HC Deb 07 August 1913 vol 56 cc1755-7

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that a number of wrappers and packers in the cycle trade were informed verbally in June, 1912, that they were not liable to pay the premium under Part II. of the National Insurance Act, and that this verbal information was subsequently confirmed by letter in July, 1912; will he say whether the companies employing these workmen were similarly notified; whether the decision was reconsidered by the Commissioners, and on what date the decision was revised; whether in July, 1913, without any previous intimation of such reconsideration, a demand was made on both the firms and the men, respectively, for a whole year's arrears of payment; whether a strike has occurred at one firm in consequence; and whether he will give instructions that the arrears are not to be demanded, in view of the hardship of collecting them in a lump sum and of the fact that the whole trouble was due to administrative carelessness?


In the first instance wrappers and packers in the cycle trade were held by the Umpire not to be insurable under Part II. of the Act, and information to this effect was no doubt given at the time in a number of cases; the Umpire subsequently reconsidered the matter and held these work-people to be insurable by a decision (Number A. 749) published on 8th August, 1912, that is shortly after the Act came into operation. Every effort was made by the Board to bring this decision to the notice of all employers likely to be affected, and the Board have no reason to suppose that any such employers remained ignorant of it. In the case of the strike to which the hon. Member apparently refers the Board were informed that the wrappers and packers were only a small proportion of the insurable workpeople for whom arrears of contributions had fallen due, and that the attention of the firm had been called to their obligations with regard to their wrappers and packers as well as their other workpeople on a number of occasions before payment of arrears was demanded as a result of a visit by an inspector in June, 1913. In particular, apart from previous communications, this was done by letters of 21st December, 1912, and 4th April, 1913. I may add that in accordance with the usual practice in cases when the Umpire modifies a previous decision, contributions in respect of wrappers and packers are only demanded as from 8th August, 1912, but it would be obviously unfair to other em- ployers and workpeople to dispense with payment of arrears even if the Board had any power to do so. There is no ground whatever for the suggestion of administrative carelessness.


On what date was the change in the Umpire's decision communicated to the employers?


When made. The decision was published on 8th August, 1912.

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