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The Unemployed workmen act, 1905 online

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"Unemployed Workmen
Act, 1905." ,

With the Orders and Regulations issued by the

Local Government Board under the Provisions

of the Act; and Notes




Author of "Education of Pauper Children." "Criticism and Analysis of Valuation
Bill, 1904." Joint-Author of the "Vaccination Law," &c.

^tcii^ilflcTZii J 'J





In the preparation of this work my only aim haa^een to

produce a handbook of ready and complete assistance to all who

collectively or individually have anything to do with the carrying

5 oat of the provisions of the Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905,

i and the Orders and Regulations issued by the Local Government


Boax^d under the provisions of the Act.

^ Nothing has been left out of the book that was thought

J would be of any service, especially to members of Distress

Committees and Central Bodies and their officers. Instead of
3 giving altogether the circular letters sent out by the Local
: Govei-nment Board, on the issue of their Orders and Regulations,
I have purposely adopted the plan of making all the necessary
extracts from such letters and using them in the notes to the
sections of the Act or the Articles of the Orders and Regulations
to which such extracts particularly relate. This plan yields the
advantage of getting the opinions and suggestions of the Board

in the places most convenient to all who, using the book, desire
to have at sight any opinion or suggestion that the Local
Goveriament Board may have given or made upon any particular

The book has been got out under pressure of time. Great
care, nevertheless, has been taken to have its contents as correct
as possible.; the first three lines of note (3) on page 45,
liowever, should be read with the more correctly worded state-
ment on page 8 of the Introduction.

I here desire to express my thanks to Mr. H. W.
Fordham, Superintendent of the " London Unemployed Fund
Central Labour Exchange " for the labour exchange rules and
forms given in the book ; also to Mr. A. H. Lionel Leach, of
Gray's Inn, and to ]\Ir. R. Webber Leach, of Gray's Inn, for the
assistance they have been to me in the preparation of the work.

October, 1905. R.A.L.




Introduction ...

Full text of "The Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905"
with Notes

Full text of " The Organisation (Unemployed Workmen)
Establishment Order, 1905 " with Notes — London
Order ...

Full text of " The Urban Distress Committees (Unem-
ployed Workmen) Establishment Order, 1905 "
with Notes — Outside London Order

Full text of " The Regulations (Organisation for Unem-
ployed) 1905 " with Notes

Enactments Incorporated in the Regulations

Labour Exchanges and their Co-ordination
Labour Bureaux (London) Act, 1902

Employment Exchanges and their Co-ordination

Model Rales and Forms

The Out-Door Relief Orders

General Index






Abbkeviations in Notes.
L.G.B.C.L." Local Government Board Circular Lettei'.


" The Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905," is, undoubtedly,
the outcome of a widespread demand that some statutory
provision should be made, apart from the poor law, for the
distressed unemployed. The demand has grown in intensity
during recent years, and after the inauguration of the voluntary
organisation of the scheme known as the " London Unemployed
Fund " — a scheme which had its origin in proposals laid before a
Conference of Metropolitan Guardians by the Right Hon. W. H.
Long, M.P., then President of the Local Government Board, on
October 14th, 1904 — it was, very naturally, expected that the
speech from the Throne at the opening of the 1905 Session of
Parliament would disclose the Government's intention to introduce
legislation for the establishment, not only in London but also in
the provinces, of organisation for the aid of the unemployed in
proper cases. The expectation was not unjustified. The King's
speech contained the following gracious words : —

" Legislation will be submitted to you for the establish-
" ment of authorities to deal with the question of the unemployed.
" 1 have noticed, with profound regret and sympathy, the ab-
" normal distress which has been caused by the want of

8 Introdiirtion.

" employment during the pi'esent winter. Arrangements of a
" temporary character have been made to meet the difficulty,
" but it is expedient now to provide machinery for this purpose
" of a more permanent character."

Accordingly, on the 18th April, the President of the
Local Government Board (Mr. Gerald Balfour, M.P.) introduced
the promised Measure in the House of Commons.

Differences Between Original Bill and Act,

The Act in several important respects is very different
from the Bill originally introduced.

