HC Deb 20 June 1960 vol 625 cc9-10
12 and 13. Mr. Willis

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance (1) how many of those registered as unemployed in Scotland for 26 weeks or more are in receipt of National Assistance;

(2) how many registered unemployed who have been without work in Scotland for less than 26 weeks are in receipt of National Assistance.

Miss Hornsby-Smith

Figures are not available precisely in the form asked for, but I am informed that an inquiry made at employment exchanges showed that in Scotland, on 1st February last, National Assistance was being paid at employment exchanges to 6,864 persons who had been unemployed for 30 weeks or less, to 20,573 persons who had been unemployed for more than 30 weeks, and to 7,329 other persons whose duration of unemployment was not ascertained for the purposes of this inquiry.

Mr. Willis

Does the hon. Lady not think that these figures show that there is need to raise the benefits under the National Insurance Act, particularly the unemployment benefits? In view of the figures for long-term unemployment, will she not draw the attention of the President of the Board of Trade and other responsible Ministers to these figures in order that they may get on with the job of providing some work for these people in Scotland?

Miss Hornsby-Smith

The more recent figures show a decline in the number of unemployed. It has also been generally accepted by both sides of the House that long-term unemployment may more suitably gain supplementation from National Assistance and as a State charge rather than be a long-term charge on the National Insurance Fund. I do not think that the hon. Member is unaware that if benefits were to go up—and the period of full insurance benefit is not ungenerous, for the basis is 180 days and with added days can go up to 492—obviously contributions would have to be raised to match.