§ Mr. Gwilym Roberts
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what study he has made of the evidence supplied to him of a years' delay for the 304W Industrial Injuries Commission to hear an appeal for industrial disablement benefit; and if he will take steps to reduce this appeal's delay;
(2) what was the average waiting time for the Industrial Injuries Commission to hear appeals for industrial disablement benefit; what steps he is taking to speed up this process; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Prentice
I understand that the evidence referred to by the hon. Member consists of correspondence relating to the time taken to deal with an individual case in which a claimant has applied to a Social Security Commissioner for leave to appeal from the decision of a medical appeal tribunal. The Secretary of State has no authority to expedite the determination of individual cases before the Commissioners, who are independent authorities and not subject to ministerial or Departmental control. I am advised, however, that the secretary to the Commissioners has informed the hon. Member that the case in question will go forward at the first practicable opportunity.
I am concerned about the time taken to determine appeals to the Commissioners, which in the case of appeals on points of law from decisions of medical appeal tribunals in industrial disablement cases is about 12 months. In my reply to the hon. Member from Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) on 22 July—[Vol. 989, c. 198–9.]—I explained that some additional Commissioners had recently been appointed. I hope that these appointments will lead to a considerable improvement in the position before long.