HC Deb 21 July 1966 vol 732 cc886-951

Amendment proposed: In page 2, line 23, at the end, to insert the words: (2) This section applies to the employment of any person who is registered as a disabled person in any establishment or activity not mentioned in sections 1, 3, 4. 5, 6 of this Act, or in other subsections of this section ".

Question again proposed, That those words be there inserted.

4.10 p.m.

The Chairman

It might be for the convenience of the Committee if I indicate how the provisions of the Guillotine Order will operate today.

The time which has elapsed between 3.30 p.m. and the beginning of the consideration of the Bill is 40 minutes. The result is that proceedings on Clause 2 will be brought to an end at 7.10 p.m.; the proceedings on Clauses 3 and 4 will be brought to an end at 9.40 p.m; and the proceedings on Clauses 5 and 6 will be brought to an end at 12.10 a.m.

Mr. Raymond Gower (Barry)

I wish strongly to support the Amendment, which was moved so clearly, cogently and effectively late last night by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley). I also wish to speak to my Amendment, No. 130, in page 2, line 38, at the end to insert: (c) the establishment employs among its employees at least 5 per cent. who are registered disabled workers. which you kindly ruled, Sir Eric, will be discussed at the same time. That Amendment specifies that an establishment has among its employees at least 5 per cent. who are registered disabled workers. In both of these Amendments we are not referring to all the people who suffer from physical disabilities. We have restricted the Amendments to those persons coming within the category of registered disabled.

As the hon. Member for Cheadle pointed out, this class of people is easily identified, which destroys the force of so many of the arguments which have been advanced by Treasury Ministers in rejecting similar appeals on behalf of the employment of part-time employees and other categories in earlier debates.

I would like to emphasise that we are now considering the interests and welfare of a large number of people. There were, unfortunately, as many as 459,000 persons on the Disabled Persons' Employment Register last February, the last month for which I have been able to obtain figures. Of that figure, 47,000 were unemployed, that is, more than 7 per cent. of the total. By May the number of registered disabled unemployed had fallen to about 44,000. I hope that the Minister will not seek to minimise the difficulties and problems of the registered disabled.

From his professional experience the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheadle has explained how employment is often much more precarious for these people than for fit people. I would like to emphasise the very real difficulties there are in many cases for those who do the valuable work of placing such people in suitable jobs. Sometimes disabled people have great difficulty in keeping these jobs.

4.15 p.m.

If, as the Prime Minister anticipates, unemployment is likely to increase, even to the sort of figure which he had in mind, the employment of registered disabled seems certain in some cases to become more precarious. It has been claimed that many of these people are employed in sheltered employment with various organisations, particularly Remploy Ltd. That is true, but very many persons are in less sheltered occupations and there is a lot of evidence that most disabled persons seem to be less adversely affected by their disabilities when they work alongside other persons who are not similarly disabled.

It will not be an answer to our plea to say that the employment position of agencies such as Remploy might be expanded. That is of undoubted value but the most desirable thing is to place as many of these unfortunate people as possible in general employment, in all kinds of jobs where they will be working alongside others who are not disabled. We want them in the general manufacturing industry, the service industries, the hotel and catering industry, office and shops. We want them everywhere, where-ever they can be usefully employed. it has been claimed that some of the registered disabled are protected by the quota of 3 per cent. fixed by earlier legislation.

This is true, but I would remind the Committee that a very large proportion of these people work in establishments where enlightened and sympathetic employers have long exceeded this quota. I can cite from my own experience many factories in the trading estates in South Wales—and I am sure that other hon. Members can give examples from other parts of the country—where employers, some of whom came here as refugees from Hitler's Germany and Czechoslovakia, have done a magnificent job in exceeding this quota. Often this has been in quite small undertakings. Where more than 20 people are employed, and they are bound by the quota, sometimes the percentage of disabled persons employed has been as high as 4 per cent. or 5 per cent.

It is for this reason that if the Government cannot accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheadle I have put my Amendment down in more narrow terms. I merely suggest that in an establishment there shall be at least 5 per cent. registered disabled. That is going far beyond the 3 per cent. quota and would be a very reasonable requirement. Such an establishment should be in no way inhibited from continuing such splendid work.

Others work in smaller establishments where the quota is not binding. Again, it would be unfortunate if we had to compel the employment of disabled persons in such establishments. I ask the Minister, "Why pass legislation now which will make it harder for employers to sustain numbers of registered disabled in excess of their legal requirements?" Why make it harder for the smaller establishments to give useful employment to numbers of these unfortunate people? Many of the registered disabled find it easier to obtain employment in the service industries than in the great manufacturing industries in some parts of the country.

In many of the development and rural areas the only employment available in any volume for these people is in the service industries. In the North, Scotland, Wales, and the South-West of England, in particular, there are many large rural areas with very little manufacturing industry where the only employment available for disabled people on a big scale is in service industry.

For that reason, too, I plead with the Minister to consider this matter with sympathy. I beg her not to let technical difficulties inhibit her in making the legislation more humane. The approach of Treasury Ministers to the problems of similar categories of people like part-time workers was singularly heartless. But how much more heartless it would be if they were to adopt a similar approach towards the partially disabled. I beg the Government not to let such technical difficulties prevent them from doing the right thing.

The right thing to do in this case is to iron out the roughness of this legislation, which has been described by Ministers as having a sort of rough justice. I suggest that it has a lot of roughness and little justice. Let us iron out some of the roughness by including such a deserving category of people as this.

Mr. Ron Ledger (Romford)

I listened to the speech of the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) yesterday. It was such a break to hear a speech made with sincerity and from a great deal of knowledge. I intervene only because I was given to understand this morning in discussions that I had with people in my constituency that part of his speech might be misunderstood.

I have the greatest sympathy with the case which the hon. Gentleman made. I am not saying that I would carry that sympathy too far, for a number of reasons, but the hon. Gentleman was very sincere in what he said. In referring to disabled people and their difficulties, he drew a conclusion drawn by a number of people, namely, that as a result of the Bill employers may say, "If I have to get rid of people, it will be the disabled who suffer first". The hon. Gentleman said that a number of employers made special conditions in employing disabled people and that this added weight to his belief that if there were a surplus of labour these people would go first.

I checked this morning with a number of disabled people in my constituency, some of whom have special provision made for them and some who, despite their disability, do a normal job. I gathered that if the conclusion which the hon. Gentleman drew was the main reason for his Amendment he was drawing the wrong conclusion, because I firmly got the impression that employers who made special provision for disabled people certainly would not adopt such a heartless attitude to them.

The other far more important point is this. I gathered that when special provision had been made many of these people were at least as skilful, if not more skilful, than those who had no disability. Therefore, in the event of redundancy, there is no certainty that the disabled people would be made redundant. Even when special provision has not been made, the skills of disabled people are often greater. They know that this is their one chance. Care has been taken to ensure that they can do a job for which they are fitted, in view of their disability. Because they know the limits imposed on them, they apply themselves more to the job and become more skilful.

I do not want to take anything away from the speech of the hon. Member for Cheadle, but I am sure that he would agree that we want disabled people to know that we understand that, with their skills, they can often hold their own with people who are not disabled. I do not support the Amendment because I do not believe that it would necessarily be disabled people who would suffer from redundancy.

Dr. M. P. Winstanley (Cheadle)

I am greatly obliged to the hon. Gentleman for his support of my case, limited though it is. What he says is very largely true. But it is also true that in many cases one has to take very strong action to get employers to employ disabled people. I have pleaded with managements to take on people who, to be frank, will not be very much use to them. Managements have done this. I accept that many disabled people do very good work. But he must also accept that there is a number, albeit perhaps a small number, of disabled people who do not do good work. Let us not assume that because the number of people involved is quite small they do not matter. I should not have thought that that was the philosophy of hon. Members opposite. Surely they do matter.

Mr. Ledger

I am glad to have been able to give the hon. Gentleman a chance to clarify his position. I am certain that my right hon. and hon. Friends who introduced the Bill have this point very much in mind. If it is necessary, I am sure that the appropriate action will be taken, as it can be taken, under the Bill.

4.30 p.m.

Sir Charles Mott-Radclyffe (Windsor)

I listened carefully to the very able speech of the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) and to the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower). I do not think that I have ever heard a stronger case, and I beg the Government not to treat this matter lightly.

There is an overriding argument for making the concessions requested. I can think of no reason on economic, social or humanitarian grounds for not making this concession. If there is one golden rule about the problem of disablement it is that hardly any two disabled people are exactly the same. They may suffer from the same disability, but in different degrees. What is certain is that we cannot generalise about the disabled. The problem is to find the right sort of work in the right sort of industry or occupation for a disabled man or woman in the light of his or her disability. This involves finding a number of round holes to fit a number of round pegs.

My experience in my constituency and elsewhere is that anyone who has had anything to do with the Ministry of Labour knows perfectly well that that Department goes to enormous trouble to find occupations for disabled people. The same goes for the various ex-Servicemen's organisations. They are in close touch with the Ministry of Labour all over the country. One knows of firms and individual employers who lean over backwards to employ a particularly hard luck disabled man or woman. On the other hand, there are firms and individual employers who take a little bit of persuading to do this because sometimes the employ- ment of disabled people is what I might call only marginally economic.

Once the Selective Employment Tax is applied to the employer, whether it be a firm or an individual, of a disabled person, what up to now has been what I call marginally economic is marginally economic no longer in view of the 25s. a week which has to be paid. It becomes uneconomic. I think that the hon. Gentleman said that there are 200,000 disabled people in the service industries alone in respect of whom, unless the Government accept this series of Amendments, there will be no repayment. Quite a number of those people will be discharged. With the best will in the world, they must be. What will happen? They will be unemployed and they will receive full unemployment benefit.

4.30 p.m.

But it is not only that that matters. The point is that they will have nothing to do, and anyone who knows anything about the problem of the partially disabled knows that one of the great merits of finding a disabled man or woman a job is that it produces an occupation for them, it takes their minds off their disability.

Therefore, every man and woman who can no longer be employed, owing to S.E.T., because it is marginally uneconomic to employ him or her, will receive the full unemployment benefit. He or she will not have anything to do, and the Government will lose the 25s. a head per disabled unemployed. This does not seem to me, whether on economic, social or humanitarian grounds, to be very sound policy. In fact it is thoroughly unsound under all three headings.

I very much hope that the Government will see the strength of the argument of this group of Amendments moved from this side of the House.

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

I wish to deal with two points raised this afternoon, one of them by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), who said that he hoped that in her reply the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary would not dwell on the technical difficulties. In his powerful speech last night, my bon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) demolished the arguments previously advanced by the Financial Secretary concerning these technical difficulties. They do not exist. The existence of the Disabled Persons' Employment Register means that the employers would not even be required to submit any separate returns, for the amount of money to be paid in refund to be calculated. The returns already have to be made on a periodic basis.

The hon. Lady will no doubt confirm that this information is available in her Ministry. She shakes her head, but I have discussed this thoroughly with experts, who assure me that it is so, so I will not accept any technical arguments against the implementation of my hon. Friend's Amendment, whatever the hon. Lady may say.

I hope that no one on the Government side of the Committee will rely on the technical objects which were mentioned previously by the Financial Secretary. That would be an extremely poor argument. The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Ledger) had a superficially better argument, but I point out to him—and this is the second reason why I rose—that according to the figures given by my hon. Friend yesterday evening there are 48,000 people unemployed from the Disabled Persons' Employment Register, out of a total of 650,000.

As the hon. Gentleman can sec with very little arithmetic, this is a very much higher percentage of the total than the national average. Therefore, if he says that he cannot support us on the Amendment because my hon. Friend failed to prove that the employment difficulties were greater for the disabled, I ask him to consider these figures before he finally makes up his mind on how to vote on the Amendment. I also ask him to consider the point that there are companies which employ only disabled persons and exist for that purpose, because they know that those persons will find it relatively difficult to get a job in an ordinary commercial firm.

The British Legion Attendants Company Ltd. was formed by the British Legion to give employment to ex-Service men who find it difficult to compete in the ordinary labour market. In spite of the tremendous shortage of labour, it is still found necessary by the ex-Service men's ori,anisations to provide this service for people who have done well for their country. I am told by the chairman of the Orpington women's branch of the British Legion that the company employs 801 people. She writes: …one does not have to be a mathematician to see how much this tax will affect the company. If we have to close the company what is to become of these people, who could not be absorbed elsewhere? If they were just pensioned off, this is not good for any man's self-respect "— and, she rightly adds: and why should we have to? ". The hon. Lady could not possibly have considered the effect of the S.E.T. on an organisation such as this company. If she takes time to reflect, she cannot help but accept the Amendment which was so ably moved by my hon. Friend yesterday evening.

Mr. F. J. Bellenger (Bassetlaw)

Generally speaking, I support the Government on the Selective Employment Tax, but, as hon. Members on both sides of the Committee have pointed out, there are many anomalies. There are the classes of persons for whom hon. Members have pleaded that should be exempted from the Bill. As the hon. Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) said, many ex-Service men are dependent for their work to a certain extent on charity, but they are also doing valuable work, and they will be left high and dry if the S.E.T. applies to the industries or employers engaging them.

I remember very well that after the First World War the King's Roll was set up especially to enable employers to get the benefit of being put on the list of contractors for public departments if they guaranteed to employ a certain percentage of people disabled as a result of the war. I should look askance if those people were particularly penalised, when so much public and charitable money has been spent on creating employment for those classes. In my constituency, there is a Remploy factory. I do not know whether it will be exempt. I do not suppose that it would be exempt as a charity, but Government money has been spent in large amounts in setting up these establishments all over the country, and, to say the least, it would be a bad policy to rob Peter to pay Paul if they were to come under the tax.

