HC Deb 20 July 1908 vol 192 cc1490-1
MR. ALDEN (Middlesex, Tottenham)

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board if he can state the percentage of the unemployed for the month of June and how it compares with the same month in 1907; whether he has been able to form any estimate of the number of unskilled men at present out of employment; and whether, in view of the almost unprecedented scarcity of employment at this time of the year, he proposes to take any immediate steps to mitigate the consequent distress.


The Returns made by trade unions to the Board of Trade show 8.2 per cent. of the members as unemployed at the end of June last. The percentage for June, 1907, was 3.6. I do not think it is possible to give any accurate estimate of the total number of unskilled men at present out of employment. As my hon. friend is aware, the Government propose to renew the Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905, for another year. Moreover, a sum of £200,000 in aid of the expenses under the Act is included in the Supplementary Estimate just issued.


May I ask whether any of the local authorities are engaged in this work?


Very few of the local authorities who received grants out of last year's fund are actually engaged at this moment in relief work, and many of them still have a small balance in hand.


May I ask my right hon. friend whether he does not intend to initiate some new policy? We have now waited two years and a half for some new policy with regard to the unemployed.


The hon. Member is not entitled to make a speech when putting a Question.


Does the right hon. Gentleman agree with the statement in the question as to the unprecedented scarcity of employment?


I do not altogether.