the only sensible thing would be to put all the staff who work in these various establishments, whether they be State owned or privately owned, whether they are working on a charitable basis or for profit, on the same level so that the impost on all of them is the same.

Mr. John Page (Harrow, West)

I want to say a few words in support of private maternity homes. In the Harrow area of Middlesex there is a greater shortage of maternity beds than of any other kind of bed. It is extremely difficult in these days for young mothers to have even their first babies in a State nursing home or hospital. There are a number of privately-run maternity homes in the Harrow area. Unless the Minister withdraws from his present position of discrimination and victimisation against such homes, these nursing homes will find it difficult to continue to provide services.

At the moment, the Bill would have two effects. First, it would reduce the number of maternity beds available because of the increased charges, and, secondly, and even more serious, it would remove yet another strata of parents who can afford to do what they would like to do, which is to provide proper confinement for their wives when they are having their babies. I feel that the public cannot go along with this and I hope that the Minister will do something to stop what is an apparent, obvious and calculated act of discrimination by the Government.

7.30 p.m.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

This debate started with the kind remarks of the hon. Lady the Member for Melton (Miss Pike), which I accept in the spirit in which they were made. Perhaps I might say that if she is pleased to see my right hon. Friend, she cannot be half as pleased as I am.

Once again, the debate has reflected a matter of great concern, particularly to those who, I know, are deeply involved in one body or another concerned with the problems of these groups of people. Before I deal briefly with some of the points which have been raised, I think it fair to say that the bulk of the argument on this Clause was gone through on two earlier Clauses. One of the great difficulties about the Amendments Nos. 110 and 158 is that they seek to change a Clause which deals with a rather special element, namely, the private household dealt with under Clause 6, subsection (3) of which says: No payment shall be made under this section unless the Supplementary Benefits Commission … are satisfied that the requirements of subsection (1) of this section are fulfilled. … It would be inappropriate for the Commission to deal with the kind of concerns which hon. Members have mentioned today.

When I first saw the Amendment, I supposed that what the hon. Lady and her colleagues had in mind was an addition to the list of private qualified households, rather than the introduction of bodies which are not, and cannot be, described as private households. The right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) was right to say that the phrase "private households", at least according to the best of my information, could not bear the addition of the kind of bodies which have been mentioned during the debate.

Sir D. Walker Smith

I agree that that is what I said. Nevertheless, to get the effect of the Clause, one has to look back to subsection (1). It is the qualified households with which we are ultimately concerned. Albeit they cannot fall into the category of private households, they can, and should, fall into the category of qualified households.

Mrs. Williams

I appreciate the right hon. Gentleman's point, but the point that I am making is that Clause 6, which was written into the Bill by the Government, deals with a particular group of private households, and was drawn up for that purpose. This is why such specific conditions are laid down. The Opposition are trying to reintroduce the argument which we had on Clauses 1 and 2, where an attempt was made to bring private homes first into premium, and later into the refund category. This is a re-debate of an earlier debate during which the Government gave their reasons why they felt unable to deal with these bodies.

I should like now to consider one or two of these groups, and to answer some of the points which have been raised. I should like to deal, first, with the point made by the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East, because of his special interest in mentally handicapped children. Our information is that the great bulk of children's homes, and not least those dealing with mentally handicapped children, are either local authority or charitable organisations. Very few are run for profit. It would not be right to say anything particular about those run for profit, but it may be that there are some considerations to be borne in mind about his type of institution which is run as a commercial service. However, the incidence of them is tiny.

When it comes to other homes, broadly the same pattern applies. There is a combination of charitable homes and local authority homes, and both would be receiving the refund. In the case of old people's homes, to which many hon. Members have referred, I shall give the figures as far as I can. Our information is that at the moment about 28,000 elderly people live in voluntary and private old people's homes. Some of those in voluntary homes would again come under the arrangements made for charities. Most hon. Members are aware of the famous names which come to mind in this context. One was referred to by the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), and these are rightly in the refund category.

Mr. Turton

Where does the hon. Lady get her information from? It is out of line with the information that I used to get when I was in contact with the National Corporation for the Care of Old People.

