HC Deb 27 April 1948 vol 450 c184
7. Mr. S. O. Davies

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether having regard to the large surplus in the Unemployment Fund, he will arrange to increase substantially the rates of pay to unemployed persons and their dependants.

4. Mr. Piratin

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether in view of the fact that the official price index is 168, while the present unemployment allowance is only 41 per cent. above that of 1938, he will take immediate steps to bring the latter at least up to the cost of living index figure.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The rates of unemployment benefit will be increased when the National Insurance Act comes into full operation, to bring them into line with the other main benefit rates under the insurance scheme. When the new scheme comes into operation the Unemployment Fund will be merged into the new National Insurance Fund. Thereafter, individual rates of benefit cannot be considered in isolation, and any general review of benefits and contributions must, I think, await practical experience of the operation of the scheme as a whole.

Mr. Davies

I am probably anticipating my right hon. Friend, but before this change takes place will not he agree to increase the payments made to the unemployed, in view of the fact that there is such a substantial surplus at his disposal?

Mr. Griffiths

The surplus is due to the fact that for three years we have had a full employment policy. The new benefit rates will begin in July, and I do not think it advisable to do anything until then.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that this full-time employment is entirely due to American capitalists?

Mr. Griffiths

It is due to a wise Government.

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