HC Deb 19 October 1920 vol 133 cc791-2W

asked the Prime Minister if he has received a resolution passed by the Newcastle-upon-Tyne War Pensions Committee at their last meeting stating their opinion that the limit of assistance which could be rendered by local authorities and private employers of labour in connection with the provision of suitable employment for unemployed disabled ex-service men had now been reached, and urging the Government to take immediate steps to house, maintain and provide with suitable employment all disabled ex-service men who, through their disability or other cause beyond their control, have not yet been absorbed into the various industries of the nation; and if he will say whether the Government concur in the view therein expressed and will give effect to the proposals made?


I have been asked to reply to this question. On the evidence before me, I cannot agree that the limit of assistance which can be rendered by local authorities and private employers in this matter has yet been reached. There is, I am glad to say, still a continuous increase in the number of local authorities and private firms who are helping, through the medium of the National Scheme for the Employment of Disabled Ex-Service Men.

As to local authorities, the results are not even yet very satisfactory, although there has been considerable recent improvement. I understand that one month ago the position in England and Wales was that 382 local authorities had been enrolled, out of a total of 2,514 (excluding parish councils). In Scotland, the total number of county and municipal authorities which had adopted the scheme was 25, out of 236 (excluding parish councils, etc.). With the concurrence and support of my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary for Scotland, I have recently appealed to local authorities, urging upon them that, particularly in view of the considerable influence which they are able to exercise within their respective districts, they should not only enrol under the National Scheme, but do everything thew can to secure that the question of the employment of disabled men is taken up in each locality with all possible vigour. Up to date, additional undertakings have been received, bringing the total of local authorities covered in England and Wales up to 430, whilst applications are being considered in other cases.

As regards employers generally, there was a further material increase in the number of firms on the National Roll between the beginning of June—when 16,989 firms were on the Roll—and the 30th July, when the figure was 18,975. The number of disabled men employed by these firms at the beginning of June was 140,759, which number had increased on the 30th July to 176,889.

It is clear that there is still a great opportunity for all classes of employers working together to remove the disabled ex-service men entirely from the category of the unemployed, and I desire to associate myself in this matter most completely with the appeals on this subject which have been made recently by Field Marshal Earl Haig and others.

As indicating the attitude of the Government on the matter, I may refer to the facts that the name of His Majesty's Treasury has now been placed on the Roll on behalf of Government Departments and also on behalf of Government industrial establishments, while the percentage of disabled men employed by Government Departments is, in actual practice, considerably higher than the minimum necessary under the National Scheme.

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