I well understand that my hon. Friend cannot give a general reply on the points raised by the hon. Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) and the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock). The tax his been introduced to raise revenue and also, to use the Prime Minister's phrase yesterday, to "shake out" certain people from services to production. This legislation has been introduced very quickly, without perhaps, mature consideration, and it will, therefore, have to be considered again by the Treasury at some time in the future if we are to get a proper and fair balance between one class of employer and another. I hope that my hon. Friend can tell us today that, once the tax is working, the Government will look at these anomalies and at least exempt some classes, in the same way as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has done wholesale in the case of those bodies that can prove that they are charities or charitable organisations.

That is all I say to my hon. Friend. I do not expect her to accept the Amendment, but I make a plea for the various people to whom hon. Members have referred. Let us see that we temper our justice, as it were, with mercy. It would be unmerciful to put any class of disabled persons out of work merely because the Chancellor wants to raise more taxation, and it would deny the good work which has been done by successive Governments and by organisations such as the British Legion which extensively employ men who were disabled in doing their duty to their country in two world wars. I hope that my hon. Friend will give us a sympathetic reply.

Mr. Bernard Braine (Essex, South-East)

I support the Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) and supported by several of my hon. Friends as well as by the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) in a set of closely reasoned and compelling speeches.

It is disgraceful that responsibility for this tax on the disabled has been put upon the Minister of Labour. It runs completely counter to everything which his Department has tried to do ever since the passing of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944. The Committee will recall that that Act had two purposes, to promote and facilitate the rehabilitation and training for employment of persons handicapped by injury, disease or congenital deformity, and to enable such disabled persons to obtain employment or undertake work on their own account.

Over the years the Ministry has worked nobly in this task. It has established 17 rehabilitation centres. About 12,000 men and women pass through them every year. Their purpose, according to a Ministry handout, is not to give training—that may follow in a Government Training Centre or elsewhere—but to improve or restore the faith of men and women who pass through them in their ability to do a job of work, and once again to become useful members of the community. But the final test is not that. The final test is in getting disabled men and women into jobs and keeping them there. This has meant, in the words of the Tomlinson Report which pioneered the disablement Acts, finding jobs which enable the disabled to secure employment on their merits and to keep it in competition with other workers. The task has never been easy. it has meant ceaseless endeavour by dedicated disablement resettlement officers. These officers have had a good deal of success, as many of us know from our constituency work, but they have also had some heartbreaking failures.

How can the Minister of Labour ever have accepted responsibility for this iniquitous Measure, which is bound to make more difficult the employment of a good many disabled persons and make impossible the placing of many others? The Minister himself, who is not present at the moment, is a kind and courageous man. He has the respect of this side of the Committee, and I know his qualities well, because he was my predecessor in South-East Essex. I refuse to believe that in his heart he accepts this betrayal of everything for which his Ministry has hitherto stood in relation to the disabled and handicapped.

It is worthwhile remembering just how vulnerable the disabled are. We have heard the figures-659,000 on the Disabled Persons' Employment Register, that is, one in 40 of the employed population, with 47,000 of them unemployed in February—perhaps fewer today. Those figures show that the registered disabled have a rate of unemployment four times greater than the national average, and this at a time of acute labour shortage.

But those figures, as the hon. Member for Cheadle pointed out last night, well may also be an underestimate, because there are many disabled people not on the register. In this context, it is pertinent to ask why they are not on the register. Any disablement resettlement officer will tell the hon. Lady why. A good many will not register because they believe that it means recognition of their disability and, therefore, prejudice in finding a job.

4.45 p.m.

So far, there has been no sign from the Government of awareness of these difficulties, or, if they are aware, no sign that they care. I hope that the hon. Lady—I know that she cares—will dispel that impression. The Committee will recall that, when my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) sought, on the Report stage of the Finance Bill, virtually to exempt the blind from the tax, the Financial Secretary, in a most unhappy and, if I may say so, uncharacteristic speech for him, said that because employers had sympathy with the blind they would not discriminate against blind employees, and for full measure he added that, after all, not very many people were involved.

The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Ledger) was quite right when he said that a good many blind and deaf persons have a highly developed sensibility in other ways. They develop special skills, and they are assets to their employers. But this is not always so. Acute difficulty is encountered by social welfare officers working with the D.R.O.s in placing deaf school-leavers, for example, especially those with limited educational attainment. Unhappily, training facilities for boys are very limited, and they do not exist at all for girls.

It is also extremely difficult to place those whose mobility is restricted or who suffer from epilepsy. Yet we all know that for such people having a job is absolutely vital to their well-being. It is part of the business of enabling them to overcome their disability, to come to terms with life. It is often forgotten that the physically disabled suffer physical pain and discomfort, and are invariably at a serious disadvantage socially and psychologically. The effects of disability upon personality and upon educational and emotional development are immeasureable.

What will happen if small employers are forced to reduce their staffs? This is the purpose of the Bill. Employers in service industries are being required to reduce their staffs. Inevitably, in many cases it will be the disabled, the awkward, the slower worker, and, in the case of the epileptic, the man who occasionally causes difficulty, who will go first.

Dr. Winstanley

I entirely endorse the list which the hon. Gentleman has given, but will he add to it that disabled persons in employment have a bad sick absence record? They are liable to be absent from work fairly frequently.

Mr. Braine

I entirely agree. The hon. Gentleman speaks from direct experience, but I know that to be so. Let me take the matter further. What are the chances of a disabled person dislodged from employment by this means of getting another job? A disabled person has a much reduced choice of job, anyway. He encounters difficulties at every turn. He cannot travel very far. He is limited in the work he can do. This is particularly true of the deaf, for whom there are, obviously, problems of communication. He gets no tax relief by way of compensation.

It is not just a question of disabled people being the first to be displaced by the tax. Having been displaced, they are far less able than ordinary workers to find alternative employment. They will be consigned simply to the scrap-heap. It is inconceivable that a Labour Government should have brought in a Measure of this kind.

On the other hand, exemption from the tax may make all the difference when an employer comes to decide whether to retain a disabled worker. If the Treasury Ministers do not understand that, I am sure that the Minister of Labour does. Indeed, the present Minister has gone out of his way to thank employers for the co-operation that he receives. He made a number of speeches on the subject last year. But, in these circumstances, will employers go on co-operating?

We ought to try to answer the question realistically. Why should employers in service industries continue to retain disabled workers in this situation? The Government tell us that one reason for the tax is to move workers into manufacturing. To use the Prime Minister's elegant phrase, there is to be a shake-out in jobs. Why should employers in the service industries be taxed on workers who, in some cases, may not be doing the work of a fully healthy worker because of some disability, when the Government are subsidising manufacturing employers to retain their workers? There is no economic sense in this, and I have demonstrated that there is no social sense in it, either.

We on this side, and I am perfectly certain that in their hearts hon. Gentlemen opposite as well, are deeply concerned about the social consequences. The Committee is entitled to know whether the Minister consulted his Department right the way down to the disablement resettlement officers about this shabby proposal. What was the considered view of his advisers who, for 20 years, have been engaged in the humanitarian work of trying to help the disabled to fit into employment?

When the Parliamentary Secretary replies, may I ask her if she will tell us whether the Minister's National Advisory Committee for the Disabled was consulted, and the country-wide system of district committees as well? Did they express any view once a decision was taken? Was any disablement resettlement officer consulted? I think that I know what the answers will be, but the Committee is entitled to hear the Parliamentary Secretary reply on this subject.

It has been said that the tax puts a premium on inefficiency, on the hoarding of labour and that it is a positive disincentive to economy in manufacturing. That is true. It has been said that the tax is confusing and contradictory in the sense that it will be inflationary in manufacturing industry at a time when the rest of the Government's measures are supposed to have a disinflationary effect. That, also, is true. In its social consequences, the tax will be wholly bad, and one of its more pernicious effects will be to penalise the disabled, the elderly and the wife who works part time to keep together a family that may have lost the father or where the husband is sick or completely disabled. All these will be disadvantaged, while the premium is to be paid in respect of workers in manufacturing who so far have failed to re- spond to the Prime Minister's woolly exhortations to raise production.

So it is that the first casualties of Socialist failure to inspire the nation to greater efforts are the weakest elements in our labour force. Thus, the tax reverses in deed and in spirit everything that successive Governments have tried to do for the disabled. I myself would support discrimination in favour of the disabled, as I have always said. But we are not asking for that. The hon. Member for Cheadle made it plain that we are asking for far less. By definition, the disabled worker starts off with an inbuilt disadvantage. All that we ask here is that he shall not be disadvantaged further by this clumsy and singularly unselective tax.

Here is one case where the excuse of administrative difficulty cannot be made. Most of the disabled can be identified, because they are already registered. They can remain on the register only if medical evidence is given that they are disabled. In the case of part-time workers, the Financial Secretary said—and I give him credit for it—that he was prepared to look at the matter again. The case for doing so on this Amendment is even stronger. I beg the Government to relent, to reverse their policy, and do so with dispatch.

Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)

I wish to reinforce very strongly what my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East (Mr. Braine) has just said and, first of all, I want to follow up one important point.

I, too, would like to know from the hon. Lady whether the National Advisory Committee and the district and area disablement resettlement officers have been consulted, and I have a particular reason for asking that question. I would not have raised the matter had it not been for the speech of my hon. Friend, but he set off a spark in me, because I happen to have fought and won a battle with the hon. Lady affecting women.

My hon. Friend mentioned the National Advisory Committee for the Disabled. We also have a Women's Consultative Committee which advises the Minister of Labour, and it is only an advisory committee. There was a meeting of that committee when the Selective Employment Tax was announced. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the meeting, but I was horrified to hear that certain of my friends on the Committee had tried to raise the matter with the idea of finding out what advice the Committee wished to tender for consideration by the Minister, only to be slapped down on the understanding that another Department was dealing, with it.

I went into battle over that, because I do not sit on consultative committees for the purpose of being overriden when the occasion for using the advice of the committeee arises. I asked the Parliamentary Secretary, who chairs the Committee—and I realise that I am being a little unfair, because she had just taken over the chair at the time—whether we could have a special meeting. The hon. Lady's reply was against a special meeting. Being a rather naughty and long-experienced Member of the House, I put down a Parliamentary Question immediately, and that won the battle.

The meeting will be held next week, and the Minister will be able to consider the advice. It may be that the Committee will support the Minister and the Government. I do not know. But to wipe out the opportunity of a consultative committee giving advice in a time of crisis and when part-time workers, women worker; and the disabled are involved, does not strike me as straight, honest dealing.

I am glad that my hon. Friend has raised the problem of the disabled. If the National Advisory Committee has not been consulted, I hope that the hon. Lady will hurriedly take steps to call it together, because there is still time to do something about this before the Report stage, and here is the field wide open. I may say to the hon. Lady and to the Government that I do not appreciate being double-crossed out of my democratic rights. I like to have every opportunity available.

I will not go over again the points which have been admirably expressed in support of the elimination of the disabled from the Selective Employment Tax. They have been more than adequately made.

5.0 p.m.

I listened to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Ledger) who talked about this matter from the Government side. What always happens when a case is argued by those who support our views on the imposition of the Selective Employment Tax in respect of part-time and disabled workers, is that the Financial Secretary and the Chief Secretary deal with the case in general terms. They never argue that it is the right of this House to protect the individual, and not only in general terms the community.

The Amendment has been moved in support of the rights of individuals. The Prime Minister talked about a shakeout. I thought that it was a shake-out, and not a shake-up, but, whether it was a shake-up or a shake-out, the object of this tax is to transfer workers from service industries to manufacturing industries. But this is a lot of nonsense, because if the Government can introduce a Bill making charitable organisations liable to the tax, that must be absolutely batty. Fortunately they were forced out of that position very quickly.

The disabled have received a great deal of attention from the Ministry of Labour. The Ministry has done a lot of hard work to get them employment and to keep them employed. Nobody in his senses can believe that it is possible to bring the disabled worker into the open market. It is absolute nonsense. I am a very suspicious person, and I can see the whole build-up. The hon. Lady, whom we all admire, is put on the Government Front Bench to answer the debate. It is not the Financial Secretary, it is not the Chief Secretary, it is the hon. Lady who is left to answer the arguments, and I think that it is wrong of the Government to put this responsibility on her in view of her Department's past history.

One can argue one way or the other on the general question of the disabled. One can talk about the arrangements which have been made for special cases, about the attempts which have been made to help them, and about the work which has been done by the hon. Lady's Department, but the point remains that if this House agrees to this tax on the disabled the psychological effect will be to make people say, "What a Parliament. What a democratic approach to the disabled. They could not even in their hearts find it right to make a special concession for those whom they have always argued they were so interested in." It is the overall psychological approach which will be so damaging to the disabled.

Many of them know only too well the efforts which have been made by employers to help them. Some employers are much more ready than others to respond to those who need help, but, taking them as a whole, people are out to do what they can to help those who have had an unfortunate deal in life. I am glad to say that one of the developments in our national life is that people are becoming more conscious of the need to help those who have had a bad deal in life. It will be a terrible thing if the idea grows that this Committee is not prepared to help the disabled who cannot possibly fall into the category of workers which the Bill seeks to transfer from service to manufacturing industry.

Surely even this Government, at this time, do not need to tax the disabled. Disabled people cannot be regarded as part of the inflationary pressure which has built up in this country. Wherever the inflationary pressure may have come from it cannot have come from the employment of the disabled. Are the Government proposing to send out word from this House of Commons, the central part of our democratic system, that they are going to tax the disabled in this way?

