HC Deb 18 March 1912 vol 35 cc1519-21

asked the Secretary to the Treasury if he was aware of the difficulties of working the National Insurance Act, especially with reference to medical benefits, in such districts as Orkney and Shetland, and the position of the medical profession under the Act; and if he would send a competent person as official lecturer should the Scottish Insurance Commissioners be unable through poverty or otherwise to provide such a lecturer; (2) if he had now informed himself of the refusal of the Scotch Insurance Commissioners to send an official lecturer to explain the provisions of the National Insurance Act; and, in view of the fact that their refusal was based on the grounds that they had no funds at their disposal, he would state on what grounds they provided official lecturers for places of easy access, and where there would be little difficulty in working the Act, and refused to send lecturers to such places as Shetland where the difficulties of working the Act were much greater; and (3) if he was aware that it had been admitted that there was nothing approaching the circumstances of Scotland (the Highlands and Islands) in the case of either England or Wales; that a very high percentage of the people in these districts died young, and that was the reason for making special provision for dealing with the Highlands and Islands; that in face of the said admission the Scottish Insurance Commissioners had refused to send special official lecturers to Orkney and Shetland; and if he would explain why this course had been adopted?


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the National Insurance Commissioners in Scotland had intimated their inability to send a lecturer on the National Insurance Act to Kirkwall by reason of want of funds to enable them to do so; and, if so, whether he would take steps to secure that this obstacle was removed and that Kirkwall should share with the rest of Scotland in the advantage of having the Act officially expounded?


I propose taking questions 27, 28, 36, and 103 together. More than a month elapsed between the offer of the Scottish Commission to send lecturers, and the receipt of a request for one from Shetland. In the interval the enormous demand for lectures throughout Scotland had resulted in the official lecturers being so fully engaged that it was impracticable at the moment to send one to so great a distance as Shetland. I fully recognise, however, the necessity of the Act being adequately explained in such districts, and I am glad to state that arrangements are now being made for a lecturer to visit, not only Kirkwall, but other parts of both Orkney and Shetland.


Is the hon. Gentleman aware that in Lerwick, Stornaway, and other places there are competent insurance men who thoroughly understand the Act and could co-operate?


I think that that is so, tout I am trying to get before everyone concerned some official information as to the Act.


Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to see that no person is en- gaged to explain the Act who is interested in inducing men to join particular societies?


That is one of the first things the Commissioners have laid down.