§ 31. Mr. RHYS DAVIES
asked the Minister of Health whether if the Bolton Board of Guardians decline relief, inside or outside an institution, to an able-bodied destitute locked-out miner, he will prevent them splitting up the family by admitting the man's wife and children only to an institution?
In the case of a miner the guardians must comply with the law as laid down by the Merthyr Tydvil judgment and it is not open to me to give instructions which would lead to a contravention of the law.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Does the right hon. Gentleman know that yesterday the Bolton Board of Guardians decided to continue their policy, and that one of their chief reasons was that they could not alter their decision until six months has elapsed since their last decision?
§ 32. Mr. DAVIES
asked the Minister of Health what provision has recently been made by the Bolton Board of Guardians for the reception and maintenance of the destitute in their institutions; what number of cases can be so dealt with; whether it is intended to transfer any such persons to institutions outside their own area; and to what areas they may be transferred?
I am informed that the guardians believe that they have made provision for the anticipated admission to their institutions of all the wives and children of miners who are in need of such assistance as a consequence of the dispute. They have not decided to transfer any of these wives and children to institutions outside the area of the union, nor has such a transfer been under consideration.
§ Mr. DAVIES
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that obviously there were difficulties in connection with the practice of boards of guardians in these cases, and in view of the fact that this board of guardians has decided to continue its policy on the ground that they cannot alter their decision until six months have elapsed, will the right hon. Gentleman communicate with them?
§ 33. Mr. GREENALL
asked the Minister of Health how many miners' wives and children have asked for relief from the Bolton Board of Guardians since their decision to grant institutional relief only, how many have accepted the new conditions; and how many have refused?
I am informed that the number of miners' wives and children who have asked for relief since the decision of the guardians to grant institutional relief only is 172 women and 443 children. Five wives and 14 children have accepted such relief, and the remainder have not made use of the admission orders issued to them.
§ Mr. GREENALL
Is the Minister of Health aware that as a result of the decision of the Bolton Board of Guardians there are children starving to-day in that area?
§ 35. Mr. GREENALL
asked the Minister of Health whether, in the event of the Bolton Board of Guardians forcing persons to accept shelter when they are not destitute of shelter as a condition of granting relief in kind in necessitous cases, he will call the attention of his auditors to the possibility of the expenditure of ratepayers' money on shelter which is not asked for?
It is open to any ratepayer to attend an audit of the guardians' accounts and object to any expenditure which he may consider unnecessary or unlawful. It does not seem to me, as at present advised, that an3 intervention on my part is necessary.
37. Mr. GREENWOOD
asked the Minister of Health whether he will state 2303 the scale of out-relief decided upon by the Lichfield Board of Guardians at its meeting on Friday, 23rd July?
The scale is as follows: wife 2s. 6d., wife and one child 3s. 6d., wife and two children 5s., wife and three children 6s., wife and four and five children 7s. 6d., wife and six children or over 8s. 6d. I understand that extra relief will be given by the relieving officers in any special case and that provision will be made for the feeding of expectant and nursing mothers.
Does the right bon. Gentleman regard that scale as adequate, and does he think the guardians are carrying out their duties under the law with regard to that scale?
It is obvious that the scale is very low, as compared with the scale in force in many districts, but what I have done is to instruct my inspectors to keep a very special watch on the situation in this area and keep me constantly informed of what is going on there.
Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the scale now works out at less than it would have done if the original resolution had been carried and that if no outdoor relief were to be given to families as such there would, according to the decision of the hoard be 2s. 6d. for each child which would really be worse?
I think it is obvious from the answer I have given that it is not intended that the scale should be rigidly adhered to, but in any case the adoption of the scale would not alter the position as regards relieving officers or relieve them from any responsibility.
§ Mr. T. WILLIAMS
Did the right hon. Gentleman not, in Circular 703, which has been sent to all boards of guardians, suggest a scale of 12s. for the wife and 4s. for each child? Since the Lichfield Guardians have gone hopelessly below that scale, will the right hon. Gentleman make similar representations to them as he does to any guardians who exceed the payments he recommends?
It is quite true that I did suggest a scale in the Circular 2304 referred to, but it was intended as a guide, and could not be considered as a definite instruction that the scale was to be applied in all cases. In a good many cases the guardians are relieving people on a higher scale than that mentioned in the Circular, and one must leave a certain amount of discretion.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that in certain cases where the guardians have exceeded the payments recommended in Circular 703, one of the Department's inspectors was sent along and, as a result of that interview, the payments were reduced immediately? Does he not think that an inspector should be sent to the Lichfield Guardians to tell them what is their obvious and plain duty to these people?
I have given my inspectors special instructions to watch the situation there, and I shall certainly take care that no injury is inflicted upon the people of that district.
In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman admits the lowness of the scale at Lichfield, what action does he propose to take if he satisfies himself on the matter?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think we can pursue this matter any further now. We have given a long time to it.
§ 42. Mr. GRIFFITHS
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the scale of relief granted by the Pontypool Board of Guardians is adults 10s. per week and children 4s. per week, with a maximum of 30s. per week, with no rent, no boots and no fuel allowance; whether he is aware that the guardians have decided to reduce these allowances by 25 per cent. in the forthcoming week: and whether this scale has received his sanction?
The reply to the first and second parts of the question is in the affirmative. No sanction on my part is required or has been asked for by the guardians.
§ Mr. GRIFFITHS
Is the Minister aware that the 25 per cent. is to be put into operation this week, 50 per cent. the second week, 75 per cent. the third week and it is to be wiped out in the fourth week, and that it is only to apply, accord- 2305 ing to the Circular, to the strikers in that Division; will the right hon. Gentleman see to it that the people who are locked out will receive the same treatment as other people; and will he give this Board power to apply for loans?
As far as the first question is concerned, the position of people who are on strike is not the same as that of people who are not on strike. It is governed by the Merthyr Tydvil judgment, and I have no power to interfere in that matter. With regard to the second question, it does not arise out, of the question on the Paper.
§ Brigadier-General Sir HENRY CROFT
Is not this misery self-inflicted, and is not the burden on the rest of the population large enough?
§ 49. Sir H. BRITTAIN
asked the Minister of Health whether he has received particulars of any cases of starvation arising directly out of the coal stoppage from the municipal authorities of Cardiff, Durham, Newcastle or Newport?
§ Sir H. BRITTAIN
Is it not the fact that. no distress fund has been formed in any of these great cities?
§ 53. Mr. T. WILLIAMS
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that 700 women from two mining villages recently applied at the offices of the Thorne Guardians for boots for 1,000 children and were informed that the guardians had no power to supply the boots; and whether, in view of the fact that the guardians have power under the Poor Law Acts to supply boots as relief in kind to destitute children, he will communicate with the Thorne Guardians on this matter?
My attention has not previously been called to this incident, but I will make inquiries.