The provisions of the Bill for the constitution of Distress
Committees and Central Bodies differed from the present Act in
that : — (1) The power to co-opt additional members was optional,
and thus, if this had been so left by the Act, the Distress Com-
mittees might have been constituted entirely of members of the
Borough Councils and Board of Guardians, and Central Bodies
of members of such Committees ; (2) co-opted members were not
necessarily to be chosen from persons " experienced in the relief
of distress " ; (3) no power was given to the Local Government
Board to appoint other additional members to Central Bodies ;
(4) the Distress Committees outside London, with power and
duties of Central Bodies [Act, Section 2 (1)] were only to be

Introduction. 9

established in County Boroughs, and the establishment might be
postponed in any such Borough on representation made by the
Borough Council to the Local Government Board. It was pro-
posed in respect of provincial administrative county areas that
organisation on London lines (i.e., Distress Committees and
Central Bodies) should be established on application to the
Local Government Board, but there was no proposal in the Bill
for the Board to have power to establish, without request, in
any such area, on deeming it expedient, any such organisation.
By a reference to sections 1 (1) and 2 of the Act it will be
at once seen how very different the provisions of the Act for the
establishment of organisation are to the provisions of the
original Bill. They are alike in respect of the Special Com-
mittees re Labour Exchanges.

The original Bill applied only to England and Wales ; the
Act not only applies to England and Wales but also to Scotland
[Section 5] and Ireland [Section 6].

The original Bill contained no time limit. The duration
of the Act is limited to three years from its date (11th August,
1905) unless Parliament otherwise determine [Section 8].

Two proposals in the original Bill which gave rise to con-
siderable discussion in the House of Commons do not appear in
the Act. They were (1) a provision "that the total Aveekly

10 Introduction.

remuneration given for any temporary work so provided " (i.e,,
under the Act) should be " less than that which would under
ordinary circumstances be earned by an unskilled labourer for a
full week's work, and, except with the consent of the Local
Government Board, temporary work " should not " be so pro-
vided for the same person in more than two successive years " ;
and (2) " For the purposes of this Section work " was to be
deemed to be provided by a Body established under this Act
(although the workman was not actually employed by that
Body), if that Body had " arranged for the employment of the
workman and contributed towards the payment given in respect
of that employment." Although these two clauses of the
original Bill are not in the Act, it will be found on reference to
the Local Government Board's " Regulations (Organisation for
Unemployed) 1905" [Articles Y. and II. (1) (iv.) {d)] that the
Local Government Board under their delegated legislative
authority [Section 4 (3) (a)] have actually or in effect imposed

The proposal in the original Bill to allow expenses of
providing temporary work at Farm C^olonies out of contributions
from Councils is not in the Act, the application of such contri-
butions being restricted by Section 1 (6) in such a way as permits
of no wages being paid out of such contributions for unemployed
provided with work under the Act.

Introduction. 11

In some respects the Act is less generous than the original
Bill, in others more generous. The provisions of the Act and
the original Bill are identical in respect of the class of unem-
ployed who may be assisted, but the Act makes larger provisions
in respect of the character of assistance that may be given. The
Bill made provision for aiding the migration or emigration of an
unemployed workman but not for any of his dependants. The
Act does both [Section 1 (5)].

The original Bill made no provision for the temporary
accommodation for persons for vphom work upon the land is
provided. The Act does [Section 4 (3) (&)]. Owing, however,
to the restrictions made by Section I (6) the contributions from
Councils cannot be used to provide such accommodation. On
this, however, see Note (1) pp. 118-119.

The Act the outcome op Coxcessions.
It would scarcely be expected that any measure intro-
duced to Parliament, for affording, at the expense of the Rates,
provision, apart from the Poor Law, for the distressed unem-
ployed, would become law with the ready accord of all our
legislators. Although the origin of the Bill was to be found in
the origin of the " London Unemployed Fund " mentioned above^
it soon became evident that tlie measure was objectionable to legis-
lators wlio, though equal in sympatliy with the deserving unem-
ployed, were politically as wide apart as possible. On the one-
hand the measure was far too meagre to satisfy Labour Members;.