Mrs. Williams

This information comes from the Department concerned. I shall try, after the debate, to give the right hon. Gentleman further details about this.

With regard to elderly people in private homes which are commercial homes, I must stress this because, by definition, if they are not able to, or have not applied, for charitable status they will be run virtually as a commercial concern, and consequently the Bill will apply to them. It is fair to refer to the speech of the hon. Member for Orpington, because it is well known that the Government have no power over the standards of conduct in these homes. I am not suggesting that some are not run with great dedication. Of course they are. What I am saying is that at the moment there is no way of distinguishing between those run with dedication, and those run purely for purposes of profit.

Sir G. Nabarro

Is that a valid argument in this context? Is it not the fact that if those homes are not available for geriatric cases, whether the home is approved by the local authority or not, whether they are competent homes or not in the broadest sense of the term, if those beds are not available, no other places will be available for these old people because local authority homes have no space for them, and there is nowhere else for them to go if they have no family care?

Miss Pike

Would not the hon. Lady accept that, after all, exemption is given if one has care in one's own home although no qualitative argument is used? One may have a nurse who treats one cruelly. One may be living in squalid conditions, but one still gets exempted from the tax.

Mrs. Williams

It is true that the distinction lies in the fact that the employment is in private homes which by definition are run for profit whereas in the other case somebody is running somebody else's home not merely for a salary or a fee.

The hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) usually argued his case in a powerful way. It would be very difficult to accept that the Government should subsidise a home which is clearly incompetent, or which may be inadequate in the way in which it deals with old people.

Sir D. Glover rose——

Mrs. Williams

I have given way rather a lot, and I would like to complete my reply to this discussion.

With regard to the overall position, it is the case that, in the kind of instance which hon. Gentlemen have in mind, it will be open to the Government to amend the Bill, and the Government, in certain circumstances, will be open to representation that they should do so. But it is our feeling that it would be appropriate to deal with this group of cases by legislation, and if there is to be a rebate of tax of the kind which hon. Gentlemen have in mind, and consequently it is necessary to draw a distinction between profit-making services on the one side, and profit-making services for a particular purpose, which might be a useful purpose, on the other, it will be necessary to draw up legislation in a way which makes it possible both to lay down standards for that group of service, and to lay down clear indications of what is covered by them.

In the view of the Government, therefore, it would be much more appropriate if, eventually, it should be thought that there was some need for a relief in this direction, that it should take the form of legislation, in which all these aspects could be dealt with, and not least those aspects referred to by the hon. Member for Orpington. It would be better to do this than to give a wide power to the Minister, by way of Orders, which would be extremely difficult to specify or make clear in the way required by the Opposition.

In the circumstances, I must ask the Committee to reject the two Amendments.

Mr. Lubbock

Would the hon. Lady deal with my point, that there may arise cases which no hon. Member of the Committee foresees, in respect of which both Government and Opposition, on a nonparty basis, would wish to provide exemption in respect of a category of householder or employer? If these powers were conferred on her right hon. Friend they could be very useful.

Mrs. Williams

Legislation would be the best way of getting over the difficulties that the hon. Member has in mind, but that is a major way of dealing with the problem. At present, the Supplementary Benefits Commission can decide whether a payment should be made. That provides a certain amount of flexibility, and it is only fair to make clear that the conditions laid down in subsection (2) were very carefully drawn up and thought out. The Government envisaged that they would cover the main cases arising in the case of private households.

Sir G. Nabarro

I propose to castigate the hon. Lady for the use of two terms in her speech, both of which I thought odious in the context of what we have been debating. She referred to "profits". Nobody runs an old people's home for profit. Nobody runs a mentally-retarded children's home for profit. People run them because they are dedicated people, and nobody would ever make a fortune out of them.

The second expression that I found odious—and I am being as kind as I can to the hon. Lady—was her reference to "commercial activities". If they are not local authority homes they may be referred to as profit earning and perhaps regarded as commercial. But I would not regard them as such. People run them because they are dedicated to the care of unfortunate human beings, and because there is nobody else to look after them. I object to the Minister's using those two terms in the connotation that we have been discussing.

