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Civil Estimates, 1945

Volume 411: debated on Monday 11 June 1945

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Class I

"That a sum, not exceeding £5,112,629, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class I of the Civil Estimates, namely:

1.House of Lords Offices42,288
2.House of Commons336,322
3.Registration of Electors470,000
4.Treasury and Subordinate Departments836,304
5.Privy Council Office14,832
6.Privy Seal Office6,100
7.Charity Commission23,669
8.Civil Service Commission66,010
9.Exchequer and Audit Department188,190
10.Government Actuary15,970
11.Government Chemist80,131
12.Government Hospitality20,000
13.The Mint90
14.National Debt Office5,892
15.National Savings Committee371,904
16.Public Record Office30,207
17.Public Works Loan. Commission14,259
18.Repayments to the Local Loans Fund21,000
19.19. Royal Commissions, etc.52,000
20.Miscellaneous Expenses64,071
21.Secret Service90
22.Tithe Redemption Commission90
23.Ministry of Town and Country Planning288,840
24.Scottish Home Department164,370

Question put, and agreed to.

Class Ii

"That a sum, not exceeding £20,717,945, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on

the 31st day of March 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class II of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

1.Foreign Office1,917,787
2.Diplomatic and Consular Establishments, etc.3,110,152
3.British Council1,900,000
4.League of Nations86,010
5.Dominions Office83,260
6.Dominion Services254,242
7.Oversea Settlement90
8.Colonial Office348,780
9.Colonial and Middle Eastern Services4,114,656
10.West African Cocoa Control (Disposal of Profits)3,676,253
11.Development and Welfare (Colonies, etc.)3,337,200
12.Development and Welfare (South African High Commission Territories)294,800
13.India and Burma Services1,508,702
14.Imperial War Graves Commission86,013

Question put, and agreed to.

Class Iii

"That a sum not exceeding £11,727,490, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on

the 31st day of March 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class III of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

1.Home Office1,083,510
2.Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum89,070
3.Police, England and Wales6,136,809
4.Prisons, England and Wales1,420,400
5.Approved Schools, etc., England and Wales347,900
6.Supreme Court of Judicature, &c.90
7.County Courts343,010
8.Land Registry90
9.Public Trustee18,080
10.Law Charges145,275
11.Miscellaneous Legal Expenses11,701
14.Approved Schools, etc.107,250
15.Scottish Land Court4,512
16.Law Charges and Courts of Law66,431
17.Register House, Edinburgh9,622

18.Northern Ireland Services2,837
19.Supreme Court of Judicature, & c, Northern Ireland12,279
20.Irish Land Purchase Services596,784

Question put, and agreed to.

Class Iv

"That a sum, not exceeding £9,567,865, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on

the 31st day of March 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class IV of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

2.British Museum104,815
3.British Museum (Natural History)70,591
4.Imperial War Museum9,030
5.London Museum6,083
6.National Gallery28,325
7.National Maritime Museum7,237
8.National Portrait Gallery7,371
9.Wallace Collection9,841
10.Scientific Investigation, &c.409,646
11.Universities and Colleges, &c., Great Britain3,900,000
14.National Galleries12,523
15.National Library2,403

Question put, and agreed to.

Class V

"That a sum, not exceeding £118,353,198, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the

sum necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending

on the 31st day of March 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class V of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

3.Registrar-General's Office216,490
4.Ministry of Labourand National Service17,040,000
5.Grants in respect of Employment Schemes1,130,000
6.Commissioner for Special Areas (England and Wales)90
7.Special Areas Fund715,000
8.Financial Assistance in Special and Other Areas66,800
10.Assistance Board3,805,000
11.National Insurance Audit Department100,200
12.Friendly Societies Registry31,480
13.Old Age Pensions36,750,000
14.Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions16,525,000
15.Supplementary Pensions41,920,000

17.Board of Control16,822
18.Registrar-General's Office36,226
19.Commissioner for Special Areas90

Question put, and agreed to.

Class Vi

"That a sum, not exceeding £18,482,420, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on

the 31stday of March 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class VI of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

1.Board of Trade1,764,935
2.Mercantile Marine Services1,008,154
3.Department of Overseas Trade374,903
4.Export Credits90
5.Ministry of Fuel and Power2,100,000
6.Office of Commissioners of Crown Lands24,039
7.Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries3,101,376
8.Surveys of Great Britain, etc.724,925
9.Forestry Commission675,000
10.Roads, etc.5,674,400
11.Miscellaneous Transport Services32,143
12.Development Fund664,000
13.Development Grants284,800
14.Department of Scientific and Industrial Research1,055,270
15.State Management Districts90
16.Clearing Offices90
17.Department of Agriculture643,272
19.Herring Industry295,000

Question put, and agreed to.

Class Vii

"That a sum, not exceeding £16,766,233, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on

the 31st day of March 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class VII of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

1.Houses of Parliament Buildings81,250
2.Miscellaneous Legal Buildings, Great Britain70,030
4.Ministry of Works4,195,070
5.Miscellaneous Works Services5,845,065

6.Public Buildings Overseas227,200
7.Royal Palaces77,735
8.Royal Parks and Pleasure Gardens151,910
9.Rates on Government Property2,327,142
I0.Stationery and Printing3,736,611
11.Peterhead Harbour7,000
12.Works and Buildings in Ireland29,320

Question put, and agreed to.

Class Viii

"That a sum, not exceeding £25,680,053, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on

the 31st day of March 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class VIII of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

1.Merchant Seamen's War Pensions202,053
2.Ministry of Pensions22,428,000
3.Royal Irish Constabulary Pensions, etc.800,000
4.Superannuation and Retired Allowances2,250,000

Question put, and agreed to.

Class Ix

"That a sum, not exceeding £34,145,859, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment daring the year ending on

the 31st day of March, 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class IX of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

1.Exchequer Contributions to Local Revenues, England and Wales28,518,000
2.Exchequer Contributions to Local Revenues, Scotland5,627,859

Question put, and agreed to.

Class X

"That a sum, not exceeding £1,440, be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on

the 31st day of March, 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in Class X of

the Civil Estimates, namely:

1.Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (War Services)90
2.Ministry of Aircraft Production90
3.Ministry of Economic Warfare90

5.Ministry of Fuel and Power (War Services)90
7.Ministry of Home Security90
8.Ministry of Information90
9.Ministry of Labourand National Service (War Services)90
10.Postal and Telegraph Censorship Department90
11.Ministry of Production90
12.Ministry of Supply90
13.War Damage (Business and Private Chattels)90
14.War Damage Commission90
15.Ministry of War Transport90
16.Ministry of Works (War Services)90
17.Department of Agriculture (War Services)90
19.Scottish Home Department (War Services)90

Question put, and agreed to.

Revenue Departments Estimates, 1945

"That a sum, not exceeding £95,672,390 be granted to His Majesty, to complete the sum

necessary to defray the charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on

the 31st day of March, 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Services included in the

Estimates for Revenue Departments, namely:

1.Customs and Excise4,569,600
2.Inland Revenue9,842,790
3.Post Office81,260,000

Question put, and agreed to.

Navy Estimates, 1945

"That a Sum, not exceeding £1,700, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge

which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1946, for

Expenditure in respect of the Navy Services, namely:

2.Victualling and Clothing for the Navy100
3.Medical Establishments and Services100
4.Civilians employed on Fleet Services100
5.Educational Services100
6.Scientific Services100
7.Royal Naval Reserves100
8.Shipbuilding, Repairs, Maintenance, etc.: section 1.—Personnel100
Section II.—Matériel100
Section III.—Contract Work100

9.Naval Armaments100
10.Works, Buildings and Repairs at Home and Abroad100
11.Miscellaneous Effective Services100
12.Admiralty Office100
13.Non-Effective Services (Naval and Marine)—Officers100
14.Non-Effective Services (Naval and Marine)—Men100
15.Civil Superannuation, Allowances and Gratuities100
16.Merchant Shipbuilding,etc.100

Question put, and agreed to.

Army Estimates, 1945

"That a sum, not exceeding £1,400, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge

which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1946, for

Expenditure in respect of the Army Services, namely:

2.Territorial Army and Reserve Forces100
3Medical Services100
4.Educational Establishments100
5.Quartering and Movements100
6.Supplies, Road Transport and Remounts100
8.General Stores100
9.Warlike Stores100
10.Works, Buildings and Lands100
11.Miscellaneous Effective Services100
12.War Office100
13.Half-Pay, Retired Pay and other Non-Effective Charges for Officers100
14.Pensions and other Non-Effective Charges for Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers,

Men and others

15.Civil Superannuation, Compensation and



Question put, and agreed to.

Air Estimates, 1945

"That a sum, not exceeding £1,000, be granted to His Majesty, to defray the charge

which will come in course of payment during

the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1946, for Expenditure in respect of the Air Services,


2.Quartering, Non-Technical Stores, Supplies and Transportation100
3.Technical and Warlike Stores100
4.Works, Buildings and Lands100
5.Medical Services100
6.Educational Services100
7.Reserve and Auxiliary Forces100
8.Civil Aviation100
9.Meterological and Miscellaneous Effective Services100
10.Air Ministry100
11.Half-Pay, Pensions, and other Non-Effective Services100

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.

Ways And Means

Considered in Committee.

[Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS in the Chair]


"That towards making good the Supply granted to His Majesty for the Service of the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1946, the sum of £2,206,991,334 be granted out of the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom."—[Mr. Peake.]

Resolution to be reported To-morrow; Committee to sit again To-morrow.

Postponement Of Polling Day Bill

Order for Second Reading read.

7.17 p.m.

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This is a simple Bill though an important one. As the House will remember, when the date of the Election was fixed representations were made from various sides of the House that something ought to be done in order to meet the difficulty where in a constituency there was, in fact, a mass holiday in progress on 5th July. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 31st May said this:
"In order to meet the problem arising from local mass holidays which will be in progress on 5th July, the Government are prepared to consider legislation under which, in constituencies to be specified in the Bill, polling day will be postponed to 12th July."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 31st May, 1945; Vol. 411, c 373.]
My right hon. Friend went on to say that in order to legislate on those lines there must be general agreement, and he invited Members and town clerks to get into touch with the Home Office and the Scottish Office. This Bill carries out the policy so indicated, and I hope it will be agreed to by the House. An original list of constituencies and also a supplementary list which might come within the principle laid down were circulated, and we have done our best in the Home Office and in the Scottish Office to produce the right Schedule. I propose to refer to the constituency of Nelson and Colne, which has a Schedule all to itself. It turned out that in that constituency there were mass holidays in two places in progress on 5th July and in the third place on 12th July, there being no mass holiday in progress on the 19th. There were no technical difficulties about postponing polling day until the 19th and as this was generally desired in the constituency, according to our information, postponement has been made to that date. The scheme is, I am sure, the only practicable one.

