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 Albert Alexander Mr Albert Alexander , Sheffield, Hillsborough

Under the scheme which we set up for divisional and local committees we did ask that not only should all the voluntary associations connected with the relief in distressed areas be given representation in some form or other, but that the workers' organisations also should be given representation, and we have on the local committees a large number of miners' representatives. We in London have to look at this problem from a distance of hundreds of miles, and we must rely upon the workers' representatives to bring any cases of immediate distress to the notice of the local committees, to whom we have actually issued funds leaving them balances at the bank upon which they can draw for immediate needs.

As long as I make that point clear to my hon. Friend, I do not want to say anything more about his speech except with regard to allotments. I appreciate his point of view, but I am much more inclined to the point of view expressed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Snowden) on Wednesday, that inevitably in these distressed areas there are large numbers of men who will not be employed for many months yet. I rather agree that the President of the Board of Education was, perhaps, inclined to be almost too optimistic in some of his remarks, although it is not always a fault to be an optimist. I am certain, from the reports that have been presented to us, that many married miners in the localities, who have been unable to get land for allotments which they desired in the past, and are now unable, because of their distress, to equip themselves with either tools or seeds, have been really appreciative of the help that has been given by the Society of Friends in the matter of allotments. In consequence of that, the Executive of the Lord Mayor's Fund were, I think, quite right in saying that, if widespread need for the extension of that work were made plain by the Society of Friends, some portion of the funds at our disposal might be used for that purpose. I am sure it will be found that generally speaking the miners in the localities appreciate that work. I do not quarrel with the general spirit and attitude of my hon. Friend in fighting for the workers for whom he has spent his lifetime and for whom he works so assiduously, but I do not want it to be taken that the Central Executive of the Lord Mayor's Fund, which is in close touch with the President of the Board of Education, is in any way holding up, or doing anything other than speeding up, the administration and granting of the relief available under the fund.