HC Deb 06 July 1920 vol 131 cc1256-7W

Mr. L. LYLE asked the Minister of Labour the number of unemployed as compared with three months ago and six months ago; whether he will indicate the trades in which this percentage of unemployment is increasing; if he has received any indication as to the causes; and whether the distress committees are still in existence to deal with the matter?

Dr. MACNAMARA: The total number of claimants of Out-of-Work Donation at 18th June, was 181,872, compared with 253,533 three months ago and 370,680 six months ago, while the number of persons in trades insured under the Acts of 1911 and 1916 claiming unemployment benefit at the same date was 65,849, compared with 88,014 three months ago, and 117,616 six months ago. The total number of persons on the live registers for employment with the Employment Exchanges at 18th June was 317,029, compared with 394,630 three months ago and 541,007 six months ago. From these figures it is apparent that the general level of employment in the principal industries of the United Kingdom has improved considerably during the past six months. Almost the only exceptions to this general statement are in the boot and shoe trades, where there has been a considerable decline due to a falling-off in demand, the cotton weaving industry, which is affected by the condition of the Indian market, the linen trade in Ireland, which continues to suffer from lack of materials, and the silk trade which is affected by difficulties in the export trade. I should add that in shipbuilding, although employment is still good, there has recently been some decline, owing to a shortage of raw materials. The Unemployed Workmen Act of 1905, under which distress committees may be formed in order to deal with distress arising from severe unemployment, is still in force.