HC Deb 31 July 1914 vol 65 cc1755-61

Where a man has not received benefit after at least six consecutive signatures in the register and benefit is due the officer in charge may, at his discretion upon the request of the workman, pay the benefit due the following day; provided that when the register is signed for the sixth time on a Wednesday payment shall be made on the following Friday.

Clause brought up, and read the first time.


I beg to move "That the Clause be read a second time."

I move this Clause in order to meet a very substantial grievance that now exists under the unemployment insurance Section of the Act in regard to the paying out of benefit. Under the present system a workman out of employment may sign a card for no less than eight consecutive days, and very likely get no benefit at all for over a fortnight from the day on which he first claims the benefit. I have got an unemployment insurance card here, giving an actual case which occurred but a few weeks ago, and, if I may, I should just like to say exactly what happened to give an illustration of the case this Clause is meant to meet. A man first signs on a Thursday, and then signs every day for the next seven days up to and including Friday week; that is to say, there are eight days' consecutive signatures. The first six days may possibly be his waiting week for which he would receive no benefit, but he would be entitled to 2s. 4d. benefit for the seventh and eighth day, or the last two days of the consecutive signing of the register; that is to say, for the following Thursday's and Friday's signatures. Unfortunately, as the insurance week ends on Wednesday and pay-day is on Friday, he would not be able to get anything until the following Friday, when 2s. 4d. benefit would be due to him. During the rest of the week he very likely might be able to get work and wages, and, if he missed his signatures, he would still be unable to get any benefit that week. He would only get it on the following Friday, and, if he happened to get work during the week, just before the following Friday, he would be getting paid benefit when he really wanted it least. A man really wants benefit after he has been out of employment at the end of the week, and to postpone the payment of this benefit until the following week, when he may possibly be in work, is to my mind not nearly so useful as to let him have the benefit directly it is due.

Perhaps I may take another case which has actually happened. Take the case of a man who has signed his waiting week for six consecutive days, and subsequently, a week or two later, he signs for another six consecutive days. If he signs on a Tuesday and continues signing until the following Monday, he has signed on six consecutive days, but he can get nothing at all until the following pay-day, which is the following Friday. He has signed for one waiting week, six consecutive days, and he has signed later on for one more week, six consecutive days, and then he has to wait four more days before he can draw any benefit at all. He has to wait, that is to say, for sixteen days altogether. This is a hardship in the case of people who earn low wages and happen to be in very poor circumstances. This Clause, I venture to propose, absolutely meets the difficulty I have tried to put before the House. Under this Amendment after a man has signed for at least six consecutive days, and benefit becomes due, then, if the workman desires it, and the officer in charge of the Labour Exchange agrees, the amount of benefit due can be paid to him. I should like to point out, if I may, that this new Clause is not mandatory; it is optional. It simply gives this advantage to the workman who actually asks that it should be given to him, and only in the case of the officer in charge of the Labour Exchange consenting to the workman's request.

I have added a proviso to the new Clause to avoid any unnecessary complication of machinery. It is in order to avoid such a case as this, for instance. Supposing a man had already completed a waiting week, and then later on had signed for six consecutive days, beginning on a Thursday and ending on a Wednesday, under this new Clause without the proviso he would be able to claim benefit on the Thursday, or one day before the ordinary pay-day. This proviso has been put in so as to avoid the unnecessary trouble and complication in a Labour Exchange of possibly frequently having to pay out money on two days following. I submit that this is a reasonable Amendment, and I cannot for one moment see how there can be any argument against it. It is not an invention of my own. I have not put it on the Paper for the sake of putting down amendments. During the last few days I have been in communication with several Labour Exchanges and their managers. I have been most carefully through the one or two Amendments I have put on the Paper. They have assured me that this Amendment would meet an undoubted grievance, and that there is absolutely no difficulty in respect of machinery, but that it can be perfectly easily carried out. They have pointed out that you can now, under the Act, only get paid on a different day front the pay-day if you happen to be leaving the district. Supposing a workman happens to be leaving a district in which benefit is due, they can then exercise their discretion at the Exchange and pay him on a day other than the Friday, but it can only be done where the man is leaving the district. The only thing that my Clause does is to extend the discretion of the man in charge of the Labour Exchange. It merely says that where he considers it advisable to pay when the benefit is due instead of waiting until the following pay-day, he should be able to exercise that discretion if the workman wants him to do it.