There are two constituencies, namely, Westhoughton and Coventry, where substantial holidays will be in progress on 5th, 12th and 19th July and in such cases postponement to the 12th or the 19th did not meet the difficulty. Suggestions were made, in particular by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Coventry (Captain Strickland) and also in a slightly different form by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman), that we should provide for polling on two different dates in the same constituency, or alternatively, extend the provisions for postal voting. These suggestions were naturally carefully examined, but the Government came clearly to the conclusion, with which I hope the House will agree, that neither of them was practicable. To have two different polling days either for the whole constituency, as would be necessary in Coventry, or for different areas of the same constituency, as might have suited the hon. Gentleman opposite, would have been a constitutional innovation. It would, I am sure, have caused confusion, and I believe in the working out it might have been found unsatisfactory and unpopular. It would also have caused extra work to returning officers and their depleted staffs, which I doubt we should have been justified in doing. It would certainly have raised a lot of argument. Our electoral machine is based on the principle that in each constituency there is a single polling day on which all those who record their votes otherwise than by post, vote, and on which the whole campaign gradually proceeds to its climax and its conclusion. There would have been great difficulty about making an innovation which would have cut across that general scheme.

With regard to what is done by the Bill, having certain constituencies which poll on one day while others poll on an earlier or later date, whichever end you start at, that is not a constitutional innovation, and up to 1918 was the ordinary practice when the Election was spread out over a considerable period of time. Actually, as far as the present Election is concerned, we shall not, of course, get what people got then, namely, the results of the earlier polls before polling in the other constituencies took place. In all cases, as the House knows, the count is postponed until 26th July, and in the constituencies covered by the Bill the count will take place on precisely the same date as those which vote on 5th July. With regard to the extension of postal voting this would, I am satisfied, be impossible with the staffs at present available and would break down the already hard-pressed electoral machine. It would, moreover, be difficult, if we adopted it, to resist pressure to extend it to cases where there might not be a mass holiday but where electors were not in the place in which they were on 31st January, either because they were on holiday or possibly for other, even more compelling, reasons.

In deciding what constituencies should be in the Schedule we have been very much assisted by Members, by town clerks and by others. I would, however, like to make it clear that the responsibility for this Schedule rests on the Government, and, in particular, on myself and my Noble Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. If mistakes have been made, let them be laid at our door, and not made the basis of criticism of Members or of anybody else. We have done our best to deal with this problem in a practical way in order to remedy the outstanding cases to which hon. Members rightly drew attention, and I commend the Bill to the House.

7.24 p.m.

I think that the House will welcome this Bill. Obviously, the problem with which it deals and which, I think, it solves fairly, was created by the comparatively sudden decision to take an Election at this time. The arrangements for holidays in Lancashire towns had already been made long before the date of the Election was known. In Lancashire, it has been customary, from time immemorial, to have mass holidays at staggered dates and the dates in each case have become traditional and almost fixed. During the war, many people—I think most people—have dispensed with holidays, at any rate, in the sense of going away. They have had their mass holidays at home, but this year, in view of the changed circumstances, great numbers of people who had forgone their holidays for almost the whole of the war, made arrangements to go away before the date of the Election was known. They had committed themselves in ways that would have involved serious financial hardship, if they had sought to cancel their arrangements in order to discharge their duty as citizens by taking part in an Election which, I think, is, by common consent, as important an Election as has ever taken place in the history of our country. I think we are all pleased that, at any rate, this part of the evil consequences of having an Election so very quickly and unexpectedly has been mitigated.

I would like to make two other comments. I notice a tendency in some newspapers to claim credit for the Conservative Party for generosity in having made these arrangements. The Schedule shows that there are some 24 constituencies involved and of those constituencies seven are held by Members on this side of the House, and 17 by Members on the opposite side.

Most people who are Members hope to retain their seats, and questions of the generosity of one side or the other might be left out of account. We might all agree, on both sides of the House, to say that we have co-operated in doing the fair and proper thing, and that is to see that everybody had a reasonably equal and adequate opportunity of voting. This Bill does so, and we are all glad that it has been done. The only other comment I would make is on what the right hon. and learned Gentleman said about having two different days. I confess that I am satisfied with the arrangements for my own constituency. It is true that it gives us ah Election all by ourselves, after everybody else has finished. It has the consequence of prolonging the campaign by 14 days. It may be that on both sides the inconvenience of that will be felt, and obviously it may turn out to be more expensive, but these are all disadvantages which on both sides we are all very glad to endure, in the interests of having an Election in which every elector in the constituency will be able to cast his vote.

I do not think that there would have been any insuperable difficulty in the case of my own constituency in having two polling days. The constituency includes more than one local authority. While I appreciate the difficulties of having more than one polling day in a constituency with only one local authority, I do not think those objections apply to the same extent in a constituency where the staggering of the holidays goes according not to the constituency, but according to the local authorities, different local authorities having their holidays at different periods. It would have been possible in my own case for polling to take place in every part of the constituency, except one large one and one rather small area, on 5th July, on the same date as the rest of the country, and having another polling day for those other parts which are under separate local authorities. But I am not complaining in the least. If it was generally felt that it was more convenient to have one polling day for the whole constituency, we, in Nelson and Colne, are satisfied with that arrangement. We would have been satisfied with any arrangement, whether it involved a postponement of Election day, or a number of different polling days, which made it possible for us to maintain our proud record of having a very high poll.

We have always prided ourselves in that constituency on that. In 1935, out of 51,000 people on the electoral register, 46,000 actually cast their votes. I would like to express the hope that throughout the country there will be as high a poll as that, and that these arrangements for Nelson and Colne will have the result that we shall get practically a 100 per cent. poll on the day. I do not want to detain the House longer, but I thought it right that somebody on this side should say that we accept with great satisfaction the arrangements that have been made, and congratulate the Government on having found a way out of the difficulty which they have created.

7.31 p.m.

I would like to say how much I welcome this Bill. I will not follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) into what are the exact causes of this Election coming about as it has. I would prefer to keep this matter on a non-controversial basis. The position before this Bill was introduced was that had the General Election taken place on 5th July, a very large part of the electors in the Darwen Division—that part which lies in the Turton Urban District Council—would in effect have been almost disfranchised because of their holiday week and, quite understandably and naturally, this being the first peace holiday, many of them would have taken themselves to more luxurious parts of the County of Lancashire. Therefore, to begin with, I and many others in the Darwen Division were considerably disturbed that many of the electors would have been disfranchised had the General Election been held on 5th July. Indeed, even when the alternative date, the I2th July, was suggested, I was rather disturbed, because it was possible that on that date part of the town of Darwen might have gone on its wakes week; but I understand that it will not be so now, that the wakes week will start on 13th July, and therefore the alternative which I pressed on my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary—that in the Darwen Division there should be two polling days—a request similar to that made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne—no longer holds, and so I need not press it on the Home Secretary to-day.

This Bill, which I hope we shall pass through all its stages very quickly, will ensure that everyone in the Darwen division will be enabled to exercise their democratic right of voting for the candidate they deem best. I myself, if I were returned to this House, would not be happy if I thought that I had been returned when many of the electors had not been able to exercise their right of voting for or against me, and I am sure that any other candidates in the field would have been unhappy if they thought that any of their supporters had been away. I am sure it is the feeling on all sides of the House that in this very important General Election everybody should be entitled and enabled to exercise their free democratic right of expressing their opinion as to who should be returned to this House of Commons. I welcome this Bill, which goes a very long way to facilitating that, and I thank the Government for the broad view they have taken on this matter. I would only conclude by saying, with regard to the observations of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Nelson and Colne on the polling average of his constituency, that if he will see me afterwards I think I can convince him that we have a much better record in Darwen.

7.34 p.m.

I agree with what has been said about this Bill doing a great deal to rectify the grievance imposed on many electors in various parts of the country. I rise to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman a question. He realises, I hope, that the whole of Warrington is a large municipal borough, but a large part of the constituency of Newton is a part of Warrington, the Orford Ward in particular. Also the Sankey District is only divided from Warrington by a canal, and there are other parts of the constituency in which the residents work in Warrington. Consequently there are about 4,000 electors, or perhaps even 5,000, who work in Warrington but live just on its borders, with the exception of Oxford which is in Warrington. Therefore I rise to ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether the Newton division of Lancashire under these circumstances will be put in the Schedule.

7.35 pm.

The only hon. Members who have spoken in this Debate so far are those affected by the contents of the Bill, and I think it may be at least of interest if someone who is not affected by it should offer a few observations. This Bill does not affect my division at all, but it may be as well to take a little objective study of it and to consider whether it is a good constitutional principle. I could not let this Bill pass without registering my view that it is a retrograde step of which we ought to be very careful, both now and in the future.

:The hon. Member asks me why. The reason I regard it as retrograde is that it is going back to the sort of elections which took place over 1oo years ago. [Hon. Members: "No."] It is heading in that direction.

I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman that the old system before 1918, when there were elections in different constituencies on different dates, was a very bad system—for obvious reasons which there is no need to enter into now—but this Bill does not go back to that. It leaves nomination day the same. It leaves the count the same. It leaves the declaration the same. None of the major purposes that were to be served by the change in the law in 1918 are affected by this Bill at all.

The hon. Gentleman is making a second speech; he cannot do that.

I was going to ask you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if the hon. Gentleman had the permission of the House to make a second speech, but he still has not answered my point, which was that this Bill is heading towards the system which existed over 100 years ago. I am dealing with more recent history than that to which the hon. Gentleman is referring. I was thinking of those contests which we know so well from history, such, for instance, as the contest of Westminster which engaged the attention of Charles James Fox and various of his friends over a period of three weeks. During that time, votes could be polled at any time during the three weeks. My objection to a Bill of this kind is not, of course, that it is recapitulating that system but that it is heading towards it. It would seem to me a most unfortunate thing if we sponsored a system which is going backward in history to a system which, over 100 years ago, it was decided was unfortunate. My objection to this, in principle is that democracy undoubtedly carries with it certain responsibilities. It may be unfortunate that some people cannot vote on a particular day, but, if they are away for a holiday on polling day, then it is not too much to ask of them, if they wish the advantages of democracy, that they should exercise their obligation of taking the trouble to go and vote.

:Will my hon. and gallant Friend allow me? Speaking as a Lancashire man, may I ask him if he is aware that most Lancashire people book up their holiday months ahead, that they save up for it, and it would cause great hardship for them to come back specially for polling day; and would he suggest that half my constituents should be disfranchised?

:They are not disfranchised for, if they choose to come back, they can do so, and if my hon. and gallant Friend thinks it is a great hardship to go and register your vote I can only tell him that I entirely disagree.

:It is a great privilege to vote and I regard it as lie duty of those who wish for a democratic government to exert themselves to some small extent in order to exercise that right and privilege. As I explained to the House, it is only the constitutional principle with which I am concerned. I have no intention of registering any objection to this Bill. I was inclined to think, from the enthusiasm with which it was greeted by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman) that he himself regarded it as satisfactory in his particular division. I find the hon. and gallant Member for Darwen (Captain Prescott) shares that view with him.

:May I interrupt my hon. and gallant Friend by telling him that my division is in it too?

I explained to the Home Secretary when I began that mine is not.

That is why the hon. and gallant Member is not in favour of it for anybody else.

:May I ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman, if he had been the Member for Darwen, would he have made the same speech?

