HC Deb 19 February 1914 vol 58 cc1126-7

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of the dissatisfaction in connection with Part II. of the National Insurance Act, he will appoint a Committee to inquire into the operation and administration of this part of the Act with the object of amending it?

The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. Burns)

I do not know what points my hon. Friend has in mind, but if he will send me particulars, I will gladly see how far a remedy is necessary and practicable, either by administration or, if need be, by legislation. As my hon. Friend is doubtless aware, numerous conferences have taken place from time to time at the Board of Trade, both with representatives of workmen and of employers affected, and as a result a number of administrative difficulties which were experienced at the outset have already been remedied, while I hope to remedy others by an amending Bill, to be introduced shortly. I consider that this method of discussion is far preferable to the appointment of a formal Committee.


asked the President of the Board of Trade if the Court of Referees appointed under Part II. of the National Insurance Act has refused unemployment benefit to a number of workmen who are out of employment; whether he is aware that these men have not lost their employment through misconduct, neither have they voluntarily left their employment, nor is there any dispute between them and their employers regarding the working rules signed by both parties; and whether, under these circumstances, he will give instructions that these men be paid their unemployed benefit?


I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the recommendations of the Metropolitan Court of Referees with regard to a number of workmen in the London building trade at present out of employment. I am aware that that Court has, after full consideration of all the circumstances of the case, upheld the decision of the Insurance Officer, disallowing benefit under Section 87 (1), on the ground that the men in question have lost employment by reason of a stoppage of work which was due to a trade dispute. In so far as the claims concerned were direct claims, these came before the Court under Section 88 (1) of the Act, and the Court's recommendation is final. In so far as claims through an association are concerned, if the association is dissatisfied with the recommendation of the Court, it is open to it to exercise its right of appeal to the Umpire. Both the Court of Referees and the Umpire are independent judicial tribunals, over which I have no control.


Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any society has appealed against the decision of the Court of Referees?


Not to my knowledge.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in some cases where there has been absolutely no dispute on the buildings at all, but where, since the commencement of the dispute, men have been discharged in the ordinary way, they have been refused the right to register for unemployment benefit?


If the facts are as stated by the hon. Member, and they are brought before the Commissioners or the tribunal referred to, there is no doubt that they will receive fair consideration.