HC Deb 23 February 1939 vol 344 cc532-5
2. Mr. Simpson

asked the Minister of Labour how many war-disabled applicants for unemployment assistance have been informed that they are not persons to whom the Act applied on the grounds that they had not the necessary qualifications, during the latest two periods of 12 months for which figures are available?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I regret that records are not kept in a form which would enable this information to be given.

Mr. Simpson

Would it not be possible to secure this information for future guidance?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am afraid that it would not.

7. Mr. James Griffiths

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the Unemployment Assistance Board is issuing food vouchers in part-payment of unemployment allowances in certain cases in the Ammanford area, on the grounds of the necessity to urge these applicants to seek work; that no evidence was provided that work was available, or had been offered to these men; that this action has aroused widespread indignation among all sections of the community, and whether he will take steps to cease this method of paying allowances in kind?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to nine cases in the Ammanford area in which, as I am informed by the Board, determinations providing for the issue of allowances partly in kind were made in January. These determinations were made under Section 40 of the Act after consideration of the records of the persons concerned and on the recommendation of the local Advisory Committee. Where such a determination is made the applicant has an unrestricted right of appeal, and I understand that appeals are pending in four cases.

Mr. Griffiths

Is the hon. Member aware that the Unemployment Assistance Board's officers have stated that in this case the only reason for the issue of these food vouchers was that they allege these men were not seeking work, and that no allegation of that kind has been substantiated by anybody? Does this not seem to be the beginning of a penalising of the unemployed, and will the hon. Member make representations to the Unemployment Assistance Board that unless this ceases there will be great indignation throughout the whole area?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Member does not fully understand what happened in the case of these nine men. The advice of the local Advisory Committee was that the men's record was such that it could not be explained by reference to the industrial conditions of the district. Within one week of this determination being made, three of the men had found work. In one other case the man has been ruled out of scope, and in another the decision has been revised, and the allowance is being paid wholly in cash. In the four remaining cases, appeals are pending. It is significant that within a week three men found work.

Mr. Buchanan

Is this method of finding people work to be adopted by the Government—that they are going to give to the unemployed kind instead of money?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Certainly not. In this particular area the Board recently had 1,500 applicants. This procedure has been applied in the case of nine, on the advice of the advisory committee.

Mr. Buchanan

Is the hon. Member aware that the House of Commons abolished "not genuinely seeking work" and that the Unemployment Assistance Board has not revived that section of the Act? Is he aware that this is a flagrant breach of the Act, even by the advisory committee, when there is nothing against a man's character?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The House of Commons also passed Section 40 of the 1934 Act, under which this procedure has been taken.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Is the hon. Member aware that the unemployment in this area varies from 33 to 55 per cent.? Does he, therefore, suggest that in an area like this the men have not had employment before because they have not sought employment? Is he quite sure that the work provided for these men is not casual work provided by the local authorities?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I am fully aware of the industrial situation in the district, and I hope it will rapidly improve. In the case of these nine men I am satisfied that the recommendation of the local advisory committee was fit and proper in the circumstances.

8. Major Mills

asked the Minister of Labour whether it is the intention of his Department, that the authority which is assessing the needs and means of an applicant for an unemployment assistance allowance, should take into consideration the income from capital rather than the estimated capital value, when that capital is composed solely of a house, and provided that that house is let at a full and proper rent?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The manner in which the Unemployment Assistance Board are to treat capital resources is laid down in Section 38 of the Unemployment Act, 1934, and in Part I of the Second Schedule to the Unemployment Assistance (Determination of Need and Assessment of Needs) Regulations, 1936. If, however, my hon. and gallant Friend has any particular case in mind I shall be glad if he will communicate with me and I will have inquiries made.

12. Mr. Graham White

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will state, as on the last convenient date, the number of recipients of statutory benefit who are in receipt of supplementary allowances from the Unemployment Assistance Board?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

In the week ended 27th January, 1939, 16,239 claimants for unemployment insurance benefit received unemployment assistance allowances in supplementation of benefit.

Mr. White

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say whether there has been an increase?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

I cannot say without notice. My impression is that the numbers are about the same.

13. Mr. White

asked the Minister of Labour whether he can state as on the last convenient date, the number of applications received by the Unemployment Assistance Board for supplementary allowances in respect of the waiting period; and the number of cases in which such allowances have been granted?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

During the week ended 2nd February, 2,756 persons serving waiting days made application for unemployment allowances in the period before their unemployment benefit pay day, and in 1,971 cases an allowance was granted.