Mr. Braine

The majority.

Dame Irene Ward

I agree that it will be a majority, because many people will vote against this proposal, but the fact remains that it will have this bad psychological effect. People do not always examine the Division lists, nor do they always read the Press, nor listen to wireless or television broadcasts. This proposal cannot be in the interests of building up the morale of the disabled. Surely no one wants to destroy that? They have enough to cope with already.

With all the power at my command, I beg the hon. Lady to repudiate this proposal. Somebody said that she could not give a pledge today. I am not taken in by Ministers saying that they will be able to do something in the future. There is no need to deal with this in the future. It can be dealt with today and I hope that the hon. Lady will do so quite firmly. The Deputy Prime Minister was "in-ing" and "out-ing" yesterday. I am sure that the hon. Lady would "out" in a good cause. If she "outed" in this case —I realise that it is not her decision, it is the Government's—she would win a great victory, and I am sure nothing would give her greater pleasure than winning a great victory for the disabled of this country.

Mr. Harold Finch (Bedwellty)

I spoke on this problem of the disabled during our discussions on the Finance Bill. I want for a few moments to plead with my right hon. and hon. Friends on the Front Bench to make some concession in respect of disabled people. I support the Government's general policy, and I support their prices and incomes policy, but I feel rather embarrassed sitting here listening to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite speaking on a subject which I know is of great importance to many disabled men and women.

Employers in service industries will have to pay 25s. a week for every man in their employment. This applies to both fit and disabled people. If we strike the slightest recession—and I want to look at this as optimistically as I can—I do not say that employers will get rid of all disabled persons merely because they have to pay 25s. per week for them, but it is likely that the disabled will be the first to be dismissed. Many disabled people are employed in sedentary jobs. Many are crippled, some are ex-Service men, and some, having come out of the mining industry, suffer from pneumoconiosis and have to gasp for breath and can hardly walk.

I know that some employers employ more than 3 per cent. of disabled people. I have pleaded with them to take on additional disabled people, men who have been unemployed for years, because it is impossible to gauge the happiness which a disabled man finds when at last he has a job to do. I have been to employers and asked them to take on perhaps just one more disabled man. An employer often says, "We are employing 3 per cent. already", and we say, "Take one more". He may then take another one. Now we are imposing on such an employer the penalty of paying 25s. a week for each of these men.

I support the main object of this legislation, but I cannot support this burden being placed on the disabled. These men and women cannot properly help themselves. An able man who becomes redundant can find a job somewhere else, but once a disabled man is out of work he finds it very difficult to obtain another job. do not follow this part of the Government's policy. If a man is unemployed for a long time he ceases to be eligible for unemployment benefit. I believe that the benefit expires after 17 or 19 months, at most. At the end of that period the only help he can obtain is from National Assistance.

Many disabled men who have spent a lifetime in the mining industry and who find themselves unemployed as a result of this provision will have to resort to National Assistance. I do not think that my right hon. Friends intended this, but that is what their policy will do. I do not understand the attitude of the Ministry of Labour. Its resettlement officers find employment for disabled people. They are paid for it, and they have done their job very efficiently. We can now close the door on the service industries, because these resettlement officers will not be able to get any help from them.

Why is it necessary to bring in the disabled? My right hon. Friends say that difficulty arises in establishing the number of people who will have to pay contributions. It seems a simple matter to me; it is for every employer to tell the Ministry the number of disabled he is employing. We need not have all these complications concerning pensions and contributions. The employer merely has to state that he is employing so many disabled people, and supply their names, addresses and the amounts of their contributions. His return can always be checked. I cannot see how any difficulty can be caused.

The State will not derive any financial benefit from this provision, because the people who become unemployed will go on to National Assistance and that will be a burden on the Exchequer. The Coal Board has done a good job for the disabled, but it cannot do more. These men are not mobile. They may be able to obtain work in manufacturing industries but I still do not see why the door to the service industries should be closed to them.

In my opinion the Ministry is frustrating the work of its own officers because it is going to create a situation in which there will be little point in rehabilitation and training for the disabled. I am embarrassed with the Ministry in this respect. Over the last 18 months or two years we have made a drive to obtain more work for the disabled, and it distresses me to have to stand here this evening and plead with my own Government on their behalf. I hope that the Ministry will reconsider this proposal, because it is more important to me than all the other aspects of the policy behind the Bill.

I am fighting for men and women who cannot help themselves. Many of these people have given a life's work to industry, and they are going to find themselves unemployed, with the door closed to further employment, by the action of the Ministry of Labour.

5.15 p.m.

Captain Walter Elliot (Carshalton)

I know that all my hon. Friends find themselves fully in agreement with the hon. Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) who asks what the point of this provision is. The trouble in the first place is that the economic and financial policies of the Government are in such a state of indescribable confusion that it is extraordinarily difficult to decide what the point of any impost is. The task is made even more difficult, because the emphasis changes from week to week.

Three reasons have been put forward for the imposition of the Selective Employment Tax. First, it is said to be revenue-raising; secondly, it is said to have a deflationary impact, and, thirdly, it is supposed to aid the redeployment of labour. Let us examine those three reasons. We have heard that over 200,000 disabled people are employed in the service industries. The financial cost of relieving them of this burden would be very small. It would be particularly small if we take into account the Prime Minister's statement of yesterday, when he said that he was clawing in another £500 million from the staggering populace. I cannot see any justification for imposing this tax on the disabled simply to raise revenue.

What about its deflationary effect? As the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) said, vast sums of public money have been spent in setting up retraining establishments for the disabled, in order to fit them for new jobs. If we are blunt and honest in using the expression "deflation" we have to admit that we are envisaging another 400,000 unemployed. After all the money that we have spent in retraining the disabled we do not want to see them unemployed. That is ruled out as a reason.

The third reason, concerning the redeployment of labour, is inextricably bound up with retraining. However willing the disabled are, and however good, it is difficult to retrain them. We do not want to redeploy these men and women into other jobs, and have to waste a lot of time in retraining them. Therefore, that reason also seems to be out. We have been told that the administrative problem involved in relieving them from this burden would be very small, and the Government cannot rely on that argument.

We have been very disappointed with the lack of support from the back benches opposite. Everyone admits that the mainspring of the Socialist Party in the past has been its streak of idealism, in seeking to help the blind, the lame and the halt. We are not putting forward these Amendments for any party purpose. We have heard hon. Members opposite speak in support of our arguments, but we have received no support from them in the Lobby. Surely, in Committee, nothing is more calculated to spur a Government than a healthy defeat on some minor point. It could not bring them down, so surely we could expect some support from the back benches opposite on this issue.

I am slightly encouraged to see that, apparently, the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour is to reply. The Chief Secretary and the Financial Secretary must be tired out. I do not know where the Chief Secretary is today: I hope that he is away having a rest, because in the last few days he has put forward the most extraordinary arguments. When he wound up the guillotine debate, the thesis he propounded was that the more complicated and controversial a Measure was, the more important it was to stifle discussion. When he wound up the debate on concessions for the blind, he proved entirely to his own satisfaction that in obtaining employment it is a great advantage to be blind.

The hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Ledger) came near to arguing that to be disabled might not be a disadvantage. We should reject that argument completely. The disabled are only a certain percentage efficient—perhaps 50 or 70 per cent. They have grave disabilities, so that I hope that that argument will not be put forward by the hon. Lady.

Mr. Ledger

Most hon. Members here did not understand that from what I said. I said that so many who are disabled overcome their disability and acquire skills equal to those of people who are not disabled. This was my point, that they would not automatically lose a job because they were disabled, because their skills might be so great. I hope that the interpretation which the hon. and gallant Member made was for his own purposes and that he is the only one who would make it.

Captain Elliot

I take the hon. Member's point, that, because these people are disabled, there are no grounds for a concession. That was the argument of the Chief Secretary for the blind. I hope that it will be rejected.

Mr. Ted Leadbitter (The Hartle-pools)

Hon. Members opposite have talked a great deal about their concern for the disabled, which is admirable. I do not doubt that they and hon. Members on this side are greatly alarmed about the effects of the Selective Employment Tax on the disabled. I do not doubt the genuineness of what hon. Members have said, but when we try to translate expressions of concern in terms of political performance hon. Members opposite have a dismal and miserable record.

I can remember pleading for concessionary fares for old people, the disabled and the blind in my maiden speech in 1964. I recollected then that over a period of years hon. Members opposite had opposed such a Measure to help the kind of people for whom we are pleading now—

Mr. Braine

Would the hon. Gentleman also recollect that the same question has been put to the present Government and that they, too, have declined?

Mr. Leadbitter

The first Bill with which I was happy to be associated was that which provided for concessionary fares. Happily, this is being operated now by many authorities—

Mr. Braine

Not for the old people in my constituency.

Mr. Leadbitter

The hon. Member represents a constituency which I cannot judge. He is a Conservative Member, and I challenge him to show that he has ever pressed his local authority to implement the Travel Concessions Act.

Mr. Braine


Mr. Leadbitter

The point I want to develop—

Mr. Braine

The hon. Gentleman has just made an assertion that, in a certain matter, I have not pressed the interests of my constituency. I made an earlier intervention because I have been in correspondence with the present Government and have received a dusty answer.

Mr. Leadbitter

My point simply is that in this matter, concerning disabled people, hon. Members opposite have a very unhappy record. However, I am not making a case that any hon. Member is less concerned than I am about disabled people. I respect their views. It is not a good test to have recriminations about political performance—[Hon. MEMBERS: "Oh"] It is not a good test. The test is whether we are concerned that relief should be given to this section of the community, to whom these matters are of grave importance.

I am sometimes concerned to see political opportunism in a debate on an attempt to reform our tax legislation, which is bound to have anomalies. I would be the first to say that the Selective Employment Tax is half-baked, half-thought-out and hurriedly introduced and that it might be wiser if my Front Bench bore in mind opinions expressed in this House rather more than the opinions given by their advisers. I am satisfied that every hon. Member returning to his or her constituency sees there the social consequences of legislation. This is more frequent than the Ministry's advisers think.

I am alarmed that there are so many anomalies in this half-baked and half- thought-out Measure and that we cannot yet get a nod from the Front Bench to signify that the Government will think of introducing reliefs where they are most needed. I will not go so far as to say that the S.E.T. is not necessary. It is very necessary. However, it would have been more effective if it had been considered in the coming year and then introduced, when all the consultations with and advice from those concerned with communities like the disabled might have been far more helpful in producing a tax with the degree of selectivity which the Title of the Bill implies.

5.30 p.m.

I hope that the Government will accept that on both sides of the Committee there is genuine concern—in my case it is anger—that S.E.T. is to be applied in cases where it will do harm. I go so far as to say that my anger about this form of tax is such that unless I can be otherwise persuaded I will feel disinclined to support the Government in this matter.

The hon. Lady the Member for Tyne-mouth (Dame Irene Ward) has talked about courage. I would be the last person to minimise the courage which she has displayed in Parliament over the years, even if a large part of it might come under the heading of stubbornness. I must make my case as a back-bench Labour hon. Member and that is why I say that unless I receive a nod of approval from a member of the Government to convince me that my remarks are being heeded, I will feel disinclined to support the Government on this issue.

All hon. Members must examine their conscience in whichever part of the Committee they sit. Having done so, I have some simple questions to put to the Government. They are simple because I have removed them from the area of political recrimination. They are questions which have to do with ordinary people and I trust that I will be given an ordinary and straightforward reply. Do the Government really believe that they will help the disabled by the imposition of S.E.T.? If so, will they explain in simple terms to what extent it will be helpful? Is S.E.T. likely to be harmful to the disabled? If so, to what extent will it be harmful and on what advice have they determined the degree of harmfulness?

Do the Government genuinely believe that disabled people employed in industries which may be affected by the announced shake-up will not suffer; that redundancy will not occur to the disabled people seeking employment in the service and distributive trades? To what extent will they suffer in this way, and will they have to seek employment in other trades? If so, do the Government believe that they will be considered for employment? To what extent will this tax on the disabled produce any sort of revenue return? Is it possible, considering the technicalities involved in collecting S.E.T. for the Government to think in terms of introducing some reliefs or creating allowances for the disabled employed in the service industries?

The Government have an opportunity tonight to say to at least one hon. Member on the Labour side—although I am not the only one on these benches who feels deeply concerned about this—that they are willing to examine the imposition of S.E.T. again so that I and my hon. Friends who feel the way I do may feel able to support the Government, remembering that an expression of sympathy from the Government Front Bench would show that the Government share the anxiety that has been expressed on both sides of the Committee.

I wish to make it clear that I feel equally strongly that the Ministers concerned have not looked at this matter as clearly as have hon. Members who have criticised it. Nevertheless, I am dreadfully concerned about a process that has been and is going on in government and which is worrying back benchers on both sides of the Committee. It concerns the power and influence of Parliament. Various arguments may be adduced from one side of the Committee or the other, but they are being lost because of the weakening power of the House of Commons.

Having stated that the Ministers responsible have, I am sure, shown concern about the problem of the disabled, I would like to know to what extent their minds have been preconditioned by the advice given to them by people in other Departments. If that has happened, it is time that the Departments concerned—the Treasury, the Ministry of Labour and any individual or individuals who have sought to advise in those Departments—were put in their proper place, because it is only after a brief has been written that the argument starts.

I hope that before the Division bell rings a member of the Government Front Bench will tell me that I have reason not to feel disinclined to support the Government on this issue.