I beg to second the Motion.


May I point out to the hon. Member that, even if the case be as good as he assumes, his Clause is really unnecessary. He propose to give us a discretion we already possess. And as regards the procedure he recommends, I may say that thus far we are not in favour of taking this step. Our procedure is dictated by two general considerations. First, there is the fact of the experience of all friendly societies that a weekly pay-day is the best method. That is the universal course, and to adopt a method under which you pay every day would certainly enormously increase the machinery of the Department.


That is not so.


Further, it is a very strong opinion among those concerned with unemployment benefit that the first week or two of unemployment is the time of least distress. Instead of frittering away the money as fast as you can, you should keep it and give it in a lump sum when the man suffering from unemployment begins to feel the pinch. It is possible that in some cases, as the hon. Member suggests, a man may go as long as sixteen days, but the normal time is from nine to thirteen days. The idea is that the pinch is not felt so much during the first week. It begins about the second week, when the man becomes entitled to the lump sum. I think it is a better method than that suggested by the hon. Member, but if our experience should lead us to take his view, and if we come to the conclusion there should be discretion to our officers to pay day by day, that power already exists. We can do it by Regulation, and we do not really require a Clause.


I am assured that at the present moment there is no power in the officer in charge to use this discretion, but if the right hon. Gentleman tells me that the Board of Trade will issue a Regulation giving such discretion to the officer in charge when he wants to use it, I will withdraw my Amendment.


I say the Board of Trade can issue a Regulation if it thinks fit, but, as I have told the hon. Member,

our experience is not in favour of his suggestion. Still, we have the power, if we see fit to use it.


What harm can there be in the Board of Trade at once issuing the Regulation?


I have given the reason why we do not want to adopt that method. I repeat that if we see fit to give this discretion we are perfectly able to do so.


Will the hon. Gentleman look into the question from the point of view put forward by my hon. Friend?


Undoubtedly, I will undertake to do that.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 75; Noes, 206.

