HC Deb 21 October 1937 vol 327 cc3-5
2. Mr. Short

asked the Minister of Labour, whether, owing to the increased cost of living, he proposes to amend the regulations to enable the Unemployment Assistance Board to improve the allowances to beneficiaries?

11. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Minister of Labour whether the Unemployment Assistance Board have given further consideration to the necessity of revising the scales and regulations for unemployment assistance determined by them and approved by this House in July, 1936, in view of the increased cost of living; and whether the Board has determined to increase the scale of allowances proportionate to the increased cost of living?

Mr. E. Brown

Any proposals for the amendment of the unemployment assistance regulations must be made in the first instance by the Unemployment Assistance Board. The Board inform me that they have had under consideration the fact that changes in the price of some commodities together with the coming of the winter months may create circumstances which need to be specially taken into account. They have, therefore, decided to make use of their existing powers in order to issue instructions at once which will authorise their officers to deal with any cases of hardship that may arise in these circumstances. I will place a copy of these instructions in the Library as soon as they are issued.

Mr. Griffiths

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has now tacitly admitted that there is a case for consideration, will he impress upon the Board that it should not make any reductions at a time when the cost of living is increasing?

Mr. Brown

I have answered the question and pointed out that the Board are fully alive to the position, and are now taking action.

Mr. Griffiths

In view of the fact that the Board are going to inquire whether action is desirable, is it not essential that they should stop making reductions; and is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that reductions have been made during these weeks?

Mr. Brown

I am aware that the plan outlined to the House 18 months ago is being carried out—and carried out with surprising swiftness and satisfaction throughout the country.

Mr. T. Williams

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman admitted a couple of days ago that the cost of living had increased by approximately 10 per cent., does he not think that there are hard cases and that they ought to be met?

Mr. Brown

It is because the Board understand that there are hard cases that they are taking the action to which I refer in my answer.

Mr. Griffiths

Will the right hon. Gentleman take up with the Board the desirability of stopping the reductions which are now taking place?

Mr. Brown

No, Sir, a plan is being carried out.

Mr. A. Bevan

Is it not the fact that the new circumstances can only be met by revised scales; and should not these scales be submitted to the House?

Mr. Brown

At the moment the Board consider that they can act within their existing powers.

Mr. Bevan

Does not that disqualify the House from considering the circumstances of the case?

Mr. Brown

Not at all.