asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that insured contributors are being discharged from their employment because of employers' failure to obtain emergency books in accordance with the requirements of Clause 9 (1) of the Statutory Rules and Orders, 1936, No. 331, caused by the illegal retention of insured contributors' regular books by employers; and whether he will consider the application of a penalty, thereby enforcing the Ministry's regulations and avoiding financial hardships to insured contributors?
No, Sir; but cases have been brought to my notice in which workers are said to have been discharged because of failure to present regular unemployment books. A worker whose last employer has not returned his regular book can obtain another from any Employment Exchange, and the employer in fault is liable to a fine not exceeding £10.
Is it not the case that there are hundreds of workers in a mobile industry like my own who are affected in this way, and I would ask the Minister whether it is not possible for him to make it clear to the employers that they as well as the workmen have a responsibility? Is it not true that if an employer does not give a workman his old book, he loses many days in wages, and is unable to make any claim? Is it not the duty of the employer under the regulations to see that a workman has his regular book, and, if he has not, that it is his duty to get an emergency book from the Exchange and fill it in?
I have explained the position to the hon. Member. He has had some correspondence with the Department on the matter, and perhaps he will discuss it with them further. I must make it clear that the fault is not all on one side. There is a difference between the regular book and an emergency book.