HC Deb 05 December 1928 vol 223 cc1196-9
26. Mr. MALONE

asked the Minister of Labour whether his Department, in the light of experience gained in the past year, is able to define the phrase Genuinely seeking work as applied to unemployed men or women who come up after applying for jobs; and whether he can give any guidance as to whether there are a minimum number of applications per week which a person has to make to avoid being classed Not genuinely seeking work, or whether other considerations, including confidential reports on the man or woman, are taken into consideration?


It is not within my province to endeavour to define or interpret the phrase "genuinely seeking work." The application of the condition to particular cases rests with the statutory authorities who determine claims for unemployment benefit. On the question of confidential reports I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Broad) on 28th November.


May I ask whether there are not hundreds of unemployed men and women suffering great hardships on account of the ambiguity of the interpretation, and will not the right hon. Gentleman make some inquiries in order to see whether some amendment of the law is not required?


That ought not to be the case now. No amendment of the law with regard to geuninely seeking work would remedy the situation. What has been done is to supply those persons who are engaged in interpreting the law with the judgments of the umpire illustrating and defining as far as it is capable of definition the phrase "genuinely seeking work" in order that they may interpret it with increasing uniformity.


In view of the great importance of this subject, will the right hon. Gentleman lay on the Table of the House a copy of the statement to which he has referred?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this test is comparatively easy to apply in industrial areas, but almost impossible to apply in non-industrial areas?


I am glad to learn that it is easy to apply the test in industrial areas—


Will the right hon. Gentleman allow me. I said that it is comparatively easy to apply it in industrial areas, but almost impossible to apply it in non-industrial areas.


The fact is that each case has to be considered on its merits, and in dealing with this subject, either in industrial or non-industrial areas, considerations have to be borne in mind which cannot all be brought within the compass of a definition, but which are illustrated by the cases on which the Umpire has given a decision. I will gladly have copies of these decisions, or the main decisions, laid on the Table of the House or placed in the Library.


Under the Circulars issued, is not the only test to offer a man a job, and see if he takes it?


No, Sir.


Could we know how many inspectors are visiting the houses of the unemployed to see if they are genuinely seeking work?

27. Mr. MALONE

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has issued any instructions to Employment Exchanges in regard to dealing with cases of women Who marry and who have to leave certain factories; and whether, seeing that such persons very often do not get a formal dismissal and therefore voluntarily leave work, and thereby benefit is suspended by the interviewing officers, he will issue instructions to guide local Exchanges in dealing with these cases to ascertain fully the facts before disallowing benefit?


The local Exchanges do not disallow benefit. Their instructions are to interview the women and to refer the cases to the Chief Insurance Officer with a statement of all the relevant facts. If the claim is then disallowed by him, the woman can appeal to the Court of Referees.


Are we to assume from the reading of this question that it is no longer the duty and privilege of a married man to support his wife, and that he should not get married if he cannot support her?

34. Brigadier - General CHARTERIS

asked the Minister of Labour whether he can give in respect of the last quarter, and of the whole period since the transitional conditions for benefit came into force, the number of claims to unemployment benefit made and disallowed, respectively, with corresponding figures for 1924?


This information can be given most conveniently in the form of a tabular statement, which, with my hon. and gallant Friend's permission, I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT. In each of the two sets of periods there was practically no difference in the percentage of disallowance as between 1924 and the present year. In one case it was a fraction larger in 1924, and in the other a fraction larger this year, but in no case was the difference as much as one-half of 1 per cent.

Following is the table:

Period. Number of Fresh and Renewal Claims made. Number of Claims Disallowed. Percentage of Disallowances, Col. 3 to Col. 2.
1. 2. 3. 4.
12th August to 10th November 2,385,394 165,088* 6.9
15th April to 10th November 4,920,002 327,064* 6.6
14th August to 12th November 2,310,269 169,075† 7.3
17th April to 12th November 5,680,839 373,745† 6.6
* Cases disallowed by Insurance Offcer or Local Employment Committee.
† Cases disallowed by Insurance Officer or by Court of Referees on review after receipt of 78 days' benefit in previous six months.