§ Mr. HOGGE
asked the President of the Board of Trade why he has altered the arrangement for dealing with unemployment insurance in Scotland by removing the headquarters to London; whether before doing so he consulted any one locally or the Scottish Members; and whether he is aware that it was distinctly understood that no changes of this nature should be made by a Coalition Government?
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
The system of unemployment insurance, introduced by the National Insurance Act of 1911, has been, and continues to be administered by the Board of Trade partly from a central office in London and partly from divisional offices and local offices throughout the United Kingdom. Certain items of work, in particular the keeping of the workmen's accounts of contribution and benefit, and the authorising of claims to benefit, which were previously performed at eight separate divisional offices, have now been transferred to a single office in London. The centralisation of this work was decided upon solely on overwhelming grounds of efficiency and economy, and the change merely makes the position similar to that under which the accounts of all Post Office Savings Bank contributors are kept at a single office in London. The divisnonal offices will retain their most important and responsible functions. I am not aware of any understanding which would preclude the making of this transfer at the present time, and I do not think any useful purpose would be served by consultation with local interests on a purely administrative office change of this kind.