HC Deb 11 April 1940 vol 359 cc685-6
20. Mr. R. Gibson

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a number of prisoners of war on the "Altmark," including Ian F. Hunter, 5th engineer on the steamship "Tairoa," who had not previously had occasion to apply for unemployment benefit, were told by Government officials at Leith that the Ministry of Labour had been informed that all their papers and books had been lost; that unemployment benefit has been refused from 17th February, 1940, to 14th March, 1940; and whether he will take steps to ensure that payment will be made?

Mr. E. Brown

The information I have been able to obtain in the short time available is confined to the case of Ian F. Hunter. I am assured that no statement was made to him by any officer of my Department that his papers and books had been lost. He made a claim to unemployment benefit on 14th March and payment has been made to him since that date. On the 14th March he also asked for his claim to be ante-dated to the 17th February, the date at which he landed at Leith. When this was not allowed by the local Court of Referees, he appealed to the Umpire. I will inform the hon. Member of the Umpire's decision as soon as it is given. The hon. Member will observe that the point at issue has to do, not with any loss of papers, but with the rule that claims to benefit ordinarily take effect from the date on which they are made.

Mr. Gibson

Will the right hon. Gentleman keep in mind that I have had a personal interview with this man and that this was his personal statement to me; and will he do his best to expedite matters so that, if necessary, this House can see that justice is done to these heroes of the "Altmark"?

Mr. Brown

Perhaps the hon. and learned Member will communicate with me. He has not done so up to the present.