HC Deb 16 December 1925 vol 189 cc1398-404
25. Mr. W. BAKER

asked the Minister of Labour the number of men in the City of Bristol who have applied for extended benefit during each month of this year, together with the number of cases in which benefit has been refused; and in how many cases the claims rejected were those of disabled ex-service men?


As the reply involves a number of figures, I will, with the permission of the hon. Member, circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the statement:

APPLICATIONS from Men for Extended Benefit considered and refused by the Bristol Local Employment Committee in 1925.
Period. Considered. Refused.
13th Jan. to 9th Feb. 3,681 244
10th Feb. to 9th Mar. 3,498 268
10th Mar. to 13th Apr. 4,481 359
14th Apr. to 11th May 3,949 302
12th May to 8th June 3,118 346
9th June to 13th July 4,431 526
14th July to 24th Aug. 4,696 478
25th Aug. to 14th Sept. 2,205 270
15th Sept. to 12th Oct. 3,414 487
13th Oct. to 16th Nov. 4,478 620
Total 37,951 3,900

Separate statistics in respect of disabled ex-service men are not available.

26. Mr. BAKER

also asked the Minister of Labour the number of applicants in the City of Bristol who have been refused benefit during each month of the present year after a Rota committee has recommended that benefit should be granted?


The number of applications for extended benefit which were disallowed after having been recommended by the local Employment Committee at Bristol were as follow:

25th August to 14th September 13
15th September to 12th October 36
13th October to 16th November 46

Statistics on this point were not collected prior to 25th August, 1925. The number of cases recommended for allowance by the Committee during the period was 9,625.

30. Colonel DAY

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware of the dissatisfaction expressed by Employment Exchange rota committees following the rejection by the authorities of claims that have been recommended by the local committees?


I am not aware of any general dissatisfaction. As the Statute places upon the Minister of Labour the responsibility for final decision in these cases, a certain number of rejections is inevitable. The number is very small, being less than one-half of 1 per cent. of the recommendations for the whole country.


Are these rejections personally considered by the Minister or by his subordinates?


That is a matter entirely for my discretion. I go through some of them myself; others are gone through by my subordinates.


How can the right hon. Gentleman exercise his discretion by transferring the responsibility to some one else to exercise theirs?


I can do it perfectly well.


You never see them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] He said himself he did not see them.

36. Captain HOLT

asked the Minister of Labour the total number of persons refused extended benefit at the Stratford and Canning Town Labour Exchanges since the passing of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1925, by virtue of the discretion given to him by that Act?


During the period 25th August to 16th November, 1925, the number of cases in which extended benefit was disallowed under the provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1925, was 232 at Stratford and 246 at Canning Town.


In regard to the latter part of the question, may I ask the Minister what takes places when the Rota committee gives a man extended benefit which is afterwards disallowed by the special committee? How does the right hon. Gentleman use his discretion in a case of that sort? Does he, or someone else, examine these cases?


That does not arise on the question.


On the latter part, Sir, which did not appear to be answered?


asked the Minister of Labour how many persons have been refused unemployment benefit during the last three months; how many of them have since secured employment; how many are still on the live register; and how many have ceased to register, though not known to have secured employment?


During the period 10th August to 16th November, 1925, the number of applications for extended benefit disallowed by local employment committees in Great Britain was 175,396, and during the three months ended 31st October, 141,706 applications for benefit were disallowed by the Chief Insurance Officer. These figures do not necessarily relate to different individuals. At 16th November, 74,558 persons who had been disallowed benefit were maintaining registration at Employment Exchanges, but I cannot say how many of these had been disallowed benefit in the previous three months. I am also unable to state how many of those disallowed benefit have secured employment or have ceased to register.


In view of the discrepancy of these figures will the right hon. Gentleman consider consulting the Poor Law authorities so as to make his figures comprehensive, thus enabling him to give how many people that are receiving Poor Law relief through unemployment are not so unemployed according to the Ministry of Labour?


