HC Deb 28 March 1960 vol 620 cc930-1
7. Mr. Warbey

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance whether, following experience of the working of Section 4 of the National Insurance Act, 1957, he will introduce amending legislation to enable five-day week workers to qualify for unemployment benefit when working only four days a week.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

No, Sir.

Mr. Warbey

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is obviously an unfair discrimination against those working in the furniture and textile trades and many other trades in that when they are working short-time they find themselves debarred from receiving unemployment benefit, whereas other workers, possibly in the same firm, are able to receive benefit because they have worked more than 25 Saturdays in the preceding year? Will he consider the matter again, in consultation with the unions?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The principle, as the House may remember discussing when the 1957 Measure was going through the House, is that one should not be entitled to claim unemployment benefit in respect of a day when, in the ordinary course, one would not be working, even if work were available. The House accepted that principle at the time.

Mr. Houghton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his reply will cause great disappointment among many trade unions, which are finding this problem of increasing difficulty? Is he aware that the National Insurance Act was based on conditions of a six-day week, which has now been replaced so widely by a five-day week, and that the conditions for unemployment insurance should be adapted to changing working conditions?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

It was precisely to make the necessary adaptation to the changing conditions that Section 4 of the 1957 Act was passed.

Mr. Whitlock

Will the Minister consider the objections of the T.U.C. which were made at the time when the Clause was first introduced, in order that the anomalies and injustices of the Clause may be further examined in the light of those objections?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

All the representations made at the time of the passage of the Bill through the House were carefully examined. Nothing which has happened since justifies me in modifying the views then formed.

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