Tagged: National Government.

Anarchists and work camps in 1930s Britain

thelearningprofessor

Image Red Clydeside collection: http://gdl.cdlr.strath.ac.uk/redclyde/

This leaflet comes from the Glasgow Digital Library, a fabulous mine of information and collection of resources for teaching. It must date to around 1933-34, when the Left was campaigning vigorously against what became the 1934 Unemployment Act. The National Government introduced the Act in order to restructure poor relief and bring unemployment benefits under central control. It also contained a clause which combined the old poor law requirement of the ‘work test’ with existing powers to compel claimants to undertake training.

The campaign against the Bill was enormous, and the historian Neil Evans describes it as the most-discussed piece of legislation in inter-war Britain. Most of the agitation was led by the Labour Left (including the Independent Labour Party) and the Communist Party. But others were involved as well.

This flyer was published by a group calling itself the Workers’ Open Forum, a Glasgow-based network…

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Newcastle City Council leader tells MPs to give big cities more freedom

Letting Britain’s big cities develop their economies could save Britain from future economic downturns, the leader of Newcastle City Council has told MPs.

Coun Nick Forbes said the economic crash was partly due to the nation’s dependence on London, and its banking industry.

But a country with a more diverse economy and a number of successful cities would be better able to cope if there was another crisis.

Coun Forbes told the Commons Local Government Committee that major cities such as Newcastle should be able to raise far more funding locally, for example by keeping a portion of the business rates paid by employers rather than handing the entire sum to the Treasury – and use the cash to promote economic growth. But he warned there also needed to a complete rethink of the way national government redistributed cash to local authorities, so that councils with the greatest need – such as those in the North East – received more money to let them provide essential services.

Newcastle recently cut spending by £35m on top of previous cuts.

The council leader was at Westminster representing the eight “core cities” of Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield. He said: “At the moment we have been absolutely ravaged by the recession.”

What Newcastle wanted was the ability to grow its own local economy rather than relying on handouts from London, he said – and argued this would make the entire UK economy more “resilient”.

“We have seen how London-centric the recession was. It was the collapse of the banking system that tipped us over the edge into it. We wouldn’t have that if we had a better settlement around the rest of the country.”

Newcastle was already proving what it could achieve with more independence by using a scheme called Tax Increment Financing, which allows it to invest cash collected from business rates in regeneration projects to attract new businesses, he said.

“We have managed to stimulate development activities on a number of key sites in the city which wouldn’t have happened otherwise but at he moment those powers are exceptions rather than a rule.

“We could do so much more as a country and as cities.”

And he urged the Committee to recommend that councils be given more powers to cut business rates and attract employers that way.

“I can see areas of Newcastle . . where you might want to give us a discount that would allow the introduction of new businesses.”

> No mention of Scottish independence, but I’m sure there will be proponents of it north of the border watching this with interest…

Source – Newcastle Journal,  11 March 2014

Concentration camps for the workless

> Part of the Great British history they don’t teach you at school – how the jobless were treated in the 1920s and 30s… and who’d bet against camps returning again ?

During the prolonged unemployment of the 1920s the British government proposed a scheme for transferring labour from the worse effected areas to training schemes in the South of England. For this purpose an Industrial Transference Board was set up in 1928 to monitor and control the transfer of labour form unemployment black-spots. The ITB soon brought to the attention of the Ministry of Labour a ‘class‘ of men not easily fitted into the broader scheme, men deemed ‘soft and temporarily demoralised through prolonged unemployment‘. These men were considered a danger to the morale of the other men and were considered unfit for transfer until they had been ‘hardened’.

The scheme for ‘hardening’ in Labour Camps (on penalty of loss of the dole) was devised by Baldwin’s Tory government, but was carried through with Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Government and expanded by the 1931 National Government. They were supported by the TUC as well as the Labour Party, and were opposed and exposed only by the National Unemployed Workers Movement, in which the Communist Party was the leading influence.

Between 1929 and 1939 25 secret concentration camps were built in the most remote areas of Britain and more than 200,000 unemployed men were sent to these camps. The Labour Camps were conducted under military discipline and men were interned in the centres for three-month periods, working for up to nine hours a day breaking rocks, building roads and cutting down trees. In August 1939, in preparation for the war against Germany, the Ministry of Labour issued instructions that the managerial records of its own concentration camps should be weeded out, and much of the documentation was destroyed.

Source –  http://sites.scran.ac.uk/redclyde/redclyde/rc138.htm