HC Deb 27 November 1934 vol 295 cc674-5
58. Mr. LECKIE

asked the Minister of Labour whether the pre-War unemployment figures, for instance, of the year 1913 are fairly comparable with the post-War figures of 1934, for example; and, if not, wherein the comparison is defective?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Mr. Oliver Stanley)

As the reply is necessarily long, I propose, with the hon. Member's permission to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Following is the reply:

Before the War, unemployment statistics were compiled only in respect of (a) the members of certain trade unions, with a total membership of less than one million, and (b) manual workers in six selected industries to which the provisions of Part II of the National Insurance Act of 1911 applied. The statistics of unemployment among members of trade unions have since been discontinued. On the other hand, as a result of the wide extension of unemployment insurance, statistics are now available in respect of nearly 13 million insured persons, aged 16 to 64, including the great majority of non-manual workers as well as manual workers generally, in all industries except agriculture and private domestic service. The current statistics also include large numbers of workpeople temporarily suspended from work, many of whom would not have been counted as unemployed in the pre-War figures. In view of these disparities in the scope and character of the available data, any inferences which may be drawn from comparisons between the figures for 1913 and those for 1934 are necessarily subject to important qualifications. While the marked rise, between 1913 and 1934, in the percentages of unemployment shown by these figures is certainly indicative of a large increase in the total volume of unemployment, it should not be assumed that the amount of that increase is accurately measured by the differences between these percentages.