HC Deb 13 May 1925 vol 183 cc1835-8

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the suffering among the women fish workers at Buckle as a result of the refusal of benefit that the typical cases submitted to the chief referee resulted in a decision that the women were entitled to benefit; and that the Edinburgh office interpreted the referee's decision in a sense hostile to the women: if he has received protests from the employers on the Buckie rota committee: and what steps he proposes to take


I have received a number of representations on this subject from different bodies, including the Buckie rota committee. There appears to be some misapprehension. In the answer given to the hon. Member on the 25th February the rule regarding extended benefit was explained, and the rule regarding standard benefit was explained on Wednesday last in my reply to the right hon. Member for Ross arid Cromarty. The cases which were referred to the Chief Insurance Officer were claims for standard benefit, and the decision that standard benefit could he paid in respect of unemployment during the ordinary season does not necessarily apply to extended benefit, the conditions for the receipt of which are different. What the Edinburgh office did was w make clear for the guidance of the local office the distinction between the rule as to standard and the rule as to extended benefit


Can the right hon. Gentleman explain how he can say that the Edinburgh office made it clear to the authorities at Buckie when as a matter of fact the authorities at Buckie protested against their treatment by the Edinburgh office?


I am not quite clear as to what the hon. Member means. The Edinburgh office tried to make clear the difference between the standard and the extended benefit in this connection. I am not sure what the hon. Member wishes to imply. A complaint was made to me as to the distinction which was attempted to be shown


Is it not the case that the chief referee decided in favour of these girls, but the Edinburgh office virtually decided against them, and as a result the Buckie fish worker women are riot getting any benefit?


How can the right hon. Gentleman justify these people paving contributions for unemployment benefit, and telling them at the same time that they cannot get any benefit in almost every case?


Is it not a fact that under the last Unemployment Insurance Act, where the local or chief insurance office disagrees with a decision of the court of referees, it must, according to the terms of the Act, be referred to the umpire? Will the right hon. Gentleman see if there is still any doubt as regards these Buckie fish worker girls and will he refer it to he decided by the umpire?


Perhaps after the different supplementary questions which have been put to me, the hon. Member will confer with me in order to try to clear up the situation. It is not merely a question of a decision of the Court of Referees being sent to the umpire; that is a question of extended benefit. When it comes to standard benefit, the procedure is different. It is because there has been some misapprehension between standard benefit and extended benefit that I think the present misunderstanding has occurred. The whole position is extremely complicated as regards seasonal workers, and it is because of this complication that the misunderstanding has arisen. I am afraid it is not possible to go into greater detail or to argue the case in reply to a question


This is a case for a private interview