HC Deb 28 April 1938 vol 335 cc279-80
8. Mr. Kirby

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that many local authorities, as represented by the distressed areas conference, complain that they are still bearing heavy financial burdens in the maintenance of able-bodied unemployed whom they consider should be maintained from State funds; and is he prepared to meet a deputation representing such local authorities at an early date to discuss this complaint, which has been the subject of correspondence between himself and the clerk to the distressed areas conference?

Mr. E. Brown

I stated in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Stratford (Mr. Groves) on 17th June that I knew of no ground for suggesting that the qualifications laid down in the Unemployment Assistance Act with regard to the scope of unemployment assistance require amendment, or that the provisions for their application, particularly if the provision for appeal is fully exercised, are not such as fully to safeguard the position of local authorities. This remains the case, and in these circumstances, there appears to me to be no advantage in receiving the deputation which the hon. Member suggests.

Mr. Kirby

Is the Minister not aware that the local authorities concerned are still very much dissatisfied with the situation, and that they met at this House as recently as this morning and repeated that dissatisfaction, being particularly dissatisfied with the letter of 1st December in reply to representations which they made last year; and in the circumstances will the Minister be surprised if they approach either the Chancellor of the Exchequer or the Prime Minister in regard to this matter?

Mr. Brown

I have had a letter from the committee for the distressed areas, from the Town Clerk of Liverpool, to which I sent a reply to-day.

Mr. Lawson

Will the Minister explain why it is that there are still able-bodied unemployed on the rates when the claim was insistently made during the passage of the Act of 1934 that he was going to take all the unemployed off the rates?

Mr. Brown

That is a misunderstanding on the part of the hon. Member. It was made clear to the House that those to be taken over would be those who came within the definition under the Act, which does not tally wtih the hon. Member's statement.

12. Mr. R. Gibson

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has taken any steps regarding the unemployed Army reservists at Greenock who recently had their weekly payments from the Unemployment Assistance Board reduced by 2s. as their pension of 7s. was not taken into account in assessing the weekly payment prior to 10th March, whereas only 5s. of the said pension instead of the whole 7s. was thereafter allowed before arriving at the weekly payment; and whether he has any statement to make on the subject?

Mr. E. Brown

I have made inquiries, and am informed that the recent adjustments in these cases were made under the regulations as part of the transition from the "Standstill." I have no authority to intervene.

Mr. Gibson

Do I understand that the diminution of 2s. a week has taken place from the date mentioned and is continuing?

Mr. Brown