HC Deb 21 October 1920 vol 133 cc1084-6
Mr. W. THORNE (by Private Notice)

asked the Minister of Labour whether an Order has been issued and is already in force altering the procedure with regard to registration for and payment of unemployment benefit, and whether he will explain the nature of this Order, and the reasons for issuing it?


I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Gorbals Division of Glasgow (Mr. G. Barnes) yesterday, in which it was stated that emergency arrangements are being brought into operation forthwith in order to ensure the prompt and smooth payment of out-of-work donation to ex-service men, and of unemployment benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Acts, Details of these emergency arrangements will appear in the OFFICIAL REPORT to-morrow.

The following particulars have been supplied in answer to the question put by Mr. G. Barnes on the 20th inst.:—

Under these emergency arrangements, unemployed ex-service men and women and merchant seamen already claiming out-of-work donation and remaining unemployed will continue to receive payment without intermission. Other ex-service men and merchant seamen now thrown out of employment and making claims on or after 21st October will, whether they have exhausted their original donation policies or not, receive donation at the rate now applicable under the Special Extension Scheme, viz., 20s. per week after a waiting period of six days, unless disqualified by reason of a trade dispute or on some other ground laid down in the rules. Unemployed ex-service women will similarly receive donation at a weekly rate of 15s.

The volume of work during the emergency will make it unavoidably necessary to apply the above rates of donation of 20s. and 15s. to all claims arising during the emergency from ex-service men and women and merchant seamen, including those made by ex-service men and women demobilised during the previous twelve months, certain of whom, if unemployed, under ordinary circumstances would have received donation at higher rates. In such cases the period of twelve months from demobilisation during which those higher rates may be drawn will be extended by a period equal to the length of the emergency, and the donation drawn during the emergency will not be counted as part of the donation to which they are otherwise entitled; so that their rights to donation outside the period of emergency are fully safeguarded.

Unemployment benefit will be payable to workpeople insured under the Unemployment Insurance Acts at the rates and under the provisions laid down in those Acts, namely, 11s. per week to men and women, and 5s. 6d. to boys and girls, after a waiting period of six days.

If the coal strike continues for any length of time, it will clearly be impossible for the Employment Exchanges, burdened as they are already with the preparatory work for bringing the new Unemployment Insurance Act into force on November 8th, to cope unaided with the great number of claims to donation and benefit that will arise. The emergency arrangements enable payment of donation and benefit to be made by all employers of any considerable number of workpeople as being the only machinery by which prompt payment can be made to the large numbers that may be concerned. A special form of procedure has been drawn up for this purpose, the details of which have been made as simple and straightforward as possible, and can be ascertained by inquiry at any Employment Exchange.

It is the first duty of every employer in this crisis to retain his workpeople in employment to the fullest possible extent, and if necessary to establish a system of short-time working. Where, however, any considerable number of workpeople are unavoidably unemployed and are entitled to payment of out-of-work donation or unemployment benefit, their employer can best serve the national interest by assisting the Ministry of Labour and arranging to make this payment, and the Government confidently appeal to the public spirit of employers for their cooperation in these arrangements.


Is it the intention of the Department to at once as speedily as possbile send out the necessary alterations and instructions to the respective organisations because it is placing some of them in an embarrassing position?


That is being done now.