HC Deb 20 November 1941 vol 376 cc431-2
11. Sir Herbert Williams

asked the Minister of Labour how many of the 30,462 males on the live register on 15th September, 1941, classified by interviewing panels as unsuitable for ordinary industrial employment, were in receipt of unemployment insurance benefit or unemployment allowances?

Mr. Tomlinson

The total of 30,462 men unemployed at 15th September, 1941, who had been classified as unsuitable for ordinary industrial employment, included 26,976 applicants for insurance benefit or unemployment allowances.

Sir H. Williams

Do I understand that a number of these persons whom the Ministry do not think fit for work are in fact being paid unemployment benefits of one kind or another?

Mr. Tomlinson

I could not say that. The number of those receiving benefits and allowances is not available.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the Assistance Board are trying to hide these people by making them paupers?

14. Mr. Gordon Macdonald

asked the Minister of Labour the reasons for the present number of persons registered as unemployed in Lancashire?

Mr. Tomlinson

Unemployment is decreasing in Lancashire as in other parts of the country. On the general reasons why some unemployment continues, I would refer to the reply given on 21st October last to the hon. Member for Bournemouth (Sir L. Lyle). In Lancashire the workers made available by the closing of mills in the cotton industry are being rapidly absorbed into war industries or placed with nucleus firms. There are, however, women whose domestic circumstances are such that they cannot transfer to other areas where work is available or accept the shift work which is available in their own districts.

Mr. Macdonald

In the cotton mills there is a demand for labour. What is causing difficulty is that, on the one hand, there are some signing on for unemployment, and the mills at the same time are clamouring for more labour. Is it not possible to deal with that difficulty?

Mr. Tomlinson

To a large extent it is being dealt with. Conditions in the cotton industry are such that it is not easily possible to transfer people who are used to one kind of work to another.

Mr. Burke

Is it not a fact that the concentration of the cotton industry proceeded at a pace out of proportion to the ability of the Ministry to absorb the labour?

Mr. Tomlinson

No, I would not say that, except to this extent, that the concentration was compelled by force of circumstances and had to take place in such a way—and circumstances have since arisen which have created additional difficulties—as to make it impossible to absorb them all.