The Unemployed

The Unemployed

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The Unemployed

The Unemployed

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Excerpt

1. Having been directed to draw up a Memorandum for the Labour Commission with regard to the unemployed, I was led to examine a Report compiled in 1893 by the Board of Trade on "Agencies and Methods of dealing with the Unemployed."1 I found to my disappointment that although it contains much valuable information, the arrangement adopted renders it almost valueless for practical purposes. But quite apart from any question of arrangement, the Report deals exclusively with one aspect of the problem, i.e. it aims only at giving an account of past and present agencies for remedying the evils produced by want of employment, with criticisms of their results. When, then, I was invited to attend the Mansion House Conference on the unemployed, I found it desirable to attempt to deal with the question as a whole from a practical point of view. I have, therefore, here essayed to set forth what has been done hitherto, what the present distress amounts to, and what can be done to remedy that distress, even though I have not at my disposal the materials which a great Government department can command.

2. The agencies dealt with in the Board of Trade Report are capable of classification on a variety of principles. According to that adopted in the Report itself, the main distinction drawn is between permanent and temporary agencies; while, apart from this division, two sections are devoted to the consideration of foreign and historical examples respectively. Permanent agencies, again, are divided into those which "deal" with the efficient unemployed, who at any time under ordinary circumstances are out of work, and those which "attempt to deal" with the unemployed, who are in that condition owing to trade fluctuations of a more or less exceptional character. It . . .

As far as I am aware no attempt has yet been made in any country to deal comprehensively with the question of the unemployed. It is, perhaps, the most urgent, certainly the most difficult of our social problems. No apology, therefore, is needed for the present book.

The present volume.

It is, however, possible that some explanation may be thought necessary for the manner in which the editors of the Labour Department Blue-Book on the unemployed have performed their duties. I have taken a good deal of trouble, as the following pages will show, in studying the really valuable material which is contained in that publication,1 and have arrived at certain conclusions with regard to the editing of it, which, if unfounded, can easily be disproved, but which seem, at any rate, to suggest the necessity of some inquiry. Whatever the value of the criticism, I attach my name to it.

The Board of Trade Blue-Book.

The plan or want of plan, the confusion of thought, the style, the faults of omission and commission, have led me with some experience in such matters to the opinion that the Department, having determined to issue a Report on the subject of the unemployed, proceeded to give out certain pieces of work to various experts without any specific directions as to method, . . .

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