HC Deb 05 June 1919 vol 116 cc2281-3W

asked the Minister of Labour on what grounds women who have no experience as domestic servants, but have been engaged on important war work prior to their unemployment, are refused State unemployment benefit because they will not become domestic servants; and whether Miss Tuck, employed during the War as a skilled welder and who registered as such, but was willing to accept clerical work, was informed by the Shepherd's Bush Exchange that clerical work was useless unless she had previous experience, and that she was not offered any job, but was refused donation because she insisted on registering as a welder; and will he state why experience in clerical. work is necessary and not necessary in the case of domestic work?


For some women whoso previous employment in industry has been limited to specialised war work, the only available openings occur in domestic service, and these women cannot be allowed to remain on out-of-work donation if they refuse to accept offers of employment of this kind under proper conditions as to wages and otherwise. The question whether a refusal of employment in such cases is justified is determined, not by the Department, but by a Court of Referees, consisting of an independent chairman, an employers' representative, and a workpeople's representative, who is usually a woman where women's cases are concerned. As regards the differentiation between domestic service and clerical work, it is the case that at present there is little or no likelihood that employers would engage a woman as a clerk if she has had no experience in that capacity. I will make inquiries into the precise circumstances of Miss Tuck's case, but I may say that the general rule is that an applicant is not regarded as genuinely seeking work unless she is willing to take work in a peace occupation for which she has reasonable qualifications.


asked the Minister of Labour whether men discharged from the work centres under the Home Office Committee for the employment of conscientious objectors are eligible for out-of-work donation if their names are not on the list of 700 men whose conduct and industry is stated to have been unsatisfactory; and, if so, whether he will instruct the Employment Exchanges not to refuse out-of-work donation to such men?


The 700 men enumerated on the list referred to are at present the only conscientious objectors excluded as such from the receipt of out-of-work donation. As the hon. Member was informed in reply to a previous question on the 19th May, the list includes some men who had not by twelve months' good conduct and industry qualified for exceptional employment; it is not confined to men whose conduct and industry are stated to have been unsatisfactory.


asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that as a result of the Ministry of Labour not being cognisant of the various changes in rates of wages throughout the British Isles as displayed in the circular issued from the clearing house of the employment department to the Exchanges, numbers of workpeople have had their out-of-work donation benefits suspended through refusing offers of alleged suitable employment in districts other than those in which they reside at rates of wages lower than those observed in such districts by agreements between associations of employers and of workmen; if he is aware that such cases as follows: Blackburn district No. A, 4,976, 5,152, 5,153, 5,154, 5,155, 5,158, 5,159, Cambridge No. 325, Carlisle No. 797, Darlington No. 373, Leeds Nos. 2,194, 2,241, 2,374, Nottingham district Nos, 1,803, 1,809, 1,826, 1,830, 1,965, Oldham district Nos. 4,208, 4,209, 4,211, Worcester district No. 507, A, North Kent No. 196, etc., have been before the Courts of Referees and disallowed; and whether ho is prepared to issue instructions for a revision of the existing procedure whereby the correct information may be supplied to the Exchanges, thereby eradicating to a great extent the abuse to which the Exchanges are subjected as a result of the inefficiency of the central office of the Employment Department of the Ministry, of Labour in this connection?


I am making inquiry into the general complaints made by the hon. Member and the particular cases by which he illustrates his complaint. I will communicate with him further as soon as possible.