HC Deb 22 April 1937 vol 322 cc1887-9
2. Mr. A. Jenkins

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the increase in the cost of living, he will at once take the necessary steps to provide an increase in the rates of unemployment benefit and also take similar action in respect of the rates of assistance as provided under the regulations of the Unemployment Assistance Board?

1. Mr. S. O. Davies

asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the serious and rapid increase in the cost of living, he will consider the advisability of increasing the scales of benefit and allowances for the unemployed and their dependants?

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Brown)

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply I gave to the hon. Members for Doncaster (Mr. Short) and Greenock (Mr. Gibson) on 8th April, of which I am sending them copies.

Mr. Jenkins

Is there to be no increase in the rates of unemployment benefit or unemployment assistance, notwithstanding the fact that there is a substantial increase in the cost of living?

Mr. Brown

I do not consider that circumstances have arisen which justify it.

Mr. Jenkins

Does the Minister take the attitude on this question that there can be no increase in the rates of benefit, regardless of the increase in the cost of living, before the Unemployment Assistance Board presents a report at the end of this year?

Mr. Brown

I have not said that. If the hon. Member will refer to the replies to which I have referred him, he will find that the cost of living, as compared with 1924, is lower.

Mr. Short

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to refer this matter to the Unemployment Assistance Board for consideration, having regard to the increase in the cost of living?

Mr. Brown

Not at the moment.

Sir Percy Harris

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider having an examination of all the figures and getting a report on the whole subject? Is he aware that there is very profound feeling in the country about the increase in the cost of living?

Mr. Brown

That is my normal duty.

Mr. Jenkins

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

4. Mr. Jenkins

asked the Minister of Labour the number of applicants for unemployment assistance in each of the districts of the Unemployment Assistance Board in South Wales and Monmouthshire that will sustain a reduction as a consequence of the operation of the scales of assistance provided by the regulations; and the total weekly amount of the reductions?

Mr. Brown

The question of the adjustments to be made under the Regulations of 1936 has been remitted by the board for consideration by the local advisory committees concerned, and pending the result of their recommendations I am not in a position to give the desired information.

Mr. Jenkins

Can the Minister say at what date the Exchanges will be in a position to give that information?

Mr. Brown

That will depend entirely upon the course taken by the local advisory committees.

5. Mr. E. J. Williams

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that men are sent by the Maesteg Employment Exchange in search of work outside the district at their own expense, and that no allowance is made by the Unemployment Assistance Board to meet this additional charge in assessing the means of destitute persons; and whether steps will be taken to rectify the matter?

Mr. Brown

I understand that the Maesteg Exchange submitted some men for definite vacancies notified at a colliery some 5½ miles away; 48 out of 71 were engaged, the others being regarded as unsuitable. The Unemployment Assistance Board tell me that they cannot make it a general practice to grant allowances to cover travelling expenses in such cases, and I am informed that in future the colliery management concerned will visit the Maesteg Exchange to interview applicants there.

Mr. Williams

Is it not a very pernicious principle that if a man is sent from the Employment Exchange by the authorities in search of work no allowance is made for any expenditure he may have to bear? Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider this matter?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member will realise that he is asking for the alteration of a very wide general principle. I have looked into this particular case and we have done our best to meet the difficulty by seeing that in future the management will attend at the Employment Exchange.

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