asked the Prime Minister if he can now announce the result of the sympathetic consideration which he promised the deputation he received from necessitous areas last week he would give their suggestion that the gap period of five weeks waiting for unemployment benefit should be abolished, in order that local authorities should not have thrown upon their rates the additional burden of maintaining those receiving no benefit during these five weeks?
This question is being carefully investigated by the various Departments concerned, and I am not yet in a position to give the decision of the Government upon it.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise how seriously this question is pressing on industries in the necessitous areas, and that it will strangle trade unless something is done promptly? Can he give an early sympathetic reply.
I am fully alive to that. It was represented to me with very great force, as the hon. Member knows, by a deputation quite recently, but it involves a great deal of consideraation of finance.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is simply starving our people by instalments?
It is not really a question of starvation, but it is a question of the burden on the rates.
Is it not a fact that the local authorities are practically bankrupt, and that in many places they cannot afford to give. relief?