§ 18. Mr. KELLY
asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that the Highways Committee of the Aldershot local authority are recommending that the wages of all employees over 65 years of age should be reduced by the amount of the pension under the Widows', Orphans', and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act: and whether he will make representations to the local authority in question as to the undesirability of such a policy?
I am not aware of this case and I have no authority to intervene in the matter. I would refer the hon. Member to my remarks during the discussion on the 22nd February last on this Act.
19. Mr. ROBINSON
asked the Minister of Health if steps will be taken to expedite the dealing with claims made by widows for pensions under the Widows', Orphans' and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act; and whether it is possible to make such staff arrangements as will permit of the pension being issued within 14 days of the application instead of the average five weeks, which it now takes, before the pension is issued?
Every effort is being made to dispose of claims for pensions without avoidable delay, and it is hoped as the pressure is relieved to make some reduction in the time at present taken. I do not, however, think it possible, in view of the investigation which every claim entails as regards the insurance history of the deceased husband and the verification of marriage and of the dates of birth of children, to make such arrangements as will ensure that the award is made within 14 days after the application.
The hon. Member will appreciate that the extraordinary number of claims that have come in has put a very heavy strain upon the resources of the Department, and they are working almost night and day, but the work is now beginning to clear, and I do not think that there is likely to he any repetition of long periods of delay.
Mr. L'ESTRANGE MALONE
Would it not be a good thing to defer the dismissal of many hundreds of officials from Acton, and put them on this work?