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Mass Unemployment (Prevention)

Volume 388: debated on Thursday 8 April 1943

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asked the Prime Minister whether he will appoint a committee to inquire into the prevention of mass unemployment which may arise during the immediate post-war period and in the future generally; and whether he will regard this problem as of primary importance having regard to the public interest in the Beveridge Plan of Social Security and so-called freedom from want?

His Majesty's Government regard the prevention of unemployment after the war as of primary importance. It is clear, however, that this problem cannot be considered in isolation from our general economic policy, both in the immediate post-war period and subsequently. His Majesty's Government are already giving these matters the most careful consideration, and I do not think that any addition is required for this purpose to the existing machinery.

Does the right hon. Gentleman suggest that the Government do not know at this time of day what the cause of unemployment is?

Is the matter being considered by the Government departmentally or by the Government as a whole, comprehensively, through some Cabinet Committee?

There are a number of ramifications of this subject. Some of them must necessarily be dealt with by Departments—for instance, the question of foreign relations in connection with commerce and so forth—but the general problem is viewed by the Government as a whole.

Does not my right hon. Friend realise the importance of a coordinated and comprehensive study of the problem and of not dealing with it in iso- lation departmentally, more particularly because, if Sir William Beveridge proceeds with his threat to investigate the question of unemployment, there will be created a rivalry as between an independent person outside studying this problem and the Government? Surely that is undesirable?

Can my right hon. Friend throw any light on Sir William Beveridge's statement that he is going to investigate this problem?

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the root cause of unemployment is the private ownership and control of land?

Cannot the Government come to some definite decision about mass unemployment before they start even considering this freedom from want plan?