Mr. T. THOMSON
asked the Minister of Labour what are the conditions governing the granting of the extension of the further six weeks' unemployment benefit which may follow the exhaustion of the 16 weeks' benefit provided by the Act of 1921?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
In accordance with the terms of Section 3 of the Unemployment Insurance Act of last March, the extension of six weeks' benefit is only 1385W to be granted if, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, it appears expedient to the Minister of Labour in the public interest. With this extension the Insurance Acts will have made 44 weeks of benefit available between last March and next June, and during recent months grants have been added for wives and dependent children. It is of paramount importance to conserve the funds available. They must not be dissipated by being given where the grant is not fully justified. I am therefore issuing special directions to the Local Employment Committees and the Employment Exchanges for their guidance in dealing with applications for the extended six weeks' benefit. The ordinary requirements will in all cases apply, including, in particular, that the applicant must be available for work, genuinely seeking whole-time employment and unable to obtain it.
The extension of benefit will not be granted:—
- (a) To boys and girls under the age of 18 unless they are, when in employment, entirely dependent upon their own earnings for their livelihood. (This Rule was applied to the last six weeks' extension.)
- (b) To single men and women who are exhausted all rights derived from payment of contributions.
- (c) To persons who are not prepared to accept, on fair terms and conditions, work other than that to which they have been accustomed but which they are reasonably capable of performing. (Claims to "covenanted" benefit under the permanent provisions of the Insurance Act remain governed by Section 7 of the 1920 Act.)
- (d) To aliens (other than British-born wives and widows of aliens) who have exhausted all rights derived from payment of contributions.
The Committees are further directed to pay careful regard to the average weekly earnings of short-time workers, and to review all cases in which benefit has previously been drawn for long periods in order to ascertain beyond doubt that the applicants are in fact available for work and genuinely seeking whole-time employment.
The Unemployment Fund is made up in the main of comparatively heavy weekly contributions from employed workpeople and their employers. These contribu- 1386W tions are being paid ungrudgingly. But, as I have already indicated, it is clearly due to those who are bearing this heavy impost that every endeavour should be made to conserve the fund for those legitimately entitled to the assistance it gives.