HC Deb 10 March 1926 vol 192 cc2271-5

asked the Minister of Labour the grounds upon which Andrew McCabe, 10, Trent Street, Attercliffe, has been refused benefit; whether, when before the Committee, there was any complaint as to McCabe's conduct; and, if so, what was the nature, of the complaint?


Mr. Albert McCabe's claim to extended benefit was disallowed, on the recommendation of a Rota Committee, on 27th November, on the ground that he was not making reasonable efforts to obtain employment. His claim was again considered on 11th December and the previous recommendation was confirmed. I understand that Mr. McCabe on learning that benefit would not be allowed created a certain amount of disturbance, but this was after the decision had been reached.


asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been drawn to the cases of John Griffiths and T. O. Hughes, both of Penrhyndendraeth, whose claims to un employment insurance benefit have been rejected on the ground that they left their employment voluntarily and without just cause; whether he is aware that the men in question were discharged by their employers because the work on which they were engaged was finished; and whether, in view of this fact, he will take steps to see that the men receive the benefit they are entitled to?


My information is that Hughes was asked by his employers to transfer to another job, but failed to report at the proper time. Benefit was disallowed by the Insurance Officer on the ground stated in the question, and on appeal to the Court of Referees the disallowance of benefit was upheld. I have no power to intervene, but if the hon. Member is aware of any fresh facts which were not before the Court, it would no doubt be possible to obtain a further hearing. As regards the other case referred to in the question, there is more than one man of this name claiming benefit at the local office, and if the hon. Member will let me have further particulars for identification purposes I shall be happy to communicate with him on the matter.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he has received a personal letter from the chairman of the Openshaw employment sub-committee relative to the case of John Bailey, steel moulder, whose claim was granted by the committee and disallowed by his officers, in which letter the chairman stated he was writing at the unanimous request of his committee, they believing that there were many cases similar to that of Bailey's; and what action, if any, he has taken in the matter?


My right hon. Friend has received a letter from the chairman of the sub-committee with regard to this case, and has replied explaining fully why benefit cannot be allowed. The plea on behalf of this claimant is really made on compassionate grounds, which, admittedly, are strong, but my right hon. Friend would be failing in his duty if he allowed benefit to be paid on this ground, where, as in this case, the Statutory requirements are not satisfied.


Is it not a fact that the Minister, when he addressed a meeting in Manchester under the chairmanship of the Lord Mayor, invited the chairmen of local committees to place any cases before him, and will he give consideration to the unanimous finding of the committee, the chairman of which is a representative of a well-known firm of employers?


With reference to my right hon. Friend's speech in Manchester, obviously that question must be addressed to him. With regard to this ease, as I said in the answer, the statutory requirements are not satisfied.


asked the Minister of Labour whether, seeing that the chairman of the Openshaw Employment Committee, replying to the Blanesburgh questionnaire, Section 6 (b), stated that less than 1 per cent. of disallowed applicants for extended benefit afterwards obtained employment, and that they were able to trace over 60 per cent. of those to the Poor Law authorities in the district, he can state if such statistics have been compiled for the country generally; and with what result?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the negative; the second part, therefore, does not arise.

43. Mr. HARDIE

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Martha Curran, 130, Gaingad Hill, became unemployed in April, 1924, and was then paid two weeks' benefit, when she accepted a situation in Stolehill hospital through the Employment Exchange, which situation she kept for nearly two years, and that, on coming back to the Exchange, she was informed that, as she had not been engaged in insurable employment, she had no claim to benefit; and will he investigate this case with a view to making it public that a person in similar circumstances will not be penalised for taking uninsurable employment?


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


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the officially admitted fact that 143 women entitled to extended benefit were refused such benefit from the first moment they applied, and in view of the consequent hardship involved and the fact that owing to non- membership of a trade union these women cannot appeal to the Umpire, he will order a special investigation into all these cases and similar cases at other Exchanges throughout the country?


I assume that the reference is to a statement in a letter from my right hon. Friend to the hon. Member to the effect that during the three months 1st November, 1925, to 30th January, 1926, 142 women claiming standard (not extended) benefit at the Stepney Employment Exchange were disallowed as from the date of the claim on the ground of not genuinely seeking work. These women would have the usual right of appeal to a Court of Referees, and so far as I am aware, the disallowance of benefit has been upheld in practically all cases where they have so appealed. I may add that in consequence of the hon. Member's representations the position at the Stepney Exchange was specially examined, and apart from one or two minor items, which are being corrected, matters were found to be quite in order. In these circumstances I do not think there is any need for a further investigation.


In view of the statement of the hon. Gentleman confirming the figures given in the letter which states that one in eight of the applicants for standard benefit among the women at this Exchange were disallowed from the first moment of their application; prima facie, should we not have an inquiry into the other Exchanges in order to know how many women are being robbed of the benefit for which they have paid?


That is the point raised by my hon. Friend in debate the other day. He will probably agree with me that it is better to deal with the matter in debate to-day than by supplementing question and answer.


As a question of general principle, how is it possible to say that a person is not genuinely seeking employment as from the date of their application when there has been no time to inquire?


That is precisely the point I am going to deal with this afternoon.


asked the Minister of Labour if he will inform the House why Mr. E. Shiers, of 77, Rippoth Road, Bow, has been refused unemployment standard benefit by the Hackney Employment Exchange?


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


asked the Minister of Labour whether he can now state to the House on what evidence the Exchange authorities decided that Mr. A. Danby, of 35, Candy Street, Bow, was not genuinely seeking work; is he aware that when summoned before the committee the main question asked this man was how old he was, and that the investigation lasted only three minutes; and whether, in view of the man's declaration that he has proof of his diligent search for work, he will allow an appeal to the Umpire?


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


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that extended benefit has been refused to Mr. W. H. Dew, of 208, Meadow Head, Sheffield, classification No. 56/2, on the ground that it was not in the public interest to pay him, although this man has worked intermittently ever since his discharge from the Army, is now over 26 years of age, but living with his father, has been genuinely seeking work since his last engagement of five months with Messrs. Arthur Lee and Sons, Wincobank, Sheffield, as a turner and fitter, and is perfectly willing to take any kind of employment offered; if he will state on what grounds it was decided that it was not in the public interest to give this man benefit; and whether he will reconsider this case?


Mr. Dew's claim was disallowed, on the recommendation of the local committee, on the ground that he is a single man who can reasonably look to his relatives for support. The case was subsequently reheard by a committee, and the previous recommendation was confirmed. I am afraid that I can see no reason for varying the decision.


That is how to reduce the number of unemployed!