HC Deb 03 April 1919 vol 114 cc1378-81
69. Sir J. HOPE

asked the Postmaster-General whether the majority of postal, telegraph, and telephone temporary employés, who have been discharged since 11th November, 1918, are drawing out-of-work donations; and whether he will consider the desirability, in the public interest, of retaining temporary employés until all the pre-war postal facilities are restored, and all permanent postal employés demobilised?

The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Illingworth)

I have no information as to what proportion of the temporary Post Office employés who have been discharged are drawing out-of-work donation. My hon. Friend may rest assured that the services of the temporary staff will be retained as long as the requirements of the work justify this course.


Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that it would be more economical to restore postal facilities than to be paying men out-of-work payments when doing nothing?


I am afraid that the hon. and gallant Member does not understand that the restoration of postal facilities does not depend on one thing at all. It depends on train service and many other circumstances also.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the local post offices cannot restore pre-war facilities until they get more men and women back?


I am afraid that I should have to make a speech of about half an hour in length to explain all the details of the postal service. If the hon. and gallant Member has any particular case in mind, I shall certainly inquire into it.

75. Sir J. BUTCHER

asked the Minister of Labour whether there are any Courts of Referees or other bodies in Ireland for the purpose of examining the claims of persons applying for out-of-work donations; and, if so, by whom are those bodies appointed, and are all claims submitted to them for acceptance or rejection?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. The constitution of the Courts of Referees is the same in Ireland as in Great Britain. Each Court consists of an independent chairman appointed by the Minister, and two representatives of employers and workpeople, respectively, sitting by rota from panels nominated by representative organisations and appointed by the Minister. Straightforward claims to donation are admitted by the local officers of the Department, and all other claims are referred to the Court of Referees for admission or rejection.


Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that all possible precautions are taken to prevent the issue of these donations to persons not properly qualified?


I am not satisfied that all possible precautions are taken, but I will do my best to get that condition satisfied.

79. Lieutenant-Colonel HILDER

asked the Minister of Labour if his attention has been drawn to the statement made on Monday at Clerkenwell by the Court probation officer to the effect that he was having trouble with lads who were putting themselves out of work in order to draw the allowance of 29s. a week; and what steps he proposes to take to put a stop to this practice?


My attention has been called to the statement referred to. If an applicant leaves his employment voluntarily without just cause he is not eligible for donation, and every effort is made by my officers to prevent abuse of the out-of-work donation scheme in this respect. An inquiry is always addressed to the late employer as to the reason why the employment terminated, and I would appeal to employers for their assistance by answering these inquiries promptly. I should add that the weekly rate of donation for boys under eighteen years of age is 14s. 6d. and not 29s.

Sir F. BANBURY (by Private Notice)

asked the Minister of Labour whether the Estimate providing for unemployment donation has been laid on the Table of the House; and, if not, when will it be laid?


As I informed my right hon. Friend yesterday, the moneys required for paying out-of-work donation are provided in the Vote of the Civil Demobilisation and Resettlement Department. £19,000,000 on account of this Vote was granted by the House on 10th March, and authorised by Statute in the Consolidated Fund Act, which received the Royal Assent on 27th March.

As my right hon. Friend will remember, the expenditure on the out-of-work donation scheme was the subject of a discussion in which he took an important part, in this House on the Consolidated Fund Bill on 19th March. The matter was also discussed on the Vote on Account on 5th March, 1919.

Detailed Estimates have not yet been laid on the Table, but I am informed by the Treasury that they are in the printer's I hands, and will be circulated next week.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman how we can have discussed this matter fully when the detailed Estimates have not yet been presented to Parliament?


I do not think my answer said they were fully discussed. They were discussed in the House, and my right hon. Friend, as he will no doubt remember, took an important part in the discussion.


Will the right hon. Gentleman say how long the £19,000,000 voted by this House is estimated to last at the present rate of expenditure?


My hon. Friend will be able to make a calculation for himself. The present expenditure is about £1,000,000 a week.