asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a number of painters in Dublin were refused unemployment benefit on the ground that they declined to undertake labouring work in Great Britain at a wage of 33s. per week; whether he will state how married men could manage to support their families in Dublin and pay their own board and lodgings in Great Britain with this wage; whether he is aware that one of the largest employers of such labour in Dublin wrote to the insurance officer protesting against tradesmen being called upon to do labouring work, particularly in view of the fact that many of these men were in advanced years and quite unable to do such work; whether he is aware that a letter was written to the hon. Member for College Green, Dublin, dated 29th January, by Mr. D. J. Shackleton, on behalf of the Minister of Labour, intimating that the case had been submitted to the Umpire, who decided that the alternative employment offered to these workmen was not suitable and that, as the Umpire's decision reversed 2175W that of the Court of Referees, the unemployment benefit would be paid; whether he is aware that this letter was repudiated by the Labour Exchange and that a further letter has since been received by the hon. Member for College Green, signed by Mr. W. Anderson on behalf of the Minister of Labour, intimating that the men's association had appealed to the Umpire, and that the case was still sub judice; whether he will say which of the statements is accurate, that of Mr. Shackleton or that of Mr. Anderson; and will he see that the men are immediately paid unemployment benefit from the date it was stopped pending the settlement of the dispute between the various Government Departments and some definite and clear decision arrived at?
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
Labouring work at a munitions factory in Great Britain, for which the normal earnings were 37s. 8d., with a possibility of further overtime, was offered to certain unemployed painters in Dublin and refused by them. In accordance with the principle laid down by the Umpire in previous similar cases, the insurance officer thereupon had no alternative but to stop the unemployment benefit of these workmen. His decision was in a majority of the cases upheld by the Court of Referees, and an appeal was then lodged with the Umpire, who on 22nd February modified his previous decision and allowed the workmen's claims. Arrangements are being made to pay benefit from the date on which it was stopped, in accordance with the Umpire's decision. A letter protesting against the disallowance of benefit was received by the insurance officer from a Dublin firm, and was laid before the Umpire. As regards the correspondence between the hon. Gentleman and the Ministry of Labour, some confusion seems to have arisen as between the cases now in question and similar cases relating to painters who had refused offers of red-leading work. At the time when the correspondence passed benefit had been allowed in the latter set of cases but not in the former. There was no dispute between different Government Departments, as the only Department concerned is the Ministry of Labour.