§ The Minister for Welfare Reform (Mr. Frank Field)
Of all the representations the Government have received, only one letter has been critical of the fraud hotline.
§ Mr. Evans
I welcome the Minister to the Dispatch Box. Does he agree that the social security fraud hotline was a successful initiative by the previous Government? To enhance its success in future, will he ensure that British Telecommunications plc and other telephone book operators allow prominent display of the hotline in their pages? Will he also have discussions with BT and other public phone box operators? I cannot go past those boxes without failing to notice that they seem to be packed full of cards advertising all sorts of interesting and unusual services—I hasten to add that I am not interested in using them myself. Will the right hon. Gentleman encourage the companies to clean up their act and ensure that the social security fraud hotline number is given a prominent position in all public phone boxes in the country?
§ Mr. Winnick
Is the Minister aware that when the hotline was established during the previous Parliament, I rang and complained about the fraud committed by Ministers—the then Prime Minister, the then Secretary of State for Social Security and a number of others—who in so many ways undermined pensions and social security provision? When I gave the names of the Ministers concerned, including that of the former Prime Minister, I was told that those complaints could not be taken up. My views on the subject remain the same, as, no doubt, do my right hon. Friend's.
§ Mr. Ian Bruce
Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the feedback to people who have made a complaint? They see neighbours apparently defrauding the system and then have no way of knowing that action has been taken. I recognise the problems of sub judice and confidentiality, but will he look carefully at ways of ensuring that there is proper feedback, or at least that everybody is told that every case is looked at? If prosecution follows or someone is found to be at fault, surely the public should be told what action has been taken.