As a matter of fact, I am going into that very point myself at this moment. The figures are on a quite different basis at the present time. The Poor Law figures do not give the heads of families, but the whole number of the persons relieved. The matter will need a lot of consideration to see how far you can combine the total so as really to represent the case free from controversy.


Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that a number of Poor Law unions have available now, and publish, figures of relief?


Is it not the fact that a large number of people receiving relief are also registered as unemployed at the Exchanges?


Sometimes that is the case, but it is not 100 per cent. one way or the other.

Colonel DAY

Will the Minister lay before the House the information he obtains as to the difference in numbers?


If I can get any reliable information such as I would use myself, I shall certainly give it to the House.

41 and 43. Mr. GROVES

asked the Minister of Labour (1) if he will investigate the circumstances attending the refusal of unemployment benefit to E. F. Bread street, 5, Weddin Street, E.15, on the ground that benefit would not be expedient in the public interest; whether he is informed that the father of this lad is a woodworker with wages of £3 a week, and that the committee considered that the lad could reasonably look to his father for support; and whether he will have such case reviewed;

(2) If he is aware that Mr. C. A. Berger, 137, Major Road, Stratford, No. 56,528, has been regularly and continuously employed as a railway worker for the past 40 years, has contributed to the National Unemployment Insurance Act since its inception, and has now been compelled to retire from the service of the London and North Eastern Railway Company owing to the operation of the 65 years of age limit; whether, notwithstanding this man's career as a genuine workman, he has been refused benefit by the insurance officer on the grounds that he is not genuinely seeking work; and whether such decision will be reconsidered?


I am having inquiries made into these cases and will let the hon. Member know the result as soon as possible.

59. Mr. BARR

asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been called to the position of the on-cost workers at the Parkhead Colliery of the Glasgow Iron and Steel Company, where the miners were on strike from the 27th August to the 28th October last; whether he is aware that these men were not allowed to ballot on the ground that the question concerned the miners alone; that the manager of the mine notified the Employment Exchange that they were taking no part in the dispute; that the Court of Referees granted the men's claim for benefit, but that it was disallowed by the divisional insurance officer and by the umpire; whether he will give favourable consideration to the claim of these men; and what steps he proposes to take in this matter?


My attention has been called to the cases in question. The hon. Member will be aware that I have no power under the Acts to interfere in cases decided by the umpire and, as the claims have been disallowed by him, benefit cannot be paid to the claimants in question.


Does the Prime Minister not think it is a great hardship that these men, who are compelled to remain neutral in a strike, should have no benefit whatever?


I cannot criticise, and I do not pretend to criticise, a decision of the umpire, but if there are new facts with regard to it brought forward then no doubt the umpire will reconsider the matter. As regards the men being obliged to remain neutral, no doubt it was or might have been within the knowledge of the parties to the strike that they would be affected so that the right of the ballot might have been extended to them. Of course that is a question for them to consider.


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the fact that over 800 applicants at Middlesbrough have been refused extended benefit within the three months ending 16th November by the local employment committee solely on the ground that the applicants had not had a reasonable period of employment during the previous two years, he will consider the relaxation of this Regulation in areas where acute trade depression has existed for a longer period than two years?


The condition referred to is a statutory Rule and I have no power to relax it. There is, however, no reason to suppose that the local employment committee at Middlesbrough are not fully cognisant of, or do not give due consideration to, the unfavourable trade conditions existing in their area.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Rota committees are giving as an explanation of these men being refused benefit the fact that they are having to work this Regulation, and cannot take this fact into consideration because they are not fully aware of it.


I think they have power to consider all the circumstances of the case. As a matter of fact, the ratio of the cases turned down is now the same within a fraction for Middlesbrough as for the whole country. So also is the ratio of cases allowed. As the applications in Middlesbrough are far more numerous than in the rest of the country, it follows that allowance is made for the depressed state of trade there.


Will the right hon. Gentleman be prepared to inform the rota committees at Middlesbrough that they can take these circumstances into consideration, and that therefore they are not rigidy bound to enforce these Regulations?


Certainly I will inform them, but they must take into consideration all the relevant circumstances.

Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT

Would it not be simpler and more effective to safeguard the industries of Middlesbrough?

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