§ Mr. Meacher
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on what authority young unmarried mothers who claim supplementary benefits are questioned, before these benefits are granted, on such details as the last date of intercourse with the putative father of the child, where it had taken place, and on how many occasions it had occurred during the relationship.
§ Mr. Dean
The Supplementary Benefits Commission has a statutory duty to recover the benefit paid for illegitimate children from the fathers and this necessarily involves asking personal questions of mothers. When a mother claims supplementary benefit the stage at which these questions are asked depends upon the circumstances of the case. It is not the Commission's policy to delay the payment of benefit while such questions are asked, and specific instructions are given to staff stressing the need for tactful handling of claims of this kind.