HC Deb 10 December 1929 vol 233 cc403-6

Section seventeen of the principal Act as amended by Section ten of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1927, shall have effect as though in Sub-section (1) of the said Section ten all the words after 'the excess is payable in at least ten weeks in the year' were omitted.—[Mr. Hayday.]

Brought up, and read the First time.


I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The purpose of this Clause is to remedy an undoubted grievance which has confronted trades unions administering under the Act, more particularly during the past two or three years. Under the Act as it stands a trade union administering must make its payment with every payment it makes on behalf of the State. During a long space of unemployment a member of a union may have run through the union unemployment benefit, which may be 5s. or 7s. a week until exhausted; but under the Act they must continue to make a payment of not less than 6d. per day as long as the person is unemployed. In that way you get a position which we desire to remedy and which will be remedied by this new Clause. When a member has run his unemployment pay through he must have his indirect claim transferred to a direct claim and when the union brings him back into benefit he is retransferred from the Employment Exchange to the union. A deputation waited upon the late Minister of Labour and he certainly expressed sympathy with that point of view, and he certainly does understand and appreciate the difficulty which has grown up. I hope the Government will be able to accept this new Clause, because, if the Clause is carried, so long as it pays a minimum amount of 75s. in at least 10 weeks of the unemployment the union would be permitted to carry on the administration of the State side of the matter and not be compelled to transfer their member to the books of the Exchange.

This proposal saves the transfer from direct to indirect claims. It puts at the disposal of the members the available vacancy-filling machinery of the trade union, and it makes the process readily available in that connection. The trade union first meets the State benefit payment from its own funds, and it can only recover from the State such payments as it makes on behalf of the State; and that is a course which has the approval and sanction of the Minister of Labour, so that we use the trade union funds to meet the State responsibility, and there is a method of settlement which may, of course, be fortnightly or monthly. There is one other small point which which shows that trade union administration is very helpful to the general administration. In 1922 a statement was made that out of 614 convictions, there were only 20 of them through trade union administration, and those 20 were in respect of persons claiming direct.

The number represented by trade union administration was 25 per cent. of the whole of those receiving State benefit under the Unemployment Insurance Act. I am sure that there will be general agreement on this point, which is quite a small matter. It is a point which has the sympathy of the late Minister of Labour, and when we approached him he told us that his difficulty was the law at that time. We now ask that the law shall be varied to permit trade unions to have facilities without transferring to the Exchange and back again to the associations, a practice which makes more work for the Employment Exchanges and loss of contact with the trade union administration.


I have given much thought to this question, and this proposed new Clause seems to be entirely in line with the general sense of the Committee on the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for East Birkenhead (Mr. White). We are doing everything we possibly can to develop responsibility on the part of the organised employers and the organised trade unions in the administration of the Fund. As the points have been so clearly expressed by the hon. Member who moved the Clause, it is unnecessary for me further to explain it, and I am glad to accept it.

Clause added to the Bill.