I am glad to see the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in his place. I wager that he would not be able to reply to a Parliamentary Question from me as to the amount of taxation derived last year from old people's homes run for profit on a commercial scale. Of course he would not; the Treasury would not have it to reveal, anyway, because there are no profits.

I hope that my hon. and right hon. Friends will decide to vote, and to vote loud and often on this kind of issue. I conclude my second speech in Committee by observing that out of 363 Labour Members who fought the last General Election on welfare issues 353 are Missing and only 10 are in their places. What a disgraceful indictment of the Labour Party, which is about to use the Guillotine to bear down on the humanitarian instincts of my right hon. and hon. Friends and myself. I hope that it will go out from the Committee loud and clear that the Labour Party has 353 absentees, and only 10 Members present. Disgraceful!

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Paul Dean (Somerset, North)

The hon. Lady has dealt courteously with the arguments we have put forward, but we are exceedingly disappointed that she has held out no hope of a concession to our very powerful arguments. I want to deal with some of the points which the hon. Lady advanced in opposition to our Amendments. One was that it would not be appropriate to accept an Amendment of this kind to vary these provisions by order but would be more appropriate to do so by legislation. All that we are asking is that the same power should be available under this Clause as is already available in a number of other Clauses.

Clause 1 contains power to amend, by order, the categories of those who will be eligible for premium. In the same way, Clause 9 contains power to vary, by order, the refund available. In those two cases we are dealing with premiums and refunds which will be far more extensive than the suggestion which we are making in relation to this Clause. I find that argument entirely unacceptable. Had there been no power in the Bill to vary by order her argument might have had some weight, but when the main provisions of the Bill, referring to premiums and refunds, can be altered by order it is reasonable to ask, in the same way, that the definition of "special households" should also be capable of alteration by order.

It is more important in cases of this kind, because here we are dealing with what we might call welfare refunds. If it is found that present arrangements are not working satisfactorily—that they are not covering all the categories of individuals or institutions which should be covered—surely it is immensely important to act speedily, and the only way in which we can do that is in the way we suggest.

My hon. Friends have said, and the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) has also pointed out, that it is impossible to foresee how the special refund provisions will operate. If, after a few months' experience, we find that changes are required, surely it is very important, in respect of social cases of this kind, that changes should be made with speed. They cannot be made with speed if we have to rely on new legislation.

Mr. Lubbock

If the Minister thinks that these powers are far too extensive it can always be provided that they lapse after, say, two years.

Mr. Dean

I thank the hon. Member for Orpington for his help on that point.

Another point which the hon. Lady used is that there is no way of distinguishing between a good and a bad institution. I am glad that my hon. Friends have taken up that point. The first answer to that argument is that it is generally recognised that the resources of the State services are totally inadequate to meet all the needs mentioned during the debate. Therefore, whether these institutions are good or not so good they are still fulfilling a need which would not be fulfilled at all if they were not in existence.

Apart from that, if that is the argument surely there is a case for saying that the Regulations governing these institutions should be tightened up. Already a number of Ministries with experience in these matters are involved. The Ministry of Labour is responsible for the payments and the Ministry of Pensions for the collection of the money.

The Supplementary Benefits Commission, admittedly, deals with the special circumstances of Clause 6, relating to the qualified households, but surely, when a Ministry is as intimately involved with social welfare as the Ministry of Pensions, it would not be beyond the powers of that Ministry to make the necessary checks on these extensions of special households which we suggest.

The hon. Lady also said that, in many cases, the institutions with which we are dealing are already covered for refund, either because they are local authority institutions or because they are charities. She quoted figures about old people's homes, voluntary and private, and the number of people in them, which my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) very rightly queried. The figures that we have from the many private institutions suggest that the numbers involved are a good deal larger than this. I agree that it is very difficult to get accurate figures on this—it is virtually impossible—but we contest the figure of 28,000 which she gave.

On the anomalies, if even a substantial proportion of the institutions for which we are pleading are covered because they are run by local authorities or are charities, what about the others which are fulfilling exactly the same function and meeting the same need? Surely it is an unacceptable anomaly and a totally unfair and unreal distinction to say that certain institutions, because they are run by local authorities or because they are charities, should not have to bear this burden, but that others which, in every other respect, are on all fours with them, should have to bear it.

