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Employment Exchanges

Volume 148: debated on Wednesday 9 November 1921

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asked the Minister of Labour to state the number of Employment Exchanges which now exist in the county of London and in the Greater

Area.Number of Employment Exchanges (including Branch Offices).Number of Persons employed on 28th October, 1921.
County of London231,137
Greater London (including County of London).571,668

The actual cost of these offices for the first six months of the current financial year (April to September, 1921, inclusive) in respect of salaries, travelling and incidental expenses, is as follows:—

Exchanges in the County of London228,476
Exchanges in the Greater London area (including the County of London)329,489

These figures do not include any proportion of headquarter charges or of charges borne on the Votes of other Government Departments in respect of rent and maintenance of premises, printing and stationery, postal services, etc., nor has any deduction been made in respect of appropriations from the unemployment fund under the Unemployment Insurance Act in aid of expenditure.

The cost of the same Exchanges for the remaining six months of the present financial year depends upon the course of unemployment during the period; but so far as can be foreseen the expenditure during the second half of the year is likely to be about the same as in the first half.

The total number of unemployed persons registered during the year 1920 at Ex-changes in what is known as the London London area; what is the approximate cost of the same for this year; what is the total number of persons employed at these Exchanges; and can he state the number of unemployed persons dealt with at the same during last year?

As the answer is a long one, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

The following is the answer:

The present number of Exchanges and the staff employed therein within (a) the County of London and (b) the Greater London area (including the County of London) is as follows:—

Division of the Employment and Insurance Department (a division which closely approximates in area to the combined area of the County of London and Greater London) was 1,075,264. This number included 17,260 casual workers and ignores second or subsequent applications by the same individual during the year. It will be realised that the first figure in no way indicates the volume of work represented, since a very substantial number of the 1,075,264 unemployed persons received unemployment benefit for lengthy periods during 1920 and regularly at Exchanges, in consequence, at least twice a week and in many cases daily.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the great inconvenience caused to the unemployed by the closing of the sub-office at Tideswell; that Tideswell is the centre of a district in which there are many large factories and quarries; and that the nearest Exchange is at Bradwell, which is four miles away over very hilly country; and whether, under the exceptional circumstances, he can re-open the office at Tideswell, as unemployment is increasing, and in the, severe weather the roads are often impassable between Tideswell and Bradwell?

The arrangement previously in operation was that the branch manager at Bakewell attended twice or three times a week at a sub-office at Tideswell. This arrangement was discontinued on 17th September owing to the small number then claiming benefit at Tideswell; but on account of the increase in this number since that date it has been decided to restore the arrangement for the time being.


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the fact that there are 23 counties in Great Britain in which there are no Employment Exchanges at all, and considering that these 23 counties are getting on quite well without Employment Exchanges, and that there is no reason why all other counties should not get on equally well without such Exchanges, he will take steps to have all Employment Exchanges done away with with the least possible delay; and what will he the saving, in establishments, salaries, and cost of buildings that would be effected by this reduction?

I cannot follow my hon. and gallant Friend in the deduction which he draws from the fact that in 23 counties there are no separate Employment Exchanges, though there are, I may inform him, Branch Offices. I have for a long time past now been reviewing with the greatest possible care the whole question of these establishments; and, indeed, shall have closed by the end of the present calendar year 185 Branch Offices. But how in the industrial areas the needs of the working population are to be met, and particularly the administration of the Unemployment Insurance benefit, without the Exchange system, I confess I do not understand.

Are we to understand that this great work of the present Secretary of State for the Colonies is being cut down by the right hon. Gentleman, his colleague?

If there is any difference as between the administration of unemployment benefit and the finding of employment for the unemployed, is it not a question as to whether those Exchanges can find employment and should they not be done away with?

I am afraid I cannot argue this at any length, although I should be very glad to do so. I am bound to make provision in the great industrial areas for the needs of these poor people, and, as I have already said at the end of my answer, how this is to be done without the Exchange system and the Insurance Act I do not understand.