MR. KEIR-HARDIE (West Ham, S.)
I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether his Department contemplates taking any action, and, if so, of what kind, to provide work of a productive and non-pauperising kind for the great numbers of men and women who are at present unable to find employment?
§ THE PRESIDENT OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. H. H. FOWLER,) Wolverhampton, E.
On the 30th of September a Circular Letter was issued to all Sanitary Authorities reminding them of the scarcity of employment which exists in many parts of the country, and the probability of this becoming more general during the winter mouths, and urging upon them the great importance of their proceeding with the execution of sanitary or improvement works which might be carried out at the time, when there are numbers unemployed. In a number of eases the Board have received replies from the Local Authorities in London and the Provinces stating that works are in progress, or will be expedited or provided if the necessity arises; whilst in others applications have been made for sanction to loans for the execution of works which will afford employment to persons out of work. The Local Government Board have no power themselves to undertake works, nor are they empowered to require the Local Authorities to carry out works. The Board have no control whatever in the matter, except when it is proposed that the cost of the works should be defrayed by means of loans. In such cases the sanction of the Board to the borrowing is necessary, and the Board are most desirous of assisting the 1690 Local Authorities as far as they possibly can.
§ MR. BOUSFIELD (Hackney, N.)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether some time ago he had an application from the Board of Guardians of Hackney for leave to purchase 50 acres of laud under some older Acts, on which to set to work a number of the unemployed. In what manner did he deal with the application?
§ MR. J. BURNS (Battersea)
Arising out of that, I wish to have a clear and more definite answer as to whether, in the event of the Local Authorities not acting upon the suggestion in the Circular issued in November, 1892, and September, 1.898, it is without the power of the Local Government Board to compel such bodies to set works in operation?
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER
The Local Government Board have no power whatever. Our power is simply one of recommendation and advice. If Local Authorities refuse—and I am sorry to say in one or two cases they have, and perhaps not in the most courteous terms, refused—to take any notice of the recommendations of the Local Government Board, we have no power to interfere. We have already made a suggestion. I am bound to say that in a large number of cases, especially in the constituency in that part of London which my hon. Friend represents, satisfactory replies have been received, and large public works are being carried out in various parts of the Kingdom.