HC Deb 17 March 1938 vol 333 cc561-4
1. Mr. Tomlinson

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a firm of building contractors erecting a works at Blackburn, Lancashire, are recruiting labour through the Bolton Employment Exchange, 16 miles away; and will he take steps to ensure that, when men are sent from Bolton to Blackburn and are not taken on, the Unemployment Assistance Board will make good the expenses incurred in following the instructions of the Employment Exchange?

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Brown)

No, Sir. The firm in question has engaged a large number of workpeople through the Blackburn Employment Exchange, and these include two men from Bolton. Two other men travelled from Bolton with a view to employment with the firm but were not engaged. I understand that the Unemployment Assistance Board cannot make it a general practice to grant allowances to cover travelling expenses in such cases. The travelling expenses of one of the two men who were not engaged have, however, been defrayed by the firm; the second man applied to the Bolton Exchange for employment on the contract and proceeded for interview after it had been explained to him that he would have to meet his own travelling expenses.

Mr. Tomlinson

Is the Minister aware that this man was sent from Bolton to Blackburn at a cost of 1s. 6d. to himself; and does he not think that, when a man is put to that expense without receiving a job, somebody ought to make good the deficiency?

Mr. Brown

That is not my information. My information is that this was explained to him and that he proceeded at his own risk.

Mr. Tomlinson

If I send the name and address of the individual, will the Minister inquire into the case?

Mr. Brown

I shall be glad to see if it is the same case.

Mr. Tinker

Will the right hon. Gentleman give definite instructions to the Employment Exchanges as to what should be done in these cases?

Mr. Brown

They know quite well what should be done. This was quite clearly a case of recruiting workers through the Blackburn Exchange and these men came from Bolton.

Mr. Tomlinson

Is it not a fact that, in the majority of cases, the firms pay the money? This man was under that impression.

Mr. Brown

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will let me have the facts.

2. Mr. Walker

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the Motherwell Town Council has introduced a scheme of rent rebates on municipal houses, whereby unemployed and low-paid workers with large families get assistance with their rents, and that the Unemployment Assistance Board has intimated to the council that, in respect of unemployed workers coming within the jurisdiction of the Unemployment Assistance Board, they will apply the means test in respect of rent rebates and deduct from the amounts given to the unemployed the full value of the rent rebates; whether this action of the Unemployment Assistance Board has his approval; and under what authority these deductions have been made?

Mr. Brown

The action of the Unemployment Assistance Board is in accordance with the Unemployment Assistance Regulations and does not require my approval. I am informed that the rent rebates are in general so adjusted as not to lead to any reduction in the unemployment allowance on account of low rent; in a few of the earlier cases in which this is not so the rebates are being readjusted. In certain cases in which an increased allowance had been given owing to exceptionally high rent, this increase has been cancelled owing to a rent rebate, but in general the reduction in the allowance in such cases has been less than the rent rebate.

8. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Minister of Labour under what statutory provision the Unemployment Assistance Board have decided that persons who have left a household and secured accommodation elsewhere are still members of their previous household, and that their earnings are deemed to be part of the resources of that household without any evidence that any of those earnings are available for the household?

Mr. Brown

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on this subject on 24th February to the hon. Member for Chester-le-Street (Mr. J. Lawson).

Mr. Griffiths

I have referred to that reply and it does not deal with my question, namely, under what power did the Board arrive at this decision?

Mr. Brown

I cannot agree that the answer does not deal with that, and if the hon. Member looks at it again I think he will see that the original question and four supplementary questions were answered fully.

Mr. George Griffiths

Under what statutory legislation has the Board power to say that a man who is not living at home has to contribute?

Mr. Brown

If the hon. Member looks at the previous answer he will see that I referred to Section 38, Sub-section (3) of the Act of 1934.

16. Mr. Whiteley

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is prepared to make arrangements for the child's allowance to be paid in the case of a widower who has to engage a housekeeper with one child?

Mr. Brown

No, Sir. I cannot undertake to propose such an amendment of the law.

Mr. Buchanan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this and similar hardship in regard to housekeepers fall heavily on people who are unemployed, and will he undertake to examine this question so as to rectify what is a serious injustice?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member has brought some particular cases to my notice which I am having looked into, but it all depends on the relation of the applicant to the housekeeper.

19. Mr. Pearson

asked the Minister of Labour how many unemployed men over 21 years of age have unemployment assistance allowances of 12s. 6d. per week or less in the area covered by the Pontypridd Employment Exchanges and its branches?

Mr. Brown

I regret that this information is not available.

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