HC Deb 21 November 1950 vol 481 cc173-6
11. Mr. Spearman

asked the Minister of National Insurance if she will amend the Seasonal Workers' Regulations, 1950, so that disabled ex-Service men unable to get work in the winter through no fault of their own do not have to pay contributions without receiving unemployment benefit.

15 and 16. Mr. Wood

asked the Minister of National Insurance (1) whether a registered disabled person genuinely seeking employment throughout the year is included by her regulations in the category of seasonal workers;

(2) whether under her regulations a person genuinely seeking, but unable to obtain, work during the off-season, can claim unemployment benefit.

Dr. Summerskill

The interpretation of these regulations is a matter for the statutory authorities, but one of the main objects was to give those authorities greater freedom to consider the merits of each individual case than they had under the previous regulations.

Mr. Spearman

Would the Minister bear in mind that in the seaside resorts there is a large proportion of temporary jobs available for ex-Service men, and can she take steps to see that they are not prevented from taking those jobs for part of the year by being penalised in getting no benefits out of season?

Dr. Summerskill

The hon. Member will realise that in the case of disabled ex-Service men, circumstances vary, and under these regulations the authorities are able to take into account the different circumstances and judge each case on its merits.

14. Mr. Butcher

asked the Minister of National Insurance why the agricultural workers in the Boston area who have received unemployment benefit in previous years, have this year been refused unemployment insurance on the grounds that they are seasonal workers.

Dr. Summerskill

I would refer the hon. Member to paragraphs 6 to 8 and 28 to 30 of the National Insurance Advisory Committee's report on benefit conditions for seasonal workers laid before this House as Paper No. 262 of 1949. I am sending him a copy.

Mr. Butcher

While thanking the right hon. Lady, may I ask what steps she is taking to make known to these workers why they are in a worse position this year than on a previous occasion?

Dr. Summerskill

I have already explained that each case is considered on its merits, and if any contributors feel aggrieved, all they have to do is to make their grievance known and their case will be considered.

Mr. McCorquodale

As the Minister must be aware that there is a considerable amount of apprehension over the whole of this question, will she give consideration to it and make sure that people are not penalised unduly?

Dr. Summerskill

We are watching it carefully, but I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the representatives of the workers were consulted at every stage.

Mr. John Hay

asked the Minister of National Insurance whether, in view of the confusion caused by the introduction of the National Insurance (Seasonal Workers) Regulations, 1950 (S.I., 1950, No. 1220) in a form which made it out of order for honourable Members to pray to annul, she will introduce new Regulations without delay.

13. Mr. Teeling

asked the Minister of National Insurance when she proposes to introduce new regulations regarding the receipt of unemployment benefit for seasonal workers.

19. Mr. C. S. Taylor

asked the Minister of National Insurance what action His Majesty's Government propose to take about the National Insurance (Seasonal Workers) Regulations set out in S.I., 1950, No. 1220.

Dr. Summerskill

I am advised that the regulations made on 25th July, 1950, have full force and effect, and no question of making new ones arises. But in order to comply with your Ruling, Sir, I hope shortly to lay a revised Statutory Instrument embodying those parts of the regulations not already directly approved by the House on 12th July.

Mr. Hay

Can the right hon. Lady say what is to be the position of seasonal workers in the meantime until this new regulation is made, since I understand they are now prevented from drawing their unemployment pay?

Dr. Summerskill

All parts of the regulation which call for affirmative resolution stand.

Mr. Taylor

When this regulation came before the House last week, we urged that the matter might be considered by the Government to see whether it would be possible to correlate the whole of the regulations in one statutory instrument; would that not be possible?

Dr. Summerskill

I do not think the hon. Gentleman could have been in the House last July when these regulations were approved. They went by "on the nod" because there was nobody there to challenge them.

Mr. Taylor

As there are something like 500 or 600 regulations coming out each week, it is rather difficult to see that every single regulation is looked at.