V2 Introduction.

•on the other hand it was looked upon bj a large number of
Ministerialists as being of an exceedingly mischievous nature.
Indeed, it would be hard to find any government measure
that was so contrary to the voiced views of Ministerialists
as this measure was. ^Notwithstanding the statement of
the President of the Local Government Board, on the
second reading of the Bill in the House of Commons
[June 20th], that in the opinion of the Government it was
not wise at the stage we had reached to have recourse to a
single non possumus, or to interpose a mere dam or barrier in the
way of public opinion instead of endeavouring to guide it into
channels which should lead to the least harm, and be most
likely to be fruitful of good [Parliamentary Debates], it is very
questionable if the measure would have been passed in any shape
but for two things, viz. : — (I) The amended proposals of the
Government on the Bill reaching the Committee stage in the
House of Commons [August 4th] ; and (2) The Government's
promise announced by the Prime Minister in that House [August
2nd] of the appointment of a Royal Commission to (1) survey
■everything which appertained to dealing with the problem of the
I3oor, whether poor by their own fault or by temporary lack of
employment, and (2) to investigate what means could be taken

to deal with problems which thus arose, whether by employment
by municipalities or in any other wav. It was thought that such
a commission would be able to complete their labours within
three years, and therefore that the duration of the proposed
Unemployment Act might be limited to such a period. To these
.concessions the passage of the measure may be credited.

Introduction. 13

The Labour Act, 1832.

It is of interest to note that, on the appointment of the Royal
Commission on Poor Laws in 1832, a temporary " Labour Act "
(2 and 3 Will. IV., c. 96) was passed. The Act was " For the
better employment of labourers in agricultural parishes until the
25th March, 1834." In its opening recital it was stated that,
notwithstanding the many laws in force for the relief and
employment of the poor, many able-bodied labourers were
frequently entirely destitute of work or unprofitably employed,
and in many instances received insufficient allowance for their
support from the Poor Rates ; also that the mode of pi'oviding
employment for the poor, which might be expedient in some
parishes, might be inexpedient in others, and that it might
therefore be desirable to extend the powers of parish vestries, in
order that such a course might be pursued as best adapted to the
peculiar circumstances of each. The limit of its duration to two
years was because it was thought that in two years the country
would be in possession of the Report of the Royal Commission,
This seems an all sufficient precedent for limiting the duration
of the present Act to three years, in which time the new Royal
Commission should be able to finally report.

The Present Act not intended to solve the Problem

OF the Unemployed.

The present Act is not intended to solve the unemployed

problem. The President of the Local Government Board (Mr,

Gerald Balfour, M.P,) in moving the second reading of the Bill,

said that : —

" The present Bill did not pretend to deal with the whole
" of the vast and complicated problem known as the unem-

14 Introduction.

" ployed question, it did not attempt to do more than deal with
^' a part, not altogether an unimportant part, but only a part of
^' that problem, and any attempt to extend its principle to the
" whole field of unemployment would be foredoomed to disastrous
" failure. Anybody reading the text of the Bill with attention
" would see that the object throughout was to assist only a
*' limited class of the unemployed, and even as regarded appli-
" cants of that class it was not intended that there should be any
" kind of obligation to find work for them, as was thrown on
^' Guardians to provide relief in cases of destitution. The limited
" class of the unemployed was defined in Sub-clause 3 of
" Clause 1 of the Bill as — ' Honestly desirous of obtaining work,
" but temporarily unable to do so from exceptional causes over
" which the applicant has no control.'

" And the limitation was extended to cases which, in the
" opinion of the local body to whom application is made, are
" — ' Capable of more suitable treatment under this Act than
" under the poor law.' He wanted the House to understand the
"full significence of the definition — the desire was to exclude
" loafers, work-shyers, intermittent workers whose case was not
" exceptional, and any workman out of work from fault of his
" own. The exact interpretation of the words — ' Capable of
" more suitable treatment than under the poor law ' — would,
" of course, depend on the general provisions of the Bill and the
" Regulations to be made by the Local Government Board under
" Clause 4, and such Regulations would include rules which
" would exclude distress not due to lack of employment, chronic
^' distress, applicants of bad character, applicants not complying
" with conditions of residence, preference being given to work-
" men with established homes and with wives and families "
[Parliamentary Debates].

