§ 10. Miss Wilkinson
asked the Minister of Labour the amount of public funds advanced, directly or indirectly, to the Subsistence Production Society of the Eastern Valley of Monmouthshire since its commencement; the excess of expenditure over income for the year ended 31st March, 1939; and whether he will make a statement on the present position of the society?
§ Mr. E. Brown
Up to 31st March, 1938, the Commissioner for the Special Areas (England and Wales) approved grants amounting to £97,500 to enable An Order of Friends to carry out an experiment in subsistence production in the Eastern Valley of Monmouthshire. In March, 1938, the average monthly loss was about £1,200, exclusive of certain administrative expenditure on general organisation, and other items. I am not aware of the excess of expenditure over income for the year ending 31st March, 1939; the experiment was closed down in June, 1939.
§ Miss Wilkinson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the amount of loss means that to give each unemployed man the actual amount provided by the Subsistence Production Society would have meant a saving of £400 a month, and will he have some inquiry made as to the reckless waste of public money which is going on in connection with this society?
§ Mr. Brown
I do not agree that there has been reckless waste of public money. This was a well-intentioned attempt, which has been highly praised in many quarters, to develop an original idea. The fact that it has not succeeded does not prove that it was a reckless waste of money. The Government have been sympathetic towards this attempt, outside Government circles, to do something in respect of the elderly unemployed.
§ Miss Wilkinson
While that sounds all right, is it not the case that fashionable people have made this a fashionable fad at the expense of the unemployed?