HC Deb 11 November 1947 vol 444 cc171-2
6. Mr. Turton

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether he will introduce legislation to amend Section 13 (2) (a) of the National Insurance Act, 1946, in such a way as to prevent employees who are found unsuitable for certain types of industrial work from being branded as having committed misconduct.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of National Insurance (Mr. Steele)

No, Sir. The terms of this disqualification have been re-enacted substantially without change after careful consideration by Parliament on a number of occasions since 1911. Its application in the individual case rests with independent statutory authorities. The body of case law built up by the Umpire's decisions makes it clear that the term "misconduct" is used in its industrial sense, and that mere unsuitability for employment does not constitute misconduct. I think the position is generally well understood by all concerned.

Mr. Turton

Is the Minister quite satisfied that this very conservative attitude which was right in 1911 is right today? Is he aware that young women who are regarded as unsuitable for certain types of industrial work now have to carry the stigma of having committed misconduct?

Mr. Steele

I am rather surprised that the hon. Gentleman wishes to change more Acts passed in 1911, but the facts are that many Ministers have looked at this, and, in fact, it was also the subject of investigation by the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance in 1932, and it was found at that time—and it is still found—that no more suitable expression could be used. Regarding the particular case to which the hon. Gentleman refers, at the moment that is not actually finalised, but is going to the Umpire for his decision.