Sir Tatton Brinton (Kidderminster)

I am in deep agreement with the hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter). I only regret that he felt it necessary to begin his speech with a great deal of political recrimination, which he rebuked in other people although he might have applied it to himself. However, the remainder of his remarks were delivered with great conviction and I hope that his words will carry some weight with the Government. So far everything that we have said seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

I have listened to many speeches on this subject from hon. Members on both sides of the Committee and have been convinced, as any humane and logical person must be, that the issue we are discussing should be the subject of exemption from Selective Employment Tax. How can anybody justify taxing the employment of disabled people?

I do not wish to spin out the debate and I will, therefore, make only two points. First, it is precisely in those services which bear the tax that it is most difficult to employ disabled people. It is easier to find places for them in manufacturing because manufacturing units tend to be larger than distributive ones and, where dozens or hundreds of people are employed, it is obviously easier to find round holes for round pegs, as my hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radcliffe) pointed out. The Government are putting a tax on those enterprises which find it more difficult to employ disabled people, namely, the service industries.

Secondly, what is the administrative difficulty about accepting the suggestion we have made? In the amazing encumbrances of the Bill it has been decided by the authors that those who are to receive the premium must first pay the tax and claim their money back later. Why cannot any employer of any kind, whether in a service or manufacturing industry, also make a claim on one or another of the multifarious Ministries which are to administer the payments—making his claim in the same way as a qualifying manufacturer will make his claim?

The qualifying manufacturer has to establish a good deal of evidence to back up his claim. He must prove that more than 50 per cent. of his people are manufacturing and that he is on one side of the street and not on the other. He has to show how many of his people are filling in forms for the Government, and how many are actually making goods. How much more difficult would it be for the Government to enable the service industries to recover the tax by making claims in respect of the disabled people they employ? Could there be any difficulty the Government could not overcome?

I submit that where it is a matter of extracting large quantities of tax from the public, even at great difficulty, the Government can always find a way, but that when it is a question of forgoing a relatively small sum for a humane object we are told that administrative difficulties will not permit it. I hope that we shall not have that argument thrown at us again now, particularly in respect of such a humane object as we have in mind.

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

In the course of this debate the whole argument has moved from a position marking the real concern of hon. Members—and there is real concern on both sides—to one that has become to a large extent distorted. I will state the facts as quickly as I can, then look at the incidence of the tax, and then remind hon. Members about one or two things already said in the debate which seem to have been forgotten.

First and foremost, this tax has been represented by a number of hon. Members on both sides as a tax on the disabled, but they might call it a premium for the disabled, because both statements are true. Let us look at the general facts. The Selective Employment Tax is, as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has pointed out more than once, basically a tax intended to balance up the general level of taxation on the service industries vis-à-vis the general level of taxation in the manufacturing industries with, in the middle, a neutral section upon which refund is payable.

There are in the manufacturing section of industry some 300,000 disabled workers, on every one of whom the premium will be paid. If I may say so, at an earlier stage of our debate there was a long discussion in which hon. Members opposite perfectly legitimately argued that the premium could lead to labour hoarding, though I do not think that I have heard one of them argue that the premium would mean that in certain cases manufacturers would hold to their disabled labour, which must be the case if the argument is that the premium is an incentive to hoarding labour in manufacturing.

A further 100,000 disabled persons fall into the refund category. The sum of money payable on them will therefore be neutral, so we trust that their employment will not be affected. Finally, approximately 200,000 disabled are in the service sector. They are largely employed by firms which take them under the quota system. Under that system, which arose from the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944, they cannot be dismissed "without good cause". That means, quite straightforwardly, that there is a major barrier in the way of the very thing about which many hon. Members on both sides have, with due sincerity and real concern, worried themselves.

The hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), for instance, referred to British Legion car park attendants, but British Legion car park attendants, like all car park attendants in that group, and like all electric lift attendants in that group, are in employments that are listed as being open only to the disabled, so that no one not disabled can hold a job in those sectors. That means that if anyone loses his job in that sector, another disabled person will have to be employed. That is the case there—

Mr. Lubbock

Some people will do without attendants at their car parks—that is what will happen.

Mrs. Williams

This occupation is listed as limited to those who are disabled.

Dr. Winstanley

I am sure that the hon. Lady is aware that the description "car park attendant" is misleading. It is merely the name given to a company operated by the British Legion which supplies employment to all sorts of occupations. If one looks it up, one finds that many of them do other things, and to the cost of hiring them out to other commercial undertakings will now be added the Selective Employment Tax.

5.45 p.m.

Mrs. Williams

I do not deny the hon. Gentleman's argument, but merely say that it is not the case in this type of employment that disabled people will be displaced and other persons taken on. It is my duty to try to answer on the basis of fact. I will come later to the general concern that all hon. Members rightly feel on the subject.

Consequently, two-thirds of the disabled fall within the premium or refund categories. Half of the disabled will have refund paid for them, and one-third will not, but, of those, some come under quota, and therefore cannot, under the 1944 Act, be dismissed without good cause. These are the facts of the matter.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) referred with deep feeling to those groups which largely concern themselves with providing sheltered work. Again, to the best of the knowledge of my Department, Remploy will come within the premium category, which means that it will be easier, and not more difficult, for it to carry on and reinforce its excellent work. Local authority workshops will be covered by the repayment provisions of Clause 4. And workshops run by voluntary bodies are almost all in the manufacturing sector and for the most part are also charities.

I will not deny that hon. Members on both sides have a very real concern for those whom this Measure might affect—if there were one person it would be too many—but we must get the argument in proportion, and recognise that a large part of the Opposition's case under the general head of a "tax on the disabled "is, if I may say so, intentionally or not, a highly distorted way in which to approach the subject, and does not help anyone.

I turn to the second point. There are certain administrative difficulties, but I make it clear that administrative difficul- ties should never be allowed to stay in the way of something necessary as well as right. We shall argue in a moment whether or not this is necessary. We do not yet know. Let us look at the difficulties to be overcome. During the Committee stage of the Finance Bill the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), to whose real knowledge of and concern with this subject I wish to pay tribute, said about some employers—and he may or may not have been right about this; it is difficult to judge: They evade the Act by seeking to get on to the register many people whose disablements are more imaginary than real. There is the type of employer, who, to bring the total number of disabled persons up to the appropriate figure, will seek to get people, probably a mild diabetic, who have not been substantially disabled, to go on to the register so as to keep his figures up."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th June, 1966; Vol. 730, c. 1866.] That may occur in some cases. I am sure that we will agree that in most cases it does not, but it points to the difficulty, and it is a real difficulty.

I believe that the hon. Gentleman will agree that it is right that the terms and conditions for being on the disabled register should be generously expressed, and so they are—as he will know, because he is an expert in this field. One of these terms covers anyone who, by reason of disablement, may find it difficult to get new employment in less than 12 months. This is as generous a provision as exists anywhere else in the world, and it is probably more generous. It takes care, among others, of the short-term disabled who may, as we hope they will, later return to full health.

But the hon. Member will recognise that the terms and conditions of the disablement register, expressed broadly, as they are so expressed, as to make available the services of the Ministry of Labour to as many people as may benefit are, by that very token, very widely expressed so as to try to give reality to the disabled, of whom he knows there are many thousands, who are not on the register. As the hon. Gentleman pointed out during the Committee stage of the Finance Bill, there are some on the register who are certainly less disabled than others who are not on the register. So the first difficulty is that the register itself is a bad guide to the whole of the disabled community. It is a guide to some, including some very severely disabled, but it excludes many who are disabled, and may include some who are more lightly disabled than others outside it. This is a genuine difficulty for anyone on either side of the Committee who wishes to be as fair as possible.

There is the further administrative difficulty constituted by firms with fewer than 20 employees who do not have a quota. Most of those firms in the service industries—I stress the service industries —under the Bill would make no returns whatever of employment or establishment and would put in no claims for repayments. So immediately there would be a great many firms in this small group of whom we have no clear record as to whom they employ because they have no record of numbers of disabled whom they employ.

If it is necessary to do this, it must be done. Now I come to the third part of my argument. Having argued the difficulties, the Government are reluctant to bring in this machinery unless it is necessary. My hon. Friends the Members for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) and Bedwellty (Mr. Finch) have done a great deal in the field of disablement. They are both worried about the effect on the disabled, but I point out to them that on Second Reading of the Finance Bill, in Committee on the Finance Bill, and again in Committee on this Bill, the Government have pointed out, not once or twice but on a number of occasions, that, should there be any sign of it being necessary, they would be prepared to undertake this quite difficult administrative action—and so indeed they should.

I shall not listen—I do not think it would be right to listen—to the siren voices, however attractive, from the other side which ask me and my hon. Friends to resign on hypotheses. If these hypotheses are correct and there is a savage effect on the disabled, of course the Government would do something about it, but I point out that under this Government the proportion of disabled unemployed is lower than it has ever been since 1960. Not only is it the lowest, but it is 25 per cent. lower than it was in the final full year of Conservative Government. This Government have embarked on four new industrial rehabilitation units which are now due to be built. Those who are knowledgeable on the subject of disable- ment know that the courses offered in those units and the work of disablement resettlement officers are to a great extent directed to where vacancies aries.

This tax is not a tax on the disabled. It is a tax which admittedly has an effect on the disabled in the services sector, but it is a tax on the services. Arrangements exist to make sure that disabled persons who come forward for resettlement shall be directed towards and trained for places which are available for their employment. The premium is available to all in manufacturing industry, which is half, and the refund is available for a further sixth, while Remploy and the like attract premium or refund. In consequence, while fully recognising the full concern which is felt and recognising the strong arguments put forward, I say that they are arguments which would carry a great deal more legitimacy if they were arguments about an effect and not—as they are—about an hypothesis which I believe cannot be sustained for the reasons I have pointed out.

If there should be evidence of a sharp effect on the disabled, of course we shall have to act despite the administrative difficulties, but if there is no reason to act, there is no reason to embark on a course which presents so many administrative difficulties.

Mr. Braine

The hon. Lady is resting her case on facts. I am sure that she would not wish to shelter behind the fact that the number of disabled has fallen steadily and sharply through the years. Would she not acknowledge that this is almost entirely due to the disappearance from the labour market of men who served in the First Great War and of some of the disabled from the Second Great War?

Mrs. Williams

Of course the hon. Member is right. That is why he must play fair with me, and he is generous with both sides of the Committee. It is fair to point out that this is a percentage figure. Had I given a complete, absolute figure it would be misleading. The percentage is lower on an admittedly lower total, but the absolute figures would have shown a dramatic fall which would not be fair.

Mr. Finch

Why is it necessary at all to bring in the disabled? What purpose is it serving? It is not serving any purpose. Perhaps it is not appropriate for me to put this question to my hon. Friend and it should be put to the Exchequer, but I cannot see what the point of it is as it does not serve any purpose.

Mrs. Williams

My hon. Friend knows a great deal about the training of the disabled. He is asking why it should be necessary in any way to affect disabled people in the employment sector? I point out that the tax is a tax on services. It is a tax which gives a premium to manufacturing. He will know that there is no attempt to single out the disabled, but the tax falls on those disabled in the service industries. They are treated like everyone else. I pointed out the reasons why it is very difficult to exempt this group in the community. They are not definable from the point of view of National Insurance, and the register presents difficulties, but I assure my hon. Friend that those difficulties must be overcome if it is necessary, although the Government rightly say that it is not necessary to do so and if there is not an increase in the number of those unemployed among the disabled.

Mr. Leslie Spriggs (St. Helens)

My hon. Friend says that disabled people are not definable, but surely medical evidence provided by the medical profession would make them definable?

Mrs. Williams

I am not for a moment trying to suggest that the disabled cannot be defined. All I am saying is that the machinery which exists to define them is machinery which would have to be established and which it would be relatively complicated to establish. If it has to be done, it will be done, but if it does not have to be done and the Government argue that two-thirds of the disabled will not suffer through the tax but will gain from it, it is beside the point to establish the machinery.

There is no closure on this debate, and hon. Members who wish to speak later can do so, but I have argued it several times and hon. Members must allow me to finish my speech. If they had given me an opportunity, I would have finished it a few minutes ago. I sum up by saying once again that those in the sheltered workshops will benefit from either a premium or a refund, local authority workshops will benefit from the refund, and two-thirds of the disabled come within the premium or the refund category, but, should it be necessary, the Government have made clear on many occasions that action will be taken.

Miss Mervyn Pike (Melton)

I apologise to the Committee that my voice is rather weak as I seem to have been rendered almost speechless by the events and announcements of yesterday, but I will do my best. In any case, I do not wish to detain the Committee for very long because many of the arguments have been put very sincerely and thoroughly. I do not want to go over them again, but I wish to comment on what the hon. Lady said.

She rested all her case, if I understood it rightly, on the fact that this tax is not a tax against the disabled. That, of course, we accept. It is not a tax against the disabled. Although we brought out in all our speeches and arguments the fact that the tax will hurt a large section of the disabled, we accept that it was not primarily a tax against the disabled. Of course, those in the manufacturing industries will have the premium and they are on all-fours with able-bodied workers. People in the category in which there is a refund are on all-fours with able-bodied workers. It is only the small percentage in the service industries with whom we are concerned in this Amendment. It is those whom we are trying to help.

6.0 p.m.

The hon. Lady and I approach this question from totally different angles. I want to weigh the scales slightly in favour of the disabled. It would be only very slightly and marginally, but we are in very difficult economic circumstances. We are in circumstances where the disabled in any case, even if they are in full employment in a sheltered industry, are at greater risk than any other section of the community. They have to have transport. This is to be more expensive. They have higher laundry and cleaning bills, often because of the nature of their disablement.

