HC Deb 08 June 1939 vol 348 cc564-6
1. Mr. Tinker

asked the Minister of Labour the figures and percentages of unemployed males over 55 years of age who were signing the register of the Employment Exchanges of Great Britain on 1st May, 1939?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour (Mr. Lennox-Boyd)

At 1st May, 1939, there were 247,727 unemployed men, aged 55 years and over, on the registers of Employment Ex- changes in Great Britain; this figure represents 21.5 percent. of the total number of men, aged 18 years and over, registered as unemployed at that date.

Mr. Tinker

Can the hon. Gentleman say what is the proportion of men over 55 who have been absorbed in the recent improvement of the unemployment figures? Is it in keeping with the other figures; and, if not, what does the Department intend to do to improve the position?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

Of the men who have been unemployed for 12 months or more, 56 per cent. were, according to a recent inquiry, aged 45 or over. Since May, 1933, the number of those unemployed for 12 months or more has fallen from 483,000 to 275,000. That is a fairly satisfactory story, though I do not suggest that it justifies any feeling of complete satisfaction.

Mr. Tinker

Will the hon. Gentleman pay close attention to this matter and see if better progress cannot be made with it?

Mr. James Griffiths

Can the hon. Gentleman say what has happened to the plans promised over two years ago by his right hon. Friend for dealing with this grave problem? Where are they?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The matter is under active consideration, and we are collaborating with the International Labour Office in regard to the general problem of the older unemployed. I can assure the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) that the importance of this vital problem is not being lost sight of.

Mr. Griffiths

What does the hon. Gentleman mean by "active consideration"? Does it take two years for the Government to reach conclusions?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The hon. Member no doubt knows that an inquiry has been organised by the International Labour Office, and we are fully collaborating in that inquiry. Apart from that, naturally we are actively pursuing the matter.

Mr. Jagger

Can the hon. Gentleman say whether the 275,000 are satisfied with their position?

16. Miss Ward

asked the Minister of Labour the details of the policy which will in future be adopted to provide employment for the elderly unemployed man?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

As my hon. Friend is aware, the Government have done, and will continue to do, everything that is possible, by administrative action and by ameliorative measures such as the Cottage Homestead and Group Holdings Schemes, to assist in reducing unemployment among the older unemployed and has promised its co-operation in the inquiry into this matter which has been begun by the International Labour Office. The success of the measures which have so far been taken by the Government is shown by the fact that the number of persons unemployed for 12 months or more, of whom according to the latest inquiry 56 per cent, were aged 45 years and over, has fallen from 483,000 in May, 1933, to 275,000 in May of this year.

Miss Ward

Would my hon. Friend bear in mind that we want a specific statement as to what the policy is with regard to the problem of the elderly unemployed, and not on the general drop in unemployment?

Mr. Lennox-Boyd

The elderly unemployed have benefited very considerably from that drop.

Miss Ward

Would my hon. Friend say what the specific policy is for those men —not the general policy?

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