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Volume 155: debated on Monday 12 June 1922

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Government Policy


asked the Minister of Labour the present policy of the Government on the question of unemployment whether he is aware that 90,000 children over 16 are idle; and what steps are contemplated to deal with this continual deterioration of character during the critical period of adolescence?

The policy of the Government on the question of unemployment has been fully stated and discussed on several occasions during the present Session. The number of boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 18 registered as unemployed on the 22nd May was 83,807. A number of those over 16 years of age are drawing unemployment benefit, but in the main we must look to a revival of trade for a solution of this problem.

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, if that he the only step that is contemplated by the Government, this is an extremely dangerous state of affairs to allow to go on without any improvement, because from 14 to 18, the period of adolescence, is the most critical period in the formation of character?

As I have already indicated, a large number—I think the majority—of these people over the age of 16 are receiving benefit as the result of arrangements made under the Act.

May I respectfully repeat that the question is not one of benefit, but one of children at a very critical period—

On a point of Order. May I respectfully point out that my question asks what steps are contemplated for dealing with the question of children during the critical period of adolescence, and that the hon. Gentleman replies that it is merely a question of benefit, which, I submit, is not meeting the problem?



asked the Minister of Labour the total number of men and women unemployed for the last week for which returns are available, and the amount paid in benefit?

On the 29th May there were on the live registers of Employment Exchanges in Great Britain 1,204,300 men and 188,200 women, compared with 1,293,575 men and 231,724 women on 1st May. Some part of this decrease, though probably not a large part, arises from the temporary exhaustion of benefit. The total amount paid in unemployment benefit during the week ended the 27th May was about £690,000.