Infroduciion. 13

An examination of the Local Government Board's Regula-
tions made under the Act, show that apart from the benefits that
may be afforded by Labour Exchanges, only the better or best
class of the distressed unemployed will receive any benefit from
the present Act. Besides, if the new Bodies constituted for
dealing with the better or best class of unemployed act on the
suggestion of the Local Government Board, the benefits will be
only obtainable in periods of exceptional distress.

The Advantages Afforded by the Act.

Notwithstanding the limitations made by the Act and
the Regulations, the measure is far from being the sham that
some have termed it. Even if voluntary subscriptions are
not [see Section I (6) of the Act], as many fear, sufficient to
enable the new Bodies, organised to administer the provisions of
the Act, to enter upon any large Undertakings, such as Farm
Colonies, or the reclamation of waste land, or the making
or improvement of highways, yet the Organisation estab-
lished should prove exceedingly useful to the Councils in large
Urban Areas. Because of the restriction on amount and appli-
cation of the contributions from Rates [Section 1 (6)], these
Bodies are, as winters come, certain to be pressed to enter them-
selves on Undertakings as many have done in winters for
years past for the benefit of the unemployed. The
present Act may not stop them from doing so again.
If, therefore, any such works for the reason given are entered
upon, it will be found a great advantage to have at hand an
organisation which should prove useful in weeding out the
unemployable and the undeserving from the employable
deserving. Again the provision in the Act and Regu-

16 Introduction.

lations under which Labour Exchanges may be established — if
properly worked and the same Bodies co-operate, as they may-—
throughout the whole country is a substantial advantage when
taken with the provision for aiding, out of Rate contributions,
migration from districts where there is a superabundance of
workers to districts where there is a scarcity. Organised trades
practically have their own labour registers, but unorganised
workers have not. The emigration pi'ovisions are not, by reason
of the restrictions on the contributions from rates, as liberal as
the poor law emigration provisions, but the provision for aiding
mio'ration is one that meets a shortag'e in the Poor Law Acts.
Finally, the best class of distressed unemployed man or woman
— for the provisions include women as well as men — can have
such aid as the Act, with the Regulations, provides, without the
drawback of that loss of civil rights [Section 1 (7)] which
non-medical poor law relief involve. This last-named advantage
seems to be in accord with the public conscience.



[5 Edw. 7. Ch. 18.]



1. Oi'g'anisation for London.

2. Oi-ganisation outside London.

3. Temporary provision pending establishment of

proper organisation.

4. Local Goveniment Board orders and regulations.

5. Application to Scotland.

6. Application to Ireland.

7. Short title.

8. Duration of Act.


18 [5 Edw. 7.] Unemployed Workmen Act, 1905. [Ch. IS.]


An Act to establish organisation with a view to the
provision of Employment or Assistance for Unem-
ployed Workmen in proper cases.

[11th August, 1905,]

"DE it enacted by the King's most Excellent Majesty,
"^ by and with the advice and consent of the Lords
Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this pi'esent
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the
same, as follows : —

1. (1) For the purposes of this Act there shall be
established, by order of the Local Government Board
under this Act, a distress committee of the council of
every metropolitan borough in London, consisting
partly of members of the borough "council and partly
of members of the board of guardians of every poor
law union wholly or partly within the borough and of
persons experienced in the relief of distress, and a
central body for the whole of the administrative county
of London, consisting partly of members of, and selected
by, the distress committees and of members of, and
selected by, the London County Council, and partly of
persons co-opted to be additional members of the body,
and partly, if the order so provides, of persons nomi-
nated by the Local Government Board, but the number
of the persons so co-opted and nominated shall not

[5Ed\v. 7.] Unemployed Work77icn Act, 1905. [Ch. 18.] 19

Sect. 1.

exceed one-fourth of the total number of the body, and

every such order shall provide that one member at least

of the committee or body established by the oi-der shall

be a woman.

