§ Mr. ARTHUR GREENWOOD
(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether the inquiry into the Regulations made under Part II of the Unemployment Act, 1934, has been completed; and, if so, whether he can now indicate the measures the Government propose to take?
§ The MINISTER of LABOUR (Mr. Ernest Brown)
I have had this matter under anxious and prolonged examination, in consultation with the Unemploy- 2 ment Assistance Board, and our inquiries are not yet completed. As the right hon. Gentleman is well aware, the subject is one of great difficulty and complexity, and in view of the importance of a right decision, not only to the unemployed, but in the whole fabric of our social life, it is essential that before new arrangements are submitted to Parliament for approval they should first be examined thoroughly from every standpoint. In these circumstances, it will not be possible to take any action immediately and I do not anticipate that any alteration can be made in the existing position of the Standstill arrangements before next spring at the earliest.
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman this very plain question, namely, whether it is a fact that after nine months of consideration they have nothing to disclose to the House?
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
The question I asked was one which affected the whole of the Administration of which the right hon. Gentleman is a member. This question was raised in February. Nine months have now elapsed, and are we to take it that during the whole of these nine months no conclusions have been reached?
§ Mr. GREENWOOD
Is it the intention of the Government to make no statement whatever of their intentions before the House expires?
§ Mr. ATTLEE
May I ask the Prime Minister whether this House will be given an opportunity before it is dissolved of discussing the question of the Unemployment Regulations and the provisions made for the unemployed?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Baldwin)
Before I reply to that question I would like to offer, as a fellow sufferer, my warmest congratulations to the right hon. Member for the honour which has been done him by his Party. I will, at the same time, as an old Parliamentary hand, offer him my sympathy in the position that must arise in leading any party on occasions. If it does arise he may be conscious, and, I hope, appreciative of my full sympathy. There is a question on that very point, I understand, later, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be content to await the reply.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN
Is the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Labour aware that the Statute which this Government passed had fixed a time limit for these Regulations to operate; is he aware that the position was altered only temporarily; and, in view of the fact that the Statute does govern it to some extent and he has, practically speaking, all the information at his disposal, why does he not tell the House at least the main outlines of what he intends to do?
§ Mr. MANDER
Would not the simplest course be to abolish the household means test altogether at once?