HC Deb 02 March 1921 vol 138 cc1791-2

asked the Minister of Labour how the rates of unemployment pay per head per week in this country compare with the rates obtaining in the United States, France, Belgium, and Italy, respectively?


There is nothing in the United States, France, or Belgium comparable to the system of compulsory State insurance against unemployment which has been established in this country. I will, if I may, circulate with the OFFICIAL REPORT information with regard to the rates of benefit obtainable at the present time under the compulsory State insurance scheme in Italy.


May we take it in consonance with the right hon. Gentleman's answer that we are the most generous of the Great Powers on the question of unemployed?


I have said that there is nothing comparable in the case of the States named in the question. My hon. Friend will draw his own conclusion.

Following is the information promised:

Under the provisions of the Italian Unemployment Insurance System, as laid down in the Decree of 19th October, 1919, the weekly benefit is fixed as follows, varying according to the wage-scale of the contributor:

Earnings and Unemployment Benefit.

  1. 1. Not exceeding 24 lire—7.50 lire.
  2. 2. Above 24, but not exceeding 48 lire— 15.00 lire.
  3. 3. Above 48 lire—22.50 lire.
In no case may the benefit exceed one-half of the rate of earnings.

Strictly speaking, no comparison whatever is admissible with any foreign scheme except the above. As regards a comparison between the Italian scheme and that in force in this country the figures given below would, however, involve no very serious error. The benefit shown as payable in this country is that proposed under the new Bill:

(1) Wages of a skilled male operative (engineering) per full week are:

United Kingdom (about), 100s.

Italy (about), 160 lire.

(2) Weekly benefit.

United Kingdom, 20s.

Italy, 22½ lire.

(3) Proportion of Benefit to Wages.

United Kingdom, 20 per cent.

Italy, 14 per cent.

In view of the differing purchasing power of the currencies of the two countries a direct comparison between the commodity value of the benefit paid in one country and the other cannot properly be drawn.