HC Deb 02 March 1939 vol 344 cc1416-21
19. Mr. Sexton

asked the Minister of Labour what steps the Government are now proposing to take in the Cockfield district of county Durham to give employment, seeing that 48 per cent. of the insured workers are unemployed, and in the Weardale and Teasdale districts of the same county where the incidence of unemployment is also very high?

Mr. E. Brown

I am aware of the continued severe unemployment in these districts which I very much regret. The hon. Member will be aware that in part of the area at least the employment position is very largely governed by the position of the coal trade. As to the steps to deal with the unemployment, the Commissioner for the Special Areas is anxious and ready to assist in the establishment of new industrial undertakings by every means in his power and no opportunity has been or will be lost to bring to the notice of suitable inquirers such facilities as are available to persons contemplating setting up a new undertaking in this district.

Mr. Sexton

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that constructive proposals have been suggested, such as the manufacture of calcium carbide, afforestation and pit drainage, and that nothing has been done by His Majesty's Government.

Mr. Brown

I am aware that votes for calcium carbide were given by hon. Members on the other side that do not seem to conform with the question put.

Mr. J. J. Davidson

Were those votes for calcium carbide in regard to this district?

Mr. Brown

There were other districts concerned.

Mr. Lawson

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that these districts were never concerned?

Mr. Brown

I am talking about calcium carbide, and the House will gather that the point went home.

Mr. Sexton

I am talking about southwest Durham.

Mr. E. J. Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the calcium carbide plant was promised to Durham, and that they got nothing?

33. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Labour the number of re-assessments made by the Horden, County Durham, Area Office in 1938; and whether these changes indicate increases or reductions in allowances?

Mr. Brown

The number of allowances revised on review in the Unemployment Assistance Board's administrative area of Horden during the year 1938 was 5,564. I regret that information is not available to enable me to say in what proportion of cases the review resulted in an increase or a decrease compared with the previous assessment.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it not important to have information as to whether there was an increase or a decrease arising from the re-assessment?

Mr. Brown

My difficulty arises from the fact that, as the hon. Member knows, the allowances to the same applicant may be reviewed on several occasions during the year. The records are kept in such a form as to show "Revised Allowance Granted," "Nil Determination" or "No Change."

Mr. Shinwell

Unless this information is available, how are we to determine whether the Unemployment Assistance Board is fulfilling its function?

Mr. Brown

As the hon. Member knows, if any applicant to the Unemployment Assistance Board is dissatisfied with the decision, he has his right of appeal.

34. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons who are registered as unemployed at the Seaham, Horden, and Haswell offices of the Ministry; and whether he has any schemes in contemplation for providing these persons with suitable work?

Mr. Brown

At 16th January, 1939, the numbers of the unemployed persons aged 18 and over, on the registers of the Seaham Harbour, Horden and Haswell Employment Exchanges, were 1,457, 845 and 403, representing approximately 10 per cent., 7 per cent. and 11 per cent. of the insured population of the same ages, respectively. Corresponding figures are not available in respect of juveniles under 18 years of age. As regards the second part of the question, the hon. Member is of course aware that employment in these districts derives from the coal industry, and I would remind him of the very close interest which the Government is taking in all the efforts to improve the coal trade.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in spite of the close attention given by the Government to the position of the coal industry, there is still a very large number of persons unemployed; and is it not quite clear that the efforts of the Government are not sufficient for the purpose?

Mr. Brown

I am also aware that in Seaham in 1931, when the hon. Member was in office, the total was 3,002.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall who was the Prime Minister and represented Seaham at that time?

35. Mr. Leslie

asked the Minister of Labour the number of young people who have been sent from the county of Durham to training centres outside of the county?

Mr. Brown

It is estimated that the number who went to training centres outside the county of Durham during 1938 was between 3,000 and 4,000. Figures covering the whole period during which the Ministry of Labour Training Scheme has been in operation are not available.

Mr. Leslie

Does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that it would be advisable, rather than sending these young people away from home and home influence, to have training centres in the county, where over 60,000 persons are unemployed at the present time?

Mr. Brown

It is always desirable to obtain employment as near home as possible, but the success or failure of a training centre will depend, not merely on the efficiency of its running, but on the possibilities of employment at the conclusion of the course, for those who have been trained. That must be an overriding factor.

Viscountess Astor

Is it not true that most young people, unfortunately, want to get away from home at 18?

59. Mr. Sexton

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a considerable number of girls are leaving the county of Durham to take employment as domestic servants in the South of England; that frequently the work is found to be unsatisfactory and the girls are stranded; and what provision exists for the welfare of these girls during periods of unemployment?

Mr. Brown

I am not aware of any cases of girls from Durham who, after taking domestic employment in the South, have become stranded. My Department is, however, responsible only for such transfers as are effected through official machinery, and in such cases every effort is made, before transfer, to see that the employment is satisfactory. Any girl who finds herself stranded owing to loss of employment should be advised to get into touch with the nearest Employment Exchange where every effort will be made to help her.

Mr. Sexton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is only the daughters of the workers who are exposed to these dangers?

60. Mr. Sexton

asked the Minister of Labour the number of agricultural workers registered for unemployment at the last available date in the county of Durham?

Mr. Brown

I am having the figures extracted and will circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

63. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister of Labour the amount paid in unemployment assistance in the county of Durham and the number receiving such assistance?

Mr. Brown

I am having the desired information extracted and will circulate a statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

90. Mr. W. Joseph Stewart

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that in the administrative county of Durham in cases where men have been in receipt of grants from the Unemployment Assistance Board and started work the Board have refused to grant allowances pending receipt of wages, on the ground that the men were in employment and that many men, able-bodied, have been obliged to apply to the public assistance committee for relief; and will he arrange for these men to be maintained out of national funds and not at the expense of the local ratepayers?

Mr. Brown

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 30th June last to a similar question, a copy of which I will send to him, but I am grateful to the hon. Member for sending me certain particulars which I am having investigated.

Mr. Stewart

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that many of these men have been out of work for long periods and have no resources, and will he see that grants are made to them until they are in receipt of wages? Does he not agree that maintenance ought to be a national and not a local charge?

Mr. Brown

I cannot commit myself to that general proposition.

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