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To the Basle scheme for insurance against unemployment special interest is attached, and for two reasons. It is the newest of all these insurance schemes, the one founded on the latest statistics and most in accordance with latter-day notions. And it has the crowning merit of being framed on economical lines : towns that adopt it will certainly find, at the end of a few months' trial-providing, of course, they work it in the spirit in which it is devised—that they are spending less money on their unemployed than they have spent on them for years before. Although this scheme was framed only some few months ago, the cantonal government of Basle City have long been hard at work trying to devise an insurance scheme for the solution of the unemployed problem. Already, in 1899, they drew up an Insurance against Unemployment Bill which they hoped would content all classes, and they succeeded in passing it through the cantonal Parliament. When the measure was submitted to a plébiscite, however, it was rejected by a majority of nearly five to one, chiefly because it was drawn up on compulsory lines. The aristocrats of labour, men fairly sure of constant employment, bitterly resented being called upon to pay fees for insurance against unemployment. The Bill was nothing but an outrageous attempt to tax the better class of workers for the benefit of the worse, they declared roundly. So high did feeling run on the subject that the Government decided to give up all thought of organising insurance against unemployment on a compulsory basis, and to try what could be done in the way of contriving a voluntary system.

In 1901, the Basle Home Department drew up a scheme under which the Government, instead of founding a State Insurance against Unemployment Office, were to induce the Labour Unions to found private offices of their own. It was proposed that every Union which would undertake to provide, under given conditions, allowances for such of its own members as were out of work through no fault of their own, should receive an annual subsidy from the State. This scheme met with but scant support, however, because under it, as its oppo.

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nents urged, nothing would be done for the very men who most need help when out of work, i.e. the poorer class of casual labourers, who do not belong to a Union.

By 1902 the Government were at their wits' end, for all classes were clamouring that the unemployed problem must be dealt with, and they did not know how to deal with it. They had recourse, therefore, to that general refuge of perplexed Ministers—a Commission. In their case, however, the appointing of a Commission was no mere excuse for postponing legislation; on the contrary, it was an honest attempt to obtain the data necessary for legislating wisely. This is proved by the eminently common-sense fashion in which they set their Commissioners to work. For they organised them into what was practically a temporary Government department, and entrusted to them the task of providing the unemployed with work, as well as that of studying the unemployed problem and trying to solve it. This they did as a means of bringing them into touch personally with the class for whose benefit legislation was to be framed ; thus giving them opportunities of learning by actual

experience how the difficulties with which the work is beset could best be overcome.

The Commission consisted—and consists, for it is still sittingof twenty-one members, among whom were employers of labour, labour leaders, and labourers ; clergymen, professional men, tradesmen, men of all classes in fact; and their chairman was a Minister of State, Regierungsrath Wullschleger. They threw themselves heart and soul into their twofold task, investigating minutely the causes of unemployment, and weighing the pros and cons of its various remedies, while striving to help the unemployed and keep them from becoming unemployable. It was not until they had been hard at work for nearly five years, that they drew up the recommendations on which is founded the insurance against unemployment scheme with which we are here concerned.

The framer of the new scheme, HerrWullschleger, has evidently benefited by the painful experience of the framers of other schemes of the kind, and has learnt useful lessons from their mistakes. For he has carefully avoided the pitfalls into which they stumbled, and has found a crevice through which to make his way in more than one of the stonewalls they vainly sought to climb. Before ever he set to work in Basle, several systems of insurance against unemployment had already been tried, not only in other Swiss Cantons, but elsewhere ; and they had failed. Some had failed because they were framed on compulsory lines; others, because they either favoured the unskilled labourer to the detriment of the skilled, or the skilled to the detriment of the unskilled; others again, because Poor Law officials were allowed to have a hand in the administration of them. His scheme, therefore, is contrived on voluntary lines : under it no one need insure unless

VOL. LXV-No. 384


he wishes; and among those who do insure everything that can be done is done to hold the balance even. What is more important still, perhaps, neither Poor Law officials, nor yet Poor Law authorities, are to have anything whatever to do with the working of it.

The great difficulty in the way of framing on voluntary lines a workable system of insurance against unemployment lies in the fact that it is, of course, always the men who are most likely to be unemployed who are the most eager to insure. Of this, there is proof wherever a voluntary system has been tried. In one town, indeed, no fewer than 69 per cent. of those who had insured against unemployment were actually unemployed in the course of a single winter, and had to be helped. And steady men of the better class, who are out of work only just now and then, do not care to insure in an office crowded with men who are out of work frequently. For if they do, the fees they pay must go, in part at any rate, to provide the money for the out-ofwork allowances of these other men. The Basle Commissioners were convinced, that to try to organise an insurance office in which workers of all classes would insure, would be sheer waste of time, as skilled, well-paid artisans would never, of their own free will, insure against unemployment in an office that opened its doors to casual labourers, much less to women.

