Orders of the Day — Unemployment Assistance Act, 1934.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 22nd July 1936.

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Photo of Lieut-Colonel Anthony Muirhead Lieut-Colonel Anthony Muirhead , Wells

I think I have already dealt with all the questions which have been put to me. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] I ask the House what are the foundations on which these Regulations are based? The late Lord Balfour, I believe, once said, "We are so sure of our foundations that we can afford to differ." What Lord Balfour meant was that when we are sure of our foundations, we can afford to discuss the detailed methods which are based on those foundations. On what is our system of unemployment insurance and these Regulations based? On what is this sum of money, involved in unemployment insurance, based—this sum which hon. Members opposite are always so anxious to compare, first with one item of national expenditure and then with another? On what is the whole structure of our social services based? Many hon. Members in the course of the Debate have referred, and rightly referred, to the question of financial stability. Today, 23rd July, is a notable date because 23rd July marked the end of a period. Five years ago to-morrow there was signed one of the most notable public documents of the post-war period, the report of the May Committee.

We all know what that report disclosed—bad trade, unemployment, a drain on the social services, financial stringency and lack of confidence, all leading to destruction. The hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) asked us whether we say that the sum spent on unemployment insurance had brought about the financial crisis of 1934. No, it was not the actual sum of money—it was the tendency it disclosed. We all know the result of the May Committee Report. We all know how hon. Members opposite shirked the task and how we undertook it. We all know how in the past five years a democratic electorate of 30,000,000 people has twice confirmed this Government's policy at General Elections. We commend these Regulations to the House to-night, not merely because they are good Regulations, but because, under the present Government, their foundations are secure.