HC Deb 01 October 1931 vol 257 cc509-12
13. Mr. GOULD

asked the Minister of Labour whether the limit of 26 weeks' unemployment benefit and the means test, as proposed by the Economy Bill, will be applied to disabled ex-service men who have not been able to compete on favourable terms in the labour market?

21. Mr. EDE

asked the Minister of Labour if it is proposed to include income from war pensions, workmen's compensation, light rate compensation, and similar sources among the means which may debar an applicant with 26 weeks' benefit in a benefit year from further benefit; and, in cases where workmen's compensation has been paid as a lump sum, will a computation of its weekly income value be included?


It is contemplated that in considering the case of an applicant for transitional payments, public assistance authorities should take all his circumstances into account in the same manner as they would if they were dealing with an able-bodied applicant for public assistance. The position of men in receipt of disability pensions requiring public assistance was carefully considered by the late Minister of Health and it is laid down in his circular of January, 1930, that where certain classes of income are concerned, such, for example, as disability pensions or blind pensions, the disability in respect of which the pension has been awarded may be such as to call for a greater measure of assistance than would be normally appropriate. I should point out also that disabled ex-service men are eligible for insurance benefit on paying 10 contributions instead of the normal 30, and the reduced contribution qualification normally applying to transitional benefit is in their case abolished altogether. As regards Workmen's Compensation cases, I understand that it is the practice of the public, assistance authorities to treat such cases when they consider it proper on lines similar to those laid down with regard to disability pensions.


Are we to understand that, in regard to men who are partially incapacitated as the result of accident while following their normal occupation, any sums received as compensation will be ignored by the public assistance committee in assessing need?


I would advise the hon. Member to look at the circular issued by the late Minister of Health of which I will send him a copy. So far as I am concerned, I have no intention whatever of interfering with the sympathetic administration which he then laid down.


Is the hon. Gentleman going to take steps to secure uniformity or is he going to leave the matter entirely to the discretion of the public assistance committees? Will he take no action in eases where the public assistance committees are not sympathetic?


In this matter, I am pursuing exactly the policy which was followed by the last Minister of Health.

22. Mr. EGAN

asked the Minister of Labour whether, at the expiration of 26 weeks' benefit, the payment is continued until the public assistance committee's decision is known; and, if so, at what rate?


In the initial stages it is proposed to continue these payments, pending assessment, at the full revised rate of benefit, provided that the claimant satisfies the other conditions which are applicable. Subsequently, arrangements will be made to continue payments in case of emergency for a short period at the appropriate rate in order to allow time for assessment.


What will be the position where a public assistance committee refuses to carry out the regulations?


We shall take every precaution to ensure that the difficulty indicated in the question and the supplementary question is dealt with.

23. Mr. EGAN

asked the Minister of Labour whether, when an unemployed man exhausts the 26 weeks' benefit, his case is referred to the court of referees before being sent to the public assistance committee for assessment?


If in such cases a claim for transitional payment is made and a question arises as to satisfaction of the conditions, other than the needs test, for such payments, this question will be decided by a court of referees. Otherwise there will be no question for a court of referees to decide.


Does that mean that the case will be dealt with by the court of referees before it is passed on to the public assistance committee?


Any question which may arise as to satisfaction of the conditions is clearly a case for the court of referees.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he will arrange for unemployed men and women on transitional benefit to be notified two weeks before it ceases in order that time may be given to make the necessary adjustments of expenditure in the domestic budget?


I have every sympathy with the object of this question and will do my best to carry it out.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that there are many cases of unemployed men on transitional benefit who are at present, and have been for many years, buying their houses by instalments, and who on account of the new proposals as to transitional benefit are anxious to know what their position will be with regard to the means test; and whether he will circularise public assistance committees for their guidance in this matter?


I am aware of the cases referred to. The obligations of such a man whether by way of payment of instalments of purchase price or of rent are taken into account by the public assistance authorities in assessing his needs for purposes of assistance. The same practice will apply in regard to persons in receipt of transitional payments.

Lieut.-Colonel HENEAGE

Has the hon. Gentleman any information showing that men who are on the dole have started purchasing their houses? [Interruption.]

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