§ Mr. D. SOMERVILLE
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that at the present time there are in Barrow-in-Furness over 10,000 men unemployed out of a total population of men, women, and children of about 74,000; that the burden of unemployment has now become so acute that the local authorities are no longer able to cope with it; and whether, since no adequate relief or assistance is obtainable from any Government Department, he will consider the advisability of special sympathetic treatment for those few boroughs where, as in the case of Barrow, there is an overwhelming amount of unemployment?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am aware that there is acute unemployment in Barrow-in-Furness and I hope the position may be alleviated as a result of the decision to proceed with the construction of the two new battleships. The case is one in which a large measure of assistance has been given to meet the immediate need by a deferment of part of the abnormal charge. The question whether any further action should be taken as regards this and other necessitous areas has, as already been stated, been referred to the Cabinet Committee.
§ Mr. A. V. ALEXANDER
asked the Minister of Labour, as representing the Minister of Health, whether he is aware that the total expenditure by the Sheffield Union Board of Guardians on Poor Law relief to the unemployed from the 26th March, 1921, to 2nd December, 1922, was £953,595, and by the Ecclesall Union Board of Guardians, Sheffield, £182,631 3191W 18s. 5d., a total of £1,136,226 18s. 5d.; that the total emergency loan debt in the Sheffield Union is at present £670,000, and in the Ecclesall Union of Sheffield, £180,000, a total of £850,000; that the total expenditure on unemployed relief in the above-mentioned unions for the week ending 2nd December, 1922, was £14,185; that this abnormal charge upon local funds is having the dual effect of holding up a revival of trade in Sheffield because of the charge upon industry, and causing great hardship to the ratepayers generally, including the unemployed themselves; and whether he will take immediate steps to alleviate the position by aid from national sources?
§ Sir M. BARLOW
My right hon. Friend is aware of the expenditure of the boards of guardians referred to, and he has directed the holding of a public inquiry into the Poor Law administration of the Sheffield Union. The proposal mentioned in the last part of the question is at present under consideration by a Committee of the Cabinet. It is hoped that material benefit may result to this area from the decision to proceed with the construction of the two new battleships.