HC Deb 18 February 1907 vol 169 c528

To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether his attention has been called to a recent investigation at Blackburn into the figures of unemployment published by the Board; and whether these statistics class as unemployed persons who have left their work owing to disputes, persons who are under engagements but who cannot work owing to seasonal conditions or to temporary sickness, and persons who are superannuated; and whether he will consider the advisability of analysing representative returns from various districts, and so amending the returns as to give a reliable statement of the number of able-bodied men and women unable to find situations, with a view to devising measures of relief from such a condition.

(Answered by Mr. Lloyd-George.) I have seen a newspaper report of a lecture at Blackburn upon this subject, but, so far as I can judge from this report, the investigation was based on an entire misconception as to the method by which the percentages of unemployed published by the Board of Trade are arrived at. Had the investigator addressed an inquiry on this subject to the Board of Trade his error could have been readily pointed out. As regards the specific questions asked by my hon. friend, the Answer in each case is in the negative. The percentage of unemployed, as published in the Labour Gazette, is based upon figures supplied direct to the Department by trade unions paying unemployed benefit, and they relate to members actually out of work, those on strike or lock-out, sick, or superannuation being excluded. I have every reason to believe that the figures are trustworthy for the purpose for which they are intended, viz., to indicate fluctuations in employment.