From the beginning we want to weigh the scales in favour of protecting people. I have been an employer of labour. I hope that I was a humane and compassionate employer of labour. We had some difficult times in the immediate post-war years when I took over the management in my industry. I know that one must be ruthless when balancing who to employ. There are many occasions when one must say, "I must make my head govern my heart", as the hon. Lady has done today. If the hon. Lady had followed the dictates of her heart, she would not have adduced the arguments which she presented to the Committee. She would have given way immediately.

Employers who are trying to get through a stringent economic situation and who are fighting for every penny of a very narrow profit margin will have to look harshly at those on their labour roll, if the Government measures are to work, as they must work if the nation is to pull itself out of its present difficulties. The firms which must make such an appraisal will be the small firms. The big firms can carry one or two extra people. I am not so much worried about them. I am worried about the disabled who are employed by small firms. Such firms may well have to say in this economic crisis, "X who is legless, is inflexible, because he can do only one job ". Last night reference was made to the fact that a badly disabled cashier behind a cash desk could not help in a shop because of his disability.

All known factors have to be weighed. The sickness record is very often weighed in the balance. We all know that in bad weather it is often impossible for disabled people to get to work. Therefore, an employer of disabled workers has to have a bigger margin.

I approach this question on the basis that, if social justice and compassion mean anything at all, this is an argument which should weigh very heavily with us, particularly at this time. It was relevant when this tax was introduced, but it is even more relevant today, because we are discussing the tax in a new set of circumstances, when we know that, if the Prime Minister's "shake-out" is to mean anything, it will mean difficult circumstances for many people and it will mean unemployment.

The hon. Lady has said that these people can be retrained and brought back into employment. Of course they can. I know that the hon. Lady appreciates the agonies of mind which people undergo through having to be retrained and rehabilitated. It is easy to say that somebody who has been dismissed from an undertaking in, say, Melton Mowbray can be retrained, that there is probably a vacancy in Loughborough in a manufacturing industry which such a person can fill.

However, it is not only a question of retraining. It is a question of moving the person and of all the difficulties of rehabilitating him in different circumstances. I hope that hon. Members will take the opportunity of visiting the exhibition presently being held in the Central Hall, which I have visited. It is organised by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, and people from all over the world are showing aids they have thought out to help people in their everyday lives. What struck me was the excitement which the disabled feel when some little extra help is provided which enables them to go into employment or to lead a fuller life.

Other hon. Members have said how essential it is for these people to be employed. It is essential that they should not be unemployed. The disabled so easily give up hope. After a few months of unemployment, during which they are waiting for a retraining scheme, these people often give up hope and sink back into the lethargy that working in the community does so much to dissipate. First and foremost, the argument here is not an economic one, nor even a logical one. It is one of social justice and of compassion.

If it is such a small number of people involved, who may or may not be hurt by the tax, surely at this moment in time we have an extra duty to look after this very small residue. I cannot accept the hon. Lady's assurance. She used the words, "if there is any savage effect". I do not hold the word "savage" against the hon. Lady. She does not mean that. She means that, if she finds the problem building up, she will take action. The word "savage" may be the right one, although I do not hold it against the hon. Lady in any context.

We must not wait until the problem has arrived and people have been hurt by the tax. Large masses of people are not involved. Those involved will not be easily identifiable. The hon. Lady gives us the assurance that she will wait to see what effect the tax has. What provision is she now making to discover what effect the tax will have? I would guess that no work was put in before the tax was brought in to find out what effect it would have. We have constantly asked what sort of consultations took place and have tried to find out what opinion could be given. These are matters of opinion. We have constantly asked what efforts Ministers have taken, whether it be the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Social Security or the Government as a whole. We have had no answer.

The truth is that the tax has been introduced without any consultation and no steps have been taken to ensure that we can quickly tell what the effects will be. When the hon. Lady arrives at her Ministry tomorrow morning, I have no doubt that she will put things in train. That is not good enough. We want to know what consultations have already taken place and what steps are in train to discover what effect of the tax will be if we fail to carry our Amendment.

Mr. Peter Bessell (Bodmin)

The hon. Lady has referred, I am sure inadvertently, to this being her Amendment. It is a Liberal Amendment.

Miss Pike

I apologise. New Clause No.4is being discussed with this Amendment. My mind was directed to the new Clause in which we asked that those who are on the disablement register be exempted from the tax.

The hon. Lady also said that it was not easy to discover the numbers on the disablement register, because the terms were drawn very wide and there was doubt whether some people would get on to it. She said that perhaps there would be some dishonesty. The burden of her case was whether there could be some dishonesty in people getting on to the register to get the repayment, therefore bringing the whole matter into disrepute.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

I should not like it to be thought that I was imputing dishonesty, but, rather, that there would be many cases of people who would be likely to apply to get on the register, whereas people more severely disabled than them were not on it.

Miss Pike

I recognise that, but, in reality, there could well be loopholes for dishonesty. I was, of course, taking the case to the extreme. I would not accept it as a valid argument, although there may well be some cases where people will try to get on the register who are not as worthy to be on it as those who are already on it. One of the great advantages of the Amendment would be that more people would go on to the register.

All those I have talked to about this are concerned that so many people will not get themselves on to the register because, particularly in days of overfull employment, they can get jobs without recourse to the register. All the organisations trying to do things for these people know that there are far more disabled than they can account for on the register. One of the side effects of the Amendment, and a great advantage, would be that people genuinely disabled would get on to the register.

I hope that I have dealt with the majority of the hon. Lady's arguments, but it is primarily an issue of social justice. There is, of course, the economic factor as well. For example, disabled people are less a charge on public funds when they are in work and they themselves are better off in work. If unemployed, they are more expensive to retrain. They are far more liable to go on to National Assistance and stay there. There is a reasonable economic case for trying to keep them in work.

I ask the hon. Lady to look at this again. It is not good enough for the Government to say that they will take action once the crisis has arisen, the damage done and suffering caused to these people; once they have been shown to be unemployed and it has been proved that our arguments were right; and once it has been shown that, in a difficult economic situation, with labour becoming more fluid, the disabled are a risk. What we ask is that the Government shall take action on behalf of these people here and now and weight the balance slightly in their favour so that, in the difficult months ahead, they will feel that they have security.

Mr. Bellenger

I wonder if the Committee will bear with me for a moment. It is true that the Amendment is not from the principal Opposition but, in view of the support given to it from both sides of the Committee, notably on this side, I hope Vat the sponsors will feel disposed not to press it to a Division.

My reason is that the arguments that I put have, in large part, been met. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour has shown a sympathetic attitude that is not always the condition of the Government after a debate of this kind. She has tried to show that she sympathises with the purpose of the Amendment and has given an assurance that the Government will take steps, during the coming year of the working of the tax so far as the disabled are concerned, to remedy any anomalies or defects that occur.

My hon. Friend met the important point that I was concerned with about anomalies. Hon. Members opposite may be concerned with something wider. If the sponsors do not withdraw the Amendment, as they might well do, I shall support the Government in the Lobby against them. I have had my say about the anomalies and my hon. Friend has done her best to meet me. I hope that those of my hon. Friends who have spoken in the same terms will also vote with the Government on this matter.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Bessell

We have just heard the most extraordinary argument. The Liberal Party put down an Amendment which, Sir Eric, in your wisdom you selected and which has been supported forcefully by right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Committee. Now the right hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger) suggests that, because his particular argument has been met—not the arguments put forward by the Liberal Party or by Conservatives or even arguments put by his hon. Friends—the Amendment should be withdrawn. We have listened to some strange arguments in this Committee but none more extraordinary than that audacious suggestion.

We know in this Committee that, when Amendrients are discussed on various Bills, the answer has already been decided. The hon. Member for The Hartlepools (Mr. Leadbitter) made this point effectively in a very good speech in which he said that the decisions were made, alas, not by Ministers but by those who are supposed to be their servants.

One suspects that, all too often, the answer which has been decided long before the debate takes place is one about which the Ministers themselves may have doubts. I am certain from my experience in this Committee and as a Member of the House over the last two years that there have been a number of occasions when members of the Government have been very unhappy with the briefs they have had to read.

But I do not think there can have been many occasions when we have witnessed a member of the Government more obviously unhappy and uncertain of her ground than the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour in her reply a few minutes ago. We know that, quite often, decisions are made in advance, but it will be a sad day if this Committee is not able to persuade the Government to change their mind on an issue of such importance as this. The hon. Lady said that the whole proposition is based upon a hypothesis that some disabled persons may suffer but that there is no evidence of this. She also indicated that if evidence could be shown the Government would change their mind. I propose to put a case before her as positive evidence and I hope that it may persuade her that it is necessary to fulfil now and not later the pledge that she will change her mind.

Yesterday morning I went to my barber. I found that the man who usually cuts my hair was away and in his place was an assistant whom I had not previously met. During the haircut he told me he had suffered a second thrombosis six months ago and that as a result of a visit to hospital the day before he had been advised that he must now cease full-time employment as a barber and become a part-time employee. He emphasised that it was important that he should continue to do some work but the only job for which he has been trained—and he is in his sixties—is hairdressing.

He put his problem to his employer, who is a very humane man whom I have known for some years. The answer was, "I am sorry but I cannot continue to employ you. If I keep you in my service I must inevitably engage another part-time barber. That means I will have to pay the Selective Employment Tax twice whereas, if I dispose of your services, I can have one man to do the job and I will pay the tax once only." The hon. Lady has asked for a concrete example. Here is an example, a man who will definitely lose his employment even though he could register tomorrow as a disabled person.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. John Diamond)

indicated dissent.

Mr. Bessell

The Chief Secretary shakes his head. I will gladly give way if the right hon. Gentleman wishes to intervene.

Mr. Diamond

The hon. Gentleman said that he would give evidence, but he is putting forward a hypothesis of what might happen in future and has not told us what other full-time employee the barber will get. Perhaps he will tell us that when he next gets his hair cut in six weeks' time, or whatever it may be. He has not said whether the man will get another job elsewhere.

Mr. Bessell

The Chief Secretary has made his point and I will follow it through. He suggests that the effect will be that the employee to whom I have referred, upon losing his employment, will be able to get another and part-time job. That is another hypothesis. The barber will not be able to dispose of his services, because he will not be able to get a full-time barber's job. That is a second hypothesis. I am dealing with the fact and the fact is that the barber to whom I have referred will lose his job and is now physically under notice to quit. The hon. Lady has said that she is not prepared to give way because we are dealing with a hypothesis. I am dealing with fact and it is the Chief Secretary who is dealing with hypotheses and if she is to be logical, the hon. Lady must now change her mind.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

Perhaps I should not cross swords with the hon. Gentleman about logic, but I shall try. The case which he has described arises directly out of an Amendment which we discussed yesterday and which was concerned with the effect on part-time workers. It does not arise on this Amendment which affects the registered disabled. The gentleman he has mentioned is not registered disabled and, I am afraid, would not be likely so to be, if the reason is that which the hon. Gentleman gave—that he has had a heart attack and in consequence is ill rather than disabled.

Mr. Bessell

It is very difficult to cross swords with the hon. Lady, but I am assured by my hon. Friend the Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), who is an expert in these matters, that in fact the barber in question would have no difficulty whatever in being put on the register as a disabled person upon application and that it would be a perfectly straightforward matter for which there would be many precedents.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

He is not on the disabled register and in this Amendment we have been discussing people who are disabled and the effects on them, so that I think that my contention stands.

Mr. Bessell

I appreciate the hon. Lady's care and the fact that she is trying very hard to argue her case, but the fact remains that, having been told by his doctor that he may now work only as a part-time employee, because of the disablement which he now has and from which he has not previously suffered, he is entitled to be registered as a disabled person. That being so, if this alleviation were given, he could continue in his employment and his job would be safe and the suffering of a man who has now to suffer because the Government have not taken account of these cases would be prevented.

Mr. Lubbock

If our Amendment were accepted, the employer would have the incentive to employ two people who were disabled, because he would then get the premium twice.

Mr. Bessell

That is true and I am grateful to my hon. Friend for drawing my attention to that.

I turn from that positive case to another. The hon. Lady is concerned not with hypotheses, but with facts and it is therefore best for me to deal with factual cases. Last Saturday night, I had a meeting with a group of sub-postmasters in my constituency. If I had been able to speak last night on the Liberal Amendment dealing with part-time employees, I would have elaborated their problem, but I will confine myself to one difficulty raised by a sub-posmaster who employs a disabled person.

As we all know, the sub-postmasters are not able to pass on the cost of the Selective Employment Tax. Unlike the Post Office itself, they are in a special position and will suffer acute difficulties as a result of the imposition of this tax. The sub-postmaster to whom I am referring is a man over 70 and his wife is very nearly the same age. They employ one part-time assistant who is disabled and who is registered as a disabled person. The tax will be paid on that person's services.

As this is a rural post office in a small village, the sub-postmaster will find it impossible to retain the services of that disabled person. I am sure that the hon. Lady will agree that in the villages of Cornwall and other parts of the British Isles there is no possibility of finding alternative employment and there is no chance of going into industry. In Cornwall, as in the rest of the West Country, we have thousands of people seeking employment in industry and available on the labour market. There is no chance of a disabled person, working part-time in a sub-post office, finding new employment. All that will happen will be suffering to the disabled person and to the elderly couple who run the sub-post office and, consequently, to the community which will get a much poorer service than would otherwise be the case.

