§ 20. Mr. WATERSON
asked the Minister of Labour if any direct steps have been taken by the Government to find work for the unemployed who are now receiving out-of-work donation pay beyond the appeals to employers; and, if so, will he state what is being done?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. Wardle)
The Employment Exchanges, with the assistance of the local employment committees, are taking active steps to induce employers to make a regular practice of notifying their vacancies to the Exchanges; and the transfer of workpeople from one district to another is assisted by the advance of railway fares at reduced rates. Moreover, the local employment committees have done everything possible to encourage the expediting of public works of all kinds by which employment can be provided, and the Government has pushed on road repair in every part of the country with a similar object. The Government housing scheme will also afford a large amount of employment to many different classes of labour.
§ Mr. WATERSON
What scheme has the Government in mind to put before Parliament in order to deal with unemployment, and not play with it?
Will the hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of utilising the services of some of the unemployed on work in connection with dismantling Army camps which are occupying sites on valuable agricultural land?
§ Mr. WARDLE
These are questions which ought to be addressed to other Departments. The Minister of Labour has no power to employ anybody in the way suggested.
§ 29. Lieut. Colonel Sir S. HOARE
asked the Minister of Labour if he can give the House the numbers of bricklayers and bricklayers' labourers who are now receiving the Government unemployment donation?
§ Mr. WARDLE
On 7th November, 1919, the latest date for which ngures are available, 728 bricklayers and 840 bricklayers' labourers were claiming out-of-work donation benefit at Employment Exchanges.
§ 34. Mr. E. WOOD
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is satisfied with the present staffing and equipment of the Employment Exchanges or whether he intends to suggest to Parliament any improvements?
§ Mr. WARDLE
No, Sir; we are not satisfied with the staffing and equipment of the Employment Exchanges. In both respects the Exchanges are working under a serious handicap; and it is to the credit of the staff that, despite this handicap, the Committee of Inquiry on the out-of-work donation scheme described their work as on the whole exceedingly good. It is hoped to secure a substantial improvement of existing conditions in the early future.
§ 36. Mr. BLANE
asked the Minister of Labour how many Employment Exchanges there are in the country and the total expenses incurred in connection with the same for the six months ended 13th June, 1919; if he is of opinion that British employers and employés have sufficient initiative without Government assistance; and is he prepared to recommend the closing of all these Exchanges by the end of the current year?
§ Mr. WARDLE
There are at present 414 Employment Exchanges and 1,203 Branch Employment Exchanges in operation. The total cost of the Employment Exchange service during the six months ending 30th June, 1919, including the cost of special War services chargeable to the Vote of Credit and all expenses incurred at Divisional Offices, Employment Exchanges and Branch Offices, whether in the administration of Unemployment Insurance, Out-of-Work Donation or otherwise, was approximately £1,500,000, The work done by the Exchanges during this period and subsequently has been of 900 a very onerous and responsible nature, and could certainly not have been left to the initiative of employers and workpeople. I am not prepared to recommend the closing of the Exchanges.