HC Deb 31 March 1971 vol 814 cc401-2W
Mr. John Page

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he is taking to restrict the payment of unemployment benefit to workers who are laid off by their employers for very short periods.

Sir K. Joseph

I have decided to lay before the House for approval an Order to extend the operation from 1st January, 1972, of the additional rule for unemployment benefit known as the six-day suspension rule. This rule, which is contained in Section 3(1) of the National Insurance Act 1966, at present applies only to earnings related supplement. I propose that it should be extended to apply also to flat rate unemployment benefit. The effect will be to prevent payment of any unemployment benefit for spells of suspension by the employer which do not last more than 6 days and for the first 6 days of a longer spell of suspension.

This rule was orginally intended by the last Administration to come into full operation in March, 1969, but this was later postponed. As the rule was originally enacted in 1966, both sides of industry have already had 5 years to prepare for the change and I do not consider that I should be justified in delaying it beyond the beginning of next year. The commencement order will accordingly be placed before the House shortly.