:Of course, hypothetical questions are always difficult to deal with, but I adhere to ray main point, that I should expect those who wished to support me to take a little trouble—

to come and register their vote, whether for or against me. I do not mind whether people vote for or against me so long as they vote, and in so doing give some thought and attention to what they are doing. I feel, however, that this is not a Bill which should be allowed to pass without the comment that it is heading in the direction of a system which was regarded many years ago as undesirable, and we should at least be vigilant in the future. May I say in passing that I recognise the necessity for it on this occasion, but we should be vigilant to ensure that we do not extend this principle, to arrive perhaps at a stage where no one is required to vote but somebody comes round—perhaps a man from the Prudential—with the ballot box in his hand and takes it from door to door so that people shall not even be asked to take the trouble to go to the polls. It is only on those grounds that I wish to express my view to the House and to ensure that if we let it go on this occasion we are not recognising a principle which will be extended further.

7.43 p.m.

Amidst the general acclamation of this Bill, somewhat tempered by the observations of the last speaker, I feel that I must state the position which arises in my own constituency of Coventry, because I cannot rejoice in the general acclamation with which it has been met. In my own constituency we have done what the Government asked us to do, namely, staggered our holidays over three weeks, and the three weeks come during the time of this Election, so that no choice of dates benefits Coventry in the very least. On 5th July, 22,000 workers in Coventry will, generally speaking, not be able to record their votes because they will be away. Nor could the adjournment until the following week or the week after help, because in each of those weeks other workers will be away. However, I want to pay my testimony to the courteous way in which my case has been considered both by the Home Secretary and his staff, and I am quite satisfied that they have given every consideration to the position, which is just one of those unfortunate things. I cannot help thinking, however, that this House would do well to consider whether in future elections there might not be some extension of the postal voting rights of citizens. After all, what we all want to do is to see that every man has the right to record his vote. I feel that in this particular case my own constituency is almost unique in the position which it will occupy in the coming Election. But I feel that even there, where so many of the electors will be away on holiday, they, will accept the general principle. It is not a thing, however, in which we should rejoice and I much regret that it has been necessary for this step to be taken.

7.45 P.m.

:Perhaps I might, with the leave of the House, say a word or two in reply to the hon. Member for Newton (Sir R. Young). Without criticising or blaming him in any way, I would like to point out that the Prime Minister's statement, asking for information, was made on 31st May, and that I heard about his constituency only to-day.

:And I only knew that Warrington had made application. The people I am talking about are in Warrington.

Warrington was in the first list—I am not quite sure—but whatever Warrington did the position in the hon. Gentleman's constituency was such as he described to us. It is not because Warrington's poll has been postponed that the people will not be in Newton-le-Willows on 5th July. That would happen whether Warrington's poll had been postponed or not. The trouble is that we asked for information some time ago. The Bill was published last Friday, and everybody except in the constituencies which are in the Schedules will have been booking halls and making arrangements, and I feel that there would be great difficulty in putting into the Bill on the Committee stage to-morrow a new Schedule. If there was overwhelming evidence, however, that the sitting Member and his opponent or his several opponents and the town clerk and all concerned were agreed that it should be put in I am not saying that we would not consider it. But without strong evidence of a general local desire by candidates and others for postponing we ought not at this stage, when people have made so many arrangements, to put a new name into the Schedule.

Surely it is not a matter for the candidates to determine but for the residents in Warrington. We are putting 3,000 to 4,000 people off the register.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House, for Tomorrow.—[ Commander Agnew.]

Treason Bill Lords

Order for Second Reading read.

7.48 p.m.

I beg to move, "That the Bill be now read a Second time."

This Bill deals with a very different topic from that which we have just passed, and although it deals with a great statutory jumble which will be found set out in the Schedule, it is a simple Measure. Its purpose, as its long Title accurately states, is to assimilate the procedure in all cases of treason and misprision of treason to the procedure in cases of murder. Misprision means, in case anybody does not know, concealment of treason, or being an accessory to treason. Otherwise the term has now gone out of use. I do not think we shall be guilty of complacency when I say that our general system of criminal procedure, on both sides of the Border, is the fairest in the world. Therefore, there seems no reason at all why those who are accused of treason should come under a different procedure from that which applies in normal cases of crime on indictment. But, in fact, at the moment there are on the Statute Book a number of archaic provisions—to be found set out in the Schedule—which apply to prosecutions for treason, though with two very important exceptions.

I should make it clear that nothing in this Bill affects the nature and character of the offence. It merely deals with procedure, up to and at the trial. Now for the two exceptions. In 1800, Parliament passed an Act saying that in the class of treason which consisted in assassinating or attempting the life of the King—one branch of the law of treason—the procedure was to be, not according to these somewhat complicated provisions to which I have referred, but in all respects as in trials for murder. That Act took one class of treason out of what is called the special treason procedure, and put it into the normal procedure. The House will be familiar with the Treachery Act, which we passed in 1940. That Act is not only applicable to spies, enemy spies dropped from the air for the purpose of sabotage, but also applies to acts of treason committed by British subjects, either in this country or abroad, if those acts take the form of assisting the military operations of the enemy. As the House will appreciate, that is probably the most serious form which treason can take. Toassist the military operations of the enemy in war-time is the gravest form of treason. Under the Treachery Act, that can be tried under the ordinary procedure applicable in cases of murder or other serious crimes.

All this Bill does is to apply to the remaining categories of treason, the principle which has already been recognised as proper in that case of treason which consists of assisting the military operations of the enemy, and treason which consists in assassinating or attempting the life of the Monarch. I do not think the House will want a detailed description from me of the procedure, but there are special provisions as to the service of a copy of the indictment, as to lists of witnesses, and as to no evidence being given of acts not laid in that indictment. All these are normally covered by our modern procedure of a preliminary hearing before the committing magistrates, and the rule that, once an indictment is laid, no new charge can be based on fresh evidence, even though you seek to give notice of it. There is a provision about lists of jurors which is obsolete under our modern system of selecting jurors, but apart from that there is the general right to get a list of the jurors at a cost of is., I think, seven days before the trial—

Yes. I should refer to the provision in the 1695 Act, which, makes the evidence of two witnesses necessary for the overt act which is relied upon as constituting treason. It is, presumably, based on the idea that one witness may be unreliable, whereas, on the other hand, if you allege two overt acts, and if you have one witness of each, then the two unreliabilities are taken as adding up to a sufficient certainty. It was very much criticised from the moment it was enacted. Indeed, a forcible criticism will be found in Lord Macaulay's "History of England." He points out that you may get one witness only to the overt act, but that he may be corroborated by a great deal of circumstantial evidence, whereas you may get two witnesses, uncorroborated by surrounding circumstances, who may yet be unreliable. There has been an argument in the past as to exactly what the construction of this provision would be, but I am quite satisfied that under the modern development of our criminal law, where the whole onus is on the prosecution, and the jury must be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt, the danger against which this provision was directed no longer exists, whereas it is easy to imagine cases in which there may be overwhelming evidence, but where this provision might be a bar to the prosecution getting that evidence before the court and the jury.

There is only one other point I would like to make, and I do so because I have seen a reference to it in connection with this Bill. As the House will remember, when Casement was tried for treason towards the end of the last war, the trial was a trial at bar in the King's Bench Division, before three judges. Under the old law, in the case of treason committed abroad, and not in this country, there had to be a trial at bar. By this Bill we do away with the necessity for trial at bar, but I should like to make it clear that the power which resides in the Attorney-General to apply for trial at bar remains, and can be exercised in an appropriate case. There is also the right of the accused person to apply for trial at bar which means, in modern practice, three judges if he so desires, although he has no right.

Yes, three judges with a jury. As a matter of fact, the institution of the Court of Criminal Appeal has largely done away with the ground on which in the old days trials at bar were asked for. In those days if you had a point of great difficulty to decide, or thought you had, it was said that you ought to have more than one judge to deal with it.

Could my right hon. and learned Friend say to which court applications for trial at bar would be made?

To the Divisional Court, I think. It is all laid down in the rules. I think it is right to mention that point, because I saw a reference somewhere to the question of whether this Bill affected the possibility of applying for trial at bar. As I have said, this is a simple Measure and is in accordance with what the House has already done, and I am sure that it is right that we should sweep away procedure which has been superseded by our modern criminal code.

8.0 p.m.

We on this side support the Bill. We think it is a reasonable thing to sweep away archaisms where those archaisms have no basis of reason. I understand the original reason for making this procedure so difficult was to try to put a check on the habits of Government sat the end of the 17th century of trying to bump off the Opposition. We hope that is not going to happen again. With the development of science there has also grown up the possibility of committing treason in all kinds of new ways. I think the simplification provided by this Measure is necessary and desirable, and I hope the House will give the Bill a Second Reading.

8.1 p.m.

I think the case for this Bill is overwhelmingly strong and has been very clearly expressed by the Home Secretary. I understand that the privilege of Peers to be tried for other offences in another place is not affected by this Bill.

Nor is their right to be tried for this offence. This Bill assimilates treason to murder.

I cannot help thinking that all the reasons so lucidly and powerfully advanced by the right hon. and learned Gentleman for sweeping away this archaic practice would be equally good reasons for removing the special rights and privileges of Members of another place who might be so unfortunate as to be charged with any kind of criminal offence. I do not know why this particular crime should have been selected for special treatment. I hope the time will come when the Government will see the weight and force of the arguments that have been advanced on this occasion and use them to remove the parallel and quite similar archaisms.

8.4 p.m.

I wish to join in the general welcome to this Bill and to thank the Home Secretary for his lucid exposition. I agree with the right hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlec) that it is a good thing to sweep away archaisms, but as he rightly qualified his remark, only those archaisms which have no basis of reason. It is not always easy to determine whether or not they have a basis of reason. It very often happens that historical antiquities, although we cannot feel it so easily, have a very good foundation of reason behind them. I agree that this Bill is a step in the right direction. I take it tile primary object of the Bill is to deal with certain notorious British subjects against whom charges are likely to be laid, and I understand from the Home Secretary that it is applicable only to British subjects who commit treason here or overseas.

No. I used that expression in connection with the Treachery Act. It is possible for somebody who is not a British subject, if he is here, to commit high treason. This Bill applies to all cases in which an indictment for treason would lie in ordinary law.

Those of us who have had to consider this matter from time to time have found certain difficulties about it. The Treachery Act applies not only to British subjects.

I do not want to enter into an argument at this stage. I am concerned with those persons who commit offences outside our jurisdiction. I understand this Bill has no effect on them, and, therefore, I take it this would not be an appropriate occasion to deal with that matter. I have always taken the view that the trial of notorious ex-enemies is a complete farce, and that they who are already condemned ought not to be put on trial but should be dealt with immediately. I should be glad if the Home Secretary would reassure me that the Bill does not deal with the point I am concerned about, that is, the trial of enemy subjects who have committed crimes outside our jurisdiction. They have to be dealt with in some way or another. I would like to see a Bill in which a method of dealing with them is clearly and explicitly provided, and I hope that at some time the Government will make clearer to us how they propose to deal with those people.

Question put, and agreed to.

Bill accordingly read a Second time.

Bill committed to a Committee of the Whole House, for To-morrow.—[ Commander Agnew.]

Family Allowances Bill

As amended, considered.

NEW CLAUSE.—( Adjustment in case of children for whom supplementary allowances, etc., are paid under certain provisions.)