Therefore, this argument, that a certain percentage of these are charities, carries no weight. Indeed, it strongly supports our case. We are not asking the Government in this instance to accept the case which has been put forward for every particular institution which has been mentioned, although we believe strongly that all of them should not have to pay this tax. What we are simply asking in the Amendment is that the Government should take powers to vary the definition by Order in exactly the same way as they are taking power to vary the definition in the case of the premiums and the refunds.

We are asking for a measure of flexibility in these welfare refunds, so that, if it is proved that there are cases of hardship, as we believe there will be, it will be possible to put them right speedily. My hon. Friends have mentioned many examples and have also drawn attention to the shortage of resources available to the National Health Service and to these institutions generally.

Indeed, any hon. Member who has read the Report of the Ministry of Health which came out only last week cannot but be impressed to find that nearly every chapter of that report draws attention to enormous demands on our state services which are not met because, in many cases, of shortage of resources. My hon. Friend the Member for Melton (Miss Pike) drew attention to the sentence: Finance is always likely to be a key factor in the development of the National Health Service. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) and my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton, with their great experience in these matters as former Ministers of Health, pointed out that two of the aspects of care which are most in need of attention and for which the State services are least able to provide what is required are care for the elderly and care for the mentally handicapped.

Any legislation which we introduce in conditions of this kind which are likely to prejudice the private element which is helping to fill the gaps which the State services cannot fill are surely thoroughly bad for these sections of the community.

It is not only the institutions for the old, the infirm and the disabled, the nursery schools, the maternity homes and the like, important as they are, with which we are concerned. There are also various individuals who may well—we believe almost certainly should—come within the category of qualified households. The category of children in Clause 6 is very narrowly drawn. There may well be other people in full-time employment, and who are looking after children, who are not now covered under Clause 6, but whom experience will show should be covered.

What about the widow or the unmarried woman in full-time employment and caring for elderly relatives, who, because she is in full-time employment, has to have paid help in the home to care for those relatives? These people are not covered by Clause 6. These are just two examples of individuals——

Mrs. Shirley Williams

As a result of the Amendment to Clause 6, which was accepted by the Committee, the hon. Gentleman will find that the two instances he has given are now covered.

Mr. Dean

I did not quite catch what the hon. Lady said.

Mrs. Williams

Clause 6, as amended by the Committee, now covers at least two of the three instances which the hon. Gentleman mentioned.

Mr. Dean

I am obliged to the Parliamentary Secretary. I am glad that at least those points are covered. This is all to the good. But there are many other cases which are not covered.

As long as we endanger the growth of private provision and indeed the existence of the present private provision, we shall still find that the gaps in our national services generally will continue to exist. No one can foresee a time when there will not be a real need for private provision and State provision to work in partnership together. We believe that it is desirable in principle. We believe also that it is highly necessary, if all the wide variety of human needs are to be fully met.

So many of the cases with which we are dealing and about which we are thinking are not rich institutions. Many of these private homes are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet. Many cannot charge an economic price for the services which they provide, because their residents simply cannot afford to pay it. We are dealing also with institutions which, by their very

nature, are labour intensive. One cannot run a private hospital, an old people's home or any institution of this kind without a great deal of labour. The burdens on institutions of this kind will be enormous—so great that in many cases, in view of their present financial difficulties, some may well have to close their doors. If that happens as a result of the tax, the Government will bear a very heavy responsibility if, instead of encouraging the expansion of such provision, they put a great burden on it.

We do not rest our case on any specific examples which have been given, powerful as these are. We are asking the Government to provide a measure of flexibility so that, should the need be proved to extend the definition of a qualified household, it will be possible to do so speedily. I very much regret that the Parliamentary Secretary has not accepted this modest Amendment and these powerful arguments, and I hope that my right hon. and hon. Friends will show their displeasure in the Division Lobby.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 143, Noes 198.

