HC Deb 05 October 1939 vol 351 cc2060-2
3. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Minister of Labour the date on which winter allowances will be made, and the scale allowed, to applicants for assistance from the Unemployment Assistance Board?

Mr. E. Brown

The Unemployment Assistance Board inform me that under the Unemployment Assistance (Winter Adjustments) Regulations, 1938, temporary additions to allowances in appropriate cases will begin to be made in respect of payweeks which end during the calendar week commencing 30th October, 1939. The administration will proceed on the same general lines as were followed in making the special adjustments last winter, and the necessary review of cases on this basis is now proceeding. A copy of the Board's instruction to their officers which refers to the addition to be made in normal cases has been placed in the Library.

Mr. Smith

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the proposals of the Committee in view of the present situation, and will he make representations on the lines submitted?

Mr. Brown

The point here, of course, is that the date has been advanced by a fortnight in view of the special circumstances. The question of the cost of living had better, I think, be judged on its merits when we know the facts, as we shall do in a day or two.

Mr. James Griffiths

In view of the certainty that some of the commodities for which this allowance was paid will be higher in price this year than last year, will the right hon. Gentleman urge the Unemployment Assistance Board to pay more than 2s. 6d.?

Mr. Brown

I have already said that I think this matter had better be treated as a separate issue, in view of the abnormal circumstances, but until we know the facts, which will be in a day or two, I prefer to reserve any further answer.

13. Mr. Leslie

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider increasing the winter allowance to unemployed persons in view of the rising cost of living due to war conditions?

11 and 12. Mr. Ness Edwards

asked the Minister of Labour (1) whether he will give an assurance that in calculating the needs of a household for unemployment assistance, he will give a direction that increases in wages to meet the increased cost of living received by employed persons in the household of unemployed claimants shall not be taken into account;

(2) Whether he has considered the resolution of the South Wales Miners' Federation that, in view of the increased cost of living, the scales of unemployment benefit and assistance should be increased; and whether he has any statement to make thereon?

Mr. Brown

I cannot at present add anything to the replies I gave to the hon. Members for Normanton (Mr. T. Smith) and Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) on 27th and 28th September last. Hon. Members may rest assured that the matter will be carefully watched.

Mr. Leslie

May I take it that the Minister will consider increasing the allowances?

Mr. Brown

I have said that I will watch the situation, and I have already said, in answer to a previous question, that I would prefer to await the facts and not make any further statement now.

Mr. T. Smith

May we take it that the situation is being carefully watched and that the Unemployment Assistance Board are considering the matter?

Mr. Brown

I have already pointed out that in their winter allowances they have advanced the date and that I think we had better deal with the question on its merits instead of linking the two questions together, as we did two years ago.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the right hon. Gentleman's statement about considering the matter on its merits mean that the Unemployment Assistance Board will not be tied down?

Mr. Brown

I have already said that I prefer to make no further statement, and I would prefer to stand by that statement at the moment.

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