(1) Notwithstanding anything in—

  • (a) the Workmen's Compensation (Supplementary Allowances) Act, 1940, or the Workmen's Compensation (Temporary Increases) Act, 1943;
  • (b) Sub-section (1) of Section thirty-seven of the Unemployment Insurance Act,1935, or Section three of the Unemployment Insurance (Increase of Benefit) Act, 1944; or
  • (c) paragraph (a)of Sub-section (i) of Section one of the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act, 1936;
  • a supplementary allowance, an increase in weekly rate of benefit, or an additional allowance, which would otherwise be payable in respect of a child under any of those enactments shall not be payable in respect of any week beginning after the coming into force of Section one of this Act if at the beginning of that week an award of an allowance under this Act in respect of the child has been made:

    Provided that that supplementary allowance, increase or additional allowance, shall become payable in respect of any such week as aforesaid if and when it has been found by revision of the award, or by an express decision under Section five of this Act, that the allowance under this Act awarded in respect of the child did not accrue during any part of that week and, in the case of an award or of a decision of the Minister, the time for making an application to have the matter referred under that Section has expired or the matter has been referred there under and the Minister's award or decision has been affirmed.

    (2) Where a supplementary allowance, an increase in weekly rate of benefit, or an additional allowance, has been paid in respect of a child under any of the enactments aforesaid in respect of any period before the making of an award of an allowance under this Act in respect of the child, the Minister may in his discretion treat any sums which may subsequently become receivable on account of the allowance so far as accruing during that period as reduced for the purposes of this Act by an amount not exceeding such an amount as he is satisfied to have been paid as aforesaid by way of supplementary allowance, increase or additional allowance, under any of those enactments, and—

  • (a) where the payment was by way of such a supplementary allowance as aforesaid, the Minister may pay any amount by which the sums becoming so receivable are treated as reduced to the person by whom the supplementary allowance was paid;
  • (b) where the payment was by way of such increase or additional allowance as aforesaid, the Minister may make, in respect of any amount by which the sums becoming so receivable are treated as reduced, such adjustment in account or payment into the Unemployment Fund, the Pensions Account, the Pensions (Scotland) Account, the Special Pensions Account, or the Special Pensions (Scotland) Account, as appears to him to be requisite.
  • (3) Sub-section (1) of Section three of the Workmen's Compensation (Supplementary Allowances) Act, 1940, shall have effect with the substitution for the words "Any employer against whom a claim for supplementary allowances is made may by notice in writing require the workman to make a declaration in such form as may be prescribed by the Minister of National Insurance and containing such information as may be necessary for the purposes of this Act as to any children in respect of whom allowances are claimed" of the words It shall be the duty of an employer against whom a claim for supplementary allowances is made by notice in writing to require the workman to make a declaration in such form as may be prescribed by the Minister of National Insurance and containing such information as may be so prescribed as to any children of his," and it shall be the duty of an employer to transmit to the Minister a copy of any declaration made to him by a workman under the said Sub-section (1).

    (4) The committee of management of, or other person administering, a scheme duly certified under Sub-section (1) of Section thirty-one of the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925, by the Registrar of Friendly Societies may submit to the Registrar proposals for amending the scheme with respect to the benefits there under in respect of children, and the Registrar, if satisfied that the effect of amending the scheme in accordance with the proposals will not be to render the benefits under the scheme (after discounting any additional benefits arising as a result of contributions by the workmen) less favourable to the -workmen than the benefits provided by the Workmen's Compensation Acts, 1925 to 1943, may amend the scheme accordingly, and the certificate given by him in respect of the scheme shall continue to apply to the amended scheme.—[Mr. Hore-Belisha.]

    Brought up, and read the First time.

    8.7 p.m.

    I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

    It would perhaps be convenient to the House if I were to make a statement on the two new Clauses which appear in my name on the Order Paper. On the Committee stage of this important Measure, which my right hon. Friend and predecessor so creditably introduced, many suggestions and criticisms were made. In the natural course of events these would have been carefully and sympathetically considered, particularly where promises were given, before any further stages of the Bill were taken. It so transpired, however, that the Government was changed, the impending Dissolution was announced, and in consequence the prospects of survival of this Bill became meagre. Discussions were held, strong representations were made to the Government from all quarters, and as a result it has been found that by artificial respiration we can keep this Bill alive. I am very glad of that, not only for my right hon. Friend's sake, but for the sake of those who will ultimately benefit.

    How do these two new Clauses fit into the Bill? The Bill itself provides universally for every family which includes two or more children an allowance in respect of each child in the family other than the elder or eldest at the rate of 5s. a week. To that provision there are no exceptions. Every family in Great Britain will benefit, whether the breadwinner be at work or not. This Bill, however, was introduced by my right hon. Friend only as a part of a comprehensive scheme, and it is very difficult to judge it except in the wider context. When that more comprehensive scheme, described in the White Papers, is. in operation, anomalies will have been removed. There will have been a consolidation of all the benefits under the insurance code. It was always intended, and has been repeatedly stated, that the benefits to the second and subsequent children in every family will then be payable under this Bill, whereas under the other insurance schemes which will then, we hope, be consolidated, increased benefits will be given to the insured adults and their first children. It is in that framework that we must look at this Bill. In some cases the improvements of the more comprehensive scheme have been anticipated. That is the case, for instance, with unemployment insurance.

    In 1944 the benefits for single men were raised from 20s. to 24s., for a married man from 30s. to 40s., for the first child the payment was increased from 4s. to 5s., for the second child from 4s. to 5s. also and for the third child from 3s. to 4s. Therefore, the ultimate advantages contemplated by the comprehensive scheme have already been anticipated in that case. Likewise with Workmen's Compensation. When the late Home Secretary introduced the Bill which increased the children's allowances he specifically stated that the intention was that the increases should fit into this Bill when it was introduced. The Widows', Orphans' and Old Age (Contributory) Pensions Act is to be entirely remodelled. In the meantime, under this Bill the children's allowances are increased in respect of the second and subsequent children from 3s. to 5s. Therefore it is not unreasonable that the first Clause that I am introducing should reiterate the principle, which was clearly enunciated in the White Papers and accepted by the leaders of all parties, that there should be no duplication. It will be seen that the intentions of the White Papers have been forestalled in some measure by this Clause. We stand upon that principle and I do not think that anyone falling under the Clause is put at a disadvantage.

    It was on the second Clause, the old Clause 13, that the major criticism came: Fears were expressed because it began with these words:
    "The Minister may make Regulations for the reduction or withholding of an allowance under this Act in respect of a child for whom an allowance or other addition to emoluments is being paid by the Navy, Army, Air Force and certain other Services."
    It was felt that His Majesty's Forces would be deprived of benefits which were coming to other sections of the community. The Government take the view that the Forces are as much entitled to benefits as any other wage-earners. They are indeed wage earners engaged in the most honourable, and at this moment the most indispensable, of all professions. It is on that footing, therefore, that they will receive these allowances or equivalent benefits in addition to any allowances which are paid to them by the respective Departments which preside over their fortunes. They will get this as an addition. It is a mere matter of chance that the soldiers' or sailors' pay is divided up into packets and distributed as between the man, his wife and his children, and the proportions in which that distribution is made are equally fortuitious. To discover what a soldier is paid you must look at the conditions as a whole. That brings in at once the consideration that it is part of the terms of his engagement that, if he be killed or wounded, his dependants should be cared for by payments from the State. We therefore include in this Clause as entitled to allowances, not only the soldier and his dependants but also his orphan children. I know that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) and others feel, particularly if we are going to give a considerable benefit to war orphans, it is anomalous that we should leave in Clause 12 the civilian orphan on a much lower basis. It is the intention of the Government to give 12s. to that orphan instead of the present 7s. 6d., but we cannot accept the Amendment to leave out that Clause because it would mean recommitting the Bill, and there are so many benefits in it that we will not jeopardise its passage.

    I only wanted to say that I was aware of the anomaly. The benefits which will result under the Clause are as follow: The serving soldier's first child will continue to receive 12s. 6d. His second and subsequent children will receive 17s. 6d. each, or an equivalent benefit of 17s. 6d. The first child of a sailor's, soldier's or airman's widow will receive us. and his second and subsequent children 16s. each. The 100 per cent, disabled soldier's first child receives 7s. 6d., and now the second and subsequent children will receive 12s. 6d. each, and, by analogy, the child of a civilian casualty will also receive 12s. 6d. for the second and subsequent children. The orphan will receive 18s. 6d. if it qualifies as a member of the family. If it is the first child it will receive 13s. 6d. as now, and, if the second, third or subsequent child in the family, 18s. 6d. So the Government has more than met the desire of the House, and I hope hon. Members will accept this new and forthright Clause which confers these benefits without any question on the Service man or woman and his or her dependent family.

    There are two periods envisaged in the Bill. In the first, which is an interim period, the Minister must be satisfied that the relevant Department is paying these allowances in addition to the present allowances, either in the form prescribed by the Bill or in some other form which gives an equivalent advantage for the family, in order that the purposes of the Bill may be fulfilled. They may be the paying authority, but I must be satisfied that the soldiers' and sailors' children get the full benefit under the Bill, and the House itself must be satisfied, because before the allowances can be withdrawn the House must approve that withdrawal by affirmative Resolution. So there is a double safeguard, and there is no doubt that the children will get the benefit.

    There is an ultimate period envisaged when I receive a certificate from the Treasury that the pay has been revised, because it is contemplated in the end that all second and subsequent children in the State should come under the provisions of this Bill. That will mean a revision as between the basic pay and the family allowances in certain departments. We have extended this Clause beyond its original scope. We have for instance included the orphan, who was excluded before. We have left out the police and firemen on the de minimis principle. There are only about 1,000 of each, and if a few duplicated pensions are paid for a while to a few people it does not matter, because these pensions are also to be revised, as are others, in the light of this Bill. I beg to move the first Clause standing in my name.

    :I would remind the House that these two new Clauses may be discussed together.

    8.21 p.m.

    I have read the two new Clauses on the Order Paper with a great deal of care, and I have listened to the explanation which the right hon. Gentleman has given, and I am sure that he will agree that this is an exceedingly difficult and complicated subject. Clause 13, with which the main change is principally concerned, was dealt with pretty fully by the House in Committee, and on all sides views were put forward representing a fair measure of unanimity and a desire to see considerable changes made in the Clause. Speaking for myself and, I think, for those who sit with me, I can say that we welcome the decision of the Government to bow to the wishes of the House expressed in Committee and that the Amendments which are embodied in this new Clause therefore commend general assent. As I understand your Ruling, Sir, I can to a slight extent discuss the other new Clause, but any remarks I make with regard to the rest of the Bill must be brief. I think, therefore, that I can best meet your wishes and the views of the House by putting into a few words my general attitude and the attitude of the Opposition on this question.

    This is a question on which there has been considerable agitation in the country for many years and which culminates in this Measure, and though the Bill is very important in itself, it is, nevertheless, only one piece in the picture of social insurance. Not only is it only one piece, but all the other pieces have not been before the House so far in any shape or form. Indeed, some of them are probably still in the making. The nature of the grand plan as a whole, therefore, cannot be fully appreciated, because, until all these pieces in the jigsaw puzzle have been put together, the House cannot envisage the picture as a whole. If time had permitted, those of us who sit on these benches would have liked to present our views at greater length as to the precise shape of this particular piece which is to fit into the whole plan. If our views had found favour with the House and the Government, particularly on Clauses 12, 13 and 14, the Government would, no doubt, have amended the Bill in accord with our suggestions.

