HC Deb 11 March 1937 vol 321 cc1306-7
3. Mr. C. Wilson

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that John Jamieson, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, was sent by the Middlesbrough Employment Exchange to work at Birmingham as a riveter; that when 15s. 8d. was due to him for wages the firm stopped 12s. rod for railway fare, and that, being unable to pay for lodgings, he was arrested without a warrant and in prison for eight days, when he was acquitted on a charge of fraud; and whether it is with the approval of his Department that firms should act as collecting agents for Employment Exchanges, and the full amount of the railway fare be deducted in one sum?

Mr. E. Brown

Mr. Jamieson obtained this engagement by direct application to the firm. Part of his railway fare was paid by the Employment Exchange and the remainder, amounting to 12s. 10d., advanced subject to the usual undertaking as to repayment by deduction from his wages. After one and a half days he was found unsuitable for the work for which he was engaged: he agreed to accept other work offered by the firm but did not present himself for it. The police proceedings were taken, I understand, at the instigation of his landlady with whom he had stayed for about 10 days without informing her that he had lost his job and was unable to pay for his board and lodging. The deduction of the balance of the fare from earnings in one sum is in accordance with the express terms of the undertaking signed by Mr. Jamieson. If he had communicated with the Exchange consideration would have been given to any good reason he could have shown for having a smaller deduction made but he did not do so, and, having regard to the facts reported to me, I doubt very much whether I should have been justified in authorising such a course.

Mr. Wilson

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the magistrate's comments as to the undesirable way in which he has been treated?

Mr. Brown

I have seen them. The magistrate is entitled to comment on the facts presented to him, but he made some general observations which do not carry the same weight.

Mr. Kelly

Are we to understand that the Department takes no responsibility for sending a man for a situation for which he is not fitted?

Mr. Brown

This man, as I have said, sought and found this post for himself, and on application to the Exchange received help to get to it as is the usual Exchange practice.