Division No. 211.] AYES. [3.38 p.m.
Agg-Gardner, James Tynte Gibbs, G. A. O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)
Amery, L. C. M. S. Gilmour, Captain John Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)
Archer-Shee, Major Martin Goldman, C. S. Perkins, Walter F.
Baird, John Lawrence Goldsmith, Frank Peto, Basil Edward
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Guinness, Hon. W. E. (Bury S. Edmunds) Ronaldshay, Earl of
Barnston, Harry Hall, Frederick (Dulwich) Sanders, Robert Arthur
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Stanley, Major Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Harris, Henry Percy (Paddington, S.) Stewart, Gershom
Blair, Reginald Harris, Leverton (Worcester, East) Talbot, Lord Edmund
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)
Boyton, James Hewins, William Albert Samuel Thynne, Lord Alexander
Bull, Sir William James Hoare, Samuel John Gurney Tickler, T. G.
Carlile, Sir Edward Mildred Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Touche, George Alexander
Cassel, Felix Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Tullibardine, Marquess of
Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin) Hope, Major J. A. (Midlothian) Watson, Hon. W.
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Houston, Robert Paterson Weigall, Captain A. G.
Craik, Sir Henry Hume-Williams, William Ellis Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud
Currie, George W. Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E. R.)
Dalrymple, Viscount Kyffin-Taylor, G Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Denison-Pender, J. C. Larmor, Sir J. Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Worthington Evans, L.
Du Cros, Arthur Philip Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Colonel A. R. Yate, Colonel Charles Edward
Falle, Bertram Godfray M'Neill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine's) Younger, Sir George
Fell, Arthur Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)
Fletcher, John Samuel Mount, William Arthur TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.
Forster, Henry William Newton, Harry Kottingham G. Locker-Lampson and Mr. Hills.
Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour) Byles, Sir William Pollard Donelan, Captain A.
Acland, Francis Dyke Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Doris, William
Addison, Dr. Christopher Cawley, Harold T. (Lancs, Heywood) Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)
Alden, Percy Chancellor, Henry George Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley)
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Chapple, Dr. William Allen Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)
Armitage, Robert Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)
Beale, Sir William Phipson Clancy, John Joseph Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Clough, William Elverston, Sir Harold
Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Clynes, John R. Esmonds, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)
Boland, John Pius Collins, Sir Stephen (Lambeth) Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)
Booth, Frederick Handel Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Esslemont, George Birnie
Bowerman, Charles W. Cowan, W. H. Falconer, James
Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Farrell, James Patrick
Brady, Patrick Joseph Crooks, William Ffrench, Peter
Brunner, John F. L. Cullinan, John Field, William
Bryce, J. Annan Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth) Flennes, Hon. Eustace Edward
Buck master, Sir Stanley O. Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Flavin, Michael Joseph
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardiganshire) Ginnell, Laurence
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Delany, William Gladstone, W. G. C.
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North) Dillon, John Greig, Colonel J. W.
Gulland, John William M'Micking, Major Gilbert Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Markham, Sir Arthur Basil Robinson, Sidney
Hancock, John George Marks, Sir George Croydon Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale) Marshall, Arthur Harold Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Mason, David M. (Coventry) Rowlands, James
Hardie, J. Keir Meagher, Michael Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Russell, Rt. Hon. Thomas W.
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) Meehan, Patrick J. (Queen's Co., Leix) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Molloy, Michael Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Molteno, Percy Alport Scanian, Thomas
Hayden, John Patrick Money, L. G. Chiozza Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Hayward, Evan Mooney, John J. Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel J. E. B.
Hazleton, Richard Morgan, George Hay Sherwell, Arthur James
Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Morrell, Philip Shortt, Edward
Henry, Sir Charles Morison, Hector Smith, Albert (Lancs. Clitheroe)
Higham, John Sharp Muldoon, John Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Hinds, John Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)
Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Hodge, John Needham, Christopher T. Sutherland, John E.
Hogge, James Myles Neilson, Francis Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Holmes, Daniel Turner Nolan, Joseph Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)
Hughes, Spencer Leigh Norman, Sir Henry Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John
Illingworth, Percy H. Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh) Nuttall, Harry Thorne, William (West Ham)
Jones, Edgar (Marthyr Tydvil) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Treveiyan, Charles Philips
Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Walton, Sir Joseph
Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) O'Doherty, Philip Waring, Walter
Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney) O'Dowd, John Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T.
Jowett, Frederick William O'Malley, William Webb, H.
Joyce, Michael O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Kellaway, Frederick George O'Shaughnessy, P. J. White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Kenyon, Barnet O'Shee, James John White, Patrick (Meath, North)
King, Joseph O'Sullivan, Timothy Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)
Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Palmer, Godfrey Mark Wiles, Thomas
Lardner, James C. R. Parker, James (Halifax) Wilkie, Alexander
Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th) Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek) Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N. W.)
Leach, Charles Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Pratt, J. W. Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Lundon, Thomas Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Winfrey, Sir Richard
Lyell, Charles Henry Primrose, Hon. Neil James Wing, Thomas Edward
Lynch, Arthur Alfred Pringle, William M. R. Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Radford, G. H. Yeo, Alfred William
Maclean, Donald Raphael, Sir Herbert H. Young, William (Perthshire, East)
Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J. Reddy, Michael Yoxall, Sir James Henry
MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South) Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)
MacVeagh, Jeremiah Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
WCallum, Sir John M. Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Geoffrey Howard and Captain Guest.
McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)