I have put two positive examples to the Committee. The hon. Lady has given an assurance that if the Government can be shown that these arguments are not hypotheses but are based on fact, they will reconsider their position. The hon. Lady must therefore agree that she has no alternative but to accept the Amendment and to ensure that disabled persons employed, not in industry—I accept the argument about that—but in small shops and hotels and catering establishments and a whole variety of trades and services throughout the country which are not covered by her arguments, will be allowed the peace of mind and the absence of suffering which would result from accepting a simple Amendment which would cost the Government a negligible sum of money and which would immensely increase their stature in the country.

There have been many occasions when my hon. and right hon. Friends and I have had cause to criticise the Labour Party and the Labour Government. Although it may be argued, as I have sometimes argued myself, that they seem to lack head, I do not think that the worst enemy of Labour could say that they lack heart. The great tradition of the Labour movement throughout its long and honourable history has been always to seek to uphold and to help those who are under-privileged and those who are suffering from no fault of their own, those upon whom the burden of life falls hardly instead of happily.

This Amendment would go a little way towards alleviating the suffering of mind of many people, including my barber of yesterday, and I ask the hon. Lady to look at the matter again. If she will undertake to examine the question again and herself to introduce an Amendment on Report, I am sure that my right hon. and hon. Friends would be willing to withdraw the Amendment. If not, we must press it to a Division.

6.30 p.m.

Dame Joan Vickers (Plymouth, Devonport)

I shall say only a few words at this late hour of the time for debate on this Amendment because I am particularly interested, and have been for a long time, in working for the disabled. The hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary, in her well-argued speech, gave us a flurry of figures. I am hoping that, as I got a partial nod yesterday from the Financial Secretary in respect of another Amendment, he may consider the idea that I wish to put forward. In the figures, as I understand them, there are 300,000 people who will get the premium, and 100,000 who will get a refund. There are 200,000 in the service industries whose employers will have to pay the tax.

I suggest that we wipe out the idea of the premiums, which we had argued the employers do not need. As these figures balance out, it would not cost the Government anything at all. They would be saving money, if they act on my suggestion, because the only thing that would happen would be that they would not get their interest-free loan. I would like the hon. Lady to consider this point, because it could be worked out. I would also like to quote a case, not from my constituency, of a man owning a small car hire firm, employing three drivers and a crippled telephone operator. The owner told me that he would have to get rid of the telephone operator because he could not afford to employ the three drivers and the operator and asked me if I could get him another job. He said that he would have to ask his wife to undertake the telephone operator's work. This tax will put somebody out of employment, and there are other cases which can be cited.

Mr. Ledger

I am trying to follow the hon. Lady's argument. I gather from what she has said that she is not arguing for the removal of the payroll tax from the disabled person because that was not the point that she made. She said that the disabled person would be put out of employment because of the other four people in the firm. This is not in the Amendment.

Dame Joan Vickers

The operator does not pay the tax, but it is a tax upon his services, and it has to be paid by the employer. People are being put out of employment because the employer cannot pay. This has been one of the themes of the argument, and why these disabled people are worried, because it is difficult for a disabled man to get another job.

Mr. Ledger

Is the hon. Lady arguing that, if the telephonist was not disabled, he would not have been given the sack? I cannot see the connection between paying the payroll tax on four people who are not disabled affecting one man who is disabled. This is not in the Amendment.

The Financial Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Niall MacDermot)

I do not know whether the hon. Lady is under a misapprehension, but I think that in the case she has instanced, of the car hire firm, she will find that it is in the refundable category.

Dame Joan Vickers

That is very interesting. We are still more confused now, because we do not know what is refundable and what is not.

Mr. MacDermot

It is all laid out in the Bill. It will be found that it falls under Clause 2(3,a,i) referring to —any heading in Order XIX (which relates to transport and communication) other than heading 709; ". The hon. Lady will find that car hire is covered by this Order.

Dame Joan Vickers

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman. This points to the difficulties in understanding how this will work.

Mr. Braine

We are in some uncertainty as to the numbers of disabled who may be affected. This is conceded by the hon. Lady, I think. Even if there are a substantial number of disabled who are not disadvantaged by this tax, it is clear that a substantial number will be. Would my hon. Friend not agree that no case has yet been made out for applying this tax to any of the disabled?

Dame Joan Vickers

That was the point I made.

I have tried to point out the way in which this could be administered quite easily, by taking the whole category, whether receiving premiums or refunds, out of the Bill altogether. I would have thought that that would have been a fairly easy move. Anyone who holds a blue card and is genuinely disabled should be counted out. This is a distinguishable group. If some of the persons mentioned previously by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), who have not got a blue card, could be encouraged to get one, this difficulty could be overcome.

I am putting this forward as a serious argument. During the war we encouraged disabled people to come into jobs which were broken down for them. This was true of the blind who went into engineering firms to work special machines. It has been agreed by all parties that there should be special legislation for the disabled, and I do not see why we should not have a special category for these people. It was said in the Piercy and Tomlinson Reports, which went into this in detail, that the young disabled, ex-Service and blind, paraplegic and spastic, epileptic and deaf needed immediate attention and the chance to work in a factory.

The Reports said that the term "rehabilitation", in its widest sense, signified the whole process of restoring a disabled person to a condition in which he or she was able, as early as possible, to resume or lead a normal life. All that we are asking for is that these people should be able to continue in normal life, as they have struggled to do so in the past.

In Plymouth, there is a very big association doing excellent work, and its motto is, "Help Us to Help Ourselves". Here, we are doing exactly the opposite. We are doing what we can to prevent people helping themselves if we allow this to go through without the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheadle. I wish that hon. Members could have been here a fortnight ago and seen nine disabled people pushed round the Chamber and the House of Lords.

They had saved up their money from their earnings in order to travel to London from Plymouth. There were 29 of them. These people are making every effort to lead a normal life and if their livelihood is taken from them, as it seems may happen, then one is doing a great disservice not only to the individuals, but to the country as a whole. I would like to make a strong plea in support of the Liberal Amendment. The Parliamentary Secretary has said that the administrative difficulties are too great. Everyone would agree that there is considerable anxiety among these people. They are afraid of losing their jobs. When we have experts such as the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cheadle, with personal experience of these matters, we ought to follow the lead set by them.

I hope that all hon. Members who are worried about the situation will join the Liberals in the Division Lobby tonight.

Mr. Gower

The Parliamentary Secretary used all her skill in an endeavour to show that this was not perhaps such a large problem as some of my hon. Friends implied. We do not consider that everybody who is disabled is affected. However, after advancing that argument, she admitted that a sizeable problem remained affecting a considerable body of people. The rest of her argument boiled down to this, that the technical difficulties were of such an order that the Government would rather not introduce the necessary Amendment now.

Why are the Government building up these technical difficulties so enormously? Surely a simple certificate by an employer, who would, if he put in a wrong certificate, be committing a serious offence, stating that he had in his employment a certain number of people who were on the register of disabled people, would be sufficient.

The hon. Lady went on to say that perhaps additional people would get on the register. If people who should be on the register get on it, all the better. I should not have thought that that was a barrier. The argument that these technical difficulties should postpone what I believe to be a necessary Amendment is not valid, and it comes surprisingly from the hon. Lady and the Government.

Dr. Winstanley

As the mover of the Amendment, I think that I should make clear our attitude to the arguments put very lucidly by the hon. Lady the Parliamentary Secretary. I am bound to say that I do not accept them.

I find surprising her overall attitude to meeting the problem. She said that there might be a problem, but that we should wait to find out whether there is a problem and whether the things that we predict come to pass. In other words, when all the horses have bolted she will run round and ask the Government to lock the stable door. I should have thought that the business of government and politics was to predict the effects of legislation. Like hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, I assure her that what we said will happen will come to pass.

The hon. Lady must be aware of individual cases. It is unfortunate that she is unlikely personally to come across the barber of my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Bessell), but she will come across many people who are in this predicament. We are not dealing with the global total of disabled people. The hon. Lady spent some time discussing the 300,000 people who will get the premium. We are not talking about them. She spent some time talking about the 100,000 people who will get the repayment.

We are not talking about them. We are talking about the 200,000 who work in service industries and the 48,000 registered disabled people who are unemployed. We are wondering what figure will have to be added when this tax is applied to the service industries and what will be the added effects of unemployment which is likely to result from other measures about which we have heard.

6.45 p.m.

This will be quite a large problem. If the hon. Lady consults her officers in the regions who have to deal with disabled people, and plead with managements to take on people who are not always very useful, she will understand the problem. We are not talking about the useful disabled people, or disabled people who compete with fully fit people —and there are many of them. We are not talking about the blind, who may have developed other compensating abilities which are of great value to their employers. We are talking about people who are not very useful whom we have to ask managements to employ as a favour and find a use for them. They find some use for them, but it is a marginal use. These are people who do not earn the wage which they are paid. They are often paid a small wage. The addition of 25s. a week to a small wage represents a very large percentage increase in the cost of the employee to the firm.

I cannot accept the Parliamentary Secretary's arguments. I cannot accept that there are difficulties. The hon. Lady said that it was possible that there would be evasion and that people would seek to add their names improperly to

the register. She quoted some remarks which I made in an earlier debate. I was referring to people getting on the register who had no need to do so and, therefore, had not bothered to do so, but who might, in certain circumstances, be encouraged by their employers to do so. This is not illegal. These people are entitled to be on the register, and the hon. Lady concedes that.

The problem may turn out to be greater. The number of people on the register may increase. That would be a good thing. When the Parliamentary Secretary has had more time to consider this aspect of her Ministry she will find that her officials believe that it will be a good thing and that it is important that many disabled people who are not on the register should be on it. It is possible that this Amendment will have that effect.

For these reasons, and for other reasons admirably expressed by hon. Members on both sides of the Committee, I believe that we should be wrong to accept the Parliamentary Secretary's assurances, limited though they were. Therefore, unless we have further assurances, I shall feel bound to advise the Committee to divide on the Amendment.

Question put, That those words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 233, Noes 293.

