HC Deb 30 April 1958 vol 587 cc354-5
12. Miss Burton

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that mobility of workers, in local pockets of unemployment which have developed in the past two months, wishing to move elsewhere is impeded by the waiting period of four weeks, and also by the amount offered in the lodging allowances scheme for workers who have been compelled to leave their normal areas due to redundancy; and what proposals he has in mind to remove this impediment.

Mr. Iain Macleod

I announced in the House on 25th April some improvements in the facilities offered under the Resettlement Transfer Scheme. I do not consider that a case has been established for making further changes in the Temporary Transfer Scheme additional to those I announced in my reply to the hon. Member's previous Question on 19th February. I will, however, keep the matter under review.

Miss Burton

Does the Minister realise that the four-week waiting period cuts right across his stated objective that unemployed workers should be transferred to other work as soon as possible? Would he not agree that the 24s. 6d. given in the 1940s and the 35s. given today are quite different in financial value, and that the amount should be at least £3? Does he not realise that we are paying unemployment benefit to the men during the four weeks instead of paying them lodging allowance? Would not the latter be better?

Mr. Macleod

On those two points, I have always maintained the position—which I am sure is right—that in both this scheme and the Resettlement Transfer Scheme we should not attempt to cover the full cost of lodgings. It is meant to be only a contribution, and I increased it by nearly 50 per cent. last June. I have always thought it right that there should be some waiting period, although I have reduced that recently. As a matter of fact, I have today received a letter from the T.U.C. on this and similar points. In the light of that, I will look into the matter.

Mr. Lee

Will the right hon. Gentleman agree that he has accepted the principle that the waiting should not be too long? The trade union movement is very concerned about this issue? In a short time, when he has had a look at the four-week period as against the eight-week period, will he give a further report to the House as to the way in which it is working out?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, I will. In fact, extremely little use has so far been made of the scheme, and it will be interesting to see whether the improvements alter that.