    But the fact from which none of us can escape is that we have not time to expound our views now. We are working to very close time. The twelfth hour, not of the clock, but of the Session and of this Parliament, is in the act of striking, and, therefore, in order that the Bill may be placed on the Statute Book before the Dissolution, I am prepared to say, speaking for the Opposition, that we will assent to the Bill being carried in the form in which the Government are now asking us to carry it. We must then wait until the other sections of the social security scheme are fashioned in order that, together with this piece, the other pieces may make up a tidy and satisfactory whole of which this House and the country can be reasonably enamoured. It is in that spirit that I hope the proposals of the Government may be accepted, in order that this Bill, which is greatly desired by the country as a whole, whatever minor points there may be which could be improved and which the Minister himself has said the Government will, no doubt, consider before the whole scheme is introduced, may be carried on to the Statute Book before the Dissolution takes place.

    8.28 p.m.

    I want to express my satisfaction that this Bill has been saved and to point out what I believe to be the moral of this incident. As so often during the course of this Parliament, Measures have made good progress until we have come up against the problem of the Forces. Over and over again the Government have stumbled when they have reached that point. In the long Debate which took place recently, when the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Sir W. Jowitt) was in charge of the Bill, there were three or four hours of heated controversy, all because the Government refused to realise the feeling on all benches that the Service man must have fair play in all these Measures. I am glad that some sort of agreement has been reached on this admittedly difficult problem of non-duplication. It is doubtful whether there is any hon. Member who feels that the ideal solution has been reached.

    My own view is that these new Clauses represent a complicated, almost clumsy, method of dealing with the matter; but, at any rate, it is a method of sorts, and, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) has said, we have now reached a stage in the history of this Parliament when we cannot afford to look a gift horse in the mouth. It is much better that this Bill should reach the Statute before the Dissolution and the end of this Parliament, imperfect as we feel it to be. I should like to congratulate the new Minister on his appointment and to thank him for the lucid exposition he gave of these complicated Clauses. I am glad that almost the last Bill which we are passing is this one and that it is new assured of a passage to the Statute Book. I agree with the right hon. Member for East Edinburgh that there are many pieces of the jigsaw yet to be fitted, and I am sure that when the Government and the right hon. Gentleman return in a few weeks time to the Treasury Bench, reinforced and refreshed by their contact with the electorate, they will press forward to that desirable end.

    8.30 p.m.

    I, like previous speakers, welcome this solution, because I feel it would have been a great misfortune if this Bill, to which millions of people have been looking forward so eagerly, had got so far and had then fallen down and its passing had been postponed. We are all making great sacrifices in accepting the compromise, but we are glad that a possibility of getting the Bill through should have been arrived at by agreement between the parties.

    I only desire to say a word or two on the Clause. I regret that the principle of duplication should have been applied to contributory civilian widows. I do not wish to discuss the other cases which are dealt with in what used to be Clause 14 of the Bill, but I think the unemployment section is more difficult. Let me remind the House of the position as to the contributory widow. She is a widow who gets her present modest pension by virtue of the previous contributions of her husband, her employer and perhaps herself, so that five-sixths of the pension she has hitherto been paid has been paid out of contributions. What advantage does she now obtain from this Bill? She keeps 10s. for herself and 5s. for the child—they are not affected by the Bill—but the 3s. she gets under the contributory pensions scheme for second and subsequent children is now raised to 5s. so that she is 2s. better off for each child after the first one. That is a very poor result from benefits which are paid for by the general taxpayer. When we consider that the soldier's wife, who is much more liberally dealt with under this new Clause, already gets 12s. 6d. for the first child, the civilian wife would be a millionaire if she had been allowed to get 8s. for each of the later children. I wish some concession could have been made to the widows, but now we must look to the new Insurance Act to remedy this injustice.

    8.33 p.m.

    I would like to follow my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Holder-ness (Lieut.-Commander Braithwaite) in congratulating the Minister on this Clause which affects the Forces in particular. Many of us have felt very strongly about this question of Service pay. I must confess that when the Clause was withdrawn I did not think it possible that the Minister could re-introduce any Clause of which I and some of my hon. Friends would approve. When I first read the Clause my misgivings were not entirely allayed because I found it quite incomprehensible, but after reading it several times and discussing it with the Parliamentary Secretary I began to see the light. As I understand it, the children of those who have been killed and injured will get this extra 5s. while they are of a proper age, and the children of those still serving will get it until there is a complete re-organisation of the terms of Service pay and allowances. When that time comes we may have something to say to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War. However, that will be a different problem. I feel entirely satisfied and I congratulate my right hon. Friend on this rather strange Clause.

    8.34 p.m.

    In spite of the general feeling of satisfaction concerning this Clause, it is hard for the ordinary layman to understand these discrepancies. I understand this was for the benefit of all the children in the whole of the country. It has been said to-night that it is part of the picture of the whole scheme. The hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) mentioned the case of the widow who, I think, has been harshly treated in the past, and she will only have her money made up to 5s. The unemployed people who are unfortunate enough to be out of work are not to receive these benefits. True, their money will be made up, but they will not get the benefits. One appreciates the fact that benefits are going to the Forces, but the unemployed man is only to be made up to 5s. at the worst part of his life. How are we going to explain to the industrial worker, the miner and so on, who, while he is receiving full wages of £5 or £6 a week, will receive family allowances—no one complains about that because it will be for the child—but who, when he falls on evil days and receives a bad injury which may last for years, must live on 30s. a week? In the past they have had to apply for poor law relief and we do not want that to happen again. The workers of the country will not understand why they are being left out. I have been in public life for many years, and I have never known the time to be opportune for any big scheme of reform. It appears that the same applies to this Measure. While I appreciate the distance we have gone there are a few anomalies which ought to be remedied.

    8.37 p.m.

    We ought to be satisfied that this Bill has been saved. Obviously, with the present Parliament coming to an end, there has had to be some give and take, and but for that this Bill would not have been accepted. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would not contend that this is the last word on a very difficult subject, but it is of satisfaction to all of us, and especially to those like my hon. Friends who have devoted their lives and have been pioneers in this matter of family allowances and who have had to stand up to criticism, that in the tenth year of this long Parliament we should have saved a Bill which contains so much excellence in principle.

    :I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that we are not discussing the Bill. We are discussing the Clause.

    :It has been shown that where public interest is concerned we can by ingenuity and good will get a Clause of this kind accepted by general consent, and I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on his skill in getting us all together.

    8.39 p.m.

    Like other hon. Members, I welcome the fact that agreement has been reached in regard to the acceptance of the new Clause, but I would remind the House and especially the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Bethnal Green (Sir P. Harris) that this agreement has been reached only under duress. The Prime Minister clearly stated last week that unless the Opposition were prepared to accept the new Clause as it would be presented to the House the Bill would be dropped.

    Might I interrupt? I cannot allow that to be said. There was no duress at all. This Bill was introduced by the late Government. Hon. Members in all parts of the House came to the new Government and asked whether, despite the shortness of time, we could get the Bill through. We did the best we could with good will on all sides, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence) has said. There was no duress.

    :I do not know whether my right hon. Friend was present at Question time when the Business of the House was being discussed and when the Prime Minister, in referring to these Clauses in the Bill, said most clearly that unless the Opposition and the House were prepared to accept the Amendment as it would be presented to the House the Bill would be dropped.

    After discussions had taken place. Really it is very wrong to allow such an impression to go out. There has been complete good will on every side. The Bill was originally backed by Members of all Parties. We have done our best to save it and made certain concessions, but there is no duress whatever.

    We will leave the definition of that word on one side, and I will not press that word in the vocabulary of the right hon. Gentleman, I will agree with him that agreement has been reached, with good will on both sides of the House, but nevertheless there was the fact of what the Prime Minister said. That remains in HANSARD and cannot be disputed and must have some effect upon hon. Members and right hon. Members on this side of the House [HON. MEMBERS: "On all sides"]. On both sides, if you like. I am not claiming that we on this side were in a more meritorious position than hon. Members and right hon. Members on the other side. I want to thank the Minister of National Insurance for the improvement he has certainly brought about by the agreement that has been reached. As a matter of fact the right hon. Gentleman has it both ways. He was on these benches when the Opposition compelled the Minister of the day to withhold the Clauses. Now he gives the other side the credit of having introduced these new Clauses. Whatever may be said about the merits of the Clauses, we can at least claim that the opposition to the original Clauses has been fully justified by the introduction of these Clauses to-night. I am pleased to think that the opposition which the original Clauses received on this side of the House has resulted in a very fair improvement in the conditions pertaining to the families of Service men. If we are sometimes looked upon as His Majesty's Opposition, we can say that at least we did our part in protecting the interests of the children of the families of Service men, and the House will recognise the merits of the Minister's performance this afternoon. I would like to join the right hon. Member for South-West Bethnal Green in congratulating the hon. Lady who has been herself responsible for taking so much interest in this question, and I shall be glad if this Bill goes through with the two Clauses as amended.

    8.45 p.m.

    I rather object to the Minister putting the point that we are all involved in this question, and that it has been accepted through the usual channels. Let us be candid about the matter. From the beginning of this Bill many of us on this side of the House complained about the taking away of certain allowances. I want to put in a word or two on behalf of the worker in industry who is injured. I want the Bill and, because of the shortness of Parliamentary time, I will support the Bill and these Clauses. I shall support the Clauses rather than lose the Bill. I think we had better be frank about it, that we are doing this under duress. Men in my district when they are working in the pit and are fit and well can go to the colliery office and draw £5 or £6 a week. But when they are injured they draw compensation money, and as a consequence of the time lost they fail to receive a family allowance. Let us look at this in the proper perspective. How can you have men when they are fit and well and drawing wages higher than compensation receiving family allowance and yet deprive them of it subsequently, particularly when they know full well that the compensation is a part levy upon their wages? In short, due to the ascertaining system in mining they are paying the overwhelming share of the premiums that go towards their compensation.

    I said that we should support this Bill, but we had better be frank with the Government on this matter and the right hon. Gentleman in particular: whatever Members come back to this House we shall start, like Oliver Twist did, by asking for more as soon as we are returned. We cannot let these men who have accidents, and suffer shortage of income as a consequence, be deprived of the family allowance which by right is theirs. I am sorry to have to say this, but I believe there is an attempt here to split part of this nation by giving allowances and an opportunity for duplication to some and preventing it in the case of others. I am in favour of the Service men having duplication. The Service man gets his pension and I am in favour of his having this family allowance as well. Service men come back with pensions and find their way into industry, and I cannot for the life of me see why the very same calibre of man, but without pension, who enters industry and is injured should not be allowed duplication. We accept these Clauses and are glad of them and we support the Bill. We do so because many will derive advantage. At the same time that is not going to prevent many of us asking that the men excluded shall be brought within the scope of this particular legislation.

    8.50 p.m.

