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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 13th March 1922.

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Photo of Mr John Clynes Mr John Clynes , Manchester Platting

My information is that there are such cases. I shall supply the information to sustain my statement. I am assured that there are cases where, in order to secure a proportion of these grants, the Regulations have been applied and the wages of the men have been reduced. I shall be happy to find that I am incorrect, and that the view just expressed by the Minister of Health has had general application. In a large number of cases relief work is being carried on many miles away from the homes of the workmen, and in some instances we have reports of men who pay more than 5s. per week for their travelling expenses and they have no means whatever of recovering the outlay. I suggest that men who are put to work in the first instance for the purpose of affording them relief should not be fined in that way because of the particular locality of their employment and the time and labour involved in getting to their job.

We may reasonably ask what has been the general good, if any, from Regulations designed to reduce the rate of pay of men employed on relief labour. I daresay the Department has kept some record, and, apart from any general statement which we may have from the Minister of Health, we would gladly receive from him some evidence of what has been the net gain either to the fund itself or to the local authorities, and incidentally what has been the net loss to bodies of workmen who have had to suffer the reduced rates of pay. In a recent answer to a question in this House, my right hon. Friend denied that either the Prime Minister, or any other Minister speaking with responsibility for the Government, had promised to the country so large a number of houses as 500,000. I do not know whether I would be in order in referring to a published statement made by His Majesty and made clearly with information afforded to him from the proper quarter.