§ Mr. SCURR
asked the Minister of Labour if his attention has been drawn to the fact that unemployment benefit has been suspended in the case of men who were unemployed for a month or more previous to the recent dock dispute; what were the grounds for such suspension; and whether he can take steps to have the decision altered?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
In accordance with decisions given by the Umpire in previous cases, port workers who had been employed during the month preceding the recent trade dispute and lost their employment owing to the stoppage due to the dispute, were, in the absence of special circumstances, disqualified for unemployment benefit. It was not possible to ascertain in advance in what particular cases an applicant had not been employed during the preceding month, but, wherever this can be shown to be the case, benefit has been, or will be, allowed. Further, it is open to an applicant whose claim has been disallowed to appeal to the Court of Referees.1213W
Mr. T. THOMSON
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that in certain cases unemployment benefit has been withheld for the first six weeks of unemployment where workers, having declined to submit to compulsory vaccination, have been dismissed from their employment; and will he take the necessary steps to prevent insured persons in future being deprived of the benefits for which they have paid, or will pay, because of their conscientious objections to vaccination?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
The Umpire, who is the final authority under the Unemployment Insurance Acts in this matter, has given a number of decisions in cases where applicants for benefit have lost employment owing to their refusal to be vaccinated. In some cases benefit was disallowed, but where the Umpire was satisfied that the applicant had a concientious objection, or that he had a genuine fear of serious suffering, he allowed benefit. In dealing with the cases which come before them, the Insurance Officer and the Courts of Referees are guided by the Umpires' decisions, with which my right hon. Friend has no power to interfere.