    It would be inappropriate if I were not to give my blessing to the compromise which has been arrived at in regard to these two Clauses. The right hon. Gentleman, as I know full well, has a very difficult topic here. Starting from the top, there is the Serviceman being paid 12s. 6d. for each of his children. If he is killed, his widow gets 11s. for each of the children, if he is injured and is a 100 per cent. disability he gets 7s. 6d. for each of his children, as, does the civilian pensioner, and it is very difficult for me, at any rate, to account for all these discrepancies—12s. 6d., us., 7s. 6d. I cannot, and I have never been able, to give the rhyme or reason for any of them. To come to the matter which is now dealt with in the first of the two new Clauses, the civil case and the workman's compensation case, in which at present 5s. is received for each of the children, but only until the end of 1946, when the payment in respect of children comes to an end. In the case of a man on unemployment insurance he gets 5s. for his second child and 4s. for his third. Then there is the widow who, under the Widows' Contributory Pensions Act, gets 5s. for the first child and 3s. for the second and succeeding children. Finally, there is the man who is sick and who needs a children's allowance as much as any of the categories we have discussed, but who gets nothing at all.

    The right hon. Gentleman has, therefore, inherited in his position an extraordinarily difficult problem, which has grown up independently and piecemeal, and is to be defended on no logical basis, whether one deals with the subject matter of the first or second of the new Clauses. Even to-night, if I may say so, I have traced a very considerable measure of apprehension about what these Clauses are doing. The hon. and gallant Member for Holderness (Lieut.-Commander G. Braithwaite) said he was not a lawyer, and therefore he found it difficult to understand them. I used to be a lawyer, and I have found it exceedingly difficult to understand these Clauses. Having read them half a dozen times I am by no means sure that I now understand what they are about.

    I want the right hon. Gentleman to realise that we accept these Clauses, but do not let him think they remove blemishes from the Bill, because they do not. I would give to him here publicly the word of advice which I previously gave to him privately. I am certain that the trouble in connection with these Clauses largely arises from the fact that instead of starting with the main scheme I tried to bring forward family allowances and workmen's compensation first, in order that I might show quick returns. Misapprehension which has been expressed in many speeches, even to-night, as the right hon. Gentleman will realise, is due to the fact that Members of this House cannot see the setting of the whole as he and I know it, because it has not been disclosed, and they do not know it. Therefore I hope that between now and the results of the Election, which is a good many weeks ahead, the available time will be used to get ready the main scheme, so that we may see this picture as part of a comprehensive whole.

    Therefore, I find" myself assenting to the two new Clauses. Family allowances Bills have a habit of following each other in rapid succession, and though I assent to the Clauses I do not want the right hon. Gentleman to think that if I had a mischievous strain in me I could not make a good deal of trouble for him, even at this stage.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.

    NEW CLAUSE—( Adjustment in case of children for whom equivalent benefits are provided under provisions relating to the Services and to war injury.)

    (1) The following provision shall have effect as respects allowances under this Act which apart from such provision would accrue during any period before such date as may be certified by the Treasury as the date on which a revision has taken effect of the scales of emoluments and other benefits to be paid in respect of the service of a member of the naval, military or air forces of the Crown (including such nursing or other auxiliary service as may be prescribed), that is to say, if the Minister is satisfied that provision has been made, by an authority by whom allowances or other additions to emoluments in respect of that period are payable in respect of any children by reference to such service as aforesaid, for the giving in respect of those children and of that period of benefits, in addition to those allowances or other additions to emoluments, equivalent to the benefits conferred by this Act in respect of those children and of that period, he may make regulations for withholding the allowances under this Act which would otherwise accrue in respect of those children during that period.

    (2) The preceding Sub-section shall apply in relation to a revision of the scales of benefits to be paid—

  • (a) in respect of the disablement or death of persons who have served in any of the said forces, or
  • (b) under any scheme made by virtue: of the Injuries in. War (Compensation) Act, 1914, the Injuries in War Compensation Act, 1914 (Session 2), the Injuries in War (Compensation) Act, 1915, the Government War Obligations Acts, 1914 to 1916, the Personal Injuries (Emergency Provisions) Act, 1939, or the Pensions (Navy, Army, Air Force and Mercantile Marine) Act, 1939, either as originally enacted or as amended by the Pensions (Mercantile Marine) Act, 1942,
  • with the substitution for references to allowances or other additions to emoluments payable by reference to such service as is mentioned in the preceding Sub-section, of references to allowances or other additions payable by reference to such disablement or death as aforesaid, or tinder any such scheme as aforesaid, as the case may be.

    (3) Regulations made for the purposes of this Section shall be of no effect until approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.—[ Mr. Hore-Belisha.]

    Brought up, read the First and Second time, and added to the Bill.

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."

    8.56 p.m.

    As I did not take any part in the earlier stages of the Bill I wish, to say two or three words, if the House will permit me. I noticed a tendency, even in my right hon. and learned Friend, to attribute to me some credit for the new Clauses and for the Bill. There is no such credit attaching to me except for one Clause. The first Clause which I moved was identical with the Clause which my right hon. and learned Friend had been compelled to withdraw. I am therefore somewhat surprised: that he should come here and publicly avow that by the exercise of ingenuity he could pick holes in it. It is a pity that he did not exercise that ingenuity before he presented the Bill. But my purpose is not to make a retort to him on that small matter but to give him, as I desire to, his full credit for this Measure. It is true that I have been able to modify it, with the approval of the Government, and to extend the benefits of one of the Clauses, but the Bill is nevertheless his child. I may have given it a little tip on the road to school, but I have not done more than that. He may always be proud to feel that he introduced to the House of Commons this very important measure, which is a milestone in the history of social reform. Its full magnitude is not perhaps realised. I am particularly glad for his sake that we were able to save the Bill. It will always, I think, be borne in mind, when the Coalition Government which has just expired is referred to, that one of its principal Measures was this Bill. Not only did the late Government win the war in Europe, but it passed on to the Statute Book many important measures of legislation of which this is not the least important.

    I would like to say what many hon. Members have found pleasure in saying previously, that the hon. lady the Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) may feel very proud when the Royal Assent is given to this Bill. She has done many years of hard work to popularise an idea which was sometimes looked upon with scorn. Hers, therefore, must be a large part of the credit. I can only hope that this Measure will bring comfort and relief to many families in this Realm.

    8.59 p.m.

    We must all feel a great deal of satisfaction that at long last we are going to pass the Family Allowances Bill, and make it become an Act. As one who has had the privilege of working in very close liaison with the hon. Lady the Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) for some years in pressing for this principle to be adopted, and who therefore has had an opportunity of seeing at close quarters the indefatigable work she has continued to put into this matter for so many years, I would like also to point out what a very large measure of thanks is owing, not only by this House and the country, but particu- larly by the mothers of the country, to her for the work she has done.

    I have noticed that there has been a slight tendency, no doubt owing to the fact that a General Election is close upon us, for some of my hon. Friends on the Opposition Benches to claim the credit for all the good parts of this Bill and to disclaim any opprobrium for the parts which are not quite so good. It would be a great pity for them to bring party politics into this matter; if one looks back a short time, one will find that the Opposition would not be wise perhaps to try to take credit for this. I would remind the House that it is nearly three years since the hon. Lady and I put down a Motion, which was signed by over 200 Members of this House, asking for exactly the terms which have now been granted in this Bill. Most of the names were those of Conservative Members, and in refusing the demand the Minister at that time made his chief point the fact that he thought there would be considerable opposition from the trade unions. I am only pointing out that had we at that time had the same full measure of support from the Socialist Party as they are giving us to-day, no doubt we should have had family allowances some years ago.

    :When did this take place, and how large was the Labour Party here at that time?

    :The hon. and gallant Gentleman was talking outside the Bill. He must talk inside the Bill on the Third Reading.

    May I just say that it was only just over two and a half years ago, and that the hon. Gentleman no doubt knows what the size of his party was in the House at that time?

    Again I do not want to raise controversy, but we had the most astonishing speech to-night from the right hon. and learned Gentleman. He started by congratulating the Minister on the introduction of this Clause, which the Minister now tells us was in fact the Clause of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, and then he proceeded to say that, although he was a lawyer, he did not understand it. My own feeling is that the Clause is quite clear, and that it will go a very long way to meet this difficult problem. I think the House should really feel very happy that we have gone a long way towards putting this Measure on the Statute Book, with, a great deal of good will and with such a large measure of agreement. I, like many hon. Members, do not care for this Bill very much, but I am glad that we have got our toe in the door, and that we have now accepted the principle. I have not the slightest doubt that many of us who have worked for the cause of family allowances in the past will, if we are returned to this House after the Election, carry on this work in future as we have done in the past. We must all agree that, having started on this road, we shall eventually very much improve the conditions, and make family allowances something really worth while.

    9.5 P.m.

    I do not rise to resume any of the arguments which have taken place during the discussion on this Bill, which has been brought to its final point. Neither do I wish to go into the history of the matter, except to join with other hon. Members who have referred to the satisfaction which we all feel that this work, on which my hon. Friend the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) was the protagonist for a long time, almost alone in this field, has been brought to success. It is not a complete success, it is true. There is no Bill, I think, connected with our social security system which has ever passed this House with complete satisfaction to everybody, and I think that is true of this Bill, but, on the other hand, there has, in previous Measures in this Parliament, been a considerable measure of agreement, and I hope that will be the case with this Bill.

    9.6 p.m.

    I should like to express the gratification which is felt, I am sure, by everybody in the passage of this Bill, which goes back to the early days of the hon. Lady's fight for this cause. It does seem to me that there is still a place in English politics and in English political life for those rare persons like the hon. Lady who has fought this fight, and the hon. and gallant Member for Erdington (Group-Captain Wright), who had to fight very much against his own party to get acceptance of this principle; and when I think of the fight which the hon. Lady has put up, it seems to me that we ought to join, united, to-night in a tribute to one who has for 30 years fought a battle and finally won it.

    9.7 p.m.

    I am really immensely touched and grateful for all the kind things said by nearly everyone who has spoken in this Debate—the Minister, the hon. and gallant Member for Erdington (Group Captain Wright), the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Lindsay) and the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. Graham White). It makes me feel a little ashamed, although it is certainly true that I began this struggle a long time ago. I found the other day a pamphlet in which I was pressing, in rather timid and veiled terms, for a scheme of family allowances. It was dated 1912. I began still more actively after the last war, when the movement grew and spread. I would like to say that too much credit has been given to me, and I would like to refer to other people who joined in the fight. It is quite true that the majority of the workers have, from the first, and quite naturally, been women. Some of these women have already passed away without seeing the fruit of their labour. Many of the women, in quite humble positions, have done the donkey work, the hard clerical work and going round to meetings, but we have, as well, had distinguished men friends. The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Sir W. Beveridge) was one of my first converts, and I wish he was here to-night. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Erdington has really been magnificent, for, when the support of his party was not forthcoming, it was largely due to him that he brought them round. We have had friends in every party and in every creed, and I never knew a question which cut so much across party differences, and, very often, very deep differences between people.

