HC Deb 15 February 1922 vol 150 cc986-8

asked the Minister of Labour if he will give the latest available figures as regards unemployment, showing the total number registered as unemployed, the total number drawing unemployed benefit, and the total number whose period of benefit has expired and who are still unemployed, respectively; and what provision the Government proposes to make for those whose period of benefit will be exhausted within the next few months?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Dr. Macnamara)

The number of persons registered at the Employment Exchanges as wholly unemployed on 7th February was 1,892,000—a decrease of 42,600 in the last four weeks. On the same date, about 1,794,000 were claiming unemployment benefit. The earliest date at which the current 16 weeks of benefit can be exhausted is 22nd February. The condition of unemployment necessitates the extension of the further six weeks' benefit contemplated in the Act. I have felt it necessary, however, in order to conserve the fund for those in real need of assistance, to issue certain additional instructions in connection with this special extension. If my hon. Friend cares to put down an unstarred question for tomorrow, I will furnish him with a summary of these conditions.


Will the right hon. Gentleman reply to the last part of the question and say what provision will be made beyond that already provided for, namely, the six weeks in addition to the 16 weeks, which only takes us to the end of March? What provision will be made for the period of unemployment beyond March, when these benefits will expire?


I thought my hon. Friend's question had reference to the extension of six weeks. I have announced that that extension will be made, and that is as far as I can go at present.

Colonel Sir C. YATE

Will the extension be made on the full allowances now given, or on less allowances?


On the allowances of 15s. for men and 12s. for women, but, as I have said, with a view to seeing that assistance is given to those in real need of it, I have issued a series of instructions, of which, as I have said, I shall be pleased to give my hon. Friend a summary if he will put a question down to-morrow.


asked the Minister of Labour the number of men, women, boys, and girls in the United Kingdom who were engaged in industry as operatives in January, 1914, and the number then out of employment; and what are the corresponding figures for January, 1922?


I regret that figures of the numbers employed at the dates mentioned are not available, but there is certain allied information which may be of service to my hon. Friend, and I will, if I may, circulate this in the OFFICIAL REPORT, together with such comparison as can be made of the proportions unemployed at the dates named.

The following is the information referred to:

The total number of persons working for employers in industries, professions and services, other than agriculture and domestic service, at January, 1914, is estimated, on the basis of such information as is available, to have been approximately 13,000,000 (8,700,000 men, 1,000,000 boys under 18, 2,500,000 women, 700,000 girls under 18). The figures include salaried employés as well as wage-earners, for whom no separate totals are available. On the basis of inquiries which were made in November, 1920, it appears that, at that date, the corresponding total was somewhere about 13,800,000 (8,800,000 men, 1,100,000 boys, 3,100,000 women, and 800,000 girls). I have no later information.

The only comparable figures of unemployment at the dates mentioned are those supplied by certain trade unions (mainly of skilled workmen) which pay out-of-work benefit and furnish returns. These figures show that 2.5 per cent. of the members of those unions were unemployed at the end of January, 1914, compared with 3.7 per cent. at the end of November, 1920, and 16.5 per cent. at the end of December, 1921.

I would add that the numbers of persons registered at Employment Exchanges in the United Kingdom as wholly unemployed on 7th February, 1922, were as follow:

Men 1,446,974
Women 332,204
Boys 65,467
Girls 47,484