The latest figures for unemployed men, women, girls and boys having out-of-work donation policies lodged are for the week ending 14th March, namely:—
They do, but I should point out for the information of the House that there has been a decrease in the number of those who have asked for a continuance of the unemployment benefit, which they have already got for thirteen weeks.
Yes. The reason is, as the hon. Gentleman will readily understand, that practically the whole effort of the country was engaged on war work of some kind. All, therefore, whether munitions workers or not, if thrown out of employment as a result of the Armistice, should have the same treatment. One is just as much entitled as the other.
The date on which the original unemployment benefit would have come to an end would be the 21st of May, being six months after the 21st of November, but as the House already knows there has been an extension of the original period for another period of six months.
It is already a condition for the receipt of out-of-work donation that an applicant must be unemployed, capable of work and unable to obtain suitable employment. It is the practice of the Department to suspend donation and refer claims to Courts of Referees when it is brought to their notice that suitable employment has been refused.
I am aware that there are cases in which the unemployment donation is abused. I should be grateful to every Member of the House who would bring before my notice cases in which that is being done.
Is it not also true that employment is being offered to men and women at less than the current rate in the district, and often at less than the unemployment benefit, and that in these cases the unemployment donation is being refused?
It is an almost impossible task for me to produce instances of persons who are receiving unemployment donation who are unworthy of it, but if the hon. Member would furnish me with cases in which the donation is given in which it ought not to be given, I shall be glad to have these instances looked into.
They do appeal, and we keep a constant record. So far as we can judge the figures from week to week, there is no large amount of employment available in this country for those who are out of work.
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour whether, in view of the statement by his Department that the number of workpeople in every occupation exceeds the demand, his attention has been called to the fact that in numerous cases firms have applied for girls, who refuse employment whilst receiving unemployed benefit; whether he is aware that a large number of men are similarly refusing offers of employment; and whether he will give an undertaking that unemployed benefit will be discontinued to persons who refuse employment at wages at a greater amount than the unemployed benefit now being paid?
Reports have reached the Department that applicants for out-of-work donation have refused offers of employment. It is already a condition for the receipt of out-of-work donation that applicants shall not refuse offers of suitable employment, and in all cases in which it is reported to the Department that such employment has been refused, payment of donation is suspended and the claims are referred to Courts of Referees for decisions whether or not donation shall me paid. It is very desirable that employers should in all cases furnish the Department with particulars of such cases.
I should not like to commit myself to an answer in the form in which the question is put for this reason, that if a man is skilled in any particular industry his wages are higher than unemployment benefit, and I do not think it could be said that suitable employment was offered to him if it were employment at a wage which was not comparable to that which he ought to earn in suitable employment. Therefore I cannot commit myself to an answer to the full extent the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question involves.