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asked the Minister of Health if he has received a letter from the guardians of the Bedwelty union calling the attention of the Government to the serious financial state of the union and the very urgent need for material State aid; is he aware that the poor rates for the several parishes of the union for the year ended 31st March, 1922, averaged 22s. 6d. in the; that these abnormal high local rates are due to extensive and long-standing unemployment which has prevailed, and is still prevailing, in the Bedwelty union, and the operation of these high rates are retarding the recovery of industry and are inflicting great distress upon the inhabitants; that the present liabilities of the Bedwelty union are upwards of £74,000; and will the Government bring in legislation with the least possible delay to deal with this state of things?
I have received the letter referred to. The financial position of this union is due in part to the guardians granting relief on a scale which may place a man in receipt of relief in a better position than an independent workman in the union. A substantial loan was offered to the guardians some months ago on condition that they would follow the example of neighbouring unions and revise their scale of relief. They refused to accept this offer, but it is still open to them.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this union is already £74,000 in debt, and that the Poor Rate is 22s. 6d. in the £, and therefore it is impossible for them to meet their liabilities?
I am informed that the facts are as stated by the hon. Member. I have seen the representatives of this union myself, and I consented to assist them in obtaining a loan for a number of years in order that they might meet their liabilities if they will reduce their excessive scale of relief, and I never understood why they did not accept that offer. They have a scale of relief far in excess of the neighbouring unions, and they continue paying it instead of putting their finances into a sound position.