HC Deb 09 November 1927 vol 210 cc180-2

asked the Minister of Labour if he can state to as convenient a date as possible the number of applications for unemployment benefit, men and women and young people, respectively; the number for extended benefit; the number for standard benefit; the amount spent in benefit during the present year; and the amount of contributions by employers, workmen and State, respectively?


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

holdings cannot at present be satisfied, I can hold out no hope of settling on the land miners without the experience or the means to cultivate a holding with any prospect of success. But where any miner has had previous agricultural experience, and has or can obtain the requisite means, he is entitled to apply to his county council for a holding under the provisions of the Small Holdings Acts. I am afraid, therefore, that I cannot see my way to accede to the hon. Member's request.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have an Empire Settlement Act for the settlement of people on the land overseas, and would he consider the appointment of a committee to see how far it would be possible to extend the Empire Settlement Act for the settlement of workers on the land in this country?


We are doing all that we can to secure the provision of small holdings, but I think it is only fair to agriculturists in this country that they should have the first chance. Further, I think it is much more economical that we should keep to our present methods, and not start a system under which we should not only have to provide small holdings but also working capital, which we do not have to provide now.


Great Britain is certainly part of the British Empire, but the Empire Settlement Act only applies to our Dominions overseas. Could not the right hon. Gentleman see his way to have some inquiry made as to how far that Act could be made applicable to this country, apart from small holdings or training?


It is quite true that the Empire Settlement Act only applies overseas, but we have a corresponding provision in this country in the Small Holdings and Allotments Act, and the two problems must be dealt with on rather different lines.


Does not the suggestion contained in the question go beyond the point even of small holdings, and, in view of the hundreds of thousands of acres of land that are now under water and out of cultivation, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that a thorough examination might very well enable schemes to be devised whereby hundreds of people could be settled on the land?


I take it that the land that is under water would not be of much use until it is drained, and that is rather a matter for the Royal Commission on Land Drainage, which is now sitting.


Is it not the case that land settlement in this country, being carried out by each separate county, is only fit to deal with the normal demand in the counties, and is quite incapable of dealing with an abnormal demand; and will not my right hon. Friend consider, with the other Ministers concerned, whether it is not possible to help unemployed miners by some national scheme definitely applicable to them and not to the normal demand in each county?


It is all a matter of finance. If we had unlimited funds, no doubt it would be desirable to spend in this direction, but we have to choose between possibilities, and we are of opinion that, the funds we can spare for land settlement ought rather to go to those who are working on the land and who are asking for holdings.


The Minister has stated that it is a question of finance. We have just heard from another Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: Order!"] —that it cost £900,000 to send out ships to China. There is no lack of finance to send warships out to China; could not that money be spent with advantage here on our own native land?


That is in the nature of a speech.