Division No. 139.] AYES [6.47 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N—M) Dodds-Parker, Douglas
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Buck, Antony (Colchester) Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec
Astor, John Bullus, Sir Eric Drayson, G. B.
Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n — M'd'n) Campbell, Gordon du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward
Awdry, Daniel Carlisle, Mark Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)
Baker, W. H. K. Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert Elliott, R.W.(N'ctle-upon-Tyne,N.)
Balniel, Lord Cary, Sir Robert Errington, Sir Eric
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony Channon, H. P. G. Eyre, Reginald
Batsford, Brian Chichester-Clark, R. Farr, John
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Clark, Henry Fisher, Nigel
Bell, Ronald Clegg, Walter Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay) Cooke, Robert Fortescue, Tim
Berry, Hn. Anthony Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Foster, Sir John
Bessell, Peter Cordle, John Galbraith, Hn. T. G.
Biffen, John Corfield, F. V. Gibson-Watt, David
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Costain, A. P. Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan
Black, Sir Cyril Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)
Blaker, Peter Crawley, Aidan Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)
Body, Richard Crouch, David Glover, Sir Douglas
Bossom, Sir Clive Crowder, F. P. Glyn, Sir Richard
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Cunningham, Sir Knox Gopher, Rt. Hn. J. B.
Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward Currie, G. B. H. Goodhart, Philip
Braine, Bernard Dalkeith, Earl of Goodhew, Victor
Brewis, John Dance, James Gower, Raymond
Brinton, Sir Tatton Davidson,James(Aberdeenshire,W.) Grant, Anthony
Bromley-Davenport,Lt.COL. Sir Walter d'Avigdor-Goldamid, Sir Henry Grant-Ferris, R.
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Gresham Cooke, R.
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds)
Bryan, Paul Digby, Simon Wingfield Grimond, Rt. Hn. B. J.
Gurden, Harold McMaster, Stanley Ridsdale, Julian
Hall, John (Wycombe) Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham) Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey
Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Maddan, Martin Robson Brown, Sir William
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Maginnis, John E. Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Harris, Reader (Heston) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest Roots, William
Harrison, Brian (Malden) Marten, Neil Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)
Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Mathew, Robert Royle, Anthony
Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Maude, Angus Russell, Sir Ronald
Harvie Anderson, Miss Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald St. John-Stevas, Norman
Hawkins, Paul Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Scott, Nicholas
Hay, John Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C. Sharpies, Richard
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Mills, Peter (Torrington) Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh — Whitby)
Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.) Sinclair, Sir George
Helseltine, Michael Miscampbell, Norman Smith, John
Higgins, Terence L. Mitchell, David (Basingstoke) Stainton, Keith
Hirst, Geoffrey Monro, Hector Steel, David (Ruxburgh)
Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Mere, Jasper Stodart, Anthony
Hogg, Rt.Hn. Quintin Morgan, W. G. (Denbigh) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)
Holland, Philip Morrison, Charles (Devizes) Tapsell, Peter
Hooson, Emlyn Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)
Hordern, Peter Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh Taylor,Edward M.(G'gaw,Carthcart)
Homby, Richard Murton, Oscar Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)
Howell, David (Guildford) Nabarro, Sir Gerald Teeing, Sir William
Hunt, John Neave, Airey Temple, John M.
Hutchison, Michael Clark Nicholls, Sir Harmar Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Iremonger, T. L. Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Thorpe, Jeremy
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Nett, John Tilney, John
Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford) Onslow, Cranley Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Johnson Smith, C. (E. Grinstead) Orr, Capt. L. P. S. van Straubenzee, W. R.
Johnston, Russell (Inverness) Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.) Osborn, John (Hallam) Vickers, Dame Joan
Jopling, Michael Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith Page, Graham (Crosby) Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Kerby, Capt. Henry Page, John (Harrow, W.) Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Kershaw, Anthony Pardoe, John Walters, Dennis
Kimball, Marcus Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Ward, Dame Irene
King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.) Peel, John Weatherill, Bernard
Kitson, Timothy Percival, Ian Webster, David
Knight, Mrs. Jill Peyton, John Whitelaw, William
Lancaster, Col. C. G. Pike, Miss Mervyn Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry Pink, R. Bonner Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland) Pounder, Hatton Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Lloyd,Rt. Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'nC'dfield) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral) Price, David (Eastleigh) Woodnutt, Mark
Longden, Gilbert Prior, J. M. L. Worsley, Marcus
Loveys, W. H. Pym, Francis Younger, Hn. George
MacArthur, Ian Quennell, Miss J. M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Mackenzie,Alasdair(Ross—Crom'ty) Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Mr. Lubbock and Dr. Winstanley
Maclean, Sir Fitzroy Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Macleod, Rib Hn. lain Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Abso, Leo Brooks, Edwin Davies, Robert (Cambridge)
Altaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey
Andritt, Walter Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W.) Delargy, Hugh
Allen, Scholefield Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Proven) Dell, Edmund
Anderson, Donald Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch — F'bury) Dempsey, James
Archer, Peter Buchan, Norman Dewar, Donald
Armstrong, Ernest Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Diamond, Rt. Hn. John
Ashley, Jack Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Dickens, James
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Dobson, Ray
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Cant, R. B. Doig, Peter
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice Carmichael, Neil Donnelly, Desmond
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Carter-Jones, Lewis Driberg, Tom
Barnes, Michael Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Dunn, James A.
Barnett, Jail Chapman, Donald Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)
Beaney, Alan Coe, Denis Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th — C'b'e)
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Coleman, Donald Eadie, Alex
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Concannon, J. D. Edelman, Maurice
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Conlan, Bernard Edwards, Robert (Bilston)
Binns, John Craddock, George (Bradford, S.) Edwards, William (Merioneth)
Bishop, E. S. Crawshaw, Richard Ellis, John
Blackburn, IF. Cronin, John English, Michael
Blenkinsop, Arthur Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Ennals, David
Boardman, H. Grossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Ensor, David
Booth, Albert Cullen, Mrs. Alice Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)
Boston, Terence Dalyell, Tam Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley)
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Darling, Rt. Hn. George Fernyhough, E.
Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Finch, Harold
Boyden, James Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)
Bradley, Tom Davies, Ednyyfed Hudson (Conway) Floud, Bernard
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Davies, Harold (Leek) Foley, Maurice
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)
Ford, Ben McCann, John Robertson, John (Paisley)
Forrester, John MacColl, James Robinson, Rt Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)
Fowler, Gerry MacDermot, Niall Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.)
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) Macdonald, A. H. Roebuck, Roy
Freeson, Reginald McGuire, Michael Rogers, George
Gardner, A. J. Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Rose, Paul
Garrow, Alex Mackie, John Roes, Rt. Hn. William
Ginsburg, David Mackintosh, John P. Rowland, Christopher (Meriden)
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Maclennan, Robert Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)
Gourlay, Harry McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Ryan, John
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) McNamara, J. Kevin Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony MacPherson, Malcolm Sheldon, Robert
Gregory, Arnold Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.
Grey, Charles (Durham) Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Shore, Peter (Stepney)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) M anal ieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.) Short, Mrs. Renee (W'hampton,N.E.)
Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly) Manuel, Archie Silkin, John (Deptford)
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Mapp, Charles Silkin, S. C. (Dulwich)
Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Marquand, David Silverman, Julius (Aston)
Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Marsh, Rt. Hn. Richard Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)
Hamling, William Mayhew, Christopher Skeffington, Arthur
Hannan, William Mellish, Robert Small, William
Harper, Joseph Mendelson, J. J. Snow, Julian
Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Millan, Bruce Spriggs, Leslie
Hart, Mrs. Judith Miller, Dr. M. S. Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Hazen, Bert Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Heffer, Eric S. Molloy, William Stonehouse, John
Henig, Stanley Morgan, Elysian (Cardiganshire) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Hilton, W. S. Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Hooley, Frank Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Swain, Thomas
Homer, John Morris, John (Aberavon) Swingler, Stephen
Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Moyle, Roland Symonds, J. B.
Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough) Mulley, Rt. Hn. Frederick Taverne, Dick
Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Murray, Albert Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
Howie, W. Neal, Harold Thomas, lorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Hoy, James Newens, Stan Thornton, Ernest
Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Tinn, James
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Norwood, Christopher Tomney, Frank
Hunter, Adam Oakes, Gordon Urwin, T. W.
Hynd, John Ogden, Eric Varley, Eric C.
Jackson, Colin (B'h'se — Spenb'gh) O'Malley, Brian Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Orhach, Maurice Walden, Brian (Ali Saints)
Jeger, George (Goole) Orme, Stanley Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Jenkins, Hugh (Putney) Oswald, Thomas Wallace, George
Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford) Owen, Dr. Davis (Plymouth, S'tn) Watkins, David (Consett)
Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.) Owen, Will (Morpeth) Weitzman, David
Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.) Padley, Walter Wellbeloved, James
Jones, Dan (Burnley) Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham) Palmer, Arthur Whitaker, Ben
Judd, Frank Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles White, Mrs. Eirene
Kelley, Richard Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Whitlock, William
Kenyon, Clifford Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter — Chatham) Pearl, Rt. Hn. Fred Williams, Alan Lee (Homchurch)
Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Pentland, Norman Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Lawson, George Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Leadbitter, Ted Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Williams, W. T. (Warrington)
Ledger, Ron Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Price, William (Rugby) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock) Probert, Arthur Winnick, David
Lee, John (Reading) Purley, Cmdr. Harry Winterbottom, R. E.
Lestor, Miss Joan Rankin, John Woof, Robert
Lever, L. M. (Ardwick) Redhead, Edward Wyatt, Woodrow
Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.) Rees, Merlyn Yates, Victor
Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Reynolds, G. W. Zilliacus, K.
Lomas, Kenneth Rhodes, Geoffrey TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Loughlin, Charles Richard, Ivor Mr. McBride and Mr. Fitch.
Luard, Evan Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)
Mr. Iain Macleod (Enfield, West)

I beg to move Amendment No. 303, in page 2, line 23, at the end to insert: (IA) This section applies to any employment whether in any qualifying or non-qualifying activity which is employment by an employer carrying on by way of business a trading organisation concerned wholly or substantially with one or more of the following activities,

  1. (a) exploration for shale oil, crude petroleum or natural gas;
  2. (b) extracting shale oil, crude petroleum or natural gas;
  3. (c) refining and processing of shale oil or crude petroleum;
  4. (d) blending mineral oils or greases at refineries or in association with the refining of shale oil or crude petroleum;
  5. (e) importation by ship or pipe of shale oil or crude petroleum or natural gas or of hydrocarbon oils;
  6. (f) bulk storage and bulk transportation by any means, or bulk distribution of shale 940 941 oil, crude petroleum, natural gas or hydrocarbon oils other than at or from depots or establishments which are outside the curtilage of any refinery and which are wholly or substantially engaged in supplying hydrocarbon oils by retail to non-industrial and non-agricultural consumers;
  7. (g) research development education or training relating to any of the foregoing activities;
and section 1 of this Act shall not apply to employment by any such employer.

I do not propose to spend any of the remaining 12 minutes or so in talking about the absurd restriction under which the Committee is now operating. The list of Amendments that could be discussed, amounting to 98 on this Clause alone, is sufficient evidence of that.

Yesterday, we had a situation that was so lunatic that it almost defies comment. Immediately after the Prime Minister's statement, we came to an Amendment on which we were begging Ministers on the Treasury Bench not to spend £133 million. This was urged on them from both sides of the Committee by members of all three parties, but they insisted that it was their bounden duty, as Treasury Ministers, to waste this amount of money, which they promptly proceeded to do.

Today, we have an Amendment concerning the oil industry, on which I genuinely believe that the case is unanswerable. I do not know who will reply, if there it time for a reply—probably not—but I wish to put the case as moderately as possible and I am glad that the Minister of Power is here to listen to it.

The last line of the Amendment would remove from the oil industry the benefit of the premium, if benefit it be, under Clause 1 of the Bill. That is understood and accepted by the industry. Of course, some firms would benefit from that more that others.

7.0 p.m.

The purpose of the Amendment is clear. It is designed to put the oil industry on the same footing as the other providers of energy in the fuel and power sector by treating the industry as though it were included in Schedule 1 as a body to which refund of payments should be made. That is wholly in accord with the White Paper. The very first effective paragraph of the White Paper on the Selective Employment Tax says: …it will improve the structure of the tax system by redressing the balance between ser- vices and manufacturing. Services, including distribution, have hitherto been lightly taxed as compared with manufactured products, which are subject to excise duties and the Purchase Tax. Whatever the merits of that argument may be, it can have no conceivable relevance to the oil industry, which is most viciously taxed and which has been taxed again as a result of yesterday's measures.

The next paragraph in the White Paper says: In this way, the tax will provide a means of restraining consumer demand without again hitting severely those industries upon which indirect taxation is at present concentrated ". Once again, the two main premises of the White Paper argue for the case which I am putting. No less than £773 million was taken in receipts from oil duties in the calendar year 1965, so I am informed, and no one can argue that that is not an enormous burden, which, as I say, was added to by yesterday's proposals.

Thus, if the Government believe their own precepts in the White Paper, they must accept the Amendment, which would provide that the whole of the oil industry should be nut into the neutral zone.

There are two ways in which I can shortly illustrate the discrimination which arises for the oil industry as compared with the publicly-owned sector of fuel and power. First, the activities under the heading of miscellaneous transport services are excluded from the provision for refund, but these activities are an essential part of the oil industry's operation, and —this is the key point—corresponding activities in the public sector qualify for a refund. Plainly, it would be monstrous not to treat the oil industry in exactly the same way.

Second, in the interests of overall efficiency in what is an extremely efficient industry, the bulk of employees are concentrated in offices away from the actual manufacturing or operating points. This is inevitable in the way the system is run. We all know of a great building not many yards from here which houses many hundreds of employees of the industry, but they are excluded from the refund provisions. On the other hand, locking the other way, to Hobart House, the headquarters of the National Coal Board, the head offices of the public sector there qualify for refund. It is impossible to justify this distinction.

There are other Amendments on similar matters with reference to electricity and gas showrooms, and so on, if we can come to them at an appropriate stage. All I say at this stage is that it quite impossible to justify this sort of distinction between a great private enterprise industry and the publicly-owned industries operating in the same field and in direct competition.

There are many other anomalies which arise for this complex and vital industry. Often the difficulties come, as so many of our difficulties will come under this Bill, from the simple fact that we are taking what is basically a statistical measurement—nothing more than that—and making it the basis of our assessment of industry. It has nothing whatever to do with industry in the sense of what is really being done. It is entirely for the backroom "boffins" in the Ministry of Labour and elsewhere to count heads —nothing whatever to do with industry in the real sense of the word.

In this connection, I mention the question of storage. I am grateful to the Minister of Power for coming to hear this short debate, and I hope that he will at leisure carefully examine the points which are made. I know that he will. The storage of oil products either in bulk plants or in terminals, that is, prior to the delivery to the customer, is comparable to the end storage in an ordinary factory which would be a qualifying activity for the calculation of refund and the rest.

In the oil industry, it is a matter of efficiency and group convenience whether or not these bulk plants or terminals are operated by the refining company, by another group company or in some other way. Because they do this on the basis of efficiency, they should not be penalised by the haphazard methods provided in the Bill, which, in many cases, will put a direct premium upon inefficiency. I am sure that the oil companies could rejig their system all through in order to get some of the benefits, but that would be an absurd way of going about things when a great industry is already organised in what it regards as the most efficient way.

My final point on transport is that I am not sure that the Government Amendment No. 230, in page 3, line 10, to leave out from "709" to the end of line 22 and to insert:

  1. (aa) activities by way of the extraction of coal from open-cast workings;
  2. (ab) activities by way of the operation of road transport for the purposes of another establishment which is both an associated establishment and an establishment such as is mentioned either in section 1(2) of this Act or in subsection (2) of this section;
  3. (ac) activities, research or training such as are mentioned in section 1(2)(a) of this Act, or a combination of such activities, research or training and any activities such as are mentioned in paragraph (a) or (aa) of this subsection;

really helps in this connection. I do not think that it does. The point here is that the transporting of the product to the customer can be carried out in half a dozen different ways, by the refining company, by the storage company or by an independent contractor, and it can be done by road, by rail, by water, or even, conceivably, sometimes by air.

Since the independent transport undertakings of British Rail and the rest are to have the tax refunded, it seems only fair that the oil industry's own transport fleets, whether they consist of road vehicles or rail tank cars, should be regarded in the same way. More than half the total volume of these products is delivered to industry, and they are an essential raw material for industry for power and heat and in some cases an actual raw material in the manufacturing process itself.

Inevitably, I have had to gallop through the argument, but the case I have put to the Committee is unanswerable. I do not ask for a reply now—let us leave that, if we may—but I hope that the Government will be ready sympathetically to look in some detail at this case. I have been into it with as much care as I can, and I believe that the argument for the whole oil industry being taken out of these different parts of the Bill and treated wholly for refund is completely unanswerable and should be accepted.

Mr. Diamond

I gather that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. lain Macleod) did not necessarily want to go straight on to the next Amendment, and that an answer, however short, is better than no answer.

The main points in the answer will be these. First, at least one half of the products of the oil industry are not in direct competition at all. The Amendment proposes a variation affecting the whole oil industry. and it must fall in the first place on that major ground, that at least half are not involved at all.

