HC Deb 28 March 1934 vol 287 cc1982-4
Major LLOYD GEORGE (by Private Notice)

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will take steps to ensure that an unemployed worker without good prospect of early re-employment who proposes to take up market gardening will not forfeit his right to statutory benefit if he occupies himself while in receipt thereof in the work of preparing and planting the ground which he intends to use for the aforesaid purpose?


The question whether unemployment benefit can be allowed in circumstances such as the hon. and gallant Member describes can only be decided on the facts of a particular case. The decision can only be given by the statutory authorities and not by the Minister. If the hon. Member will let me have details of any case he has in mind, I will do what I can to expedite a decision.


While I shall be very glad to submit to the hon. Gentleman particulars of any case I have in mind, in view of the fact that in many parts of this country there are many people unemployed with very little prospect of employment in the near future and of the impossibility of their starting new enterprises without assistance, will the Minister try to insert some provision in the Unemployment Bill which is now before the House between now and the Report stage, in order to make it possible to aid those people who want to launch out in that way?


If the hon. and gallant Member has any suggestion in mind, he might put down an Amendment and possibly we might be able to discuss it on the Report stage.


Is my hon. Friend aware that while training is going on without pay, unemployment benefit is refused to people who are receiving the training?


It very largely depends upon whether the men are being trained for an uninsurable occupation. The merits of each particular case are subject to decision by the statutory authorities and not by my right hon. Friend.


Could my hon. Friend consider altering the law in this instance, because it is certainly not an incentive to try to get a new job?


Are we to understand that it is part of the policy of the Government to encourage unemployed men to cultivate allotments and smallholdings and, if that is so, does he not think it wise that it should also be part of the Government's policy that the men should not suffer when they are doing so?


My right hon. Friend has taken steps to make it clear that we desire to encourage allotments, but an allotment is a very different thing from a smallholding. On an allotment a man can work during his spare time, but smallholdings are a full-time occupation and are uninsurable. That is the reason why there is a distinction between them.


Are not the arguments for encouraging people to take up full-time occupation stronger than those for part-time occupation, and should not that very important point be considered?