Class Ix.

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply. – in the House of Commons on 15th March 1929.

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Photo of Mr Joseph Batey Mr Joseph Batey , Spennymoor

I do not want to get out of Order, and I have said almost all that I wish to say. The President of the Board of Education in his speech dealt with the problem of the young men, and I will content myself with saying that the young men in the distressed mining areas do not receive anything from the Lord Mayor's Fund. Not only that, but those young men do not receive unemployment benefit or Poor Law relief. Consequently, they are between the Devil and the deep sea. I should have thought that the Lord Mayor's Fund would have recognised the position of these young men, but the whole policy of the Government seems to be to make criminals of them. They cannot get employment or relief, and what are they to do? Young men cannot submit very much longer to this kind of treatment, which is enough to make them rebel against society.

I would like to see this problem of the young men pressed upon the attention of the Lord Mayor's Fund, because there is an urgent need for doing something. When a colliery stops work, it is difficult for the men who have been employed in that colliery to get work anywhere else. Not only so, but about 700 boys leave school every year in the county of Durham, and no employment can be found for them.

For these reasons, I urge upon the Noble Lord and the committee of the Lord Mayor's Fund the necessity of doing something besides merely providing boots and clothing for the children. They ought to do something in the direction of supplying the needs of young men and grown-up men and women. The fund has now reached £1,500,000, and there should be no desire on the part of the Committee which is administering that Fund to keep it intact. That money ought to be spent during the bad weather which we are experiencing this winter. While we are urging that this money should be spent and that our people should be relieved, I want at the same time to make it clear that we do not believe in charity. The Lord Mayor's Fund only touches the fringe of this problem. We do not want the Government to shelter themselves behind the Lord Mayor's Fund in the belief that they are doing all that is required. The responsibility for the unemployed is a Government responsibility which they ought to shoulder; they ought to see that the collieries are re-opened and that the men are set to work instead of being obliged to accept charity from the Lord Mayor's Fund.