Under the scheme for which they are responsible, therefore, no attempt is made to club together the diverse classes of workers, or to frame for them a uniform system of insurance. It is proposed, it is true, that a general State Insurance Office shall be opened for the benefit of wage-earners of all degrees; but it is proposed also that private insurance offices shall be opened for the benefit of special sections of wage-earners; and that so long as these private offices shall grant insurance policies under the same con ditions as the State Office grants them, and shall regulate their financial affairs on lines approved by the State, submitting their accounts to State auditors, the State shall contribute to their funds at a fixed rate, besides making good any deficit there may be in the funds of its own Office. What is aimed at, in fact, is securing all-round insurance against unemployment; and that this may be secured, not only is a State Insurance Office to be organised, but a helping hand is to be given to any Friendly Society, Trades Union, or other Labour Association that is willing to organise, under certain conditions, a private insurance office for its own members. Thus, practically, the scheme is twofold ; and it is founded on two separate measures, both of which will, it is hoped, be passed by the Cantonal Parliament next month, be ratified by the people in the course of the spring, and become law. At the end of three years they will be submitted to the Cantonal Parliament for revision, as the Government regard insurance against unemployment as an experiment for the time being.

By the Basle · Law concerning the establishment of a State Insurance Institute for the unemployed,' the Government is authorised


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to organise and maintain, at the cost of the State, an Insurance Office; and also to supplement its funds out of the State exchequer, should its liabilities not be covered by the fees of its policy-holders, together with the free gifts of their employers. The Office will be placed under the direction and control of a managing committee, consisting of a president and ten members, who will hold office for three years. The president and five of the members will be appointed by the Government, and the policy-holders will elect the other five from among themselves. They will receive two francs each for every meeting they attend; and they will also have repaid to them any expenses they may incur while discharging their official duties. The actual work of the Office will be done by a paid manager, appointed by the Government on the recommendation of the committee, and by other paid officials appointed by the committee itself. They will be under the close surveillance of the committee, the members of which will be personally responsible to the Home Department, and through it to the Government, for the management of the business of the Office. If any policy-holder have a grievance against the manager, he may appeal to the committee to redress it; and, if his appeal be rejected, he may appeal against the committee to the Home Minister. If the manager have a grievance against the committee, he, too, may appeal to the Home Minister.

Once a year the committee will draw up a report giving the details of the working of the Insurance Office, and there will be a general meeting of the policy-holders, under the presidency of the Home Minister, to consider it. At this meeting all the members of the committee who were appointed by the Government must be present, together with the manager; and any policy-holder will have the right to criticise their doings, and to make suggestions for the improvement of the working of the Office. Special meetings will be held whenever either the majority of the members of the committee, or one-fifth of the policy-holders, desire it. The Office accounts will be submitted to three auditors, the chief of whom will be appointed by the Home Minister, and the other two by the policy-holders.

As the Basle Government regard insurance against unemployment as an experiment, they have very wisely secured for themselves a free hand to adapt, so far as possible, the financial details of the new system to circumstances; and they have also secured for the managing committee a free hand to turn to account, in the working of it, the experience they gain as time passes. Within certain wide limits, the Home Minister, representing the Government, will be able to change by decree the amount both of the insurance fees and the unemployed allowances; and the members of the committee will be able to determine for themselves the lines on which they will act. It will be for the committee to say whether the State Insurance Office sball be worked together with the State Labour Bureau, and by the

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same manager, or whether the two institutions shall be worked separately, although, of course, in close connexion. In the Bill general rules are laid down as to who shall, and who shall not, have the right to insure against unemployment, in the State Office; but it is left to the committee to determine the precise conditions under which policies will be granted; the precise conditions, too, under which they will be forfeited. The advantage of this arrangement is that changes may be made both in the working of the law and in its financial details without any change, requiring the consent of Parliament, being made in the law itself.

One of the peculiarities of the Basle system of insurance against unemployment is that it is almost the only system of its kind, so far as I know, under which women benefit. When once the State Office is opened, any man--or woman-who, being a wage-earner, has lived in Basle Town uninterruptedly, during the whole of the previous year, and during that year has worked there for at least three months, may insure against unemployment, subject to the following conditions :

He-or she-must be between eighteen and sixty years of age; he must be employable, i.e. physically and mentally able to work ; and he must not be insured against unemployment in a private office that is subsidised by the State. In certain circumstances to be determined by the committee, persons belonging to Basle, but working in some other Canton, will also be allowed to insure in the State Office.

Any person who holds an insurance policy in the State Office will forfeit it if he become partially or totally unemployable ; if he leaves Basle; if, excepting in the circumstances to be determined by the committee, he goes to work out of Basle; or if he insures against unemployment in a State-aided private office. He will forfeit it also if he does not fulfil the obligations laid on him either by the law, or by order of the Insurance authorities; if he knowingly makes to these authorities false statements; or if he does anything that entails loss on the Insurance Office.

In order to insure against unemployment, a man--or a woman- . must pay every month a fee of not less than fivepence or more than one shilling, the exact amount being fixed by Government decree. In the case of persons who have insured against unemployment for a number of years without ever being unemployed, the fees may be reduced. Under the Basle system a policy-holder will bave no claim against the State Insurance Office until he has paid his fees for at least six months. Then he has the right, so long as he continues to pay them, to an unemployed allowance six days a week, for eight weeks at most, every year, if out of work through no fault of his

The allowance will not begin until he has been unemployed for at least four days. The exact amount he will receive will be fixed from time to time by Government decree; but during the first

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