HC Deb 12 May 1938 vol 335 cc1681-4
5. Mr. G. Hall

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the resentment among unemployed Army reservists receiving allowances from the Unemployment Assistance Board whose allowances have been reduced for the reason that they are in receipt of Army Reserve pay; and will he take steps to stop this practice?

Mr. E. Brown

The Board's current practice is to disregard the reserve pay amounting to 5s. 3d. a week which Army reservists receive who enlisted after 30th September, 1931. Of the reserve pay of 7s. a week which reservists who enlisted before that date receive, only the equivalent of 2s. a week is taken into account. Moreover, the additional 6d. per day paid to Section A reservists is now also entirely disregarded. This practice, which was recently settled in full consultation with the Service Department concerned, gives treatment substantially more favourable than that provided for in the Board's previous rules. The necessity for adjustments in some of these cases recently, notwithstanding the generous practice now in force, arose out of an anomalous position created by the Standstill in certain places. The adjustments were made under the regulations as a part of transition from the Standstill, and I have no authority to intervene.

Mr. Hall

Will the right hon. Gentleman take authority to intervene in cases such as these, and, seeing that a new regulation is to be introduced, will he use that opportunity to deal with this and other anomalies?

Mr. Brown

I do not think that is necessary, because the practice under public assistance differs very widely in various areas, and that is how this thing arises.

Mr. George Griffiths

Did not the Minister of War say that these allowances were not to be taken into account on any consideration?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member is wrong in that statement. If he will look into it he will see that the statement made by my right hon. Friend is being carried out precisely.

Mr. Burke

Did not the Minister of War say that a concession was to be made to Army reservists, and is not the practical effect of the concession that in scores of cases they have had several shillings a week taken off?

11. Mr. Gallacher

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a number of men in Arbroath, who have for many years gone fishing to supply their own needs during periods of unemployment, are now informed by local officers of the Unemployment Assistance Board that if they continue doing so they will be considered as working and ineligible for benefit; and whether, in view of the close similarity between the case of these men and others who run allotments for the same purpose, he will ensure that fishing of this character, so long as the produce is not sold, does not count against applicants for benefit under the Unemployment Assistance Board?

Mr. Brown

No, Sir. But if the hon. Member has any specific cases in mind and will let me have particulars, I shall be happy to have inquiries made.

13. Mr. S. O. Davies

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will explain further the grounds that prompted the Unemployment Assistance Board to withdraw the increases in allowance granted to certain classes of the unemployed last October on account of the increased cost of living, in view of the fact that meanwhile no reduction has taken place in rent or in the prices of essential foods such as bread, meat, milk, and tea; and that this change will in many cases mean a reduction in allowances of from 5 to 10 per cent.?

Mr. Brown

The additions made during the winter were not granted on account of the increase in the cost of living by itself, but on account of the concurrence of this increase with the existence of winter conditions. As I informed the House on Monday last, the Unemployment Assistance Board have no legal power to continue the additions.

Mr. Davies

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the latter part of my question? Does he agree that there has been no reduction in the cost of living in the range of foodstuffs which the unemployed buy, and that the withdrawal of this increase has meant a reduction of from 5 to 10 per cent.?

Mr. Brown

The cost-of-living figure has fallen from 46 in November to 37 this month.

Mr. James Griffiths

Is the full implication of the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the Unemployment Assistance Board gave the increase largely because of the on-coming of winter, and is it the case that when winter approaches again this increase will be automatically restored?

Mr. Brown

I could not say that, but, as I told the House on Monday, the Board are contemplating a new regulation under which they will have power to give specific grants as winter allowances if the House agrees.

Mr. Logan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that £20,000 is the sum involved in the case of Liverpool, and is the right of appeal to be given to every one of the families concerned?

Mr. Brown

The right of appeal applies in this case as in other cases.

Forward to