HC Deb 02 December 1926 vol 200 cc1382-3W

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of the hardship occasioned to unemployed persons in the refusal of benefits for wives and dependent children for six weeks following the termination of wage-earning employment by the wife; and whether, in view of the fact that in many cases wives of unemployed men seek work because of the needs of the home maintenance, he will remit such regulation?


The requirement of the Act is that dependants' benefit for a wife should not be paid where the wifeis in regular wage-earning employment otherwise than as having the care of the dependent children of the person entitled to benefit, or is engaged in any occupation ordinarily carried on for profit. A wife affected by this provision does not become qualified for dependants' benefit merely because of a period of unemployment; she must definitely cease to be in regular wage-earning employment or to be engaged in a, profit-making occupation, as the case may be. In order, however, that she may not remain disqualified for dependants' benefit for an indefinite period, the rule has been, laid down administratively that she becomes automatically qualified for dependants' benefit in six weeks after losing her regular employment or ceasing to be engaged in a profit making occupation. Conversely, a casual job obtained while a woman is accounted a dependant is not held necessarily to be a disqualification for the receipt of dependants' benefit. I think, therefore, that this rule is on the whole in the interests of the claimants to benefit, and I should hesitate very much to alter it.

The rule does not apply in terms to benefit for dependent children, and I am inquiring what the practice is in respect of them in the comparatively small class of cases where the earnings of the wife have been such as to disqualify the husband for dependants' benefit for the children.