74. Mr. BARLOW
asked the Joint Financial Secretary to the Treasury, with regard to the case of Private W. Martin, No. 5478, 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment, whose mother lives at 26, Waterloo Street, off Liverpool Street, Salford, whether Mrs. Martin put in her application for dependant's allowance so long ago as October, 1916, and, though her son has regularly paid his allotment, the mother has not yet received 1d. of Government allowance; whether several applications have been made to the pension officer at Palatine Buildings, Manchester, both by Mrs. Martin and by responsible people on her behalf, but these applications are ignored and nothing is done; and whether he will at once take steps to see that whoever is responsibde for this delay in the pension office at Palatine Buildings is at once suitably dealt with?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the pension officer in Manchester admits that he received the claim in March last?
§ Mr. FORSTER
Yes; I know there has been a great deal of very regrettable delay. I am not sure whether the responsibility for the whole of it rests with the Pay Office or with the Pension Office. That is what I am trying to find out.
75. Mr. BARLOW
asked the Joint Financial Secretary to the Treasury whether he is aware of the delay on the part of the pension officers in assessing the amount of dependants' allowances; whether irritation is being caused throughout the country by these delays; and whether he will at once have inspectors sent round to the pension authorities to see that wherever gross and unnecessary delay is proved that the pension officer responsible be reprimanded or dismissed?
§ Mr. BALDWIN (Joint Financial Secretary to the Treasury)
I am aware that from a variety of causes delay occurs in many of these cases, to the dissatisfaction of claimants, but I must demur to the suggestion that there is serious general delay on the part of pension officers throughout the country, the facts being 576 that on the 30th Septmber last—the latest date for which figures are available—the total number of claims in their hands was appreciably less than the number received during that month. The pension officers have done very good work in circumstances of great difficulty in connection with these claims. Cases of proved gross and unnecessary delay are very rare and are dealt with by the Board of Customs and Excise in the ordinary course of discipline.
Does not the hon. Gentleman consider that delays of six, eight, and ten months are very grave and unnecessary?
§ Mr. BALDWIN
I should say that they are certainly grave, but before I answer the latter part of the hon. Member's question I should like to have particulars.