Benefit Disallowed.

Oral Answers to Questions — Unemployment. – in the House of Commons on 13th March 1929.

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Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

27.

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is now in a position to state the nature and volume of evidence which convinced the authorities at the Stratford Employment Exchange that the late Mr. Peart was not genuinely seeking work?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

I am afraid I can add nothing to the replies given to the hon. Member on this subject on 27th February.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

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?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

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.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

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?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

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.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

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.

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

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.

Photo of Mr George Lansbury Mr George Lansbury , Poplar Bow and Bromley

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.

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

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.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

34.

asked the Minister of Labour how many claims for unemployment benefits were rejected by insurance officers during the months of January and February, 1929, on the ground that applicants were not, genuinely seeking work?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

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.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

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?

Photo of Sir Henry Betterton Sir Henry Betterton , Rushcliffe

I have no reason to doubt that they are doing their duty to the unemployed.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

Does the hon. Gentleman think the number of rejects is justifiable in view of the great amount of unemployment?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

That is a matter of argument.

Photo of Mr Thomas Williams Mr Thomas Williams , Don Valley

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?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

That question does not arise.