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Volume 161: debated on Wednesday 14 March 1923

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asked the Minister of Labour if he can give the numbers affected by the gap in unemployment benefit in the month of February, 1923, of the following: Married men, married women, single women, single men, boys and girls, respectively, between 16 and 18 years of age, and boys and girls, respectively, between 18 and 21 years of age; and will he arrange to have a monthly statement issued showing the figures for each category in each week of the month?

I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT a statement of the numbers of men, women, boys and girls respectively, who had exhausted benefit up to 26th February. Similar figures will be available week by week, but a sub- division of the figures into the categories mentioned in the question could not be made without what I fear would be excessive labour.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is already done in at least one of the Exchanges of Scotland, for the benefit of the manager of the Exchange? Could it not be extended?

It is, of course, possible to do it in one particular Exchange, but, obviously, when you apply it all over England the work that is entailed is very much increased.

In the information to be circulated, will the right hon. Gentleman give us the numbers affected by the gap? He is giving the information as to exhausted benefit.

The figures are lengthy, and I am circulating them in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

In his reply, the right hon. Gentleman has stated that he is circulating the figures relating to those who have exhausted benefit. The figures I want are as to those who are affected by the gap.

I am circulating information as to the number affected by the gap, thought it was a rather different point that was put by the hon. Member.

Following 'is the statement referred to:

At 26th February, the numbers who had exhausted the maximum benefit permissible under the existing Acts:

Boys (aged 16 to 18)282
Girls (aged 16 to 18)132

In addition, the following numbers had been refused further benefit by the local employment committees before reaching the maximum:

Boys (aged 16 to 18)1,177
Girls (aged 16 to 18)716

Contributions And Benefit (Certifiedcopies)


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that persons who are called upon to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance have no direct and written evidence as to the amount standing to their credit; and will he make arrangements for this to be done on lines similar to that which is done in connection with Health Insurance, namely, by each contributor having in his or her possession a record card?

Under the Unemployment Insurance scheme provision is already made for any insured contributor to be supplied on demand with a certified copy of his contributions and benefit. This provision is widely known and utilised, and I doubt whether any commensurate advantage would be gained by placing on the unemployment fund the expense of issuing such notification in all cases.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of trade and labour councils are extremely anxious about this point, because they have had a lot of complaints made to them?

I am aware that on occasion complaint has been made, but I think that if the procedure I indicate is adopted, there is no substantial ground for the complaints suggested.

Allotment Holders


asked the Minister of Labour whether instructions have been issued by his Department that unemployed persons who are allotment holders, and who work their allotments during the day, are to be deprived of unemployment pay; and, if so, for what reason have such instructions been issued?.

As stated in my answer to the hon. Member for Stratford on the 7th March last, I am not aware-of any cases of the kind referred to, but I will make inquiry if particulars can be furnished.

Jute Industry Dispute (Dundee)


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that there is a strike amongst women jute workers in Dundee due to the introduction of an improvement in machinery which is to displace one in every three workers concerned, thus adding to the unemployed; and whether such persons will be eligible for the unemployment benefit?

I am aware of the dispute. Claims to benefit made by the spinners concerned have been disallowed by the Insurance Officer on the ground of the trade dispute disqualification laid down in Section 8 (1) of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1920. It is open to the claimants to appeal to the Court of Referees if they wish to do so. Claims to benefit made by other classes of workers affected are still under consideration.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the fact that we have a contribution towards relieving unemployment, decided on after discussion in this House; and can he state what are we prepared to do in a case like that to which I have drawn attention, a case which is not due to any economic conditions but simply to an improvement in machinery? Since we do not apply intelligence to production, how can we expect anything else, but that improvements in machinery will produce un-employment.

Domestic Service


asked the Minister of Labour if he will institute an inquiry into the conditions affecting domestic service, in order that the objections raised by those who would be available for such service and the difficulties of those who are unable to obtain such service may be investigated, with a view to bringing about an adjustment that would be beneficial to all concerned?

I have been considering action on the lines indicated by the hon. Member, and I hope to be able to make a, statement on the subject at an early date.

Has this not already been done by the women's committee on unemployment?

I do not think so. The work of the Central Employment Committee is for the purpose of training, not for the purpose of holding inquiries of this kind.

Agricultural Labourers


asked the Minister of Labour if, in view of the Government Bill granting improved treatment for normally insured workers now unemployed, he can state what special steps are being taken to assist agricultural labourers who are in extreme destitution?

Agricultural labourers cannot, of course, be assisted out of the Unemployment Fund, to which they are not contributors. I may mention, however, that special steps have been taken to promote relief schemes in rural areas by means of grants from the Ministry of Agriculture for land drainage and water supply schemes, from the Forestry Commission for schemes of afforestation, and from the Unemployment Grants Committee for improvements in unclassified roads.

Is the right hon. Gentleman considering the question of including agricultural labourers in the Insurance Bill?

I have received no requests from the agricultural labourers themselves, or from the agricultural interests, that they should be so included.



asked the Prime Minister if his attention has been directed to the fact that the numbers of unemployed in Glasgow have increased during the past year, while the number of men employed on relief work has decreased, and that no work has been provided for women; will he say what steps he has taken to carry out his promise to the deputation on unemployment which met him on December last in Glasgow; and will he state when the schemes then promised will be started?

With regard to the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by the Minister of Labour on the 8th March to a question by the hon. Member for Shettleston (Mr. Wheatley). As the hon. Member is aware, relief works do not provide suitable employment for women, although of course in many cases they benefit indirectly by the schemes guaranteed by the Trade Facilities Committee.

With regard to the second part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to a question by the hon. Member for Mary-hill (Mr. Muir) on the 5th March.

With regard to the last part of the question, it is not possible to say exactly when schemes will be started as that must depend upon the completion of surveys and upon the local authorities concerned. I may add, however, that the plans and schemes for the Glasgow-Duntocher-Bowling road have been completed and tenders for the construction works are being invited shortly.

Boards Of Guardians (Loans)


asked the Minister of Health why the loans to boards of guardians to enable the payment of outdoor relief to unemployed persons are limited to big industrial areas; whether he is aware that, as a result, in some districts unemployed who have fallen into the gap are practically starving; and will he cause an immediate inquiry to be made into the subject?

While it is usually in large industrial areas that expenditure on the relief of unemployed persons has been so large as to render it necessary that part of the charge should be met by borrowing, it is not the case that other boards of guardians are refused authority to borrow moneys for this purpose. If the hon. Member will give me particulars of any case which he has in mind I shall be glad to inquire into it.