Division No. 152.] AYES [8.01 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Elliott, R. W. (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Knight, Mrs. Jill
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Eyre, Reginald Lambton, Viscount
Astor, John Fletcher-Cooke, Charles Langford-Holt, Sir John
Balniel, Lord Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Batsford, Brian Glover, Sir Douglas Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Beamish, Col. Sir Turton Goodhew, Victor Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)
Bessell, Peter Gower, Raymond Longden, Gilbert
Blaker, Peter Grant, Anthony Lubbock, Eric
Body, Richard Gresham Cooke, R. McAdden, Sir Stephen
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) MacArthur, Ian
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Mackenzie, Alasdair (Rose&Crom'ty)
Brinton, Sir Tatton Gurden, Harold Maclean, Sir Fitzroy
Bromley-Davenport. Lt. Col. Sir Walter Hall, John (Wycombe) Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain
Bruce-Gardyne J. Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N. W.) McMaster, Stanley
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angue, N&M) Harris, Reader (Heston) Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Harrison, Brian (Maldon) Maddan, Martin
Bullus, Sir Eric Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Marten, Neil
Carlisle, Mark Hawkins, Paul Mathew, Robert
Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Maude, Angus
Cary Sir Robert Heseltine, Michael Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Chichester-Clark, R. Hill J. E. B. Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Corfleld, F. V. Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Holland, Philip Nabarro, Sir Gerald
Cunningham, Sir Knox Hooson, Emlyn Neave, Airey
Dance, James Hornby, Richard Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Howell, David (Guildford) Nott, John
d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry Hutchison, Michael Clark Onslow, Cranley
Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Orr, Capt. L. P. S.
Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Osborn, John (Hallam)
Dodds-Parker, Douglas Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Page, John (Harrow, W.)
Doughty, Charles Kimball, Marcus Pardoe, John
Eden, Sir John Kirk, Peter Peel, John
Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Kitson, Timothy Percival, Ian
Pike, Miss Mervyn Sharples, Richard Weatherill, Bernard
Pounder, Rafton Sinclair, Sir George Webster, David
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Steel, David (Roxburgh) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Price, David (Eastleigh) Summers, Sir Spencer Whitelaw, William
Prior, J. M. L. Temple, John M. Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Pym, Francis Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Quennell, Miss J. M. Thorpe, Jeremy Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James Tilney, John Wolrige-Cordon, Patrick
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H. Worsley, Marcus
Rees-Davies, W. R. van Straubenzee, W. R. Wylie, N. R.
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Vickers, Dame Joan Younger, Hn. George
Ridsdale, Julian Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Walker, Peter (Worcester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Royle, Anthony Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek Mr. Jasper More and
Scott, Nicholas Ward, Dame Irene Mr. David Mitchell
Albu, Austen Gregory, Arnold Ogden, Eric
Alldritt, Walter Grey, Charles (Durham) O'Malley, Brian
Allen, Scholefield Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Oram, Albert E.
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Orme, Stanley
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Oswald, Thomas
Beaney, Alan Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J. Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Palmer, Arthur
Bidwell, Sydney Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Pannen, Rt. Hn. Charles
Bishop, E. S. Hamling, William Park, Trevor
Blackburn, F. Harper, Joseph Parker, John (Dagenham)
Blenkinsop, Arthur Haseldine, Norman Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Booth, Albert Hazell, Bert Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)
Boston, Terence Henig, Stanley Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Boyden, James Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Pentland, Norman
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Hooley, Frank Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Bradley, Tom Horner, John Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Price, William (Rugby)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry
Buchan, Norman Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Redhead, Edward
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Howie, W. Rees, Merlyn
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hoy, James Richard, Ivor
Carmichael, Neil Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Chapman, Donald Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Coe, Denis Hughes, Roy (Newport) Roebuck, Roy
Concannon, J. D. Hunter, Adam Rose, Paul
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Hynd, John Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill) Ryan, John
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Sheldon, Robert
Dalyell, Tam Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton. N. E.)
Darling, Rt. Hn. George Jeger, George (Goole) Silkin, S. C. (Dulwich)
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Davies, Harold (Leek) Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Davies, Robert (Cambridge) Jones, Dan (Burnley) Slater, Joseph
de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Small, William
Delargy, Hugh Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Spriggs, Leslie
Dell, Edmund Judd, Frank Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Kelley, Richard Stonehouse, John
Dickens, James Kenyon, Clifford Symonds, J. B.
Dobson, Ray Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Doig, Peter Lawson, George Tinn, James
Donnelly, Desmond Ledger, Ron Tomney, Frank
Dunn, James A. Lestor, Miss Joan Tuck, Raphael
Dunnett, Jack Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Urwin, T. W.
Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Lomas, Kenneth Varley, Eric G.
Eadie, Alex Luard, Evan Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Ellis, John McCann, John Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ennals, David MacDermot, Niall Wallace, George
Evans, Albert (Islington, S. W.) McGuire, Michael Watkins, David (Consett)
Evans, Ioan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Mackintosh, John P. Weitzman, David
Fernyhough, E. Maclennan, Robert Wellbeloved, James
Finch, Harold McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Fitch, Alan (Wigan) MacPherson, Malcolm Whitaker, Ben
Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Manuel, Archie Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Floud, Bernard Mapp, Charles Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Mason, Roy Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Ford, Ben Mayhew, Christopher Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Forrester, John Mendelson, J. J. Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Fraser, John (Norwood) Miller, Dr. M. S. Winterbottom, R. E.
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Galpern, Sir Myer Molloy, William Woof, Robert
Gardner, A, J. Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Wyatt, Woodrow
Ginsburg, David Murray, Albert Yates, Victor
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Newens, Stan
Gourlay, Harry Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) TELLERS FOR THE NOES
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Norwood, Christopher Mr. Neil McBride and
Mr. Walter Harrison.
Mr. Iain Macleod (Enfield, West)

