HC Deb 02 March 1939 vol 344 cc1444-5
100. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has now considered the many representations made to him that benefits and allowances to the unemployed should be increased; and what action is it intended to take?

104. Mr. Kirkwood

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the time has now arrived to increase the income of the unemployed of this country; and whether, seeing that the Government can afford to spend millions on defence, will he take steps, without delay, to give the unemployed more than a subsistence allowance?

Mr. E. Brown

I would remind the hon. Members that changes in the rates of unemployment benefit depend on the Annual Reports of the Unemployment Insurance Statutory Committee on the financial state of the Unemployment Fund. As regards unemployment assistance no changes are in contemplation at present.

Mr. E. Smith

In view of our past experience in regard to the report of the Unemployment Statutory Committee would the right hon. Gentleman take a personal interest in this question in order that some benefit may accrue?

Mr. Brown

The hon. Member, if he will have regard to the previous report of this Committee, will find that in nearly every case there have been substantial advantages for the unemployed.

Mr. Kirkwood

Arising out of the reply to question 104, does the right hon. Gentleman not consider that it is a disgrace that we should be calmly prepared to spend so much money on defence, proving that we can afford to do it, while it is always being said that we cannot afford to increase unemployment benefit? Will the right hon. Gentleman consider that?