§ 2. Mr. Ellis Smith
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will now abolish the means test, or make radical changes in its administration?
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Brown)
I assume that the hon. Member is referring to unemployment allowances. I know of no good reason for suggesting any fundamental change in the principles of the Act concerned. If, however, he will give me particulars of the administrative changes he has in mind I will bring them to the notice of the Unemployment Assistance Board, which is responsible for the administration of that Act.
§ 3. Mr. Ness Edwards
asked the Minister of Labour whether steps have been taken by the Unemployment Assistance Board to raise the wages stop figure of claimants who were in grades in which wages have now been increased?
§ Mr. Brown
The Board inform me that it is their normal practice in determining 794 the wage to be taken in applying the wage-stop provision to have regard to the wage which the applicant would for the time being be likely to earn if employed and that their officers are fully aware of the necessity of taking into account alterations in wage rates.
§ 5. Mr. T. Smith
asked the Minister of Labour when the Unemployment Assistance Board is likely to recommend a revision of the regulations, in view of the increase in the cost of living?
§ Mr. Smith
Does not the Minister appreciate the fact that the position of a good many of the unemployed who have been out of work for a long time is deplorable; and will he not urge the Unemployment Assistance Board to revise the regulations so as to give these unemployed people at least something with which to meet the extra cost of living?
§ Mr. James Griffiths
Are we to take it from the answer the Minister has given that when the new cost-of-living index figure has been announced, the Board will consider the question of increasing the grants?
§ 11. Mr. E. Smith
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that applicants for benefit and assistance have not been summoned to the hearing of their appeal against a decision or determination, it being stated that it was in accord- 795 ance with the Appeal Tribunal (Amendment) Provisional Rules, 1939; that an applicant for assistance was told that she could not now be represented when making an appeal against a determination; who was responsible for the drawing up of these amendments; what was their purpose; and will steps be taken at once to restore the pre-September, 1939, position and make it retrospective in its application?
§ Mr. Brown
The modified procedure in relation to appeals under the Unemployment Assistance Act to which the hon. Member refers was introduced at the outbreak of war in the expectation that conditions arising out of the war would make it difficult if not impossible to arrange for the attendance of applicants in the normal way. The normal procedure has now been restored.
§ Mr. Brown
I am not sure that they will be affected, that is to say, that the decision in those cases would have been different if it had been the whole court instead of the chairman. If the hon. Member has any idea that this is the case, and if he will let me know the particulars, I will see what can be done in regard to a re-hearing.