HC Deb 26 October 1908 vol 194 cc1623-5
MR. CAVE (Surrey, Kingston)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he can give an approximate estimate of the loss to local authorities which it is proposed to pay out of Exchequer grants, arising from the relative unproductivity of labour of unemployed workmen as distinguished from work carried out under contract by regular labourers.


The loss referred to only arises in the case of work for which there is no adequate supply of unemployed labour from persons normally employed in work of that kind. The loss to local authorities caused by employing workmen who are on the registers of distress committees, instead of having the work carried out under contract, is estimated as varying from 5 per cent. up to 40 or 50 per cent. of the cost of the labour. The actual amount of the extra expenditure involved in any particular case must depend largely upon the nature of the work and the efficiency of the supervision exercised. No hard-and-fast rule has been laid down as to the percentage which a distress committee may be authorised to contribute out of the grant, but usually not more than 30 per cent. would be regarded as proper for this purpose.

MR. CURRAN (Durham, Jarrow)

asked whether this grant would be distributed in accordance with the scheme which the right hon. Gentleman laid before the House, or in accordance with the Act as it stood?


In accordance, no doubt, with the Act as it stands, but in accordance with the regulations as modified in the manner I hive indicated.


Will the right hon. Gentleman place before the House the extent to which these restrictions will be removed so far as immediate purposes are concerned?


I have already indicated the relaxations in the regulations which will take place.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say the extent of the loss suffered by unemployment by those who are not of the working classes?


That is rather a large question.

MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)

Do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that all he proposes to do in relation to the Act of 1905 is to modify the regulations which, under the Act, are capable of modification from time to time by the Local Government Board, but not to alter any of the substantive provisions of the Act by fresh legislation?


We do not propose to introduce legislation.

MR. HAROLD COX (Preston)

asked whether he understood from the Answer of the right hon. Gentleman that if the efficiency of the supervision was bad, a larger percentage of grant would be made from the Imperial Exchequer.


What I said was that, where there was an adequate supply of unemployed labour of persons nominally employed in a particular industry, it would go to those people and no such question would arise. That is a very important point which some people have not sufficiently borne in mind. But where, as is often the case, you have to employ persons not specially fitted, who have had no previous industrial training for the work, then, and then only, will this subvention, if I may so call it, from Imperial funds come in, and, as to that, adequate supervision is to be exercised.