HC Deb 01 November 1934 vol 293 cc328-30

asked the Minister of Labour whether he can state if the fixing of the dates when Part II of the Unemployment Act comes into operation was made by the Government or his Department; and whether any consideration was given to the expenditure already incurred by industrial areas?


Under Section 63 of the Unemployment Assistance Act, 1934, the appointed days are to be fixed by the Minister of Labour, subject to the consent of the Treasury. The desire of all concerned is to fix them at the earliest practicable date and as already stated it is proposed that they shall be the 7th January and 1st March respectively.


As the Treasury have some say in the fixing of the date will the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration to the large expenditure entailed upon local authorities throughout the country in providing this additional benefit, which should be borne by the Treasury, arid reconsider the matter with them?


A desire to relieve local authorities of expenditure was of course one of the reasons why we were anxious to make the date as early as possible, but the overriding consideration must be the practicability of having the machinery working. We came to the conclusion that the machinery of the Board could not be in operation before the dates which have been provisionally fixed.

58. Miss WARD

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has considered representations from local authorities protesting at the postponement of the appointed day, under Part II of the Unemployment Insurance Act, to next year; and whether it is proposed to make any offer of financial assistance to meet the increased cost to the authorities adversely affected?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that representations are being made by various Scottish municipalities against the decision of the Government to fix 1st March, 1935, as the date upon which Part II of the Unemployment Act, 1934, comes into operation; and whether, in view of the fact that a much earlier date was generally expected, he will consider the question of granting to local authorities financial assistance towards able-bodied unemployed relief equivalent to what they would have received had the appointed day been fixed as from 1st July, 1934?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

I have received a number of representations from local authorities on the subject of the appointed days which, subject to approval by Parliament of the necessary regulations, it is proposed to fix for the purposes of Part II of the Unemployment Act. As regards the second part of each of the questions, I am not in a position to add anything to the answer given on the 18th May last to one of the Members for Dundee (Mr. Dingle Foot), namely, that it is not possible to anticipate the relief which local authorities will receive when the Act is in full operation.


Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to receive a deputation from Scottish local authorities on this matter, and is he aware that that would be regarded as a very friendly gesture on his part and would clear up some unfortunate misunderstandings which have arisen about the fixing of the appointed day?


I think my hon.. Friend had best communicate with me on the subject.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I have received a letter this morning from Dumbarton and Clydebank intimating the fact to me that they are sending a deputation to meet the Chancellor of the Exchequer on this question, and I want to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, here in the House of Commons, if he is prepared to receive that deputation?


Can my right hon. Friend say why people who voted against this Bill are so anxious to have it brought into operation?


If my right hon. Friend accedes to the request of Scotland on a communication being addressed to him, will he also accede to the request of England?


My hon. Friend has pointed out the dangers of acceding to any such request.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in consequence of the delay in bringing the Bill into operation, great hardship has been inflicted on many of the distressed areas, and that, so far as West Ham is concerned, it makes a difference of £28,000?