    It is naturally a very great joy for me to see the end of the first stage in this fight, because I do want to make it clear, although it might seem rather ungracious, when somebody is being congratulated upon her baby, to point out the defects in the baby. Yet I feel I must point out that this baby is a very little one. We feel that it will have to be a good deal fattened and cossetted before it reaches its proper stature. To point out its defects, the whole thing is on too small a scale.

    Five shillings a week for the second child may just tip the balance in homes where they want another child, but it is not going to do much to induce that general flow of larger families which—and I do want to make this point—is essential if this country is not gradually to sink into the position of a second-class Power.

    I am often astonished to see how many people—not just spinsters like myself who might be expected to be indifferent to what happens to our country 30 years hence—but how many people who are parents, whose children themselves, may live to see a fairly far distant future, seem to think that, because a steep decline in our population is not due for 30 or 40 years, they need not bother about it. Everyone who is proud in his heart to be British must feel that much as they honour Switzerland, Sweden and other minor Powers, they do not want Great Britain in future to be in the same class. I must not enlarge further on that theme.

    There are many other respects in which we feel that this Bill, this Act as we shall soon be able to call it, will have to be a bigger Act before it does its work. I would like to draw attention to one Clause in it which was not amended—Clause 24—which lays down the extraordinary rule that no child is to have an allowance unless it is the child of someone born in Great Britain. This is going to have a bad effect on the reputation of this country unless regulations are adopted by the Minister which will enable him to get rid of that unjustifiable restriction and extend the purview and interpret the Clause, so that naturalised aliens who have done good service, and people who happen to have been serving in India or some other country when they were born, are not to be excluded. I know that it was the intention of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the former Minister to draw up regulations which would be really generous, and I hope it will be one of the first cares of the right hon. Gentleman who sits opposite. I must not detain the House longer. We are all anxious to part, but I would only say that this is, to my mind, a great day, because it lays down a great principle. In early days I used to describe meetings of employers and employed, landowners and rentiers sitting round a table competing for their share in the national income with a woman coming from behind and holding out her hand, saying, "I am the mother, the future citizens and workers depend on me; where is my share? "This Bill gives the mother through her children her share, although it is only a very little share so far.

    9.14 p.m.

    I would like to join in the general chorus of congratulation to the hon. Lady the Member for the Combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone), and I would like to congratulate my right hon. Friend the Minister upon the very favourable reception which his Bill has had from all quarters of the House. With the exception of the speech of the hon. and gallant Member for Erdington (Group-Captain Wright), all the speeches have been speeches which have not tried to capitalise party interests and have been friendly to the scheme. I think there has been a great deal of misapprehension about this matter. Even to-night, the hon. and gallant Member for Erdington did not seem to realise that there were two new Clauses which had been introduced into the Bill, one of which was identical with Clause 14 of the previous Bill and the other a new Clause. It was, I think, obvious to everybody, except the hon. and gallant Member, that when I said the Clause was difficult to understand, I was referring to the New Clause and not to the Clause in the previous Bill for which I was myself responsible.

    All I want to say to the right hon. Gentleman is this. He will shortly have his Bill with the general good wishes of all parties. Now comes the question of getting on with the job. He has a considerably difficult task in order to construct his machine to get this Bill in operation, and we on this side of the House shall, if we are here, be patient with him for a time. However, we shall want to be satisfied that at the earliest practicable moment, when he has been able to construct his machine and get his list in order, that payments under this Bill begin to be made and we shall not want to be held up by any high-flown or high-falutin' economic theories. As soon as payments can be started, we shall hope that he will start them. I wish him, therefore, good luck in getting on with the job and, when we come back, if he is there and we are here, we shall be friendly, but determined to see that no time is lost to make this Bill an effective instrument of social well-being.

    it is really refreshing to hear from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Sir W. Jowitt) that he expects that my right hon. Friend will be in charge of this business after the General Election. [Hon. Members: "No."] That is the first quite candid expression of opinion we have had from the Opposition side of the House as to what is likely to be the result. [Hon. Members: "No."] I only rise—

    :Will the hon. Member give way? I thought I made it quite plain that I said "if" the right hon. Gentleman is there. I think it is a pity to mislead as plainly as that.

    :The question which side gets the majority has nothing to do with this Debate.

    I beg your pardon, Mr. Speaker, if I have transgressed the Rules of Order. I thought it desirable to say that I certainly shall not oppose this Measure. I realise it is right that it should be passed at the present time, in order, at least, that we should ascertain the result of it to see whether it is a principle which should remain permanently on the Statute Book. However, I think it is right to remind the House what a well-known historian wrote in a book quite recently, that it is because we forget our history, that we often have to re-live it. It appears to be forgotten that towards the end of the 18th century a system of family allowances was introduced, under the auspices of the then existing Poor Law, which reduced wages to a level much lower than they had been for many years, and it was in the light of that experience that for many years the trades union movement in this country has not been at all friendly towards this matter of family allowances.

    :I moist interrupt the hon. Gentleman again. On Third Reading we discuss what is in the Bill, not matters outside the Bill. On Second Reading one can be as wide as one likes, but on Third Reading it is quite narrow.

    In case that piece of quite astonishing history should go down in the pages of HanSard, may I ask the hon. Gentleman when was the system of family allowances introduced at the end of the last century?

    That would extend the Debate outside the scope of a Third Reading. The hon. Lady cannot do that.

    I only say that we all pass this Bill with acclamation to-night because it will, at least, do some good for the time being. For that reason alone it ought to be passed. For the rest, it is repeating history, and it will remain to be seen whether history repeats itself.

    Question put, and agreed to.

    Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.

    International Situation

    Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the House do now adjourn."—[ Mr. Pym.]

    9.20 p.m.

    On 13th May last I was speaking at a small village called Burscough in my constituency on the international situation and I said, in my concluding remarks, that we did not stand alone in 1940 to save democracy in order to change our ideas, in 1945, as to what democracy meant. On that particular evening the Prime Minister was due to broadcast to the nation, so we had arranged that his speech should be relayed into the hall. Five minutes later the right hon. Gentleman made his national broadcast, and I am bound to say that I rather preferred his 1940 wavelength to his 1945 wavelength. That evening he was broadcasting on his 1940 wavelength. In that national broadcast the Prime Minister said:

    "On the Continent of Europe we have yet to make sure that the several and honourable purposes for which we entered the war are not brushed aside or overlooked in the months following our success, and that the words 'freedom, democracy and liberation,' are not distorted from their true meaning as we understand them. There would be little use in punishing the Hitlerites for their crimes if law and justice did not rule, and totalitarian or police governments were to take the place of a German invasion."
    As I watched an English audience listening to those words I could not help taking my mind back to Sunday, 3rd September, 1939, when I listened to another Prime Minister broadcasting to the nation from Downing Street, and saying:
    "It is the evil things we shall be fighting against, brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution, and against them I am certain that the right will prevail."
    Many pages of history have been written, many great and terrible events have taken place in the period between those two broadcasts, and if I had a little longer than I have to-night, I would like to say something about some of the things that have happened in that period. But I want to mention only one which, I believe, has never yet been mentioned in this House. Many glorious things have happened, many great mistakes have been made, but one mistake was made which, I think, has never been referred to in this House. I do not think any Member will accuse me of not realising the importance of the work of the Royal Navy, or of not paying tribute to the work which it has done in this war, but I am bound to point out—in case it ever happens again—that it really was a shocking state of affairs that we started the war in 1939 so inadequately prepared to meet the submarine menace, in view of what happened 25 years ago, in view of the many warnings which the Naval Staff had, and the fact that the German submarine menace had, a few years before the war, been built up as a result of the Naval Treaty signed with Germany.

    I only mention that because we are living in a rough and rugged world at the present time. I think I have a right to mention it, because it so happens that their Lordships of the Admiralty gave me a gold medal in 1919 for an essay on "The Future of Submarines in Naval Warfare." In that essay I said, in the plainest possible terms, that the Navy ought never to be without convoy sloops and small aircraft carriers, and that over the desk of every staff officer there ought to be printed the words "April, 1917–735,000 tons sunk in one month by submarines." There was no excuse for that unprepared ness, and I hope that point will be borne in mind in the future.

    Now I want to get on to other things. I had a word with the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and he told me that he would be satisfied if I sat down about five minutes before the end of the Adjournment Debate. We are at the end of a chapter in world history and in the history of our country, and it is a chapter in which the name of Parliament will be written very large. I think our children's children will call this a great Parliament when the thing is seen in perspective. I am frankly very sorry that the passing of this Parliament has been accompanied by what one might describe as bickering between the doctors and the undertakers, because I think in its later years it has really reflected in a very fine way all that has been best in the spirit of this country, and reflected the greatness of the people of this country in the shape of the national unity which has been shown in this Parliament.

    I am certainly making my last speech in this Parliament. I think it has been an historic privilege to have been allowed to serve as a Member in this war Parliament. Like other hon. Members, I shall have to await the verdict of my constituents before I know whether I can sit here again. Before going into the electoral fight, I feel it to be my duty—and that is why I am venturing to detain the House now—to stand up in my place and issue a warning to any hon. Member who is good enough to listen to me and to anybody who takes the trouble to read these words in Hansard. That warning is implicit in those two broadcasts from the two different Prime Ministers which I mentioned at the beginning of my speech. It is a warning that we may mistake military victory for total victory. It is a warning that we may mistake the means for the end. It is a warning that we, in probing and playing about with these mud pies of party politics, may wreck that basic British national unity which—I do ask hon. Members to believe me when I say it—I feel most sincerely with my heart and my head is the greatest single hope which the world can see in front of it to-day. I feel that, unless we bear those points in mind, there is a danger that we may fall short of measuring up to our national responsibility. During the past few months, under the auspices of the Government, I have been privileged to travel rather widely. I have been in Russia, in the Middle East, in Italy, France, Belgium and Western Germany. I have not time to tell the House all that I have seen and heard in those places. I must content myself with saying that as far as Russia is concerned, there is there a vast collection of republics inhabited by 200,000,000 people, covering one-sixth of the world's surface, a great military Power, fabulously rich in raw materials; and it is absolutely certain that unless the Anglo-Russian Treaty can be transformed from a formal document into a living reality, into something which is a genuine understanding rooted in the feelings of the two peoples, until that can be done, I cannot feel sure that peace is secure. I will come back to that point in conclusion.

    The second point I would like to put before the House is this. In the Middle East, if I may coin a phrase, the Bedouins have begun to come to town. That is significant. For centuries these Arab peoples have been like rivulets disappearing into the shifting sands of the desert, but now there are very evident signs that they are coming together into a broad stream of unity which will begin to make a contribution of great significance to the ocean of world politics. I need not tell the House what that means in strategic, political and economic facts. It is very important. Finally, in Western Europe anybody who has been there will agree with me that there are economic disorder and confusion which, I am perfectly convinced, will erupt into very serious political trouble in the next six months if very energetic steps are not taken to protect the common man in Western Europe from the real miseries which winter is bringing towards him in her arms at this very moment.

    That is the contemporary background against which we must look at events, that is a very sketchy outline of the uncharted sea across which we have to shape our course. We must ask ourselves what must be our guiding principle in deciding where we will go and how we will get there. I believe the simple answer to that is to take as our principle the cause for which we fought and won the war in Europe, and the cause for which we are fighting the war in the Far East. In parenthesis, I spent two years in Japan, and I do not think it is at all wise to count on the Japanese war being over, at the very earliest, till the end of next year.

