Unemployment Benefit.

Oral Answers to Questions — Ireland. – in the House of Commons on 18th May 1922.

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Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

47.

asked the Minister of Labour whether, seeing that paragraph 6 of Circular U.I.A. 505 C compels local employment committees to refuse benefit to a single man or woman who lives with an adult relative who is employed half-time or more, he will say whether these persons are entitled to benefit towards which they have contributed; and under what section of what Act is he acting in directing committees to refuse benefit?

Photo of Mr Thomas Macnamara Mr Thomas Macnamara , Camberwell North West

As I have repeatedly stated, persons entitled to benefit under the permanent provisions of the Unemployment Insurance Scheme in respect of contributions paid are in no way affected by the condition referred to, or the other special conditions relating to un-covenanted or "free" benefit. These conditions have been laid clown in the exercise of the discretionary power conferred by Section 4 of the Unemployment Insurance Act, 1922.

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Is it not possible now for insured people to be deprived of benefit though they may have contributed to the scheme?

Photo of Mr Thomas Macnamara Mr Thomas Macnamara , Camberwell North West

I will send my hon. and gallant Friend a copy of the Circular which I sent to the local authorities on the point which will more fully explain the position.

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Can the right hon. Gentleman indicate the exact Clause under the Unemployment Insurance Act under which this is done?

Photo of Mr Thomas Macnamara Mr Thomas Macnamara , Camberwell North West

Yes. Clause 4, sub-section (1): If it appears to the Minister, having regard to all the circumstances of the case, that it is expedient in the public interest, etc.— the benefit may be granted.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in many cases men who form part of a family, all of whom are unemployed, have had their extension of benefit discontinued, for the sole realm that one member of the family is in receipt of unemployed benefit?

Photo of Mr Thomas Macnamara Mr Thomas Macnamara , Camberwell North West

My hon. Friend has not correctly given the rule. The rule states that. "ordinarily persons will not be entitled," and the last paragraph says that these conditions are not designed to rule out of benefit cases where the provision would inflict real hardship. They are intended, however, to prevent the depletion of a fund which is limited, which is built up mainly by heavy contributions, and which is urgently needed in the case of those for whom it is properly designed.

Photo of Mr John Swan Mr John Swan , Barnard Castle

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the general interpretation is that all single men are prevented from getting unemployed benefit, that there has been no end of hardship to the family—where there is a big family—and that the only person getting benefit is the head, while the rest must come under the Poor Law or starve?

Photo of Mr Thomas Macnamara Mr Thomas Macnamara , Camberwell North West

Perhaps I might send my hon. Friend a copy of the Circular—

Photo of Mr Thomas Macnamara Mr Thomas Macnamara , Camberwell North West

I have no objection. If the hon. Member knows of any case which has not been administered in the spirit of the rule, I shall be glad to look into it.

Photo of Mr John Swan Mr John Swan , Barnard Castle

Will the right hon. Gentleman send the same advice to all committees where it is being done?

Photo of Colonel Josiah Wedgwood Colonel Josiah Wedgwood , Newcastle-under-Lyme

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the fact that this rule of his makes the scheme a charitable scheme instead of an insurance scheme?

Photo of Mr Thomas Macnamara Mr Thomas Macnamara , Camberwell North West

Since November, 1920, I have managed to make the Insurance Act find 57 weeks' benefit for persons who in some cases may not have paid anything at all. I do not think that these Regulations are unjust. They do not affect covenanted benefit.