HC Deb 02 December 1930 vol 245 cc2005-7W

asked the Minister of Labour whether she is aware that large numbers of men, who formerly worked in the shipbuilding and other trades in which there has for many years been abnormal unemployment, have been refused unemployment benefit on the sole ground that they have had no work for some years and are therefore to be regarded as not normally employed in insurable employment, notwithstanding that such men have regularly registered, and have had no work of a non-insurable character; and whether she will introduce legislation to provide that, in such cases, the fact of an applicant not having worked for any period shall not be primâ facie evidence that he is not normally employed in his former trade?


I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to his question on 1st May. The principles laid down in the leading Umpire's decisions to which I drew his attention have been re-affirmed in later decisions, one of which I am sending him. This matter will doubtless be considered by the Royal Commission on Unemployment Insurance.


asked the Minister of Labour what classes of women engaged in domestic service and similar occupations are treated as being eligible for unemployment benefit?


The fact that a claimant's last employment was in private domestic service or some other uninsured work does not affect the right to unemployment benefit so long as he or she has paid 30 unemployment insurance contributions in a previous period of two years as a minimum, or, including uninsured work, four years as a maximum. Claimants who do not possess this qualification but have paid eight contributions in the period or 30 contributions since entry into insurance have to show that they are normally employed in insurable employment and will normally seek to obtain their livelihood by means of such employment. Decisions in particular cases are given by the statutory authorities, but the hon. Member will see that the general lines of the scheme make generous provision for persons unable to find suitable employment after being engaged temporarily outside the insured trades.


asked the Prime Minister whether the terms of reference to the Commission which is to be appointed to investigate the working of unemployment insurance will include the position of mill hands who, if they take up domestic service, find that on leaving this and reverting to their previous work they are debarred from benefit on the ground that they are not normally in insurable employment; and how many categories of work there are which entail the same disability?


I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to-day to the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Hore-Belisha), of which I am sending him a copy. He will see that it is not right to assume that unemployment benefit will necessarily be refused in such cases. So far as difficulties do arise in this connection, they will no doubt be considered by the Royal Commission, terms of reference of which were announced yesterday.