asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much has been paid out per month in social security benefit to those or their families on strike or sitting-in at the Meriden factory of the former BSA Company since the sit-in began or at some other convenient date; and if he will give the relative number of persons involved in each category.
:There was a trade dispute at this factory before November 1973 during which employees would have been disqualified for unemployment benefit. This disqualification ceased to apply to these employees with effect from 9th November 1973, when the factory closed. Since then, unemployment benefit, and, where appropriate, supplementary allowance, has been paid to those who could satisfy the normal conditions for benefit, including the condition that they were available for employment elsewhere. Detailed records are not kept in a form which would enable a precise answer to be given to the hon. Member's Question, but it is known that between 500 and 700 former employees have received unemployment benefit at some time since November 1973. Most of these have been placed in or have found other employment, but approximately 200 were registered as unemployed during the week ended 8th March 1975. It is not possible to say how much has been paid in total, but the average payment to a man getting flat-rate unemployment benefit amounted to about £54 a month in 1974. I regret that information about supplementary benefit paid could only be obtained at disproportionate effort and cost.