HC Deb 07 May 1931 vol 252 cc581-2W

asked the Minister of Labour whether she is aware that a number of men were refused unemployment benefit by reason of not attending to do snow-clearing, although the directions given to them were of a conditional character to attend at 7 a.m. in the event of a snowfall, no date being specified, and although the snowfall did not occur until 2.30 a.m.; whether she will institute an inquiry into the circumstances with a view to the men being allowed benefit; and whether she will issue to insurance officers an explanatory memorandum to the effect that directions should be specific and unconditional to constitute a basis for the withholding of benefit for non-compliance?


By arrangement with the Corporation Cleansing Department, the unemployed men at the Exchange were invited to volunteer to be available for snow-clearing. There was a large response, and 675 men were selected, to whom cards were issued directing them to attend at specified places at 7 a.m. in the event of a fall of snow during the night. On the night in question there was a heavy fall of snow, but only 221 of the men had attended by 9 a.m. on the following morning and over 200 others had to be specially engaged. After elimination of the cases in which there appeared to the local insurance office to be a sufficiently good reason for the failure to attend, the claims of 286 men were referred to courts of referees, which decided in 53 cases that the claimants had a reasonable excuse and disallowed benefit in the other cases for three days. This decision cannot be altered by me. As regards the last part of the question, I would point out that the conditions under which these directions may be given are prescribed by the 1930 Act, and that it is for the court of referees to decide, in cases of dispute, whether they are reasonable.