I beg to move Amendment No. 160, in page 11, line 37, at the end to insert: (d) add to or remove from the employers to whom section 3 of this Act applies any employer specified in the order and for that purpose amend the provisions of Part I of Schedule 1 to this Act.

The Chairman

Perhaps it would be convenient to discuss at the same time Amendment No. 162, in line 37, at end insert: (d) amend the provisions of Part II or III of the said Schedule 1.

Amendment No. 161, in page 11, leave out lines 39 to 42.

Amendment No. 163, in page 11, leave out lines 43 to 44.

Mr. Macleod

That would indeed be convenient, Sir Eric. Although this is an important group of Amendments, I can deal with it briefly. We seek to take away subsection (2) from the Treasury and move it under the general authority of the Ministry of Labour. We are not seeking to do this out of affection for the Ministry of Labour, although we have an affection for that Department perhaps rather more than we have for the Treasury.

We wish to do this because while under subsection (3), which lays down that orders made under subsection (1)—that is, those made by the Minister of Labour—would be by affirmative Resolution of the House of Commons, with a draft laid before each House of Parliament, orders made under subsection (2) would be subject to annulment only in the ordinary way. We regard the matters in subsection (2) as of such importance that we feel that the affirmative procedure should be followed.

We suggest this because of the possibility of removing or adding names from the list of employers in Clause 3, which deals with public bodies—and this relates to Part I of the First Schedule; and the list of 22 bodies, starting with the National Coal Board and ending with the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, is therein set out. We also wish that any provision which amends Parts II or III of that Schedule—that is, the excepted parts of undertakings and parts of undertakings qualifying for premium—should, likewise, be subject to the affirmative procedure.

The real reason is that we suspect that throughout the Bill there is an undue tenderness to the nationalised and public authorities and an unfairness in their relative treatment with their competitors in private enterprise. We saw that clearly in the debate, short though it was, about the oil companies and the unfair position there in relation to other providers of energy in the fuel and power sphere. We have seen it in passing—and may, with luck, come to it later tonight—when discussing the question of the very different treatment given to the retail branches of electricity and gas boards compared with their competitors in private enterprise.

For these reasons, we would like to see the eye of Parliament, and particularly of the House of Commons, more closely on Amendments moved under these two subsections, and we feel, therefore, that each and every one of them should be subject to the draft amendment procedure and to affirmative Resolution of both Houses of Parliament.

