HC Deb 02 March 1939 vol 344 cc1422-3
24. Miss Wilkinson

asked the Minister of Labour the numbers of young men who have refused to attend instructional classes; and what percentage this is of the total applicants for benefit eligible for such centres?

Mr. E. Brown

Of a total of 54,600 young men, applicants for unemployment assistance, between the ages of 18 and 25 who were interviewed in 1938, about 43,000 or 79 per cent. were unwilling on various grounds to apply for admission to an instructional centre. About 14,700 of this total were men with dependants and I should like to make it clear that in a large number of cases the grounds advanced by the applicants were substantial. Similar figures are not available in the case of claimants to unemployment benefit.

Miss Wilkinson

Does the Minister think that these figures justify attendance at the centres being made compulsory?

Mr. Brown

I am not aware that there is any need for that, except in particular cases, and those who have advocated it have always made it clear that they realised that those cases were few and raised special difficulties.

Miss Wilkinson

Are we to understand from that reply that there is no desire on the part of the Government to make these instructional centres compulsory?

Mr. Brown

The centres have always been voluntary.

Viscountess Astor

Would it not be best to deal with this matter by getting the Fisher Act into operation in its entirety?

Mr. Lawson

Has there not been considerable propaganda in the Press on this matter?

Mr. Brown

I take no account of propaganda in the Press.

Sir Louis Smith

On a point of Order. Seeing that there are 190 Questions on the Paper, could you not use your discretion, Mr. Speaker, when many questions are put down to one Minister, and divide them over several days, according to their relative importance and urgency, instead of all the questions being taken on one day?

Mr. Speaker

My duty is confined to seeing that the questions conform to the Rules which govern the putting of questions on the Paper. I am not concerned with their merits.

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