§ 20. Mr. Piratin
asked the Minister of National Insurance how much increase in unemployment benefit it is estimated would be necessary to make it equivalent in purchasing power to the pre-war rate of 17s.; and what consideration he has given to increasing the amount accordingly.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
I cannot add to the information given on 8th November by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his reply to the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Osborne) on the purchasing power of the £. Any increase in the rates of benefit would involve an increase in contributions which I am not prepared to contemplate in present circumstances.
§ Mr. Piratin
Is the Minister aware that in order to meet the increased cost of living, according to official figures, the amount required would be about 5s., and that that 5s. would only bring the figure up to the pre-war figure in buying terms? Has not the Minister, therefore, responsibility at least to provide the pre-war unemployment benefit?
§ Mr. Griffiths
The unemployment benefit was raised with other benefits when the new Insurance Act came into force. I would remind the hon. Member that the benefit not only of unemployed persons, but also of their wives and children was also raised. In addition, those benefits can be supplemented by assistance.
§ Mr. Piratin
My Question was related particularly to the single man who today receives only 20s. If the Minister examines that category he will see that the single man gets no additional benefit whatsoever.