Note.— S. 1 (1) For the Order of the Local Government
Board establishing Distress Committees and Central Body in
London, see "The Or^'anisation (Unemployed Workmen)
Establishment Order, 1905."

(2) The disti'css committee shall make themselves
acquainted with the conditions of labour within their
area, and when so required by the central body shall
receive, inquire into, and discriminate between any
applications made to them from persons unemployed :

Provided that a distress committee shall not enter-
tain an application from any person unless they are
satisfied that he has resided in London for such period,
not beinf^ less than twelve months, immediately before
the application, as the central body fix as a residential

(3) If the distress committee are satisfied that any
such applicant is honestly desirous of obtaining work,
but is temporarily unable to do so from exceptional
causes over which he has no control, and consider that
his case is capable of more suitable treatment under
this Act than under the poor law, they may endeavour
to obtain work for the applicant, or, if they think the
case is one for treatment by the central body rather
than by themselves, refer the case to the central body,
but the distress committee shall have no power to

20 [5 Edw. 7.] Unemployed Workmen Act, \Q{)5. [Ch. 18.]

Sect. 1.
provide, or contribute towards the provision of, work
for any unemployed person.

Note.— S. 1 (2) and (3) For duties of the Distress Com-
mittee and the conditions affecting applications to the
Committee, and cases referred to Central Body, see Section 4 (3)
(rt) and Article II. of "The Kegulations (Organisation for
Unemployed), 1905."

(4) The central body shall superintend and, as far
as possible, co-ordinate the action of the distress com-
mittees, and aid the efforts of those committees by
establishing, taking over, or assisting labour exchanges
and employment registers, and by the collection of
information and otherwise as they think fit.

NOTK — S. 1 (4). See Section 4 (3) {a) and Article XIX. of
"The Kegulations (Organisation for Unemployed), 1905."

(5) The central body may, if they think fit, in any
case of an unemployed person referred to them by a
distress committee, assist that person by aiding the
emigration or removal to another area of that person
and any of his dependants, or by providing, or con-
tributing towards the provision of, temporary work in
such manner as they think best calculated to put him
in a position to obtain regular work or other means of
supporting himself.

MOTK. — S. 1 (5). See Section 4 (3) {n) for the conditions
under which emigration may be aided see Article III. of " The
Kegulations (Organisation for Unemploj^ed), 1905."

On the conditions under Avhich removal to another area
lAay be aided see Article IV. of said Kegulations.

For the conditions under which assistance in the form of
Temporary Work may be given see Article V. of the said

[oEdw. 7.] Unemployed Workmen Act, \Q0o. [Ch. 18.] 21
Sect. 1.

(6) Any expenses of the central body under this
Act, and such of the expenses of the distress committees
under this Act as are incurred with the consent of the
central body, shall be defrayed out of a centi'al fund
under the management of the central body, which shall
be supplied by voluntary contributions given for the
purpose, and by contributions made on the demand of
the central body by the council of each metropolitan
Taorough in proportion to the rateable value of the
Lorough and paid as part of the expenses of the council :
Provided that —

(a) A separate account shall be kept of all sums
supplied by contributions made by the
councils of the metropolitan boroughs, and
no expenses except —

(i.) establishment charges of the central
body and the distress committees, including
the expenses incurred by them in respect
of labour exchanges and employment
registers and in the collection of infor-
mation ; and

(ii.) the expenses incuri'ed by the central
body in aiding the emigration or removal
to another area of an unemployed person
and any of his dependants ; and

(iii.) the expenses incurred by the central
body in relation to the acquisition, with the
consent of the Local Government Board,
of land for the purposes of this Act;

shall be paid out of tliat account.

22 [5Edw. 7.] Une7nployed Workmen Act, 1905. [Ch. 18.]
Sect. 1.

(6) No such contribution by a council shall in
any year exceed the amount which would be
produced by a rate of one halfpenny in the
pound calculated on the whole rateable value

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online Librarystatutes Great Britain. LawsThe Unemployed workmen act, 1905 → online text (page 1 of 12)