Second, if he looks more closely at the new Government Amendment No. 230, the right hon. Gentleman will find that it is very helpful. I do not want to go into it now. I merely direct attention to it. My hon. and learned Friend the Financial Secretary, who would have handled the Amendment himself, will be only too glad to discuss the matter with the right hon. Gentleman or write to him about it.

Thirdly, it is not the case that the refunds to the nationalised industries are based on considerations of the classifi-

cation, or anything of that kind, but merely that nationalised industries do not have to have the same consideration with regard to economy in the use of labour or a variety of other things—

The Chairman


It being ten minutes past Seven o'clock (the House having resolved itself into the Committee at ten minutes past Four o'clock), The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to Order [18th July], to put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the proposed words be there inserted:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 234, Noes 303.

Division No. 140.] AYES [7.10 p.m.
Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash) Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.) Howell, David (Guildford)
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford) Hunt, John
Astor, John Digby, Simon Wingfield Hutchison, Michael Clark
Atkins, Humphrey (m,vn — M'd'n) Dodds-Parker, Douglas Iremonger, T. L.
Awdry, Daniel Doughty, Charles Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)
Baker, W. H. K. Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. sir Alec Jenkin, Patrick (Woodford)
Balniel, Lord Drayson, G. B. Johnson Smith, C. (E. Grinstead)
Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward Johnston, Russell (Inverness)
Batsford, Brian Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton) Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)
Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton Elliott, R.W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,N.) Jopling, Michael
Bell, Ronald Errington, Sir Eric Joseph, Rt. Hn. Sir Keith
Bennett, sir Frederic (Torquay) Eyre, Reginald Kerby, Capt. Henry
Berry, Hn. Anthony Farr, John Kershaw, Anthony
Bessell, Peter Fisher, Nigel Kimball, Marcus
Biffen, John Fletcher-Cooke, Charles King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)
Birch, Rt. Hn, Nigel Fortescue, Tim Kitson, Timothy
Black, Sir Cyril Foster, Sir John Knight, Mrs. Jill
Body, Richard Galbraith, Hn. T. G. Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bossom, Sir Clive Gibson-Watt, David Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)
Boyle, tat. Hn. Sir Edward Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.) Lloyd,Rit. Hn.Geoffrey(Sut'ne'dfield)
Braine, Bernard Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.) Lloyd, Rt. Hn. Selwyn (Wirral)
Brewis, John Glover, Sir Douglas Longden, Gilbert
Brinton, Sir Tatton Glyn, Sir Richard Loveys, W. H.
Bromley-Davenport,L t. Col.Sir Walter Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B. Lubbock, Eric
Brown, Sir Edward (Bath) Goodhart, Philip MacArthur, Ian
Bruce-Gardyne, J. Goodhew, Victor Mackenzie,Alasdair(Ross—Crom'ty)
Bryan, Paul Gower, Raymond Maclean, Slr Fitzroy
Buchanan-Smith,Alick(Angus,N—M) Grant-Ferris, R. Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain
Buck, Antony (Colchester) Gresham Cooke, R. McMaster, Stanley
Bullus, Sir Eric Griffiths, Eldon (Bury St. Edmunds) Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)
Campbell, Cordon Grimond, Rt. Hn.J. Madden, Martin
Carlisle, Mark Gurden, Harold Maginnis, John E.
Carr, Rt. Fin. Robert Hall, John (Wycombe) Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest
Cary, Sir Robert Hall-Davis, A. G. F. Marten, Ned
Channon, H. P. G. Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Mathew, Robert
Chichester-Clark, R. Harris, Reader (Heston) Maude, Angus
Clark, Henry Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye) Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald
Clegg, Walter Harvey, Sir Arthur Very Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.
Cooke, Robert Harvie Anderson, Miss Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Cooper-Key, Sir Neill Hawkins, Paul Mills, Peter (Torrington)
Cordle, John Hay, John Mills, Stratton (Belfast, N.)
Corfield, F. V. Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel MisCampbell, Norman
Costain, A. P. Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)
Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne) Heseltine, Michael Monro, Hector
Crawley, Aldan Higgins, Terence L. More, Jasper
Crouch, David Hirst, Geoffrey Morgan, W. G. (Denbigh)
Crowder, F. P. Hobson, Rt. Hn. Sir John Morrison, Charles (Devizes)
Currie, C. B. H. Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles
Dalkeith, Earl Of Holland, Philip Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Dance, James Hooson, Emlyn Murton, Oscar
Davidson,Jarnes(Aberdeenshire,W.) Hordern, Peter Naharro, Sir Gerald
d'Avigclor-Godsmid, Sir Henry Hornby, Richard Neave, Airey
Nicholls, Sir Harmar
Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael Ridsdale, Julian Tilney, John
Nott, John Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Onslow, Cranley Robson Brown, Sir William van Straubenzee, W. R.
Orr, Capt. L. P. s. Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks) Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John
Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian Roots, William Vickers, Dame Joan
Osborn, John (Hallam) Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey) Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Royle, Anthony Walker, Peter (Worcester)
Page, Graham (Crosby) Russell, Sir Ronald Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek
Page, John (Harrow, W.) St. John-Stevas, Norman Walters, Dennis
Pardoe, J. Scott, Nicholas Ward, Dame Irene
Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe) Sharpies, Richard Weatherill, Bernard
Peel, John Shaw, Michael (Se'b'es — Whitby) Webster, David
Percival, Ian Sinclair, Sir George Wells, John (Maidstone)
Peyton, John Smith, John Whitelaw, William
Pike, Miss Mervyn Stainton, Keith Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)
Pink, R. Bonner Steel, David (Roxburgh) Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Pounder, Rafton Stodart, Anthony Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon) Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Price, David (Eastleigh) Tapsell, Peter Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard
Prior, J. M. L. Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne) Woodnutt, Mark
Pym, Francis Taylor,Edward M.(G'gow,Cathcart) Worsley, Marcus
Quennell, Miss J. M. Taylor, Frank (Moss Side) Younger, Hn. George
Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter Testing, Sir William TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Rees-Davies, W. R. Temple, John M. Mr. Blaker and Mr. Grant.
Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Ridley, Hn. Nicholas Thorpe, Jeremy
Abse, Leo Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Gregory, Arnold
Albu, Austen Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Grey Charles (Durham)
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Cullen, Mrs. Alice Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)
Alidritt, Walter Dalyell, Tam Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)
Allen, Scholefield Darling, Rt. Hn. George Griffiths, Will (Exchange)
Anderson, Donald Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Hamilton, James (Bothwell)
Archer, Peter Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)
Armstrong, Ernest Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Hamling, William
Ashley, Jack Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway) Hannan, William
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Davies, Harold (Leek) Harper, Joseph
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Davies, Robert (Cambridge) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice de Freitas, Sir Geoffrey Hart, Mrs. Judith
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Delargy, Hugh Hazell, Bert
Barnes, Michael Dell, Edmund Heffer, Eric S.
Barnett, Joel Dempsey, James Henig, Stanley
Heaney, Alan Dewar, Donald Hilton, W. S.
Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J. Diamond, Rt. Hn. John Hooley, Frank
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Dickens, James Homer, John
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Dobson, Ray Houghton, Rt. Hn, Douglas
Bidwell, Sydney Doig, Peter Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)
Bruns, John Donnelly, Desmond Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)
Bishop, E. 8. Driberg, Tom Howie, W.
Blackburn, F. Dunn, James A. Hoy, James
Blenkinsop, Arthur Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter) Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)
Boardman, H. Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th — C'b'e) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Booth, Albert Eadie, Alex Hunter, Adam
Boston, Terence Edelman, Maurice Hynd, John
Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur Edwards, Robert (Ralston) Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Bowden, Rt. Hn. Herbert Edwards, William (Merioneth) Jackson, Colin (B'h'se — Spenb'gh)
Boyden, James Ellis, John Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)
Braddock, Mrs. E. M. English, Michael Jeger, George (Goole)
Bradley, Tom Ennals, David Jeger,Mrs.Lena(H'b'n—St.P'eras,S.)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Ensor, David Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Brooks, Edwin Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.) Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D. Fernyhough, E. Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)
Brown,Bob(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne,W) Finch, Harold Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Proven) Fitch, Alan (Wigan) Jones, Dan (Burnley)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch — F'bury) Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston) Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)
Buchan, Norman Fletcher, Ted (Darlington) Judd, Frank
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Floud, Bernard Kelley, Richard
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.) Foley, Maurice Kenyon, Clifford
Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green) Foot, Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter — Chatham)
Cant, R. B. Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Kerr, Russell (Feltham)
Carmichael, Neil Ford, Ben Lawson, George
Carter-Jones, Lewis Forrester, John Leadbitter, Ted
Castle, Rt. Hn. Barbara Fowler, Gerry Ledger, Ron
Chapman, Donald Fraser, Rt. Hn. Tom (Hamilton) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Coe, Denis Freeson, Reginald Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)
Coleman, Donald Gardner, A. J. Lee, John (Reading)
Concannon, J. D. Garrow, Alex Lester, Miss Joan
Conlan, Bernard Ginsburg, David Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)
Corbet, Mrs. Freda Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Craddock, George (Bradford, 8.) Gourlay, Harry Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Crawshaw, Richard Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Lomas, Kenneth
Cronin, John Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Loughlin, Charles
Luard, Evan Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Small, William
Lyon, Alexander W. (York) Owen, Will (Morpeth) Snow, Julian
Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.) Pulley, Walter Spriggs, Leslie
McCann, John Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
MacColl, James Palmer, Arthur Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
MacDermot, Nista Pennon, Rt. Hn. Charles Stonehouse, John
Macdonald, A. H. Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
McGuire, Michael Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd) Summerskill, Hn. Dr. Shirley
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Swain, Thomas
Mackie, John Pentland, Norman Swingler, Stephen
Mackintosh, John P. Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Symonds, J. B.
Maclennan, Robert Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.) Taverns, Dick
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)
McNamara, J. Kevin Price, Thomas (Westhoughton) Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
MacPherson, Malcolm Price, William (Rugby) Thornton, Ernest
Mahon, Peter (Preston, s.) Probert, Arthur Tine, James
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg) Pursey, Cmdr. Harry Tomney, Frank
Maltalieu,J. P W.(Huddersfield, E.) Rankin, John Urwin, T. W.
Manuel, Archie Redhead, Edward Varley, Eric G.
Mapp, Charles Rees, Merlyn Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)
Marquand, David Reynolds, G. W. Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Marsh, Fit. Hn. Richard Rhodes, Geoffrey Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Maxwell, Robert Richard, Ivor Wallace, George
Mayhew, Christopher Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Watkins, David (Consett)
Mellish, Robert Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon) Weitzman, David
Mendelson, J. J. Roberts, Gwllym (Bedfordshire, S.) Wellbeloved, James
Millan, Brute Robertson, John (Paisley) Wells, William (Walsall, N.)
Miller, Dr. M. S. Robinson, Rt.Hn.Kerineth(St.P'c'as) Whitaker, Ben
Mitchell, FI, C. (S'th'pton, Test) Robinson, W. 0. J. (Walth'stow, E.) White, Mrs. Eirene
Molloy William Rodgers, William (Stockton) Whitlock, William
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Roebuck, Roy Wigg, Rt. Hn. George
Morris, Alf red (Wythenshawe) Rogers, George Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Rose, Paul Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Morris, John (Aberavon) Ross, Rt. Hn. William Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Moyle, Roland Rowland, Christopher (Meriden) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Mulley, Fit. Hn. Frederick Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.) Williams , W. T. (Warrington)
Murray, Albert Ryan, John Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)
Neal, Harold Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.) Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)
Newens, Stan Sheldon, Robert Winnick, David
Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon) Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E. Winterbottom, R. E.
Norwood, Christopher Shore, Peter (Stepney) Woof, Robert
Oakes, Gordon Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton,N.E.) Wyatt, Woodrow
Ogden, Eric Silkin, John (Deptford) Yates, Victor
O'Malley, Brian Silkin, S. C. (Dulwich) Zilliacus, K.
Orbach, Maurice Silverman, Julius (Aston) TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Orme, Stanley Silverman, Sydney (Nelson) Mr. McBride and Mr. loan L. Evans.
Oswald, Thomas Skeffington, Arthur

The CHAIRMAN then proceeded successively to put forthwith the Questions on Amendments, moved by a member of the Government, of which notice had been given, to the Clause and the further Question necessary to complete the Proceedings on the Clause.

Amendments made: In page 2, line 30, leave out "(b) and "and insert" to ".

In line 33, leave out for the purposes of the "and insert" in any employment in, or carried out from, that ".

In line 35, leave out "normally so employed" and insert: so employed wholly or mainly".

In line 37, leave out "normally so employed only" and insert so employed wholly or mainly".

In line 41, at end insert: or in training relevant to any activities mentioned in that paragraph or in paragraphs (a) to (ab) of that subsection, or the establishment is certified by the Minister of Technology to be engaged in scientific research relevant to

any activities mentioned in the said paragraphs (a) to (ab)".

In page 3, line 8, after "quarrying)", insert heading 602 or 603 (which relate to electricity and water supply) ".

In line 10, leave out from "709 to end of line 22 and insert:

  1. (aa) activities by way of the extraction of coal from open-cast workings;
  2. (ab) activities by way of the operation of road transport for the purposes of another establishment which is both associated establishment and an establishment such as is mentioned either in section 1(2) of this Act or in subsection (2) of this section;
  3. (ac) activities, research or training such as are mentioned in section 1(2)(a) of this Act, or a combination of such activities, research or training and any activities such as are mentioned in paragraph (a) or (aa) of this subsection;

In line 30, leave out from "to" to "the" in line 31, and insert: any activities other than activities falling under minimum list heading 703 in the Standard Industrial Classification ".

In line 39, leave out "paragraph (a) or (b)" and insert: any of paragraphs (a) to (ac)".—[Mr. Diamond.]

Clause, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.