§ Mr. J. BAKER
asked the Minister of Labour whether persons who have been disqualified for unemployment benefit are allowed or encouraged to remain on the registers of the Employment Exchanges; and whether any assistance is given to them if they do so?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
Any person seeking employment is entitled to register at an Employment Exchange, and I think it is desirable on every ground that all unemployed persons should keep in touch with the Exchange by maintaining their names on the registers, even though they may be disqualified for benefit. Otherwise, the Government cannot be assured that they know the full extent of the problem and are correspondingly hampered in laying their plans for dealing with it. A group of cases which causes me particular concern is that of persons in the depressed areas who have been refused benefit because they have insufficient contributions or for similar reasons. I have given instructions that 675W so far as it is administratively practicable they should be specially interviewed in order to see how far they can be helped by means of training or reconditioning or in some other way to regain their footing in industry. In this connection I may mention that I have recently made arrangements with a view to making it easier for persons in this group to accept facilities for training, even though they are not in receipt of benefit.
Reasons for disallowance. Men. Women. (a) Claims disallowed by Insurance Officers.* Permanent provisions: Not unable to obtain suitable employment 61 46 Not genuinely seeking work 770 745 Trade disputes 9 — Employment lost through misconduct 164 25 Employment left voluntarily without just cause 170 67 Other grounds 50 17 Transitional provisions: Less than eight contributions paid in previous two years, or 30 contributions paid at any time. 3 — Not normally insurable and not seeking to obtain a livelihood by means of insurable employment. 42 76 Not a reasonable period of insurable employment during the preceding two years. 792 91 Total claims disallowed 2,061 1,067
(b) Claims recommended for disallowance by Courts of Referees on review after payment of 78 days benefit. Not genuinely seeking work … … 195 57 Other grounds … … 8 1 Total recommended for disallowance … … 203 58 The number of fresh and renewal claims to benefit made during the period was 43,740, of which 36,582 were made by men and 7,158 by women. * In a number of these cases the decisions were reversed on appeal to Courts of Referees.
§ Mr. TOM SMITH
asked the Minister of Labour whether she proposes to make any changes in the method of deciding claims to unemployment benefit by means of the insurance officers and courts of referees?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
In accordance with the Unemployment Insurance Acts, claims to unemployment benefit are determined by insurance officers, subject to a right of appeal to a court of referees, and, in certain circumstances, a further right of appeal to the Umpire. I do not intend to depart from the principle that claims to benefit should be determined by independent statutory authorities, but676W
§ Mr. McSHANE
asked the Minister of Labour the numbers of men and women, separately, disallowed un employment benefit during the last financial year (April to March) at the Walsall Employment Exchanges, and the grounds upon which they were disallowed benefit?
§ Miss BONDFIELD
The following Table gives the information desired in respect of the period 19th April, 1928, to 8th April, 1929.
I think it would be advantageous to investigate, in the light of experience, the best method of carrying this principle into effect. I have decided, therefore, to set up a Committee immediately to consider and report to me upon the constitution and procedure of statutory authorities performing the functions of insurance officers and court?, of referees under the Unemployment Insurance Acts and the nature of the evidence to be required as to the fulfilment of the conditions or the absence of the disqualifications for the receipt of unemployment benefit under the Acts. Sir Harold Morris, K.C., President of the Industrial 677W Court, has consented to act as chairman of the Committee, which will include, in addition to the chairman, a representative employer, a representative trade unionist, a person with experience as chairman of courts of referees, and an official of the Ministry.
Pending the Report of this Committee, there is a change of procedure which I propose to make with regard to the manner of dealing with cases in which the point at issue before the insurance officer is whether the claimant is genuinely seeking work. Under Regulation 3 of the Unemployment Insurance Courts of Referees Regulations, 1928 (as amended by the Courts of Referees (Amendment) Regulations, 1929), which continues a provision that has been in force since 1912, the chairman of a court of referees is empowered to refer a claim to two local persons for consideration and report. I propose to make a Regulation applying similar procedure to cases of the kind referred to before the insurance officer gives his initial decision, and the insurance officer will thus have before him, when he gives this decision, the Report of the local referees. I believe that this change in procedure will at least go some way towards removing legitimate criticism on the ground that in this class of case the insurance officer may not have adequate evidence on which to give his decision. In a matter of this sort there are necessarily many points of detail to be settled, and, therefore, while there will be no avoidable delay, it may take a little time before the new procedure is fully in operation.
§ Mr. LONGBOTTOM
asked the Minister of Labour the number of persons who have signed the books at Halifax Employment Exchange during the four weeks ended 6th July, 1929, and the number who have been refused unemployment benefit during that period and the reasons for refusal together with the following particulars: the number of claims refused by the local employment manager; the number of claims refused by the Insurance Officer; the number of meetings held by the Court of Referees; the composition of the Court of Referees during the meetings under review, that is, the number of employers' representatives and the number of employés' representatives; the number of cases where leave to appeal to Umpire has been given; 678W and the number of cases where refusal of leave to appeal to Umpire has been made?
§ 4. Miss BONDFIELD
pursuant to her reply [OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th July, 19–29, Col. 1118, Vol. 229), supplied the following statement:
Halifax Employment Exchange.
Number of persons on the Registers,
17th June, 1929 … … 4,251 24th June, 1929 … … 4,556 1st July, 1929 … … 4,443 8th July, 1929 … … 4,238
2. Total number of fresh and renewed claims to benefit made in the four weeks ended 8th July, 1929, 4,405.
3. Claims disallowed by Insurance Officers, four weeks ended 8th July, 1929.
Not genuinely seeking work 45 Employment lost through misconduct 7 Employment left voluntarily without just cause 16 Other grounds 2 Transitional conditions. Not normally insurable and not seeking to obtain a livelihood by means of insurable employment 2 Not a reasonable period of insurable employment during the preceding two years 28 Total 100
The only ground on which claims are disallowed locally is that of failure to satisfy the minimum contributions qualification. The number of cases so disallowed cannot be given separately, but is quite small.
Work of Halifax Court of Referees:
—four weeks ended 8th July, 1929
Number of sittings 5 Number of employers' representatives attending 5 Number of employés representatives attending, Male 3 Number of employés' representatives attending, Female 3 Number of cases in which leave to appeal to the Umpire was given 1
Precise figures are not available regarding the number of cases in which leave to appeal to the Umpire was refused, but the number probably did not exceed four.