§ 8. Sir Waldron Smithers
asked the Minister of National Insurance why Mrs. A. C. Messent, 95, Blandford Road, Beckenham, Kent, 71 years of age, has not been issued with her new pension book; and, in view of the fact that numerous letters to Blackpool have only been acknowledged with printed cards, particulars of which have been sent to him, if he will have inquiries made and take disciplinary action against the officials concerned.
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
A pension book containing weekly orders at the increased rate of 16s. was issued to Mrs. Messent in October last. This was the correct rate of pension payable to her on the records held in my Department which showed that her original pension had been awarded in right of her husband's insurance.
On 26th February the area officer of the Assistance Board reported that Mrs. Messent claimed to have an alternative right to pension at the 26s. rate based on her own insurance. Inquiries were necessary to establish that the statutory conditions of award on this basis were fulfilled. These inquiries were duly 1016 completed, and a pension order book at the 26s. rate, together with an adjusting payment, were exchanged for the book from which she had previously been receiving payments at 16s. weekly, on 17th July. My inquiries show that there were unnecessary delays in the handling of this case, and I am taking suitable action.
§ Sir W. Smithers
Does it not all prove that the administration of centralised control must break down, as the right hon. Gentleman was warned two years ago?
§ Mr. Anthony Nutting
Is the Minister aware that thousands of people are waiting for their pensions, and is he aware of the hardship that is being caused? If so, how can he possibly be satisfied with the administration?
§ Mr. Griffiths
I have told the House more than once that this central administration was not of my creation. I do not propose to use it for the new scheme, but I have had to use the administration which was there, and which was created by previous Governments.