HC Deb 12 July 1965 vol 716 cc19-20
19. Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance how many different types of worker are classified in the same way as the herring share fisherman and are therefore unable to receive unemployment benefit.

Miss Herbison

The unemployment benefit rules relating to seasonal workers which are, I think, the rules the hon. Gentleman has particularly in mind, apply to claimants in any occupation if their record of work over a period of years has shown that a break in employment at the same time each year is a part of their normal way of life.

Mr. Wolrige-Gordon

Is the right hon. Lady aware that many individuals currently receiving unemployment benefit often receive less benefit for longer periods than they would if they were herring share fishermen or seasonal workers, and that there is therefore a need to look at the rule of risk as it applies to the principle of paying unemployment benefit to herring share fishermen and seasonal workers?

Miss Herbison

The payment of unemployment benefit depends on contributions. A person who is unemployed for a long time can have benefit only for the time allowed by the contributions. At the most that is 19 months and sometimes it is much less. The concept of not paying benefit when there is a regular pattern of no work during the year has existed for a long time, but if the hon. Gentleman has any case, other than those which he has brought to my notice, which he would like me to examine, I would be happy to consider it.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does my right hon. Friend realise that the exclusion of fishermen of the type mentioned in the Question operates harshly upon them? After all, they are workers like others and is it not inconsistent with the spirit of the Statute granting pensions that they should be excluded? Will my right hon. Friend look into this aspect of the matter to see that justice is done?

Miss Herbison

These rules apply not only to share fishermen but to any occupation when it is shown that over a period of years a break in employment forms the usual pattern of a man's work. It would be wrong for any hon. Member with constituents with fishing interests to believe that this rule applies only to that class of worker.