asked the Minister of Labour by how many points has the cost-of-living index risen since it was decided to grant unemployment benefit to the extent of 26s. per week.
The rate of 26s. applied in respect of the first benefit payable on or after 3rd June, 1948. Between mid-May, 1948, and mid-May, 1949, the interim index of retail prices rose from 108 to 111.
In view of the increased cost of living in this period and likewise in the earlier period, will the right hon. Gentleman consider raising the amount of unemployment benefit at least in proportion to the increased cost of living, for which the unemployed cannot be responsible?
The question of the raising of the value of the benefit is not a matter for my Department.
Does the Minister endorse the statement of the Financial Secretary to the Treasury that the cost of living has now been readjusted in a downward direction consequent upon the reduction in the Beer Duty of 1d. a pint?
I do not make any observations on beer.
Is the Minister aware that 40 years ago the Foreign Secretary threw up a job at 28s. a week because he could not live on it? How is it possible for anybody to live on 26s. a week now when we take into account the value of the £ compared with 40 years ago?