Married Women (Unemployment Benefit)

Oral Answers to Questions — National Insurance – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 7th July 1952.

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Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West 12:00 am, 7th July 1952

asked the Minister of National Insurance what is the amount of the weekly entitlement of unemployment benefit under his regulations for a wholly unemployed married woman living apart from her husband and not maintained by him; and the amount of the entitlement of a married woman living apart from her husband and in receipt of a nominal payment of 2s. 6d. per week under a maintenance order.

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

Whether a married woman living apart from her husband is entitled to unemployment benefit at the rate of 20s. a week or the higher rate of 26s. does not depend on whether she is actually being maintained by him, but on whether she is able to obtain any financial assistance from him. This rule is laid down in the Act and I have no power to alter it by regulations. The present rates will be increased to 26s. and 32s. 6d. respectively on 24th July.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

What about the second part of the Question?

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

The second part of the Question raises a hypothetical case which would fall for decision by the independent statutory authorities and not by me as Minister.

Photo of Mr Charles Hale Mr Charles Hale , Oldham West

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I am raising a specific case in which a woman, because she receives a nominal payment of 2s. 6d. per week from her husband under a maintenance order, has 6s. deducted from her unemployment pay? Will the Minister have a look at that?

Photo of Mr Osbert Peake Mr Osbert Peake , Leeds North

Cases of separated wives are one of the most difficult questions under the Insurance Act. We had to pass Insurance Acts for the group, for categories, and not for individual cases. We take the view that in a case of the sort which the hon. Member quotes the wife's primary recourse should be against her husband for an increased payment under the maintenance order when she falls unemployed.