HC Deb 05 December 1972 vol 847 cc1075-6
1. Mr. Ralph Howell

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will instruct the working group, to be set up to study unemployment, to make a special study of that section of the unemployed, which in May 1972 amounted to 158,000 people, who receive neither unemployment benefit nor supplementary allowance.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. R. Chichester-Clark)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Howell

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Does he agree that most of the people included in that figure are retired and are merely registered as unemployed to avoid paying for the national insurance stamp? Does he also agree that it would be better if means could be found to exempt them from this payment rather than inflating the unemployment figures?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Although the exact terms of reference of the membership of the working group to study the characteristics of people of this category have not been determined, I think that what my hon. Friend raised in the first part of this question comes within its remit.

Mr. Atkinson

Will the Minister say what powers the working group is likely to have? Will he inform the House whether he is prepared to fix a time limit to its studies and tell us when he expects a paper or the record of its work to be published?

Mr. Chichester-Clark

It is purely a statistical survey at this stage and it is not subjective in any way. As I have said, the terms of reference and its membership have not yet been exactly determined.