    That cause for which we have fought this war in Europe must be our guide and the more widely spread the belief in the free way of life the more secure peace will be. Peace is absolutely secure be- tween the nations of the British Commonwealth, not because one is stronger than another but because we all hold on to certain principles. I think peace is secure between the United States and Great Britain very much for the same reason, but it is no use preaching the virtues of the free way of life to men who have no food in their stomachs and no houses over their heads, or proper clothing on their bodies. It is waste of time. Western Europe is rapidly becoming safer for dictatorship than at any time during the last 100 years, because the common man demands the elements of civilized life before it is of any use talking to him of the spiritual benefits of the free way of life. There is a great reconstruction work needing to be done in Europe and, in order to begin to do that, the first thing we have to do is to make up our minds what to do about Germany. That is the great problem. Economically, everything depends upon the output of coal from the Ruhr and the Saar. This is vital to the economic life of Europe at present. That is one of many facts linked up with this question of what we are going to do with Germany.

    I will not touch upon another aspect of the question, Anglo-French relations, which are also of the greatest importance in relation to the work of reconstruction. I must leave that on one side because I want to come to the real root of the matter, the most important of all the questions, which is Anglo-Soviet relations. When I was in Russia, Marshal Stalin told us to be very frank in our talk, and he talked very frankly and easily. He said plainly he hoped to come to London after the war. We put the question straight to him and he said, "Yes." I wish he would come now. He would get a very great welcome if he did. Whether or not one supports the Prime Minister in this country in his domestic policy, a great many people feel, as a constituent of mine put it to me last Saturday night, who is not a supporter of the Prime Minister, and who said, "Why should our old man do all the travelling?" Many people feel that, irrespective of whether they support him or not. That may not seem a very big thing to Stalin. I want him to know—the Russian Foreign Office study HANSARD very carefully indeed: they are practically "Friends of Hansard"—that this kind of thing, whether or not he comes over here and gets the welcome that, he would get, has a real bearing on the warmth of feeling between the two people.

    We want contact with the Russian people, and I have plenty of evidence that they want contact with us. Our paper over there, the "British Ally," prints 50,000 copies, sells for two roubles retail, and fetches 30 roubles second-hand, and every copy is torn and tattered, so much has it been read and re-read. I wonder whether the House knows that there are 53 broadcasts a week in English from Russia to Great Britain, and there is not a single broadcast from England in Russian to Russia. No doubt hon. Members know the extraordinary position of newspaper correspondents in Moscow. For them, there, one kind of news and one only—news which has appeared in the Russian Press. They are not newspaper correspondents, but simply interpreters and translators of the Russian Press. Take the question of the communications by mail, I asked that question myself of the Marshal. I said, "I want to correspond with friends I have made in Russia but what can I do when it takes seven weeks for a letter to get from London to Moscow? Cannot we have an airmail service that gets there in a day? "Marshal Stalin said he would be prepared to be sympathetic. There is the vexed question of the complete exclusion of the Press of our country from Eastern Europe. We do not know what is happening. I am not making sinister reflections. I am saying that according to our way and free view of life we rely on newspaper correspondents of different points of view; on many correspondents who can know and see and report what is happening. We do not know what is happening in that part of the world.

    Having said that, let me say this on the other side of the picture. Nothing could have been more absolutely complete than the freedom of the British Parliamentary delegation in Russia. We were shown everything, and we could ask any questions and go where we liked. I was delighted to hear the Prime Minister say, in replying to a Question of mine after Business the other day, that the Marshal had approved very warmly of the notion for the interchange of students. I hope that the Foreign Office are following that up actively. There are many contradic- tions in Russian policy in this matter, and there is no doubt suspicion and, let me add, justified suspicion. To any Russian who remembers his history, of the intervention and the cordon sanitaire, of course there is suspicion, and justified suspicion. But we also have our complaints. Many Russian students said to me, in January, 1945, "When are you going to start fighting in the West?" and they did not put it politely. They did not mind when I hit back by saying, "Why did you make a pact with the Fascist beast in 1939 and give them oil so that they could bomb us?" We had quite a lively discussion. If we are to get any peace these old controversies must be buried and put in the archives. We must make a fresh start.

    I do not think we will get anywhere with the Russians by trying to pretend that the general set-up in Russia is democratic as we understand that word. I notice that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for East Bristol (Sir S. Cripps) made a fine distinction the other day by saying that there is an economic democracy, such as they had in Russia, and another thing called political democracy, such as we had here. I am not an able lawyer like he is, but that is really a sort of legalistic lechery. No real distinction can be made on those lines. I recommend the right hon. and learned Gentleman to have a talk with some members of his political party who went to Russia and ask them what they think of some of the economic arrangements in that country. Having said that, I want to be fair and assure the House that my whole impression was that a high, almost unanimous percentage of the Russian people are perfectly content with the existing subordination of the freedom of the individual to the needs of the State. It is, as they see it, a high degree of patriotism, and I was satisfied that they were satisfied with it. All I am saying is that I am convinced that that kind of thing would not satisfy a number of people in this country.

    The chief conclusion I have come to, after trying to study democracy and writing and talking about it in the last 20 years ever since I left the Navy and since I have been in the House—and I would like this to be my last word in this Parliament—is that democracy is a way of life, and we must get into our heads that it is a positive and dynamic creed. Since 1919 I have sometimes felt that we have almost been ashamed of our democratic faith. We have hesitated over saying what is right and wrong in the world in a way which I cannot believe Mr. Gladstone or Palmerston would have done in their day. They did not hesitate to say what things in the world were wrong, and the British people backed them up. If there were pogroms against the Jews, for instance, there were mass meetings in all the provincial towns. When we look back on those concentration camps which rightly shocked people the other day, we ought to admit frankly that there was no mystery about them in 1935–36. The facts were known in this country. I am not prepared without my reference books to quote which Minister it was, but I very well remember a Minister of the Crown saying in a speech in the country, "Yes, it is a very serious state of affairs, but it is outside our frontiers and it is not our business what goes on over there." It is always the business of this House whenever and wherever an injustice in the world takes place. That does not mean that we can take active steps about it, for we have to be practical; but we can say what we think about it and public opinion of this country expressed through Parliament has still got a great weight in the world.

    We must do two things. We must show by practical example to the world that in these islands we can preserve a free way of life and at the same time solve these difficult 20th century economic problems. There is the question of unemployment, for instance. It is no good talking about the free way of life and the benefits of democracy if there are 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 unemployed. We have got to show that we can have this freedom of speech, association and so forth and also solve these problems. Lastly, we have got to carry abroad our message of the free way of life. We must make it clear by every means in our power, by wireless, by writing and by encouraging visits to and from this country, what we mean by the free way of life, and we must make it clear that the principles in which we believe are unchallengeable and of universal application. It does not matter about the colour of a man's skin or his religion or race. We have got to show that it is our mission in life by practical example, by argument and persuasion to preach this gospel all over the world until it is firmly established in the heart of every man, and then peace will be secure.

    9.41 p.m.

    My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Commander King-Hall) quoted, in support of his general theme that we should be vigilant in defence of freedom, speeches made by two Prime Ministers;—the first, which I have reason to remember well, on the day of the outbreak of war, when Mr. Chamberlain rallied a united nation to fight against evil things, and another speech which is fresh in the minds of hon. Members, made by the present Prime Minister when he said in effect that the war would have been fought in vain if these evil things should still remain with the peace. There is another speech, or a message which we should all read when we speak on these subjects, which the present Prime Minister sent to the Italian people on 23rd August last year, which was perhaps the most penetrating analysis which has lately been made of what I might call the title deeds of democracy.

    In between the speeches of these great men many more humble people have sustained these principles and have fought for them. These principles, which embody the idea that we are fighting for freedom and our determination to win liberty for the human race, have sustained the ordinary people of this country in the great tests which the war brought to them. They have sailed the seas with our sailors, they have been with our armies in the field and they have ridden the skies with our airmen. I doubt if a civilised nation in these days could stand the bestiality of war unless it was confident that every shot which was fired carried with it the promise of liberty, freedom and justice, International relations are human relations and cannot be conducted on the level of the angels, not even at San Francisco, but there are certain principles in which we believe and which we wish to see established and commonly observed. If I might name them in a sentence, they would be these: first of all, the renunciation of the use of force in international disputes and restraint in the use of power. If I might properly refer an Independent Member of this House to a party manifesto, perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would read the recent manifesto issued over the week-end, when he would see that we wish to see power used with restraint and for high purpose. The second principle for which we have fought, and which we wish to see maintained, is the respect for rights and interests of other countries, and, thirdly, a habit of keeping faith in international dealings. We wish, to see those principles adopted as the minimum standard in international dealings, and, if they are adopted—and not until they are adopted—shall we really see peace and progress.

    If I may turn from the general to the more particular remarks of my hon. and gallant Friend, the Government are only too well aware of the appalling conditions which prevail in Western Europe, and they are only too well aware that economic rehabilitation must be the basis of political stability. We, and other Governments concerned, are determined to take the necessary steps to bring all the economic relief which is possible to those countries which have been so sorely tested and tried. My hon. and gallant Friend turned to Russia and to Anglo-Russian relations, and he raised several points. He made one with which I find myself in considerable sympathy because I have always felt that the real obstacle through history to the friendship of the British and Russian peoples has been the ignorance of each of the other, and anything which can be done to give to the people here a better knowledge of Russia, or to the people of Russia a better knowledge of this country, will receive the backing of the Government.

    My hon. and gallant Friend raised the question of the facilities given to the British Press in Russian-occupied territory, and he said what everybody knows is true, that these facilities hardly exist. On this side, we give every facility to the Russians, but on that side the facilities are not open to us. I believe there is nothing which would pay a bigger divi- dend for Russia than to allow objective, truthful reporting, because nothing would more quickly kill the spate of rumour which comes from Eastern Europe at the present time than the truth that could be given by impartial newspaper correspondents. I hope very much, therefore, that, shortly, reporting will be allowed into the area of Europe under Russian occupation.

    My hon. and gallant Friend also raised the question of the interchange of students between the two countries. If anything of that sort can be arranged, the Government will be only too glad to give facilities. I have hopes, too, that the British Council may be able to do good work in putting over to the Russian people something of the British way of life. And, lastly, my hon. and gallant Friend said—and properly—that this was a time when, above all, we wanted a united foreign policy upon the principles of which all parties could combine. I am thankful to think that these issues of foreign policy are not going to be brought into the General Election. All parties, for instance, have recently combined at the San Francisco Conference in an all-party deputation.

    Looking farther ahead, I would like to say that if a democracy is expected to sustain an intelligent long-term foreign policy, then it can only do so if it knows the facts. I hope, therefore, that all parties will combine to see that the people get to know the true facts of any situation, and then and then only can they judge where true British interests lie.

    It being half an hour after the conclusion of Business exempted from the provisions of the Standing Order ( Sittings of the House), Mr. Deputy-Speaker adjourned the House, without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order, as modified for this Session by the Order of the House of 3oth November.

    Adjourned at Ten Minutes to Ten o'Clock