HC Deb 08 March 1939 vol 344 cc2146-7
45. Mr. Petherick (for Wing-Commander James)

asked the Prime Minister whether, having regard to the large number of refugees being admitted to this country and to the unrestricted influx of Southern Irish, steps will be taken to introduce at least some residential qualifying period before such persons are allowed to enjoy the present unrestricted access to our social services and relief system?

The Prime Minister

It is already the case that benefits under the State insurance scheme can in general only be obtained after payment of a substantial number of contributions during residence here. The only considerable exception is that under reciprocal arrangements with Eire, health insurance contributions paid there are valid for health benefits in Great Britain; I should not suppose, however, that this exception is of material importance in relation to the issue raised by my hon. and gallant Friend. In the case of unemployment assistance, no precise rule is laid down by Statute, but a substantial period of residence is in practice required before an applicant becomes eligible. In the case of Poor Law relief, my hon. and gallant Friend will, I think, appreciate that this cannot be refused to destitute persons so long as they are allowed to stay in this country.

Mr. Fleming

Is my right hon. Friend aware, with regard to the City of Manchester, that in the last 12 months out of 238 persons arriving from Ireland, 238 persons are on public assistance?

Mr. Pilkington

Does my right hon. Friend not think it more important that our own people should get the first chance of a job?

Mr. Buchanan

Will the right hon. Gentleman beware that while he deprecates persecution of the Jews, he does not start a similar persecution here?