Poplar Guardians (Relief).

Oral Answers to Questions — Unemployment. – in the House of Commons on 10th July 1922.

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Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

78.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that a number of operatives employed in the ship-repairing industry in the Port of London are now, and have been for some months, in receipt of Poor Law relief while refusing to accept employment; that work is to-day available for at least 3,000 men by firms situate in the Borough of Poplar alone, and that work is also available in the Borough of West Ham; whether he has given the Poplar Guardians permission for further overdrafts; and if he will take steps to prevent the guardians from granting relief to individuals for whom work is available?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I have received representa- tions in the sense of the first part of the question, and am giving them my consideration. The audit of the Poplar Guardians' expenditure is now being held, and it is open to any ratepayer to attend and object to payments in respect of relief which he regards as unlawful. I have recently issued a special Order to the Poplar Guardians and I am advancing them the sums necessary to enable them to carry on Poor Law administration on the lines of that Order.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

In view of the fact that no agreement was come to on 8th May between the representatives of the men in question and the employers to enable these men to obtain work and, as they have refused to do so, are they entitled to Poor Law relief?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I would not like to give an answer to that question without notice.

Photo of Mr John Mills Mr John Mills , Dartford

In reference to the statements made against the Poplar Guardians, is not the fact that the right hon. Gentleman is advancing money more or less an admission that they have conformed to the rules laid down in the Ministry of Health circular?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I have made an Order in accordance with the existing legislation under which the Poplar Board of Guardians have to conform to the London standard, and it is under the conditions laid down that I am advancing the money.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

Why did not the right hon. Gentleman find out whether the men can obtain work before he gave power to the guardians to get this money?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

Statements of that kind have been made frequently, but they are extremely difficult to test. It is not the duty of my Department. These men should be registered a? the Employment Exchanges to get employment.

Photo of Mr Frederick Banbury Mr Frederick Banbury , City of London

is it not the duty of the, right hon. Gentleman, before he parts with public money, to see whether or not he is justified in doing so?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

Certainly. I will do my best in the very difficult circumstances.

Photo of Mr William Thorne Mr William Thorne , West Ham Plaistow

Is it not a fact that since the lock-out, in the engineering trade terminated a very large number of men cannot find employment, and the Employment Exchanges will not register them, and that the only alternative which they have is to go to the guardians'?

Photo of Sir Alfred Mond Sir Alfred Mond , Swansea West

I receive very contradictory statements.