§ 4. Mr. Shinwell
asked the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance what was the average weekly expenditure on National Assistance to recipients of assistance at offices of his Department in the County of Durham during the months of December, January and February last; and what were the comparable figures for the same months a year ago.
§ Mr. N. Macpherson
For the reason which I explained to the right hon. Gentleman on Monday last, it is not possible to give precisely the figures asked for. The National Assistance Board estimates, however, that regular weekly grants paid in the areas served by the Board's offices in County Durham in the months of December, January and February amounted to £168,000 as compared with£17,000 a year before.
§ Mr. Shinwell
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether his colleagues in the Government are aware of those figures? If not, will he inform them about the gravity of the situation and the substantial increase in these National Assistance payments?
§ Mr. Macpherson
We are certainly aware that there has been an increase in unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that special steps are being taken at the present time and that a Minister has been especially appointed to look after this area.