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Unemployment

Volume 154: debated on Wednesday 31 May 1922

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I would not intervene at this hour in the Adjournment Debate were it not for the fact that the matters which I desire to raise are of vital importance to a large section of our people. So vitally do these matters affect certain sections of the people of this coun- try that, unless we can give a message of hope to them before the House adjourns, this holiday time will be for them, not a time for joy, but rather a time of depression and misery. The first of these questions relates to the Department of the Minister of Labour, and it is with regard to the position in which hundreds of thousands of unemployed men and women in this country find themselves at the moment. Under the terms of the recent Act amending the Unemployment Insurance Act, a large number of unemployed persons are having put upon thorn a strain which they are unable to bear. The terms imposed upon them, as a matter of fact, simply mean that day by day their footsteps are dogged by actual starvation.

The amending Act provides that for 15 weeks unemployment insurance benefit is to be paid, but it is to be paid in such a way as produces actual starvation in many cases. Under the terms of the, Act the unemployed persons, for whom I am now speaking, are to have five weeks unemployment insurance benefit paid to them. Then they are to have a waiting period of five weeks in which no unemployment benefit is to be paid. Another five weeks benefit is then paid, and then there is another waiting period of five weeks without any benefit, and, finally, the third period of five weeks benefit is to be paid. Take the position of many sections of the workers of this country, as, for instance, the steel workers, those employed in the shipbuilding industry, and those employed in every one of the mining areas throughout the British coalfield. You will find hundreds of thousands have been idle for more than a year, and in the course of that time have used up all their reserves. They are altogether unable to meet the period of five weeks during which there is no unemployment insurance benefit without relief in some form or another. The only sources to which this unfortunate section of our people can apply are the boards of guardians in England and our parish councils in Scotland.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present: House counted, and 40 Members not being present

The House was adjourned at Two Minutes before Six of the Clock till Monday, 12th June, pursuant to the Resolution of the House of this day.

Adjourned at Two Minutes before Six o'Clock.