HC Deb 11 March 1925 vol 181 cc1302-7
23. Colonel DAY

asked the Minister of Labour the reason for the special inquiries that are being made regarding the ages of all elderly persons registered at the Walworth Road Employment Exchange; and is this inquiry with a view to the withdrawal of benefit from all those persons who may be over 60 years of age?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Sir Arthur-Steel-Maitland)

I have looked into the, matter and cannot find that any special inquiries regarding the ages of elderly persons registered at the Borough Employment Exchange in Walworth Road are being made. Perhaps the hon. and gallant Member will let me know afterwards to what he refers, and then I can make further inquiries.

25. Mr. T. THOMSON

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that if the provision of the Unemployment Insurance (No. 2) Act of 1924, which requires 30 contributions since the beginning of the last insurance year but one, comes into force on 1st October next, it will disqualify from benefit a large percentage of the unemployed in those districts, such as Middlesbrough, where unemployment has been abnormally large for the last four years; and, as this will involve a heavy burden on the poor rates for the maintenance of those so deprived of benefit, will he take steps to bring in an amending Bill to def(r the application of the provision in certain cases?


As I stated in the Debate on Monday, the question whether it will he necessary to propose amending legislation on this point depends on the course of industry and employment in the coming months: I cannot say more than this at present.


In the meantime, will the right hon. Gentleman he good enough to consult with these local authorities—not merely his own officials, but the boards of guardians in these districts?


I will certainly take opinions generally with regard to any course that may be adopted, hut, in the end. I must take the decision myself.


Do not forget West Ham.


Has the right hon. Gentleman received resolutions on this matter from various boards of guardians?


I have already stated that I have.


asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that men are being deprived of unemployment benefit in the Borough of St. Marylebone, and elsewhere, by a committee of one, contrary to the provisions laid down in the Unemployment Insurance Act: and, if so. will he cause inquiries to be made with a view to preventing further occurrences of this nature?


The rule for the composition of Rota Committees provides that two persons shall form a quorum, but that, if two members are unable to be present at the hearing, the case should be dealt with by the remaining member, and his recommendation should be submitted for confirmation to a fully-constituted sub-committee. This practice has been followed at the Edgware Road Employment Exchange, and I am given to understand that on only a few occasions has it been necessary for claims to be considered by a single member of the committee in the first instance.


Were these cases confirmed later on?


If the hon. Member will give me notice of any particular cases, I will always have them inquired into.


Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange that when such one-man decisions are given, if they are against the applicant, they shall be considered again by an ordinary committee?


That is exactly what I have said.


Does the right hon. Gentleman really consider this is a satisfactory method of dealing with applicants, to have applications heard by only one member of the committee, and does be not realise that, even if a decision of one member is reported to others, it must necessarily influence their judgment, with the result that the final decision is not really judicial?


The hon. and gallant Member is arguing the point.


asked the Minister of Labour the total number of persons in receipt of unemployment benefit who have been disallowed since and through the new Regulation issued by him?


The number of applicants for unemployment, benefit in Great Britain whose claims have been disallowed because of failure to satisfy the contribution conditions for waiver of the first statutory condition is in round numbers, 11,000.

34. Mr. TAYLOR

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has received a resolution from the Lincoln Board of Guardians asking him to suspend the recent Regulation with regard to unemployed insurance and whether, seeing that the with drawal of unemployment benefit places an additional burden on the ratepayers in industrial towns where there is a large volume of unemployment, he will take action to ensure that no additional restrictions shall be placed on the issue of unemployment insurance to unemployed workpeople?


I have received the resolution in question. As regards Lincoln in particular, I would point out that the number disqualified under the new rule is 26. On the question generally. I would refer the hon. Member to what was said in last Monday's Debate on this subject.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the attitude of the Employment Exchanges is not only forcing them on to the Poor Law, but penalising the most thrifty section of the population, because a man has to become a pauper before he can get any Poor Law relief?


No. I must not be taken as accepting that conclusion.


asked the Minister of Labour whether there is any process of headquarters investigation being frequently carried out in order to eliminate the undeserving, from the benefit of unemployment pay, especially amongst the younger recipients?


Under the normal machinery for the administration of unemployment benefit, investigation is made each week by inquiries of employers, etc., into the title to benefit of a certain proportion of the claimants in receipt of benefit, and at each Employment Exchange there is an officer or officers specially assigned to this duty. There are also standing arrangements for the review of authorisations of claims by officers from divisional offices. In addition, special investigations arc made from time to time in selected areas as to the title to benefit of all the claimants to benefit in that area. These investigation are conducted on instructions from headquarters by local staff under the directions of the divisional controller in charge of the area concerned. It is not the practice to employ headquarters officers on these investigations.


asked the Minister of Labour how many applicants for extended benefit during the period 1st August, 1924, to 8th March, 1923, have had their claims rejected on the following grounds: not normally insurable and not seeking to obtain a livelihood by means of insurable employment, insurable employment not likely to be available, not a reasonable period of insurable employment during the preceding two years, etc., not making every reasonable effort to obtain suitable employment, and not willing to accept suitable employment; and will he give the figures separately for London, Glasgow, Manchester, Sheffield and Middlesbrough?


As the reply is in the form of a tabular statement, I will, with the hon. Member's permission, circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

May I take this opportunity of pointing out to Members that, while I am very anxious to supply them with any information in my power, the compilation of some statistics takes a very large amount of time on the part of many of the skilled members of the staff of the Department, and I would therefore beg hon. Members to hear this consideration in mind in asking for figures which involve extraction from a number of different sources.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will give us the totals for the towns, in view of the statements which are being continually made as to the number of men who have been knocked off? Certain figures were publicly stated the other night. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech!"] I do not want to make a speech, but I want to get the information now.


The rejections under the recent Circular were not asked for by the hon. Member in his question. I am extracting the figures I now give from the answer which will be circulated. The totals as regards the different towns are, London, 53,909; Glasgow, 11,745; Manchester, 6,145; Sheffield, 5,807; Middlesbrough, 1,272;

FIGURES in respect of the month ended 8th March are not yet available in summary form, but the figures in respect of the period 1st August, 1924, to 9th February, 1925, are as follows:
Reasons for rejection. Applications for Extended Unemployment Benefit rejected by Local Employment Committees.
London Glasgow. Manchester. Sheffield. Middlesbrough. Great Britain
Not normally insurable and not seeking to obtain a livelihood by means of insurable employment. 4,371 2,382 558 695 145 28,599
Insurable employment not likely to be available. 1,379 438 25 344 96 8,338
Not a reasonable period of insurable employment during the preceding two years. 19,545 3,218 1,082 1,772 322 170,070
Not making every reasonable effort to obtain suitable employment or not willing to accept suitable employment. 11,702 2,848 1,764 861 709 58,564
Other reasons (failure to attend hearing, etc.). 19,912 2,859 2,716 2,135 57,552
Total rejections 53,909 11,745 6,145 5,807 1,272 223,123
Some of those entered under the last heading ("Failure to attend hearing etc.") may have had their claims allowed at a subsequent hearing, and the total number of final rejections is therefore somewhat less than that given in the Table.; precise figures on this point are not available.