HC Deb 02 November 1908 vol 195 cc788-9

I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, under the Government scheme for dealing with the unemployed, it is proposed that any local authority which can show that public works undertaken by it have cost more in consequence of the employment of the unemployed in place of ordinary workmen, will receive the whole amount of that extra cost up to 30 per cent. from the national Exchequer; and whether, seeing that this involves a temptation to the local authority to employ the worst workmen from among the unemployed instead of the best, and to exercise insufficient supervision over their labour so as to secure for the locality the maximum monetary advantage offered by the Exchequer, he will say what steps he proposes to take to obviate these evils.


The Answer to the first part of the Question is in the negative. Payments from the grant are only made where the distress from the want of employment is acute, and the number of applications to the distress committee is large. In such a case, however, if the local authority put in hand useful and permanent work of which I approve, and which will afford employment for men supplied by the distress committee, I am prepared to make a payment to the distress committee based upon the reasonable excess cost expected to be properly attributable to the employment of these men. The payment is usually made before the work is carried out, and hence there is an inducement to the local authority to endeavour to obtain the best men and to exercise proper supervision in order to save the burden on the rates. I have seen no signs of the tendency to which my hon. friend refers, and I do not think it likely to occur. He may rest assured that I shall do my best to check it, if it should.