HC Deb 23 July 1935 vol 304 cc1645-6
19. Mr. BAILEY

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make representations to the Unemployment Board as to the undesirability of their continuing to make reductions in certain cases in the amount of unemployment assistance being paid to parents whose children are in receipt of free school meals?


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a deduction is made in certain districts from the unemployment allowance to parents if the children receive school meals; and what steps he proposes to take in the matter?


The Board's practice in this matter was summarised in a reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Wavertree (Mr. Cleary) on 3rd July, of which I am sending copies to my hon. Friends. My right hon. Friend is informed by the Board that they are at present considering, in consultation with the Board of Education, whether any modification of their practice is necessary.


Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that this exemption is only given where there is malnutrition, and that only a fortnight ago the Government said that they were considering this matter. Can the hon. and gallant Member say whether we shall have an answer in time to give an opportunity of raising this matter in Parliament before the Recess if the answer is not satisfactory?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

I cannot give any undertaking, but I can say that the matter is being considered as was promised, and is being considered as expeditiously as possible by the two parties principly concerned, the Unemployment Assistance Board and the Board of Education, who are in consultation.


Is the hon. and gallant Member's Department holding an inquiry into this question?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

We are considering it, but we await the result of the consultation between the Unemployment Assistance Board and the Board of Education, who are the two parties principally concerned.


Does the hon. and gallant Member realise the urgency of this matter, because children may be suffering because of delay in coming to a decision?


Is it not the case that in districts where it was the practice of the Poor Law authorities to grant this exemption to children the children are receiving it, whereas in other districts where it was not the practice they are not receiving this exemption. Will the hon. and gallant Member take steps to see that by the end of the summer holidays when the schools resume all children will be placed on an equal footing and will be granted an exemption in this matter?

Lieut.-Colonel MUIRHEAD

The Department, as I have said, is considering the matter in all its aspects, and we propose to pursue the question. I will see that the suggestion of the hon. Member is taken into consideration.


Is it not the fact that the hon. Member who has put down this question voted in the lobby against us?


I beg to give notice that, owing to the unsatisfactory nature of the answer, I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.