HC Deb 03 March 1921 vol 138 cc2002-4
40. Mr. W. THORNE

asked the Prime Minister if he is aware that the West Ham Board of Guardians have protested against the neglect of the Government to provide for the unemployed, in conse- quence of which the guardians of the poor have been compelled to expend thousands of pounds of the ratepayers' money in relieving distress amongst such men which would have been unnecessary had provision been made by the Government; if he is aware that the Board has protested against the non-fulfilment of the schemes of relief works proposed by the late Ministry of Reconstruction for absorbing men demobilised from the forces during the past two years or more with the object of preventing unemployment on a large scale, and requested that the Government make a sufficient grant from the Imperial Exchequer to unions and parishes to repay the whole of the cost of the relief in money and kind which boards of guardians are allowing the unemployed and their families; and if he will take action in the matter?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Dr. Macnamara)

I have been asked to reply. I am aware of the representations referred to in the earlier parts of the question. As regards the late Ministry of Reconstruction, the efforts of that body appear to have been limited to asking for particulars as to works which might be undertaken on the conclusion of the War. A good deal of this work has been put in hand during the last year or two, and in so far as this has not been done already, I trust that local authorities will be encouraged to take advantage of the assistance which may be received from the Unemployment Grants Committee. The Government's contribution towards the relief of unemployment takes the substantial form provided by the Unemployment Insurance Act which is now being extended; large grants for the construction of arterial roads; the assistance which is given, through the Unemployment Grants Committee; alternative work and short time in Government establishments; and the expediting of the lay-out of roads and sewers on approved housing schemes.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a large number of men and women cannot find work and are not entitled to benefit under the Unemployed Workers Act, and is he aware that boards of guardians in many parts of the country are absolutely compelled to give relief in moneys and in kind for the purpose of keeping these people alive? Does he not think that something ought to be done to relieve local authorities of a terrible burden?


The West Ham Guardians have received a reply to their petition that an Exchequer grant should be made in relief of local rates that this cannot be granted.