Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in the discussion last week he said that the chief officer was collecting the information and that he was unable to give it to me then, but I could have it later on. Will he kindly tell me when the investigation will be completed?
I am not sure that I promised the hon. Gentleman that I could give him the information later on. The facts are that we have no power or right to instruct the insurance officer to give his reasons. I have really no power in the matter at all.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that he distinctly said that an inquiry was being made and at least inferentially that the information would be available? Cannot we know why this man was treated in this fashion?
I have ascertained that the facts which were reported to the insurance officer were, in the view of the insurance officer, such as to satisfy him that the man's applications for work were unduly restricted and unduly limited.
Why cannot we have the whole of the facts? This man was actually murdered by the Regulations. [Interruption.] Why cannot we have the information? The point is of some importance to the unemployed. A man who in the estimation of his fellows was a respectable man was judged by the officials of the Ministry as being a man who was not doing his duty and was not trying to get work. All we want is the information on which the judgment was based.
The hon. Member is really making two statements, both of which are quite unfounded. One that the Regulations were made by us, and secondly that this man was our official. Neither is correct. The hon. Member is asking me to exercise a discretion which I have not got and which was taken away by the Act of 1927. I have no power whatever to review the case or alter the decision.
I am not asking that the hon. Member should review the case. I am not charging him with anything. I am asking upon what evidence a respectable man was accused of being a person guilty of not genuinely seeking work.
I have already told the hon. Member that the facts reported to me are that the insurance officer was satisfied that the man's applications for work were, in the circumstances of the case, unduly restricted. Beyond that I have nothing to add.
During the five weeks ended 14th January, 1929, 33,166 claims for unemployment benefit were disallowed by insurance officers on the ground that the applicants were not genuinely seeking work. The corresponding figure for the four weeks ended 11th February, 1929, was 28,301.
In view of that reply, which indicates that insurance officers are rejecting approximately 350,000 claims each year on the ground of not genuinely seeking work, does the Parliamentary Secretary think that the insurance officers are doing their duty to the unemployed persons?
If it be as the hon. Member states, that he has no power to interfere with insurance officers, does he not think that the time has now arrived when he should take power to deal with them?