HC Deb 31 March 1938 vol 333 cc2149-51
1. Mr. Mathers

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that many single men in West Lothian have had their unemployment assistance allowances reduced below the county relief scale of 17s. per week; and whether he will cause that figure at least to be restored and maintained?

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Brown)

I assume that the hon. Member refers to single men living otherwise than as members of households. I am informed by the Board that up to 25th March not more than 10 such applicants in West Lothian had had their allowances reduced from 17s. to 15s. These reductions were made under the statutory Regulations providing for the transition from the Standstill and in accordance with the recommendations of the local advisory committee. It is always open to an aggrieved applicant to exercise his right of appeal to the appeal tribunal, but the matter is not one in which I have any authority to intervene.

Mr. Mathers

Is it not possible for the Minister to indicate that complaints are being made about the county scale—a scale established by a not too wealthy local authority—being broken by the Unemployment Assistance Board?

Mr. Brown

It is a matter for the local advisory committee. If the hon. Member can tell me of any particular case I will take up the matter with the Board.

2. Mr. Mathers

asked the Minister of Labour the number of increases and decreases of unemployment allowances which have been made to persons in West Lothian, including those served by the Edinburgh area office, under the unemployment assistance regulations, dated July, 1936?

Mr. Brown

I regret that separate information relating to applicants living in West Lothian but served by the board's area office at Edinburgh is not available. In the board's administrative area of Bathgate, which covers the greater part of the county, the number of persons whose assessments in December, 1936, when all cases had been reviewed under the new Regulations, were greater than they would have been under Standstill arrangements was about 300. In the same area the number of applicants at the end of January last who were receiving allowances which had been reduced by way of adjustment of the Standstill arrangements otherwise than on account of personal earnings was 123.

7. Mr. Ridley

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that officers of the Unemployment Assistance Board are requiring applicants for allowances to produce documentary evidence that they have sought employment; and under what authority are such officers acting?

Mr. Brown

I am informed by the board that after consideration by a local advisory committee applicants in a few exceptional cases have been asked to show what they were doing to obtain work. These were cases involving consideration of action under Section 40 of the Act which contains provisions with respect to applicants who fail to avail themselves of opportunities for employment.

Mr. Ridley

Is this not a return to the old "genuinely seeking work" provision?

Mr. Brown

Not at all. This is a small type of special case. It was clearly understood by the House when it passed Section 40.

Mr. Kelly

Will the Minister see that this is not proceeded with, in view of the difficulty of obtaining documentary evidence from firms?

9. Mr. Graham White

asked the Minister of Labour the total number of applications to the Unemployment Assistance Board in respect of the waiting period only, and the number of such cases in which allowances were granted?

Mr. Brown

From 1st April, 1937, to 18th March, 1938, the number of applications in respect of the waiting period only was 119,080. In 85,841 cases allowances were granted.