§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
My Lords, in contradistinction to the Bill which has just been passed, I hope I may describe this Bill as a non-contentious Bill. It has the object, as no doubt Scottish Peers will observe, of assimilating certain items in the English Poor Law procedure to the Scottish procedure. Under the Scottish Poor Law certain considerations are taken into account, that is to say, certain items of income must be disregarded in assessing need under the Poor Law. In the Scottish Poor Law procedure the first 5s. of trade union and friendly society sick pay must be disregarded. Also the first £1 of any wounds or disability pension received by any person whose resources are taken into account must be disregarded. The whole of any maternity benefit in respect of the applicant or his wife, exclusive of any increase by way of additional benefit or any second maternity benefit must be disregarded. All these three "disregards" are now being incorporated in this Bill. Up till last Session Scotland was behind England in these respects. Now Scotland is in front of England, and we are putting ourselves into the same position as Scotland.
Perhaps I might make one or two remarks on the arguments in favour of these "disregards" being incorporated in this Bill. Roughly the trade union sick pay is really very much the same as friendly society sick pay. In regard to disability pensions, it is obvious that those are not intended for maintenance entirely, but in part as a recognition of services rendered and injuries sustained owing to the War, and the maternity benefit is paid at a time which is necessarily one of special need, and local authorities should have no opportunity of disregarding that need. This is a Bill which passed Second and Third Reading in another place without a Division, and perhaps I may hope that your Lordships will now give it a Second Reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Gage.)
THE EARL OF KINNOULL
My Lords, we on this side of the House have no desire whatever to hamper the passage of this Bill. In fact, we like the Bill very much, as far as it goes. As the noble Viscount has said, its object is to bring the English Poor Law into line with the Scottish Poor Law. I think it is true to say that the whole tendency of the Poor Law to-day, under this Bill and under the Scottish Act, is to try to bring it into the same category as the Unemployment Act of 1934, which brings in certain applicants for additional payments. The only criticism I have to make on the Bill is that, whereas under the Unemployment Act of 1934 workmen's compensation is taken into account, under the Scottish Act and under this Bill no provision is made for it. With regard to war disability pensions, where a person has lost a limb or an eye or something of that kind during the War, the amount of money that he receives per week is given to him to compensate him and to put him on the same footing as his fellows who have suffered no such loss. It is therefore only reasonable and just that that amount of money, or at any £1 of it, as under the Scottish Act and under this Bill, should be disregarded where such persons have the misfortune to have to apply for outdoor relief.
But I cannot see the difference between this and the case of a man who has been working for the good of his country in industry. If he has been maimed or has lost an eye in that way, I cannot see why he should not be treated in the same way as the man who was maimed during the War when fighting for his country. One is a soldier in the trenches, the other is a person working for his country in industry. Under the Unemployment Act, as I have said, where we granted transitional payment, there is that provision made with regard to compensation, and I cannot see why the Government should not have included in this Bill some clause to that effect. The Government have drawn this Bill very cunningly, and I understand that it would be outside the scope of the Bill if we were to move an Amendment to the effect that I have indicated. But I would like to ask the Government why that is—why they have not included workmen's compensation in the Bill. There is also a small point.
My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Earl for the favourable reception that he has given to this Bill. He has asked a question which was also asked in another place in reward to workmen's compensation, and he will forgive me if I make very much the same reply as was made there. This is a Bill which is designed to remove certain discrepancies between the Acts relating to the Poor Law in the two countries. That is all it sets out to do.
394 There may be great objections in various quarters to the original Scottish Act, but that is not a matter with which we are concerned in this Bill. The whole purpose of the Bill is the removal of discrepancies and that is what this Bill does. On the question of Northern Ireland, I understand that they have entirely separate legislation for dealing with these matters. It is one of the subjects which come within the province of the Northern Ireland Government.
§ On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes past five o'clock.