HC Deb 03 February 1938 vol 331 cc350-1
6. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour when he expects to receive the report of the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee; and whether the House will be given an opportunity of considering the report before he decides his policy?

Mr. E. Brown

Under Section 59 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1935, the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee are bound to report to me before the end of February on the financial condition of the Unemployment Fund as at the end of the preceding December. In accordance with the provisions of that Section I shall lay the report before Parliament, and, if the Committee report that changes in the Unemployment Insurance Scheme are required to balance the income and expenditure of the Unemployment Fund, I shall in accordance with the Act lay before Parliament for approval a Draft Order to make the necessary adjustment.

Mr. Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the fact that in the past the publication of this report has prejudiced the consideration given to it by this House, and will he bear in mind that this House represents the people of the country and not a committee? Will he further bear in mind that there is a huge surplus in the Fund and a great need for an increase in unemployment benefit?

Mr. Brown

I disagree with the hon. Member. So far from prejudicing consideration of the case, the report of the Committee and the evidence in the report have been of great assistance to the House and the country.

Mr. Smith

Does the Minister disagree that there is a great need for an increase in unemployment benefit?

Mr. Brown

We will see what the report says. The hon. Member will remember that as a result of successive changes in the last three Sessions we have made additions to the payments to unemployed persons.

Mr. Kirkwood

As the Minister says that the Committee has been of great service to the House, will he say whether the Committee has recommended any increase of benefit for the unemployed?

Mr. Brown

It recommended one shilling for children, three days off the six days waiting period, additional benefit to those contributors with a good record, and other changes, including one penny off contributions.

Mr. George Griffiths

When the right hon. Gentleman gets this report will he allow it to be discussed by the House, whether he agrees with it or not, before he sends it back to the Committee?

Mr. Brown

That is not for me to decide. It is for me to report to the House whether I agree or disagree with the Committee in its findings, and, if I disagree, to produce to the House alternative proposals of the same financial effect.

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