8.15 p.m.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

This group of Amendments brings to mind two Kings of England, Henry VIII and James II. The Henry VIII Clause, as it was so called, was much stigmatised, the Financial Secretary will remember, by the late Lord Hewart in his Report on Ministers' powers, and subsequently in the Donoughmore Committee's Report, which stigmatised the growing practice of enabling Statutes to be amended by Orders.

The Statute which sets up the system should not contain within itself powers to amend itself by Order or, if it does, it should do so only with the greatest Parliamentary sanction. For that reason, I support the desire of my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) to move the powers in subsection (2) into subsection (1), because thereby we would have the affirmative procedure which is a much greater safeguard and which does not offend to the same extent the Henry VIII Clause.

The other King, James II, of course, lost his throne because of his use of the suspending power, and particularly because of the disposing power as it has been exercised of late—the power to add and subtract from Parts I, II and III of the First Schedule, which is one of the greatest taxation powers that the Executive could possibly take since they could, ad hominen, alter the incidence of taxation according to the people they favour or disfavour. This is a very strong thing to be able to do.

We had some discussion about whether or not the Steel Bill was a hybrid Measure. That discussion was very much on this point; that one could do these things not by particular instances but by classifications. I am surprised, reading through the Schedule, that the same point in regard to hybridity has not been referred to in this connection, although it is really water under the bridge by now. Certainly the ability to change named recipients—those who are favoured by a premium and those who are merely in the neutral zone—by Order is the strongest power one could imagine, particularly so when there is this atmosphere of favouritism already about.

Without wishing to labour the point further, particularly since the members of the Front Bench opposite will have it firmly in their mind, I suggest that the very least we should get is the affirmative Resolution procedure in all cases.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I was hoping that the Amendment was being moved because of a touching faith on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite in the Ministry of Labour. However, the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) appropriately threw us a tiny bouquet, although that is all we managed to get out of the interchange. I should, perhaps, say at once that the Ministry of Labour has no imperial ambitions or desire to appear in a sphere in which it has so far had no responsibilities whatever.

The right hon. Member for Enfield, West explained the real point behind the Amendment, which is to exchange the negative Resolution procedure, which at present applies to Schedule 1 and the employers listed in Clause 3, for the affirmative procedure. As drafted, the Ministry of Labour Orders attract the affirmative procedure while the Treasury orders attract the negative procedure. This is for a very good reason. It is that under Clause 9 the spheres in which the Ministry of Labour issues Orders—namely, under subsections (1,a), (1,b) and (l,c)—are broadly on matters which would not be debated in Parliament in advance.

They would come about in the normal administration of the Bill. For instance, subsection (1,c) empowers the Minister to substitute for the present Standard Industrial Classification a later addition of the classification or one amended by the issue of a specified list of amendments published by the Stationery Office. These are administrative matters which would not first come before the House of Commons. However, subsection (2), which is concerned with Treasury Orders, deals with matters which will have appeared before the House of Commons for Parliamentary debate—for example, if an industry were nationalised and added to Schedule 1, then that would be a matter for debate before it became part of that Schedule. It is for this reason that the distinction has been drawn. Therefore, we do not see the historical fears arising that the hon. and learned Member for Darwen (Mr. Fletcher-Cooke) so graphically expressed, because in both cases there would be a clear Parliamentary safeguard.

A further reason is that it would be difficult for the Ministry of Labour to have the powers that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite are trying to give it, and that is that the Ministry has never been directly concerned with the nationalised industries. It has no responsibility for them in the sense of any financial responsibility, whereas the Treasury has that responsibility together with the nationalised industry Departments.

For those reasons, we are bound to ask the Committee to reject the Amendment on the grounds that it is trying to give a power that is not appropriate to the Ministry concerned and to bring in a method that would not provide any additional safeguard to that laid down.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I compliment the hon. Lady on that answer. It was a very good answer. It did not convince me at all, but it was as good an answer as one could possibly put forward. I shall not argue against it, purely because of time—we must have a few minutes, under this ludicrous Guillotine, to discuss Clause 10. I therefore do not intend to divide the Committee, and beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause ordered to stand part of the Bill.